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17 responses to “Thanks for Giving

  1. too late to plant garlic or maybe not? the farmer’s almanac a few years back ran a story about garlic being the sole eats of pyramid constructors. there’s some potent sovereignty right there in keith’s farm. is it a long island train ride away?

    • Revel

      Garlic was on the list of final items I wanted to plant before the ground goes completely frozen (if it ever gets there this year), but you have a good question. I feel like it’s too late because I waited so long myself, but I’m not sure about that.

      But I’m glad you asked because I found this very helpful post that suggests it is not, in fact, too late to grow garlic. So grab your best garlic, and get digging! (The post has lots of helpful little hints, too, like not storing garlic in the fridge b/c it will develop bitter sprouts. I’ve also heard to make sure to keep it stored in the dark). Anyway, nice to know the pyramid constructors thrived on it, because I’m of the you-can-never-have-too-much-garlic camp (though we call ourselves YCNHTMGC for short – it comes out something like the sound when you first open a jar of fruit preserves that have been sitting around for a really long time). If my theory of garlic is right (never too much, always good all the time, garlic makes you smart – wards off flu and zombies alike), then it’s no wonder those pyramids are a wonder. Also, I bought my 2012 Farmer’s Almanac this summer. I’m looking forward to it’s many little tidbits. It’s one of those rare publications that works just as well in the bathroom as on the subway, but, I digress…

    • Revel

      I think it is a long island train ride away. Putting it on my list of sites to see sometime.

  2. Ralph ⋅

    I know this doesn’t really fit the topic, but I found a couple interesting sites worth looking at. They contain a lot of useful ideas- some food and garden related.

    Alternate uses for common items:

    Handy hints:

    Home made laundry detergent as recently discussed on can be found as a complete kit at:


    download the ingredients/ recipe for free at:

    Click to access HomemadeLaundrySoapStarterSet.pdf

    BTW, check out the rest of Lehman’s web site at:

  3. Ralph ⋅

    I was recently given a few pieces of branch from a Red Ti plant, also known as a Hawaiian good luck plant. After some research I put the branch cuttings in some bottled water (the fluoride in our water is toxic to it) and they are now sprouting roots. Has anyone ever grown Red Ti plants? I will try putting one or two of the cuttings in soil soon and see how things go. It will be another plant to compete for limited sun exposure this winter, but they are really pretty looking house plants from the pictures I’ve seen. Legend has it that if you plant these around the outside of your property the gods will protect you from lava flows, and they have some food and medicinal uses as well.

    A while back I heard about using green sand in the garden. One use was to cover seeds with it so they have an easier time growing. Another use was to mix it with hard/ high clay soils to prevent it from getting too hard and improve drainage. I believe it also supplies minerals to the soil and plants in it. If I can locate a local source I would like to give it a try since my soil has quite a bit of clay in it. Has anyone heard of using green sand, or used it?

    • Revel

      I took a quick peek online at the Red Ti plants. Here’s the intel I gathered …

      High air humidity is necessary to discourage leaf drop and spider mites, two very common problems. Even sections of stem without leaves can be rooted.

      Grows 4-6 ft. (wow! some comments on the following site suggest it will grow even higher. Talk about your proper urban plant – it knows the only way to grow is up).

      Like you said, native Hawaiians say this plant protects the home and brings good fortune. The leaves are used for cooking and are also the basis for hula skirts in Hawaii. Here’s a site that focuses on the “hawaiianness” of the plant:

      They look beautiful. I’m excited for you on this new addition. With the banana plants, things are getting tropical in the (urban) jungle. Pictures soon please?

      Speaking of tropical plants, the banana babies are doing fine but I notice that the lower leaves often have brown and curl around the edges. Sometimes I peel off the lowest one that looks the most damaged, and then over the next couple days, the rest of the leaves seem to perk up. Have you noticed this too?

      As for the green sand, I have not used it myself but let’s see if we hear from anyone else. In the meantime, these sites talk about it a little bit (anything that can help naturally break up the clay soil we have in this region would be welcome in my garden any time!). On just a quicksand, I picked up the following — I may look into it for next year…

      Used as a soil amendment and fertilizer, Greensand (0-0-3) is mined from deposits of minerals that were originally part of the ocean floor. Contains about 3% total potash, along with iron, magnesium, silica and as many as 30 other trace minerals. May also be used to loosen heavy, clay soils. Improves plant health. Ideal for use in organic gardening

      Broadcast 50-100 lbs. per 1,000 square feet.

      Ingredients: Derived from naturally occurring iron-potassium silicate.

  4. Ralph ⋅

    On garlic, I copied what follows from

    “Garlic is shipped only in the fall-late September or early October, depending on the season. Quantities are limited; order before September 15th for best availability”

    Seed catalogs/ companies can be a great source of info. I picked a garlic type at random for the above. If you have a specific type of garlic in mind try to visit the site and search for it- they have a pretty good selection. I’ve thought of ordering garlic a couple times but always seem to forget until the ordering window passes.

