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You say Forsythe; I say Forsyth

A few years ago I learned about a ‘new-to-me’ method for propagating plants – it was called the ‘Forsythe Pot’. The Forsythe Pot method is a way to propagate plant cuttings. Someone named ‘zuzu’s petals’ posted a helpful tutorial on

Instantly, I needed to learn more. Researching, I found a Forsythe Pot tutorial that goes a bit beyond the usual stem cutting that most people know. There’s a very good blog post with lots of information. Check out the Garden Geeks blog.

After doing a bit more research I assembled the supplies to make my first Forsythe Pot. It was a success! I made several more and now have a way to root as many cuttings as I care to. Sharing plants with friends is fun and easy. Since learning this method I have been giving away as many as 300 plants each year.

Curious to know how many plants I could propagate by this method, I purchased a single plant for $3.50 and began taking cuttings. From a single small pot containing one Alternanthera plant, I was able to propagate 99 new plants. Here you see the Forsythe pot on the right and the cuttings that rooted in only 17 days. Some plants root more easily than others!

And here are more clones of the single plant ready to share with friends. One new and unexpected thing I learned during this experiment is that adding limestone and changing the exposure to sunlight can have an effect on the coloring of the foliage.

After gaining some confidence I wanted to share my knowledge with others. To my mind, I believed there was one small change which could be a big improvement for those who keep their Forsythe Pots outside where the nasty mosquitoes are looking for water. Writing as ‘greene’ this was my first article about a Forsythe Pot.

Like most other folks who share information on the internet, I have been calling this a Forsythe Pot. But I was curious why I could not find a link which indicated where the name ‘Forsythe’ came from and why it was spelled ‘Forsythe’. Was it named for a university? town? garden club? person?

It took me a while, a very long while, but I finally tracked down the answer. Had to use a time machine and go all the way back. Drat, I just missed the opportunity to use the Way-Back Machine, didn’t I? Let’s go all the way back to 1835.

Oh, here it is. June 1835. Andrew Forsyth submitted an article to the magazine. See, there is no ‘e‘ in his surname! Mr Alexander Forsyth, from Oakhill Gardens, explained his ‘new’ propagation method in an article submitted to a gardening magazine. Searching further, I finally found the article on Google Books: ‘The Gardens Magazine’, later named ‘The Gardner’s Magazine, by J C Loudon. It is now a free e-book; Mr Forsyth’s June 8, 1835, article is on pages 562-564. In the article, Mr Forsyth gives detailed instructions, includes drawings of his method of propagating cuttings; also includes an explanation of how he sieves, grades and cleans the sand he uses to fill the pot.

But why is the name spelled as ‘Forsythe’ in so many places on the internet? Perhaps many people have been influenced by the Forsythe Saga on television. Or could this have been a typographical error in 1835? No, I see that his name appears on other issues of the magazine and always spelled as Forsyth. So, with your kind permission, from now on I will use the spelling Forsyth when I refer to this method of plant propagation.

Why not give the Forsyth Method of plant propagation a try? Don’t overthink. Get out there and propagate something!  Just do your own thing, take photos and keep notes, share your experiences. Eventually, it will come together – and with any skill, it won’t take 178 years!

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The story of Jack

This is not the entire story of my dog Jack. It’s a long story but my involvement starts when I found a dog about three months after I lost my husband. The one on the left is an alligator; David’s the one on the right.
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Back in the spring of that year, I was roped into doing someone a favor and that put me roughly 100 miles away from home. Good deeds must be done, right? God rewards us for helping even if our friends don’t offer us gas money. On my way home I stopped at McDonald’s to use the restroom and get a cup of water with ice; it was a very hot day in southeast Georgia, somewhere around 97 degrees that day. I got back on the road heading for home. But wait.

What is that I see on the road up ahead? Oh, no! It’s a dog and he is dodging semi-trucks right and left. He keeps rolling out of the way just missing getting squashed by the huge tires. Being a Yankee from up north I pull over to the side of the road and holler in my best Yankee accent, “Get out of the road you stupid mutt are you trying to get yourself killed.” I’m sure there were some curse words in that sentence but I left them out for your delicate ears.

