Rooting + Dividing African Violets

posted in: Learning | 0

Rooting + Dividing African VioletsAround here, we love finding ways to bring nature indoors.  And one of those ways is to have houseplants.  For the longest time, my mother has had African Violets basking in the Northern windows of her home.

So, several years back I mentioned to her that I wanted to have some African Violets of my own for our house.  My mom made me a generous offer…

Her African Violets were ready to divide, so if I was willing to split them I could have some African Violets of my own to take home within the week!

I did a little research online about how to best divide African Violets, because all I’d ever done up to that point was root African Violet leaves.

It turns out either method is pretty simple.

Well, rooting the leaves is simplest. So let’s start with that.

Rooting African Violets

You get a few African Violet clippings from a friend with a healthy African Violet plant.

Take those clippings, and stick them in fresh water.

Leave them on your windowsill until the clippings start to grow roots.

I found it best to change the water out every couple days, so that things didn’t get slimy or gross.

Once you have roots, simply put into dirt and enjoy! I have always used “African Violet Potting Mix” — because that’s what my mom uses, but if you want to try general potting soil, that’s your prerogative!

Okay, now onto the trickier project… dividing African Violets.

Dividing African Violets

There are a lot of detailed tutorials, and even YouTube videos, about dividing African Violets.  So I’ll spare you that.  Take a quick search and you’ll find something that explains it in minute detail.

The basic premise of dividing African Violets?

The plant’s leaves usually all originate from one central location. So, when you see a plant that has two central points where leaves are stemming from, that means you can split the plant into two.

To do this, I gently eased the African Violet (and dirt) from the pot.  Then, I loosened the dirt from the roots so I could see the structure.  After trying to find which roots go with which portion of the plant, I used a sharp knife to gently slice through those intertwined roots.

We then put the plants into fresh soil, in new pots.   Well, actually, the plants soaked in water jars for a few days while I got around to locating my stash of ceramic self-watering African Violet pots.

But that’s it!  One key thing to remember?  As my mother told me — don’t get water on top of the leaves.  It’s not good for the plants.

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Two African Violets, ready to be potted, and three African Violet leaves, ready to root!
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Toby had fun digging in the potting soil to get the plants’ new homes ready.
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We filled the pots carefully with new potting soil for the African Violets (before Mommy put in the plants).

Growing a Garden – “The Gardener”

posted in: Learning | 29

Growing a Garden - Read + Play: starting seeds indoors for Earth Day!We’ve enjoyed having a vegetable garden the past few summers.  In fact, when the librarian read “Growing a Rainbow” the other day, I overheard my son arguing with another child. She said, “You can’t grow a rainbow!”

“Yes you can!” Toby exclaimed vehemently, “My mom and I grew a rainbow in our garden!”

That’s my boy.  So cute.

Anyways, that day, we checked out Sarah Stewart’s “The Gardener” (#afflink) …which is a Caldecott Honor Award book.  I loved the story, which was really brought to life with lovely illustrations by David Small.

If you want a synopsis, here you go:  Lydia Grace Finch goes to the city to stay with her uncle (presumably during the Depression, her dad lost his job). In her suitcase, she brings along seeds from her grandmother’s garden.  As the weeks progress, Lydia learns to bake bread in her uncle’s bakery, and grows plants everywhere — including a secret garden on the rooftop to surprise her uncle.  Ultimately, her dad gets a job and she goes back home, but not before becoming known as “the Gardener” by the city folk.

Here’s the cover of the book.  Again, I love the illustrations:
"The Gardener" by Sarah Stewart

So, when it came time to start our seeds for the vegetable garden, I knew this would be a fun post for the Earth Day Read and Play blog hop.  You can read about my plans for the garden this summer, which are quite ambitious.

But let’s not get sidetracked.

For this activity, we needed a few bags of seed starting dirt, some seed starting trays, a trowel, newspaper strips, and a seed pot maker #afflink.

Earlier, I had made plans for what we would be growing, and how many seeds would be needed.
Earlier, I had made plans for what we would be growing, and how many seeds would be needed.
We have a lot of vegetable seed packets, just like Lydia Grace
We have a lot of vegetable seed packets, just like Lydia Grace
He was very careful not to spill...
He was very careful not to spill…
I couldn't help but enjoy watching Toby work diligently.
I couldn’t help but enjoy watching Toby work diligently.
And smiling for the camera, of course.
And smiling for the camera, of course.
Here is a tray getting filled up with seed pots.
Here is a tray getting filled up with seed pots.
He worked hard for quite some time.
He worked hard for quite some time.
We went through both bags of dirt by the time it was all said and done.
We went through both bags of dirt by the time it was all said and done.
Toby filling up the newspaper cups with dirt.
Toby filling up the newspaper cups with dirt.
Here's the newspaper pot maker. It's awesome!
Here’s the newspaper pot maker. It’s awesome!

In case you’re wondering how the newspaper pots were formed, here’s a little photo tutorial (it uses the DIY seed pot maker #afflink).  Toby was able to make some of these on his own, but preferred to help me make them.  I will say that it was a great hands-on experience for him, even though he ultimately decided to have me make the pots so he could fill them with dirt.  The concept is really simple, so take a peek to see how the newspaper seed starting pots are formed!

