31 August 2013


My Ginger seems to be thriving. It has sent up a second green shoot, a thin piercing spike pointing at the sky. I was wondering when it would leaf out more!

29 August 2013

green ring

A few weeks ago I cut out the crown of my oldest african Violet. It's now regrowing, a circle of tiny new leaves around the edge of the center. I'm curious to see how it develops further. Of all the young ones, only two have failed. I have now three medium-small violet plants and five tiny babies in the littlest clay pots. Not a single flower, though.

26 August 2013


Still no photos to show, but a little report on my garden that got move to friend's back deck. Turns out even the fuller sun there wasn't enough to let these plants catch up. The Tomato plant grew a lot taller but never spread out well, and the leaves remain small. It has just started to grow some fruit- little cherry tomatoes in a row on the stem! The Cantaloupe has one round fruit the size of a baseball. It's already getting the duller webbed texture on the skin, but so very small!

25 August 2013

a few things of note

My Croton is growing vigorously, and the rooted piece in water has a new tiny baby leaf! Toddler says of its multiplying root growth: "plant have feetsies now! two feets like me!"

I finally have one Tithonia flower opening, at the very end of summer. Better late than never!

It seems like a few potatoes are growing, after all! I saw the red, curved skin of one peeking out from the soil surface and covered it up with a little heap of leaves.

Of the cuttings I started recently, one Petunia survived and is ridiculously putting out more flowers, on the end of a very small plant. There are five little Stevia plants now as well, which seem to be doing fine (the sixth one succumbed to mold).

The rex Begonia Coleus and Pothos cuttings are also growing plenty of new roots in water.

14 August 2013


I upended most of my ailing plants on the balcony. And found that their demise has mostly been my error. I recall now, I had read somewhere advice to put a layer of shredded leaves at the bottom of outdoor containers, to retain moisture in the heat. And thinking of our hot summers, I did just that. It retained moisture too well. Even with the bottommost layer of crocking in place, the lower two or three inches of every pot were completely waterlogged. These are pots that were dry on the surface, and drain pretty well out the base when I do water them. So I scraped off the layer of compacted leaves, inwardly cursing my folly, and repotted them into drier soil with extra crocking just in case. Some had their root system half-rotted away. Not sure if they will recover. Even my Mints failed. Yeah, they like dampness. No, they do not live in a bog.

Plants this applies to were: Mint, miniature Rose, Dogwood sapling, Tithonia (which still hasn't flowered yet), sprawling Marigold (also not flowering) and a pot of Mums.

I also found that my Echinacea suddenly had a lot of leaves limp and blackened. Plucked a few off and found a mass of tiny dark caterpillars under the curl of one leaf. Errrgh. My older daughter was delighted at the caterpillars and didn't want me to throw them out, I was upset at the devastation they have already caused and how quickly they could eat through my entire little garden if left in place.

11 August 2013


I still like to keep track of what's going on with the plants, even though there are no images to grace the pages right now. Of note, lately:

My Croton stump has nice-sized leaves now, they look beautiful. And the one surviving cutting is growing more roots in its jar of water. Toddler points to it and says "plant have legs!"

I have taken cuttings of Pothos and stuck a few trimmed stems into the fishbowl that houses one of my bettas, Bluet. His aquatic plant was dying. Either because the light is too low now (I moved the bowl to a different side of the desk, the direct sun was causing too much algae) or because I forgot a few times to give plant-food drops. The pothos stems fit nicely through the holes in the bowl lid, which supports it but still lets in plenty of air, and is easy to lift off, roots (forthcoming) and all when it's time to feed or clean. Bluet himself seems curious about the bits of stem poking down into his ceiling, he's constantly swimming around up there inspecting them. One is growing little root buds already.

I also took cuttings of my sweedish Begonia, and put in a jar of water to root. I want the plant to divide closer to the soil surface and give more stems, plus can start a new pot with the cuttings.

On the balcony, I have thrown out the last Broccoli plant. Sum conclusion: vegetables do not do well in part shade, nor in containers for me, at least. All I have left now in terms of veggies is one swiss Chard plant, one Celery plant, and the bag of Potatoes. Speaking of which, the stems have grown out through the balcony railing and trail, reaching for sun. Too leggy by far. I dug my hands down to see if any potatoes are forming, and just find spindly roots. So I think that was a failure, too.

I do still have the herbs, most of which are doing fine: Chives, Rosemary (made a lot of rosemary biscuits lately), Sage, two pots of Basil, Green Onions, one straggly Mint.

I pulled up and tossed one terrible-looking Nasturtium that had lost most of its leaves; the remaining one got all its sick leaves trimmed off and bounced back amazingly. It's filled out its side of the planter box and is sprawling onwards.

Of all the other plants, the ones that are doing best, and seem least troubled by bugs or disease are the two I dug up as volunteer seedlings and brought with me out of the old yard: the Hibiscus and the Mimosa!

