August 31, 2015

Propagating an Aloe Plant

When I was a tiny girl, our next-door neighbor showed me how to take a leaf from his jade plant, a succulent he called tree of life, tear it in half and put it in a shallow hole so a new plant would grow. Soon we had many small jade plants in our flower beds, and my parents had to put an end to my plant propagation efforts before I pulled all the leaves off of his poor plant.


We moved a few years later, and my father dug up the plant I'd started that day and moved it to our new house. Four years later it moved with us again, and it was a huge thing in the yard when my father passed away several years ago. I wish I'd thought to bring a leaf home to Oklahoma with me, but it didn't even cross my mind.

I did take home a four-inch long piece of the hanging succulent that he called burro's tail. It rooted in a yogurt cup and grew, although it's a very slow-growing plant. I wonder how old Dad's was, since it was about two feet long. This one is six years old.


Anyway, I know from experience that succulents are easy to root, so when my nine-year-old aloe plant broke two years ago I figured it was worth trying to save it. The plant was on the shelf over my kitchen window (you can see it in the picture below, on the far right of the shelf; the burro's tail is in the little white pot), and when I opened a cupboard door I pushed against it too hard and heard it snap. I nearly cried. 


I took the opportunity to repot what was left of the bottom of the plant. I used the original clay pot but with some new potting soil; there were two "babies" in the pot too so I just gathered them all together and repotted the whole thing.

Then I filled another pot with potting soil and planted the part that had broken off. I hoped it would root. It was an awkward shape, very curved, and was a challenge to replant because it wanted to tip over and fall out of the soil. It didn't die, but it didn't thrive and grow either, instead it had a big "litter of puppies" that grew from that top piece that I planted - just like that jade leaf that I'd planted as a preschooler.

Two years later, the original pot with the rooted part of the aloe and a couple of babies has grown to look like this:


The pot with the top piece of the aloe that broke off looks like this:

Lots of baby aloe plants.

Evidently propagating an aloe plant is quite easy!

Mine like the kitchen windowsill where they get some filtered morning sunshine and plenty of bright light the rest of the day. I once put an aloe plant out on our deck, where it was badly sunburned and nearly died, so I'm ok with letting them live on my windowsill where they're happy.

Aloe plants prefer to be a bit pot-bound; this is when they sprout new baby plants. Don't be in a hurry to repot, but if you must, use a pot that's just a bit bigger; don't size up too much.


Aloe has so many health benefits. Most people are aware that the gel is helpful if you burn a finger in the kitchen, but it is also used to keep skin hydrated and young-looking, soothe sunburned skin and to relieve heartburn. New studies are being conducted to support claims that aloe can fight cancer, treat diabetes and more.

It's a good plant to have on the kitchen windowsill.


This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops.


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My hope is to inspire you, and to encourage your homesteading plans and your dreams of a
simple, self-reliant, God-dependent life. You can follow me at:
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August 30, 2015

Silver Sunday and Being Thankful

I am thankful to the Lord, my God, for:

- a shed
- Matt's help
- God's perfect timing
- new chicks
- a Monarch butterfly
Silver Sunday

Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is Your name in all the earth!
You have set Your glory above the heavens.
Psalm 8:1 NIV


~~~~~

August 28, 2015

Friday Follow-Up




This week:

We had some beautiful weather at the beginning of the week, and some hotter weather at the end of the week. I liked the beginning of the week better.

Our youngest daughter once said that she prefers summer to winter. I couldn't believe she said that, so I asked her why. She said that in the winter, the Oklahoma weather is up and down, warm and cold, and she never knew what clothes she should put on in the morning or whether she'd need a heavy coat and gloves or a light jacket, or no jacket at all when she went outside. In the summer, she said, it's hot. That's it. You know what to wear.


Mama Duck is still sitting on her eggs; they're due to hatch on Sunday-ish. Muscovy duck eggs take 35 days to hatch; chicken eggs take only 21. I'm hoping for a better hatch rate this time. I can guarantee that none of her eggs were eaten by snakes and she has enjoyed a peaceful "pregnancy".

I've been wondering if Mama Duck would kindly hatch some chicken eggs for me. That might be an idea worth exploring, but in the meantime we're going to dig out the incubator and see if we can hatch some chicks. Hubby said he'll patch up the currently-abandoned chicken coop and rebuild the outside run. We're pretty sure the snakes were getting in through the ventilation slots we left in the eaves of the coop, so those holes will be securely covered with screen.

Our garden was a complete bust this year, so I've been frequenting the farmers' market and other sources, and canning like crazy, just as though it were our own produce.

I hope to add a great deal of horse manure and other "good stuff" to the garden when I put it to bed for the winter. Our apple trees are loaded and we're waiting for them to be ripe and ready.

This week's post was:



Have a great week!




