30 June 2017

tank cleaning

I had surgery on my right hand recently, to remove a lump of what apparently was scar tissue, just under the skin of my middle finger, that was growing and growing. It all went well, but recovery is tedious. I'm not allowed to do any gardening or put my hand in dishwater much less the aquariums, to avoid infection while healing. And so many small tasks like sweeping, brushing your teeth or tying your shoes become difficult when your dominant hand is disabled.... but it's gradually getting easier day by day, and I get the stitches out this coming monday.
So my aquariums have kind of been on vacation, it's been two weeks now without any water changes or fert dosing, all I've done is occasionally remove (with a tool) a dead leaf that floats to the surface. I can't quite resist feeding the fishes, but I did reduce their rations by more than half. Instead of feeding the the usual once or twice a day six days a week, I'm only feeding once a day, every other day. It seems to agree with everyone just fine.

However today for the heck of it I did a few water tests, on the window tank and the main. I was surprised to find that although it looks healthiest of the three, showing no signs of plant decay or mulm buildup -except for a few older leaves on the java fern 'red' that dramatically bleached white and died off this week- that the window tank had higher nitrates, at 35 or 40ppm. (I probably overestimated how much the little cories would eat and have been over feeding. A new crop of tiny baby malaysian trumpet snails kinda confirms that. So must cut back a bit more!)

So I did a 50% wc today. With a plastic glove on my injured hand, and doing most things left-handed. It took twice as long as usual but actually with less spills, as I did all the work slower, with more care. The only real awkward part was using the siphon hose, backwards from the normal handling. I also rinsed out the filter media, and while I was at it removed the ceramic rings that are in there. Thinking it will slow the flow a bit- it does cause Fabio to struggle at the surface and later on when I get paradise fish, they like gentle flow. It did work to slow up a bit- I fed flake afterward and Fabio had an easier time chasing down his bites. Also with future paradise fish in mind, I shifted the plastic makeshift lid over to completely cover the top and cut two holes in it, back corner, for the pothos stems to go through. It makes it more inconvenient to take the lid off, but paradise fish are known jumpers so I did that.

Samblu's tank is the one really needs a cleaning, but I will do that tomorrow, and then the main tank following day. One at a time, right now.

25 June 2017

sweet potato plant

I really like having them just in a pot this year. Every other day I inspect it for leaf hoppers- they keep showing up- and so far it's doing pretty well. The other two pots of sweet potato vine on the front porch aren't doing so well. They have lots of bug holes. I don't check them nearly as often.

24 June 2017

there was a baby fish!

in my window tank!
This was the best I could do for a picture- it was very small, its entire length barely the width of the swordtail's eye. Where did it come from? Must have been an egg from the latest serape tetras' spawning stuck on some hornwort trimmings from the main tank, that I threw in here earlier this week. My first thought was: it will starve. But I saw it ingesting tiny specks of things. My next was that it would get sucked into the filter, or eaten by Fabio, who appeared to be making attempts to grab it. One of those must have happened; when I came back to look again ten minutes later, couldn't see it anywhere. Haven't seen it since. Oh well.

I admit I thought I never want to raise baby fish but when I saw this one I was so astonished and thrilled. I thought how cool would it be, to raise a few tetras of my own, instead of buying more to complete my school?

Funny, when I first saw it, pale thin thing Fabio nipped at, I thought it was a bit of degraded plant material. Then I saw it jerk, moving against the current and thought it was an insect had got in the tank. When I looked close and realized it was a baby fish, all I could do was stare for several minutes. Perhaps someday there will be more!

23 June 2017

first trim

My kid was coming down with a cold- just a sore throat and mild headache, but she looked miserable- so I pinched off my rosemary for the first time, and made her some tea. Two mugs of rosemary/honey tea, and her cold only lasted three days. Love this plant.

stand for a fern

I took this old, unused cat tower/pedestal, stripped the carpet off, sawed off the corners to make it less square (unfortunately not very evenly)
gave it several layers of wood stain and turned it into a stand for my asparagus fern. A much better way to show its airy grace.

22 June 2017

brown bug

What is this insect?
very dark olive brown, and the underside of the abdomen greenish.


Finally got a decent picture of an orchard orbweaver spider- there's lots in the garden this year, and we are careful not to disturb them.
I also have many of these brown spiders or maybe it's daddy-long-legs (here on a borage plant).
Wolf spiders and jumping spiders are among our favorites.
I found this jumping spider on some clothing after hanging out laundry. Tried to get a detailed photo- when the camera got really close that tiny spider would lift its front legs towards the lens- threatening?- and then it leaped onto my hand, or my camera! I kept putting it back on the cloth to try for the picture but jumped on me repeatedly.

