Category Archives: Home&Garden

Selecting Summer Flower Garden Plants

The best tip I can give your for selecting plants for your home flower garden is: Don’t choose over grown plants. Choosing the right plants for your flower garden in the beginning will make all the difference in the beauty of your garden later on in the summer. My sister, Sheila, and I went on a little flower tour of our local garden nursery. We were selecting plants for our own flower gardens and decided we would share one of our flower garden tips with you.

I hope this gardening video will be helpful to you in selecting your plants for your summer flower garden.

Till Later,
Kathryn Griffiths
Insightful Nana

P.S. If you have any gardening tips your would like to share, please share them with us in the comments section.

Spring Gardening Information – Gardening Advice

Spring is on it’s way and warm weather days are tucked in between cold days.  When the sun is out and it’s warm…it’s a good time to get out and do a bit of cleaning up.  A little spring gardening information is in order.

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1.  It’s a perfect time to for a general, over all clean up.  Rake up the general debris of branches, leaves and other litter that may have blown into your yard during the winter months.  Don’t worry about turning the soil just now…  just focus on the larger picture.

2.  The task of pruning shrubs and sheering hedges can be attended to now.  This will leave way for the new green foliage to appear in a few weeks.

A bit of gardening advice here.  Don’t prune flowering shrubs now…. or they will not bloom.  Allow them to bloom this season and then trim them back after the flowers have subsided.  The flower buds are formed during the winter so cutting them back now is not wise.

3.  Now is the time to add Preen weed control to your flower beds. The fact that you may have snow, or rain during the week after your application… will give the Preen a chance to dissolve into the soil.  Putting Preen on your beds now prevent weeds from sprouting early and bearing seeds before you have a chance to get out and turn the soil.

4.  If you have been burning wood in a fire place or stove, perhaps it’s time to clean up and re-stack the wood pile.  You won’t be using much wood from now on.  (It’s also a good time to clean out your fireplace or wood burning stove if your don’t plan to use it again until next fall.)

5. After your general spring garden clean up, it’s a good time too apply your first application of lawn fertilizer.  You may want to discuss the type of fertilizer you need for your particular lawn with your nurseryman.   They generally have folks who can give you responsible gardening advice.

Take advantage of the few spring storms that will still be coming your way to help your lawn fertilizer dissolve into the soil and give your lawn roots the nutrients they need.

There you go… that will keep you busy for a few weeks.  I love getting out and getting a bit of fresh air after being cooped up in my house all winter.

Til Later,

Kathy Griffiths
Insightful Nana

P.S.  If you happen to live in an area that is blessed with mild weather all winter long…ignore the above message… and spend your time counting your blessings.

Growing Indoor House Plants That Purify The Air

Growing certain indoor house plants that purify air came as a surprise to me.   It does make sense when you come to think about it.  Trees do the same thing for the environment.   They say the jungle in South America near the Amazon are the lungs of the earth.

peacelily11Research from NASA (National Aeronautics & Space Admin.) found that certain house plants act as natural air filters to clean and purify air.   Toxic substances such as formaldehyde, benzene (cigarette smoke,) air mold spores, and allergens, that cause allergies and asthma, are prevalent in our homes.  These toxins can be greatly reduced by having certain air purifying plants in your surroundings.

If you have the space, there are several indoor palm plants that are at the top of the list for purifying air in your home or office.  However, if your space is limited, there are smaller plants like English Ivy and Boston Fern that are very effective for reducing air mold spores and formaldehyde.

Even the hardy Heart Phiodendrom and Peace Lily are on the chart for being air purifying house plants.  (I love a Peace Lily because if I neglect it, beautiful blooms still appear.)  The easy to grow Spider Plant is a dandy for reducing  Carbon Monoxide and Nitrogen Dioxide.

smplantchartHere is a chart suggesting which house plants purify the air.

If you’re interested in having one of these handy charts so you can refer back to it when you go shopping… simply fill in your information below and I’ll send you a download link.

Kathy Griffiths

Insightful Nana

P.S.  Well, my favorite natural indoor plant purifier is the Boston Fern, and the Peace Lily… so I’m going to keep my eye open for a good deal.

