Tag Archives: gardening

Green Valentine by Lili Wilkinson

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Green Valentine by Lili Wilkinson, paperback novel, 279 pages, published by Allen & Unwin in 2015.

Astrid is everything that Hiro is not. Astrid is bubbly, popular and successful, some might say that she doesn’t know how to fail. She has a passion for the environment and is trying to save the world at every corner. Hiro, on the other hand, is sullen, resentful and disaffected. He is smart, but has no interest in school, and he doesn’t show much enthusiasm for anything, except maybe comics. When they first meet, Astrid is dressed as a lobster, so Hiro doesn’t recognise one of the most popular girls in school, and Astrid doesn’t tell him who she really is.

This contemporary YA romance started with one of the main characters dressed as a lobster. This certainly caught my attention! Astrid is really dedicated to environmental activism, and she puts her whole heart into each project, which is why she finds herself at the shopping centre on a Saturday in her lobster suit.

That lobster outfit allowed Hiro to get to know Astrid a little without the judgement that comes with preconceived perceptions. I think this is an important issue, especially during high school, when everyone seems to have a label. It is hard to step beyond one’s own social circle when so many eyes are watching, and judging. It is sad that Astrid and Hiro felt that they needed to hide their burgeoning relationship, but it is also understandable; teenagers are not known for their compassion and empathy when faced with something or someone that is different. Green Valentine is not just a romance, but a social commentary on the high school experience.

I liked the way this tory was told; the writing was great. I loved all the little footnotes in Astrid’s story. Some of them were quite funny, though I also appreciated the environmental facts. I blew through Green Valentine very quickly and really enjoyed the story. It described and explored high school culture and stereotypes, along with some of the common issues that develop during that time very well. While gardening is a slightly unusual way for teenagers to date, I thought it worked wonderfully and was so sweet. Definitely unique!

Green Valentine is suitable for high school students. While the story does revolve around a romance, it is pretty clean. I’m looking forward to reading more of Lili Wilkinson’s books soon.

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Propagating Succulents

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After painting their terracotta pots, the kids wanted to plant something in them. We have a single succulent plant growing out by our letterbox that seems pretty hardy, and I thought it would be fun to try to propagate some new plants from it’s cuttings.

Cuttings drying out.

Cuttings drying out.

The succulent in our garden is a good size, so we were able to take several stem cuttings. We removed the lower leaves from the bottom of each stem. We left the leaves and the cuttings to dry out for a few days.

Succulents generally like well-drained soil, so L collected some red gravel from one of our garden beds to place in the bottom of each pot to improve drainage. She then filled each pot with some cacti and succulent potting mix. My mother had told me to try dipping the base of the cuttings into honey prior to planting them. This is supposed to kill any bacteria on the cutting, and improve growth. I’d never tried this before, but we pulled out some honey and dipped each cutting in. It’s hard to know whether it worked, but all of our cuttings survived, and had new growth on them, so I think we will use honey on our cuttings again in the future. L placed a single stem cutting into each pot, patted the soil down and gently watered them in.

Gravel used for drainage.

Gravel used for drainage.

Adding soil.

Adding soil.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Placing the cuttings into the soil.

Placing the cuttings into the soil.

Patting the soil down around the cutting.

Patting the soil down around the cutting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We placed them in a sunny spot, and checked on them every day, keeping the soil moist, but not too wet. After a week or so, we noticed some of the cuttings had produced some new leaves, and some little roots had appeared near the base of the stems.

All of these succulents in their decorated pots were given away as Christmas presents, mostly to their teachers. The kids were so proud to show off the pots that they painted and the plants that they had grown. They made unique gifts that were well received and appreciated.

Watered in and ready to grow.

Watered in and ready to grow.

As we began to clean out the laundry this week, in preparation for painting, we discovered some unused pots under the laundry tub. These will make excellent vessels for our next round of succulent growing. I would like to try propagating some cuttings from other types of succulents too.