A few months ago I had the pleasure of spending a couple of nights at a small family run farm in rural Manitoba, Canada. I found the usual farm-things: chickens, pigs, sheep, turkeys, cows. In the summer they grow a vegetable garden. What I wasn’t expecting to find was a jungle oasis inside the farmhouse!
Katie McInnes, who owns and operates the farm with her husband Colin, was kind enough to answer some questions I had about her lush indoor garden. She also provided amazing photos! I am completely ‘green with envy‘.
MISSYLLANEOUS: Where do you get most of your plants?
KATIE: Most of my plants have been picked up at thrift stores – sometimes they are just little transplants or cuttings, and other times I score with a big, mature plant. It makes me sad to think of people giving these big, beautiful plants to second hand stores – maybe their caregiver passed away, and no one wants to take on the responsibility, which is understandable.
Plants can be intimidating. I’m always pretty happy to take them home. There is a risk, bringing ‘unknown’ plants in, that there could be pests, but I check them carefully and only choose healthy looking plants. The rest of my plants are cuttings from friends, or propagated babies from my own plants – so I have a LOT of spider plants.
M: Do you have a favourite?
K: There is one plant that comes to mind – a croton I’ve had since I moved to my first apartment in Winnipeg. I bought it at Home Depot, and it’s the only one of three plants that has (barely) survived several moves, and severe neglect once I met my husband and was never at home. It is not the best looking plant, and it is not always happy with me, and doesn’t get as much water as it might like, but it has clung on tenaciously, and I am thankful for it.
M: Do you have any major struggles when it comes to plant care? And if not, can you offer any tips to your success?
K: Pests, when you get them, are a struggle. I’ve dealt with mealy bugs, thrips, and fungus gnats. I take a ‘no pesticide’ approach to pest control, which requires alternative diligence and careful checking, and sometimes saying goodbye to a plant that is beyond help. Another struggle for me is that in the summer, the plants can get a little neglected, as the farm is so busy, and I’m spending so much time with my outside plants that I don’t give my inside buddies as much care as they like.
As for tips, here are some that you can take or leaf:
•I would suggest using collected rainwater and melted snow to water your plants. In the winter I keep a big rubbermaid bin and fill it with snow every week, and bring it inside to melt.
•I also give my plants a shower once or twice a year – I do this mainly in my kitchen sink with the sprayer hose, but you can put them right in the shower, too. This helps clean the leaves of dust, and really freshens them up.
•I go through all my plants at least once a year to see which ones need repotting, soil top ups, dividing, etc. It is a fun and very messy day.
M: For someone just getting into the plant game, do you have any advice?
K: My advice to someone just starting out is not to get discouraged – you will probably kill something. But with practise, you will get to know what your plants want, and how they show you. Sometimes it is a case of TOO much love – i.e. too much watering – that is the problem. Other times it is too much sun, or too little. The best place to start is a friend who has plants – ask them for cuttings and advice, and you’re off to the races.
Did you notice the beautifully adorned skulls in the photos? Those are hand-made by Katie, crafted out of dried flowers from the farm. If you want to see more of her work, or purchase one of these beauties, you can follow her on Instagram: dogsblood farm craft
Thank you, Katie, for sharing your home and beautiful photographs with A Missyllaneous Life!