Category Archives: Gardening

Spiders Makes Firelighters! 

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I first talked about making firelighters wayyyyy back in my second month of blogging. I hadn’t tried to make them at that time, but in the four years since I have made them often. They work a treat, and cost me absolutely nothing but the time (and electricity) it takes to make them. These firelighters are made entirely out of things most people would throw away without a second thought.

What things?

Dryer lint!

  
This is a small shoebox full of lint. I save it everytime I clean the dryer filter. There is a lot of hair and fur in our lint, of course. No matter, we all know hair burns nicely. Unless the trap is full of fur from washing the dog bed, in which case it is 100% hair and not worth keeping.

Next? Paper egg cartons!

  
I cut the pointy bits off, to make separation of the individual cells easier once the lighters are finished. The great thing is that all those little points – other than being great fun to put on your fingertips and make creepy noises and theatrically scary movements at the other (human or not) occupants of the house – is that they are compostable.  Being the plant fanatic that I am, of course I have a big compost bin for making my own good soil. In they go!

Lastly, used wax! 

You can use the stubs of candles, if you aren’t nutso like me and save those for making new candles. In our case, we eat a lot of cheese. Cheese that is coated in wax! So hubby and I save the wax coatings and after a few months, you have a lot of wax! Baby Bell is so yummy. It’s my breakfast five days a week. 

  
After cutting the pointy bits from the cartons, I stuffed the cells with lint. I do try to keep each one separate, for ease of tearing apart when finished.

  
You kind of get a feel for how much lint to use after a few goes at it. I did try to use less, but then it took two to get a fire lit. More lint=more heat. I use about this much per cell: but my hands aren’t small and this is a quite dense lump of lint. So kind of a pointless picture, actually. Meh. 

  
I will say that this process is messy. Dusty. I’ve had to clean lint dust out of my nose afterward. Purple or grey nose goo! Says a lot about the colour of fabric we wear, or own. 

I had way more egg-cartons than lint, so when I was done lint-stuffing, I moved to wax-melting. I have a small, €1 pot that is just used for wax. It really isn’t worth doing this if you have to wash out the wax after – wax smells strongly, sticks to everything, and requires a lot of hot water and towels to remove. I also have a crappy little teaspoon just for this job. It could be bigger, but it is what I have.

  
Melting wax! Once it is liquid, spoon a bit over each lump of lint. For my tiny spoon, it takes three spoonfuls. I use the spoon to poke the lint down, too. Sometimes if the wax is really hot, and the lint sizzles a bit as it settles. But it won’t catch on fire.

  
Half-waxed. Wax-on, wax-off?

Wow, look at all the hair. Eww. Two cats, one thick-furred dog, and two humans with super long hair. This is why I love a dryer, despite the electricity used. It does take a lot of the fur off our clothing. Not all. Never all

I figured out today that the unused extra cartons make a good platform for cooling off the finished product. One dozen-sized carton can cool three dozen lighters, with no worry about getting wax on your countertop or table.  
A few common-sense tips. Put paper or cardboard down before dishing out the hot wax. It gets everywhere, no matter how careful you are. I use an expired credit card to scrape up any messes that hit the stovetop or counter. Make sure to clean any drips off your pot before putting it back on to the heat. Don’t use plastic or styrene egg cartons, just paper ones. And if your hob is gas, make these well away from the flame, or turn it off while working with such inflammable materials. Am I covered? I hope so – but I am going to have to state that I am not responsible for any accidents or injuries incurred by following my advice.

That is it – once cool, one cell of the carton should be enough to light your house fireplace, or even your charcoal BBQ grill (but it’s wise to let the firelighters burn up completely before you get food near it – you will have no idea what chemicals are in fabric lint, after all! And who wants to eat food that smells of burnt hair, yuk).

Climate Change

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Climate change is evident in my garden this year. 

Earlier in the week, I saw a report of blooming daffodils in Co. Clare, Ireland, and in Cheshire, UK. 

So, I went out to where mine are planted…

  
This can’t be good! 

What will happen to these tender shoots when a frost comes? If a frost comes. Am I going to have to learn to crochet and make them little jackets?

