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CONTRARY SUPER Succulents Warm Up Your Indoors With These Colorful, Fun, Easy-To-Care-For Plants

Gifts TOP Gardening For Everyone

TEN On Your List

Getting Cozy In The Kitchen: Harvest Recipes Perfect For Cold Weather Beautiful, Simple, Sustainable


contents Features


Get inspired for the holidays with easy to make, beautiful decor ideas.








Add some elegant flair to your dining table and impress all your guests.


Learn some new ways to make use of herbs fresh from your garden.



Bring some warmth indoors this season, and learn all about caring for these trendy and hardy plants.


We’ve got some fun gift ideas for everyone on Santa’s nice list this year.

Get inspired to dig with the kids and teach them a greener way of life.

november 2013 volume 5 | issue 11



14 Gardening Q & A

Ask our experts for great advice.

16 Quick Tips & Tricks

Learn new ways to get the job at hand done quick and clever!


19 November Checklist

Prep your garden for winter.

20 Planting & Harvest Calendar

Know what to plant when, and enjoy your harvest.

23 Popular Seasonal Plants

Even when cool weather sets in, there’s still many plants to enjoy!


25 Top 10 Gardening Gifts

Give the coolest gardening gear and gadgets this holiday.



46 Creative Miniature Gardens

Make a whimsical mini garden, perfect for your home or office.


49 Picking The Right Pruners

Read reviews on the best pruners for every gardening task.

51 Ace of Spades

Learn how to choose and use the right spade when planting.


56 Go Green With Fashion

See the hottest runway trends.

57 Eco-Chic Beauty

Homemade beauty treatments are sure to get your skin glowing.

59 Mother Knows Best Read how eating your fruits and

veggies benefits your health.

33 From Seed To Soup

Try our garden fresh recipes to use your recently harvest veggies.

37 Cheery Cocktails

Make your spirits merry and bright with these festive drinks.




CONTRARY Editor in Chief: Chris Johns Deputy Editor: Victoria Pope Creative Director: Bill Marr Managing Editor: David Brindley Articles Editor: Oliver Payne Features Editor: Glenn Oeland Contributing Writers: Don Belt, Joel K. Bourne, Jr., Chip Brown, Bryan Christy, Robert Draper, Cynthia Gorney, Peter Hesler, Jennifer S. Holland, Mark Jenkins, Peter Miller, David Quammen Departments Director: Margaret G. Zackowitz Photography Editor at Large: Michael Nichols Senior Photo Editors: Pamela Chen, Alice Gabriner, Kim Hubbard, Todd James, Elizabeth Krist, Sadie Quarrier Photo Editor: Jeanne M. Modderman Research Editor: Mary McPeak Staff Photographer: Mark Thiessen Digital Imaging: Edward Samuel, Evan Wilder Design/Art Deputy Creative Director: Kaitlin M. Yarnall Design Director: David C. Whitmore Art Director: Juan Velasco Senior Design Editors: John Baxter, Elaine H. Bradley Graphic Design Specialists: Kevin DiCesare, Sandi Owatverot-Nuzzo, Daniela Santamarina Administration: Cinde Reichard, Trish Dorsey Copy/Research Research Director: Alice S. Jones Senior Copy Editor: Mary Beth Oelkers Copy Editors: Kitry Krause, Cindy Leitner Research Editors: Heidi Schultz, Elizabeth Snodgrass, Christy Ullrich Barcus Senior Researchers: Nora Gallagher, David A. Lande Production: Sandra Dane

E-Publishing Digital Editions Director: Lisa Lytton Digital Creative Director: Jody Sugrue Video Director: Hans Weise Senior Web Producer: John Kondis Associate Web Producer: Web Barr Administration Karen Dufort Sligh (Asst. to the Editor in Chief), Carol L. Dumont (Scheduling), Julie Rushing (Finance), Valerie Cribb-Chapman, Nikisha Long, Laura Flanagan Comunications Vice Presidents: Beth Foster, Mary Jeanne Jacobsen, Barbara S. Moffet Publishing Systems Vice President: Dave E. Smith Digital Operations Director: Russ Little Digital Projects Director: Melissa Wiley Senior Project Manager: Gina L. Cicotello Systems Administrators: Patrick Twomey, Robert Giroux, Casey Jensen Advertising National Advertising Director: Robert Amberg Vice President Marketing: Jenifer Berman Vice President Business and Operations: Jon Schmidt

