Tag Archive | fire

Monday Memories 11-20-2017

How to Care for Your Thanksgiving / Christmas Cactus

https://midwesternplants.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/wpid-20141127_081225_richtonehdr.jpg?w=182&h=322

The Thanksgiving cactus (Schlumbergera truncata) and Christmas cactus  (Schlumbergera bridgesii) are popular winter-flowering houseplants native to South America and come in many colors: red, rose, purple, cream, white, peach and orange. The Schlumbergera species grow as epiphytes (non-parasitic plants that grow upon others) in the rain forests.

To distinguish the difference between a Thanksgiving and a Christmas cacti, look at the shape of the flattened stem segments called phylloclades. On the Thanksgiving cactus, these segments each have saw-toothed serrations or projections along the margins. The stem margins on the Christmas cactus are more rounded and less pronounced.

Since flowering plants sell better than nonflowering, merchants tend to fill their shelves with Thanksgiving cacti.

How to Choose, Care For and Rebloom Your Poinsettia

imageChoosing Your Poinsettia:

  • Choose a plant with dark green foliage. Avoid fallen or damaged leaves as this indicates poor handling, fertilization, lack of water or a root disease problem.
  • Avoid plants with too much green around the bract edges, as this is a sign of insufficient maturity.
  • Be sure to check the underside of the leaves for insects.
  • The colorful flower bracts should be in proportion to the plant and pot size.
  • Little or no pollen should be showing on the actual flowers, the red or green button-like parts in the center of the colorful bracts. This indicates a younger plant.
  • If you are planning on reblooming your plant for next year, examine the branching structure. If the plants are grown single stem (non-branched with several plants per pot), these cultivars do not branch well and will not form attractive plants for a second year.

Prairie Fires – Cleansing the Midwestern Landscape

imageFire has played an instrumental role in affecting many of the prairies in the Midwest.
Historically, tall grass prairies are shaped by one of three types of disturbances;

  • Drought
  • Animal grazing
  • Wildfires

There are many misconceptions that if the prairie (or other natural area) was left alone, it would revert to native. In the absence of disturbance, prairies often revert to either poor quality grasslands or thorn woodlands.

Native American Indians were keen on this information, observing what Mother Nature did naturally to herself to cleanse her skin, fire. They learned that fire removed the thorny brush, which gave access to animals and hunters alike. The open areas were also available to grazing animals and native plants that equal medical supplies and food to the Indians.

Ilex vs. Tar Spot on Maple

imageThere are several fungi in the genus Rhytisma (most commonly Rhytisma acerinum and Rhytisma punctatum) that cause tar spot on maples and sycamores. These fungi commonly survive in over-wintered leaf litter, where they produce spores that lead to leaf infections.

The best defense in keeping tar spot out of your trees is to rake up and destroy all infected leaves in the fall. Leaves should be burned or properly mulched. The fungus can overwinter on fallen leaves and provide a source of inoculum to re-infect the trees for the next growing season.

 

For anyone that might be interested in learning some tips or tricks for making outdoor winter containers – Click the photos below!

         

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Burn the Fields!

Since I was focusing on my front foundation plant bed for the past two years, I passed on doing my veggie garden. We tried to keep it weed free, however weeds won the battle. Late last fall, we just cut it down to a few inches tall. We are planning to have the veggie garden back this season. To prepare for this, we needed to get rid of these weeds! An easy way for us to do this was to burn them. I’m a bit of a pyro. In my younger years, I would have loved to be the firefighter that battles the wildfires. I’m too old for that, however I am certified to work prairie fires. Of course, I can still have my fun in my own yard!! 

In lieu of using the normal fire starter method used for prairie fires (diesel) we opted for a harder method, however our method would not taint the soil. We used a propane torch. It got the fire started, however because we weren’t dropping drips of fuel, which would fuel a fire so many ways better, our method relied on the dryness of the plant matter and wind. We chose a 10 MPH wind, and used it to ‘push’ the fire along the bed. It wasn’t perfect, but it got the job done.

I’m not sure where my hubby got that pink firehat. They were being given out somewhere and it had somehow got placed on the shelf near the propane torch. He thought it was apropos for the situation. I just thought it made him look cute.

Like I said, this was not exactly a wildfire! This was as good as it got. I think those flames are reaching waist height.

In case you’re wondering why we are burning our fields, in short, our area “The Great Plains”, requires a burning now and then to cleanse the non-natives from the native lands. Non-native plants and seeds usually can’t survive the heat of the fires like our natives can. Ancient Native Americans learned this long ago. If you’d like to learn more, click here.

