31 August 2015


Most people pinch the flower spikes off coleus, but I've been leaving a few on the plant
They're not at all impressive,
but a hummingbird visits them. We've seen it frequently- it even flies over to the tomato plants and I think visits the tithonia too. The other day my four-year-old saw it and she was so excited she was squealing: "Mommy, come quick! I saw the hummingbird! I see it! I see the hummingbird!"

I am not at all good at getting photos of regular birds, so I don't even try to get one of the hummingbird. I just watch it and marvel.

30 August 2015


mexican sunflower blooms

fresh herbs

I caught a cold and two days in made myself some rosemary tea.
Then a second mug.
I felt loads better the next morning, had one more cup of rosemary tea and this cold seems beat. Woke up the fourth morning with a sore throat, but the rosemary plant looks too small to eat more of it.
So I dug dandelion roots from the backyard and roasted them. In the toaster over, it's a lot faster than before when I used the big oven. Delicious nutty chocolate-like smell. All the kids kept coming into the kitchen: "mommy, what are you cooking? what are you making?" then disappointed it was something they actually wouldn't like. I steeped it half coffee/half dandelion root. For the extra vitamins. Later in the day, sore throat all gone, it's as if I never had a cold.

And turns out C. likes the dandy coffee, so I'll be making more of this. Maybe it will be a regular thing in cold-and-flu season. Except I've dug almost all the good-sized roots in the yard, have to let the rest grow...

29 August 2015

snails and fishes

Well even if the plants are still not at their best, my fishes are all doing fine. The barbs move so quick it's hard to get a photo that's not a blur (although this shows nice form)
I did get a decent picture of Buster
The newer barbs seem to have settled in nicely- their colors are just as bold as the older females' and I can only tell them apart now because they're a bit smaller.
Here's two kuhlis wiggling around so busy all the time- I just wish the striped ones were as robust as these guys
and Ramsi the snail hanging onto a slender leaf.
I have both tomato nerites in the same tank now. You'd think a creature as simple as a snail can't tell the difference between itself and a nerite of a different shell, but I think they do. I've occasionally seen a tumpet snail crawling over a nerite, and once the ramshorn briefly on a nerite shell. Never Dimple or Bumblebee Snail with another kind of nerite. But very frequently now I see the two tomato nerites on each other.
They have definitely found each other.

tenner inhabitants

They're all doing well. Oliver looks great.
The otos are nice and fat. Scummy looking glass there, because I leave the back wall uncleaned for them to nibble and scrape on. A month and a half, now. I'm starting to feel confident these two will stay with me.
Anbuias growing new leaves,
but all the older ones have gray/black algae marks. So I still need to adjust something...
When I put that grassy plant in the other tank, a bit broke off and I stuck it in here (back corner). It's doing better than the other two.
There's also a bit of rotala and some water wisteria stems I put in here to see if it would grow, because I'd rather have live plants in the back than those plastic ones in the corner. But they aren't big enough to get a picture of yet. Also some long strands of java moss are showing up here and there in the tank.

Java fern is grown, both the smaller plants on there have new leaves, and the largest holds on by itself now.


in the fishtank- I'm not sure. Some of my plants are doing better, others look awful.
Newer plants- the windelov java fern is busting out babies. Look at the bottom of the pics- little fiddleheads uncurling on every rhizome,
and baby plants growing off the ends of leaf fingers, with long fuzzy roots hanging down. It looks kind of crazy and messy, but soon as I figure where to situate them, I'll detach the young plants. (I don't like this mountain of a fake root anymore, except that it's fun to see the kuhlis climb up it, want to replace with some real wood pieces, shorter.... )
I tried this bunch of grass-like plant annoyed now I can't remember the name of it or find the package label- it's not a microsword or hairgrass or vallisneria but something else. Anyway, it seems to be dying here. Maybe new foliage will grow as it adjusts, not sure.
The temple plant hygro compacta doesn't seem happy here. It hasn't grown any new leaves and is just deteriorating.
All I can say of water wisteria is that it's still alive.
My crypts are looking better, on the other hand- leaves increasing in size, newer foliage still has good color (holding off the algae more or less).
The anubias has a new shoot.
Vallisneria is putting out runners and baby plants (lower left)
Rotala could still be greener
and although the smaller aponos are starting to stand up taller and have presence in the tank (I notice them when walking by) they're both doing poorly lack of plant food last week I gave them root tabs this maintenance day. Good news is there was hardly any soft algae to rub off the leaves this time.

24 August 2015

aloe vera

C's big aloe vera plant has grown amazingly since I moved it into a sunnier spot.
And a few weeks ago I discovered it had three pups in the pot.
I wanted to just remove the pups out but couldn't do that without knocking everything out of the pot, so put the pups back into the original pot (they have plenty of roots)
and the parent plant into a larger pot. It's unhappy with the transition. I never do well with aloes once they get so large- unwieldy and prone to getting knocked over... Might just keep the pups and let the bigger plant go. Sunny spots will be in demand soon with the days getting shorter. I have plants outside that will need to come in...
I moved the other little aloe from kitchen windowsill next to these. It's obvious it wasn't getting enough light in the kitchen spot- look at the difference! (Maybe also because the new pups grew a lot bigger before I separated them off the parent).

23 August 2015

leaf variation

in nicotiana plants
some are narrower, others wider, some have smooth edges to the leaves, others a bit wavy. I've wondered if it's just individual variation due to growing conditions, plant genetics? or just the amount of water- my avocado plant gets wavy leaf margins when overwatered

22 August 2015


I still can't get over how much this plant has grown, how vigorous and bold. It definitely prefers to be outside! It now comes up to my hip, standing alongside.
My hand in the foliage, for size demonstration.
Every so often I turn it around so it grows evenly; the scent when you disturb the stems is lovely, crisp and sweet. Even its backside looks impressive.
I never knew this plant before someone gave me a sorry-looking abandoned specimen two years ago. Now I want more. I've seen other color varieties in the store, it would be lovely to have one in each corner of the deck. Such a carefree, gorgeous thing.