Posted in Gardening, Seasons, Timely Tips

Season Transition Plant Care

This Timely Tip first appeared in late September of last year. It’s that time again!

Now that summer’s officially over, you’ll want to care for outdoor plants. Here are some suggestions found online.

1. You’ll want to move your plants indoors when temperatures regularly drop below 60, and definitely before they get as low as 45 degrees F. If you can, plan to gradually transition your plants indoors, putting them in a shady spot for a few weeks before bringing them inside.

2. Decide where the plants will go in advance. Try to match the conditions outdoors, putting plants that were in bright sunlight in south-facing windows. If not possible, at least try to gradually move plants to lower-light areas over a few days or weeks. They may still lose leaves in response to the reduced light, but you can try to minimize the loss.

Note: Without any windows in the way, plants get more sun outdoors than they do inside. Use this as inspiration to wash your windows (both inside and out, if possible). Your plants will appreciate it and, if it’s been a long time since their last cleaning, so will you!

3. Inspect your plants to see if any have outgrown their pots and need to be repotted. If they do, be sure to choose a pot with drainage holes, and the appropriate new potting soil. Lightly prune plants that have gotten leggy while outside.

4. It’s really important to inspect your plants for pests and problems before you bring them indoors. Soak the pot in a tub of lukewarm water for 15 minutes to force any pests out in search of air. Drain thoroughly before bringing indoors. If you want to be extra sure that you’re not bringing in any uninvited guests with your plants, you may even want to quarantine them in a room separate from other plants for a few days.

5. Once you’ve got your plants transitioned indoors for the season, be sure not to overwater. For most plants, that means letting the soil dry to the touch before watering. You may find that the dry indoor air from your heat source(s) means that plants need nearly as much water in the winter as they do in the summer. Since they’ll grow less in response to less light, fertilizing monthly or bi-monthly during the winter should be sufficient.

Happy gardening and transition from summer to fall!

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Posted in Timely Tips

School Year Sanity – for Parents and the Students in their Lives

Now that the school year is well underway, are you getting stuck and/or frustrated by some of its organizational aspects? From the archives, here are some suggestions for school year sanity.

• Paper, paper, paper. To manage health forms, reports and other papers from school, use an app to snap a photo with your phone. It becomes a PDF. Possibilities – ScanSnap or Tiny Scanner.

If you’d rather not use technology, a bin for each student might help. Clear plastic, a foot or so long and a foot high, should do it. Check it daily for tasks; empty as needed. Be disciplined!

Another option – a cardboard sorter, with a slot for each member of the family. Assign each student the task of placing in it any papers with needed parental action, and ask him/her to always tell you about them.

• Phone notices and apps. Enter into its calendar school days off, early dismissals, and events (games, concerts, etc.); into its contacts the main office, nurse and guidance counselor. Add to the contacts list the names of parents and their linked activities. It could help if you have to send texts.

Posted in Timely Tips

To Welcome Fall with Taste and Smell

Sometimes, September seems to be the nicest month here in Vermont. This year is a prime example. It’s been warm and sunny, with more of the same predicted. Even so, the season is changing to fall. Among other signs, leaves are turning, and some valleys are blanketed with morning fog.

If, like me, you’re always sad about the end of summer, here are some suggestions from a local food coop which, to my mind, might ease the seasonal transition. If you drink coffee, you might add a shake or two of pumpkin pie spice to your cup. Mine, from a national discount grocer, includes cinnamon, ginger, lemon peel, nutmeg, cloves and cardamom. Sure to tickle your taste buds, it’s yummy!

Next, here’s a way to delight your nose. Suggested by a local food coop, it’s about “brewing” a batch of stovetop potpourri to make your home smell like a fresh fall harvest. Mix water, a spice and slices of one or two fruits in a saucepan, simmer, and the scents will fill your home. Apple slices and cinnamon sticks will be fall-like. To remind you of the woods, use limes and pine. For the holidays, you might try oranges, cloves and vanilla. The bulk spice bins at your local coop might have what you want, and you can get the exact amounts needed for stovetop magic.

Posted in Clever Re-Uses, Clothing, Suggestions, Timely Tips

How to Solve the Dilemma of Unmatched Socks

It happens to most of us. Somehow, a pair of socks isn’t a pair anymore. Does the washer eat one? Does the dryer hide one? It’s a mystery, but we sometimes end up with unmatched socks.

Now that summer is transitioning to fall and some of us are wearing socks again for the first time in months, the dilemma of unmatched socks is back. Some suggestions –
• Wear them with others whose “mates” have disappeared
• Use them as padding in packages
• Use them as storage for delicate holiday decorations
• Use them as dust rags
• Use them for craft projects, including as hand puppets
• Turn them into pet toys, like filled with catnip