31 August 2016

knocked out

I put my fish to sleep and woke him up again.
This was the procedure (edited 9/4 to add):

I got together all the necessary items after reading several sets of instructions online. Bought pure clove oil at a health food store. I put a gallon of fresh conditioned water in my small bucket, and a small amount of water in plastic box. Put a tee fitting on two pieces of airline and ran a small airstone in each container with the pump. Put a small amount of water into a plastic baggie and added just one drop of clove oil. Shook it to dissipate the oil (it has a very strong scent!) Caught the fish- that was easier than I expected. I gave him a flake of food, held a clear plastic cup at the ready and just scooped him up from the surface when he was focused on eating. Put him in the plastic box of water. Added a small amount of oil-infused water. Watched the fish for ten minutes.

Nothing happened. I added another portion of water with clove oil. Still nothing. He just cruised in circles testing the boundaries of the box. I put another drop of clove oil into the baggie, shook it again, dosed his water again. This time he reacted- jerked around and dashed at the corners trying to escape the container. Started moving sluggishly and finally lay still near the bottom but when I put my hand in to hold him close to the side of the container he thrashed around again. I dosed another amount of clove oil water, waited another ten minutes. Again he reacted when the oiled water went into the container, gasped around at the surface, jerked about the corners and spit out the flake of food he'd eaten. People say this is not stressful for the fish, they just go to sleep but he sure looked alarmed to me. But of course when he finally fell asleep I was able to do a close inspection without further distressing him.

It was kind of freaky to see him finally lie completely still, fins held stiffly, his body drifting a bit with the current from the airstone. When I moved him with my hand he twitched a bit and I saw his gills moving, so knew he wasn't dead. (Clove oil is used to euthanize fish). I was able to hold him close to the side of the plastic container for a look with the loop and a photograph.
I got a close look at the thing w/magnification, but still don't know what it is. This was the best my camera could do. It was still pretty indistinct. I was feeling disappointed at not being any closer to an answer, and then my husband suggested we put the fish under the microscope. I felt like this was risky- all the instructions say to keep his water well-aerated while he's under, so taking him out of that worried me. But we did it. Put the fish carefully on a shallow dish and looked at him with 400x magnification. It was really cool to see the iridescent sheen up close on his scales. I couldn't tell much more about the thing on him, though. It looked like a semi-translucent blob- the body of an organism- with perhaps a small or broken appendage sticking out. The camera fitting was unable to get a picture though, because Oliver's color is so dark it wouldn't take a photo.

And he started acting stressed, raising his head in jerks so I quickly put him back in the container, then moved him to the fresh water in the bucket. It took him a long time to come around, which was alarming. I don't know if I'd kept him under too long- and I worried for a while that I'd given him brain damage from oxygen deprivation! For quarter of an hour he just drifted around with the current, belly up as if dead. Then he was able to right himself and moved around slowly against the bucket side, just moving one pectoral fin that was free in the water, the other one still. Tail down, head barely up- I kept moving the airstone near him to assist his breathing. I added another half gallon fresh water to the bucket. After a long while he started using all his fins, but still swam erratically, looked groggy. It was almost two hours before he was back to normal and I felt comfortable returning him to the tank.

Phew. So now I know how to anesthetize a fish, but it was kind of nerve-wracking. And seeing how he jerked around distressed when the clove oil was added to his water, I'm not so sure that using that is the most painless form of euthanasia. Knocking a fish on the head or stunning them with ice water would seem quicker. But I'm glad I have it on hand and after putting my photo and description of what I saw under the microscope on the forums, I got some useful feedback that helped me to diagnose- see following post.

hospital cycle

Last dose of Oliver's treatment with PraziPro was monday. Tuesday I did several partial wc to remove the medication. He still looks fine- eats eagerly, good color, no clamped fins.White thing on his body unchanged. I had not been doing daily checks of the water quality during treatment, since I didn't want to fret about it too much and was doing twice-daily wc on his tank anyway. This morning I tested the parameters- Ammonia 0.25, Nitrite 0.5, Nitrate 5. So crap, the hospital tank is cycling. Doing another wc right now. Later today I'm going to anesthetize the fish and get a close look at the thing on him w/the loop. I don't want to just pull it off if it's some kind of parasite that has a head buried under his skin. If it's something just hanging on w/hooks like anchorworm, that might be the right thing to do...

