28 February 2016

fused leaf

Noticed this odd form on C's big schefflera plant. Two leaves are fused together along an edge. I don't think I've ever seen this on a houseplant before.

26 February 2016


Finally I'm feeling pleased with my aquarium, again. The plants are starting to look healthy once more, and I was even surprised this morning how quick the maintenance task went, with so few leaves to trim off or algae to clean. Crypt wendtii is looking greener yet
Elodea is filling out its corner- I've been gradually trimming back taller stems and replanting the tops.
If I look back at prior photos, the subwassertang has doubled in volume! The kuhlis really seem to love squirming through this plant. Think I might have to trim it soon.
Vallisneria growing and growing. I really enjoy watching the kuhlis wind their way through these stems- it's becoming a little jungle for them in this corner. I remember when I was so happy the vals had reached height of the heater knob- they're much taller now!
Aponogeton leaves look nice again. I hope I can keep them that way this time!
Bacopa hasn't got many pictures yet- it's kind of in an awkward spot in terms of photos. Here's kind of looking down through the short side of the tank. I haven't trimmed anything off these stems, just waiting to see how they do.
Most of the buces are now sprouting new leaves at a steady rate. A rubber band snapped and this larger one 'selena' is only held on by a small piece end of the roots. But it has newer roots going down so I'm leaving it alone to see will it grip on the wood by itself, without assistance.
I did attack BBA on the buce 'dark godzilla' today. I don't know why this is the only plant seems to have got that nasty algae on its leaf margins. Maybe because it's in a relatively still corner. I took it out of the tank and put it in a plastic box of tank water.
Used a straw to drip hydrogen peroxide on the BBA tufts. There was more than I'd realized. Ugh.
It did bubble some. I don't know yet if I killed it. I left it in there for about half an hour while finished changing the tank water, then wiped the leaves off firmly with paper towel- removed a lot of brown algae that was on the surfaces. It has much better color now, so I'm glad I didn't start trimming leaves. Crossing fingers that stuff will turn orange and fall off.

tenner plants

A few pictures from this week. Really happy my buces are steadily growing new leaves now. A bit larger on the 'Selena'- the rest of them too small to note yet.
Wisteria looking good. It's growing over to the side more than I expected, blocking view of rotalas...
Finally there are more leaves on the hydrocotyle! Five, small.
Pleased at how the smaller clump of wendtii fern is growing.
First time I had to trim any ludwigia in here- just one stem from a corner. Moved over the bit of smaller stem plant there, to make room for it.
No more creeping jenny in here. Last bit came loose- and none of them every grew roots.
All still looks good with the reduced micros dose. That one shorter stem of ludwigia continues to put out warped leaves. Why is one stem affected, and not the others? I gave only 4ml this week.


Pot of baby echevieria is full of greenery!

25 February 2016

seedling report

I have three echinacea seedlings. Out of six or eight planted. I'm babying these on the kitchen windowsill because have had such difficulty getting any to transplant size, in the past. The other tray I sowed never germinated- I think that was from my self-saved seed. When I opened the packets noticed the bought seed was nice and plump, my gathered seed was flat. I'm guessing the seed I saved  myself just wasn't viable.
I have three jugs outside now- marigold, echinacea and hosta- but nothing has grown yet. All the other seedlings in trays are going out into the coldframe house during the day, coming in again at night when its colder. One marigold came up again
some of the peas look poorly
and to my surprise the broccoli seedlings look diseased. Did they get it from the soil?
I'm surprised to have so many nice parsley seedlings. These were from seed I saved off my mom's plants six years ago!
A few cilantro
plenty of lettuce

24 February 2016

the aquariums

I forgot to jot down my notes this past friday. The large tank got adjusted dose of ferts without KN03. No algae on the glass, some on the plants. Since I dropped the nitrate dose the new leaves on aponos are growing slower, but staying clear of algae. It's almost time for more root tabs for them, I think. More buces have new leaves emerging in both tanks, very slowly. BBA is all gone from the sponge prefilter- wahoo!
I cut back most of the rotala tops and discarded lower parts of stems, so that corner looks pretty empty now. To my surprise when I tested it, the smaller tank had higher nitrates than usual- almost 40ppm. When I went to clean the tank, found lots and lots of small, short white fibers floating near the surface. Almost looked like white cat hair. Finally I figured out where it came from- the remnants of leaf petioles on the big anubias. I had trimmed leaves off (it's grown a new one now)
but there was still some old stem material near the rhizome and now this was decaying and coming off as dead plant fiber. Siphoned out as much as I could and reduced macro dose on that tank too- but did not leave out the KN03 in this case. Gave 6ml of micros. I think that was a bit much- was better the week before at 5 or less. Wisteria is looking great, and ludwigias getting close to hitting the ceiling. Warped leaf shape much less- you can see the third leaf set down from top on the smaller one in center here, was twisted and newer ones not so much deformity.

