30 April 2018

garden progress

I planted out the arugula into the garden, and dill seedlings into window boxes on the deck railing. More on those later, when I have time to sit down and upload photos. Sowed beets and Swiss chard directly, after soaking the seed. I made little labels out of strips of cedar shims written in marker for the rows, because I want to make note of which chard grows better, my old store bought packet which might be too aged to germinate now, or my saved seed. And which type of beets we prefer the flavor of, since I planted three varieties.

I'm starting to throw out some older seed from my jars, which don't seem to be germinating well anymore. Seems not all of my saved seed is viable from last year. I had very few marigolds and tithonia sprout in the trays, it's just enough but thin compared to the numbers I actually put in there.

Potted up the tithonia, tomato and marigold seedlings.
This little torchflower has the seed casing still adhering to edge of a leaf

Yesterday I started my final batch of seed in trays. Basil, two kinds of bush beans, summer savory, chives, cosmos, parsley, cucumbers, nicotiana, sweet potato vine, and the flowers my husbands aunt sent, I think they are hollyhocks and something else. ...

I started the beans with some trepidation, as I love the taste of fresh picked green beans but struggle every year with them getting disesase from the insects. I'm not going to pick aphids to feed my fishes this year,  but douse the plants regularly in soapy water in an effort against that. I've not had any luck yet trying to grow chives from seed, so might toss that packet if they fail yet again. The sweet potato vine are an experiment, it's the three seeds I got from the flowers that bloomed wondrous surprise last year. Thought I had seed for oregano and thyme but I don't, so will have to pick up started plants when I go back to get stevia.

27 April 2018


It's just starting to show on the black shelf I made in the main tank, and really growing out in the paradise fish tank. Very hard to get a good photo, because the shelf is on the back wall, and the plants are so small- but I love looking at them with the light behind. Like little threads of green, growing zippers. I ought to trim the second shelf to make it fill in more, but am reluctant to cut down.

things I like that are probably weeds-

I was searching through websites listing weeds in my state, trying to identify this plant which I still find attractive, but wonder if I'm harboring something I shouldn't- and it does appear to be spreading- the one that looks like tiny rose foliage-
I didn't find its name, but to my surprise I found that cranesbill is considered a weed, and so are some other wild plants related to geraniums. I wonder if mine, being a decorative variety grown in a greenhouse, is not a weed? Well, if it shows signs of spreading rampant- cropping up in my lawn, for example, I will be careful about deadheading the flowers before they set seed.
I was also surprised that my woodland mayapple- which I was pleased to see grew up more thickly this year- is also considered a weed.
I rather wonder if the deer had been eating mine.
And here's that blue one that changes shape, which I once grew in a pot on my deck all season. I didn't find its name, either- it almost looks like virginia waterleaf, but not quite (flowers are different)

26 April 2018

houseplant notes

The zebrina plant had one stem longer than the others, so I took one more cutting to even it out.
My creeping charlie plant is looking glorious. Some of the older leaves are so large I'm wondering if I ought to trim them off, to have more uniform growth. They're a good three inches across!
Newer african violet is still flowering, but slowing down.
I've noticed its leaves have slightly different shape- this one appears to be ovate, slightly spooned, with gently scalloped edges
my larger, mature violet has more narrow ovate leaves with (I think) a troughed shape, and more defined scalloped edging
whereas the baby violets (there are definitely two crowns!) are neatly round, and smooth edged. I looked at the parent plant- it has very faint scalloping and an more oblong shape, so I bet these leaves will change some as they grow up.
I had to look up in my violet book how those leaf characteristics are defined, btw.

more yard plants-

walking around checking on things, pulling weeds, seeing how they're all doing: turtlehead is coming up fast
some ferns are emerging, but not my favorite 'sensitive' fern, yet
I am delighted to see my echinacea appears to have self-seeded. I count more than seven plants in the row! and some are off to the side- definitely grew on their own.
Rudbeckia is coming up thicker than I recall planting it, too. This is great because I need stuff to fill in.
joe pye 'chocolate' is barely sprouting
Astilbes came up at an incredible rate, already thick with foliage
My bleeding hearts are still small. I saw one in a neighbor's yard already three feet high and full of bloom. Hope mine get to that state some year.
Whatever I did wrong to it last year, it appears that my lilac will bloom this season!
Strapping daylily foliage-
I didn't particularly care if the mums in the front came back or not, but they all did except the one I added to a blank spot last year.
On the other side, my silver blue dusty miller didn't make it. At least, the large parent plant I transplanted in summer is dead. Two or three of the young ones I took as cuttings survived under a tree in the back.

My peony is up!
and the rose I once again forgot to move-
and there's more for the next post...