For comparison, this photo was taken February 1 this year:

  
Tonight it is 9C, or 48F. Yesterday, at 3 am (according to hubby, I was asleep), it was 14.6C or 58F! Crazy altogether, and worrying for the health of my garden next year. 

Anyone else having unseasonable weather for late December? 

December Blooms

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Take two

Well! I still have flowers. The pics below are just the ones from out back of the house. I meant to get pics from out front when the light hit there, but by then it was raining again.

The lilies are all gone, and the tigridia too of course. I’m still waiting on the tiggies to open their seed pods so I can collect this year’s bounty! The yellow iris already ‘popped,’ so if you want seed for those, let me know.

It’s been very wet – the whole country is flooded (we are okay) – but warm. We’ve had morning frost once, afternoon snow once; and last Saturday, I awoke to an unexpected snowfall:

  
It was funny to me that I opened the blinds and said, out loud, ‘Where the hell did that come from?’ 

An hour or so later I heard hubby get up, open the blinds upstairs, and say: ‘Where the hell did that come from?’ Ah, we do think alike on occasion!

So, back to the flowers. I still have a weather-worn white rose:

  

The new chocolate orange rudbeckia (from seed this year) is happy enough, if bedraggled and twisty.

  
The other, older rudbeckia are smaller this year. But still I like them. 

   
 
Yes, there are stray dog hairs attached to most of my flowers. The back garden is also her toilet, so … unavoidable!

This is one of my cyclamen, which are meant to bloom in the winter. I kept this one inside all last year, but it got cyclamen mites so out it went, and away from the rest which are out front. I did tone down the pink in this, it was blindingly vivid.

  
I always forget what this is. I have two now….  

I’ve saved the best for last – there are gazania still in bloom! 

  


As the gazania are new to me this year, I’ve been wondering the whole time if they can over winter in our super-wet, windy, but not terribly cold climate. So far so good!

Gerbera Update!

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They have been in bloom for weeks now, but holy shit it is hard to take a good photo of them!

Only three have bloomed – one is still thinking about it, and two died. Dammit. I won’t leave them outside ever again!

  
The youngest, and smallest, of the brood. 

  
The second one to open. Gorgeous!

  
This is my favourite. I want so much for you to see how the underside of the petals are a different colour. Can you? It’s impossible, I think, to capture what we see.

Sometimes a picture isn’t enough -these flowers have made me realise that not everything can be expressed or shared to the full extent of reality.

Grow these – buy these – whatever you need to do, but please try to get this flower into your life. Mine are hidden away (from cats) on the windowsill of our toilet! Have to say every time we visit the room, we both talk about the daisies.

Tigridia Post. I Have To, The Photos Are Piling Up.

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I think I’ll do all pink ones.

   
I’m beginning to think that wasps are the main pollinators of my tigridia – unless it is just the wind doing the job?

  
   
 
Did you notice? Most are pink and white, but some are pink and yellow!

  
   
   
   
   
I had a hard time deciding if this was red or pink… So much for the stereotype that women know all the colours. I think it’s more red, now – comparing to the other pictures. Oh well! 

   
 A bit battered.
  
   
 Not quite open yet, but I had to go to work. Hence the very abused steel-toe Caterpillar Boots in frame.

 

Gerbera Daisies

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They are still just baby buds at the moment, the size of my thumbnail, but I’m so excited to have them coming up!

  

Will it be yellow? Will it be white? 

  
Will it be red or pink or purple? So exciting! Okay I’m easily pleased when it comes to plants.

I’ve always wanted these. So glad I finally found some seed for sale as already-growing plants are quite pricey. I have six – and who knows what colours they will be?! Stay tuned!

Plants That Are Not Tigridia

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They are feeling left out. 

Remember the new lilies I planted back in April? It was a bit late, I know, but they are finally up.

The first ones to awaken are very small.

  
From the Aldi ‘Roselily Mix’ – and so far only the pink and white ones of the mix have come out to say hello.

  
And just the two. Oh well. 