29 August 2016

celosia pinks

Some of my celosia have bloomed a lighter shade, pinks and creams. I went out to take a few pictures.
One of the plants toppled over during our last heavy thunderstorm. I was going to just cut it back (and plant maybe some young echeveria in its place) but when I looked closer saw that it is sprouting new blooms along the horizontal stem, thus growing numerous upright flowers. None of the other plants do this- all their blooms are just on the terminal end, none along the stem. So I think it is in response to the position of the fallen plant. It is so cool I let it be, even though it is trailing across the grass and in the way of the lawn mower.
Celosia is definitely a magnet for insects. I have not managed to get many pictures of them, but I've seen big fat bumblebees, smaller carpenter bees and even smaller flies and wasps working methodically across the broad pink and red blooms. I've seen these wasps with incredibly skinny waists on the celosia, several times a pair of them mating. Here one on the nearby coleus. And the other day I saw that delicate little butterfly the gray hairstreak, rubbing its wing tails together which always fascinates me. Of course when I ran inside to get the camera and came back out, it was gone.

I got a compliment on this planting recently. I had stooped to pull some weeds from the succulents around the stump and a neighbor walking her dog paused to tell me how nice the plants looked around my mailbox. It made me feel good (especially because the lawn is in terrible shape, which I'm also trying to work on this year).

28 August 2016


Over the past two weeks I've done a bit of rearranging in my main tank. Last week I took out the buce log, trimmed off all the oldest, algae-infested leaves (BBA is mostly gone now, not showing up anywhere else) and cut off the near end of it so I could rotate it a bit and bring it closer to the front, out from behind the clump of crypt wendtii. While I was at it thinned out some vallisneria in the corner, and untied all the watersprite from driftwood anchors. That wasn't working. I've gone back to pegging them into the substrate until they can root themselves. But can't find my plastic strips (and I haven't been buying milk in plastic jugs lately) so I clustered all the watersprite together, broke a cheap wooden chopstick nearly in half and used that to pin them down.

This week I moved forward all the hygro and ludwigias, uprooted the crypt wendtii that's in the background and took it from the basket to plant into the substrate, and moved the last three big aponogeton crispus into the background.
It doesn't look a whole lot different. But I like it better so far. I knew that uprooting some plants would spike the nitrates (even though I kept a hose ready and siphoned out for the water change each time I pulled a plant up, to remove as much of the released mulm and debris as I could) so I dosed lighter on the ferts this week. Even so, there's lots of that fine, almost-translucent algae on the surface of many leaves now, it's like sparse, very fine fur if you look closely. Also more thread algae growing in the watersprite and rotalas, I groomed them again.
But other algae have kept at bay, and the green spot and black marks that show up on older crypt leaves when that plant is hungry are dissipating. I noticed finally that the biggest crypt was looking brown again, then kind of bronzed and purplish all over. Gave it some root tabs and now it is recovering. I don't know why I always forget to put the tabs in soon enough, for the heavy root feeders.
One plant I'm really pleased with lately is the bacopa caroliniana. It's nearly reached the ceiling and looking very pretty. Upper leaves are larger than the lower ones- I suppose because they get more light? Rotala indica I did have to trim some stems of it this week, because they were at the surface. That felt like an accomplishment.
I am not sure how to make the plants look nice together, now- the aponos really have the appearance of a column in the center of the tank that rises up and seems to spread out across the top where hornwort matches the paler green color. I'm not sure yet if I like that.

