22 June 2018

window tank

the scruffy 'wild' one. Not great pictures, I'll have to take the trouble one day to put a panel behind and light it from the front. Perry makes me smile. He's the only fish I have right now who notices when I enter the room and darts around wiggling his tail excitedly. He zooms back and forth across the tank when I feed him mosquito wigglers or red worms. I've started keeping the curtain shut unless the day is overcast, to prevent so much algae on the tank walls.
Not much else to note, this fish and his tank are so trouble-free.

21 June 2018

my little garden

Side view from under the deck. I have moved most of my pots and containers off the upper deck, because my husband has plans to pressure wash, strip and stain or paint sometime this summer. Easier if most of the plants are out of the way beforehand. So there are more pots sitting around the garden space. Here in front, next to the nasturtium stump- basil and my 'kiwi fern' coleus.
from the front. The left-hand bed there all lush is full of greens-
arugula- so hot in taste now from bolting I can't eat it- swiss chard growing like mad- we've eaten it twice already this week- sliced thin in a teriyaki chicken dish, and in a fritatta. The rest of the bed is volunteer borage, invading sensitive fern, and bolting lettuces.
Here's the fern side of it-
They are so lovely I really don't mind the spreading behavior, I'm actually looking forward to digging them up in fall or spring so I can enjoy them in another part of the yard
First marigold flower is opening-
It's the velvety red type I like
Mini geranium 'bonsai' pot is temporarily sitting next to the beets- which are finally looking decent. In the back there's where some borage collapsed in a rainstorm- next to my pink 'watermelon' coleus.
Potatoes! I took time the other day to level out their bed. Forgot they were still sitting in a shallow trench. I hope it's not too late, to keep the growing potatoes shielded from sun. I removed all the mulch, used a garden fork to loosen the soil, and leveled it with my hands back into the trenches the plants grow in. Replaced mulch. (One of the very few times I've used my garden fork, actually).
In the herb bed, my largest, handsome borage plant just fell over (rainstorm).
Lemon balm has got too large- it is spreading over, crowding the young basil and leeks. I ask myself now why I wanted to grow this plant again... I need to learn to use it in the kitchen.
Lemon verbena, on the other hand, is neat and upright in its pot. It's looking healthier, I think (frequent soap sprays).
I still love rue just for its pretty foliage. And its blue is a nice complement to the sage. Which suffers most in my garden right now- from leafhoppers as far as I can tell. I've sprayed this one too, at least once a week.
In the corner pot, ginger mint is blooming. Curiously, it doesn't make flower spikes like other mints I've grown. The flowers are little bells clustered above the leaf nodes on the stalk. This one so far I've just enjoyed the scent of it, but next time I make that teriyaki dish I'm going to experiment adding fresh ginger mint at the end.
around the side yard- I finally have a baby tomato!
and plenty of tiny cucumbers forming
I've started picking green beans! Not much yet- a good handful every third day, but I have to save them up in the fridge until there's enough to use for a meal. Maybe next year I should start twenty or thirty green beans... I am pleased they seem relatively free of disease so far.
I've squashed the only two japanese beetles found in the yard, and am more diligent about getting the stink bugs, leafhoppers, katydids, using soap against mealybug and haven't seen any whitefly since the first few weeks. Also using soapy dishwater on the garden as often as I can- which means no garden-picked bugs for the fishes- but my plants look a lot healthier this year all around.

Up on the deck I've kept just a few plants: sweet potato vine and salad burnet decorative on the table, chocolate mint and stevia- I use them frequently for tea.

20 June 2018

some houseplants

mimosa keeps growing lovely new fronds. But lower leaves slowly yellow and drop, as well.
Kalanchoe are starting to populate neighboring pots with their babies, dropped off the leaf margins. I need to give these larger pots themselves, soon.
Medinilla in my upstairs window is starting to look a bit healthier- at least, this one stem of it.
I thought zebrina was supposed to be a vine that drapes down, suitable for hanging pots. Mine is growing up and up!

19 June 2018

a few pictures from the garden

The few borage I left in place in spring have done far better than those I moved. This particular one on the edge of herb bed suddenly got huge leaves for some reason.
Boston fern under the deck is doing better and better!
I moved my two pots of 'Gay's Delight' coleus out into the garden (end of potato patch). The one on the right had been kept on the upper deck, the one on the left had been growing indoors. Thus the color difference.
Closer look- already the lefthand coleus is growing out new leaves with the brighter green that can deal with stronger sunlight.
I took a few cuttings to keep inside, just in case some insect disaster strikes them outside.
I started weeding out the perennial/flower bed. My newer monarda started blooming already, even though it is just a third the height of the established ones.
Daisies don't seem to be doing as well this year. The clumps are thin. Perhaps I should have divided it? No big loss- I'm not terribly fond of white flowers anyway.

