22 November 2014

roasted snack

I've had a can of chickpeas sitting in the cupboard for ages. Never think what to do with it. The other day came across a recipe for roasting them, using paprika, cinnamon or coriander for flavor. Rummaging through my spice cupboard for something else, I found I still have a little jar of cilantro seed from my old garden. So I ground up the seed
and roasted the chickpeas. It's simple- toss in olive oil and roast for forty minutes, toss again with salt and chosen spice. I think next time I'll try it with paprika. My youngest calls them "crunchy peas". She's not so enthusiastic about the flavor, but my older daughter likes them.

21 November 2014

underwater green

Still observing, still learning. I did not change anything this week- dosage of ferts, water change remains the same. Plants are continuing to improve- at least as far as growth rate and slowing down of decay indicates. I've also found that some stuff I read online is true- if the plants do better, the algae can't compete. In my ten-gallon tank, I worried that increasing the photoperiod would get hair algae on the plastic plants and anubias again, but it hasn't recurred at all. The lights are on nine hours a day now, in both tanks. Some general notes from this maintenance day.

I still worry about my aponos, but found something that made me hope. The smallest apono I thought was completely dead, I was thinking to take it out and throw away. But this time it had come free of the substrate (constantly comes loose and floats), and I saw there were a few tiny green leaves growing again, and white roots coming from the bulb! I planted it once more, and tugged the worst-looking, smallest ones up a bit to make sure they weren't buried too deep. Those must have good white roots growing finally as well- they hung on to the gravel! so I hope they do recover in time.
Looking down on the two biggest aponos:
Picture of the rotalia, under low water level. Can see a nice apono leaf in the background.
Java ferns seem to be doing better in both aquariums. I only cut one dying leaf out in the bigger tank, didn't touch in the smaller one- when it gets depleted enough, the leaf will detach on its own. There are still new fiddleheads arising, and in the tenner, two of the plants have baby leaves.
When the water was low, for the first time ever I trimmed the java moss that grows in my twenty. It's a very small patch. I cut it back by half. Always thought it looked finer, smaller leaves than the java moss in the other tank, but I wasn't sure. I put this tiny clump in water jar with other moss trimmings, and yes- it is smaller. So either a different species of the moss? or different growth habit from slightly different conditions.
I tried to get a picture of the green threads of java moss clinging to the top of the skull, but that's hard to capture:
The anubias in my small tank seems better every week- some leaves are nice clean green, no mottled spots. Either they are healthier or the platies clean stuff off them- I see them picking at things. I also noticed when I gently squeezed out the sponge filter, not nearly as much mulm came out this time- and the tank water cleared quicker after refilling too. So either the debris from the driftwood is finally settled and filtered out, or the platies poop a lot less than the cherry barbs did!
Watersprite continues to grow-
side view for comparison to previous photo
I do want to get the rest of the recommended ferts to balance out the plant nutrients- they should probably receive potassium nitrate and phosphates too. And I think I should start dissolving the ferts before I put it in- I've noticed every maintenance day a few of the barbs will twitch and flash after I put the dry fert in. I think it irritates their skin.

I don't have much news on the fishes themselves- except that it's nice to see Sammy in the main tank. All three kuhlis were swimming wiggles up and down the tank during the water change (people call this "the kuhli happy dance"). Sammy still hangs out in the little rock cave a lot- it's cute to see his head poking out one side and his tail the other, or head and tail next to each other when he's curled into a loop. I'm not sure if this is because the other kuhlis don't let him share the driftwood space, or if he just feels more secure under the rock.

pepper plant

I brought this plant inside a few weeks ago, forgot to mention it. My youngest keeps pointing to the "baby pepper" on there, hoping we can eat it soon, but I doubt it will get much bigger! If this one makes it through the winter again, it will see a third spring!

