Using Sulfato de Magnésio (Epsom Salts) in the Garden

In my quest to use as many natural products in the garden as possible I consulted Google and found this imformative article by Backyard Boss who kindly gave me permission to repost some of the article here.

 

WHAT ARE EPSOM SALTS?

To begin, I should probably explain what Epsom salts are. Epsom salts are actually a mineral compound of magnesium and sulfate- essential nutrients that regulate enzymes and are found naturally in most living things. Originally found in Epsom, England (hence the name), they are mined from the ground and have a variety of different uses ranging from healthy lifestyle choices, help with magnesium deficiencies, crafting projects, and in our case – gardening.

Epsom salts are not salts at all even though they look like it (it doesn’t have any sodium chloride in it’s makeup). Because of this, it can be used as a natural alternative in many agricultural and health practices without ill effects- since too much true salt is actually harmful to plants.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF EPSOM SALTS FOR PLANTS?

Magnesium sulfate is actually a key ingredient for vegetation and is found naturally in soils, although they can eventually be depleted and leach over time. The use of Epsom salts in varied ways can help give a very inexpensive boost to your plants and flowers year round – whether they are grown as indoor plants or out.

Essentially they are a building block of new growth, and is supportive of overall plant health; they can be used in a variety of ways to enhance seed germination, flower production, new growth, and can aide with chlorophyll creation: which is needed for photosynthesis in all green plants.

The article continues with a list the uses and benefits of Epsom Salts
– SEED GERMINATION
– NUTRIENT ABSORPTION
– COUNTER TRANSPLANT SHOCK
– GREENER FOLIAGE
– DETER GARDEN PESTS
– GROW SWEETER FRUIT
– FERTILIZING WITH EPSOM SALTS
– USING AS A FOLIAR SPRAY
– HOW TO USE WITH FLOWERING PLANTS
– HOW TO USE WITH VEGETABLE PLANTS
– HOW TO USE TO HELP ERADICATE WEED PLANTS

Full details please check out GROW BETTER PLANTS WITH THE BENEFITS OF EPSOM SALTS

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Paraiso Artesano – Pottery Shop, Vila do Bispo, Algarve

When you drive from Lagos along the N125 towards Sagres after about 20 kms you will discover the most amazing and probably one of the best selections of pottery on the Algarve. It is the second pottery shop on the left-hand side just before Vila Do Bishpo. You can’t miss it It’s easily recognizable as the front elevation is covered in decorative wall plates. However as you can’t turn across the road you will need to continue until the next roundabout and then turn back towards Lagos.

I say shop but Paraiso Artesano is actually so huge ‘pottery warehouse’ is a more accurate description.

I was completely blown away by the huge selection of ceramics and terracotta, craftwork, linen and variety of miscellaneous gifts and knickknacks. But be warned, they only take cash. They also have a seconds area where you can pick up some good bargains.

Paraiso Artesano - Pottery Shop, Vila do Bispo, Algarve

Paraiso Artesano – Pottery Shop, Vila do Bispo, Algarve

Paraiso Artesano - Pottery Shop, Vila do Bispo, Algarve

Paraiso Artesano – Pottery Shop, Vila do Bispo, Algarve

Paraiso Artesano - Pottery Shop, Vila do Bispo, Algarve

Paraiso Artesano – Pottery Shop, Vila do Bispo, Algarve

Paraiso Artesano - Pottery Shop, Vila do Bispo, Algarve

Paraiso Artesano – Pottery Shop, Vila do Bispo, Algarve

Paraiso Artesano - Pottery Shop, Vila do Bispo, Algarve

Paraiso Artesano – Pottery Shop, Vila do Bispo, Algarve

Paraiso Artesano - Pottery Shop, Vila do Bispo, Algarve

Paraiso Artesano – Pottery Shop, Vila do Bispo, Algarve

Paraiso Artesano - Pottery Shop, Vila do Bispo, Algarve

Paraiso Artesano – Pottery Shop, Vila do Bispo, Algarve

Paraiso Artesano - Pottery Shop, Vila do Bispo, Algarve

Paraiso Artesano – Pottery Shop, Vila do Bispo, Algarve

Paraiso Artesano - Pottery Shop, Vila do Bispo, Algarve

Paraiso Artesano – Pottery Shop, Vila do Bispo, Algarve

Paraiso Artesano - Pottery Shop, Vila do Bispo, Algarve

Paraiso Artesano – Pottery Shop, Vila do Bispo, Algarve

Pachypodium Lamerei – Madagascar Cactus Palm

Pachypodium Lamerei

Pachypodium Lamerei

I have a delightful new addition to my cacti/succulent family. It was a present from some dear friends who attended the Mediterranean Garden Show in the Eastern Algarve. They know I love quirky, so they bought me quirky.

