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Lavender Oil Uses

Lavender Oil Uses

Essential Lavender Oil for Health

As we continue to grow and extend our farm, I am really digging into the uses and background of everything we grow.  Lately in the “lab”, I have been experimenting with Lavender Oil in sprays and salves.   The essential oil that is distilled from many of the different lavender varieties is most commonly know for its relaxing and calming effects on the body, both physically and Healing with Lavenderemotionally.  It is also highly known for its skin uses, and can be used to cleanse cuts and scrapes, reduce irritations and can be applied for overall skin health.  Here are 10 ways to use essential lavender oil in your day to day life:
  1. Relaxation – take a few drops of lavender oil and rub it on your palms, wrists, feet or anywhere else on the body.  Deeply inhale several times to draw the calming scent.
  2. Sleep Aid – Lavender’s scent is known to aid sleep, and soothe nerves.  Use a Lavender spray that is part oil, part witch hazel and part water to spray linens and pillows to drift off.
  3. Burns – putting a few drops of oil, or a Lavender Calendula salve on a burn will reduce pain and redness and help in the healing process.
  4. Cuts and Scrapes – Lavender oil and salves can provide a soothing, healing effect.
  5. Laundry – spray your freshly washed towels and clothes to make them fresh throughout the day.
  6. Insect bites – Lavender salves can take away the sting and itch for mosquito bites and bee stings.
  7. Chapped/Dry lips – using oil or salves on dry chapped lips will help them deal and add moisture.
  8. Headaches and Migranes – Lavenders aromatic powers can help alleviate a headache.
  9. Acne – oil and salves of lavender can help reduce acne, and the redness of blemishes.
  10. Slow Aging – there is some dispute, but many experts agree that the antioxidants found in Lavender slow the aging process.
Just a few uses for this amazing plant!
Christmas Cactus Propagation

Christmas Cactus Propagation

How to propagate a Christmas Cactus

The Christmas Cactus, aka Schlumbergera, is grown widely and is loved for its beautiful winter blooms.  The plant makes a great holiday gift for friends and family, and propagating this plant can produce beautiful offspring for giving. Propagating Christmas Cactus is easy, and this succulent variety takes readily to new roots.  See the simple instructions below on how to root your Christmas Cactus cuttings.

Rooting Your Christmas Cactus: Step by Step

  1. First off, you will need to take some cuttings from your parent plant.  Simply take some Y-shaped cuttings from any growing tip, and take at least 3 segments.  You can just pinch off your segments.
  2. Although not required, most horticulturists advise letting these cuttings sit for 1-2 days is a cool, shady place to let the ends callous over.  This can protect the end, prevent rotting and also increase propagation success.
  3. While your cuttings are sitting, prepare a home for them that includes a mixture of peat and sand.
  4. After your cuttings have waited their proper time, dip the ends in rooting hormone, and stick your cactus into the medium.  You should push them about 1/2 a segment into the potting soil.
  5. Water them sparsely, and in 2-3 weeks you should see new growth at the tip.
That’s it!  After about six weeks, transplant your cacti into its final home and watch it grow.  
Changing the color of a hydrangea

Changing Hydrangea Color

How to change the color of your Hydrangea plant

Two years ago we propagated our favorite flower, the Hydrangea.  We wanted to create a variety of bloom colors for our Hydrangea loving customers, and to grab attention at the farmers market.  Well, it worked.  How did we do it? So, unlike most flowers, the lacecap and mophead hydrangeas can changes colors.  Fortunately for us, it is as easy as changing the soil pH.  Hydrangeas are the litmus test in the flower world.  Below are the pH ranges, and resulting colors: Acid Soil (pH less than 6.0)           Blue or Purple-Blue Flowers, Between Alkaline and Acidic (pH between 6 and 7)    Purple of Bluish Pink Flowers, Alkaline Soil (pH greater than 7)    Pink and Red Flowers How can you change the pH?  You can get a pH soil test kit to be exact, but that is not me 😉  I had pink, and wanted blue, so I wanted to lower the pH to create a more acidic environment.  To do this, I added aluminum sulfate (you could also use garden sulfur).  I sprinkled it around my hydrangea beauties, scratched it into the soil, and waited for a big rain.  To raise pH, you can use ground lime.  Use the same technique.  Good luck on changing your Hydrangea color!
Deer and rabbit deterrent

