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Showing posts with label Greenhouse and Garden Information. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Greenhouse and Garden Information. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Tasks: The Greenhouse In February

Many greenhouse growers use their greenhouses for a short period during the warmer months of the year, but there are a small percentage of us that grow year round! This month by month outline will share what tasks may need to be done year round. Keeping in mind that I garden in Alberta Canada, (zone 2) the outdoor growing season is from mid to the end of May until the hard frosts take my gardens in mid to late September or early October. If your climate is a bit milder than mine, you can adjust your greenhouse schedule to suit your climate. This schedule is made for a plan to plant outdoors in Mid to late May.
In February, in my greenhouse I do the following tasks:
*receive and sort my seed orders by type of plant, and when they will need to be sowed. (a seed bin is a good idea. I use a plastic one that has a lid that locks closed
*purchase permanent marker to label all plants as soon they are sown- do not trust your memory not to fail you! This is a busy time, and things can get mixed up very easily
*make sure to update the greenhouse journal
*continue to fill containers, pots and seed cells with soil in order to be prepared to sow
*Plant the Geraniums and any other seed that needs extra time to mature before planting outdoors
*maintain water levels in my water cans
*inspect remaining plants that were wintered in the greenhouse again to ensure no pests have hatched or arrived to threaten the tiny seedlings you are about to produce
* ensure that the greenhouse remains clean and organized…cleanliness is next to godliness in the greenhouse!
* maintain no less than 10C in the greenhouse and keep the air circulating to avoid disease or fungus! The temperatures in Alberta are often in the –30C or less range…heating is a necessity!
* prepare for extra heat sources if necessary (February can be a COLD month in Alberta)
* prepare for labels (I cut up cheap mini-blinds for this)
*prepare liners for the trays (they sometimes leak and when watering from below, you do not want to lose your water. I use plastic garbage bags cut to size)
*watch our newly planted seeds start to sprout up!
I will see you again in March with more greenhouse tasks!
Do you have a greenhouse journal of some sort? What tasks did you do for February in your greenhouse?
Until next time….Happy gardening!
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(¸.•´ (¸.•´ .•´ ¸¸.•¨¯`•.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Tasks: The Greenhouse In January

For a while now I have been considering sharing some of the ins and outs of my greenhouse. I am often asked what to do each month and I thought I would put together a series of Monthly posts that will share what I do as each month passes...and prompt those who need a bit of a reminder!

Many greenhouse growers use their greenhouses for a short period during the warmer months of the year, but there are a small percentage of us that grow year round! This month by month outline will share what tasks may need to be done year round. Keeping in mind that I garden in a harsh climate in Alberta Canada, (zone 2) the outdoor growing season is from mid to the end of May until the hard frosts take my gardens in mid to late September or early October. If your climate is a bit milder than mine, you can adjust your greenhouse schedule to suit your climate. This schedule is made for a plan to plant outdoors in Mid to late May.
January is the start of a whole new year! It is a good month to take a look at what you have growing in your greenhouse, take inventory of your supplies, and begin to plan for the coming summer months. In the cooler climates, the greenhouse will already have been insulated and inspected for the cold temps of the winter, but this is a good time to take a quick look to make sure that all the equipment, heaters, fans, and thermometers are in good working order. It is a great time to begin to plan for your gardens for the upcoming garden season!
In January I prepare MY greenhouse by:
*making sure the greenhouse is well insulated, and that all drafts are plugged. Take extra care to look especially round the doors, eaves and vents.
* make sure all snow is removed from the roof as soon as it falls, to not only ease the pressure on the roof, but to allow more light to enter the growing area.
*set up my water system. I do not have running water in my greenhouse, therefore I use large clean garbage cans. I clean and fill my water cans, so that they are ready for the upcoming months, and that I have a water supply for the rest of winter.
* keep garden hose on hand for the filling of the cans, so that it is not frozen.
*purchase several bales of potting soil
* on a “warm” day, I prune and/or re-pot and then bring all the tropical houseplants that I house over the fall and early winter months into the house to make room for the upcoming spring plants.
*order seeds for the upcoming spring crop
* remove all dead leaves from plants that are remaining in the greenhouse, prune and/or re-pot.
* clean and tidy up the greenhouse- including washing the walls/windows and all shelving
*spray for pests (If necessary I will use a mild insecticide to make sure the environment is ‘clean’ for the young seedlings to come
*test the heat, thermostat, thermometers and fan system.
*plan for extra/supplemental heat sources if necessary. The temps can fall rapidly and harsh cold is common in Alberta in the winter months. -37C is not uncommon.
Set Up Shelving In January
*set up the shelving (staging) in the greenhouse
*begin to fill pots and line trays for the seeds to be sown in
*it is a good idea to begin a greenhouse journal, either by hand or on your computer to track your activities for future reference, and for the planning/scheduling stages
* start to get excited for the spring seeds to arrive and get plans made for the gardens this year.
What greenhouse tasks do you do in your area in the first month of the year?
I will see you again in February!
Until then, Happy Gardening!
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Monday, March 13, 2017