    Thanks for the Red Ti links, I’ll have to check them out. This is new territory for me, I usually keep away from tropical things because of our weather. That being said, I have started thinking more about tropical stuff after the hot summer we had. The Ti roots are getting to where they should probably be put in soil. I will probably cut a piece or two off the branches I have to try to make additional plants. If things work out well I may have a few starters for the next seed swap 🙂

    I have a couple (1 or 2) brown leaves as you described on my small banana plants. When the brown leaves are at the bottom of the plant I don’t worry too much as long as the plant as a whole looks happy. I figure the bottom leaves gradually die off to create the leafless main trunk. I remember reading somewhere that as long as the leaves still have a fair amount of green they should be left on the plant. I don’t like cutting them off, but rather let nature take it’s course and eventually they will dry up to the point they can just be peeled off. I have a suspicion that the browned edges may be from letting the soil dry out too much. It seems they have appeared a couple times after I missed watering them. If you have more than 1 or 2 brown, try to see if the plants are in a draft or too close to a heat duct. I read they don’t like drafts because they tend to be drying to the plant. I believe this since I haven’t seen any water drops on the floor or on any of the leaves in a while. Today I took my bamboo inside because they also get dries out from dry breezes. Cold breezes can be very dry.

    • Revel

      Thanks for the banana leaf pointers. I think I’ve been skimpy on the watering, since I was worried about over-watering them. I do have them out of the way of vents. So what you’re saying is that it’s good to see water on the leaves? I guess I was thinking that meant I was overwatering them…but now I think I was wrong.

  5. Ralph ⋅

    Yesterday I did a little looking around the internet for a source of green sand. I saw it on Amazon but would rather find some local if I can. I got the idea of using sand from a podcast (of cause) called The Family Garden Doctor which I haven’t listened to in some time. He suggested planting your seeds in the ground, but covering them with sand so they have a much easier time getting up and out into the air and sun. Another use for sand he had was to mix very tiny seeds with sand and putting the mix in the ground. It makes it easier to spread the seeds out. If I come across a local place for green sand I’ll post it.

  6. Ralph ⋅

    Almost forgot, The Old Farmer’s Almanac website has a couple podcasts you can subscribe to.

  7. Ralph ⋅

    I’ve actually subscribed to The Old Farmers Almanac for a couple years now because I would either forget about the new issues or would have to go looking for a copy to buy. The subscription is nice, but you wind up paying nearly twice the price for the book, plus a pocket sized calendar/ datebook.

    I’ve gone to lightly touching the top of the soil to estimate wetness on the bananas. Mine haven’t dripped water for a while now, probably because of the low humidity in winter. If it feels cooler than room temp the soil is moist. None of this is an exact science so it’s a kind of try and see what works thing. For my cacti which are in small containers I simply pick them up and see how heavy they are. When they feel light I give them some water. The cacti seem to agree with the weight method. They are ‘plump’ not wrinkled so they are getting enough water.

    I put one Red Ti branch with roots (from being in water a couple weeks) into soil vertically. Eventually it should start growing leaves or branches. I also cut a few inches off the top and put it horizontally into some moist soil. I’ll see how it does in a couple weeks. From what I read the horizontal method should produce multiple plants along it’s length.The roots on the remaining branches still in water are starting to get long and will need to go into soil soon.

  8. Ralph ⋅

    The Old Farmers Almanac- a great book packed full of all kinds of information. If anyone else reads it what do you use it for?

    The weather section is something I use. Not 100% accurate (neither are the weather forecasts on TV or radio), I use it to pick vacation weeks at work. It’s become my secret weapon to avoid taking off a week only to be trapped inside and watching it rain.

    I also use the astronomy section to keep track of meteor showers. Recently many showers have been ruined by clouds, but not all. I usually follow up the meteor shower dates with a quick look back at the weather section to get an idea what viewing may be like.

    As the name suggests, there’s a lot of gardening information. When to plant, how to care for herbs, &c. A couple issues back there was a good article on using cover crops. If anyone hasn’t checked it out, for about $7 pick up the new issue, or give it a ‘test drive’ in your local book store.

  9. Ralph ⋅

    Every now and then I hear about using Epsom Salt in the garden. I did a little research and got side tracked for quite a while on the topic- not so much the garden uses but for the human benefits. Check the links on the page for both uses :
    Tomatoes, peppers, and roses are specifically mentioned as being helped by Epsom Salt.

    While reading I found another link at:
    Things in your kitchen with alternative uses in the garden are listed, some to repel ‘pest’ animals.

    A few short videos can be found at:

    Has anyone used, or heard of using Epsom Salt in the garden?

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