26 October 2016

salvia and turtlehead

At the end of august, the turtlehead in my yard bloomed. I hadn't looked them up- it was an impulse buy when I went to get ferns in springtime from a neighbor- so I did not realize they would flower at all.
It's quite a contrast, the dark foliage and the pale pink flowers. They don't last long- about a week or two. This is one plant my husband thinks looks like a weed, and I have to keep admonishing him not to pull it out. It does look a bit bug-eaten, but I hope will establish and maybe I can find means of spreading it around. I only have a handful under two trees.

Also a shade plant around trees, the japanese salvia is blooming yellow. These flowers are still going.
I have also wanted to spread this plant around yard. I dug up some that were getting too much sun,
and moved them to circle a tree in the front yard.
The plant divided easily into smaller stems with roots, so I had plenty to go around. Seen from the other side.
I also took some cuttings and brought in the house to see if I can grow new plants that way. The instructions I read for this online said to keep each cutting in a separate jar because some might go moldy and contaminate the other stems if they are together. That turned out to be correct- I lost half the cuttings to mold. You can see here the one on the left is growing roots, the one on the right has white fuzz. Ugh.
I've since potted up two that had the most roots, and have half a dozen left still trying to root in water. They take a lot longer to do this than coleus....

Bonus pic of a daddy longlegs on the salvia.


In early september I noticed some of my tomato plants were getting eaten. I found the culprit- a big fat hornworm. I always thought these were tomato hornworms, but actually the ones I find are tobacco hornworms (very similar). And they grow into a huge, attractive moth. The caterpillars themselves are really striking, but they do a lot of damage to my plants. 
Look how big this one was! I squished it and threw it in the compost.
The red protrusion is at the caterpillar's posterior, its head end is on the left, here.
A few weeks ago I started bringing in my potted pepper plants at night, to avoid the cold. I have my five-year-old ancho pepper plant, and have two bell peppers, one just potted up out of the garden- because the potted one I grew on the deck is leaning sideways- I kept it while the newly potted one was going through shock and to make sure it didn't bring any disease or pest into the house, before deciding which one to keep. We don't eat enough peppers, and I don't have enough winter sun space for plants, to keep all three going until spring.
Anyway- I noticed that not only was the newer pepper plant looking droopy, but it had lots of holes in its leaves. I searched for pests and didn't find any. Then one morning when moving the plant outside, I saw caterpillar frass on the floor around the plant. Around my ancho pepper plant too. I found the first hornworm that day, and disposed of it. It took a lot longer to find the other one on the ancho pepper- it was smaller. I looked a few days in a row before finding that one. Now I think I got them all because there is no more frass showing up on my floor. 

Some info on hornworms from another garden blogger.

21 October 2016

the thirty-eight

This one does not have much different in it. Except that I felt like having a different look, so thinned out how many hornwort stems are pegged to float at the surface, and anchored some down with stones again. Also I have been wondering for a while if small anubias would grow ok in the shade of the big crypt wendtii. So when I saw some in a gel packet at the store last week, I got them.
Anubias nana petite.
I keep feeling iffy about the crypt wendtii cluster. I love how big it is getting, and and the faint stripes- but I don't notice the 'hammered' effect anymore.
And overall I keep thinking they look too dark, they look rather brown, how can I keep them green? Especially how bright green the rotalas are coming up behind and through the crypt wendtii leaves, the contrast is too much.
I rather like how the narrow-leaved hygro looks in front of the aponogetons. Maybe I will eventually shift the rotalas to a different location, and have hygro flanking the crypt instead...
Speaking of hygros, they really are starting to look graceful. They grow kind of slowly, but that's okay.
Not as slow as the ludwigias- here kind of behind everything else.
The other, still unidentified crypts are getting taller.
The thicket of elodea and bacopa in the corner is so dense now, I can feed the kuhlis in there away from the other fishes (mostly). The barbs weave their way through those stems when they are spawning.
Still there are no results from that- not that I really expect any. But I did notice the other day they were spawning over a clump of subwassertang, and it looked like it was harder for the male to turn and eat the eggs immediately as they fell. Overall I'm pleased how nice and full these subwasesser 'bushes' on the baskets have gotten. I just wish the white netting didn't show.
Here's the other short end of my tank. It's getting nice and dense, but still the crypt wendti stands out so dark. Maybe I could add another medium-dark plant to soften the contrast, but I don't know what.
Some of the plants aren't doing so great- watersprite (behind the hornwort stems) for some reason isn't looking so good these past few weeks. Buces have a sudden outbreak of algae again. And even though some of my vallisneria are finally getting taller-
a lot of them are rotting away. The bases of them are turning brown. I thought they were planted too deeply and tugged them up higher out of the substrate, like I periodically do with my crypts, but now others aren't holding down at all. I'm starting to think maybe I will phase out my vals and find some tall, narrow-leaved crypts to take their place. That won't spread as rapidly, either...
Last of all I'm showing my windelov ferns in this tank. I'm glad I put them in the front, they're starting to look pretty.
It's hard to remember they used to be just a few tiny sprigs tied onto each stone.
Low-angled shot of them.

