03 December 2016

baby kalanchoe

are really outgrowing their pot! Soon I will have to find more room for them.
A few still remaining on the leaf margin are getting heavy enough to cause it to bend down...

thirty-eight updates

I feel like things are going relatively well in here.
Although I took a whole set of plants out today- all the buces off the log. Tired of watching them suffer. Trying to eradicate the BBA from them in a bucket, before I might introduce them to the betta tank. Only one remains in here- the 'emerald green' specimen, which is in a front corner of the tank and well-shaded by some crypt leaves. I've moved an anubias nana 'petite' to be next to it.
I moved the few bits of bolbitis off the substrate and tied into the driftwood. Can see here the little bit of java fern that revived off what I thought was a dead rhizome is actually windelov variety.
The java ferns I transferred into this tank are finally growing large enough to see- they are pretty slow.
Here from another angle and you can see I've still got fissidens in this tank- it's finally taken hold- but it stays such a dark green color kind of blends in with shadows I never notice it much- and there's another tiny java fern growing just in front of that moss clump.
The little anubias nana 'petite' weren't tidy around the crypt wendtii anymore (since I moved that one back) so I have rearranged them to be a nice circle around its base again.
And I brought over that other half of the anubias barteri from the betta tank. Put in in a gap behind the crypt wendtii- perhaps it will be shaded enough there. It's not really visible but adds some color behind the other stems. With that I have introduced limpets into this tank... but I'm starting to not mind them in the tenner now that their numbers are down- and they sure do help keep the glass clean.
Crypt petchii has thrown out new leaves a lot faster than I expected- this one has at least four now, and they have some subtle longitudinal striping I like very much.
Crypts balansae and retrospiralis are putting up new leaves too- seen here behind the male cherry barbs. My vallisneria are not happy though- in spite of their nice appearance. They've grown taller, but about half these have brown, decaying crowns and leaf bases. I think what happened is I forgot to tug them up- periodically I gently tug up my crypts so their crowns don't get buried, but I never really did this with the vals. Quite a few of them were in too deep- I'm letting some float free just above the substrate that I can see a few white healthy roots growing, but uncertain if they will recover. At least the remainder will always throw new runners...
Not sure if I'm going to like micromeria brownei in here (on left). It seems to be getting longer internodal spacing in response to the low light levels.
I kind of like how it looks behind the bacopa- but not when it's in full view of itself.
I took way longer with fish tanks than I should have today, because I made a new subwasertang basket. And then I redid the original two, because I'm tired of seeing the white netting. This one is the best-looking from the start. I still have one looser cluster of subwasser tied onto a stone, but I like how full and fluffy they grow when netted onto these upturned baskets, so much better.
Aponogten flower just dried up. No seeds formed.

02 December 2016

tenner update

I trimmed and replanted bacopa today, nearly doubling the quantity of stems. Starting to wonder why it is unhappy in this tank- the foliage always drooping down. It does this a little in my other tank, but not so much... It's starting to feel like anubias overhwlems the back left corner of the tank, and ludwigia there are struggling for light. And I like the ludwigia. I cut the barteri rhizome in half, and wedged one part of it down lower behind the skull. Don't like how everything is level height now, but things will grow up soon enough.
Took a picture overhead of the windelov java fern intertwining through anubias leaves, just because I thought it looked cool- and realized they are looking peaky again. It's been awhile since I dosed mg so I did that today with the ferts.

There is not much else to note about this tank this week. Except that I am still puzzled why there is always so much fine debris here. I'm starting to think it's not because my driftwood rotted faster  than normal, or my snails poop too much, but just that the sponge filter doesn't pick stuff up very well....
The fish is named Sam. He's funny. He swims with a quick, energetic tail- always seems to be in a hurry somewhere when he notices something. His eyes are circled in white, so he always looks very intent on things, hm, what's that? Always getting in the photo. My kids really like him.

tank salad

Sometimes when I clean out the aquarium, the trimmings off plants look almost good enough to eat!

the window crowd

Seen from outside. This is the only spot in my house that gets reliable direct sunlight in the winter months. So it becomes quite crowded, and I get picky about who stays. In this picture you can see ancho pepper, coleus, a bit of the stevia and geranium on the right, and mostly the happy sweet potato vine. Behind it to the left (not visible here) are two aloe veras, a small pot of cuban oregano and the succulent kalanchoe.

01 December 2016

two snails

Chance picture (dim, ambient light) of two nerites under a buce stem: Dimple and the tomato snail (Marvin or Mavis, I forget).

pest control

I think I have saved my oldest jade plant from cold shock and insects.
Some of the leaves still look shriveled with pockmarks, but they have quit falling off at a touch, and lots of tiny new leaves are growing now. So I really hope it's going to make it.
Pepper plants in the same corner have been suffering too. It's always a risk I take, bringing plants in that have been outside all summer. Saw that these had little bugs and sticky residue and yellowed marks tiny pinholes all over the older leaves. Now I think it's also what afflicted my jade: looks like aphids.

I took action. Noticed that most of the aphids were on emerging buds and flowers. So I just cut those all off. Wiped off nearly every single leaf- top and underside- with a bleach wipe, and then again with wet paper towel and then took the plant to the sink, tipped it sideways, drenched in dishsoap water and rinsed off again with spray nozzle. I did this with all four pepper plants. Carefully checked the nearby dracanea, parlor palm, schefflera (which has since moved into my bedroom), geranium, stevia and other plants. Nobody else seems to have got aphids, so I spaced out the peppers a bit more and am keeping a close eye on them.

