Fire Stick Cactus


Euphorbia tirucalli v. rosea more commonly known as Fire Stick Cactus.

I was shopping at a grocery store one day and I came across this cute bright green stick looking plant. It had no name and it was just sitting in soggy soil. It was so water logged. I looked at the price and it was like 6.99 for a 2 inch green stick in a water logged pot that may or may not already have root rot. I thought if it does live its going to be a cool looking plant. If it doesnt live I just wasted 7 dollars. And for 7 dollars I could get a much bigger succulent from some where else. I am not going to buy that for such an outrageous price. It is a 2 inch succulent that is almost dead. I sat it back down and continued my shopping. I was headed to the register with a basket full of groceries. And that little green stick went through my head. I thought if I do not take it. It will for sure die. So I turned my basket around and headed to that little succulent. I picked it up and put it into my basket and headed to the check out counter.

New growth in the shade

Once I got home the first thing I did was transplant that little guy. I put it into dry soil. I did not water it after I transplanted it. It was so water logged I knew it could use some drying out time. I took it out and placed it with all of my other small succulents on my patio. It is an area that only gets morning sunlight. It seemed like forever before anything changed with that little green stick. Then one day I noticed new growth and it was this yellow color. It was so cute. 

Fire Stick cutting growing in the shade

I was on Facebook and one day someone in one of my many plant groups posted a photo of this bright red/orange stick plant. I was so excited to see it because mine looked just like it. But mine was green. I commented on the photo and asked the name of their plant. They told me Fire Stick Cactus. I responded with a picture of my green stick plant and asked if our plants were the same. Some people said yes and others said No. A heated debate about the Fire Stick cactus broke out with a couple plant people.  

What I learned through that Facebook post that day was the Fire Stick Cactus turns that bright red/orange color when they are in full sun. So I slowly started putting my little green stick cactus into more sunnier areas until I thought it was ready to go into full sun. My little green stick plant slowly turned bright red/orange through the course of a couple months in full sun. Some succulents turn bright beautiful colors just like the Fire Stick Cactus does. They just need to be stressed out by the sun.

This white sap causes skin irritations on humans and dogs

The more I researched on this succulent the more interesting things I found out about it. For instance it has a sap that comes out if it is broken. And that sap causes burning irritations if it makes contact with skin. The more I research about it, the more I realize the sap seems to be pretty toxic. I now use gloves when I handle it. Make sure to wash off the sap immediately if it comes into contact with skin. Do not rub eyes or touch any other skin with the hand or hands that contacted the sap. I have also read that our furry companions can become irritated due to the sap as well. Be careful when handling this plant and where you place it. 

The little water logged 2 inch green stick I found 6 months ago dying at the grocery store

Succulent Addiction

These were all once cuttings

Succulents are some of the most unique plants I have ever come across. And I want all of them. I understand that is totally a unrealistic desire. But I really do want all of them. I mean I do know it is humanly impossible for me to have every single type of succulent growing on this beautiful planet of ours. But I am going to have as many of them as I can possibly fit in my yard. I collect them from every where that I go. And one day I will eventually have a very large collection of these unique plants that thrive on neglect. 

A cutting from a friend

People gift me with cuttings of succulents from where ever their travels have taken them. I just love it when my friends and family come home from visiting some where and they bring back succulent cuttings.  I am thankful that they encourage this succulent addiction of mine and share their cuttings with me. Most times I take the cuttings that I get from them and place them all in the same pot. Once they grow in I have beautiful succulent arrangements from their journey.

Another cutting

I can not even go inside of a store and buy soil without purchasing at least one succulent. And lets get real. Who truly makes it out of the store buying just one succulent. I even collect the leaves. Broken pieces. I am that weird girl picking up random leaves off the ground in the local nursery stores. And I know I am not alone with this thing I do. There are thousands of other weird people across the globe picking up succulent leaves from the ground of their local nursery.

They jumped in my basket

If you are like me and just can not get enough of these beautiful plants. Then we have probably joined one of the same succulent groups across Facebook. The groups are the next level with this addiction. My Facebook feed is constantly filled with other peoples succulents. Some of these succulents I would not know even existed if it wasn’t for these amazing groups. And everyone in the groups are so grateful to meet other people who also love succulents as much as they do. There really is so much beauty, knowledge and love being shared in these groups.

