29 March 2015


unfolding cyclamen bloom- the best plant in my house right now

28 March 2015


I had given up on my baby aloes. All brown. Pulling them up to toss in the compost, but this one actually had some roots growing. So I tucked it back in, just in case it has a slim chance of making it.
Looks awful, doesn't it?

27 March 2015


My pepper seems happy with the increasing sun in the window.
It keeps putting out more buds and flowers, but it's far too early to set it outside again.

26 March 2015

a few more

The herbs were not all. I didn't want to stop there. I mixed the rest of my saved vermicompost with tired dry soil and moved some more plants up to new, bigger pots. First to get a boost were the parlor palms. I'd found this tiny seedling in one pot. My youngest insisted I save the baby plant, to see what it grows into.
The biggest parlor palm was very crowded- its roots all growing round in a tight circle. I started loosening them out,
then kept going, worked all the soil out of the root ball because I kept finding these guys!
They were in the last bit of vermicompost saved in the bag, too. I thought surely they would have died out by now- the compost has been stored in that bag for four months, with just the moisture it retained and some holes punched for air. Seems the worms survive- every time I get the compost out to mix into some soil, I find a few baby worms, and many that have full girth but are short in body length, stunted perhaps. I'm also continuing to find worms in the soil of my potted plants- I'd read that a pot is not good habitat for a worm and eventually they will just die. But mine aren't. Maybe I don't let my pots dry out enough between watering. I have to figure out how to get the worms better separated from the compost, before I use it on the plants!

Back to them. The second palm got leaner soil mix, as I was nearly out of vermicompost when I started working on it. It wasn't quite as rootbound, but I spread its rootball (both got a slight trim to the roots too) and moved it up as well.
Here they are together, in their new pots.
The other plant that got refreshed was coleus. Not looking so good lately. I tipped it out, cut its head off, repotted the base
and put the cuttings in water to grow new roots.
I would have done more- my schefflera could use a bigger pot too, but I'm out of fresh soil until I harvest from the bin again...

herbs new and old

Few days ago I helped my boyfriend's sister plant some hosta, herbs and roses in her yard. It wasn't a big job, but I wanted to enjoy having my hands in the dirt again (sans gloves). She gave me some cuttings off her rosemary
and thyme. I'm glad to have a new start with these favorite herbs!
Usual method, I stripped the lower leaves off the stems and dipped them in a bit of rooting hormone powder.
Then cut the tops off, to encourage branching and keep the top foliage minimal while it grows new roots.
And just to see if more would grow, I stuck the cut tops back in the soil too.
I also cleaned up this pot of lemon balm. It's been looking poorly all winter, edges crisped and brown.
But I saw that at the base of the plant, new growth looked healthy. So cut back to that.
And while I was at it, gave my parsley plant a reboost. It has been looking so lovely, but just noticed there are signs of ill health again- leaves mottled pale. This one I upended entirely- loosened the roots and threw away all the old soil. Cut out all the sickly looking stems, gave it new soil, new clean pot, and new shards. If that doesn't clear out the pathogen I don't know what else to do.
Its roots look healthy enough.
In the new pot:

25 March 2015

still going

I thought the poinsettia was done with its modest show, as it is beginning to drop lower leaves. But a few of the bracts are still red- more than I expected.

24 March 2015

spider plant

the stem is growing and growing!

pink nutmeg

So happy with the blooming cyclamen,
and its lovely scent

23 March 2015

baby veggies

Got a picture of the seedlings. Lettuce:
Swiss chard:
and a few broccoli:
Of all the jugs, only four have germinated- and not much earlier than when they'd grow if sown direct into the soil outside. I am not sure if I will use this method next year. I might go back to germinating seed trays on top of the fridge and growing seedlings in cardboard tubes in the windowsill...

the tenner

is not looking so good anymore. I think it's getting too much light. Anubias leaves don't appear as curled, but suddenly I noticed there's small grainy white specks everywhere- on the upper surface of leaves, on the driftwood, on the heater housing.  I'm trying to figure out what this is- it could be what's called biogenic decalcification- basically the plants pulling calcium carbonate out of the water because high light drives them to need it and I'm not supplying C02. But then why would it form on the driftwood and other surfaces, not just plants? I don't really understand it. Anyway, I'd been wondering for a while if my switch to a different light source was too much, just like the error I made with that on the 20gal.

Plus it's too easy to shift, current setup. The happy spider plant pot atop the tank that shades the anubias probably doesn't get put back in exactly the same spot after every tank cleaning, and the desklamp gets nudged around sometimes too- maybe it just got bumped into a different position last week.

The java ferns seem okay though. At least, they are all putting out new little shoots- but they also look peaky and some pinholes again. So this also indicates to me, they might need more now because the light is higher than what other nutrients I'm providing support.

Hm. Time to readjust perhaps. And because I can't get a good picture of the white specks or the tiny green java nubbins, here's a few quick pics of Oliver my beauty instead:

21 March 2015

brief look

at my main tank. I took this photo casually, not careful with the lights and focus and angle as usual. Just for a general impression. What stands out to me now is the reach of rotala stems across the back- most have hit surface and are trailing across. Almost ready to cut them back by half and root their tops, to fill in the background. I've also removed the smaller of rooted watersprite, there's only four plants growing center now. It gave the aponos more root space, and doesn't feel like its taking spotlight quite so much anymore.

20 March 2015


This little schefflera has been growing into a tower since I acquired over two years ago. I've read these can make decent bonsai- you let the plant grow a third higher than you plan, remove the top third and let it grow back. The new growth will branch out. So I'm finally trying this.

It was just over 24" tall
when I removed the top
I stripped the lower branches off the cutting, and stuck it in another small pot. I didn't give this the care usually taken, so it probably won't root, just a chance.