Well, the idiot dog stops in the middle of the road and looks to see who is yelling at him so I start cursing, er, yelling even louder. Another truck just misses him and he makes a beeline for my car. He leaps into my open car, licks my face all over…smells like he has been eating dead fish mixed with week-old garbage, yuck…and starts drinking my ice water from McDonald’s. Without thinking I put the car in gear and start driving home. The dog was covered in black tire smut but had no visible injuries. He/she/it was panting so hard and was making a clicking noise when it breathed and was so hot I could barely touch him (I’m going with the generic term ‘him’ for now); he was on fire from fear. I bathed his head and ears with some of the cold water, cranked up the air conditioning and he promptly fell asleep on the passenger seat.

Along the way, I stopped to buy a collar, leash, and some dog biscuits. Poor dog had never seen a collar and thought I was trying to strangle him. I searched for the owner but no one came forward. I wanted to name him Duke; my daughter gave him the name “Jack”. Okay, that works.

Here is Jack on our first day together, uncertain of his new situation. Would life with me be better than getting hit by a truck?
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I soon figured out that he had been mistreated and abused. He recognized ‘people food’ like fried chicken, BBQ, baked beans, and coleslaw but not dog food. I had to hand feed him and be very patient as he learned to trust me. When it finally dawned on him that he was welcomed inside the house he looked happy, but when he realized he was allowed to sleep on the bed he was in hog heaven.

My old deaf, blind cat was not thrilled. She had never met a dog before. Did I mention that she was about 15 years old? This is how “happy” Mamacat was to have a dog tossed into her life.
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But she was a good old cat and she got over her little snit. Here is Mamacat watching over Jack as he sleeps on a nice, comfy bed.

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Meanwhile, my daughter who lived next door gets a dog of her own; an American Bulldog and named her Allie. Here is Allie at 3 months old.

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The two dogs Jack and Allie become friends. When my daughter was at work I babysat for her dog and walked both dogs on leashes in our neighborhood. One day tragedy struck. We – the two dogs and I – were attacked by two full-grown Pitbulls. The dogs were aiming to kill Allie who was only 7 months old at the time. Well, Jack wasn’t gonna stand for that so Jack acted like a rodeo clown and tried his best to distract two Pits so they would not hurt his sister-dog. He even tried to protect me when one of the Pits knocked me down and started biting my hand. It was the longest event in my life. Jack was a hero. A superhero.

Someone called 911 and people started showing up…to watch. No one was willing to get into the middle of this dog attack…no one except for an 87-year-old woman. She grabbed her broom and started beating the Pits with all her strength. When the broom handle broke and the woman fell to the ground I thought for sure she was having a heart attack, but she was only trying to catch her breath; she had COPD. Police, ambulance, animal control all showed up. The owner of the Pits showed up; don’t ask me who called them. I refused treatment by the ambulance crew (they thought I was crazy but hey, the dogs are my responsibility and they come first, right?) and I told them to help the lady with COPD. The police took my info and photographed my hand. One policeman reluctantly gave me a ride back to my house so I could get my car to take the dogs to the veterinarian. Just a note: the back of a police car is not a comfortable place. It’s all slippery plastic. Yuck.

I grabbed my car, picked up the dogs…oh, where were dogs? The 87-year-old lady had them inside her fenced yard and was giving them a bucket of cool water. I drove like crazy to the veterinarian; the techs came out to carry both dogs into the treatment room. Since Jack was covered in blood head to toe they looked at him first. Not a scratch. Not one single bite. No damage of any kind. The blood belonged to the other dogs, not to Jack. So they immediately turned their attention to Allie. For a while, it was a life or death situation; no time to think. She was torn up, required surgery, stayed at the vet’s a while and later required all kinds of yucky after-care at home. While all this was happening at the vet’s office I was at the doctor’s having my hand repaired. No big deal; all better after three courses of antibiotics. We figured when my hand and Allie’s wounds healed that would be the end of that.

But we were wrong.

A few weeks after the attack Jack stiffened up, he looked like an accordion all scrunched up. He could not lift his head nor could he put his head down to eat. He was screaming in pain like a banshee. I’ll skip the next part but long story short Jack had suffered a neck and/or back injury at the time of the attack and would be in chronic pain forever. He has good days most of the time, but then he has episodes of agony. Each episode is a bit worse than the last and we do the massage/pain meds, etc. until the pain resolves itself. This most recent episode was horrible – he was dragging his back legs like a mermaid on dry land and I was about 4 minutes from having him put down. It was that bad.

