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Christmas cactus or not?

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Christmas cactus or not?  Did you know there’s a Thanksgiving Cactus?  I didn’t until a few years ago!  I had a cactus from my mom for YEARS and always thought it was a Christmas cactus with extreme flowering capability!   Finding out there’s a difference and it has to do with the lobes, was, well, somewhat embarrassing.  My powers of observation were not apparently keen!

You can clearly see the difference in LOBES!  The Christmas cactus (rounded lobes) blooms about 5 to 6 weeks later than Thanksgiving cactus (pointy lobes).

These succulents should be allowed to dry out half way, then water thoroughly, allowing the water to run out the bottom of the pot, then empty the saucer.  They both like it cool, so don’t worry about drafts.  Keep in bright, indirect light.  While they’re flowering, fertilize them with a weak all-purpose fertilizer every 2 to 3 weeks.

Thanksgiving cactus


Christmas cactus - Torrey Pines

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It’s shopping day

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Yesterday we packed in the food like squirrels cache their nuts.  We’re fueled up and ready for the challenge of the hunt!  The hunt for the perfect gift at the perfect price.  Wahoo, let the season begin!

While I always encourage local shopping – you may not always find exactly what you want.  This is a link to Gardeners Supply that has a lot of ideas!

I’ve told you before that nothing beats a really good pair of pruners,

Felco Bypass Pruner

Felco Bypass Pruner

gloves that don’t immediately fall apart

garden gloves

and a garden fork.

Garden Fork

Garden Fork

However, there are some other fun garden gadgets to consider!  I love rain chains.   Consider making your own!

rain chain in a barrel

rain chain

The Hori Hori knife comes highly recommended as a must have.  A Japanese knife, it’s blade is razor sharp and is serrated for cutting through roots and tough soil.  It’s used as a knife, a saw, a digging tool, or as a measuring device for planting bulbs.  You can weed with it to.

Hori Hori knife

hori hori knife 2

I’d never turn down mid-calf rain boots or a counter compost crock.    Books are another great gift for the gardener.  I recommend anything by Jeff Gillman. Another book I recommend  is  “Turn Here Sweet Corn” by Atina Diffley.

Compost pails from Gardener's Supply

Compost pails from Gardener’s Supply

Turn Here - Sweet Corn

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Happy Thanksgiving

Click below to listen to my Garden Bite radio show:  Happy Thanksgiving


May your home and your belly be full today!  And your heart too!

This is my contribution to Thanksgiving dinner….

Fresh Herb Stuffing

Fresh Herb Stuffing


Mom's pumpkin cake dessert

Mom’s pumpkin cake dessert

The recipe is in my Recipe tab.

If you grew ornamental grasses, now’s the time to bring them indoors, put them in a vase with some red-twigged dogwood.  If you have berries still clinging to your trees or shrubs, use them as part of a centerpiece.  Just don’t eat them!!

grass art by JW

to be left up for winter

Harry Lauders Walking stick is a cool shrub that is most awesome in winter!

Wishing you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving!!  Thank you for stopping by and send me an email with your questions, comments or suggestions.  I’d love to hear from YOU!  If you’re on Facebook, LIKE my page “Garden Bite with Teri Knight”.  You can also connect with me there.


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Aromas in my head

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Are you smelling the wonderful aromas of Thanksgiving?  We’re just a day away from a cornucopia of gluttony!  Ahh, the baking and roasting, sautéing and simmering.

Having herbs, vegetables and/or fruit that you’ve grown on the Thanksgiving Day table just adds to the  thankfulness of the day.  What’s on the table that you can grow next year?

roasted tomatoes

Roasted tomatoes

Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme are not just a song!   If you didn’t get the chance to grow herbs, check out your local co-op!  Not only do these herbs grow together well but they taste wonderful together too.

The above photo has kale, red cabbage, jalapeno, beets and beans in it.  A little tough to see!  I have a lot of great recipes in my Recipes tab.  Check it out and find some wonderful choices.  The following recipe is a great Fresh Herb stuffing:

Fresh Herb Dressing Recipe


  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 ribs celery, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dry rubbed sage
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 8 cups toasted plain bread cubes or unseasoned stuffing croutons
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley


In a saucepan, over medium heat, melt the butter; add the onions and celery. Saute for about 5 minutes or until the onions soften. Add the garlic and cook for one minute more. Add the sage, salt, pepper and stock; bring to a simmer.

Add bread cubes to a large mixing bowl and pour over the hot broth mixture. Add the fresh herbs and mix well. If the bread seems too dry more stock can be added. Taste for salt, and adjust if needed. Transfer to a buttered two-quart baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 40 minutes, or until top is golden-brown.