Since this treatment I removed a few more flowers from the oldest pepper (the ancho) where a few individual aphids appeared. Otherwise the bugs seem beat- it's been a week now and I haven't seen any more. Older, afflicted leaves are yellowing and dropping off the peppers, but new ones look fresh and nice dark green.

The 'mother' echeveria, however, remained outside because it still looks bug-ridden. I never brought it in again. Had sprayed it twice with neem oil, no good. If that one in a pot and the crowd of offspring planted around the mailbox spot don't survive the winter, that's it for my echeveria. At least I know where I can purchase more now to replace them, but it won't be the same as having ones I grew from my wedding arrangement...

28 November 2016

riches of dead leaves

I have finished processing all the dead leaves in the yard (well, eighty to ninety percent- our maple tree is still holding onto some that might come down later, and the neighbors' sycamore tree keeps dropping leaves into our yard too) for mulch and composting.
It is quite a task, but a very satisfying way to wrap up the gardening season. I have a leaf-eating machine; my husband bought it several years ago and this is the third season I have used it. I've gotten more efficient at shredding the leaves up. This is a chore with very particular timing- it doesn't work well if the leaves are wet, it's annoying to do if windy (leaf dust blown in my face) and I don't like to do it when the children are around- very loud, kicks random bits of bark or twig out that I miss when sifting the leaves- I wear protective goggles but have gotten my cheek nicked a few times- plus I'm afraid a curious child might throw something in there to see what the machine will eat, and really it can only handle leaves- I have to sift each handful to pull out small twigs, even the heavier petioles of sycamore leaves will snarl it up.

So sometimes it's hard to find the time to grind the leaves. This year I made the effort to gather them as often as I could, into huge piles the kids like jumping in, and also into my wheelbarrow and plastic bins, which I stored under the deck and some old carpeting to stay relatively dry until it was time to shred them. Unfortunately I think I burned out the motor of the shredder. I was just finishing up the last leaf pile and it started to make a high pitched whine and a terrible smell. I shut it down and just bagged the remainder of the leaves, let the motor rest for the day but I'm not sure if it will work again. It's possible there was too much dirt and thatch in the last lot of leaves I raked off the lawn, which has been too dry this year...
Have a good dozen bags of leaf mulch saved under the deck now, for composting throughout the coming year. I applied a lot more to the yard immediately- around all the trees, all plants in the beds, mailbox spot, new shrubs- rhodies, summersweet and hydrangeas got an extra thick layer. Two or three inches thick across all the veggie beds. You can see there is still some green life- broccoli on the left, a few herbs (parsley, thyme, oregano, sage) on the right and some swiss chard. In the upper picture, borage is still making a statement, and my tiny rosemary is still alive. Speaking of what's still green, there is argyranthemum making green lacy shapes, hellebores nice dark green, and sage pretty blue-green in their various spots and containers. I am seriously considering planting a lot of sage next year, just to have more greenery in the yard when it gets cold, and spreading the argyranthemum if I can. Hellebores grow slowly, it will be longer before I have more of them.

plant report

I'm pleasantly surprised with some of my newer aquarium plant acquisitions.
Pretty little marsilea hirsuta has kept its lobed leaf shape. I was really expecting that the new growth would have single-lobed leaves, but they don't. Look like tiny green hands reaching up. New white roots below. Recovering faster in my tenner (those shown here) but the ones in a big tank are showing some new growth, too.
Aponogeton capuronii is growing fast! Already each side of the bulb has six to eight new leaves- the biggest is here curving across the top of the picture, it is already a third the height of the tank. I thought the new roots would grow from the base of the bulb; they grew from the base of the crown. So I guess if I'd wanted to reduce the plant's height by a half inch or so, I should have left it lying sideways!

27 November 2016

mini geranium

summer growth
sitting outside with that unknown 'weed' that morphs its shape
I've cut it back and it is growing in again nicely now.

unknown plant

I'm still harboring an unknown in my house, this plant which is probably a weed.
I just like the look of its foliage, and find it interesting how the leaf shape changes through its growing stages, although I know this is common to lots of plants. I found more of this growing in my backyard, but haven't dug up any more of it.

26 November 2016

my ferns

they are none too happy now that the air is dry and cold. Boston Fern did not do well outside this year. I think the summer was too hot for it, I should have misted it more. It never grew nice big fronds. And then it got chilled before I realized. It's only doing marginally better now.
I have been giving it and the bird's nest fern 'spa' days in the steamy bathroom.
Fern leaves overlapping. Unfortunately this shows how my ferns have suffered- leaf margins burnt and dry, bit of spiderwebbing on the boston fern from its time outside...
The fern that is not a fern, foxtail fern, is doing well!

25 November 2016

thirty-eight angles

If I take the photo from a slight angle to the right, I don't get reflections in the glass as much. But it looks odd having focus on the grassy corner, and not seeing the bacopas as much on the other end.
Photo from a different angle-
Here's the short side with driftwood log. Very thinned out with some vallisneria removed, other plants are filling in more now.
Other short side with the bacopa short now from being trimmed and replanted recently. Micromeria just behind it.