Burn, baby, burn!

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Happy New Year!

My type of fireworks! See all the colors? Georgia allows fireworks. We’re getting a free show from all the neighbors.
Downside.. the boys are freaking out. Breck is in the pooper, Oreo is under the table.  😳 Why do more folks like the boomers over the Ahhh pretty ones?

image

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

How to Buy and Burn Firewood Like a Pro!

image  image

There are not many things that I like about cold weather, however snuggling-up to a roaring fire with my honey tops the list! Bring on the marshmallows, hot chocolate and some chestnuts to roast, fires bring out the kid in all of us.

If you are lucky enough to have a fireplace in your home, you’re all set. Otherwise, outdoor areas can be easily converted to a fire pit. A circle of small boulders, bricks or just an area cleared of burnable material will work just fine.

Folks often ask, “What’s the best type of wood to burn?” There’s no one answer. Everyone has a favorite firewood, just as everyone has a different way of lighting and running a fire.

Pound for pound, all varieties of wood have approximately the same heat content, which is about 6400 BTU. The heat created by burning firewood is essentially the energy of the sun, the ultimate source of all energy on planet Earth. Through the process of photosynthesis, trees are able to store solar energy as chemical energy. Burning wood is just the quick reversal of this process, liberating the suns heat when we need to keep warm.

Although the heat content may be the same, woods do burn differently because of differences in density. Firewood is classified into two categories. Soft woods include pine, juniper, spruce, poplar and cedar. These burn easily and quickly, providing a hot fire, although it won’t last long. Hardwoods are denser and burn quite slowly, producing less immediate heat but a fire that lasts longer. Hardwoods include maple, oak, ash, birch and hickory.

firewood list 1 firewood list 2

Found this great firewood chart from Utah State University

Another consideration of energy release is that the size of the firewood pieces affects the rate of combustion. Larger pieces ignite and release their energy slower than small pieces. Smaller pieces are better for short, hot fires (cooking) while larger pieces are a better choice for extended burning (warmth).

When shopping for firewood, many times tree trimming companies are your better bet for a good buy. Pretty easy to figure out why… They get paid to prune or remove trees and then get to paid again selling it as firewood. Double payday! Inspectors from the Department of Agriculture (here in Illinois at least) do pay visits to these locations looking for emerald ash borer and other pests that can be transferred via firewood. Many times mulching the wood destroys the insect and it can be sold as such.

If possible, try to visit the location where you will be buying your wood. Many times, the wood will already be stacked in the quantities sold. Bundles can be any amount, mainly bought by campers needing only enough wood for a camping weekend. Otherwise, the only legal unit measurement of firewood is the CORD, defined as, “a loosely stacked pile of split firewood measuring 4 ft. wide x 4 ft. high x 8 ft. long.” equal to about 128 cubic feet. There is no legal standard for the “Face Cord”, but it should be about 45 cubic feet = 1/3 cord. Face Cords should be multiplied times three to determine you’re getting a good price.

Some quick notes on types of campfires:

Campfire types

TEE-PEE FIRE:
This is probably the most basic of fire designs. It is often used as a starter upon which bigger, longer-lasting fires are founded. This fire uses mostly kindling, but larger tee-pees can be created by adding larger logs vertically to the fire.

PYRAMID/PLATFORM FIRE:
This fire consists of a foundation framework of large logs laid side by side to form a solid base. These can be used to cook on very easily. It can provide quick warmth and be the start of any number of larger blazes.

STAR or INDIAN FIRE:
A star fire, or Indian fire, is the fire design often depicted as the campfire of the old West. Imagine five or six logs laid out like the spokes of a wheel (star shaped). A fire is started at the “hub” and each log is pushed towards the center as the ends are consumed. It’s another fire that can be kept burning all night long with little maintenance and where firewood is at a premium.

LEAN-TO FIRE:
This is a great fire during windy days. Be sure to check wind direction before set-up.

STORING FIREWOOD
When you get your wood delivered, stack it in neat loose piles off the ground in a sunlit location away from buildings. Plastic sheeting or closer stacking of top pieces will protect firewood from rain and snow. Firewood put in a shady corner near buildings or surrounded by shrubs deteriorates faster than wood stored in an open, sunlit location, reducing the fuel value.

Don’t treat firewood with pesticides. Storing firewood away from the house and bringing in only a day or two’s worth at a time should prevent dormant or pupating insects from warming up and emerging to become pests inside your home.

