30 November 2012

boxed up

My Poinsettia is now spending nights in a box, covered with a blanket to keep out all light. This is supposed to prompt it to form the "flowers", red leaf bracts. You have to do it very precisely for six weeks straight. I might miss a day, and of course I started way late so if I do get a red poinsettia it certainly won't be for christmas!
Anyway, it's a fun little experiment. My poinsettia is taller and has smaller leaves than those you see grown commercially; because I didn't pinch it out enough? or is it not healthy...? but I think it looks very lush in the sunshine of a southern window.

new green

the Stevia is already growing new leaves!

29 November 2012

green onions

Trying to eat more of my own food, I've been cutting lots of Green Onions.
Put them in quesadillas the other day: yum!
I cut so many from my two pots that when back visiting the old property I yanked up more from where they were growing undisturbed in the old garden and brought them home. Was planning just to cook with them but the roots still looked good
so I dug a few new holes in the two pots on my balcony (they seem to have plenty of room) and added the stumps of onions. Here you can see where the ones I cut earlier have been growing back already, see the tiny new tips near the base of the two left onions?
Now each pot has seven onions.

okra seed

Over the past few days the Okra pods have slowly been drying out. As they dry the sides split (lower one in the picture)
and then they are easy to crack open. The seeds fall out in abundance.
Some have a reddish hue; I wonder if those are from the burgundy variety? the pods are mixed up from both kinds of plants so I don't know.
It seems like a lot of seed from each pod but I don't think this would even make one cup of "coffee" once roasted and ground...


I visited the old property yesterday (to feed my cat while so-and-so is out of town. Kitty regrettably can't come with me to the apartment and still lives there) and walked across the yard to see what ever happened to the brussel sprouts I tried to grow. They were one of the few green things left in the old vegetable garden. Never budded. Frost damage now.

But I strolled around the yard and gathered seed from some of my old plants.
There were lots of hosta seed on tattered flags, I gathered dozens of stems raining thin black seeds.
The birds already got most of the Echinacea seed but I picked a few seedheads anyways.
Even plucked a handful of ripening seed pods off the crepe myrtle near the steps, although I don't know why I would ever grow a crepe myrtle...
And I broke off every single remaining Okra pod. They don't look pretty but if it snows the wet and ice might ruin them? The ones that are splitting I can hear the seeds rattle dry inside when shaken.
I'm guessing the others are close to ripe. Not planning on growing more okra, although I do think the plants are pretty. But curious to try what the roasted seeds are like, just for my own amusement.

26 November 2012

sweet green

My Stevia leaves were good and dried up
so I rubbed them into powder between my fingers
and tipped into the herb jar with the help of a creased sheet of paper.
It doesn't even half-fill the jar. I'm going to have to grow a lot more Stevia! Happily, it doesn't take much, just a bare pinch, to make something sweet. And the plant in the windowsill is sprouting new foliage already. Go plant!

25 November 2012


I just got back from a weekend away for the holidays, visiting my sister. The plants of course, require little attention when I'm gone as long as those that need it are well-watered before I leave. But I did worry a bit about some that like high humidity, so following the idea of creating a humidity tray I set a few of them on an upended container inside a larger one that held water. The evaporating water gives the plant a bit of local humidity. Like this:
The Boston Fern was too big to sit over any container I had, so I simply put it on a short pedestal from an upturned cake pan, inside the kitchen sink with several inches of water.
I think it worked well. They were all alive when I returned, none had even dried out or showed signs of suffering (well, except for the venus flytrap but that one was already in decline).

21 November 2012

tiny leaves

I was alarmed to see that a leaf had dropped off my mini Schefflera this morning. But then peered closer, and it has a tiny sprout of new leaves growing! So I am cheered again.
Other plants recently showing new growth are the Avocado, recovering now from the rather brutal trimming I gave it for the move:
and the Mock Strawberry I tried to turn into a houseplant. It was looking awful about a month ago; I cut it back and let it dry out, now it's just starting to regrow:

19 November 2012


The beautiful Boston Fern has a new spot again. I got this little triangle shelf off craigslist and it was perfect to set the fern in a corner of my kitchen nook. I've been giving it humidity treatments every day- regular misting and visits in the shower. It seems to be responding really well- the foliage no longer is dry and brittle but has a nice, pliant feel like living tissue again. My kid even commented on this: "it doesn't feel like paper anymore, it feels like your other plants now!"
Checking on moisture levels this morning and misting some other plants that like humidity I realized a few things: I shouldn't keep succulents and plants that like to stay very dry (Crassula, Curry Plant, Taragon) next to plants that like to be misted. They get drops of water on their leaves too and that might be detrimental. I know the jade in particular will suffer if its thick leaves get wet too often. So I think I need to rearrange who is in which windowsill.
Also; I think the plants that like to really dry out between waterings (Dieffenbachia, Dracaneas, Spider Plants, the Avocado, and quite a few others) will do better in traditional clay pots than plastic ones. The clay allows the soil to breathe; air actually passes through and extra moisture can respirate through the walls of the pot. I've noticed that my dragon tree plant seems particularly happy in its large clay pot- or maybe it's just happier being root-bound again. Regardless, even though clay pots cost more, are heavier and prone to break (but then you get shards for drainage!) I think I'm going to gradually shift my plant collection: "dry" plants into clay pots, "moist" plants into SIPs! It's a very long-term plan...

