28 February 2014


It seems very early, the ground is still frozen (and the bases of my jug greenhouses) but I have a few little seedlings sprouting. Romaine Lettuce.


I have been waiting impatiently for my Cyclamen to grow back, and slowly it is doing so.

27 February 2014


Coleus is still my favorite plant right now. It is just so stunning, and it grows so fast. The cuttings in jars have nice threads of roots now, I could plant them as soon as I get some more potting soil.
And since I pinched off the tops and side stems to create those cuttings, the main plant has sprouted tiny pairs of leaves wherever a main leaf joins the stem (I'm sure there's a botanical term for that part of a plant, but I don't know it). The baby leaves seem to have more color than I remember new leaves having before.

26 February 2014


Took a look at my worms again, when I fed them. I'm giving them less food that I did at first- skipping some of the days the little bucket fills up and stashing that in the freezer for later. Until there are more worms. Which there might be, because I noticed this time that many of them have a thickened collar near the head end, which I believe means they are maturing.
Other notes- the worms seem to be more evenly distributed, I find them easily crawling in all parts of the bin. The material is still loose enough, not too packed and crumbly, seems to be breaking down faster. Feels a bit like dirt at the bottom, although there is still a lot of newspaper bedding in there. But things are definitely progressing!

25 February 2014

more red!

from the Poinsettia, doing its own gorgeous thing

20 February 2014

just because they are pretty

took a series of photos of Coleus leaf as they grow from small emergent
to large, beautiful, more intricate pattern

18 February 2014


I've cut off the Coleus stems that were drooping down and looping back up, to start more plants with.
Sitting in water jars:


on the balcony: the Autumn ferns lived up to their reputation and stayed more or less green all winter.
The others are in sad shape but at least they still appear to be alive

17 February 2014

mini geranium

growing back already, from its recent trim

spring is coming

I spent some time cleaning up my balcony, sweeping out the corners and rearranging the pots, away from shelter of the apartment wall to the edge where they can receive the sunshine that's beginning to come out more. Some things are growing back already! The Green Onion pot has small new shoots
the Sage some tiny new leaves
and the Dogwood tree red-tipped buds.
I am not sure at all if my miniature Rose
or Rosemary will recover (they both look terrible)
but have more hope for the Geraniums.

16 February 2014


I examined the depths of my worm bin. Just wanted to know what was going on down there. Pleasantly surprised that it appears more or less fine. The bin stills seems too full so I removed the top layer of bedding- which had very few worms in it- they were all in the lower layer. Put the loose bedding from the top in the second, empty bin. Then fluffed up and mixed around the lower layer of stuff. It wasn't as gross as I'd expected. Most items unrecognizable, not much mold, just a few fruit flies, even the smell was tolerable. It appears to be damp enough- the worms all had glistening moist skins- and no pools of water in the bottom of the bin. But it was a bit compacted down there so I fluffed it all up thoroughly, using some old utensils that have been set aside as garden tools. After mixing it all up the existing bedding + food waste + worms filled the bin 2/3 again so I didn't put the old bedding back on top. Just recovered with cardboard sheets. Will save that top bedding for when I need it later. (On the left here is the fluffed bedding, on the right the reserved bedding off the top layer).
I did carefully sift through that several times to find the worms that were in it- found a dozen or so- and transferred them back over to the home bin. My two-year-old wanted to help find the worms and insisted on holding each one before it went back in the bin.
I am not sure how big they are supposed to get, but they appear healthy enough.
There only seems to be the same amount of worms that I started with- or less? - I saw no signs of baby worms or cocoons. I added some eggshell, ground into as fine a powder as I could. Kid helped with that too, she liked sprinkling stuff in for the worms.


a few more seeds into one more re-purposed milk jug. My boyfriend brought these back from Holland for me some time ago (I've been keeping them in the fridge). I planted Pansies and ornamental flowering Tobacco (Nicotiana).
the seeds very tiny


I received some beautiful Dutch tulips for valentine's day.
Love the colors.
Every time I see them I smile
and remember that spring is coming.