18 June 2018

barred owl

Yesterday, late afternoon, an owl visited our backyard. I called my husband and we spent a good amount of time taking pictures. First group of photos were from the deck- clear across the yard. Last few the owl had moved into another tree and we slowly walked out onto the lawn to get closer. It looked rather sleepy at first:
then started to look around- small birds were chipping alarm calls all over (that's how I first noticed he was there)
Then looked straight at us
From higher up in another tree, after we moved much closer- had its back to us and looked over its shoulder
This was the best shot I got- one of the final pictures before it flew away. It's a barred owl.
My photos are not the best quality because the owl was rather far off and I just have a little digital Canon- my husband used his zoom lens and got some nice closeups, they're on FB. I wonder what the owl caught to eat. I have heard one calling in the woods behind our neighborhood for the past few weeks- not at night, but during the afternoon.

Its visit surely frightened the local population of squirrels- I have not seen a single one all day- and usually there are two or three (if not more) busy around my yard. My husband said: "Now Irwin has some competition!" (our cat, who is an avid hunter).

The owl looks small in these pictures, but the wren that was frantically hopping around it seemed so tiny in comparison. (My husband thought the wren was a hummingbird at first glance). I am pretty sure (though I have not actually seen any nests) we have a catbird nesting in the crab apple tree, also wren, nuthatch and robins have nests nearby. Or so I guess by their constant presence and busy behavior.

identity

I finally learned what this plant is. Which I have kept indoors in a pot for two years! It's grown a lot, and I had a hunch it really wasn't a houseplant, but didn't want to put it outside until I figured out what it was.
It's an iris. I was walking with my youngest behind the local nature center, and we paused at a small pond. I saw these plants in clumps around the pond edges, with the same narrow, straplike leaves that grow out in that flat fan pattern. I had never guessed it was a riparian plant! Immediately I thought iris and looked at some closeup pictures once home. Yup.

Except- I still don't know which variety. I don't have a pond, and the two damp places in my yard are in full shade. Well, I planted it out (today is part-cloudy and tomorrow supposed to rain) in the lower part of the yard near a fence. It's a real long chance- doing a transplant at the onset of summer- but the iris certainly wasn't happy in the house anymore. I have been watering it heavily throughout the day. I do hope it survives and may bloom next year, so I can see!

17 June 2018

45 has leaves

I added a lot more leaf litter. Took quite a while to sort, clean and soak oak leaves from last fall's stash, one plastic grocery bag full (a fraction of what I have saved up) turned out to be just the right amount. Most of them I trimmed and cut into smaller pieces this time.
It has the exact effect I was hoping for. The leaf litter hides all the rock anchors, so it looks like the plants are growing straight out of them.
Buces, smallest plants in here, barely poke up above the litter, I'm glad I tied them onto highest points of rocks. They should grow upwards and keep clear of it. I didn't think about it until I had dropped all the leaves in, but oops I have completely smothered all the subwassertang! And the small vals got covered, too. I bet a val might grow up out of the litter, but the subwassertang will probably die. That's okay, I have plenty more of it in other tanks. Not sure if it's the best choice in here anymore, unless I can encourage it to cling to the large driftwood piece. That might look nice.
One buce came loose from its stone and lodged for a while against the roots of anubias on driftwood. I hoped it would take hold there, but it's floated free by now. I'll have to tie it down again next time I have hands in the tank.
Largest anubias has a new leaf.
Some java ferns have new, young leaves growing too.
My apple snail has been topside feeding off the hornwort lately. I am often fascinated at how it manages to cling to a single, narrow stem of hornwort up there. Eventually its weight pulls the plant down, or it lets go and sinks down to the bottom of the tank again. It spreads its foot out wide when falling, like it is gliding through the water.
Such a handsome snail, even it I am annoyed at all its poops. (Most of that is hidden under the deeper leaf litter now.)
Kuhlis love the additional leaves. The entire tank floor is their hideout now. Here's a glimpse of one.
I've made a selection of forked sticks from dead branches that fell off our oak, maple and sycamore trees in the past few spring storms. Am prepping them for tank use- first I boiled them in my pressure cooker- this way and then taking them all out turned around to boil the other ends. For hours. Water stained very dark. Now I'm peeling bark off the sticks when I have time, and dropping into the tank where they just float, to let them get water logged.
Apple snail spends all its time up among the floating sticks, now. It is probably eating the biofilm or fungus that emerges, because I haven't seen any sign of that ugly white stuff that often appears on new wood in tanks. I don't mind letting the sticks float for a few weeks while the snail cleans them off, but I might tie stones to a few ends to start arranging them in the tank. I'm seeing a lot more ramshorn snails because they come up to feed off the wood, too. And somehow- unintentionally- I've introduced limpets into this tank. Probably on a plant. Oh well. They are not very noticeable in the large tank, and they do help keep the glass very clean.