OWL WOOD PILE HAWK WOOD PILE TREE WOOD PILE

I wish I could credit these photos correctly, however they are overshared across the net

 

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Monday Memories 11-23-2015

How to Care for Your Thanksgiving / Christmas Cactus

https://midwesternplants.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/wpid-20141127_081225_richtonehdr.jpg?w=149&h=265

Thanksgiving cactus (Schlumbergera truncata) with its pointy leaves.

christmas cactus

Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera bridgesii) with its rounded leaves.

The Thanksgiving cactus (Schlumbergera truncata) and Christmas cactus  (Schlumbergera bridgesii) are popular winter-flowering houseplants native to South America and come in many colors: red, rose, purple, cream, white, peach and orange. The Schlumbergera species grow as epiphytes (non-parasitic plants that grow upon others) in the rain forests.

To distinguish the difference between a Thanksgiving and a Christmas cacti, look at the shape of the flattened stem segments called phylloclades. On the Thanksgiving cactus, these segments each have saw-toothed serrations or projections along the margins. The stem margins on the Christmas cactus are more rounded and less pronounced.

Since flowering plants sell better than nonflowering, merchants tend to fill their shelves with Thanksgiving cacti.

How to Choose, Care For, and Rebloom Your Poinsettia

image

Choosing Your Poinsettia:

  • Choose a plant with dark green foliage. Avoid fallen or damaged leaves as this indicates poor handling, fertilization, lack of water or a root disease problem.
  • Avoid plants with too much green around the bract edges, as this is a sign of insufficient maturity.
  • Be sure to check the underside of the leaves for insects.
  • The colorful flower bracts should be in proportion to the plant and pot size.
  • Little or no pollen should be showing on the actual flowers, the red or green button-like parts in the center of the colorful bracts. This indicates a younger plant.
  • If you are planning on reblooming your plant for next year, examine the branching structure. If the plants are grown single stem (non-branched with several plants per pot), these cultivars do not branch well and will not form attractive plants for a second year.

Propagating Woodies in the Midwest

woodie cuttingsAutumn is the best time to propagate woody plants via cuttings in the Midwest.

There are many benefits to cuttings such as instant maturity, faster growth, and easier transplanting.

The first step would be to find a healthy specimen from which to obtain the cutting. You should scout for plants while they are still actively growing and mark healthy branches, as when they are dormant, it will be hard to tell healthy from not.

Auxins or growth hormones are of great help to the success of cuttings. Note that there are different strength suggestions for different types of wood.

Prairie Fires – Cleansing the Midwestern Landscape

imageFire has played an instrumental role in affecting many of the prairies in the Midwest.

Historically, tall grass prairies are shaped by one of three types of disturbances;

  • Drought
  • Animal grazing
  • Wildfires

There are many misconceptions that if the prairie (or other natural area) was left alone, it would revert to native. In the absence of disturbance, prairies often revert to either poor quality grasslands or thorn woodlands.

Native American Indians were keen on this information, observing what Mother Nature did naturally to herself to cleanse her skin, fire. They learned that fire removed the thorny brush, which gave access to animals and hunters alike. The open areas were also available to grazing animals and native plants that equal medical supplies and food to the Indians.

 November is the Time to Protect Shrubs for Winter

Scan_Pic0003November is the time for Midwesterners to protect their vulnerable shrubs from winter damage. A little protection from cold winds and snow is all that many cold-sensitive shrubs require. There are several methods available to provide shelter.

 

Smaller shrubs like rhododendrons, will benefit from using fresh cut branches of conifers [spruce, pine]. Direct the thick end into the ground near the crown of the plant, and intermingle the branches together. This will provide a windbreak and help stop branch breakage from the weight of snow. If the shrub is taller than the conifer branches, tie them together at different heights to protect the whole shrub.

 

=-) Ilex Farrell

Piggy Roast!

Here’s the long, awaited piggy roast photos.  I was a bit busy with being a hostess of the mostest, so photos were not my first priority…

image

image

 
Mmm. My hubby cooks up a wonderful pig.  He toils for hours prepping it the night before.  He shaves it, salts the insides and stuffs garlic in all the nooks. He starts the fires early to get the natural wood coals going. Ironically,  the coal needed to cook it costs more than the pig!
5 bags of coal = $220.
38# pig = $128.
Ouch!

image

L U C K Y Dogs, huh?!?
They got to lick off the butchering table after all the pig was served. Not like they didn’t get plenty of handouts from the guests.  They have begging down 100%.

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl