All pots moved aside when cleaning the conservatoryI'm very careful with my plants, especially the potted ones. Those are the most vulnerable to pests of any kind, because of the dry, warm air inside the house, especially during winter - and even more so if the pots are crowded. Some of my plants died because of pests, until I earned how to spray them - and by that time I didn't even have so many pots, so they weren't crowded after all. I'm now spraying regularly for pests and even though I can't eliminate them all, at least I can keep them under control. No more citrus, impatiens, begonias or oleanders dying of mealy bugs, white flies, red spiders or scale!

Even so, one can never be too careful! The terrible experience of losing some of my plants taught me a lesson: better have double than nothing. So what did I do? I've started to double my plants! Whether if it was by dividing a plant, or by sowing two (and more) seeds instead of one, I got at least two of any plant I have. After losing a whole big lemon tree to a massive scale attack, I began sowing more and more citrus seeds, which brought me a few new plants - six, to be honest, of which two are already big trees. What will I do with six citrus, when they will all be big My grandsons are watering the citrus and all other big plants I have on the patiotrees? I count my blessings for having a big house and a garden, where they will have enough space. I wonder if there will still be enough space for we humans, but what matters more now is to have enough plants so that, if I'll ever lose one of them, I'll still have more citrus to enjoy their beauty. During summer I often have two reliable garden helpers for watering the pots: my two grandsons!

I've also lost plants because of silly mistakes, such as over watering during cloudy and chilly fall days or deep freeze in the shed, where I deposited the gloxinias - such a big mistake! Now, those are things that happen when you have so many pots, because you can't take proper care of each plant - which I have just started to realize. When I'm watering the pots I need about 8 gallons (30 litres) of water. Sometimes I'm in a hurry and I just don't check each pot to see if the soil is dry. Some plants don't absorb water as fast as others and if I water more, the wet soil will make the plant suffer and even rot. The most sensitive are the African violets, begonias and gloxinias, not to mention all cactus species. I've lost several African violets because they rotted after I over watered them, but now I know better and I don't water any of them without checking the soil first. I better let them dry than too wet!

Plants on the shelves standing in front of the window in my conservatoryGloxinias, on the other hand, are similar, only they need to stay in repose during winter. When I was living in a block, in the city, I used to keep them in the closed balcony all winter long, without watering them. When we moved into the village, I had to keep them inside the conservatory, where it's warm, but I watered them a few drops every week. Last summer we built a wooden shed, so I thought I could deposit the gloxinias in there during winter, like I did on the balcony, thinking that they wouldn't freeze - that was such a wrong thinking! I should have been more thoughtful and think of all possibilities, including the one of a very deep freeze - which really happened last winter. All the pickles in the jars froze, all my pumpkins froze and, obviously, the gloxinias froze too. I also have a basement, where I used to keep the pickles before...why didn't I put them all in there again, from the beginning? Wrong thinking, I have to say it again! I managed to save the pickles by Pink and purple gloxinia blooms in my conservatorymoving them immediately into the basement, but it was too late for the gloxinias. I had ten of them, in six different colors. Not all were doubled, because I had lost two of them before. I was planning to divide them in the spring, but now I'll just take them out and plant new plants in those pots - so sad! So this is all for the best though, because I always have small seedlings for planting and I don't always have enough pots to plant them. I give away many plants, to my friends and colleagues at the office, but I need to save some of them for me too - just in case something happens, such as a freeze, over watering, a pest...

Now, don't you think these are good reasons for having at least two plants of each species and even two plants of each color of each species? I'd say it is, but don't ask my husband, because you'll get a different answer!