17 February 2016

all the seedlings

are up- well, at least they germinated. I lost all the marigolds to cold and damping off. Only two echinacea of all those sown have emerged, still waiting to see if more will appear. Have cilantro and more parsley than I expected, now. I'm going to sow more marigold and echinacea in outdoor jugs, see if that works better. I feel like I'm out of practice nursing seedlings indoors, and don't have the proper space/light either anyways.

12 February 2016

tenner report

My ten gallon betta tank has different issues from the main one. Here I've had algae at bay for some time now, and the fake skull (Oliver's favorite hideout) is looking whiter than ever. But I've noticed that some of the plants have wavy leaves- can see here the anubias have tips curling down and wavy leaf margins
Ludwigias or alternanthera reineckii (not sure of the i.d.) new top growth looks distorted.
Some of the newer foliage on wisteria has that twisted, distorted look too. This one also has holes too. I thought at first just some die-off of lower leaves that don't get as much light, or pond snails munching- I've caught and squished quite a few out of that corner. But noticed today more holes and they have yellow edges, which suggests a deficiency.
Here's the confusing part: is it something I'm not giving enough of, or something I'm giving too much of? There's been talk on the forums lately of micro excess being toxic to the plants. And that sometimes it can look like a deficiency because excess of one thing prevents the plant from using something else. I don't really understand it, but an easy way to figure out if I'm dosing too much micros is to use less and see what happens. So this week I only dosed half the micros I usually give- 5 ml. My other thought is that it could be an imbalance between mg and calcium...

On the whole I'm pretty pleased with how this tank is coming along. The buces have some melting rhizomes and roots, but there's growth now too. I can definitely see new shoots coming up on this buce 'selena'.
Retied one on this rock that was kind of loose.
And retied both the 'isabelles' onto the wood. Not much to look at yet, but they are growing!
Even the downoi is still here and green- I'm not ready to take its anchor off yet though.

thirty-eight report

Unlike last week, this time around I did a lot of trimming and replanting tops. Trying to discard all the foliage in the tank that's turning black or scummy with algae. But to my surprise when I rubbed the crypt leaves they don't feel slimy or weak at all, and the glass was very clear- no need to clean the inside surface. Wiped it down with algae scrubber pad anyway just to see, and didn't come up with any GSA at all. So maybe I'm getting close to balance. I took all this out:
A few dying leaves off aponogentons and windelov fern, and older leaves from (what I think is) crypt parva, with the longer stems. Cut most of the floating hornwort in half and discarded the ends that were browning with algae- only kept the fresh green ends.
Trimmed at base and replanted tops for some elodea (which had almost hit the surface) and most of alternanthera reineckii hygro compacta, rotala indica and a few ludwigia stems. Discarding all the lower halves which were blackening. But I found fresh new growth at the base of some, so I think the plants were recovering. I could have done this to bacopa as well, but it wasn't in such bad a state so I left those alone for now. There was only a little bit of thread algae to pull off the rotala, elodea and hornwort.
I was thrilled to find another good sign: more new emerging shoots on the buces! 'Emerald green' has finished unfolding its leaf.
'Midnight blue' is a bit slower at that- still just a nubbin of green. To my delight, 'dark godzilla' also was unfurling a new leaf. This one seems to have black beard algae on the edges of its older leaves, but I am so loathe to trim buce leaves for some reason. I took off a few of the worst ones, don't want to do more until it has a least a few healthy leaves unfolded. Several of the buces I can see new white roots going down to grip on things, too. Cheers!
Honestly I have been feeling anxious about the tank all week, thinking it was in the pits. But now things are definitely looking up. I did not have to take any dying leaves off the crypt wendtii this week. Behind them here you can see how thin rotalas are looking since I cut most of their heads off and replanted to get rid of all the dying lower growth.
I was also happily surprised to see the downoi appear to be sprouting new leaves lower on the stem. Didn't expect that really.
In the background here you can see even my crypts in pots are growing- one has roots coming out the side.
I did not touch the photoperiod this week. Nitrates tested at 20-30ppm. I do think it's the amount of KN03 dosage that I need to tinker with now. Unfortunately I didn't make a note last week how much given. I'm still doing the adjusted dose; recommended was to give half the normal dose of KN03 or even less, down to nil. I suspect last week I skipped it entirely, but not sure. This time I dosed 1/16 and I'm keeping track on a piece of paper, what the nitrates are at each week, what I dose and how the plants (and algae) respond following. So I can see which way keeps the tank sparkling clear. It all looks kind of empty now because I cut so much down to get the bad leaves out, but most of the plants in there are clean now. I was itching to move a few- if the crypt parva stays small in size, I'd rather have it more in front... but don't want to disrupt things more.
And- I killed the BBA off the sponge filter! The top half was so nice and clean this friday. Promptly gave the lower half the same treatment- microwaved for three minutes. It seemed already less on this half, maybe dying off because of the improvements. I've also decided to keep the corner sponge filter running, but with lower flow, just enough to rock that corner. Saw that when the airline was off at night, the fishes were hanging out near surface in the morning- dipping up now and then- probably to get oxygen. So I guess not a good idea on this tank to have it on/off. I didn't want it so high the bubbles look annoying though, and keeping it a gentle flow seems enough to keep things even.