The vet gave him prescriptions and advised that I lock him in a tiny crate for 2 weeks and not let him move. Nope, not gonna happen. I am a former Corrections Officer and I know what solitary confinement can do to a young man; it would be far worse for a dog who cannot understand being in a crate. I gave him the prescription meds but added my own treatment which was warm baths, massage, Turmeric and Masala, tart cherries and pumpkin. I also added fresh air and sunshine to keep his mood up. It was necessary for me to learn how to make him pee and poop – no fun but I did what I had to do. He gradually got a little better. I rigged up a plastic basket on an old baby stroller so Jack could ‘walk’ and visit with all his neighbor friends. The sunlight and fresh air are good medicine. Some days we took short walks with Jack walking unsteadily at his own pace; when he got tired I carried him home.

One day while walking the dogs (without the stroller)…hold on a minute. Let me clarify that.

I forgot to mention that in November some boys gave me a little vicious, nasty, terrible dog and no one wanted it so I decided to give the new dog the benefit of the doubt. His name is George – he is a handful and rarely stays still and never stays quiet…
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George is only quiet when he’s asleep. Even then, he sleeps with one eye open. Hates to miss out.
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But George is my dog now so I love him. Look at that smile.
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Here is my favorite photo of George; it shows off his big butt – yes, dogs and owners sometimes look alike in certain ways.

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It took several months for me to get all three dogs acclimated to each other but eventually, and a great big thank you to all my internet friends who encouraged me when I wanted to give up. Here is proof that the three dogs were happy together on one chair. Left to right: Allie, George, and Jack fading into the shadows on the right.

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With a bit more work I could even walk all three dogs, Jack on the left, then George with the white tail tip, and Allie on the right. All three walking with leashes at the same time. Please do not look at the sloppy woman in the photo. Yes, that is what I actually look like first thing in the morning; but please only look at the three dogs, okay? My neighbor snapped this pic with her cell phone before I could suck in my belly.
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Leaving Allie home in the air-conditioned house here we see Jack and George participating in a charity dog walk – The Dog Lovers’ Walk at the Landings, Savannah, Georgia which benefits our local Humane Society. Oh dang, there’s that dumpy woman again and this time she’s carrying bags of dog poop!
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In case you wonder why I don’t take Allie out in the street for walks with the other dogs, well, look at how big Allie is compared to Jack. Allie has to be walked separately as some days I’m just not strong enough to wrestle 3 dogs.

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Back to the story…okay, so I’m walking with my two dogs Jack and George slowly at Jack’s unsteady pace in my neighborhood. I spotted a known thief attempting to break into my friend’s house, and, being a former prison guard, I yelled at him to get out. Since Jack was not able to walk quickly, I lifted Jack and began following the thief to make sure he left the area.

After following the thief to the end of the street found myself standing in front of my friend Will’s house and was not looking forward to the very long walk back to my house carrying Jack in my arms. I jokingly asked Will, who is a seller of junk, if he had a spare baby stroller I could borrow for 10 minutes. Will, who is a mellow kind of guy, quietly said, “No stroller, but I have a wheelchair”. He quickly added, “You probably don’t even know what a dog wheelchair is.”

Five minutes later I had Jack strapped into the wheelchair and together with the dogs, I went back home to get the $10 to pay Will for the well-used $400 Doggon’ Wheels wheelchair. It has taken some time to do adjustments to the wheelchair so that it fits but Jack is doing great. The exercise is helping him to get stronger and I don’t have to carry him in my arms anymore.
Here is a photo of Jack’s wheelchair before adjustments.
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I know that Jack’s next episode could be the end of his life so I treasure each day with him. He is my hero. He saved his sister-dog Allie from certain death and saved me as well. I owe him whatever it takes to make him happy and comfortable. See how happy he is.

