Category Archives: Plants

Medicinal Properties of Coconut

Calicut, Kerala

Twice in the past, I have posted about coconut oil.  One post describing 52+ uses for it and the other describing ways that I have been using it on a regular basis. This week, I came across this article.   It describes thirteen evidence-based medicinal uses for coconut oil. You’ll learn a lot- including why sunscreen many times smells like coconut. Give it a look.  If you are interested in more natural methods of living, follow their blog or their Facebook page- Raw for Beauty.

Enjoy.  Olivia 

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Posted by on August 16, 2013 in Health and Beauty, Plants, Reblogged


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July Harvest

When I was home at the cabin a couple of weeks ago, I saw lots of progress in the garden. The plants were bigger, the colors more vibrant, and the harvest was definitely underway. Okra, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, strawberries, eggplant, squash, mystery vines, plus lots of herbs and flowers abounded. Seeing the fruits of one’s labor is so rewarding, especially in a situation like this.  We get to enjoy my family’s work for a year at a time.  Dad’s tilling and smoothing of the ground with the tractor, the work of mom’s planting, the excitement of the seeds peeking out of the ground, the joy of seeing color for the first time as the plants grow, the harvest, the preservation, and the best part- eating it all!


Here’s the picking from that day.

I’m excited to see the mystery vines getting bigger. These still look like pumpkins at about 6-7″ across. However, one of the other vines has one fruit that has turned a peachy blush color. Any ideas on these? They squaty tiny gourds have since disappeared, so I imagine that they grew into the pumpkins.


The mystery white pumpkins.


Oh wait! They’re getting darker! A peachy tone is developing on this vine.

We’ve had tons and tons of tomatoes come in. I took the ones that I picked that day and canned them. In all it was a quart, plus two pints. Not a huge amount, but I will be glad to have them in the fall come chili and vegetable soup time!


I love the rays of sun coming through this tomato vine.


Tommy Toes!

Having flowers in the middle of the vegetable garden is a nice addition.  Zinnias are a staple in our gardens and have been as long as I can remember.  They grow tall and proud and abundantly! It is one of the best flowers to keep handy for a quick bouquet.  With a mix of colors, you can go with warm colors or cool ones to compliment whatever setting you have.  They just make you smile!


Fuchsia has taken over this corner of the garden! Pretty, pretty tones.


My mom has always had zinnias in her gardens over the years.

Ah, my faithful garden friend, Willie.  Like many cats, he likes to know what you’re up to and get underfoot.  He’s always nosing around out here and loves to dig.  He often comes back to the cabin a much darker color than when he left.


Here comes Willie through the okra.

The turkeys were one of my favorite sights this weekend.  I see them on the property a good bit, but not usually right near the cabin.  Friday morning, there were two of them right outside the front of the cabin about fifteen or twenty feet away, clucking softly and scratching around. They stayed close for about three hours, but kept out of sight for the most part.  On Saturday morning, there were two families that came by.  Below is the first one.  It was a pair with six chicks! the picture is not dynamic and I wish it was better, but you can get the idea.  About three minutes later a mama and three chicks (a little older) walked by quickly into the trees.


Morning visitors! A pair and six babies.

Below are some jars of the tomatoes I picked.  I mixed the red and yellow together and think it turned out to be a good batch. I’ve also put up a ton of the cucumbers and will post separately about the experience with those.


What are you growing this year? Show me or Tweet me a pic @LifeSkillsLivi


Posted by on July 30, 2012 in Food, Garden, Pets, Plants


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Grease Burns in the Kitchen

Ah, the trials and tribulations of preparation in the kitchen. From the rookies to the seasoned chefs, everyone ends up with injuries at some point during their culinary adventures. As for me, I fall somewhere in the middle and am no exception to this rule. My latest food frown comes in the form of 2nd degree grease burns to my left hand and foot. Yes, I said foot, too. Long story short, I left a small pan of oil on a live burner and it went up in smoke. During the course of removal, it sloshed on my hand mostly, then went on my foot when I dropped it on the floor. Not a pretty sight, I can assure you. I’ve been joking that my fingers appear as if they are in rigor. A bit lighter in color, swollen, and stiff. Not to mention the oozing. Enough said.