Oh, and just for fun you can barely see on that last photo- I tied a bit of subwassertang on the elbow of the filter intake pipe. It was a nice sized bit that came loose when I ran the siphon over the plant, so I tied it there just to see if it will take hold.

11 February 2016


I have more broccoli seedlings up, most of the peas and some swiss chard. I don't usually start swiss chard indoors, its one of the plants that don't like to have their roots disturbed and do better started right in the garden soil. Thought since I'm putting them in biodegradable pots that will go straight in the ground, it might work.

I didn't bring in the seedlings overnight. Went out to peer inside the coldframe house and they looked just fine. Had a small pot of water I'd boiled for something, still steaming hot and I thought to put it in the coldframe. In case the steam and warmth would help the plants, maintain some temperature and moisture from evaporation. We had a few inches of snow yesterday, still the baby plants are fine. This morning boiled water for cocoa and had some left over, I went out and added the steaming hot water to the pot that was still in there. It's noticeably warmer in the coldframe house than outside air, and plenty of condensation drops on inside of the plastic raining down. As long as the seedlings or the cardpots don't start getting moldy, I might keep doing that...

~ Actually, I did not follow the above for long. A day after I wrote this (hadn't posted yet) the temperature dropped- it's very cold this week. I brought my little seedling trays back indoors, but over half of them are flopped over probably killed by the chill. Not all is lost- several seedlings came up in each of the lettuce containers flush to the ground- emerging under daylight- and I can always plant more.

08 February 2016

seedling stuff

Broccoli seedlings are up! I've uncovered all the new sprouts and put in windowsills but noticed they are leaning already. It's a mild day so I put them straight outside in the coldframe house. Will bring in at night.
I sorted through all my seed packets today to make a garden plan. Shoveled out the fireplace and put the ashes on the new garden beds, but they were still a bit hot. Lined the buckets with foil to prevent melting a hole (I've done that before by accident) and then layered the beds with snow before sprinkling the ashes on. Didn't want the leaf mulch to catch fire. Funny though, the back yard is completely bare of snow. There are still half-frozen piles in the front. Probably because the snow was piled higher in front when we shoveled.

So put down ashes and one 25-pound bag of dried manure/humus. Which did not go far. My husband spotted it when he was at the store for something else and thought I'd like to try it out. I'd mentioned that I need a pickup truck because wouldn't it be great to drive to a local horse farm and pick up a load of manure and hay compost for free? He thought the neighbors wouldn't appreciate the smell if I applied that to my garden. And of course I don't want the odor in my car. So this dried and bagged stuff seemed like a good deal. I wonder what my neighbors thought if they saw me shoveling snow off the front lawn into a wheelbarrow this morning...

This is my list of garden plants (and some for the yard): borage, swiss chard, oregano, basil, green onions, broccoli, marigold, cilantro, beets, lettuce, echinacea, tithonia, hosta, cosmos, passionflower, carrots, bell peppers, ancho peppers, chives, dill, summer savory, oregano, parsley, sage, bush green beans, cherry tomatoes, four other kinds of tomatoes, cucumbers. Half of that will be in pots on the deck.

Today I sowed my first milk jug with hosta seed. It's from one of the plants on the old property. I don't know if it's viable seed, but want to try...
Making a list of the plants in order of when I ought to sow them, so as jugs become available I can set them outside. As soon as I had seedling trays prepped I remembered how tedious they are to tend to- keeping the moisture content right, potting up, giving them enough sun (fairly impossible in this house). Better if they just grow up outside in jugs, tough from the beginning.


I made a birdfeeder out of a plastic juice container a few weeks ago. Haven't seen very many birds come to it, but the seed was slowly diminishing. This morning it was suddenly all empty. I suspected a squirrel. When I lifted it down to refill, noticed the wire I fashioned into a loop to hang it by was a bit tangled, made me guess squirrel again. It wasn't until I brought it inside that noticed there was damage. Something had chewed the opening deeper and wider.
I can see teeth marks.
My guess again: squirrel. Why did he do that? Maybe the opening wasn't big enough for him to get his head in easy, so he enlarged it? Now I can't fill as much seed. I got the idea to make this seeing similar feeders in a documentary about birds in Central Park. Those had wire mesh around the opening- I had assumed to give the birds something else to grip to. Maybe it was to thwart squirrels. I have window screening, I don't know if a squirrel could chew through that.