30 October 2017

new green in the window tank

Some of the pieces of rhizome I buried by the tank wall are sprouting- tiny leaves of crypt retrospiralis.
And I am glad I held onto that loose leaf of 'red' java fern. It is finally sprouting tiny plantlets on the outer edges. These young plants are on the tip of an intact leaf.


My little jar of charlie plants has more roots now.
The full pot of it is doing okay. Some more leaves withered brown. I think perhaps the fish water is too rich for it. I'm trying it on tapwater for a while, every-other-week watering. It has perked up a lot, but it's hard for me to get a decent picture, to find the right angle.
I may have done the wrong thing by my 'wandering jew' plant. In a new spot on top of the mantlepiece, it had one nice long vine growing out, leaves a nice healthy shine. I thought I'd multiply the stems by cutting that vine up into several pieces and rooting them. Well, they're growing roots but they don't look happy about it.

29 October 2017

two more

serpae tetras. I drove around to all the pet stores in reasonable distance this week. Looking for another betta, but I can't find one I really like... I drove out to the next town over to the lfs. Where I was wowed again- every time I go there I see something cool. A spiny puffer with eyes like blue jewels. Such an unreal face. A lionfish with long, drifting meancingly graceful fins. How does one keep a pet like that? doesn't it eat everything in sight? I guess it would be a saltwater species tank. And I saw a tank full of young angelfish- a swarm of them as big as the ball of my thumb. I have never seen baby angels so tiny. The tank of red parrot fish came up curiously to the glass when I looked at them again, and one made me feel so sympathetic- he had an eye damaged or injured- glassy flat with the pupil just a tiny peering slit. If I took fish home due to feeling sorry for them, It'd be that guy...

But no bettas (the lfs doesn't usually have them anyway). However I felt disappointed to drive all that way and go home empty-handed. I stopped at chain store 3 on the way back, and their tanks looked clean.... so kind of on a whim I picked up two more serpaes for my main tank. Right now they are in the tenner, so my oto is no longer alone.
Of course they all had bitten fins, those should grow back, but I don't know if they are really healthy... I know I wasn't going to buy fish from chain stores anymore, I probably shouldn't have. One keeps going very pale and then the eyes look red-rimmed.
I'm going to keep them in here a full month, or longer, to be sure... and maybe in that time I will find another betta.
I shouldn't name them yet, but I think of the darker one as Ziggy (its shoulder marking is wavy in the middle)
and the paler, small one- usually the aggressor of the two- Spit. It's a little spitfire.
Nice to see fish movement in the tank again. And my oto seems to appreciate having some company. He's been more active since I introduced the two tetras. Not fleeing from them, just out and about.

on my back deck

water lettuce is still holding on in the little container pond, but starting to look poorly. Duckweed doesn't seem to mind the chill yet.
Dill is big enough to eat on a regular basis again. I have plenty dried for winter use.
Summer savory has re-seeded and sprouted a few new plants, too.
Among the dry winding stems of the old ones.

28 October 2017

moving in

My boston fern comes inside at night, now. It is still rather shabby compared to growth I've had in past years, but perked up a lot.
I'm also mostly keeping inside the tarragon plant now, from cold. My favorite, oldest pepper and the ginger have moved inside, by the basement sliding door. I'm running out of sun spaces near windows for wintering plants.

cleaning up...

Few days ago I tackled my unkempt tithonia wall. Snipped all the spent flowers, cut off all the dead, wilted leaves and sickly ones, too. Swiped tons of aphids for the fishes (my catfishes and loaches especially will be pleased). I hoped removing the dying foliage would stave off spread of disease, and also lighten the weight on the stems so the plants aren't quite so prone to fall over when soil softens after rain. It looks more airy and light, now- air movement among stems is good for plant health too, I recall. While I worked bees ambled around me, and a painted lady butterfly was nearby. Once on a flower just inches from my eyes- so I could admire closely how the light touched the colors on its wings.

Today I raked the front lawn. After the crabapple tree finished dropping its fruit- and most of its leaves- a few weeks ago, I cut the lawn shorter than usual and sowed more grass seed. A mix of sun-and-shade tolerant. Let a drift of leaves settle on the lawn during that time, which I think hid the seed well from the birds- I scattered it with handfuls of compost mixed in, the day before we had good rainfall. Now there is a nice flush of new green grass across the lawn. I am using the collection bag on the mower for the first time all year, so that seedheads of crabgrass get removed. It's less food for the lawn and compost pile, but I'm seeing a bit less crabgrass this year and I'd like to continue in that direction.