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Subscriptions Quite Contrary (ISSN 1947-4377) Volume 5, Issue 11 is published monthly by GRO Media, LLC 130 Battery Street, Sixth Floor, San Francisco, CA 94111, U.S.A. In the US. Quite Contrary is a registered trademark of AFAR Media, LLC. Publisher assumes no responsibility for the return of unsolicited manuscripts, art, or any other unsolicited materials. Subscription price for U.S. residents: $55.00 for 12 issues. Canadian subscription rate: $65.00 (GAT included) for 12 issues. All other countries $75.00 for 12 issues. To order a subscription to Quite Contrary or to inquire about an existing subscription, please write to Quite Contrary Customer Service, P. O. Box 6265, Harlan IA 51591-1765, or call (888) 403-9001. Periodicals postage paid at SanFrancisco, CA, and at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Please send address changes to Quite Contrary, P. O. Box 6265, Harlan, IA51591-1765.



editors’ pick

1. NITRILE GARDEN GLOVES Don’t be fooled by their lightweight appearance—these gloves are tough as nails. $4.95,

2. SEED BOMB GIFT BOX Made from a mixture of clay, compost, and seeds, seed bombs are a fun way to add some green to urban spaces. $39.99,

3. CORDLESS TRIMMER This cord-free design by Craftsman offers easy control and comfort for landscapers. $94.99,

4. PERSONALIZED APRON Sturdy canvas apron features suede trim, deep pockets, and chic contrast stitching. $59.95,

Top Ten holiday gifts

5. SELF WATERING PLANTER Take the guesswork out of watering succulents or herbs with this genius planter. $50,

7. GARDENING FOR GEEKS Author Christy Wilhelmi ignites scientific passion with her book of garden tests and techniques. $15.95,


Give the gift of gardening this season! We’ve made our list and checked it twice—here are our editors’ top ten picks for fun, functional, and affordable gifts sure to please all the green-thumbers on your holiday shopping list.

8. HEDGEHOG BOOT BRUSH Avoid dragging garden dirt into the home. This whimsical boot brush makes a charming addition to any mud room. $50,

9. POWERGEAR® PRUNER Power through tough stems and branches up to ¾” thick with these Fiskars pruners. $29.99,


6. TABLETOP COMPOST BIN Store your kitchen scraps in style! Ceramic bin includes a charcoal odor preventing filter. $49.99,

10. GARDENING KNEE PADS Waterproof, double neoprene shell surrounds memory foam in these pads for optimum gardening comfort. $29.95.

in the kitchen




Harvest Fresh Recipes T

he end of the year brings many things—colder weather, the excitement of the holidays, and if you’ve been diligent in caring for your crops, a bountiful harvest. We’ve come up with three delicious, bone-warming soup recipes to help utilize your freshly picked veggies and keep you full and happy as cooler weather sets in.





3 large leeks, chopped 2 tbsp butter 2 c water 2 c chicken or vegetable broth 2 lbs potatoes, peeled, diced into ½ inch pieces Marjoram - dash ¼ c chopped fresh parsley 2 tsp chopped fresh thyme Tabasco sauce Salt & Pepper


CREAM OF BROCCOLI 2 tbsp butter 1 onion, chopped 1 stalk celery, chopped 3 c chicken broth 8 c fresh broccoli florets 3 tbsp butter 3 tbsp all-purpose flour 2 c milk ground black pepper to taste



2 tbsp sweet cream butter 2 onions, peeled and chopped 6 c chicken broth 2 lbs carrots, peeled and sliced 2 tbsp grated fresh ginger 1 c whipping cream Salt and white pepper Sour cream Parsley sprigs, for garnish

POTATO LEEK SOUP Cook leeks in butter with salt and pepper in a medium sized sauce pan. Cover pan, cook on low heat for 10 minutes. Check often. Do not brown the leeks. Add water, broth, and potatoes. Bring to a low simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Scoop about half of the soup mixture into a blender, puree and return to pan. Add marjoram, parsley, and thyme. Add a few dashes of tabasco sauce to taste. Add some freshly ground pepper, 1-2 teaspoons salt or more to taste.

CREAM OF BROCCOLI SOUP Melt 2 tablespoons butter in medium sized stock pot, and saute onion and celery until tender. Add broccoli and broth, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Pour the soup into a blender, filling the pitcher no more than halfway full. Hold down the lid of the blender with a folded kitchen towel, and carefully start the blender, using a few quick pulses to get the soup moving before leaving it on to puree. Puree in batches until smooth and pour into a clean pot. Alternately, you can use a stick blender and puree the soup right in the cooking pot. In small saucepan, over medium-heat melt 3 tablespoons butter, stir in flour and add milk. Stir until thick and bubbly, and add to soup. Season with pepper and serve.