Fresh Herb Stuffing

Fresh Herb Stuffing – the garnish is Purple Basil


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The uninvited houseguest – MICE

Click below to listen to my Garden Bite radio show:  The uninvited houseguest – MICE

Oh the pitter patter of tiny feet…  House mice.  EEK

Oh sure, he looks cute but the destruction and, egad!, waste left behind by these little creatures is NOT something you want in your home.  Some facts about mice:

  • as cold seeps in, so do mice
  • gestation period is just 19 days
  • they can have 6 or more babies per litter
  • they can have 13 litters a year
  • that’s a minimum of 78 mice
  • where you find one, there are more
  • they will eat whatever you have on hand and use glue, paper, soap, anything to make nests
  • they can jump, swim and run up to 8 mph

The best way to catch them is with a snap trap using peanut butter, just make sure you don’t have curious pets or children that could have access to the traps!!  I’m REALLY hoping you won’t need rat traps!


If you do, you can use a live trap – for those, sunflower seeds are the best bait.  Just remember, you’re going to have to dispose of them once caught!

Live trap

Live trap

There’s always getting a cat!  Introducing “Dino Valentino”.  I will say we haven’t had mice yet…  so maybe he’s doing something.  ;-)  Besides being adorable.

Dino V

Hard at work!

He does like to read!

He does like to read!


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Click below to listen to my Garden Bite radio show:  Permaculture

By now you’ve likely heard the term permaculture but perhaps you’re not really sure what it is.  The word is derived from two words PERMAnent agriCULTURE.



What began as strategies to growing food in a sustainable way has become a movement that, and I quote “encompasses all aspects of how we as human beings can live harmoniously in relation to our Earth and it’s finite resources”.   Putting it more simply, it’s moving more to nature’s rhythms than trying to manipulate nature.

There are MANY ways to permaculture, sustainable living.  For me, it’s about growing all kinds of edible plants and that includes plants for wildlife.  Also planting certain types of plants to attract good bugs, the kind that eat the bad bugs!

Below are pictures of ‘Edelweiss’ and ‘St. Croix’ grapes and ‘Summercrisp’ pears from my former home.

Grapes 'Edelweiss' and 'St. Croix'

Grapes ‘Edelweiss’ and ‘St. Croix’

Grape harvest 12 lbs

Grape harvest 12 lbs

Pear 'Summercrisp'

Pear ‘Summercrisp’

I’m not talking about ripping out your entire lawn, unless you have a lot of ambition, but slowly, as you change your landscape, think about the broader concept of sustainability.  Rather than use chemicals to kill unwanted pests, plant plants that attract the good bugs.  Raise a few chickens that will keep the pest population down and provide you with eggs for a few years, then meat for stew or soup.

There’s a book for those of us new to permaculture called “The Vegetable Gardeners Guide to Permaculture” by Christopher Shein.  It’s an easy to use, unintimidating guide for those who want to dip their toes into the movement of an edible landscape. This isn’t about working harder, it’s about abundant food with modest effort.

The vegetable gardener's guide to permaculture

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Soothing bath salts

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Ahhh, soothing bath salts or invigorating salts!  Another hostess gift idea.

Bath salts - lavender and rosehips

Bath salts – lavender and rosehips

Historically baths were a way of treating ailments..  Holistic practitioners  use salt and herbs for a number of maladies.  There are different types of salts as well.  Epsom is probably the most popular and the one we’ll focus on. It’s actually magnesium and sulfate, minerals known for their medicinal value as well as beauty and garden products.

Bath salts - types

Bath salts – types

To make a bath salt, start by measuring the salt into a glass or stainless steel bowl.  Add the essential oil, adjusting the amount for a lighter or stronger scent.  Mix thoroughly.  Stir in the herbs, reserving a few for decoration.  Pour into a pint jar.  Place reserved herb sprigs or petals on top of the salt before sealing the jar.

Bath salts - making

Epsom salt, lavender, rosehips

Bath salts with essential oil

Lavender, rosehips and lavender essential oil

For invigoration:

mix 2 cups salt with 4 to 8 drops of peppermint essential oil and 1 or 2 tablespoons dried rosemary leaves.

For sore muscles:

Mix 4 to 8 drops of wintergreen or lemongrass essential oil ( or a mix of the two) with 2 cups salt and 1 to 2 tablespoons of dried lemon verbena leaves.

For relaxation:

2 cups salt mixed with 4 to 8 drops of essential lavender oil and 1 or 2 tablespoons of dried lavender flowers and rosebuds.  I was able to use the lavender from my own garden as well as the rosebuds.

You can add beet powder for festive color.  It won’t stain you or your tub!