Thank you *big smilie face*

After thanking them for the gift I asked them for the name of the plant… err they didn’t know. Ah, right. I then took a photo and consulted Mr. Google with an image search. His best guess was a palm tree. No, Mr Google, it is NOT a palm tree, FAIL! (Turns out hew was closer than I original thought)

Well, if Mr. Google can’t recognise this alien plant what an earth is it? Okay, thinking outside the box I typed: ‘cacti with leaves’, in the search box.

Eureka! It’s a succulent palm! – A Pachypodium Lamerei (Madagascar Palm)

I’ve called it Madge.

Facts

The Pachypodium Lamerei originates from Madagascar in Africa. according to further research on Guide to Houseplants , it isn’t really a palm but a succulent from the Apocyanaceae family.

Flowers: Yes, it has clusters of fragrant, white flowers in summer (on mature plants) if it has plenty of sunlight.
Leaves: It may drop it’s leaves in winter so don’t panic.
Temperature: The Madagascar Palm won’t tolerate frost and the world of succulents website states:

the minimum temperature is about 55° F (13° C), but it depends very much on the moisture of the substrate. The drier the substrate, the lower temperatures are possible. Ideally you shouldn’t fall below a minimum temperature of 59° F (15° C) during the rest period.
Bad news for Madge – she will live outside on a covered sheltered terrace, in full sun next to the house wall. Our winter temps can drop down to +1C at night so hopefully she will be okay.

Water: Water thoroughly and only allow the top of to dry out between waterings in the summer. Sounds like sound advice but my pots aren’t transparent. Another site

For beginners it is sometimes difficult to consider when and how much water you should give the Pachypodium. You should not treat it like a cactus in any case. A helpful rule is to not be completely dry to the soil during periods of growth before it is poured again.

Soil: 2 parts soil 1 part sharp sand or perlite.
Feed: Spring and summer with cacti fertiliser

After extensive research I now wonder how I will care for Madge during the winter months. While we have space indoors, the rooms do not get direct sunlight. Maybe I will need to leave her outside until the colder weather takes hold then just bring her inside for a few months. I think it will be a matter of trial and error.
Reference:
http://www.guide-to-houseplants.com/madagascar-palm.html
http://worldofsucculents.com/how-to-grow-and-care-for-pachypodium/

How to Propagate Hibiscus in 10 Easy Steps

Hibiscus are my favourite plants (shrubs) because they are SO easy to grow and reward me with an abundance of beautiful flowers throughout the year.

Red Hibiscus Flower

Red Hibiscus Flower


I began experimenting as to the best method of propagating hibiscus from cuttings a couple of years ago when the cost of buying plants in Portugal rose significantly. I’m talking about a 100% rise, so a great incentive to master the technique!

There are several different methods used to propagate shrubby plants, but this one consistently works for me.
There are several different methods used to propagate shrubby plants, but this one consistently works for me.

How to to propagate Hibiscus

1. Take green cuttings (new growth) of about six inches long from the parent plant and remove all but a couple of the smaller leaves.

2. Immerse cutting into the hormone powder or gel so once planted the “treated” area is higher than the planting depth. There should be at least one growth node under the soil.

Hibiscus cuttings

Hibiscus cuttings

3. Fill suitable plastic plant pot with damp sandy soil and press down firmly.

4. Make small hole for each cutting – about a couple of inches deep (I use a small stick). Insert the cutting so at least one of the nodes are under the soil. Firm the soil around the cutting.

Cover Hibiscus cuttings with plastic water bottle

Cover Hibiscus cuttings with plastic water bottle

5. Create a humid environment for the cuttings by adding a plastic cover. Some people use a plastic bag – I use half a plastic bottle.