26 August 2016

front yard stuff

I am very happy with the succulents around the tree stump in our front yard.
Glad didn't get the stump ground out- the kids like jumping on it.
A few of the celosia growing around it had gotten tall enough they looked out-of-place. I took advantage of a few days of rain (the ground really damp) to dig them up and transplant to the front porch spot. They took really well- only a bit wilted the first day and now recovered. They're here between the peony on the left and pinks of coleus and sunpatients on the right. The taller celosia far right is one that was planted there in spring (coldframe-started, so it had more growth).
View of it from above, on the house side. I'm going to put more peonies here next year, but for now the other plants are starting to fill it out nicely enough.
Nearby is the rhubarb. While it's done okay here because it gets moisture from a drippy faucet, it also gets damaged by people reaching in to connect or use the hose. Once the weather cools off a bit to avoid too much shock, I'm going to move it to the back planted bed, which now gets too much sun to be a shade garden!

25 August 2016

mushrooms and purslane

My husband called me outside to see these interesting mushrooms that came up around the mailbox.
Never seen anything like them. Very pale with hints of yellow-green.
Because of them I was looking closely at things in that patch, and saw that my flowering purslane here is producing seed. The seeds are in these little cups
I started collecting them, tipping out into a tupperware.
This one you can see the cap on the seed cup starting to come off.
They are very very tiny and gray, wrinkled texture. I tried to find out more about saving flowering purslane seed- I want to know if I plant these next year, will I get more plants with the same color flowers or will they revert to another form.

But all the info I found online about purslane seed is for the common purslane grown as a food item- the leaves and stems are edible, so are the seeds I found out. Some people collect them en masse- uprooting the plants and sifting the seeds out over a screen. Those seeds are black. Are mine gray because it's a decorative variety of plant? not sure.

I'm saving as many seed as I can so I can grow more of this in other parts of the yard next year. I bet a lot crop up on their own around the mailbox, so I could always just transplant them too.


Those seedlings that came up on their own are not nicotiana, or echinacea. I recognize them now.
It's borage! My borage reseeded itself. A lot of the parent plants have died off now. I wasn't expecting a second generation in the same season. Going to dig up and move a few into other parts of the garden.

24 August 2016


I tried to take a sample off Oliver's skin and view it under the microscope. To see if he really has flukes. They should be visible with a regular handheld magnifying glass, so I figured viewing at 400x under the microscope, a fluke would look big in the viewing field. My husband has an attachment for his manual camera to go on the microscope, and showed me how to take a few photos. But all I found was little bits of stringy things, looked like fragments of plant fibers (hornwort maybe)
that little thing on the left looks like a tiny hydra
this one also looks like a hydra to me
and lots of irregular blobs.

But nothing definite with mouthparts or hooks to grab a fish. Does this mean he doesn't have flukes? The white thing is still on his skin. Or could it be that if that thing is a fluke, it hasn't multiplied itself yet. I'm feeling more and more like I just want to pull it off him. It obviously distressed him to be held in the net for a skin swab though, using tweezers would be a bit trickier...

He is doing fine in the QT so far. Not stressed, eating fine, colors looks great. Not jerking around looking irritated anymore. He likes to hang near the surface resting in bits of watersprite. I don't know if just because it's an easy place to rest, or because he feels a need for more oxygen...?

(I have used the microscope a few times before to look at things out of the fish tank- once to see strands of algae and another time to look at the margins of plant leaves- vallisneria has little teeth, a serrated edge and sagittaria does not, so I was able to confirm that the plant someone sent me was a val, not a sagittaria.)