Choosing Paint Color – Paint Color Decorating

Choosing paint color is a major decision in your interior decorating because you generally live with the results for a long time, so you’ll want to choose your paint color wisely.

Have you ever painted a room and the paint color on the walls didn’t appear to be the same as the chip you picked up from the paint store? However, when you put the chip next to the new paint job…sure enough you found that it was the same color.  What happened!  It’s called “Color Illusion.”  Paint color changes, according to the light.

paintcan10 paint color decorating tips to avoid disappointment

1. Be aware that all paint will appear a bit darker on your walls than it does on the chip or in the paint can.

2. If you are in someone’s home, and you love the paint color scheme, ask them what paint color they’ve used.  However, it may not appear the same in your home. It will depend upon room size, and the amount of light coming into the area.

3. If you are looking wall paint colors in a store, go to the window and look at the chips under natural as well as the store’s artificial light. Once you find the paint color you love, ask the dealer if they have a “Paint Sample Program.” Several paint companies mix a quart sample so you can take it home and try it out on your walls before you invest in several gallons.

4. Apply the paint directly to the walls you are going to cover with the new paint color. Paint a large area (3’x3′) in the darkest corner and in the lightest corner. Paint a large area on the darkest wall as well as the lightest wall. Don’t forget the ceiling.

5. Watch how the paint color scheme changes as you move from one area of the room to another. Also, observe the value of the color. Does it appear too dark or too light? You might be surprised to see how the color seems to change. One area may look completely different than another region of the room. Do you like what you see?

Observe the color through out the day as well as at night when you have artificial lights on. You will also notice the color will change depending on a sunny day or a cloudy day. Do you like what you see?

Your ceiling paint will always appear much darker if you are going to paint it the same color as your walls. To get the ceiling to appear the same as the wall color, lighten the ceiling paint at least half so it will appear the same as the wall color. Colors values caused by shadows can fool you.

6. If you don’t want to apply the interior paint directly to your walls and ceilings, spread your paint color on very large pieces of cardboard box so you can place them around the room.

7. Keep in mind that interior paint color applied to the walls of an empty room will appear different than in a room that has carpet on the floor and is filled with furniture. Remember, your paint will take a back seat when you add carpet and furnishings. So, don’t become too overwhelmed by paint color in an empty room.

8. Be aware, because all color will appear to change from one area to another, you will not be able to control every nook and cranny.  Just consider whether you like the over all look and feel…then go for it.

9. Even if it takes you a couple of days, take your time to make a decision. You’re probably going to live with your paint decor for a long time. You want it to be right the first time.

10. You can ask for your friends’ advice, but the final choice must be yours. Make yourself happy first…after all, you and your family are the ones who are going to be surrounded with the paint color every day.

Til later,

Kathy
Insightful Nana

P.S.  Hope these 10 paint decorating tips for choosing a paint color for your home will be helpful on your next interior paint adventure.  I used the tips when picking paint for my home and I’ve been very happy with the results.

Unique Christmas Gift Ideas

Unique Christmas gift ideas for that special some one can be a challenge… especially when they don’t have any “real needs.”  I mean…  they don’t “need” towels, kitchen appliances and the like.   Christmas gift giving is fun when you run across something your loved one will be crazy about.   Well, I have a unique Christmas gift idea for you.

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All my kids have a “collection” of one type or another.   I simply look for an addition to their collections.  Through the years, it has made my Christmas gift giving a lot easier.   I have yet to see disappointment on their faces when I add to their collections.

My son, Wade, collects old banks, and old table clocks.   He has an old metal bank that is a rare find.  Very few were ever made and I won’t tell you what I paid for it.

My daughter, Katie, is a professional photographer and collects old cameras, and ….. believe it or not “Black Culture” memorabilia.   I’ve given her old dolls, salt and pepper shakers, a cookie jar and several copies of the famous old “Cream Of Wheat” advertisements.   Authentic “Black Culture” memorabilia is hard to find… so it’s especially rewarding when you find the real McCoy.