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The End…

Not quite the end…
I recently rescued a tiny kitten and my daughter named him Lucky. Thumb of 2015-10-01/greene/99b6d6

Now it’s never-ending work around here. My house will never be clean, my bank account is drained by my cup runneth over with love. Here are Jack, George, and Lucky playing together., and of course, Allie is next door sleeping on the comfy chair.
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Oh, that’s not right. Allie has just finished ripping the stuffing out of a fluffy bunny and is fast asleep on the carpet.
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It may seem like Allie spends a lot of time sleeping. She does go out for walks, she runs and plays, and sometimes she sticks her nose in places it shouldn’t be.
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Note: Just in case anyone gets the impression that I hate Pitbulls, no, not true. It’s the irresponsible owners that are to blame for the Pit’s bad reputation. I love Pits. In fact, I met some of my new neighbors a few years ago when they were given a tiny little puppy. I used my best Spanish language to let them know that the dog would grow up to be about 100 pounds. They laughed because they thought I was joking. We soon became friends and I was the person who took their dog ‘Junior’ to his vet appointments. Junior, pronounced in Spanish it sounds like “Yoon-Yor”. He is a sweetie pie.
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Okay, truth be told, one day last March Junior got out of his fence when the gate was left open by the slightly irresponsible relative of the owners and Junior tried to attack me and/or my two dogs, but ha! Having gone through this experience once before I was too fast for Junior. I acted like Superman or Wonder Woman and lifted both my dogs and jumped behind a fence and slammed the gate in his face. I love Junior, but as you can see from the photo, I love him from my side of the fence.

So, that’s the story of Jack so far.

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Mom died

Years ago, when the children were small, we would get on an airplane and fly to Florida to visit my parents. The children called my parents G’ma and G’pa Airplane. Sometimes we would drive in the car from Connecticut to Florida to visit. Back in 1988 after my dad died my mom did a good job of taking care of herself. She paid bills on time, did grocery shopping, make crafts, had a bunch of friends, played bingo twice a week, drove her car with no problems mostly to the grocery store, hairdresser, or bingo. Dad had made her promise to take good care of herself and to get her hair done every week at the beauty parlor. Mom quickly figured out that if she did her own hair at home she could use the money for an extra night of bingo. Smart woman. Another thing she did after dad died was to get her ears pierced; it was something she had always wanted to do…and she finally did it.

After I moved to Georgia the drive to visit my mom was a lot shorter. I enjoyed our visits and drove to see her as often as possible. On one visit my children and I cut down a tree, constructed a trellis for her vining plants, relocated a snake, painted the mailbox and the light pole near the driveway. On another visit, we painted the birdbath and planted colorful flowers around it.

Then one day my sister decided that my mother could no longer care for herself. Huh??? And just like that, everything changed. Mom’s house and car were sold to total strangers. My sister took my mother along with furniture, knick-knacks, retirement and Social Security and several savings accounts across the state to live in St. Petersburg. Since sister is a nurse I figured that mom was in good hands.

When mom lived on her own she and I had been in the habit of talking every week or two on the phone. She was sharp as a tack, had a good sense of humor and knew exactly what she was saying. After my mom was settled in her new living situation I would call on the phone but sadly was not allowed to talk on the phone unsupervised. Slowly, I began to see the light. My mother was being removed from my life. And I was being removed from hers. I was powerless to stop this.

I drove to St Pete to visit my mom and sister, arriving with a smile on my face and gifts in hand. Even being there in person, conversations were monitored and supervised. Well, guess I won’t bother to do that again.

Long story short, I had not seen or heard from my mother in years. For quite a long while, I didn’t actually know if she was alive or dead. I wrote letters, send cards, sent emails, sent gifts, but received no response from my mother or from my sister. Years passed. The only way I could check to see if she was alive was to check the obituaries and Social Security Death Index. The fact that her name did not appear was a small comfort.

Then one day, totally out of the blue, my sister lets me know that mom broke a hip. It was a two-sentence email. Well, at least it was news.

A while later, my sister emailed a one-sentence message to say that mom died…two days previous. Thanks for letting me know.

Please don’t respond to this blog. There is no need for sympathy. Mom was “lost” to me several years ago and I have had plenty of time to adjust.

Oh, you may want to know a bit about her. My mother celebrated her 100th birthday in August 2015.

Her parents came to America as immigrants looking for a better life. They settled in Pennsylvania. Here is my mother as a teenager looking slightly embarrassed in the handmade, hand embroidered costume of Ukraine.

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During her high school years, she was very athletic; her sport was tennis. She would often be taken out of Math class to assist the physical education teacher.

