October 26, 2003
China Ethnic Crafts

I purchased a beautiful purse from this organization and it has a great mission!

Here's what they say about themselves. In the rural mountains of central China, nestled amidst terraced rice fields, lie many Miao villages. The Miao people have lived here for thousands of years, farming the land, and living according to the customs of their minority tribe.

For centuries the women have worn beautiful, hand embroidered costumes, carrying on a tradition of craftsmanship passed down through generations. These same embroidery and weaving skills are now used to create the beautiful selection of products featured here.

Your purchases help these Miao women support their families and keep alive this vanishing art form. Each piece is an original, handmade with centuries-old craftsmanship specific to this region of China. Our goal is to provide Miao women with work that supports and keeps them near their families.

Enjoy your handcrafted Miao original, and be blessed by their colorful sewing and the love and care that went into its creation. In return, your purchases bless the Miao women who carry on this lovely and unique tradition of their ancestors.

Posted by kjohnson at 02:42 PM
Amaryllis Care

I received an amaryllis bulb this past Spring and for easy access I'm posting the care for it here. Hopefully I'll have season after season of beautiful blooms...

Place the potted bulb in a warm place with direct light, as heat is essential for the development of the stems. Normal room temperature of 68F (20C) is ideal.

Water sparingly until the stem appears. As the bud and leaves become visible, the Amaryllis gradually needs more water. After that, the stem will grow rapidly, and once it has reached full growth flowers start to develop.

The bulbs can be forced into flower within 8 to 10 weeks after first watering.

To try for another flower next year: After flowering remove the stem and leave the foliage to grow. Add some liquid plant food. In late summer reduce watering and stop feeding. In October cut off the foliage and remove pot and compost. Keep the bulb for about two months in a very dry place at approx. 60F (15C). Hereafter, the planting cycle can start again, remove the dried out roots and replant the bulb using fresh soil.

Posted by kjohnson at 02:28 PM
October 12, 2003

Tips on Composting from The Chef's Garden:

The best thing you can do for your garden is to add a good layer of compost every season to help add nutrition and to create that wonderful loamy texture that we all strive for. Adding compost and worms to your garden protects them from many diseases and insects and gives the soil air and helps it hold moisture in during the hot dry season. Any experienced gardener will tell you that the only way to correct poor soil is by adding compost year after year.

An easy way to create your own compost is just to begin piling up yard waste in a section of your yard that is out of the way but still gets rained on. You can use all types of bins which help keep it tidy but none of them are necessary. Hay bales work fantastic to contain a pile and they actually break down along with the composting material to make even more compost. Layer more materials, a few inches at a time to feed the compost pile. You will be amazed when your full pile compresses to only a few inches in a short amount of time.

Compost happens no matter what but it helps to speed things along by occasionally turning the pile, and aerating the pile for the worms, bugs and bacteria. This also helps break down all of the material well.

What to put into the pile:

leaves (plenty of those lying around)
shredded newspaper
grass clippings
farm manure
garden waste
vegetable peelings
egg shells
cardboard, torn into strips
bugs & worms (they will find your pile quickly on their own)
Keep in mind that an ideal compost mix is 50% green (or still live items) and 50% brown (or dead items). This makes for a good blend of microorganisms to break everything down evenly and assures a good amount of nitrogen in your final compost.

A good compost pile will be moist but not too wet, algae and slime will form if there is too much moisture. If this happens, just turn the pile more frequently until it dries out some. If your weather has been very dry, watering is a good idea, like you would shrubbery.

You can tell when the compost is ready by the color, it should be black and there should be a consistent texture which resembles dark rich dirt.

Posted by kjohnson at 09:00 PM