I found this site that has a lot of information about Bath Salts and other simple home products to add to your bath for a variety of reasons!  Salt Works

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Infused sugars

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This time of year our calendars start to fill with party dates.  Hostess gifts are sometimes one of those last minute thoughts.  Today I thought I’d give you a little prompt and suggest some fun, easy  yet thoughtful ideas.

Infused sugar - lavender essentials

Infused sugars.  A sweet small token of appreciation in a cool looking jar.  Start with organic sugar and a dried herb or spice.  I buy at our local coop.

Infused sugar - lavender

Combine the sugar and herb or spice into an airtight container in a 2 to 1 ratio of sugar to spice.  Approximately.  Some of those herbs/spices do not need to be that strong!  Experimentation is the key.

After about 2 weeks, the sugar will be infused and it will keep well for at least 3 months.  There are lots of herbs and spices that go well with sugar.

  • Vanilla, use vanilla bean
  • Mint, dried any kind
  • Orange or lemon peel
  • Dried rosehips (although I’ve heard people using the petals and didn’t like it)
  • Lavender
  • Cinnamon sticks
  • Nutmeg
  • Cayenne
  • Juniper berries
  • Chili pepper
  • Fennel seed – tastes like licorice
  • Whatever you can think of!

Infused sugar - orange peel with peeler

You can package your  sweet treat in any number of containers.  The only must is that they be airtight. well, clean too!  Thrift stores are great for finding fun stuff.  Do sanitize the jars.  PS I dried the orange peel and zest in my dehydrator.

Infused sugar - orange

After your sugar has been infused, you can either sift out the herb or spice or leave it in.  I like the way it looks left in the jar.  Add suggestions on the use of the infused sugar and be sure to add that they should sift the sugar if there are large pieces.

  • Sprinkle on sugar cookies
  • Sweeten coffee or tea
  • Sprinkle on fresh fruit
  • Fold into cookie, muffin, cupcake or bread batter
  • Rim a cocktail glass

Infused sugar - vanilla

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The Garden in Winter

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There was a recent article in my Northern Gardener magazine in which Eric Johnson talked about  ways to enjoy the winter landscape outside our own windows.  Some of his suggestions include the planting of evergreens.  You might consider that for next year.

Some favorites include a dwarf spruce called ‘Sester Dwarf’ which looks like a little Christmas tree, how festive!

Sester Dwarf spruce

Sester Dwarf spruce

And a vibrant blue juniper called ‘Wichita blue’.  It grows 15 by 8 feet.

Juniper Wichita Blue photo by Doreen Wynja

Juniper Wichita Blue photo by Doreen Wynja

Other winter color shrubs include red and yellowed branched dogwoods.

Dogwood 'Redosier'

Dogwood ‘Redosier’

Trees such as river and paper birch have great bark and their branches can look great in festive containers.

River Birch bark

River Birch bark

Art elements can add some fun too as they catch the snow.  I love my ornamental grasses.  If they’ve haven’t been beaten down, they look spectacular laden with snow.  A little whimsy below!

Garden Sculpture TJH 2


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Bird seed and feed

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A few weeks ago I talked about bird feed and types of feeders.  I took some emails on bird feed regarding the ingredients on some of the packaging.  When you buy seed mixes for the birds, be sure to look closely at the package.  If you’re going to spend the money, you want to know you’re getting quality goods.  Some cheaper stuff is loaded with wheat, empty hulls and small sticks.  Put that package down and go for packages with more cracked corn, sunflower seed and peanut hearts.

Check the package ingredients

Check the package ingredients

Whether you have kids or not, consider making your own little bird feeders.  Pinecone feeders are easy.  Grab some peanut butter, mixed seed, waxpaper, string and pinecones.  Spread the peanut butter inside any openings, all round the center and bottom of the cone, filling up any spaces.  Put the bird seed on the wax paper and roll the cone in it.

MyKidsAdventures uses peanut butter.

bird food pine cone feeder

Cornell University uses beef tallow to hold the seed.

Measure your string to hang from a branch where you can see it and out far enough to hold back the squirrels (at least for a while!) and then tie to your pinecone.  You can do this with oranges too.  Cut the orange in half, eat the goodie inside and then, using a nail, poke 2 holes near the top on opposite sides.  You’ll put a string through the holes making a little handle.  Load your orange half with peanut butter and seed mix then tie another string to the handle you made and hang it from a branch the same as you did the pinecone!


bird orange feeder

bird orange feeder 2

There are lots of bird food garland choices and all are easy to make, you just need twine, a raffia needle and food.  Some choices include dried fruits and unsalted peanuts!  If you don’t have a raffia needle and want something quick, buy some cheap apples, cut the core and make a chain of apple circles.

Check out The Crafty Crow

bird food apple garland

bird food garland

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