20 November 2014

homemade

Nothing I grew went into this recipe, but its a new cooking attempt for me so I figured had a place here. Making noodles from scratch!
I wanted a real honest-to-goodness home-style chicken soup. Found a few recipes online, surprised at how simple it sounds. All it contains is eggs, flour and a pinch of salt. Mixed by hand like I do for pizza dough. The one tedious part was kneading the dough- I spent over twenty minutes at it, just until it was smooth and elastic feeling, no longer gritty, tacky texture under palms. Rolled out very very thin and cut into strips.
They went into the soup at the end, for three to five minutes- but I think it should have been two. I either over cooked, or over-kneaded the dough: it had a rather chewy texture. The kids loved it regardless!
I'm definitely going to try this again. Hopefully next time I'll even have some home-grown herbs to put in the soup.

19 November 2014

worm rescue

When I tipped the ginger pot to brush half-frozen mud off its base, found a handful of worms feebly crawling there. Dark purplish color, almost dead from the cold. I dropped them into my indoor bin.

cold

Last night was a hard frost. All the long leaves of tobac plants drooping from the shock. I think they've probably all reseeded themselves, so don't care if they appear to die back. Not sure if the lemon balm will survive in its pot, I'll shelter that one when snows come. The only other plant outside was my ginger. I should have brought it in last week. It collapsed. I've brought it in to dry out and overwinter. Cutting the foliage for the compost, sharp scent arises.

18 November 2014

gotcha!

It took several days to catch my lone kuhli fish, Sammy.
The problem was, Oliver is too smart! He knew that trap had food in it, and I was fasting the fishes to tempt the kuhli in. I couldn't let Oliver stay in the trap too long- bettas can actually drown if prevented from surfacing. Once he actually lined his nose up to the cap hole and got out again- but five or six times in a row I had to release him, and when I replaced the trap he would go straight back in. All this in and out was too much disturbance; even though I was placing the trap in twilight hours, the kuhli wouldn't come out of hiding, and I couldn't leave the trap in overnight, for fear of drowning Oliver.

So I tried making the opening smaller. First I stretched tight a small piece of plastic wrap over the hole with a rubber band, leaving just a narrow horizontal gap at the bottom. It defeated the platies- they would bump their noses, give up. Oliver was determined. He figured out how to bang the plastic with his nose until it gave some, they lay his body sideways and squeeze through. I was surprised he made it in, and impressed at his problem-solving skills! The kuhli almost came in at one point; could definitely smell the bait and wiggled up searching for the opening, got his head and part of the body in, then backed out and wouldn't return. I wonder if he didn't like the feel of plastic edge on his back?

Then I put a new obstacle on it. I got a stiffer piece of clear plastic, cut it to fit the opening with a flap on the sides, used a hole punch to make a small oblong hole, fastened it on tight with rubber band again (over the folded flaps). It kept Oliver out. He couldn't force his head in. I watched him try a few times, then he left and didn't come back to the trap. Smart fish. I left too, stayed out of the room for over an hour, confident now that Oliver wouldn't get stuck in there and I could leave it as long as it took for the shy kuhli to get hungry.

Later in the morning I sent my three-year-old into the room: "go see if there's something new in my fish tank." She went, looked, yelled excitedly: "Mommy! Sammy is in the fish trap!" Ha ha. Gotcha.

Now he's in the big tank with the other kuhlis. I've seen him hanging out with them under the log already, but he also seems to like the little rock cave I once made, crams himself in there repeatedly. I hope he feels at home and likes having some buddies.

17 November 2014

shorter

The bigger jade plant also got cut back; its stems were getting top-heavy and flopping over. I tried to adjust the watering over a few weeks but still had issues, couldn't quite figure out if it needed more or less moisture- so I finally just cut it back. This at least will make it sturdier.
other side:

16 November 2014

trimmed

I cut back my geranium.
This was a few days ago; just yesterday removed the older leaves so the small ones coming in all uniform size.
It kind of has an awkward shape now but I'm not sure which stems to take out to get a nicer balance. So I've left it alone while continue to consider.