25 April 2018

a few in the garden-

my green onions are- going to flower?
more borage seedlings have come up- need to spread some out
I think I will eat rhubarb this year! And they must be happy- one was making a flower stalk, (which I've already cut and discarded)
You already know my rosemary died, and I have a replacement. It looks like I should re-sow thyme and oregano as well- they show no signs of growth.

hostas emerging

my favorite blues, under the euonymus shrub
all in different stages of the leaf
The big ones on the other side of the house-
doing grand!
Very glad I moved them there. At their foot, the lilies are blooming-
tiny white graceful flowers
another flower in back part of the yard- I forget its name- with thin grasslike leaves, it came along with a lot of native plants I got from a lady in a different neighborhood my first year here

amano shrimp pair

I do believe I saw them mating.
The other day when I fed hikari wafers and NLS pellets, I swear the shrimps were fighting over the food. I saw one of the smaller male amanos walk in among the fish (who seem blind to the food once it falls on the substrate, but can smell it, so they shadow the shrimps and kuhlis waiting to see them find the food, and then try to snatch it) and pick up two pellets and make off with them. It hid by perching upside-down under the moss shelf to eat undisturbed.

There must have been another single pellet of food somewhere in this one spot at the front- I bet the kuhlis rummaging around kicking a bit of substrate over it- because a few shrimps kept congregating there, constantly going over and over feeling every substrate grain. And they seemed to be getting irritated at not finding it, or trying to fend each other off- the big dark one Blue Blast kept jerking around and shoving others out of the way. I'd never seen the shrimps tussle like that it was kind of funny.

24 April 2018


Just because I'm so happy about them. Ring around the tree in front-
and around a second tree further back-
Look twice fuller than last years' growth already
this is the youngest one, flanking a backyard tree.
Time to spread them around some more!

stuff in and out of QT

My two newer fish are doing well in quarantine. I adopted a kuhli loach from a guy who had to move (this is the last fish I'll take into my thirty-eight gal- it's at full stocking level now). It's a striped one like Albert- with the dark bands running together and mottled appearance on the stomach. But more yellow base color (I wonder sometimes if Albert is chronically unwell and thus pale, but he is getting thick in girth, so not too concerned).

This new fish hid for a day, then started coming out regularly when I dropped in food- betta flake and pellet, sinking hikari loach wafer, crushed shrimp pellet. It's cute to see it poke its head out from under the leaf litter, and slide in curves on its belly across the glass bottom.
The bare bottom poses minor issues for my new betta, though. He is preoccupied with displaying at himself all over the bottom of the tank. Really seems convinced there's another fish lurking under all the leaves and drifting subwassertang, ha. He'll turn himself broadside to the bottom glass, spread his gills, fan his tail with hefty strokes. It's beautiful to watch but I hope not too stressful. I put a paler color background on the tank after a few days, because with a black backdrop he was flaring to himself on the back wall, too.
I saw a bit of white fuzz on the upper edge of his caudal peduncle, thought it might be beginnings of fungal infection. As initial measure I started doing daily small water changes- two or three gallons- yesterday the white smudge was definitely smaller and today I can barely see it. I figured out quickly that with the bare bottom tank it's easier to clean without an actual siphon, just using the hose piece. I fitted a bit of plastic mesh over the end with a rubber band, so it only picks up fine particles of waste, not the scattered gravel and plant bits. Good practice for my future tank maintenance.
One of the ramshorn snails in here died. Oh well. I count at least three others in there, maybe there are still four.
The apple snail is okay. Either I was mistaken about its feeler, or it regrew already, but they are both full length. It is cautious now- when the betta swims near it quickly withdraws. Betta ignores it since the first day- and doesn't bother the kuhli at all, so I hope he'll get along fine with shrimps, too. I found one more bladder snail in here- it was crawling over a ramshorn- and removed it to drop into Perry's tank. The paradise fish bit at it instantly, but that's all. I saw the other tiny one among the baby mts, so he hasn't managed to eat one yet. Maybe when he's bigger.

seedling report etc.

My peppers just came up yesterday. I still don't have any joe pye, milkweed or ironweed sprouting. Everything else is growing. Only the arugula has true leaves so far-
Tithonia, marigold and tomatoes are just starting to put theirs out.
Here's dill
and celosia
some of the plants are now spending most of the time out on the deck, only coming into the coldframe at night- here's my "stump" coleus, lemon verbena, russian sage, 'autumn joy' sedum.
Yesterday, anticipating two days of rain to follow, I planted out the black-and-blue salvia (mailbox spot)
rumex (went in next to the rhubarb and hellebores)
and a purple-mix monarda
I can tell that my older monarda already needs dividing- the plants now form a ring around the stems of last years' growth. Those I'll cut down as part of the base layer for my compost pile in a few days, when I turn it.
I'm eager to plant out more perennials- mountain mint and rue pictured- but must be patient. Last frost day isn't until may 10.