  
These are some of the Aldi ‘Pixels Mix’ I’ve bought in the past – but this is a very unexpected colour! It wasn’t on the package at all. The above is them as youngin’s…

  
…and this is them, a little more awake. The blooms last a good long time, too, yay! Very good autumn colours, I think.

Not so sure they go well with the big pink and cream ones up above?

  
But aren’t they fantastic? Hubby and I are both in love with this one, another Aldi prize, ‘Lollipop.’

   
   
The packaging said they were meant to be short, only 14-16cm (5.5 – 6.3in tall) – ha! One is that short. The other is a good 2.5 feet or 76cm tall! As big as the Pixels are meant to get – you can see that the short one is taller than the tall one, in the first photos. Go figure. I expect I have mutants.

  
The nasturtium (from seed last year, but I collected the seeds for this batch) has been moved to along the wall (about a metre high) and it seems to love growing up into the ivy. 

  
The not-sweet pea lives right behind where I’ve planted the nasturtium, and comes back every year. It is MASSIVE. Not-sweet because it has no scent, bummer eh? This is from seeds I collected in Akron, Ohio, in a year that didn’t start with a 2. Considering I moved here in 2005, it is amazing it was still viable.

   
 Gorgeous – whatever it is. I’ve forgotten. It scents (or stinks) up my front doorstep marvellously. It is not a Stargazer lily but close.

  
Roses are still going strong. I thought this was an odd-looking cluster. Will be interesting when all the buds open! Ignore the damned black-spot: I can’t get rid of it.

   
 And the California poppies are still going like gangbusters, too. 

Tigridia AGAIN

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I have soooo many pictures now. It’s crazy. Scores of them, each of a bloom that lasted just 8 hours or so. There are literally too many to post.

What should I do? I could do an all-pink post, or all-yellow, or all-red; or the funky striped hybrid I seem to have created accidentally. I can’t pick the ‘best of’ as every one is perfect and amazing.

Okay. I have two “cheating” pictures, where there is more than one flower in the shot. I’ll start with those.

   
   
   
    
    

A rare, dry morning!

 Ooo, one with my hand in frame, to give you an idea of size. I don’t have small hands, either!   

 Spot the wasp?

   
My favourite picture so far of several together. Had it as my FB cover photo until about an hour ago.

Oh, and did I say I had two ‘cheating’ pictures? Turns out it was 13. Whoopsie!

Hope you liked them – and I am willing to post seed to you, if you want to give them a try. First year they won’t bloom, but the next? You get this madness!

 

I’m Way Behind, But So Are My Flowers

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I just can’t seem to post as much as I’d like to. After taking the first week of August off work, I also let my blog-reading slide. Sorry! I’m all caught up now with that, but I have so damn many pictures I wanted to share. I guess I’ll get to it!

   
New lilies! 

 
The colour looks really weird here, but it hasn’t been putzed around with, I promise.

  
Not looking fab – the rain took out most of the petals the first day these opened. Bah.

  
That’s a bit better! All of the above are ALDI “pixels mix” bought this year as bare bulbs, so I will forgive them for looking scraggly. I like the top one best. You can tell that this yellow one is way taller than the orange one, too.

   
 I have roses like crazy. I’m glad – the white ones smell fantastic and scent the entire back garden on still days.

  
The new rudbeckia (black eyed Susan) ‘chocolate orange’ from seed this year. Not as advertised – but clearly I have it in a too-small pot as you can’t even see the pot in this picture. Replanted today. Poor thing.   

I can’t remember what this is! Grown from seed last year, and again this year – and it also self-seeded in random places. Help?

The crocrosmia dug out of wasteland a few years back – looking great!

   
Hosta flowers – the white, closed

 The white, open

 
The purple, from the non-variegated leaf hosta. My neighbour told me she didn’t grow Hostas because they don’t bloom… Again I must have the magic touch.

  
I wish they didn’t look so bad when they wilt, though. Quite ugly, like rotting used tissues.

Couldn’t end without some tigridia. This is a side view – don’t think I’ve taken this angle before.

  

I’ve caught up to August 15 now! Woot.