Caution! Garden May Be Toxic??????


Today I am addressing a serious topic.  I have been getting a lot of emails regarding this specific issue, and thought I would re-post this very important information.  This post has been reprinted in several pet magazines, and has been very helpful to pet owners...I hope it will be helpful to you too.

The other day I was having a conversation about plants in the garden that I avoid planting. One such plant was Heliotrope. I love Heliotrope…it always did what it was supposed to do…and it smelled just glorious…but I abandoned it. Why, you ask? Why would I abandon a plant that was doing well in my greenhouse and gardens?

This is why. Miss Poo LOVED to be in the greenhouse with me , and was never far away when I was planting or weeding or watering the flowers. I would often catch her walking around smelling the flowers…and once I caught her smelling…and nibbling on the heliotrope.

Heliotrope and Lantana are toxic to dogs. When our family’s beloved Miss Poo fell very ill with a mysterious illness that nearly took her life, I got to researching what plants I had in the gardens, that she could possibly have eaten…I was shocked to see that many of the plants that I had been growing all along were poisonous…some even toxic to not just pets, but people too!

Now, most pets and kids do not make it a habit to go around and sample the flowers and things in the gardens, but some may. I made it a point to teach my kids NEVER to put any of the flowers or plants into their mouths right as soon as they learned to crawl. My Miss Poo has since passed away, and my kids are old enough to know not to eat the plants, but I believe that it bears importance to know what we are growing. Just in case- right? RIGHT.

The following is a list of some of the plants that are considered to have adverse effects if eaten, handled etc. This list is far from complete, but it does cover many of our common garden plantings…(and if you live in my area….many of these are houseplants too!) If you do have a plant that is not on my list and you are unsure if it is dangerous or not, you can call your local poison control center and they will have some advice for you.


I love the Bleeding heart plant. (Dicentra spectabilis)…but if eaten the leaves and roots can cause many adverse reactions, such as: loss of balance, weakness, breathing distress and convulsions.

I once had a Castor bean plant. (Ricinus communis)…It was huge and healthy…I had no idea what I had as it was left for me by the previous owner of the house…I was shocked to look it up and find out that it was highly toxic! Just the simple handling of seeds and foliage can cause itching rash! Eating any part of this plant can cause burning in mouth and throat, abdominal pain, digestive problems, convulsions and death. Just one castor bean contains enough ricin to kill an adult within a few minutes! Needless to say…small children and a dog caused this plant to move on to someone else’s house. (that had no pets or kids)

I have always thought Delphinium was such a pretty perennial! (Delphinium spp.)…I had not considered that it was not just pretty but VERY TOXIC! All parts of this plant can cause nausea, abdominal cramps, bloating, paralysis and death. Needless to say…this plant has been relocated to the flower bed in the alley behind the house…just in case.


I plant Flowering tobacco in large quantities each year in my gardens.(Nicotiana alata) I didn’t even consider that it could be highly toxic! All parts of this plant if eaten can cause rapid heartbeat, weakness, blindness, digestive upset, abdominal pain and death. Good thing I didn’t eat any hey?
Foxglove is another common plant.(Digitalis purpurea)…It is also a very toxic toxic one! If ingested. all parts of this plant can cause nausea, abdominal pain, confusion, blurred vision, irregular heartbeat, convulsions and death.