CARROT GINGER SOUP In a 6-quart pan, over medium high heat, add butter and onions and cook, stirring often, until onions are limp. Add broth, carrots, and ginger. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until carrots are tender. Remove from heat and transfer to a blender. Don’t fill the blender more than half way, do it in batches if you have to. Cover the blender and then hold a kitchen towel over the top of the blender. Be careful when blending hot liquids as the mixture can spurt out of the blender. Pulse the blender to start it and then puree until smooth. Return to the pan and add cream, stir over high heat until hot. For a smoother flavor bring soup to a boil, add salt and pepper, to taste. Ladle into bowls and garnish with dollop of sour cream and parsley sprigs.

It’s winter. Snow falls. Your breath rises frosty in the air. Bundled up beyond recognition, you find yourself longing for warmer regions. Arizona’s Sonoran Desert would do nicely. Perhaps a trek through Namaqualand, South Africa. Not in the cards? Then,

WHY NOT BRING THE DESERT TO YOU? Create a little heat and drama right in your own living room with potted cacti and




ucculents evoke glorious warmth, while ranging widely (and wildly) in form and texture from the bold, columnar magnificence of Cereus and euphorbias to the exquisite, flower-like forms of aeoniums, aloes and echeverias and the rounded shapes of mammillaria and rebutia cacti. Nolina recurvata (ponytail palm), a slow-growing member of the Agave family, evokes images of otherworldly landscapes, with its strange, swollen base and palm-like leaves. The slender leaves of Dasylirion longissimum arch to form a graceful fountain. Some succulents, like Sedum morganianum, cascade in voluptuous rivulets from hanging or wall-mounted pots.

Viewed alone, succulents become minimalist sculpture. Grouped together, they mirror vast desert scenery. Leaf and stem colors range from the white and deep-green zebra stripes of Haworthia attenuata to the lavender-tinted leaves of striking, orange-blossomed Echeveria peacockii. Many cacti also produce startling flowers in saturated hues. An echinopsis cactus with a show-stopping blaze of huge apricot or red-orange blooms is breathtaking.

What Are Succulents? Succulents form a large group of plants with modified structures that enable them to store water and withstand drought. Special cells in their leaves, stems, or roots collect and hold water, releasing it into the plant when needed. Horticulturists use the term “succulents� 42


to describe any of the many plants with these exceptional waterretaining properties. Many different kinds of plants (cacti, euphorbias, and agaves among them) are also gathered under the broader umbrella term of succulents.

Potting Perfectly You Will Need: • BOWL. Make sure you use a container with a drainage hole in the bottom. If the container doesn’t have one, drill several small holes. • POTTING MIX. Succulents don’t like wet feet, so your soil should drain easily (and that’s why you need the drainage hole in the container bottom). Look for a mix made specially for cacti. • GRAVEL or another ornamental topper (optional). This provides a finished look and keeps soil from splashing on foliage. • GLOVES to protect yourself from spiny plants that could poke you. Step 1: Fill a bowl of your choice with potting mix. You can use a special soil mix for succulents or create your own by mixing potting soil with sand to make it more porous (remember, succulents don’t like wet roots).

Step 3: Plant the edges of the bowl. Use a mix of succulents for texture and color. Don’t worry about planting too close. These plants can go shoulder to shoulder. You want them to have a lush, crowded look.

Step 2: Add a focal point as a centerpiece. This is usually the largest or most colorful plant. Remove the plant from its nursery pot by turning it upside down in your hand, pulling off the pot, then setting the plant into the center of the bowl. If the plant has sharp edges, such as agave, wear gloves.

Step 4: Fill in any gaps with soil mix, tamping lightly. Finish off with a topper of gravel, aquarium stone, or some other ornamental material.

From top left to bottom right:

1. Hens-and-Chicks 2. Burro’s Tail 3. Lithops 4. Crassula ‘Coralita’ 5. Pachyveria ‘Royal Flush’ 6. Echeveria Pulidonis QUITECONTRARY.COM | NOVEMBER 2013 | QUITE CONTRARY


Light ‘Em Up Natural sunlight gives succulents a boost. Weather permitting, place them outside for a few hours each day.