for now just snails

It is strange having a tank with no fish in it. I keep glancing over there expecting any minute to see him glide up out from behind a plant, looking for an offering... Of course there are still snails to watch crawling around- two nerites and plenty of trumpet snails. I am not certain, but it seems the limpet numbers are slowing down.

I have changed a few small things.  I took off one layer of plastic that covered the LEDs on the left side. Rotalas are definitely bending the other way now, they must be seeking light. Hoping this will straighten them out, and not cause algae on the anubias or buces.
Noticed the filter flow on hospital tank was stronger than in the tenner. I switched air pumps. But this one is noisy. So I suspended it. Looks ridiculous, but much quieter now.
Definitely more flow- some of the plants move gently, and the floaters drift around in slow circles. Which is kind of nice to watch. This is the best short end of the tank right now. There's a small anubias nana petite I added in the back right corner there.
Other end of the tank is not really attractive, although the ludwigia is growing well.
Much more interesting the green flaming fingers of windelov fern.
I need to do another overhead tank shot soon- here's a quick one of windelov and anubias, blurred on the edges because I didn't turn off the flow.
By far my favorite plants in the tank are the buces. They're all doing well. Lovely colors, sparkling specks on the leaves. These look so great I am tempted to bring over the buces out of the thirty-eight, which struggle to fend off algae.
But I'm afraid to introduce BBA into this tank. Maybe I could pull the buces, do a dip or a three-day blackout in a container... Here's the 'Selena', still looking lovely and wow it has grown a lot.
Doing cleanup was sad. I sprayed everything down with diluted bleach, rinse in tapwater. Filter sponge, pebbles and small plastic items get boiled for five minutes. Tank lightly bleached and rinsed out with boiling-hot water. Dry it all in the sun. Afterwards I ask my older daughter or husband to do a sniff test- if they detect the faintest hint of bleach I rinse again and again. My youngest said "why are you smelling things? does it smell like a dead fish? because Oliver just died in there."


One day back in august I looked out my window and wondered what that big orange lump was under a tree in the back. Went out there and it was a bunch of orange lumps- these bold mushrooms.
I have no idea what they are, but there were lots!
They lasted a few days and then shriveled up.
The kids were intrigued.
My favorite picture of them.


You can see how far behind I got with this garden/tank journal- these pictures are from august.
Liriope blooms.
I should divide them soon, to have more in the yard next year.

20 October 2016

rhubarb, azalea and a betta fish

I had to move my small rhubarb plants, even though this is better done in spring than fall. They were in front of a water spigot which drips, and I have noticed the crew working on our house at the moment are not particularly careful about where they put things. I had to rescue some hostas from metal sheeting about to get dropped on them, and my native lilies got flattened by a pile of lumber. So this spigot is due to get fixed soon, and probably the rhubarb would get damaged. I wanted to move it anyway to the backyard spot that was supposed to be a shade garden but now gets more sun. And I just bought a coral-pink azalea to go in front of the spigot.

I dug up the rhubarb and moved it yesterday. With a handful of my best vermicompost, a few shovelfuls of garden soil (rearranging part of the garden beds too, that's for another post) and a thick blanket of leaves. One little leaf is perking up already.
Oliver did not make it through the night. He is now at rest under the rhubarb.
The spot in front of the spigot is empty now, the azalea is waiting in its pot.
Here is a picture of Oliver hiding under anubias leaf. It was taken about a month ago, when I had first noticed the parasite on his side.
Showing off his good side, when I was trying to get a closeup of the spot.
Final picture. I know it's kind of gruesome, but I sometimes take pictures of my fish when they are dead. It's a rare to get a closeup of their scale and color patterns. I was trying to focus on the irridescent blues and reds in his tail, but the paleness and bloat shows too well.