I have not before heard of the Gas plant, but the name of it peaked my curiosity. (Dictamnus albus)…All parts of this plant, especially the seed pods, can cause irregular reddish patches on skin, blistering and staining of skin lasting for several weeks. Handling of this plant is dangerous…which is more than likely why I haven’t heard of it before….no one wants to harvest the seed pods.

Next we discuss Iris.


NOT That Iris!!! YOU GUYS ARE SILLY!!! (that is Grammie… my mom! she is an Iris…but not the one I was looking at…)

Iris (Iris spp.)

Leaves and rhizomes can cause nausea and digestive upset. So can upsetting
Grammie…she doesn’t take no crap ya know…lol

Lily-of-the-valley has never been a favorite of mine. They are invasive!!! (Convallaria majalis)…and as it turns out….also very toxic! All parts of this plant can cause irregulatr heartbeat, nausea, circulatory collapse and death.


Lobelia is one of my all time favorite flowers. I use it in most of my containers. (Lobelia spp.)…In spite of it’s delicate look, and bright flowers, all parts of this plant can cause digestive upset, weakness, tumors and coma if eaten.

OKAY….I LOVE LOBELIA…BUT EAT??? HELLO??? I suppose that what I think of as common sense…isn’t the same for others…lol

Do not eat the Lupine plant! (Lupinus spp.)…All parts of the Lupine plant, especially seeds, can cause breathing problems, convulsions and death.


Monkshood is one of my favorite perennials. (Aconitum spp.)
All parts of this plant, especially the roots and seeds, can cause anxiety, weakness, irregular heartbeat, speech and vision impairment and death if you eat enough of it.


The Poppy plant needs no introduction. (Papaver spp.) It has a reputation of being a prolific bloomer, invasive self seeder…and…Very toxic! Eating unripe seeds can cause deep sleep, dizziness, delirium, slow breathing and death. Ripe poppy seeds are harmless. All other parts of the plant can cause nausea, digestive upset, stomach pain.

Sweet pea (Lathyrus odoratus)

Ingestion of large amounts of seed can induce cramps, paralysis, and death. Kinda scary since small children could think it is a regular pea plant…


 I don’t think we need a photo to tell us what an apple tree looks like…or the fruit do we?

Apple seeds contain cyanogenic glycosides. I remember the dietician at the doctor’s office telling me why they don’t like children to drink apple juice. When apple juice is made…they do not peel and core the apple…instead they just crush the juice from the entire apple…seeds, peel and all. The toxins from the apple seed are juiced into the juice and it can affect the behaviour of your kids! If you eat enough of the seeds, you could very well die.

Daffodils are deer- and vermin-resistant, and no wonder -- they have a poisonous numbing effect.
DOLLS'S EYE-The fruit of a doll's eye plant contain cardiogenic toxins that can lead to cardiac arrest and death.


These ornamental plants grow low to the ground with many branches. The leaves and unripe fruit are poison.


 -the berries of these ornamental plants are poison and especially dangerous for small children. Symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea.



Large flower clusters grow on this deciduous shrub of vines. The leaves, branches and buds are poison. Symptoms: Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, rapid breathing, staggering, convulsions and death.


All parts of these noxious common annual weeds are poison, especially weeds and leaves. The symptoms if affected by the plant are: Abnormal thirst, dilated pupils, nausea, hallucinations, convulsions, rapid pulse, high blood pressure, coma.


This erect, coarse perennial plant is found in fields and along damp roadsides . The leaves, stems and sap of this plant are are poison. Upset Stomach will occur if eaten.


This very colorful vine is a popular annual/ornamental plant with seeds that are poisonous. The seeds have a hallucinogenic effect. Symptoms: Digestive upset, stupor, coma and death.


OH BE CAREFUL!….when harvesting these tall annual or perennial bristle weeds. The nettle hairs cause severe itching, burning and skin inflammation. Trust me…been there…done that…a few times.

We all think of the Potato plant as a safe and healthy common garden vegetable, but the sprouts, leaves, shoots and green tubers are poisonous. Symptoms you may feel if you are affected by the non edible parts are: Dilated pupils, digestive upset, numbness, paralysis, circulatory and respiratory depression. This plant Can be fatal.


All of the parts of this woody evergreen /deciduous shrub are considered poisonous, especially the foliage. Persons affected adversely by this plant may feel: Increased saliva and nasal discharge, digestive upset, depression of t he heart and nervous system, paralysis, and stupor. Azalea may be fatal.