21 June 2017

new succulents!

A large box came to the house last week, and it wasn't full of rocks like usual. It had plants- a surprise from my husband. So very very dry when I lifted them, but they can take it- these are all desert-area succulents. And completely new to me, so I have to do some reading up on their care.
This one, is very particular: lithops. The plant that imiatates a rock. My youngest calls it "the butt plant".
String-of-pearls: a trailing plant in a hanger. Heard of it before, never seen one in person until now.
This is pink ice plant- some call it miniature jade- and it can grow into a great shrub outside with beautiful pink flowers (but frost would kill it so I need a pot sized to come indoors for the winter).
And my favorite of them is the variegated elephant bush-
the leaves are fat triangles!

I want to repot them all from their travelling containers, but first need to go get some specialized soil- cactus mix- because the stuff I usually use would poison them with richness.

ring of salvia

around front yard tree- filling in some space, doing just what I wanted. Even gets a few looks and nods from neighbors on their walks (small celosias are not worth a glance, this year) someone asked me if they're another type of hosta!

20 June 2017


My daylilies are still flowering,
so I got a few better photos.

sad fern

Not sure what to do with my boston fern, this year. I simply cannot find a good site for it. Front porch was not the best place- it gets banged up by people passing and kids throwing toys or kicking balls  (even when they're not supposed to) last year rim of the pot got broken.... I also like it better on the back deck, to see it more often. But there is no spot where it can reliably stay in the shade- I have to run out and move it twice a day... Maybe I should keep it under the deck, and just get to enjoy it when I'm down in the garden.

companion plants

I think this is the first time I grew carrots among the tomatoes- a gardening book I read once mentioned the two plants benefit each other in some way. It does look like my carrots are growing more vigorously than ever before- and this in the brand-new garden plot I just set up over grass last fall!

19 June 2017

two peas in a pod

literally, all the peas in this pod were in pairs

pretty borage

Another borage appreciation post.
I love how the flower buds seem to glow pale silver.
I'm not checking the foliage as thoroughly for aphids and other pests anymore, since most of the plants now have a resident spider.
Found a few flowers that look pink! instead of blue.

18 June 2017

sweet peas!

plant damage

My broccoli plants seem particularly hard-hit this year- with more leaf damage than others in the garden. Probably because I have not figured out and thwarted the pest, yet. Still picking occasional caterpillars from white cabbage butterflies, but this is something else.
There are pale squiggly lines and on the underside it's a raised edge, like a swollen vein. I think it is leaf-miner bugs...

tomatoes are on the way

flowers on the vine-
nascent tomatoes-
the only one that's really sad is my brandywine, I don't know why but it looks a bit sickly- leaves curl and droop, some are yellowing
maybe it is this bug? which I thought was a helpful one but now I think it's just another kind of aphid. Their bodies are pale and harder than the aphids- when my betta eats them I hear a crunch- and I find them more often on the tops of leaves than the underside.

17 June 2017

other garden plants

I still do have some lettuce, although it's too hot (bitter) to eat, which I am letting bolt for seed- some romaine or little ceasar (I always confuse the two) here in the thicket of borage and cosmos
and pale ruffled leafy simpson too.
The cosmos is filling up this garden spot behind the borage-
and just starting to flower (I bet they are all orange).
Some cucumber flowers appearing too!

16 June 2017

borage, borage

This mighty plant is a real protector. I have been in the habit for two years, of checking the garden each morning for squirrel holes (and filling them in), so that I still walk out there early with my coffee every day. Only now it's just to admire (or go scouting for japanese beetles- I saw the first of those in the plants yesterday. Have spotted five and smashed three, so far).
It is getting tall and unruly, as high as the tomato plants, and toppling over in an untidy heap when the days are too hot.
So I decided to cut some of it back (leaving plenty of flowers to attract the bees and still fend off the squirrels with their smell).
Thicket of it, seen from underside with the light through (how I check for bugs)
The garden is much tidier now with some of it cut back- I was getting tired of pushing past prickles to go through the paths.
Here's the spot I pictured on this day- you can see how much it has filled in! I've decided next year will grow borage mainly against the back wall where I can let it get tall-
So while cutting stuff out, I dropped all the flower heads in those areas, just in case some seed will germinate.
I am collecting seed as it dries on the plants, too. This might seem silly- after all, it self-seeds where they fall- but those don't grow up until it is plenty warm in spring, by which time squirrels are already in my garden. So it feels like insurance, to have a lot I can grow in the coldframe and set out as six-inch plants already in early spring.