Here I am a couple of days later, trying to heal and keep the wounds dry. As I’ve read through all the recommended methods of treatment for burns, I decided first, that mine is probably not bad enough to seek medical attention besides questioning the pharmacist.He recommended all sorts of non stick gauze, aloe sprays, tapes, ointments and the like. As I was making my decision, I noticed that tea tree oil was on the shelf with all the other remedies. Bingo. I thought to myself that I had some at home and decided to go with it rather than spending eight bucks on a bottle of burn spray. Once back home, I realized that no amount of tape or gauze was going to work out due to the burns being on fingers, toes, their joints, and in between.

So, I went with the tea tree oil to start with. Let me tell you, the pain relief was instant. I rubbed just enough to cover it and it soaked in within 4-5 minutes.

The days have gone by now; its been 6. I have put the tea tree oil on multiple times a day in addition to taking some otc pain reliever and using some antibiotic ointment on occasion. The blisters formed, filled, and burst. Now the new skin is appearing, the healing itch is in full force, and I’m over the hump. The pain is still here for sure. Elevation, t.t. oil and ibuprofen have gotten me through.

I will say this: the tea tree oil has magnificent drying power in addition to the pain relief. The moral of this story is to try the oil next time you get burned. My experience with it has been better than anything I’ve ever used.

Below is a photo of the products I used. The Aquaphor is an antibiotic burn salve, but regular antibiotic ointment with pain reliever works just as well.


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Posted by on July 2, 2012 in Kitchen, Plants


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10 New Year’s Resolutions for the Gardener and Landscape Designer

Very good post. I’m passing this along to my Garden Club today at our meeting. Thanks!

California School of Garden Design


Here is a list of the top 10 things we’d love everyone to do (or not do) in 2012 and the years ahead.  Read through our list and even if you can only try one of these New Year’s Resolutions, make 2012 the year you try something new.  And do pass this along to your associates in the landscaping industry – from little acorns mighty trees do grow!  We wish everyone a happy, prosperous year.

Use more NativesResolve to include more native plants of the area in your designs, or if you are a homeowner looking for plants to include in your garden, resolve to go native!  Natives require less water and care, are hardy, and often offer a food source for wild birds and animals.

Reduce (better still, Eliminate) Herbicide/Pesticide Use  Resolve to look for more natural alternatives to RoundUp and other chemical pesticides.  Chemical pesticides…

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Epsom Salt- 3 Ways

I’m going to start a new addition here on my blog.  It’s called 3 Ways.  I will pick an item, be it food, product, household, item or whatever and describe three different ways to use it.  Easy enough.  Have a suggestion? Please send it my way.  Enjoy!

Epsom Salt.  This is a naturally occurring mineral that you can pick up at any drug or grocery store.  It is Magnesium Sulfate.  This product is really a multi use item.  Let me count the ways. 

1. Soaking Aid.  Pour  some in your bath water to help relieve your tired achy feelings in your body.  Also makes a good soak for minor sprains and bruises.  (Does wonders with cool water for you feet at the end of a long day or in a warm bath. This is how I use this product the most.)

2. Laxative.  2-4 teaspoons in an 8 oz glass of water and you’re good as new.  Enough said.

3. Fertilizer.  A little goes a long way.  Read the directions carefully.  If done properly, it can add beautiful life to your houseplants and lawn.  I will vouch for having used too much! Almost killed my ferns! Don’t over do it.

Try it out and let me know what you think.  You will find it usually on the bottom shelf in one of these stores. They come in bags or cartons.  If you can’t find it, just ask an associate.  Typically this product is placed in all sorts of places since it has so many uses.