This cutie jumped into my basket

I have started mailing plants in the mail. Rolling them up in some tissue and sending them off in a padded envelope or box. This week alone I have already mailed my Mother of Thousands babies to people in ten different states. I now have a P.O. Box so that strangers can send me envelopes and postage and in return I send them tiny plants. The lady working at the post office gave me her number. She wants to start doing succulent trades as well. She doesn’t have the Mother of Thousands plant. But she does have the pink Mother of Millions plant. And I do not have that plant. The line  at the post office begins to back up a little as we quickly discuss our shared love of succulents.

This one found its way into my basket too

Succulents are really gaining in popularity. They seem to be everywhere. They can almost grow in and on everything. I have even seen people wearing them even on their fingernails! Everything could be a potential succulent arrangement. As does many others. If you have a friend or family member who also loves these strange plants that do not like to be over watered. Bring them back a succulent cutting from where ever you go. They will appreciate that you thought of them while you were away.

A few succulents from my collection

Making Elderberry Syrup

Making elderberry syrup is simple.

Making Elderberry Syrup

Elderberry syrup is often compared to Tamiflu. I discovered it last year when I caught a coughing virus that lasted three weeks. I was looking for something more natural to take. Cough syrup is not all that desired in the taste department. I’m not a doctor or herbalists but I love this stuff. Every time I make a batch I end up sharing some with my family and friends. It is something that everyone should try. So far almost everyone loves it. However, I have had a couple of people, not like it. So I recommend buying a bottle and trying it first before investing the money in buying everything that is needed to create your own syrup.

Jars and honey is ready

Elderberry syrup is expensive to buy. It is much cheaper and easy to make yourself. It is around ten dollars for 4 ounces buying it at a store. And it comes out to be less than five dollars for a pint of it when making your own. I bought mine pre-made the first time I used it. But quickly learned how good it is and wanted to learn to make my own.  I believe it is worth the effort to make it yourself. Especially if you have family and friends. Because once they discover how great it works. You will be sharing the elderberry syrup with them every time you make a batch. 

Adding cinnamon, ginger and clove

Elderberry syrup has a sweet honey taste. One of its main ingredients is honey. It can be taken once a day as a preventative. Or 3-4 times a day when sick. Adults can use a tablespoon serving. And children use teaspoon servings. When using it as a preventative make sure and take the weekends off. Because you don’t want to develop a tolerance. I personally only use the daily doses when around kids and during the flu season.

Cheese cloth for straining

Elderberries can never be eaten raw. They are extremely dangerous without cooking them first. Once you learn how to prepare the berries for consumption, the rest is pretty easy. Elderberry has a long history of culinary and medicinal uses.

For the recipe click the link

https://www.surrealgardening.com/herbs/elderberry.html

Cup full of elderberries

The Great Succulent Migration

Greenhouse
The Winter Home
The Summer Home

The great succulent migration has begun. I am still learning all the identities of all my succulents. I am not sure who can be put into the ground and survive through the winter and who will die. I live in the plant growing zone 9b. It can get as low as 25 to 30 (F). By next winter I will know more about my succulents and who can live where. 🙂 But this winter is upon us and I am just gonna move as many as I can fit into their winter home.

I recently bought a greenhouse. I am hoping that it holds my succulents through the whole winter. I do not want them to get rained on or to freeze. I am a little nervous about the strength of the greenhouse. But I feel I have done everything that can be done to ensure the safety of my plants through the winter months.

Sometimes we get wind storms. And the thought of the wind tearing my greenhouse up kinda makes me cringe inside. I have a lot of succulents that are migrating into that structure. So I am trying to make sure it is secure enough to withstand the winds. I have duct taped every connection. I used zip ties on the shelves. I have the tarp anchored to the ground and tied to the frame. I also have my fingers and my toes crossed.

Right side of greenhouse

It is Fall here in the central valley of California. But honestly some days I can’t really tell that it is Fall. It is still hot enough to be rafting on the river. I am still wearing shorts. I am sure the kids would still be in using the pool if the fire didn’t scorch it last month. But as the consumer world desires it to be pumpkin spice everything. So it really must be fall. 🙂

Left side of greenhouse

                                     I do love fall. It is one of my favorite seasons. The beautiful colors that the leaves turn. The chill in the air in the mornings. The nights are just chilly enough that I get to wear my hoodie. Some of the trees are starting to  loose their leaves. Basically all of nature is getting prepared for winter. Some plants are beginning to go dormant and the animal kingdom is gathering winter food supplies. It has become time for me to prepare my succulents for their winter homes.