15 February 2014

fish day

again posting a little late; I usually do maintenance on friday. The tank still has good parameters, still no Nitrates even though I fed the plants last week- and to my dismay the pH is still climbing. It's 8.2 now. I thought perhaps from crusty white stuff that accumulates on edges of things exposed to air- mineral deposits where water evaporates away. When I refill the tank it reaches those deposits sometimes, maybe re-dissolves them into the water? so I took extra care to clean that off all around the upper rim. But not sure that's the issue here...
I took note of plants. The driftwood fungus is growing back, but not nearly as much this time. My Anubias have new leaves, and the floating Watersprite is growing little root hairs that hang down. The Amazon Sword and Rotala don't look nearly as robust as the other plants. Lots of Vallisneria has brown algae and some leaf decay but there is new stuff growing too so I think those will bounce back.

I took a risk and moved the two best plants out of small now-empty tank which I'm not going to keep around. But want to ensure they don't spread disease back into my main tank so I gave them a bleach dip (after reading lots of various recommendations online). This was a 1:20 bleach/water solution, the plants stayed in for two minutes, timed exactly, then were rinsed extensively (more than a dozen times, I lost track) with gallon of dechlorinated water until not the faintest scent of bleach remained. Then I rinsed a few times more for good measure. Hopefully this will kill any pathogens that might be on the plants. I moved over a Java Fern and lovely big Anubias.
I never noticed before the pretty striations on the underside of the Anubias leaves. The leaves are also rounder than the other Anubias I have.
This one was already gripping strongly onto the decor piece it had been tied to in Hector's tank. I've found it's very difficult to tie a plant onto a piece of wood with wet thread floating around in the water, and I don't want to lift the wood pieces out w/all the other plants attached. So instead I wedged this one a little bit and held it down with a stone. It's the big one in front here (see the Zebra Fish?)
The other moved plant was a Java Fern- also pretty healthy as it has a little baby plantlet under the biggest leaf. Tied the plant as best I could onto the driftwood, also removed two of the largest baby plants from a Fern in the tank, and tied them down in their own spots. They broke away from the parent leaf easily. There's one more baby still on the leaf, I'm waiting for it to get a bit larger. You can see it here with the long fuzzy roots reaching down. The babies I moved are second to the right in the first picture top of this post, next to the parent plant. I held those down with a few large pebbles too (didn't tie very well).
The fish themselves seem to be doing well. Look like they've grown some. They gather quickly at the surface when I lift the lid at feeding times. Still when I glance in the tank I can usually spot six or seven Danios moving about in the upper water level; the eighth one Blip is always swimming low right above the substrate, weaving between watersprite stems. Also looks paler than the other fish. I wonder if he's just picked on, smaller, the omega fish as it were. Or if he's not as healthy...

14 February 2014


on my greenhouse jugs winter sown


I have been wondering a little at the state of my worm bin. First, because I rarely see any worms. Just one or two here and there. But then, I don't dig deep into the bin. It turns my stomach a bit to see decomposing food bits that close up. Different from the composting I used to do outside, where working with the pile was usually done at arm's length- or the distance of a spade's handle! The worms all seem to be in the lower depths of the bin right now. I think I filled it with too much bedding when I first set it up, it is all the way up to the top. But since I add my scraps wrapped in newpaper, I don't think it matters too much.

My main concern was that every time I open the bin, water rains down from the underside of the lid. It seems very moist but again I think this might be okay. The bedding is not soaking wet, there are no pools in the lower levels when I push stuff aside, and when I lift the entire bin off its supports, there is no water dripping out the bottom. On the contrary, there were sprinkles of dry brown stuff.
I think these are worm castings! So the apparently the system is working. I brushed up the little bit of castings and top-dressed a plant with them. The Coleus, as that one seems to be actively growing more than any other plant right now.
It will be a long time yet before I have enough castings or vermicompost to repot plants with and feed them all, but none are ready for the extra nutrients until spring time anyways.