In her late 20s, she moved away from home to work in a big city. She would call her mother every Sunday. All her siblings would be gathered in the dining room and together they shared the news of the week.
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And at her wedding:
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Mom, Dad and my curly-haired big brother looking fresh-faced and tan after a day at the beach.
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Ah, there I am. Here is Mom holding me in our ultra-modern kitchen with all the conveniences of the day. Agitator washing machine, toaster, waffle iron…look to the left and you will see the handle of the snow shovel leaning against the coal bin.
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So mom is gone but she had a great life.

(Originally written 2016)

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Not quite organic way to kill Virginia Creeper

Over on The National Gardening Association ( a query was posted in the Ask A Question Forum.
What is an organic way to get rid of Virginia Creeper?
The question received many excellent replies; one suggestion involved pouring herbicide into a trash can and stuffing the vines into the can – the purpose of that method was to contain the herbicide and reduce the risk of damage to desirable plants.

The question and responses set my mind to thinking. Could be another way? Not organic, but some method that uses the least amount of herbicide.

I tried surfing the internet looking at weeds and how to eliminate them, I came upon several products which looked interesting but were very expensive – using the expensive tool one would inject herbicide into the target plant. Not only was the tool expensive but one would need to purchase different formula herbicide depending on which plant was being targeted.

This one is what started me thinking… how to beat the price of $250 plus the cost of herbicide.

Since I like to design and construct things so I have my own tools. I set to work to see if I could kill Virginia Creeper using only items I had on hand.

I would target the large Virginia Creeper which has been growing up into an oak tree.
Here is a photo of the oak tree. As you can see it is a very large oak tree with a huge Virginia Creeper growing from the ground to high up in the branches. You can also see the dead Poison Ivy which is dead/dying…whew, painting herbicide on individual leaves is a lot of work!
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Rather than paint individual leaves, here is the process I tried.
Drill a whole not quite to the center of the stem of the vine. Using my battery powered drill driver with 1/4″ bit I made 3 holes along the vine. For smaller stems/branches use a smaller drill bit, or even a syringe if you have one. Keep in mind that you will be pouring liquid into the hole so try to aim for something perpendicular to the horizon to avoid having herbicide spill out onto desirable plantings

Using a paper funnel to direct the flow, measure a very small amount (1/4 teaspoon) into each hole. A disposable paper funnel would be useful to avoid wasting or spilling the herbicide. You can get these funnels at most auto parts stores near the oil or just roll a piece of paper into a funnel shape – junk mail works.

After pouring the herbicide into the hole(s) use a bolt, screw, cork, or short piece of stick to plug the hole – just something to keep the rain out and the herbicide in.

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And then wait…put your feet up; take a walk, watch a movie…this might take a while. Be prepared to wait for several weeks as some herbicides can take anywhere from one to 4 weeks to take effect; some can take as long as 8 weeks.

Two days, let me repeat that…two days after starting this experiment I was walking my dogs in the backyard when I made an observation. There were lots of green leaves scattered all over the ground under the big oak tree. For a moment my heart skipped a beat but thankfully these were not oak leaves. Looking more closely it was evident that they were all Virginia Creeper leaves. Huh? Is the experiment working? So fast? Is that possible?!

I walked over to the low hanging Virginia Creeper that is loaded with seeds – this particular piece of the plant always smacks me in the face while I am mowing the lawn. I will not be sad to see it disappear.

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Here is a view from inside the house through the window screen on day 4. You can see that the leaves are disappearing quickly.
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Here is a beautiful sight – dead Virginia Creeper!
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Sure, I know there are expensive and sophisticated systems that are available that will accomplish the same thing, but this was an experiment to see what I could accomplish by spending no additional money – just using things I had on hand. Hope you like my method and will try it on a Virginia Creeper in your neck of the woods.

Is this an organic way to eliminate Virginia Creeper? Heck no! But it uses the least amount of herbicide and limits the possibility for harming desirable plants and it’s much easier than going out on a limb to paint individual leaves.

If using this method to eliminate Poison Ivy please wear long sleeves and disposable gloves and be prepared to clean all tools to remove the toxic oils.

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Guerrilla gardening

No, it is not a garden created and maintained by Gorillas!

Look at the spelling…Guerrilla. As far as I know, the first person to use the term ‘Guerrilla Gardening’ was Liz Christy in 1973 as she and her Green Guerrilla Group were active in New York in the area known as Bowery Houston.

