Category Archives: gardening

Plants vs. bouquets


Cost: $3-$10
Success:  Depends on the recipient, but 5/5 for me!

A friend of mine got me a plant for my housewarming. I thought it was a great present. Bouquets are very pretty, and I like those too, but they cost a lot and die after a few days.

Plants on the other hand, can live for years. They’re great markers of important events, and you can watch them grow throughout the years. My parents have a gigantic spruce (or fir?) tree  in their back yard that they got when I was about 8. It started out my size, but it grew up to probably 25 feet. One year for Christmas, my dad took a big ladder and chopped off the top so we could use it as a Christmas tree. (Yeeehawwwww!)

I haven’t taken any photos of my new plant yet, so here are photos of the Oehler Family Christmas Tree 2007.


Coffee for plants


Cost: Free
Effectiveness: Hard to judge

Once in a while I clean my coffee machine by ‘brewing’ a batch of water without using any new coffee grounds. I’m left with a pot of coffee-infused water.

I don’t like pouring perfectly good water down the drain, so I wait for it to cool, then water my plants with it. It’s easy to pour, and it will give plants an  ‘extra shot of nitrogen and acidify their soil a little.’ That’s assuming the plants want their soil to be acidified. Many don’t.

Plants that love acidic soil include ferns, cilantro, lemongrass, gardenias, rhododendrons, magnolias and foxgloves. Stinging nettles also love acidic soil, but I can’t stand those things. You might think I’m really knowledgeable because I just pumped out that list, but actually I got it from this very thorough site.  Judging by the list, most plants that like acidic soil originate from Asia.

It’s hard to tell how effective this really is. I’ve been watering all of my plants this way, when I should have been sticking to the ferns and cilantro. Next time I’m going to give the whole pot to the sad-looking ferns in my bedroom.

Growing my own herbs


Cost: $2++ per plant
Success: 3/5 with the potential to be 5/5


My frustration with buying herbs is that they cost about $1 – $2 a bundle, and they wilt before I can use them up.  I started growing my own because it’s pretty awesome to have a constant supply of fresh herbs.

It’s not that hard, but it’s taken me a while to figure out each herb’s preferences. Some like sun and some don’t. Some don’t mind a bit of snow, and others wilt quickly if they’re outside on a cold night.

Richmond (BC) has a temperate climate. It hardly ever gets below -5 C, and there is plenty of rain during the winter. Half of the city is designated as agricultural land, so it must be a good place to grow things.

These are the herbs I’ve grown outside so far. One day I’ll work on an indoor herb garden.

Still alive:

It grows quickly and can survive through winter without wilting.

Oregano (shown below)
It has flimsy little leaves, but it’s surprisingly hardy. The leaves wilted and died during the cold snap some weeks ago, but new ones started quickly reappearing once I brought it inside.

Lavender (shown above)
Lavender is a herb too. Wikipedia told me so. It has long thick leaves similar to rosemary, so it can live comfortably outside during the winter.

I didn’t even have to plant it and it took over the garden last summer. I hear mint does this too.


I really love dill, but it doesn’t love me back. It seems like there is an optimal time to pick dill, and after that it gets overgrown and stalky. It has to be replanted each year.

Cilantro, basil (cilantro shown below)
I was excited to find cilantro and basil plants on sale at the farm market. A couple weeks later they died because I forgot  to take them in during a cold snap. I don’t think they’ll be coming back. Basil is notoriously picky, so it would probably work much better indoors.

It grew great in summer. Next time I grow parsley, I’ll remember to bring it in over winter.

My chives never took off, but I haven’t given up. My Mom grows lost of them every year.

I’m sorry I left you out during that cold snap, oregano. I’m glad to see you’re coming back so quickly!

Oh, cilantro. It just wasn’t meant to be. I’m sorry.

Aloe there…


Cost: I dunno, some dollars?
Success: 5/5

It started with a couple humble aloe leaves that my Mom gave to me. She had pulled a shoot off of her plant, wrapped the roots in a moist paper towel, and put it in a Zip Loc bag to put in my suitcase.

Now I have 7 aloe plants, I’ve given several away, and I left a big one in the ground at my old place. If you give aloe enough sunshine and water, it will grow like crazy.

I was a little hesitant to write about my aloe, since it doesn’t exactly save me money. It’s still handy to have around the house.

Some things I use it for:

  • Sunburn relief
  • Facial moisturizer
  • Numbing my skin when I pluck my eyebrows


If you know someone with aloe, ask if you can have a shoot. If you know me, let me hook you up!