23 August 2016

into the QT

I gave up trying to cycle the QT. I did everything I could think of to give it an 'instant cycle'- I swapped sponges off the little filters, sterilizing the QT one (which had only been in there half a day) and moving over the one from the main tank, which should have plenty of bacteria in it. I siphoned a handful of gravel out of the main tank, tied it into a piece of pantyhose and put that in the QT near the filter. Dropped in a few snails and a food wafer (the snails congregated on it, so they're feeling fine). Checked on the water quality a few times each day. Did another water change to see how that alters parameters. Ammonia is still worrisome- it's 0.5, when I do a water change that brings it down to 0.25 but it goes back up again.
However I felt I had to do something- Oliver was looking lethargic, his face getting pale in splotches and his eyes cloudy. (Picture of him in the salt bath the day before yesterday- not a very clear image but I really like how the lens of his eyes are visible here if you look close.) This could be because I took his heater out and all of a sudden it got cooler at night- so his tank temp dropped to 76º.  It was a mistake to not just go buy a second heater. But I still wanted to treat him in QT- not sure exactly what this thing is on his side; if it doesn't respond to the fluke meds and I need to try something different that could kill plants or snails, I don't want to do that in his home tank.
So. The best results I've had using QT in the past is when I did frequent small wc anyway. I moved Oliver over this morning. Tried to get a few closeup photos of him in the cup, but he didn't like being in there so I quit trying to take pictures and moved him into a plastic baggie to float. Acclimated him for half an hour, now he is cruising around the tank inspecting stuff. Doesn't look stressed. I dosed the tank with a half teaspoon of PraziPro. I'm going to do 25% water changes twice a day, which will turn over 50% of the water each day while he's in there, to keep ammonia in check and the water really clean. I'll re-dose the estimated amount of meds that get removed with each water change- so for every two and a half gallons replaced, dose 1/8 tsp or a dash.
I do think it's the nicest-looking QT I've ever set up. Hopefully all those silk plants I added will start harboring some of the good bacteria (if the fish is in here for a week or more) and make him feel sheltered enough to be relatively comfortable.


Starting to clean up the garden. I have cut a few bunches of herbs to dry (more on that later) and took out all the green bean plants today. It is a relief not to see sickly plants in that area anymore. I don't want to eat any more of my green beans anyway, they don't look good. Curled and mottled pale ugh.

Waited for a cool night so I could get the plants into a trash bag with most of the whitefly still resting on them. Cleaned up all the leaf litter from around the plants too, as it is probably full of disease the insects have spread. Either the cool weather or my hand-removal is helping- I found less whitefly on the broccoli plants than before. I wiped undersides of the foliage again and found fewer whitefly eggs/larvae than before, and only four caterpillars. Also some white specks on the yellow traps, so maybe that helped some too. I'm going to rinse them off and re-apply the sticky stuff.
Pit that the chrysalis of the white cabbage butterfly is a pretty thing -I squished it.

I am going to smother this plot (where the green beans were) with shredded cardboard, compost and leaf mulch, and hope for better luck next year. At least the soil looks good- rich, black and crumbly- and there's lots of worms. I disturbed at least half a dozen this morning. They look healthy. Crawl away quicker than you'd think a worm can move.

21 August 2016

QT frustration

I have stuff to note about the front yard, and the garden, and my loosing battle against whitefly- pitched too late. But instead I'm preoccupied with the fish. This morning I set up the QT tank.

This is what I did: rinsed dust off all my QT equipment. Set up the 10 gal tank w/half new, treated water. Put in the QT sponge filter on an airline. I took half the older bio-cubes out of the base of the filter in the tenner, replaced w/new ones, and put the old ones in the QT filter. Squeezed out the tenner's sponge into the QT tank. Moved some sacrificial plants into the QT from my main tank- loose pieces of hornwort, baby watersprites, some subwasser tied onto stones that I don't like because the stones are too white and show up against the substrate. Also a handful of spirodela polyrhiza floaters from the tenner. Added five more gallons of water from the tenner, in the process doing another water change on Oliver's tank. Moved over the heater (I only have one that size now and the plants/snails in tenner will be fine w/out a heater for a week or so, it's still warm enough ambient temps here). Now my QT was ready, half new water, half tank water, some live plants and some fake plants & hidey holes, filter and heater running.

I let the setup run for half an hour and tested the water. No Nitrite, only 10 Nitrates but it had 0.5ppm Ammonia. I was hoping by moving in some material from the established filter in the tenner, and some plants from the other tank, I'd have enough good bacteria to get an 'instant cycle.' Guess that's not the case. Debated whether I should throw in some trumpet snails to provide ammonia and boost the cycle, wait a day or two to move the fish, or put him in anyway and do daily wc to keep ammonia down. Then I'd have to re-add the medication to keep the dose steady for prescribed amount of time...