I watch for old perfume bottles, sugar bowls and creamers, and old hand painted plates for my daughter, Emily.   At a garage sale, I found a beautiful sugar and creamer that was stamp “Made In Prussia” and I picked it up for a song and dance.  I know the folks selling it didn’t have any idea of its value.

Brad is a musician,  so I find unusual small instruments and old music books and sheet music.   His collection ranges from a small African thumb harp to old harmonicas.

My friend, Marie, collects old baby dishes.  She has a ton of them already but is always happy to get a new one.   I’m always on the look out for “turkeys” for my  sister, Sheila’s collection….. (the Thankgsgiving kind.)   My niece, Camille, collects Nativity sets so Sheila purchases one for her daughter’s collection every year.

My friends and sister, Sheila are my extra eyes.  They know what I’m looking for so they are always on the look out for me.

So….  when I go into an antique store or stumble upon a great yard sale, I have a purpose in mind.  Often my Christmas gift shopping is completed well in advance.

Hope this helps a bit.

Till Later,

Kathy

Insightful Nana

P.S.   I have found great finds on eBay as well as antique stores and garage sales for unique Christmas gift ideas.

P.P.S  Not everyone has a collection.   If not… start them one.

Decorating Ideas For Christmas –

These decorating ideas for Christmas come from my daughter, Emily, and my daughter-in-law Lisa. They always go the extra mile to make sure everything is just right. There homes are always so inviting and warm.

Emily has a real talent for arranging. She starts her Christmas decorating about the middle of November because it takes her so long to get everything up. She has a nice blend of elegant and country. Real eclectic.

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Don’t you just love the red table?  It’s a garage sale find, Katie, my daughter found.  Notice the country runner on the table.  It’s a great spot for her elegant arrangement.  On the bottom shelf there are keep sakes from her childhood.  There is a music box we gave her when she was about three years old.   Don’t be afraid to blend country with elegant in your Christmas decorating.

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The elegant Christmas decoration is placed over her back door.  Notice the country grape vine and pine cones mixed  with the elegant snowflakes, ornaments and tensile.   What a striking piece to add to her Christmas decor.

Lisa is more of a country Christmas gal mix with a bit of elegance.  Her country Christmas decorating is “down home.”  I always feel so comfortable when I’m in her home.

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Lisa is an excellent seamstress and she made this delightful country snowman a few years ago.   It sits next to the fireplace.  Hope he doesn’t melt.  I am fortunate enough to own one.  Her country snowman stocking hanger is backed by a bit of elegance.  What a simple idea.  Just place shiny Christmas balls in an elegant glass container.  What a great blend.

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If you have a collection of special Christmas Ornaments you can show then off like Lisa has done.  She used her country coat rack to show off this special assortment of Christmas bears.   She’s hung her Christmas bears in front of country hearts.

As long as you decorate to please yourself and your family, it really doesn’t matter whether you put up country Christmas decorations or Elegant Christmas decorations.  Again, blend the two styles if your want to.  You can see by these decorating ideas for Christmas that it works.

Till Later

Kathy Griffiths

Insightful Nana

P.S.   I’d love to hear from you if your have any decorating ideas for Christmas you would like to share.

Tomato Pollination – How To Pollinate Your Tomatoes

Tomato Pollination is usually left up to the bees.  Since each yellow tomato blossom has both  male and female parts, the tomato is considered a “self-fertilizing” plant.   All the bee has to to is flutter it’s wings around the blossoms, which causes the blossoms to vibrate, and waaa laaa… tomatoes are born.  Almost!  There are a few other factors to consider, one is temperature.  Tomatoes love the night time heat between 60 and 70 degrees.  If the temperature falls below 60 or above 75 it interferes with the growth of the pollen.  Also, if the weather is to damp or too dry…it interferes with the pollination.

Now, I like to help Mother Nature’s bees along by pollinating my own tomato plants.  Follow along and I’ll teach you how to pollinate your tomatoes.

First, I grow container tomatoes  and I have cherry, grape and regular tomatoes. The containers sit on casters so I can roll them around if I need to.  Tomato plants  need at least 8 hours of sunshine.  I water them every day because they dry out easily because the container exposes  the soil to extra heat.  When tomatoes begin to appear, I fertilize them once a week.  It keeps the blossoms coming.  Now if your have a regular tomato garden… this regiment may be difficult to follow.