 Rhubarb is commonly grown for its edible leaf stock, but beware…the leaves and roots of this common garden plant are poison. Symptoms include: Burning and irritation of the mouth and tongue. May be fatal as this plant can cause the tongue and throat to swell blocking air passage. Other symptoms may include nausea and vomiting. 


The milky sap of the leaves and stems of numerous varieties of this herb or shrub causing severe blistering and burning of the eyes and skin. If eaten these plants may cause acute irritation of the mouth, throat and stomach. These plants can be fatal. 


The vines and leaves of this common plant are poison. ONLY EAT THE FRUIT. The vines and leaves can cause cardiac depression and may be fatal if eaten in large amounts.


I love Wisteria, butit is poison. It may caue stomach upset. Small Children may be poisoned by just one seed!

Other plants that you may wish to be aware of are:
  • Cyclamen -Causes vomiting, gastrointestinal upset and death.
  • Kalanchoe -Causes vomiting and diarrhea.


If your dog loves to dig in your yard or garden, these toxic garden plants are particularly dangerous.
The bulb is the poisonous part of the plant. Keep your dog away from them at all times.
Autumn Crocus

 This is a common houseplant in most homes. It can cause intense burning and irritation of the mouth, lips and tongue, excessive drooling, difficulty swallowing, vomiting.

Plants in the Aloe Vera family are toxic to dogs! If eaten they cause diarrhea, tremors, depression…and death


Lacy Tree This plant can cause irritation of the mouth, lips and tongue, excessive drooling, difficulty swallowing, vomiting.


Schefflera This plant causes intense burning and irritation of the mouth, lips and tongue, excessive drooling, difficulty swallowing, vomiting.

 This list is by far not complete…but it is a good start at making us aware of some of the houseplants and greenhouse/garden plants that we take for granted because of their beauty. We should always be careful of what we put into our mouths…and if we are not sure if they are edible or not…take a few moments to look them up or ask someone who is an expert.

That is all I have for today…so I wish you lots of blooms…and good growing!
Until next time..

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(¸.•´ (¸.•´ .•´ ¸¸.•¨¯`•.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Harvesting the Annuals and Gathering Some Seed

Yes -you read that right…I said harvesting the annuals!

Sounds strange to say that doesn’t it?

Most people associate harvesting with veggies and grains!  Well…some of us gardeners, harvest annuals!

Before I begin this discussion,I would like to say, that all of the flowers I am sharing today are from seed in my own greenhouse. They are not brand name flowers…they are the run of the mill plants. There are no copyrights on any of my seeded plants.

In this article, the photos are not new.  I used some that I have had on hand that better show what I am saying.

I also do not grow my seeds to sell. They are grown for my enjoyment only.
Many of the brand name plants are genetically altered to be sterile. This means they are not meant to produce seed, and it is illegal to propagate for any purpose. Keeping all of this in mind….lets get to the harvesting!

FALL IS HERE… There is nothing we can do about it…like it or not the temps are going down and the season is ending.   This means it is time to start looking towards the spring that will follow a very LONG winter.

I have recently received requests for information about gathering our own today’s  focus is on getting our gardens ready for the cold and long and dreary winter months that are not going to stay away, simply because we don't like them!

I know from my own experiences of trying to figure out how to harvest, when to harvest and what to look for is not an easy thing to simply go online  and find out. Much of my information about gathering seed has been discovered by chance.   Over the years, I have found many different seeds simply by looking for them! 

Lets begin!

First and will want to get yourself some containers ready for the harvest. I use small tins with clear lids that I got at a garden center...but have also been known to use small baby food jars, old pill bottles etc...anything that is not totally air tight or too large.  (you can have small holes punched in the lid if you are worried about being too air tight.)
Paper envelopes work well too. Just make sure your seeds are completely dry before you seal up your container...and DON'T FORGET to label each container!

Petunia plants have very small seeds. Their seed pods resemble bloom buds at first, but with a little patience you will see some very tell tale signs that there are indeed seeds inside that little mouth.
There's you see them? Lets get a closer look..
In the upper right side of the above photo you will see two greener seed pods...those are just beginning to develop. Should you disturb the pod, the seed will not ripen and therefore will not germinate the following spring.