Walking around to see how yard plants have fared, need to start laying down leaf mulch for winter. Rhubarb didn't do so great.
Always forget arum will come back up here, in the fall. It reappeared a week ago.
Best thing in the back bed is heartleaf brunnera. It doesn't seem much bothered by insects or weather yet.
Hellebores I transplanted have done well- they really grew bigger, fast. I might even have a few more flower in the spring.
Around another tree in the backyard I planted out those two salvia cuttings. They're doing well- already sprouting new leaves.
It's the same area where I put silver dusty millers. I learned it's in the plant family artemesia.
That space around the tree doesn't look like much yet, but I hope it will fill in pretty- in a year or two.

27 October 2017

in front and back

Near the house- I really like cranesbill, now that is has recovered from transplant and grown out. I want to get more of these!
A different kind of lacy foliage is the artemesia nearby. That one has done splendid from getting dug up in the middle of summer and moved to my yard.
On the front porch and back deck, my pots of sweet potato vine are having a short comeback. New leaves are almost completely untouched by the bugs that make holes and scars. I've been cutting off the old, damaged leaves to encourage new ones to grow out more. As long as this 'indian summer' lasts.

26 October 2017

some flowers

My second-year mums are creating a patch of pretty color in the front yard, even though they are uneven and flop over. I need to learn how to pinch them, at what intervals, to get nice dense growth.
Earlier I had rubbed seed off the lower part of the one orange/pink celosia bloom- now I've cut the entire head off to get the rest of the seed out.
It is still nice color- I have the very top part in a little jar of water to look at for a while.
I've pulled up all the cosmos from the vegetable garden- they're looking really scraggly with dry stalks and only tufts of leaves here and there, not worth the payoff of a few remaining flowers. I've been scattering the seedheads in the back bed, and already a few sprouted! So maybe I can get a permanent patch established back there.
The salvia is blooming. The flowers are small, not much to notice. I think they look a little like snapdragons.

25 October 2017

tiny melon

Had some volunteer cantaloupe in the garden this year, also a few cucumber plants. I kind of forgot they were there, and never went searching for fruit under the broad leaves until it was too late. Most of the fruit rotted. This one was still good, although very small. It looks like a tiny cantaloupe.
The inside was green. I thought just not ripe- but it tasted exactly like a cucumber. Better than the actual cucumbers I got. I think the two melons crossed?


Didn't do so great for me, overall this year. I have started cleaning up the spent vines. Still trimming off diseased-looking leaves, so its all barren like this:
I picked all the tomatoes that had a hint of color change, and have them in windowsills to finish ripening.
Ate these two yesterday, topping some pasta with basil pesto (not mine- of all the herbs only basil failed me, I hardly got any this season).
The few cherry tomatoes left will top a pizza later this week, then that's it for those plants too. Pulling up some of the tomato cages they were so stuck in the ground I busted a few. The rings broke right off the uprights where it was welded.

This one cherry tomato really went wild. Its vine grew all the way up the downspout. I have to get on a ladder to trim the top of that euonymus shrub, its way over my head. I'm short, but still. I think that vine climbed eight feet!

24 October 2017

new plants

for my birthday last week- my daughter gave me some herbs from one of my favorite local nurseries- lemon verbena (going to try some tea).
and tarragon
I've already cooked eggs with the tarragon- that's a flavor I haven't had in years, since my last pot of it died. It's nice to have it around again.
I was at the big box home improvement store for something the other and walked through the outdoor section- they were cleaning up pots of plants to throw away, so I got a few at half price. A light purple chrysanthemum, and this dusky darker pink one.
Its hue looks nice next to my lime-and-orange coleus. Turns out I should be happily surprised I had three out of five mums grow back this spring, instead of disappointed! they're sold as annuals. I'd sure be happy if I could get this dusky pink one to survive the winter- it was the only one of this hue at the store. It looks too perfect right now, all compact and dense with flowers- compared to my survivors from last year which are loose and lean over- more pics coming up.