Thursday, February 18

Gardening Experiments: Starting Slips from Sweet Potatoes

Of the many new gardening 'items' I am attempting this year - growing sweet potatoes is one of them. It started out with myself YouTube-ing how to grow potatoes in containers (which I am also attempting this year, hopefully), and that lead to post of people growing sweet potatoes.

Now, since sweet potatoes don't really grow the same as potatoes - at all - potatoes you just dump in the ground and hill around them, sweet potatoes you plant the vine and it vines along the ground. The first trick to growing sweet potatoes is to get your hands on "slips" - the starter plants. Since I wasn't sure where to order slips, and then only found one place that actually sold them, and have never been a fan of buying real plants in the mail...ramble ramble... I thought I would try growing them myself. All the people on YouTube did it and so have a bunch of 10 year old kids in elementary school, so I should be able to. Hopefully.

Anyways, to make your own slips, supposedly you suspend your sweet potatoes in water for a couple weeks, and then growth will start. It's all really reminiscent of a elementary school science experiment. You make sure the rooting end is down, and the growing / vining end up! The growing end will be the end where it was pulled from the vine originally, and the rooting end will be, typically, more narrow and will not have the nubbin from being pulled off the vine.

Then you wait. Once your leafy growth is so long / high, you clip it off, and put it in water to allow root growth on the ends before planting outside. All sounds easy peasy...

So I went to the grocery store, and I bought myself two sweet potatoes - as you see above. I did read warnings that grocery store sweet potatoes may not provide slips if they have been treated with anything, or if they had been stored below a certain temperature, etc and etc. Other websites have said this is bogus. I'm going with the experimental route - if I don't notice any sort of growth on these guys in two weeks then I'm going to change my game plan. I started now, with all this snow on the ground, because like all good gardening things - it takes time to grow. Plus I want some extra time in case these don't grow.

I'm still not sure where I will plant them. Containers or in the garden or flower beds are both options. They are vining ground cover - so maybe in a vegetable based flower bed to prevent weeds. We will see. From what I saw in the videos, since we are short season here (compared to... let's say California, hehe), there will only really be formation of tublers (sweet potatoes) where the slip is. There won't be time for the slip to grow long and re-root pieces of itself and grow sweet potatoes. I should actually maybe try preventing that to direct all the energy to the main slips.

Now, all this googling did lead me to growing ginger!!! Now that I can grow in a pot as well...hrmm...

Are you growing anything different this year? Any garden experiments?

Wednesday, February 17

Seed Starting: Pepper Planting Day!

This morning was pepper planting day. It's about 12 weeks until the projected last frost, and that is usually when I start my peppers. The package does say to wait until 8-10 weeks, but I've always found my germination to be a little slower - and last year we had an amazing spring that I could be out in the garden earlier with them - so I want to be ready, just in case!

I'm growing a mix of peppers again - some of the seeds are from last year, and some are from this year.  They are: Flame Hybrid Hot Thai, Cayenne Long Slim, El Jefe Jalapeno, Jalapeno M, Purple Beauty, Hungarian Hot Yellow Wax, North Star Sweet Pepper, and Mosqueterro Poblano.

The seeds look just as you would think they do, if you have ever cut open a fresh pepper:

The hot pepper seeds have a bit more red / orange tint to them compared to the sweet peppers - again, expected.  Last year, after doing some reading online, I planted half of them under soil and the other half just resting on top of the soil. From what I read, those sitting on top of the soil would do better. Based on my own personal experiment - I noticed no difference. The both grew at the same rate, and both did equally as well - only you could see the second the seeds resting on the soil germinated. I had no issues with either way. So this year, I decided to do an in between - plant them on the surface, and give them just a slight dusting of soil.

Here are some seeds just before they get tucked in:

I just planted them in some old pots that I had from last year's purchase of annual flowers. I got a large tray with 28 little pots or 'plugs' in them, and I used that to keep all my peppers together. Now, when you are using pots of the previous year please make sure to disinfect with them with a bleach bath just in case they are carrying something that will hurt your little seedlings.

I planted two seeds per 'pot'. Except for the Hot Yellow Wax peppers. I planted four per pot.  The reason for this - last year, these little seeds really had a hard time germinating. West Coast Seeds, where I purchased them, are great at stating the estimated germination rate of seeds.

So as you see, only 87% will germinate of these seeds, this year it will be even less because these seeds are a year old now. Last year, after planting two per pot - which is my normal 'seedling planting procedure' - I had multiple pots with zero germination. I had to replant these, and considering germination rates can take up to 2 weeks for the little guys to pop out - it really put those pepper plants behind the game.