18 November 2012

from a walk

I went on a nature walk the other day and noticed this little plant growing around the base of trees. There wasn't much undergrowth alive so it stood out and I thought it kind of attractive. It has dark gray-green leaves, oval shaped with small spikes around the edges, a purplish hue on the underside of the leaves, and curious little seedpods. I have no idea what it is but brought a piece home to try and look it up.
I also saw the twisty vines that climb around the trees, this time with bright red berries growing on them. It's poison ivy. I didn't know before that it would grow so thick up the trees. The bits that I used to pull out of my yard were just little sprigs.

And there were plenty of little wild roses growing everywhere along the path; I plucked a generous handful of hips - some freshly red, others quite dried out- to try another little growing experiment...

repotting the little guys

Took three of my small plants, and gave them each a new pot. I don't have very many small pots so for some of this it wasn't much of a move up, but I hope enough to keep them happier for a while. It's really better to repot in the springtime when they are putting out new growth; at that time I'll probably get some more pots of the proper size.
Here they are in their new containers.
The mini Schefflera moved into a pot that is only a half-inch wider but a full inch or two deeper. Gives it a bit more room which is important; this one was so pot-bound it had long roots coming out through the drain holes and a few even wrapping around the top pot edge at the soil surface.
The poor suffering Venus Flytrap has a new home in the charlie's old SIP container. I also gave it new soil; hope it's not too rich. I'm pretty sure now that it had a salt buildup; when I went to wash my hands after repotting and the water ran over some cuts in my skin it stung like crazy!
The Creeping Charlie moved out of its SIP into a small plastic pot. Not very large but as it doesn't have much of a root system yet I think it will do fine. Mixed a lot of perlite into its soil; I think it needs better drainage and was suffering from "having its feet wet" all the time.
Incidentally, I've finally learned (from reading about plants online again) the real identity of this plant. Whenever I looked up info about creeping charlie before I always ended up reading stuff about the weed that grows in lawns, or other plants that didn't quite seem to match the description or habits of mine. My mother always called it a creeping charlie, and so does her mom (who has the most gorgeous thirty-plus-year old large specimen).

It's really a Swedish Begonia! Also called Swedish Ivy. I don't know much about begonias. But now that I've found a proper name for it, I can read up about its proper care. For example, I found out pretty quickly that it doesn't care for cholorine, so needs rainwater. Of course, another sensitive plant!

I'm still going to refer to it as Creeping Charlie, though, because that name is more familiar to me.

17 November 2012


My sole Bell Pepper plant that traveled here seems to be really thriving in my kitchen! It's doing much better than any peppers I tried to bring indoors every did before. Probably because of the warmth.
It has lots of new glossy leaves growing
and has even given me another small pepper, which I promptly sliced onto a pizza a few days ago. I couldn't wait for it to get bigger!

geranium update

It's taken me a while to adjust to the watering this mini Geranium requires now that it's in an SIP. It seems to like being given a good soak, then let to dry out before watering again (like most plants). I recently gave it another trim, too. Seemed like a good idea so it wouldn't get too much foliage broken during the move.
I'm thinking of giving it a more drastic pruning soon but haven't quite got up the courage to do it yet....

16 November 2012

curry plant

I've moved this one inside for the winter also. It has such a different appearance from the other indoor plants- pale bluish color, small spiky leaves- that it looks odd sitting next to my dieffenbachia. I haven't found the perfect spot for it yet. I like occasionally brushing its leaves for the scent.

15 November 2012

stevia doings

I've brought the Stevia inside to overwinter.
Did more reading about this plant and realize it's not practical to try and save seed, even though it had such pretty flower clusters forming. It's really difficult to germinate from seed so better to try carrying the plant over year to year.
As I don't want the plant putting all its energies into seed I won't use, I've cut it back some.
Saved the leaves to dry for a batch to put in my herb cupboard.
I had to rinse them to get some soil off and spread to dry a bit on a paper towel before bundling into a hanging brown paper bag.
The plant is now sitting on the kitchen windowsill in company of a thai basil.