Succulents that live year around in the ground

I do have some succulents that are in the ground and they have lived there for years now. I am hoping to be able to plant more in the ground. Eventually, our front yard is going to be a rock garden full of desert plants. Hopefully a yard full of succulents.

My future mother plants

I am moving my potted succulent arrangements into their new winter sanctuary one by one. I am giving them a nice bath and checking for critters. I am going to keep the doors on the greenhouse open until they need to be closed due to weather.

Ready for its bath

I have made more arrangements this summer than I thought. They are all filling in beautifully. I have collected a lot of stem cuttings, leaves and pups for the last, months. And they have all grown so big from how small they once were. These are my future mother plants. 🙂 As long as I can keep everyone alive over winter.

These were tiny in spring

Holy Basil or Tulsi

I love to buy herbs and watch them grow. Most herbs I can make tea out of. So I really enjoy growing them so I can drink them. My friends and family do come over and graze off of my plants. But mostly I just love my yard smelling good. Growing many different herbs brings some wonderful aromas into the garden.

Holy Basil flowering

I came across a herb called Holy Basil or Tulsi. It is native to India where it has been used for thousands of years. And yet I am finding out about this little magical herb in the spring of 2018.  Article after article flowed through my Facebook feed.  I thought what is a Holy Basil? And that very thought began my learning journey with this new yet very ancient herb. I have read so many articles about the health benefits of Holy basil and became very curious about how the tea actually tasted.

Holy Basil getting ready to flower

Then one day I was at my local hardware store over the summer and I came across a herb called Holy Basil in the nursery area. And I was like SCORE!!! I have been interested in you my new leafy friend. From the moment I picked it up and took a big whiff of its yummy fragrance I knew it was going to make a wonderful addition to my garden. So I took that little plant home and planted it in my yard. It moved in next to my cinnamon basil plant. It grew huge and beautiful.

Holy basil seeping

When the leaves are freshly picked they hold a spicy, peppery taste with a delicious combination of basil and mint flavors. It was finally time to taste this herb in its liquid form. Which happens to be my favorite way to consume herbs. And it tasted like it smelled. It is a very delicious and I highly recommend everyone to try it in liquid form.

Freshly washed Holy Basil

Holy basil is known as a super food. It is suppose to have a huge range of stress reducing benefits. It offers antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal properties. It helps detoxify your body. It helps promote great health and makes your whole being feel amazing. I hope that my blog helps encourage you to try this wonderful ancient herb.

Where the Holy Basil lives next to the Cinnamon Basil

Broken Terracotta Pot

The day It was made

 

I created a broken terracotta arrangement over the summer. I saw so many broken pot arrangements and fairy gardens being posted all over the internet. And I wanted to create one myself. I had a bunch of broken terracotta pots that were behind the shed in the back yard. I have now placed those broken pieces into a bucket for safe keeping. 🙂

Top view

I took a piece that was broken in half but still had the bottom attached and put some soil in it.  I then took another piece and stood it up and added soil to the front of the piece and the back. I took two more broken pieces and added them on top of the soil and then added more soil to the front and back of them. I then took a really small piece of the broken terracotta and placed it at the bottom to stop the soil from falling out.

Side view

                                                                I went to my propagation area and picked out a bunch of little pups and placed them in random spots all around the soil. I then went and picked out a few river rocks from my rock collection. I added a crystal quartz. I tried to place the crystal in the center. Then I began sprinkling some crushed rose quartz and purple amethyst on top of the soil. I still didn’t think it was finished. So I added a couple small sea shells and a tiny broken piece of ceramic that I found in the river.

Pups growing from a leaf

 

I like to use the pups from my leaf propagation area instead of bigger cuttings in this type of creation. Because I really enjoy watching the succulents grow and fill in the arrangements I make. I plan on making more of these broken terracotta pots. I collected all the broken pieces from behind the shed and now have a half of a 5 gallon bucket filled. I like to reuse as much stuff as possible.

Broken terracotta pieces

I love to go into nature as much as possible. I enjoy collecting rocks, driftwood, sea shells, twigs feathers. Anything that catches my eye. I enjoy combining those little treasures that I collect with my  succulents. Every arrangement I create has a little bit of an adventure inside them.