~~~~~

My hope is to inspire you, and to encourage your homesteading plans and your dreams of a
simple, self-reliant, God-dependent life. You can follow me at:
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August 25, 2015

A Slice of My Life



Last night's sunset.



~~~~~

My hope is to inspire you, and to encourage your homesteading plans and your dreams of a
simple, self-reliant, God-dependent life. You can follow me at:
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August 24, 2015

Finally! Comfrey

I've wanted to grow comfrey for several years now, ever since learning about its herbal properties and medicinal use.


Until now, I've bought dried comfrey from my local health food store to use in my salves. That worked just fine, but I'd like to be able to produce my own. It has so many more uses.

It wasn't as easy as buying a packet of seeds though. I wanted the Russian variety of comfrey called "Bocking No. 14" which doesn't grow true from seed, it has to be grown from root cuttings. That meant buying some roots online.

I'd been given some recommendations of places online to buy comfrey roots, but ultimately I decided to support a "little guy" and buy them from Rise and Shine Rabbitry.


I had to wait until the rabbitry folks were able to dig the comfrey in the spring, much later in Maine than spring in Oklahoma. When it was time (I'd stuck a post-it note in my planner to remind me) I placed my order for four large root cuttings. The box arrived just as promised, but now I was rethinking where I should plant them, since our neighbor's cows had come visiting again and had eaten that area down to the ground. Plus I was frantically getting ready for all of our children and their spouses and children to descend on us for a visit, so I set the box down and...

...two months later I remembered the comfrey! I opened the box, expecting to find dried-out roots that I desperately hoped would revive if I soaked them in water overnight before planting. The roots were packed in a plastic shopping bag which was wound tight and taped shut. Another bag inside that one was also tightly wrapped and taped. Inside that one, a packet of still-damp newspaper enclosed the large brown roots, with white shoots growing from the ends. Those roots had thrived inside their damp, dark package for two months and were full of life and vitality!


I can't say enough about the care the seller put into wrapping, packing and shipping my purchase. The webpage said that they include extras in the package to help make up for the shipping costs. I'd ordered four large roots, and there were two small roots in the packet as well.

I did soak the roots in water for about ten minutes and wrapped them in paper toweling overnight before planting them, just in case. I still haven't figured out the perfect place to plant them - you would think that I could decide on a spot somewhere on our forty acres, wouldn't you? But I don't want those errant cows to wipe out the patch before it's well established.

Comfrey doesn't like containers, it prefers to thrust its roots deep into the soil. Those long roots bring up minerals to ground level, which makes them accessible to shallow-rooted plants and is one of the advantages of growing this plant. But I planted them - temporarily - in a metal tub near the herb garden because they needed to go in the dirt immediately. This way I can keep an eye on them as they grow too. I'll transplant them later to another place - or several places. Yes, two patches might be a good idea, don't you think?

The wire top keeps my dogs from digging in the dirt.

About a week ago the first green leaves popped out of the ground, and this morning there are four little plants. I have my own comfrey!



This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops.


~~~~~

My hope is to inspire you, and to encourage your homesteading plans and your dreams of a
simple, self-reliant, God-dependent life. You can follow me at:
Facebook | Pinterest | Bloglovin | Subscribe via email
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