Saturday, July 18, 2015

Plants so great people want to steal them

I'm one of those people that enjoy growing plants. I'm not great at it, but I do take pleasure in being able to keep green things alive and growing. Plus, getting in the dirt is oftentimes therapeutic and relaxing for me as long as the plants are thriving and not dying. I don't have many potted plants for the stressful dying reasons. I feel that potted plants are sometimes more work than they are worth. Additionally there is one thing about potted plants that just annoys the heck out of me: all that draining water.

Let me explain.

For those of you who deal with potted plants, you probably understand what I'm talking about. When you water them, you have to have a good way for the water to drain from the soil otherwise the water sits in the pot, the roots rot because they are too wet, and the plant dies. This is where the stressful part comes in for me. If the holes at the bottom of pot are too small, water doesn't drain well and the plant suffers. So I make bigger hols in the pot so water can drain. But if the holes are too big, the water rushes out usually with nutrients and soil. Then you are watering all the time because the plants dry out too fast and it's annoying because water is running everywhere.

After struggling with this dilemma and almost giving up on potted plants all-together, I had an idea and put it into action. I'm quite pleased with my success.
  1. Find a pot with a generous-sized hole in the bottom (or make one). You want excess water to be able to find its way out of the pot if it makes it to the very bottom.
  2. Buy window screen at your local hardware store. This will be the filter that you place in the bottom of the pot. This will help keep the soil in the pot while allowing any excess water to slowly seep through. Cut a small section of window screen and place the bottom of the pot on it. Trace around the bottom of the pot.
  3. Cut out the size of screen that was just traced. It doesn't have to be a perfect cut because you will want it to come up the edges of the planter a bit.
  4. Then place the cut screen in the bottom of the pot.
  5. Next, fill in one to two inches of rock on top of the screen. I like medium-sized rock (about the size of dimes and pennies) because this allows water to make its way to the bottom of the pot and stay there without overly-saturating the soil.
  6. Obviously, the last step is to fill the pot with soil and the plants of your choice.
I have discovered that this technique works fabulously for both indoor and outdoor potted plants. By doing this, I have been able to cut down on the number of times I need to water because the water doesn't just flow right through the pot and out the bottom. Since the water is slowed down, first through the rocks and secondly through the screen, the soil has adequate time to saturate and the roots of the plants have time to soak up water without becoming overly wet leading to rot. Finally, I have solved my frustrating problem of excessive water and soil escaping out the bottom.

My Shamrock plants do very well out on the porch in the summer and indoors during the winter. They look so great now, that one day when I was at work someone walked up onto our front porch and took one of them. Apparently this is a thing from time to time in our neighborhood, as other people have lost their cherished potted plants to the plant-snatcher.

All my amazing work has led to someone just helping themselves to my things. I know it is only a plant in a pot but when someone takes something of yours or damages it, it feels like a great invasion of privacy. I know that one of my Shamrock plants is probably thriving with someone else now. I hope they enjoy my ingenuity and hard work. 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Lady socialization update

It's been about six weeks since the adoption of Lady into our family. We have learned a lot about her in the short time she has been with us. Adopting any animal can be a trying time but Lady has adjusted nicely and is taking her time to make incremental, yet positive progress.

She still absolutely adores her canine brother, Charlie. She follows him everywhere and mimics what he does, mirroring both his good and bad habits. Especially when they are outside together, she follows him everywhere.

When Charlie gets overly happy by running and jumping around the house because we are getting him food, Lady now does the same. She wags her tail fiercely, runs to her food dish, and looks at us longingly with her dark-brown eyes. Previously we had to sit next to her and coax her to eat food. Now, she independently scarfs down the food.

While Charlie goes nuts to meet other people, Lady is extremely cautious and cowers when we head her direction. She isn't as frightened as when we first got her but still takes her time. The hilarious part about her is you know that deep down she wants our love and affection because even though she sinks to the floor in our presence, her tail wags back and forth giving away her true feelings. There have been break-through moments where she comes over to me and gives puppy kisses by licking my hand and arm. Or she carefully takes precarious steps towards me and then sits nicely, looking at me, signaling that she wants picked up to snuggle on the couch. And snuggling is her all-time favorite, even if the humans in her life are the ones to initiate it. Charlie and Lady have become good snuggle buddies too.

Once we were able to get Lady to go for walks on a leash, we experienced accelerated progress in her behavior. She loves going for walks and this evening she went over to the box where we keep the dog items and pulled the leash out of it. Tonight, for the first time, while we were on our short walk, she pooped right along with Charlie. This truly is a big deal as she has become accustomed to pooping inside the house because we're working on her signaling when she has to go.

The dog socialization will be a lengthy progress. I look forward to the results and learning Lady's real personality that is buried underneath.