Deer and Rabbit Deterrent: The Invisible Fence

Keeping Deer and Rabbit Out of The Garden

Ok, I know, I know, another post on keeping my garden safe from deer and rabbit.  We live on a very open property in the Sierra Nevada Foothills, and there are quite a few deer families and jack rabbits that roam our property.  I did not want to clog up our view with added fencing, but wanted to make sure I kept the furry critters away from my dahlias and other flowers this year.  In my first post, Homemade Garlic Deer and Rabbit Repellent, I talk about protection for my garden using a garlic, cayenne pepper and egg spray.  This works like a charm, but I wanted to add an additional deer and rabbit fencing as an outer layer of protection.   I came up with an idea to combine fishing line and randomly placed shiny mylar ribbon to create an invisible fence.
Deer repellent

Fishing line and mylar for invisible deer fencing

I bought some wooden stakes at the Home Depot and placed a few screws into the wood at 1′ and 4′.  I put several of the stakes on the perimeter of my lower field to enclose the planting area.  This was the start of my deer fence.  I then took the monofilament fishing line and ran it from stake to stake, looping it around the screws as I walked.
Natural Deer Repellent

Invisible fencing for deer and rabbits

Then, at about 8′ intervals, I tied the mylar strips onto the fishing line.   If you can’t find mylar, just use tinsel, or aluminum foil.  The shiny strips move in the breeze and reflect light at night, and the cautious deer/rabbits avoid the area.  Since placing the deer fence, I have yet to see any deer tracks  in my garden.  Hope this helps!!
Homemade Garlic Deer Repellent

Homemade Deer Repellent

Making Homemade Deer and Rabbit Repellent

Last year I had some plants decimated by deer, and wanted to be proactive and get ahead of the curve.  So I set out to make homemade deer repellent with common household items.  Here is a list of what you will need:
  1.  Peeled garlic cloves
  2. Cayenne Pepper
  3. Eggs
  4. Water
  5. Liquid soap
  6. Food Processor
  7. Boiling Water
  8. Container
So, put the garlic and cayenne pepper in the food processor to start your homemade deer repellent project.  While you are doing this, boil a few cups of water, and prepare your container.  I used an old water jug from the kids soccer days.  Once the garlic and pepper is ground to a pulp for your repellent, put it and eggs (I used 3) into your container.  Whip up the eggs so the yolks break, and pour in the hot water into your repellent base.  Stir the mixture well, and put about 5 drops of liquid soap into the mix.  Cover the container, and shake it to mix.  Let this sit for a few days.   To use your newly made deer repellent, open your container, and be prepared for the stench, and use cheesecloth or a paint filter to fill up a spray bottle about a quarter of the way.  This is highly concentrated, and you can make it go a long way if you dilute it.  Fill the rest of your sprayer with water and shake.  Apply this to your plants, and repel all your furry enemies.  This concoction is also good for: rabbit repellent and grasshopper repellent. Be sure and reapply after the rain!
Dahlia Cuttings from a Tuber

Propagating Dahlias

Cuttings and Dividing Tubers: Dahlia Propagation

Starting to propagate my dahlias this week, and using a couple of techniques.  In this article i will outline how I am taking tuber cuttings to multiply my stock.  First off, at the beginning of my season, i put my tubers into containers indoors, and cover them about half-way with potting soil so i can catch all the action.  Depending on the type, and the warmth, it usually takes a few weeks before the eyes start sprouting, and another one or two before i can start propagating the dahlias.  Below is an overview of the technique:
  1.  Once the tuber has a number of sprouts, I select ones that are 3 or 4 inches in height for my cuttings.
    Dahlia Propagation from shoots