Some seed packages, like above - gave so few seeds that the seeds were in a smaller packet, inside the large seed packet. These seeds are usually 'special' in some way - rare, disease resistant, highly sought out, ect. A couple of these packages only gave me 10 or so seeds - so I could only plant two per pot. I planting them as far apart as I could, with the hope that maybe I can transplant the extras, instead of picking favourites and - gulp - chopping one down. But, since you never know if seeds have 100% germination - I didn't want to risk just planting one per pot.

Now they just get to sit, and sun bath with Oreo, and hopefully in two-ish weeks we will see their little leaves start to poke up :)

Saturday, February 13

The Orchid Lady

The beautifully colourful town square
On our trip, we went on just one excursion. We usually do more, but we just wanted to relax and enjoy the sunshine. We went on a "3 levels of Huatulco" tour. The last level, the mountain village of Pluma Hidalgo was beautiful. Up there we found coffee (I will share another day), and we found the Orchid Lady.


See that super squiggly yellow road - yup! That's what we drove up on to get to the village!!

All the way up in the mountains - it was so much cooler!!
Elia Martinez shared with us her gardens - and they were gorgeous!! She had orchids, succulents and more tucked away in every spot that she could find. She really showed us what you can do with a small space - it was very inspiring!

That's me!! Wishing I could take all these flowers home!!

It was the one time I wished I had brought my DSLR camera instead of a point and shoot on a trip. But I still managed to get some decent pictures, they do not do justice to all the beautiful blooms she has:

The bumblebee in this picture is the size of a large thumb - I kid you not!
He was hard to capture, but I still had to share these photos. SUCH a large bee!!!!

We did a group shot with everyone in our tour. The sun must have been shining in our faces, because boy are my eyes squinty!! I should have just put my sunglasses down!

The gardens were just stunning, and just made me want to get home and grow stuff!!! I might have ordered a few more flower seeds - to sprinkle around here and there...we don't have bumble bees like they do, but we still have bees that need food!

Friday, February 12

Review: L’Oréal Paris Hydra-Total 5 Ultra-Soothing Ritual

Before we left for our trip to Hualtulco, Mexico; I received in the mail this wonderful little kit of goodies to trail. I, of course, unboxed it all before taking some pictures - I've never been known for being patient - but it was all beautifully wrapped in tissue paper.

In this facial kit I received: cleanser, toner and moisturizer. 

Let's start with the cleanser: it is made of 'micellar water'. The instructions for it are to 'dab' and not rub in. I'll admit, the cleaning side of my brain doesn't quite understand how something gets clean if you dab, and don't rinse off, etc. My face felt clean, but my brain just couldn't get around it. So, that said, I wasn't a huge huge fan of the cleaner. I ended up wiping it around my face, just because I really couldn't get into the whole 'dabbing-to-clean' idea.

The toner: wasn't like a typical toner. The consistency of it was more like a watery jelly. It felt refreshing to use, and my skin didn't feel super tight like it does with some other toners, nor did it feel dried out. I think of the trio, this was my favourite product.

The moisturizer: The cream was alright, it wasn't horrible and it wasn't great. The bottom line is, it did moisturize my usually super dry skin, and kept it that way. These products were all scent-free; but as everyone knows, scent-free still has a 'scent' - and I wasn't a huge fan of this one. It was almost borderline floral, but maybe that's just me.

My end statement: The products worked well - my faced was clean and smooth and hydrated. I wasn't a fan of the mechanism to cleanse my face, but others may love it. The trio worked well together, and I didn't break out from changing my cleansing routine for a while. My favourite was definitely the toner.

As a note: I received this products, for free, to trial for an unbiased opinion. 

#5works + #BeyondHydration

Wednesday, February 10

We Are Back!

We just got back from our Honeymoon, in Hualtulco, Mexico. It was an amazing trip. We relaxed a lot, and met a lot of new people and went on a little adventure into the mountains! It wasn't as adventurous as our trip to the Mayan Rivera last year, but we just wanted to hang out this time around.

We had the most amazing view from our room.  But what was remarkably stunning was all the art around us at the resort. I just loved the ladies below:

Bits of coral were washed up all along the shore. Our beach connected to an 'untouched' beach by a small path, and that was were we saw the most coral. I don't think I've ever seen so much washed up onto the shorelines before.

We hiked to the top of look out point to get this shot of the 'untouched' beach. It was a lot rougher than ours, with all the waves and rocks. Not many people ventured into the water further than their legs. 

It was the perfect little break. Now back to real life. Today, mother nature welcomed us back to Canada with a huge snow storm. Thanks mother nature ;) hehe.