Julies Blog

Re-potting plants

by Julie Finch-Scally

It was time to re-pot the big plant that lives in the dining room. The plant itself had grown so big I was sure it was root bound. Thankfully it was the kind of plant that once removed from the pot could be separated and become new plants in their own right.

Of course I had to remove the original plant from the old pot. Being a rather nice decorative pot I didn’t want to break it, and if I could I wanted to use it again. Because the lip of the pot was narrower than the base it became a little difficult to remove the plant, especially as it was root bound.

Remembering that some soils have caused people to develop Legionaires Disease I put on a pair of rubber gloves so I didn’t have to touch the soil. I also didn’t want soil all over the verandah floor where I was doing the re-potting, so laid out a large plastic sheet.

I thought just tipping the pot upside would loosen the plant, but no, the roots were firmly planted in the pot which meant I had to run down the inside of the pot with a small garden fork and loosen the soil and roots until I was able to lift the soil and roots out. Bit difficult, but it worked. Of course some of the soil did spill out over the plastic, but most of it ended up in the middle.

Dividing the plant into several new ones was not difficult. It was as if the plant had done the job for me. Although the roots were intertwined there were several newly established plants joined together. I was able to pull these new segments aside ready for planting. Yes, I had purchased new pots and potting mix. I had three new plants plus one small one.

I had to completely empty out the soil in the original pot as there was a lot stuck to the bottom. I didn’t bother to wash it out, but later I wondered if I should have done so.

Once re-potted, I watered the plants and when they looked settled I moved the new plants back inside the house finding new places for them all to sit.

I had lots of soil on the plastic and around the sheet. To clean the plastic I folded the long ends together and gently picked up the sheet making sure nothing fell out of the ends. When I had the plastic high enough off the ground I was able to place one of the open ends above a pot on the verandah. I lifted the other end allowing the soil to pour out of the plastic into the pot. The rest of the soil on the verandah floor I swept up with a dustpan and brush and poured into the same pot.

Why did I think I should have washed out the original pot? Well since re-potting the plants we have been inundated with little black flies which I think have come out of the potting mix. Hubby kept spraying a fly spray over the soil and after a couple of weeks the flies have disappeared, but they were quite annoying while they were hanging around.


Small brushes for cleaning

by Julie Finch-Scally

Several times when writing my blog I mention using a small paint brush to clean out dust from intricate areas. I was recently asked how small was the small paint brush required for these jobs? As there are several versions I will now explain which type of small paint brush to use and when.

There are paint brushes used by artists, and paint brushes used when painting buildings or furniture. Actually both are useful, but for different things.

Let us take the small artist paint brush first. These can be purchased in newsagents or a hobby shop. Most of the small brushes are used for water painting and can be found in children paint boxes.

Because these brushes are used by artists the bristles form a point at the tip. The dry bristles are soft and are perfect for flicking out dust in tiny crevices. If you have intricate porcelain or china these artist brushes can penetrate the small indentations and providing the dirt hasn’t stuck to the article the paint brush will remove the dust when flicked towards you. Of course if the dust has stuck to the item and is washable it is better to soak the article in warm soapy water. You can still use the paint brush to get into the areas that cannot be reached with a cloth around your finger and rub over the dirt until that area is clean.

The small paint brushes used to paint your home are a lot wider that the artist’s paint brush. There are some small thin brushes with long handles used by commercial artists for painting letters on windows, or the thicker flat topped brushes used for painting over small areas of woodwork.

I find this type of paint brush perfect for dusting along flat surfaces that sit at the base of bannisters and rungs and supports in ornamental or dining room chairs. The small artist paint brush is too small for these jobs, but the smaller house paint brush is soft enough to flick out the dust along the flat surface and swivel around the base of each support.

Because of the confusion, in future I will make a point of describing which type of small paint brush is required for the cleaning job in question. But out of all this has come the realisation how much dust collects in so many places and just wiping over with a cloth or a duster-on-a-pole is not always enough to remove the dust build up in many articles.

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