Meanwhile I did another partial wc and went to the store, bought a handful of fake silk plants to add in there. Want it to be full enough the fish isn't stressed by feeling exposed. Came home after an hour shopping and cut all the silly pink and purple flowers off the fake plants. Checked the tank- still 0.5 Ammonia. I did another partial wc of 2 gallons. Rinsed the fake plants in the bucket of tank water. Set them all in there, added some clippings of arrowhead on the back thru holes in the lid skirt, tested the water again. Still 0.5! I tested my big tank to be sure the test kit isn't wonky- especially since I found two motionless nerites on their backs this morning, and one hasn't moved off since I righted them. Maybe another dead nerite? Nope, Ammonia in the big tank is zero.

I paused to rescue a male cherry barb- he'd got hold of what looked like a strand of hair- kept working his mouth and this long trailing bit of stringy stuff hanging out. Didn't look good if that went into his gut. I caught him in the plastic box that's the lid of my API test kit (use this for all kinds of things) and trapped him against the glass at water surface so I could grab the thread bit with tweezers- that was tricky. He sure didn't want to be cornered. Finally I got it and held on he thrashed himself around like a fish hooked on a line, and then the thread came free. There was a bit of dead plant material on the end of it- that's what he'd tried to eat I guess. Let him go.

Did a bigger water change on the QT tank- fifty percent. This time I double-dosed prime, to try and neutralize the ammonia. It didn't lower the ammonia. Instead it's gone up. Now it's 1.0ppm. I guess the tank is full swing into a cycle and don't know what to do about it. Maybe I'll rinse out the big tank's prefilter sponge and pour it in there. I think I'll wait for tomorrow- it seems to be spiking pretty quickly and since Oliver has had a fifty percent wc on his tank three days in a row, he's in fairly clean water so I think he could wait a day for treatment...

I can see why people don't use QT though.

20 August 2016

something's on my fish

A white oblong bump protruding from his side. Bigger than an ich spot. He is darting around as if irritated.
It showed up suddenly this morning- yesterday I did the usual 50% wc. I did add root tabs for a few plants, and fed him something he usually doesn't get- bits of crushed shrimp pellet (later in the day he got his usual 2 betta micropellets).
I took pictures to try and get a diagnosis on the forums. I think it's a parasite because it looks as if protruding from under the scales, but not sure- doesn't look like fish lice or anchorworm or any other pics I can find online.

I am not sure if this is something I can knock off by giving him a salt dip, or try to remove with tweezers, or if a medication will kill it... Trying to figure that out. Meanwhile, he's eating like normal and doesn't have clamped fins or anything like that.

18 August 2016

above view

of my little garden plots. A while back I moved all the green bean pots onto the garden soil- they used to be in a row edging the garden. Figured their roots that reach down out of the confines of the pot could still add nitrogen to the soil. The other end of that bed (top left here) is all nice blue-green color of the broccoli plants, but they're in sad shape. Attacked by three kinds of caterpillars (I picked loads of them off the other day and fed some to the cherry barbs) and whitefly. I squish as many stinkbugs I can find. I am also ruthless towards japanese beetles, white cabbage butterflies and their larvae.

The plot on the right looks really empty. Because we ate all the swiss chard that was in there, and I had cosmos flowers that got dug up by the chipmunks/squirrels so many times they finally collapsed. Central there is one little cucumber plant. It has flowered, but I'm not sure if we'll get any cukes. I'm not expecting much of it.
The main bed that's been established longer did much better this year (I think just because it had better nutrients for the plants). It looks all empty because we ate what grew! Among the few beets and carrots I haven't pulled yet is this volunteer something from the melon family.
I think a cantaloupe or honeydew from errant seed in the compost?
There is also a little funny ring of seedlings- again I think seeds that sprouted from compost or a squirrel's activities. They grew up around a beet plant and I didn't pull them with weeds them because the beet sheltered them from view. Now they're in empty space I'm letting them grow to see what they are. At first I thought sunflowers or something else from the curcurbit family, but now that the true leaves are emerging they look more like echinacea or nicotiana.

Easy to see these are suffering from bug attacks, too (sigh).