6. Stand the pot in a tray of water so the soil remains damp, but be careful not too wet. If the soil should become waterlogged I remove from pot from water tray to restore the balance. I usually only follow this process for about a six weeks. If the cuttings are “happy” in the environment you have created the leaves on the hibiscus cutting should still look green and healthy. If the rooting process is not working and the leaves are brown and shrivelled, discard and start the process again.

7. Move pot to a sheltered location out of direct sunlight. I find dappled shade is best.

8. Once the cuttings are established and new leaves begin to grow I remove the plastic cover so the young plants adapt.

9. After about a six months, sometimes more, depending on how quickly the cuttings grow, repot cuttings to individual pots using good quality compost and you will have several young plants ready to pot on.

Hibiscus cuttings one year later

Hibiscus cuttings one year later

10. Hey presto! This healthy plant is just one of three I grew using the above method.

I grow my mature hibiscus plants in containers close to the house to shelter them from the destructive salt winds. This was originally a temporary measure to protect them while hardier plants and shrubs matured. However, I have been so pleased with the results the hibiscus have remained in the original containers where they were planted six years ago. Hibiscus are normally planted in the ground here, and the shrubs easily grow to over six feet tall.

Their versatility has surprised me as they grow well in either sun or shade. And, providing you keep them well watered, fed and pruned they are very easy to grow – certainly far easier than vegetables!

A Romantic Evening in Venice

The prompt for this week’s photo challenge is bridge. Unfortunately, after an extensive search through my photos for an inspiring bridge in Portugal, I drew a blank. Will a bridge in Venice suffice?

Gondolier - Venice

Gondolier – Venice

On our first evening in Venice we sat at one of these tables sipping wine while watching the Gondoliers at work. It never ceased to amaze me how they managed to squeeze under the low bridges, and still maneuver the gondola. I wanted a ride but we just ran out of time.

Bridge in Venice

Bridge in Venice

If you’ve never been to Venice do add it to your bucket list. I hope to return one day  to claim a romantic ride in a gondola.

FitBit Blues

A poem dedicated to my Fitbit.

I have a trusty Fitbit it likes to keep me trim

I have a trusty Fitbit it likes to keep me trim

I have a trusty Fitbit it likes to keep me trim
It puts me on the treadmill so walking’s not a whim.

Ten thousand steps my daily goal is harder than it seems
So I find my feet still walking even in my dreams.

Competing with my Fitbit friends who want to stay in shape
It makes me walk around and round till neighbors stop to gape.

And as my Fitbit cracks the whip and round and round I go
My footsteps echo in my mind like a Broadway tap dance show.

So if you buy a Fitbit and think that you can skive
Did you know it emails you to give you added drive?

It also sends reminders when its battery’s running low
Or congratulations: only two thousand steps to go!

So if you have a Fitbit and think that you can rest
Beware, it logs your footsteps and sets skivers extra tests.

I had a trusty Fitbit it tried to keep me trim
But these feet ain’t made for walking so now I’ve joined the gym.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

I’ve lost 10kg since Jan but now dropped back to 8kg. Gotta get walking!

Driving in the UK – Variable Speed Limits

On a recent trip back to the UK we found, much to our surprise, driving far more stressful than in Portugal. Okay, you probably don’t get so many crazy drivers taking unnecessary risks, but that is probably due to the fact that most of the UK roads we traveled were nothing more than one long traffic jam with cameras monitoring your every move.

Driving on the M25 was most definitely, as dubbed by Chris Rea, ‘The Road to Hell’, and the M1 was as bad.

Why the variable speed limits?

One day we were driving along quite nicely when the overhead gantries flashed 60 mph, then 40 mph. As a result most drivers immediately hit the brakes (as Big Brother was watching), which then had a knock on effect as the traffic almost ground to a halt which caused yet another traffic jam and more chaos. Is this the intention?

Then there are the numerous road works.

The one thing that struck me about the UK was the number of cars. Is public transport so unreliable or expensive no one uses it any more? Or is the island sinking under the weight of an ever increasing car obsessed population?

After experiencing the excessive traffic in the UK I will never moan about Portuguese roads again. By comparison, the A22 Motorway which runs from Lagos in the West, along the Algarve to the East and into Spain is almost empty. The N125 can be problematic with traffic delays exacerbated by a continual round of roadworks and the influx of tourists in the high season. (That and the fact no one wants to pay the tolls on the A22).

