Posts

Did you know that you can often tell what is wrong with a plant by looking at its leaves?
 
It’s true.
 
Manganese deficiency
 
‘Reading the leaves’ to diagnose common plant ailments isn’t hard to do if you know what symptoms to look for.


Problems such as iron or nitrogen deficiency are fairly easy to identify as is salt and sunburn damage.


Read on to learn how to diagnose these problems in your plants in my latest Houzz article:
 
 
I posted a photo of the uniquely-shaped pottery that I came across at a local nursery, yesterday on facebook and asked you to guess what they were used for.

This unglazed pottery was commonly used in arid regions long ago to store both food and water.  They are called ollas.  

Ollas are making a comeback in the garden – particularly in arid regions.  

Why?


Ollas are a great way to deep water plants.

They are buried so that only the top is exposed.  Water is added and slowly seeps through the walls of the olla, providing uniform moisture to plant’s roots.

The top of the soil remains dry, so that evaporation is limited and decreases problems with weeds because their roots can’t reach the moist soil underneath.

Ollas can be used in vegetable gardens, containers and among other plants in your garden that may not be attached to an irrigation system.

To use, simply take the lid off, and fill with water. Every few days, refill and then let the water slowly percolate into the soil.


There are companies now making ollas for the home gardener.  They are not cheap.  The ones above were going for $35.  
I would love to buy one, but they are not in my budget right now.  Maybe I can add one to my Christmas list?

You can make your own inexpensive olla using a plastic milk jug or 2-liter soda bottle, with small holes punched all around and then bury it.

OR, you can take two unglazed tera-cota pots and glue them together with silicone.  *Learn how to make both types of homemade versions, here.

I really like when the old-fashioned ways of doing things come back into style.  Technology is a wonderful thing, but it doesn’t mean that the older ways of doing things is obsolete.

**For those of you who would like to purchase an olla, like the ones pictured above – they are available at local Summerwinds nurseries throughout the Phoenix area.

For those of you who live elsewhere, here is a link to the company who created the ollas in the photos above.

I have a weakness (well, one of many) to confess to you today….


I absolutely love salt.  


In fact, I have a theory that the reason that so many people love french fries is not the potatoes or the fat it is fried in.  No, it is the salt that you put on them afterwards.  I mean, can you imagine eating an unsalted french fry? 



In preparation for today’s post, I went through my kitchen and pulled out all of my salt & pepper shakers.



It’s kind of embarrassing isn’t it?  I have so many.

But in my defense, I must admit that I ‘collect’ pottery including the popular Polish pottery as well as my Irish ‘Nicholas Mosse’ pottery.
My husband made me my wooden salt cellar, which I keep near the stove when I cook.

Now, I do not use as much salt as I used to.  In fact, I am trying to be better about it.  When I visited the doctor earlier this week for my physical, I still had low blood pressure, much to my relief.

Well, we all know that too much salt is bad for you and can lead to health problems such as high blood pressure.  But did you know that too much salt is not good for your plants as well?

Plants do not get ‘high blood  pressure’ when they get too much salt, but they do have another problem that shows up.





They get brown tips on their leaves, which is called ‘salt burn’.

At this point you may be wondering how plants get too much salt?  
Well, both soil and water have salt in them.  Especially in the Desert Southwest where our water is somewhat salty and our soils can suffer from salt build-up due to high evaporation.

So what do you do if you have indoor or outdoor plants that have brown tips?
The solution is very easy.

Water deeply.

That’s it.

Shallow watering causes the water in the soil to be evaporated quickly, leaving behind the salts from the water.  They look like a white crust on the soil around your plants.

 

I saw the shrub, above, when I was helping a new valley resident learn how to garden in the desert.  He had other shrubs that looked similar.

I will tell you what I told him:

If your outdoor plants look like this, first water the affected plant with your hose on a slow trickle for at least 2 – 3 hours.  This helps to ‘leach’ or flush the salts away from the roots.

Then adjust your irrigation schedule so that your shrubs are watered to a depth of 18 inches to 2 ft. deep each time.  Most people water too often, too shallow and not long enough.  

For example, I water my shrubs and perennials every 5 – 7 days in the summer.  It takes approximately 2 hours for my plants to be watered to a depth of 2 ft.  Of course the time it takes to water that deeply is different for each landscape and is dependent on a variety of factors including soil type and water pressure.


You can read much more about irrigation for homeowners at AMWUA.ORG, which gives easy tips, schedules and guidelines.  If you do not live in the Phoenix metro area, you can check your local water conservation office for information.

If your houseplant has brown tips (salt burn), then simply flush the salts out by deeply watering.  You can do this by putting your plant in the sink or bathtub and let water slowly trickle on your plant for 1 – 2 hours.
So, be sure to limit your salt intake AND water your plants deeply to prevent salt burn.