17 August 2016

the catch (and other things)

Didn't get exactly what I expected. I put out eight beer traps last night- five in the vegetable garden and three among the salvia. I did catch three slugs- two big ones from the salvia area and a smaller one near the swiss chard. But the rest? Ants in one. A black beetle near the peppers (sorry for that, I think beetles are good guys). A few earwigs. Some pill bugs. And crickets! More crickets than anything else. Do crickets eat garden plants? I thought they went for decaying material, or fruit. Maybe they fell in by accident.

Wiped the underside of broccoli leaves with my hands again. I'm not sure, but it seems there are less whitefly swarms this morning. Maybe smashing off the larval stages and eggs by hand did some good. Or maybe some got caught on my yellow boards after all. I am seriously considering trashing all the sickly green bean plants and keeping the broccoli, just to continue picking caterpillars off them... A handful more of those today. I tried to identify the ones I don't know- that aren't cabbage loopers. All I was able to narrow down was that they're some kind of moth. If they were butterfly larvae (other than the cabbage white) I would have just moved them to a landscaping plant, not stashed in the freezer for my fish.

Speaking of fish, I am going to have to re-think my food trap. Functionally, it's great. The black kuhlis are ecstatic each time I lower it into the tank. But they're getting injured. It had been four or five days since the last time I used it, and their scratches were healing. I took a good amount of time sanding the edges of the entrance and exit holes with a metal nail file and tiny strips of sandpaper- now the plastic is all scuffed in those areas, but it did feel a lot smoother- at least to my fingers. Not good enough for the kuhlis though. I watched them go in for soaked micropellets. They went through the holes a lot more smoothly than before- not as much hesitation- I think the sanding job widened the opening a bit. But still they got hurt. When all was done and the kuhlis lay around hanging off of green crypt stems and lounging under the subwasser baskets with full tummies, I saw that the two biggest ones (Sluggy and Curly) definitely have new scratches. Must be the trap. I may have to go back to feeding them under a rock. It sure looked more difficult for them, and was entertaining to watch! but not foolproof (sometimes the barbs got the food anyway). However they never sustained scratches from digging under the rock.

Other notes: looks like the lysimachia in the back planting bed is dying. Of the newer plants I have lost completely one heartleaf brunnera plant, and half of the astilbes. Lupine and larkspur are dead. But these ones are fine: heucherella, columbine, bee balm, argyranthemum (although it looks funny, lower foliage has died off leaving tufts of green on the terminal ends of stems). I will have to get a picture of that. The young echinacea I put in this spring are doing great- they're not big yet, but they seem fine through all the heat. To my surprise gerbera daisy plant is steadily growing, while the dahlia remains small, stunted looking- that plant has not impressed me at all. Well, this list definitely tells me what I will be adding to the garden next spring- more of those that made it (I'm glad that bee balm is one of them. A bit disappointed that lupine is not). I just don't want landscaping plants that have to be pampered.

One last note: when I was setting out beer traps, I noticed a big difference in the soil. In the garden where I've built it up continually with my best compost and worm castings plus shredded cardboard, leaf mulch and grass clippings, the soil was nice and loose, dark and soft and full of gleaming healthy-looking worms that moved away from me pretty quickly! I could dig into it easily with my hands. Lovely soil. Makes me hopeful for a better garden next year, if I can pay attention and get on top of bug control earlier. Soil around the salvia in the landscaping bed was very different. Dry, compact, paler in color. I admit I don't give them nearly as much attention. That area gets leaf mulch and compost only twice a year- or when I think of it and have extra after feeding the garden. Only new plants get the rich worm castings when they first get planted. I'm really tough (or stingy) on that set of plants!

This post really got all over the place. I don't usually write one up about so many subjects at once- and without pictures. But it was all on my mind this morning.

16 August 2016

big pepper plant

Well what do you know, this plant is finally making fruit.
It's a lot healthier looking than the three sibling peppers down in the garden spot. I think because up here it avoids the insect attacks. Something is eating the leaves of my other peppers- I can't find any caterpillars or frass, and don't see slug tracks so not sure what is causing the damage. Going to start putting out beer traps again...