Lets get a closer look at one that is ready for harvest...
You can see how tiny the seeds are...there are a few sticking to the sides of the protective petals. Petunias are "sticky" plants. If you have ever touched one, you will understand. This is a feature Mother Nature added to them, to help keep the tiny seeds from all blowing away immediately upon opening.
When the seed pod is ready to "dump" it's seeds, and you will know this because the seeds inside will be very black. The outer shell of the pod will be partially open and a golden yellow color... Carefully take the pod off of the plant, pull back the sticky petals, and gently squeeze or shake the seeds out into a container. There will be hundreds of seeds in each tiny pod, so be prepared!
I only shook the pod a little bit so as to show you the size of the tiny little seeds... there are hundreds more waiting for me to collect on my plants!

Now that we have collected our seeds in our what?

You will need to make sure your seeds are stored in a cool and fairly dark area...make sure your containers are not air tight, as the seeds may still contain a little moisture, and produce mold..”ick”.

Keep in mind that you will not be guaranteed the same exact plant that you took the seeds off of. Many of the  annual plants on the market today are HYBRIDS. This means that they took two separate plants to make the plant you have in front of you. They do this to create new varieties and colors. The seeds of a wave petunia...will not be wave petunia plants next keep in mind that you may get some surprises when you harvest your own seed.

How do I know this?

Well... when my children were still to small to "pump" on the swing set...I used to spend endless hours laying on the grass in front of the swings pushing them. Of course I had a flower bed beside the swing set...OF COURSE...and one day I looked over at the petunias, and thought to myself..."great...what the heck kind of bugs are all over the petunias now?" Upon further investigation, I realized that it wasn’t bugs, but seeds!!   Once I made this most interesting discovery...I joyfully shared it with anyone who would listen for weeks and weeks…and the rest is history.
Next, we will look at the Malva, Lavatera and the Marigold. These three flowers are prolific bloomers in my gardens, and produce easily the seeds that will become the plants of the future.

Okay kids…get your containers ready. These three plants are generous producers.  You will be able to gather a lot of seed, and since they are a little larger than that of the Petunias that we harvested together yesterday, they will be easier to see, handle and store.  I suggest a paper bag for these to start with.

Marigold, Malva, and Lavatera will require you to put a little effort into separating the seeds from the plant, so putting them into a paper bag, will not only buy you some space, but will buy you a little time.

Grab three bags, and label them. You can decorate them later...come on...lets go looking!
Look! There is a seed pod...or as I like to call it a Lavatera Button! Wait...don't pick that one is not ready. It's still green! Lets keep looking...
This one is looking a little better...the seeds are dark. I usually like to wait until the "button" itself turns a light brown/beige color. I have had an easier time getting the seeds out, and they have a higher germination ratio when I have waited. But...since there are not any that are that ready yet...we will have to pretend...
Pop that little button off the plant, and take the "wrapper" off...inside you will see that little ring of brown... those are the seeds!  Rubbing them in your hand a little will separate them and voila! you have a few seeds for next year!
This is a whole bunch of Malva going to seed.'s some little info tid- bits....Malva and Lavatera are from the same family, they have the same type of seed pods. Therefore, they can be treated the same way. Make sure the seeds are good and dry before you remove them from the paper bag and put them into a jar....also keep in mind, that although Lavatera will re-seed itself sometimes...Malva will ALWAYS re-seed. I did not plant any into my garden this year....and I have hundreds of them growing all over the place..!  This can become an issue if you are not careful!
Let's go look for some Marigold seeds...
Here we are!
See the pod of seeds to the left above my hand?
The dead bloom?
 yes...the dead is full of seeds...the one in my hand, is the view from the front. Pluck it off...pull it apart, make sure you don't keep the dry flower petals....
There they are!
They remind me of the porcupine quills I used to see in my dog's nose as a child here and there! lol.....Now put those in your bag or put the whole pod in now and sort it out later...It has been my experience, that when I decide to plant the marigold seeds, the darkest, and hardest ones are usually more viable...

Between the Malva and the Marigolds, we could have a full blown mess of volunteer flowers...maybe I should do that in the alley bed I want to make next year....

Now...I realize that this next plant is NOT an annual....and the flowers are not really the part of the plant that we like...but I have got a spider plant that does not produce BABIES....or instead insists on going to seed! I am very proud of this plant.