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Grape and cherry tomatoes have clusters of blossoms, and when when the bees come around fluttering their wings a lot of blossoms get pollinated at one time.

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Successful  bee pollination produces lots of tomatoes on one stem, like the grape and cherry tomatoes.

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And, it produces an abundance of tomatoes for salads or just to pop into your mouth one at at time.

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Regular tomatoes have fewer blossoms in a cluster. When is a blossom ready to be pollinated?

When the tomato blossom is wide open, the yellow petals turned back and the flower is  pointing down, the blossom is ready for pollination.

Here are the male and female parts.

The bees flutter their wings or a wind blows, causing the pollen to come out of the straw through the Antlers on to the Carpels or Ovary.

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If the tomato pollination is successful, you’ll get an abundance of tomatoes on one tomato plant.

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Now, I help tomato pollination  along by gently tapping the blossom stem, causing a vibration.  From all I can find, the best time to do this is mid-day, around noon.  Not earlier  than 10:00 and not later than 4:00.  Some folks have been know to use a battery powered tooth brush because it’s vibration is suppose to simulate the bee’s wings.  I’ve never been that particular.  I just give the stem a little shake so the pollen will fall out of the male straw and fall on the end of the blossom.

Now some say this is all  “folk lore… or myth.”  Who know?  My experience is, I have one heck of a lot of tomatoes on my plants which I didn’t had  before hand pollinating.

So give it a try because  the tomato harvest is just beginning and you have the rest of the summer, into the fall, to see if this pollination process works for you.

You can watch the video… to see this procedure in action.

Till Later,

Kathy
Insightful Nana

P.S.  I’ve already pick my first tomato, wiped it on my shirt and with my salt shaker in hand,  give it a dash of salt and popped the whole thing in my mouth at once.  Mmmmmm.  Is this heaven?

P.P.S.  I may not look like it but I removed a lot of leaves from my tomato plants.  Looking at these photos it reminds me it’s time to remove a few more leaves. Taking leaves off will give your blossoms a greater change of being pollinated by bees and more energy goes to grown the tomato rather than the leaves.

Also, I read about a farmer who walks down the furrows of his tomato garden with a stick and gives the plants a shake.  He claims his tomatoes produce  50 percent more yield.

P.P.P.S.  One more thing.  A woman standing next to me at the nursery says she give her tomatoes a shot of Epson Salts a couple of times a season.  1 TB to a gallon of water will do the trick.  She claims it sweetens the tomatoes as well as encourages greater tomato production.  She said, “Tomatoes love acid and the Epson Salts provides it.   Haven’t tried this one yet, but I’m heading to the store for my Epson Salts.

Gardening Tools – Handy Gardening Tote

My gardening tools were scattered all over the place until I came up with this handy gardening tote, which is simply a large basket.  Now, you can certainly purchase a gardening tote at your local hardware store…but this simple basket works just fine for me.

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Until all my small gardening tools ended up in this basket tote… I was forever running back and forth to the garage to pick up this and that.

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Here are a few garden tools that seem to be constantly needed.

1.  Small clipper and scissors. Use them for “dead heading” flowers and pruning out-of-control branches and stems.

2.  A gallon container. This is just a convenient container for the weeds and flower tops I collect.

3.  An extra sprinkler and nozzle. It makes change overs easy.

4.  A small garden sprayer. I found this one at a farm and garden supply store.  It was only $10.00 and well worth it.  It holds a  quart of Round  Up.   Getting right down among the flowers is easy.  You can give the weeds a straight shot of Round Up without the spray surrounding flowers.  Of course… do this on a calm day.   Now if you don’t want to invest in a regular garden sprayer… a regular spray bottle will do… as long as you can twist the nozzle so it sprays in a narrow stream.

5.  Disposable vinyl gloves. Pick yourself up a package of disposable gloves.  Find them the paint department at Walmart rather than in the first aid area… they’re cheaper.   Always use them when you handle Round Up because the chemical will go right through bare skin. Put on shoes (no sandals,) long pants and a long sleeve shirt.  After spraying,  change your clothes.