You wrap a piece of newspaper around the pot maker, with about 1.5" overhang.
You wrap a piece of newspaper around the pot maker, with about 1.5″ overhang.
Here's the newspaper wrapped up.
Here’s the newspaper wrapped up.
Then you fold down the newspaper to form the bottom of the pot.
Then you fold down the newspaper to form the bottom of the pot.
And then you press the form together to crease the newspaper.
And then you press the form together to crease the newspaper.
Toby liked to make sure I twisted it back and forth each time.
Toby liked to make sure I twisted it back and forth each time.
Voila! Simply slide off the newspaper, which is now formed into a eco-friendly seed pot!
Voila! Simply slide off the newspaper, which is now formed into a eco-friendly seed pot!

And our next steps?

We’ll be watching the seeds sprout in our greenhouse over the next few days and weeks… and then the seedlings will get transplanted into our raised garden beds.  It really is a great extension activity that gets my toddler into the dirt and loving the nature around him.  Plus, it’s more fun to eat vegetables that you grow yourself!

Are you growing anything this year?  What’s your favorite plant to grow?  What summer vegetables would your dream garden have?  The only thing ours is missing is asparagus, because we don’t want to dedicate the space for a crop that takes 2+ years for a harvest.


earth-day-read-playEarth Day Read and Play Blog Hop

This post is part of a blog hop celebrating Earth Day!  Please check out the other posts below for some more fun book-based activities!  Book titles are in parentheses, linked to Amazon for your convenience (#afflinks used).

Working in the Garden with Kids

posted in: Parenting | 8

Today I’m blogging about Gardening With A Toddler over at In All You Do.  As you know, when kids are in the picture, chores and tasks just take longer. Now that we’re not restricted to indoor gardening (i.e. growing romaine lettuce from kitchen scraps), it’s been great to get outdoors and really work with the plants.

Our son loves working in the garden — but maybe that’s because he has lots of cool kid-sized garden tools, and even a neat digger that our neighbors gave us.

Working in the Garden With Kids - BPhotoArt.com

The weather took a while to get warmer, so we had to delay planting some of our seedlings. But my son was thrilled to help care for them as we set them outside each day, then took them in for the night. We even had to take in the hanging plants I got for Mother’s Day several times as it dropped to almost freezing several nights in a row.

Working in the Garden with Kids - BPhotoArt.com

Working in the garden with kids can be such a great learning experience though. When we were at a friend’s house to get seedlings, I learned a lot about heirloom tomato varieties and hybrides. Interestingly, this same friend who gave us our tomato seedlings was able to give us a black cherry tomato variety when Toby choose black as the color tomato he wanted (over pink or orange). We’ll see how things grow!

Plaints Waiting to be put into the ground - Working in the Garden with Kids - BPhotoArt.com

Here are some photos of our spring gardening; click on any thumbnail to enter gallery view:

Gardening Tips + Resources

If you’re looking for gardening tips and resources, here are some of my favorites.  I’ve listed specifically links for working in the garden with kids, but make sure to check out my Pinterest board too — I’m always pinning neat ideas about gardening there when I find tips online.  Links will open in a new window for your convenience.

Follow Betsy @ BPhotoArt.com’s board Greenery + Gardening on Pinterest.

Working in the Garden with Kids - BPhotoArt.com

Do You Have Tips for Working in the Garden with Kids?

Do you have any go-to ideas for getting kids to work well in the garden with you? What about suggestions of things to NOT do? I’d love to hear your stories and thoughts in the comments section!

“Kids In the Garden” – Growing Romaine

posted in: Parenting | 10

“Kids In the Garden” has featured a guest post of mine on Growing Romaine Lettuce from Kitchen Scraps. I am excited to participate in their series Kids in the Garden; Learning and Growing! Here’s a sneak peek (er, some of the outtakes from the photo session) before you head over to read my guest post: Growing Romaine Lettuce from Kitchen Scraps.

kids in the garden - growing romaine

This started out as an experiment for the winter months, and actually turned into something quite exciting. Who knew that you could take the core of a romaine lettuce head and grow more lettuce? Well, I do now! You’ll have to head over to learn how the process works in more detail, but you can check out some “behind the scenes” photographs here first.

kids in the garden - growing romaine

Toby was thrilled to participate in this with me. He was also happy to be able to sneak some lettuce off the cutting board as a snace. Cinnamon, one of our cats, was very interested in what we were doing also (you can see her checking out the lettuce in one of the photos).

kids in the garden - growing romaine

Have I intrigued you enough yet to head on over and learn how it’s done? Make sure to read my article on growing romaine lettuce from kitchen scraps so you can get the step-by-step instructions on how to start growing your own lettuce!

 

Kids in the Garden Resources

Here are some links for further gardening ideas. They’ll open in a new window for your convenience. Let’s get those kids in the garden!

Do You Have More Ideas?

Do you have more ideas for getting kids in the garden? Or, into gardening? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.