 V is for ‘Variable speed limits‘. That’s my pet peeve for today.

Why not join me in the A-Z of Pet Peeves Challenge by sharing your  personal A-Z .  Simply post a peeve to your blog and don’t forget to share a links to your peeves to  Pet Peeves A-Z  page so we can all follow your progress!

#petpeevesA-Z

Related Post: Driving in Portugal – 12 Survival Tips

Order or Out of Order?

My passion for gardening has now extended to include collecting succulents and cacti so every time I visit a garden centre my first port of call is the succulent and cacti bays. So far choice has been limited as most garden centres and shops sell nigh on the same plants. If anyone knows any specialist centres along the Algarve or Alentejo please let me know.

You can imagine my surprise when I spotted these!

Mix and Match Cacti

Mix and Match Cacti

Apparently they are grafted cacti. I am not sure … to me they look grotesque. I never bought one.

What do you think?

Stretching the imagination into the realms of weird horror I wonder if in years to come they will be be grafting a woman’s head onto a man’s body. Or even a dog’s head onto a cat or a dog’s head onto a man!

This post was prompted by the photo challenge prompt Order not by excess vinho.

Furrrrrry Friends

Do cats and dogs need us as much as we need them?

Furry Friend

Furry Friend

When I was a child I had two cats both of which were killed on the road.  When I lost my first cat I was heartbroken so my parents, in an attempt to soften the loss, bought me a kitten which I named Lucky. Unfortunately, he  was not so lucky as he found his way down to the main road where he also met his maker.

I still remember the bond I had with them so when I snapped this photograph of my baby grandson with their family cat  it rekindled childhood memories.

We never got another cat and my bond with ‘furry friends’ was broken.

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Friend

Inconsiderate Drivers or Road Rats?

Today I was driving down a very ‘wibbly wobbly’, twisty narrow road to my mosaic class. Given my knowledge of the road I drive steady. Real steady. I call it the road of Hell or the pathway to Heaven.

I always anticipate the unexpected  as it is not unusual  to drive round a  bend to discover a burro and cart, chickens and stray dogs, or even  police cars parked in awkward places to pull in cars for vehicle checks. And that’s before you’ve taken into account drivers who overtake on the brow of a hill or/and or a blind bend. Anything can and does happen, so I concentrate.

This morning I caught sight of a car in my side mirror. For God’s sake, he was overtaking me on the brow of hill and and crossing a single white line. I had a ‘moment’ as I was not planning a trip to heaven just yet. He pulled back at the last minute as a large oil tanker hurtled round the bend at speed (thankfully I carry a spare pair of pants). I blinked then prayed before beeping my horn at him in disgust while shouting, Asshat!

He then hitched a ride right on my bumper for the next few wibbly wobbly terrifying miles impatiently weaving in and out to overtake then pulling back.

He makes his move. Again on the brow of the hill. No way could he see. He is almost level with my drivers door before he realizes he is running out of road as an oncoming car appears over the hill and flashes the headlights at him in warning.

I am now incensed. He is still tail-gating on my bumper. I slow down as his inconsiderate overtaking tactics are making me nervous. Extremely nervous.

“Hey, Asshat, I don’t want a bunch of flowers left at the side of the road to mark my passing to the next world. There is nowhere for me to pull over or for you to overtake. PATIENCE!”

Sheesh, this guy must have nine lives. I looked in my mirror, Asshhat is on his mobile phone gesticulating to an invisible audience.

Eventually, he overtook and squeezed by narrowly missing an oncoming car.

Needless to say he got the two-finger sign from me as he sped past. He was gone in seconds, and as beads of perspiration trickled down my back I let out a sigh of relief. Why are some drivers SO inconsiderate? He may have had a death wish aka late for the airplane, doctors appointment, work or whatever, but you are a long time dead.

I mused: would I stop to help if I discovered his car wrapped around a tree as I rounded the next hairpin bend? Ponderous.

 I is for ‘Inconsiderate Drivers‘. That’s my pet peeve for today.

Why not join me in the A-Z of Pet Peeves Challenge by sharing your  personal A-Z .  Simply post a peeve to your blog and don’t forget to share a links to your peeves to  Pet Peeves A-Z  page so we can all follow your progress!

 

Who’s up for the challenge?

Photo credit: Pixabay.com