Learn more about Epsom Salt by clicking this link.


Posted by on May 11, 2011 in 3 Ways, Plants


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Growing Lilacs in the South

Jackie, from Smyrna, GA asked me yesterday about growing lilacs in the South.  Originally from up north, she described lilacs as her favorite flower and loves the soft colors and scents.  However, she has had misfortunes in getting them to grow here in Georgia.

Here’s what I can say about this.  This area of Georgia (Atlanta/middle) is in growing zone 7B.  If you don’t know this about lilacs, they don’t flourish here in the South.  They require a cold winter in their growing cycle and it just doesn’t get cold enough here for their dormancy.  There are a few heat tolerant varieties that have come about- Miss Kim, Lavender Lady, Syringa, and Cutleaf. As far as I can tell, the jury is still out on these for the most part.  (If you are having sucess with any of these, please let me know and send me pictures.)

I participated in a flower show recently and one of the horticulture submissions was a lilac.  It happened to have won first place in its category.  The most interesting thing about this plant is that it was grown in northwest Georgia.  It is the old fashioned variety and that it has been in this particular family for many, many years. As it stands now, the plant is is in Zone 7A and is flourishing.  I tried to get a picture of it, but the blooms have all gone now.  It is standing at around 6′ tall and has relatively full leaves.  It is planted on the north side of the house- which the owner says is the secret to its success.  Here is a picture of the cutting for the flower show.  You can see that the blooms are full and vibrant. 

So, I will say, it is not impossible to grow these plants here in the south, but they take some tender loving care.  Let me know how yours are coming along.

Thanks to Kristi Beach for contributing.

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Posted by on April 27, 2011 in Plants


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Growing Herbs Indoors

For those that love herbs, the uses are endless- in foods, teas, flower arrangements, medicinally, decoratively.  Having an herb garden in my yard has been one of the most rewarding aspects of gardening for me.  However, there are lots of people that do not have the luxury of having an outdoor garden.  In that case, I will give you some help on growing herbs indoors so that you can reap the benefits of these plants as well. 

In considering your indoor herbs, here are some points to think about:

What type of herbs do you want to grow? Are you going to cook with them? Are basil, dill, chives, thyme, oregano, and rosemary coming to mind? Maybe you want them in a tea as a healing herb. Some of these would be lavender, yarrow, chamomile, etc.  When you figure out what type you want to grow, it is important to see what kind of space you have.  Some herbs will require a larger container.  So, will you condense them all in the same area or will you distribute them around your house like houseplants?

Placement will depend not only on the space you have available, but on the amount of light you have.  If growing by sunlight, it is important to have the herbs in a south- facing window.  This way the plant can reap as much sun as possible from east to west.  Most herbs require about six or more hours of sunlight every day. If in a window sill, be sure to rotate the herbs occasionally so that they get equal light for uniform growth.  Another option for light will be fluorescent lighting.  Placing the plants under a cool 40 watt bulb (about 6-12 inches away) for 14-16 hours at a time will mimic the natural light. 

Temperatures should be kept around 65-70 degrees in the daytime and preferably no lower than 50 degrees for night time.  Also, a decent amount of humidity must be kept for the plants.  You can aid this by grouping the plants together or providing a light mist with a spray bottle. 

The pots should be prepared for good drainage, including a hole in the bottom.  It is not necessary to water them every day.  You will know when it is time to water when you put your finger in the soil and it is dry to almost dry to the touch. 

Be careful in fertilizing herbs.  They are tender and need very little.  My first choice would be to plant the herbs in compost.  If that is not available, then a water soluble fertilizer will be sufficient.   Follow the manufacturer’s instruction, but do not fertilize more than every two weeks.

Use the plants regularly.  Keeping them trimmed and keeping them from flowering will increase the longevity of the plant.

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Posted by on March 1, 2011 in Plants


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