To grow succulents successfully indoors, it is essential to match the light requirements of the plants with the available light in the space where you choose to display them. Though most succulents need ample light, it is a mistake to assume they all can tolerate strong, direct sunlight. Some, especially cacti, do require a full blast of sun for at least four hours a day, preferably from a south-facing window, but many other succulents thrive best on strong indirect light. If you’re placing succulents in front of a window with southern, western, or eastern exposure, it’s a good idea to use blinds to slightly diffuse the light, or display your plants a little further back in the room, away from the window. All plants grow toward the light. Succulents are no exception, so turn them every so often to prevent a lopsided growth pattern, but be careful of sunburn to the previously shaded side. If you’ve got little or no sunlight, don’t despair. Handsome sansevierias are the perfect choice for you. The snake plant, Sansevieria trifasciata, has stiff and erect sword-like leaves up to four feet long and three inches wide. The leaves are dark green with light green striping. Two other choices for lower light levels include Euphorbia trigona and Euphorbia lactea. Succulents can also be grown under Gro-lux fluorescent or HID grow lights placed about two feet above the plants.

Water Wisely The key to watering cacti and and other succulents is restraint. Err on the side of too little rather than too much. Understanding how they behave in the wild may help you in this regard. Succulents have adapted to an environment with little water. Most receive rainfall only in a concentrated period of time during spring, when they put out slow, new growth and also flower. The rainy season is followed by a long, dry period in which the plants are dormant. With this in mind, water and drain your plants well during the period of active growth (usually spring and summer), allowing the soil to thoroughly dry out before watering again. Once a week is usually adequate. Succulents are adapted to handle some neglect, so an occasional two weeks without water won’t hurt them. Taper off watering to once a month during fall


and winter when most succulents are dormant. It is best not to water your succulent at least a week before and after transplanting. Always water thoroughly near the rim of the pot, keeping the water away from direct contact with the plant. Rather than using a dish to catch excess water, try watering them in the sink or bathtub, allowing the soil to drain thoroughly before replacing the plant in its usual location. If the succulent is too large to move, a dish may become a necessity. If so, water the soil a little at a time. Wait a minute or so, then repeat until a small amount drains into the dish. Absorb this excess with a paper towel.


Feeding Keep It Hot

Indoors, succulents grow more slowly than outdoors, and they do not respond well to overfeeding. Unless the needs of a specific plant suggest otherwise, use an all-purpose liquid fertilizer diluted to one-quarter strength once a month during the growing season (usually March through August) and not at all in other months.

“Viewed alone, succulents become

Ideally, temperatures should mirror those in the deserts where most succulents grow wild: warm days (in winter your heater will do if it is not too close to the plants) and about a ten-degree drop in temperature at night for healthy growth and bud



formation. However, succulents are forgiving and will tolerate some deviation from this pattern. Desert plants also need fresh, circulating air. Leave windows partly open at least part of the day during milder weather.

Unique Arrangements Cacti and succulents work in any setting from casual to formal, Southwestern to East Indian. If you’d like an arrangement of cacti with a sense of humor and whimsy, try combining separately potted, hairy or spiny cacti in separate pots. Pair Mexican old-man cactus, Cephalocereus senilis, or peanut cactus, Echinopsis chamaecereus, and Cleistocactus strausii with bizarrely shaped cacti like Opuntia microdasys ‘Crest’ and the brain cactus Mammillaria elongata ‘Crest’. Some indoor gardeners like collecting small, rare cacti for a windowsill display. These are a little more difficult to care for. Some examples of this type are any of the ariocarpus, small, rock-colored cacti with wart-like markings; turbinicarpus, tiny barrel cacti with soft, bent spines and white or pink flowers; and Astrophytum asterias, with its low, rounded, spineless body divided into eight flat ribs with small white flecks. Dish gardens are also captivating; a mix of small plants in one shallow container can recreate a desert scene on a small scale. The best choices for these containers are slowgrowing succulents. It is wise not to combine cacti and succulents because of their different light requirements. A layer of shells or tumbled glass pebbles makes an attractive soil covering. Some people like to mix art objects with succulents. And, placed alone, bold Euphorbia grandicornis or Cereus with their exaggerated forms are as intriguing as any sculpture (though, because they grow so tall, you may be forced to prune them after a while). As far as design goes, the only rule is to choose succulents that perform well indoors and are grouped in a location that meets their light requirements.

Like what you see? Get more succulent arrangement ideas and inspiration online at 46


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