Today in an Ashland Garden

Even though the temperature was below freezing this morning, but these plants are blooming!

Hellebore, Bergenia cordifolia, Daphne, Witch Hazel, Crocuses 190301090957190301091733


Photos were taken this morning, March 1, 2019, in AGC member Carlotta Lucas’ garden.

Willow Water

Why & How to make Willow Water

Willow bark contains a natural plant growth hormone called, auxin hormone.  You can use this hormone to stimulate root growth on propagation cuttings by making a home-brewed solution called, ‘Willow Water’.


Willow Twigs

First, you collect first-year twigs from any willow species (Salix spp.); these twigs will have green or yellow bark. Older willow growth has brown or grey bark, so don’t use those. The willow leaves are not used, so remove all the leaves from your twigs and toss them into your compost.  Take these willow twigs and cut them into 1-inch to 3-inch long pieces. You will need approximately 2-cups of twigs to make ½ gallon of willow water.


Extracting growth hormone from willow twigs:


Steeping Willow Twigs

Method A – Place the 1-inch willow twigs in a container and cover with ½ gallon of boiling water, let them steep for at least 24 hours, then strain the liquid into another container to remove twigs.

Method B– Place the 1-inch willow twigs in a container and cover with tap water. Let twigs soak 48 hours, and after 2 days strain to remove the twigs.

The willow water is now ready to use.

How To Use:

First method: Pour some willow water into a small jar, and then place the cuttings you want to root into the willow water like flowers in a vase, soak the ends overnight. After soaking, plant the cuttings in a propagation medium.  Planting medium suggestion is ½ vermiculite and ½ Coir (coconut fiber) or peat moss.  Please note: coir is a sustainable planting medium, while peat moss is not.

Second method:  Plant the cuttings you want to root in a propagation medium, then use willow water to water these cuttings.  Watering the cuttings with willow water twice should be enough to help them root.

How To Store Willow Water:

Store willow water in a jar with a tight fitting lid and keep refrigerated. Label the jar with Contents, Brew Date, and Expiration Date. Willow water keeps for up to two months if refrigerated, but freshly made willow water is more potent, therefore the longer it is stored the less effective it becomes.

Submitted by: Carlotta Lucas


Deep Green Permaculture

Garden Know How

Taking Care of Earth

How to be a good caretaker of Mother Earth

A.  Follow the Three Rs: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle:

  1. Recycle everything you can!
  2. Buy only what you need, avoid use-once and throw-away products
  3. Buy from environmentally conscience companies

In 50 years plastic use has doubled worldwide. Reports show that 8.3 billion tons of plastic has been manufactured since 1950. Currently only 9% of plastic is recycled, 12% is burned, leaving 79% in landfills and in the environment. 73% of beach litter is plastic, and according to the United Nations, ingested plastic kills an estimated 1 million marine birds and 100,000 marine animals each year.

B. How to reduce plastic use:

  1. Don’t use plastic straws, buy a reusable metal straw.
  2. Don’t buy or use Styrofoam cups or packing materials
  3. Carry reusable refillable cup
  4. Buy glass containers for food storage
  5. E-cycle computers, monitors, keyboards, and other electronics
  6. Keep your cell phone for years, instead of buying the newest greatest model.

C. How to conserve water and energy resources:

  1. Monitor your thermostat at home to save money and resources
  2. Turn off water while brushing your teeth
  3. Catch shower water to water plants
  4. Fill you sink with water to wash dishes; don’t just let it run down the drain
  5. Load dishwashers and washing machines to capacity before washing
  6. Car pool, ride your bike and walk more

D. How to preserve wildlife:

  1. Avoid using chemicals in your house and your garden, even the smallest insect has worth and chemicals kill vital pollinators
  2. Do not disturb wild animals or birds. Leave nesting sites, eggs, dens and animal babies alone.
  3. Protect all fish, retrieve fishing hooks and fishing lines
  4. Leave wild animals in the wild and don’t buy pets taken illegally from the wild
  5. Protect plants by not picking wildflowers or trampling vegetation
  6. Respect wild trees, avoid chopping tree bark or cutting trees

E.  Be aware of pollutants:

  1. Keep rivers, lakes and waterways clean, remove all bottles, plastic and other pollutants
  2. Toss trash in trash cans, don’t throw any trash on the ground anywhere
  3. In natural area pack out your trash and dispose of properly
  4. Dispose hazardous materials properly. Call your local Fire or Police Department to find out how.

If we all do it,  then little steps can make a huge difference!

Submitted by: Carlotta Lucas

Re-potting a Christmas Cactus

After your Christmas cactus has bloomed, re-pot it into a pot slightly larger than its current container. Christmas cactus roots can easily rot if the soil is too wet, so the pot must have a drain hole and be planted in a lightweight, well-drained potting mix.   You can use potting mixes for cactus & succulents, which are readily available at garden centers, or you can make your own.

Commercially made potting soils can be used for Christmas cactus soil, if they are amended. Choose a balanced pH soil mix without added fertilizers. The soil’s pH should be neutral, between 6.0 and 7.0, not too acid nor too alkaline.

Below are four suggested Christmas cactus soil recipes:

  • 1/2 potting soil, 1/4 horticultural perlite, 1/4 orchid bark.
  • 1/3 Coconut Coir, 1/3 horticultural perlite, 1/3 fine fir bark.
  • 1/3 soil-less potting soil, 1/3 horticultural perlite, 1/3 pine bark nuggets.
  • 2/3 potting balanced PH soil with perlite, 1/3 sand

Submitted by; Carlotta Lucas

Resolutions for Gardeners

Good read!

Article by Kier Holmes for Sunset Magazine

10 New Year’s Resolutions for the Gardener

I really like #10 – Increase Gratitude: “…spend more time mingling with and appreciating the flora and fauna…”