    Tuber with multiple shoots for taking cuttings for propagation

    2.  Once I have selected a Dahlia shoot with two sets of leaves, I then use a sharp instrument (Exacto Knife), to take a cutting.  Note: You want to get a bit of the dahlia tuber at the base to insure the best chances for rooting.
    Dahlia Cuttings from a Tuber

    Take a bit of the Dahlia Tuber with the cutting

    3.  I take off the bottom set of leaves once I have the cutting.
    Dahlia Flower Multiply

    Dahlia cutting with a bit of tuber and lower leaves removed

    4.  This step is optional, but if you have rooting hormone, it can aid in getting the dahlia cutting to root more quickly.
    Dahlia rooting hormone

    Dip the Dahlia cutting in rooting hormone for improved success rates

    5.  Finally, take your cutting and place it in a mix of soil and vermiculite.  The loose soil will give roots free reign, and encourage growth.  Note: I also apply bottom heat and cover the cuttings with plastic to create a complete propagation environment.
    Growing dahlia cuttings

    The propagated cutting ready to grow.

    In about two weeks or so, the baby Dahlias will root.  You can check by gently tugging on the cutting.  
Planting and growing sunflowers

How to Plant and Grow Sunflowers

Sunflower Seeds to Sunflower Plants

Planting and growing sunflowers is easy.  These durable plants can be grown in most area summer months, and can bring great beauty to any landscape or garden.  Below are the steps to grow sunflowers from seed:
  1. So, the first step is to find quality sunflower seed.  Many of the top online seed stores sell sunflower seeds, and quality will insure a higher germination rate for your baby sunflower plants.  You can also harvest your own, and that is detailed here: Collecting and Harvesting Sunflower Seeds
  2. Planting the Sunflowers.  Sunflowers require some degree of warmth to germinate, and the soil should be between 55 and 60 degrees.  The warmer the better, and here in Sacramento, our sunflowers grow like weeds in the high heat of the summer.   Plant the sunflower seeds in groups of 3 an inch deep in your soil, and about 6 inches apart.
  3. Thinning your sunflowers.  After a few weeks, when you have decent size baby sunflowers, go ahead and thin the herd out to a single plant in each of your groups.
  4. Caring for sunflowers.  Sunflowers are pretty hardy plants and don’t need much care.  Insure proper water during early growth, and you can add a small amount of fertilizer if you choose to do so.
That’s it!  If you want more information on Sunflowers, you can see our other pages below: All about Sunflowers
Planting and Growing Sunflowers in the Garden
Growing sunflowers

Harvesting Sunflower Seeds

How to Harvest and Collect Seeds from Sunflower Plants

We are getting near the end of our summer growing season here at Celtic Farm, and have started to harvest seeds from spent sunflower plants.  We left quite a few to harvest their seeds, and wanted to share how to gather.  Below is a guide to gather the seeds.
Sunflower seeds ready to harvest

Drying Sunflower Head

When to Harvest Sunflower Seeds

How to Keep Deer & Rabbits Out of Your Garden

Deer Repellent, Rabbit Repellent and Other Tricks

deer and rabbit repellent

Deer Can Devastate a Garden

With the start of our flower farm, we were hit pretty hard by a variety of pests right out of the gate (See my first post: How to get rid of grasshoppers).  Living in a rural area at the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains, there are several families of deer that roam the area, and rabbits that run wild.  Over the years, they have eaten our vegetables, chomped on our roses and nested in one of our lower fields.  So as we planted out our flowers, I wanted to start early with preventative measures.   So here is a list of methods and techniques that will hopefully help you:
Killing Grasshoppers

How to Get Rid of Grasshoppers in the Garden

Techniques to Stop Grasshoppers from Eating Flowers and Vegetables

Grasshoppers eat leaves

Grasshopper Damage

  In starting our flower farm this year, we had some serious issues out of the gate with our friend the grasshopper.  Little did I know that with our heavy rain in spring, combined with years of drought, we had the perfect environment for a plague of the little critters.  Imagine my surprise, after the day before, seeing all my seedlings coming up, and the following day thinking someone was playing a joke when they were all gone.  Our 50×40 plot was infested with the little fellas.  So, here is some research onhow to get rid of grasshoppers in your garden.
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