19 March 2015

pink legs

My coleus is getting pretty leggy in the wan end-of-winter sun. Soon here I want to cut it back, root the new cuttings and move the plant into a bigger pot- its roots are coming out the base, too. But waiting until I can harvest more vermicompost from the bin. Then a whole bunch of my plants will get moved up into new pots, soil refreshed.

16 March 2015

I have a baby plant!

A bunch of them, actually. Swiss chard and lettuces sprouting in my greenhouse jugs. Finally!

15 March 2015


Thinking notes. There's one of three things going on in my tank- either

a) the fishes keep getting harmed by flow pulling them against filter intake. I actually saw this happen to Pinkie once, and to a zebra danio earlier, so I know it's possible

b) the fishes are squabbling enough they keep injuring each other- Pinkie could be a main culprit- but he has torn scales himself...

c) I have long-lasting dreaded disease columnaris in there- classic pattern of symptoms it starts as a pale patch on the back, turns into lesions and fungus

So. I've got the fish showing symptoms isolated. Treating with frequent small water changes, salt, lower water temp (74-76°, but the small heater in QT isn't adjustable) and will start primafix tomorrow. There's stronger meds I could order, but for now the case looks mild- although it can advance quickly- if that's what this is.

I've ordered a pre-filter sponge. If they're getting injured on intake flow, this will stop that.

I am considering putting a divider in my ten gallon tank, and moving Pinkie.

I guess it's process of elimination, to see what stops the damage. I just hope I don't loose too many fish in the meantime.

14 March 2015

hospital tank

I bought a new plastic storage box for my QT/hospital tank. It holds five gallons, and has stiffer material, the sides don't bow out when filled with water. I'm not sure what to think of my fishes' condition this morning. Two look the same- the worst one, no more flaky appearance on the head. The area now looks grey with black marks. Is it dying tissue? not sure.
She also looks too fat- constipated? and gills more rosy than normal. Currently not feeding them.
It's hard to get a picture- the fish are shy of the camera, move quickly and the sides of bin are somewhat translucent.


So- the main aquarium is fine. I worried last night because it had high ammonia after I did another water change (brought nitrates down from scary 80 to safe 30-40) but it appears the bio filter is handling it okay- this morning ammonia is near 0. My QT is another matter- I've got three cherry barb females in there. They look perky- not hiding, no clamped fins, only one is pale. I haven't got a good look at their skin condition yet (lights out and the room is dim). People tell me it's most likely a healing injury- from the fish sparring- old skin sloughing off. I still wonder about the filter intake, I'm going to get foam prefilter to put over it.

Now my issue is that the tapwater is high in ammonia- it seems the water company puts chloramine in, and I noticed this happened last year too, on 3/12. I didn't mention it here on the blog, but was asking on the fish forums, because I wanted to know if it was safe to dose extra with prime to nullify the ammonia.

On another note, I'm starting to think I should feed my fishes only 3-4 times per week. Some people do. Cold-blooded animals don't need fuel as often. And I saw this beautiful picture, browsing tank profiles, and my fish have never looked so pretty, so slim.

13 March 2015


It's a good news, bad news day for the aquarium. I finally got all five kuhli loaches into the fish trap to feed. The black ones still enter first, two striped kuhlis were in there when I checked five minutes later, and the last one shortly after. So they're learning! Each time find the way in quicker.
Bad news is one of my cherry barb females seems ill? White flaky patch on the top of her head. Her gills look redder than normal, too. A few days ago I saw a pale strip on one side of her head- it looked squarish so I thought she had run up against the filter. It seemed to be fading, healing, so I did nothing. Then Pinkie got another tear in his scales- from what I don't know
but I tied a bit of pantyhose over filter intake. Turns out that was a bad idea. I guess it hindered the flow too much- next morning I noticed an odd sound and saw the filter had quit running. No idea how long it was out. First thing I tried was removing the pantyhose, then it worked fine again. But another female barb has pale mark on its head, and the first poorly one looks worse- the patch has spread across to other side of head. It doesn't look fuzzy like fungus though, but flaky- almost like skin is peeling off?
I don't know what this is. I put them both in QT, at the very least I can keep their water super clean with extra water changes there. Am asking on the fish forums. It could be bacterial, from injury? or fungus that attacked the injury when my filter was out, or columnaris (god I hope not).

11 March 2015

fish trap

A few times a week, I've been setting the fish trap with food that can be in chunks (shrimp pellets or spirulina wafer) -so the first one in doesn't gobble it all, but has to nibble and they all get a share. With the intent of teaching the kuhlis to go in there, so I can take 'em all out for my rescape day.
The largest three have it figured out- as soon as I put the trap in, the black kuhlis start exploring all over it- this last time they kept trying to wedge themselves under the trap, nearest where the food rested inside- can smell it through all the holes of course. Very determined. Sammy found his way in next, then one of the smaller striped kuhlis. I'm always left with one on the outside, never can catch more than four in a go.
It looks in this pic like there's three striped ones in there, but when I lifted the trap to release them, there were only two, and I definitely saw the last kuhli in the main tank- so I think one was just turned around on himself in there:
Pinkie always looks a bit frustrated that he can't get in, too- he hovers around the entrance, inspecting every angle of it, long after the barbs have given up and swum off!

10 March 2015

spider plants

I have not been so happy with the look of my mother spider plant, it always seems to grow lopsided:
I was starting to think of handing it to another indoor gardener, and just keeping its scions. But look! It's growing new stems for baby plant right now (on the right)
I still prefer the look of its offspring, which is more symmetrical. This one will get moved into a bigger pot soon, and perhaps rigged up to hang. I like them as hanging plants, but can't put screw holes in the ceiling here.