And I have these new lovely favorites, which are apt to do well in the shady conditions (acquired about a month ago):

09 August 2013


I have removed all the old petioles that were rooting in plastic sub-irrigated containers, and gently separated out the baby African Violet plants. Eight in all, which got potted up into their own spaces. In the tiny clay pots with juice-jug lids as drip trays, for now. They look lovely lined up on the windowsill near the old, parent plant.

The oldest one, sprawling and huge, was starting to look very poorly with yellowing older leaves below and what appears to be a grey fuzz spreading in the crown. I'm probably going to have to throw that one out, but in an attempt to save have trimmed off all the offending foliage, cut out the crown, and am letting it dry out more between waterings. If it dies, no great loss as the plenty of offspring are looking healthy and growing fast now.

02 August 2013

forced hiatus

My camera died. Not surprised, it was kinda old and had been dropped several times. And I have a not-smart phone that doesn't take any kind of pictures at all. So updates here will be boringly sans pictures for a while, or I'm just going to take a break for a while.

Not that much is going on in the "garden" anyways. Most notable thing this week is that my pink Rex Begonia Coleus cuttings are growing little roots! I'm glad I took the cuttings; the parent plant died like I expected.

Perhaps this will inspire me to draw some plants like I've always been meaning to do; sketches could liven this page up a bit...

01 August 2013


I haven't made note of my little fishy friends for a while; mostly because I always feel frustrated at getting good photos to share, and they are so beautiful with their irridescent blues. Well, I've been learning things about keeping fish. Namely that if you have a betta in a bowl, you must be very meticulous about cleaning it and changing the water. Toxic ammonia can build up very quickly.
I still have my first blue-green dragonscale betta, Pinkie. He's healthy and happy. He has a new neighbor, a golden orange half-moon male. My daughter inadvertently killed her prior betta (water change temperature too warm and that was it. An easy mistake). We got a new one but it didn't do well with the shock of coming home so we took it back, got our water tested, got this golden one as replacement. Daughter has named him after her original goldfish, Hector. Pinkie is very happy to have a new neighbor- the gallon fishbowls sit next to each other- he is constantly swimming back and forth where the bowls meet and flaring. He also swims excitedly up and down the glass when he sees me approach at feeding time!
My other betta, in the bowl with live plants, has been having troubles. Firstly, the second plant I bought had to be tossed out. It grew too quickly and was crowding the bowl, plus little bits kept breaking off and decaying. Now just one plant. The fish himself, who replaced my female crowntail (she met the same fate as my daughter's betta; I once made the water change too warm. Now use a thermometer every time to check the temperature) is a blue-and-purple dragonscale male. I call him Bluet. He's had this lump under his gill. At first I thought it was fungus and treated him for that. Then I thought it was parasites and treated him for that. Then I thought perhaps he had cancer- fish do get cancer, and figured nothing to do, leave alone. He swims well, looks healthy, eats good.
Then I forgot one day to do his water change, and ran out of water conditioner and was two days late. He looked okay until the day I cleaned his bowl and then went into shock, clamped fins, difficulty swimming, color fading, wouldn't eat. I thought he was a goner. I did a ton more reading and finally figured out he probably has swollen and scarred gills from ammonia poisoning. Meaning I haven't kept his bowl clean enough and the ammonia affected him. And then when I did change the water it was too sudden and he went into shock. The damage is irreversible although if I keep him very clean he can continue to live. I feel really bad it's my own fault he got his gills injured.
The good news is once I did another water change and added some aquarium salts (half teaspoon for the gallon) he started to recover, and this morning he looks like himself again. I am so relieved, and glad that I've finally diagnosed his ills properly - the treatment worked! So the remedy is to always be on top of the cleaning schedule, and dissolve aquarium salts into the water each time w/the change (good for gill health).

I'm also doing the once-a-week fast and pea regimen with my fish now. Bettas are carnivores, I've learned, but the dried and pre-packaged diet you get in the pet store (most convenient so I go with that for now) can swell in their stomachs and give them constipation. That's when they have the trouble swimming, don't float normally or sink on the bottom. The remedy is to skip meals one day a week and the following day feed them a quarter of a green pea (cooked, cooled and skinned) which helps them "go" again. Supposedly this keeps them in better condition. So I'm trying it today.

Some redundancy here; but I'm writing this mostly to remind myself of what to do to care for my little pets properly.

Edit 8/27/16: No, it was not ammonia poisoning that caused that lump under his chin. I have found what matched his symptoms: it was probably some kind of cancer or lymphocystis, also known as 'cauliflower disease.' Lymphocystis is a viral infection, it isn't necessarily fatal but there is no treatment as far as I know. Affected fish die because it weakens them and they are more susceptible to other illnesses, or if the growth blocks their mouth and they can't eat. I don't know if the one on Flash was affecting his gills or stomach.