What it looks like today

Greenhouse

Hexagonal walk-in Greenhouse with the door rolled up
Powder coated steel frame

I ordered a greenhouse the other day. It finally arrived. I am so excited. It is a 3-tier shelf hexagonal walk in greenhouse. It is 6.4′ in diameter and 7.4′ in height. It is made of PVC covering over a powder coated steel frame. All the pieces had letters on them. We just made little piles of everything. We read the directions and went step by step as we slowly put it together.  It took us about an hour to put it all together.

Zipper door

The zipper door will allow easy access to my plants. It will also be great for ventilation. I plan on leaving the door open most of the time. I will only close it due to extreme cold. I am a little bit nervous about how well it will hold up in a wind storm. I am going to tie it to the fence line and I did order a extra anchor set just to be safe. It is suppose to protect plants from extreme heat and extreme cold.

3-tier shelves on the inside

 I am hoping to be able to put a lot of my succulents in this for the winter. I still have a lot of decisions to make regarding who will be residing in this greenhouse through out the winter months. 


Hexagonal walk-in Greenhouse with the door down

Backyard Fire

Heat damage from fire
Severe heat damage 

We had a fire in our back yard a couple weeks ago. It was a pretty scary night. Our back yard plus three of our neighbors were damaged by the fire. We lost 2 sheds, a pool, and a 4×4 truck. Plus all of our tools and belongings that were in the sheds. One of our neighbors lost their whole shed as well. And two other neighbors had some damage to their sheds but they are able to have theirs fixed. Four fence lines were also damaged or completely burned to the ground. It was a very sad scary night for all of us. The neighbors included. Fire is powerful and destructive. The smell and burnt debris that is left behind is awful.

                 Heat damaged String of Hearts 

My string of hearts and both of my big beautiful Wandering Jew plants also have severe heat damage. All of my huge sunflower plants died in the fire. A few days before the fire I started to harvest a few of them so thankfully I will have seeds for next years crop. I have been slowly trimming all the damaged leaves off of my plants. 

Heat damage

We have put up new fence lines and have removed over 12 tons of burnt derbies from the backyard. There is a blank canvas back there now. And I am excited to create something new from the ashes. I am also very grateful that my family, animals and our house survived that massive fire on Sept 7, 2018

Propagation

I have created a little area on my patio that I call my propagation station. I like to use saucers that normally sit under a pot. I fill them with soil and I put leaves all over them. Then I sit them on a table and leave them alone. Every now and then I will squirt them with a squirt bottle. But you do not really have to do that. The leaf will provide water to the pup until it shrivels up and dies. Once the pups begin to grow bigger I put them into a tiny pot. Then I place them into a tiny green house. Once they establish themselves with a nice little root ball I move them into a bigger pot with other little succulents.  When I create my succulent arrangements I use the little succulents from the pot of many.

Propagation station

I just love to propagate succulents. I think its really amazing that you can reproduce a new tiny plant just from a leaf. I mean you can even accidentally break a stem and place it in soil and it will grow roots. Just like magic another plant forms.  The tiny plants growing from the leaves are called pups and the broken stem i mentioned is considered a stem cutting. I normally let the stem cutting sit for a couple days so that it forms a callous. Once it has callused I place it into soil and it will eventually form roots. Be patient sometimes it takes a while for roots to form.

Every time I go to my local hardware store i check out the floor of the nursery and pick up the random succulent leaves that seem to always be on the floor. I always ask whoever is working what they do with them and they always say we sweep them up and throw them away. Then I ask if I can have them. They always give me a weird look and say sure. I mean I cant help but see a leaf and think of the future plant that it can be.

South West Treasure Quest

Yucca with a flower stalk
Bird of Paradise found in New Mexico

Went on a road trip last week. Drove from California to New Mexico. I love the desert. All the cacti, agave and yuccas that grow wild every where. Looking out and seeing the natural land without the human hand. It is magnificent. The clouds seem to be so close that you might be able to touch them. I will have to say it was a great adventure. I highly recommend a south west desert adventure. Especially if you are a lover of the cactus/succulent world.

Unnamed Cactus

I collected so many cool rocks. Some of them have small little crystals growing inside them. They are going to look wonderful in my flower bed. I love to collect rocks from every where I go an add them to my flower beds.

The yuccas are every where. And they have recently flowered and their stalks make wonderful walking sticks. So I cut like 6 stalks. I will post another blog on the process of turning them into walking sticks at a later time.

Agave

There is so much that you can collect and turn into amazing little creations. I also collected a couple dead/decayed cacti. They can basically be used in the same way as drift wood. Perfect for some succulent pups to grow up in.

Unnamed Cactus