One day I came into the sun room and thought I was seeing poop from some unknown rodent.  After freaking out, crying and almost  putting the house up for sale....I realized that it was indeed the seeds of a houseplant! Let me tell YOU I was so excited. This more than validated that I knew what I was doing and did know one or two things about plants! Yea Me! (okay it was an that I have finished celebrating my success and beauty...did I say that? oops! is the photo of a spider plant seed pod...
Do you see the little buds?
Those are not plantlets getting ready to sprout...those are indeed seeds!
Lets look a little closer...
These are the seeds that are taken out of a mature and dry Spider Plant seed pod! woo hoo!

Now Spider plant seeds do not germinate quickly. The actually take their sweet old time! Most plants (that I seed) are up within 7-14 days...these babies take a little longer than if you are lucky like I am to have a plant that will make seeds, cover gently, and keep warm and moist...and be patient...they will come....If you are not a plant freak like me, and do not really care if it is from a miracle seed....use the plantlets that the other plants will send out, is almost an instant addition to your plant collection....and much easier if I do say so myself!
 Oh look....I think I see some pansy's that are going to seed! Can you find the seed pod in the photo below?
There are several....but one in particular caught my eye....yes...the one at the center at the bottom of the photo....good eye!

Lets take a closer look...
There it is....but this one is not ready. Pansy's are a little different than some of the others that I showed.

They have some very neat characteristics when they go to seed...
Cool isn't it!?! I love the way the pod will open up and become a star shape. Those little light brown dots inside the petals of the seed pod are the seeds! This one is not full anymore...the seeds must have already jumped out. But...we can take what we have here and put them in our container. ....and keep hunting.

On my way to another pansy plant...I happened upon a pot with some Alyssum....we can't miss those seeds!
Do you see all the little dry looking gray/white dots on the plant?  Yes...those are the seeds! I don't usually collect the Alyssum seeds...they are cheap and plentiful in the garden center each spring, but you never know!..
What else can we find to show you.....hmmmm...

Okay, here's one for those that love perennials! This is a columbine and she has some pods just waiting to be plucked!
I grabbed the seed pod on the tip of its stem....
And dumped it out! ta-da!!!!!
No...those are not mouse poop! Those are the seeds of a Colmbine plant!

Isn’t this exciting???

The pods on this Portulaca (above) are not quite ready to burst yet. When they are they will look similar to those of the Petunia that we harvested earlier. The seeds are a tiny bit bigger....but very much the same drill for the harvest!
Check out the Snap Dragons! There are going to be Lots of seeds on those...
A closer view to show you what I see....those little pods all along the stem, will dry and the top where you see the little "string" will open up....then you can pour the dark seeds into your containers...Mine are not quite ready to harvest....

Lets go look at the Sweet Williams.
Yes sir! Those are definitely ready to pick. See the little cup? That little cup is just loaded with seeds for us to pour into our containers! ...
It is a little blurry...but you get the idea..

Now...Last but not Least....the seeds of a Geranium.....
Check out the fuzz on that plant!
Do you see those fuzzy things?
yes...those are the seeds of a geranium.
 But...the fuzz is not the seed...
The little brown rice shaped thing attached to the the seed!

Well…that’s all the seeds I have to “pick”  in my gardens.  Thanks for walking with me, and keeping me company during the fall Harvest in my garden.

I grow many different plants, but do not harvest the seeds of them all. It is not worth the time or the effort for some of the different ones. If my Morning Glory had survived, I would have been able to show you those...they look like tiny little grapes....but that is a story for next year.

AGAIN I do not harvest seed from anything that I have purchased. Many times a hybrid plant will not produce what you want it to the next year from seed…and I don’t like surprises!  The garden center plants are also under a copywright that does not permit us from propagating them ourselves.  Keep that in mind if you are out looking for seed!

So there you have it...I am about you? Thanks for reading this LONG Post. Did I teach ya anything?

Thanks for joining me...! Until next time…Happy Growing/ Harvesting/ Gardening!

*)*)*) Inside you, there is the courage, faith, determination and drive to change or create anything you want in your life.

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(¸.•´ (¸.•´ .•´ ¸¸.•¨¯`•.
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