6.  A salt shaker?

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Now if you noticed in the first photo… there is a salt shaker in the basket.  I often go out early in the morning and find those nasty slugs chewing on my flowers.   Boy… they’re “dead meat” when you sprinkle a little salt on them.   I then scoop them up with my little shovel and toss them into the gallon container…. to be disposed of in the garbage can.   Don’t step on them… they leave their eggs behind.   Using slug bait this year has not worked well because we’ve had so much rain.

You probably have your favorite gardening tools.  Find yourself a basket or garden tote and filler up.

Till Later,

Kathy Griffiths

Insightful Nana

My sister, Sheila, has decorated her garden shed with antique garden tools.   Can you imagine decorating your garden shed?   Well, go take a look.  It’s a treat!

Begonias – The Queens Of My Garden

Begonias are the queens of the garden at my house.  I love the intensity of their rich viberent colors… pink, red, orange and yellow.  There are different varieties of begoinas.  Upright and Nonstop are the most commonly known.  There is a  little less known type called Illumniation.  The Illumniation begoinia seeds are imported from England.  It is a “hanging” variety and by that I mean… the flowers and foliage droop over the edges of the planter or hanging basket.

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Every year, my favorite nursery has plenty Illumniation Begonias to choose from but because of a fertilization mishap, all of thier begonias died.  No problem… I’ll just get them from another nursery.   No way!   Every nursery I called did not have them.  In fact, most nurseries were not familiar with the variety.  I quickly printed off a few photos I had taken of my baskets last year and ran to to a new nursery… who promised to plant them next year.  (You see, I want to protect myself from disappointment.)

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After many phone calls, I finally found a nursery  50 miles away that were having a few Illumniation begonias coming in on a truck.  Boy… was I on the road in a hurry.  Would you believe, only 15 Illumination plants were among 100 begonia plants.   Such luck!

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So… when you’re begonia shopping, ask your nursery about Illumniation Begonias  If you’re fortunate enough to locate any… grab them up and give ’em a try.  I assure you… you’ll not be disappointed.

Off to plant my hanging baskets.

Till Later,

Kathy

Insightful Nana

P.S.  Remember, begonias don’t care for the sun… they are strictly a shade plant and they love rich soil.  They’re great for porches that face the north or the east.

P.P.S  Make sure and view the video on the home page of the blog for “must know” gardening tips.

Hanging Baskets For Mother’s Day

Hanging baskets are will be available in the nurseries soon. Actually, it’s not too early to begin thinking about Mother’s Day gifts. Hanging planters make an ideal gift because they give Mom and Grandma joy all summer long.

Picking out hanging baskets for Mother’s Day gifts for Mom and Grandma will be a snap if your follow a couple of simple rules.

1. Select the flower planter according to where it’s going to be hung. Will the flower basket have full sun most of the day… or will a shady porch or patio be its home? If the planter will get only the morning sun or a very few hours of sun… shade flowers are the best. If the planter is going to get afternoon sun… or hot sun… make sure you select flowers than can stand the heat.

Many nurseries will have the full sun planters separated from the shade planters. If they don’t have them separated… ask “customer help”  direct you to the appropriate kind you need.

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If you find the hanging basket is full of Impatients,or Begonias.. you’re looking at a shade planter.

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If Petunias, Daisies, and Geraniums are the order of the day… then it’s a full sun planter.

2. Choose hanging baskets or floor planters where the flowers are not over grown. Small under developed plants with just a few blooms are better than fully developed plants…full of blooms. If the hanging basket is too over grown… when the foliage is pinched back to encourage spreading, it will look straggly and will not fill in well.

Happy Mother’s Day shopping for hanging baskets.

Till Later,

Kathy Griffiths
Insightful Nana

P.S. The hanging baskets in the photos have been planted very full and nice. They are just perfect right now. In a couple of weeks however, they may be a bit over grown. Pinch the bloomed flowers back so it will fill out and bloom again.

P.P.S.  Don’t forget to get your self a hanging basket.  You’ll enjoy it all summer long.  Just remember to get the right kind for the right location.