Well, I have finally figured out the cause of this disease I see almost every year in my garden. It's whitefly. It causes the mottled, blotchy yellowing splotches on the leaves. I should have realized this a LONG time ago, but somehow for all my reading, I never saw the various symptoms all listed together until yesterday. The leaves have that tackiness, too- from the flies' honeydew secretion.
I have a really bad infestation. I tried two measures yesterday- painted some wood pieces (cedar shims) yellow and smeared with a mixture of vaseline and dishsoap. This is supposed to trap them. I went among the plants picking off caterpillars (there's cabbage white butterfly larvae too- and two other kinds as well) and every time a swarm of whitefly went up, I watched some alight on the yellow panels, and fly right off again. So they didn't get stuck. Then I went out there with a vacuum hose. Supposedly you can suck adults and nymph stages right off the plants. I just tore up some leaves.

It's worst in the broccoli and green beans. At this point I don't think I will get any broccoli heads at all, and the beans I pick are starting to look poorly too. Other parts of the garden aren't quite so bad- there are some mottled spots on the little cucumber plants, and the thyme. Even if I manage to get rid of all the whitefly, I doubt the plants will recover now. I think I should just go out on a cool night- when they're in a stupor- and uproot all the plants, smother the plot with compost and try again next year (with a different crop in that spot).

My daily morning checks on the plants has had some use, this week. I have got lots of small caterpillars off them. Two days in a row I got several dozen at a time, then only ten or so, this morning only found five. So I have managed to lower their numbers just by hand-picking, and now I have some treats saved up for my fish (saved in tiny jars in the freezer). I was also swiping the underside of the worst-affected leaves with my hand, wiping off some adult whitefly that didn't move away fast enough, and lots of the nymphs and eggs. I'd do this with a bleach wipe but it might harm the suffering plant? or maybe I should try with a paper towel dampened with soap or something. I didn't think this would have much effect,  but there do seem to be a few less swarming up this morning...

Going to set beer traps tonight for slugs, too- I think that's what is making ragged holes in the pepper leaves.  Last night it rained. Today it will be way too hot to be out there past 10am. Heat index 109º.

15 August 2016

crazy flowers

This plant I had never grown before, all that time having its seed packet- has become a grand success. I can't believe how lush it looks. I'm planning to start a lot more of it next year and use it to fill in gaps in the landscape.
It does fantastic in the hot weather, and the odd fuzzy flowers get attention for sure. I've even seen one of our neighbors come back from her morning walk to take pictures of it. Here's my latest shots.
I like the flowers that form this broad base and make a kind of rough fan shape.
Others are a lot looser in form, kind of spiky.
It's all nuts!

Edit add: I have noticed bumblebees working their way over the broad, flat sides of these things. I'm glad to serve something to the bees- even exotic and foreign as these flowers look.

fresh eatings

from this past week.
I cut all the swiss chard. There's not much of it.
Made a chard frittata, and it will probably be the only one this year. Oh well! It was pretty good.
Have picked a few of the big tomatoes. The plants are not very prolific, but what they do give us tastes just fantastic. These are the brandywines. A few days later I picked two similar-sized beefsteaks.
Made them into a plate of capresi with fresh mozarella and just-picked basil leaves. Yum! Also a salad one day. Cherry tomatoes go without speaking- the kids help themselves nearly every day and when I can I pick a bowlful and just keep it on the counter for snacking.
There's frequent, but slim, pickings of green beans. Sometimes I save them up in a tupperware until I have enough to make a decent side dish. Or just steam what I've got for the day and everyone gets a total of five or six beans on their plate. It's pathetic. However they don't complain!
And I still have loads of carrot foliage I saved in the crisper. I have been adding this to all kinds of things. I put it in spanish rice instead of parsley- it was good, but really did change the flavor. I have tossed it into soups. I sprinkled some into a spaghetti pie the other day, and added some to my chard frittata, just to have ways to use it up.

I am eyeing a tree in the front yard. It makes pretty pink/purple flowers in spring, and forms hard little rosy fruits in the late summer. They look better this year than ever. My youngest keeps asking me if we can pick and eat them. I think they are crabapples, and I know you can make crabapple jelly. I just want to be absolutely sure I have identified the tree correctly first. Will have to take some pictures or pick a few samples of fruit and leaves, to compare in a book or something.