Okay, let’s clear up something, especially for folks who live in Texas or students learning about the history of the US of A. Sam Houston was a great man in the history of Texas. HIs name is pronounced /ˈhjuːstɨn/, [ˈhj̊uːstɨn], [j̊uːstɨn]hyooh -stuhn, HYOO-sten.

The area in New York where Liz Christy was busy doing Green Guerrilla Gardening is pronounced /ˈhaʊstən/ HOW-stən as the street was named in honor of William Houstoun. William Houstoun was born in Savannah, Georgia around 1755 when Georgia was still part of the British Empire. He was a British citizen from birth until 1776; after which he was an American citizen until his death in 1813. He relocated to New York where he married May Bayard. He was a planter, lawyer and statesman who divided his time between Savannah and New York. And yes, I realize all the Houston street signs in New York are spelled wrong but, as we say in the South, “We don’t care how you do things in New York!”

Okay, let’s get some guerrilla gardening accomplished.

But wait. First, let’s talk about Masanobu Fukuoka and some of the books he has written that have been translated into English:

The One-Straw Revolution: An Introduction to Natural Farming (1978);
The Natural Way of Farming; The Theory and Practice of Green Philosophy (1985);
The Road Back to Nature: Regaining the Paradise Lost (1987);
Sowing Seeds in the Desert: Natural Farming, Global Restoration, and Ultimate Food Security

Masanobu  Fukuoka did not invent the seed ball, seed bomb, seed dumpling, green grenade, but he did reinvent and introduce the method to millions.

Links to information:…………

Also look at:
The Seedpill Project
Subversive Gardener

Moss graffiti:
Gather moss in a responsible manner; remove as much soil as possible. Break the moss into small, manageable piece, place into a blender.
Add the following:
2 cups buttermilk (or yogurt)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 cups water (or beer)

Apply ‘moss paint’ onto a wall or fence. Mist the moss once every 2 days. If there is rain, do not mist. Reapply moss paint on the days when you do not mist and when it is not raining.
When you no longer wish the moss graffiti, scrape away as much as possible, then spray the area with lime juice to kill any remaining moss.

Guerrilla gardening is not always legal, so please, do not break the law. Do your own version of guerrilla gardening on land that you own or have received permission. If you have an area in your yard that could use a bit of color, toss some green grenades/seed bombs and walk away. Come back in a few weeks to see if your efforts have been successful.

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Blankets for dogs

A couple of weeks ago I purchased 3 lovely new white stretch fleece blankets. These blankets were intended as a gift for a friend who had recently managed to get out of the women’s shelter into her own apartment. Well, sadly, she has not communicated with her former friends in quite a while so the blankets needed to find a new purpose. A friend suggested that I donate them to the Humane Society. Good idea!!

I cut each of the 3 blankets into 4 pieces to make 12 blankets just the right size for the dogs at our local Humane Society. Since my eyesight is not all that good and the blankets were a bright white fabric, I did the stitching on the first blanket with light blue thread just so I could be sure the stitches were correct. Whew, it’s all good.

After about 2 hours I managed to complete 6 of the 12 blankets. Yes, they are a boring plain old white color but I figure the dogs won’t much care as long as they are comfortable and warm. The following day I finished the remaining 6 blankets and delivered them to the shelter.

Note: Please, donate, volunteer and support your LOCAL Humane Society to keep your dollars close to home.


Originally written December 27, 2017

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Apron made from a skirt

When not busy with the dogs and/or the rabbits, or gardening or reading, I sew. Since I don’t like to follow patterns that means I usually work up a design as I sew. Just before Christmas this year I was sick with a cold and the weather was not good for gardening so I started some sewing projects. Here is an apron I made for my daughter who, at the time, was teaching pre-K students and needed lots of pockets in her apron.

This apron started out as a skirt purchased at the Goodwill so it had a previous life with someone else before my daughter purchased it. Unfortunately, the skirt was too short for her to wear at work. Not wanting to waste such a pretty fabric, I decided to turn it into an apron for her. I added a coordinating fabric for the ties and the key fob.

I had a bit of help with this apron project. My favorite employee at Joann Fabric helped me to select thread and bias binding that would match this crazy fabric. Thanks!!

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(Originally written Jan 5, 2017)