31 March 2019


Squirrel got on the deck unseen yesterday. It dug a bit in the herb planted boxes, and the winter-sown jugs - which were a fail this year, btw. All I got is one romaine lettuce
 and a bunch of weeds. No milkweed. (The indoor tray just grew mold). 
But! The squirrel did not touch the pots in the open coldframe, or the mints and chives- which had my two young rue sitting right next to them. I like to think the rue is guarding them. If I put potted rue near another plant that's been bothered and it gets left alone, does that prove anything?
There have been a few small squirrel holes in the garden here and there, but nothing to upset me much, yet. If rue is keeping them away it's not completely foolproof, but I think discourages him from staying and digging longer.

into the garden

Set out all the cool-weather plants. Arugula-
Leaf beet chard-
Collards- these went straight from their seedling tray-
yellow cabbage collards
blue alabama collards
red russian kale
Leeks- better yet than any I've grown
I tried to do it properly this time, setting them in ditches which will fill later
Also direct-sowed the strawberry spinach, yellow snap peas, sweet peas (flowers), fordhook giant chard, turnips, two kinds of beets and danver carrots. These are the makeshift pea supports I made- well it matches the makeshift plot edges which are collapsing. I'm eager to put in the new soon.

deck planters

Into the boxes I put my favorite ferny dill (love its flavor too)
The last box I will probably plant with summer savory

early garden view

Here's most of it. Lettuces in the back left corner, peas against the wall. Beets and leeks in the bed by the stump. Rue has a new spot- a heap of soil in the front corner. It's like a dirt throne, ha.
I'm going to put short walls of the new brick around it- in about a week (after painting).
Its got lots of lovely new growth
Here's the bed it came out of- I didn't move the two overwintered leeks and second-year parsley, but took out the rest of the perennial herbs. Now on the right carrots are planted, left side turnips.
Next bed has (left to right) collards, arugula, leaf beet chard and kale
Perennial herbs moved into this small bed in the front. Green bunching onions, lemon balm, sage, lavender.
maybe I replanted the onions too close together
Lemon balm looks great already
Sage is a sad, dried thing.
I'm giving it a chance though, because found a bit of green at its base. If these die, I'll transplant in the few from the yard area.
Lavender was getting ignored and stepped on. In the garden proper might be too rich and damp for it- but I won't water this end, and see how it does. Can always move it out again later if need be.
That's pretty much it so far. Tomatoes and cukes will go in pots on the deck, more greens will go in the long new bed alongside green beans, I'm thinking of putting zucchini in a ground-level heap next to the hydrangea...
Back view, from under the deck- that's the new bed that will have (hopefully) green beans. Near left corner that's darker is where I sowed a few chard.

30 March 2019

angel attempt

A few days ago they laid eggs again-
M Beautiful was tending them diligently, Skye was going off to sit in corners and then she would rush over and threaten him and he'd come back and help fan for a while. Or pick stuff off.
Then I did regular tank maintenance, and this time lifted out one sponge filter to rinse it. I did it slow and careful but the angelfish were upset. Skye made threatening rushes at my hands and the filter, but stopped short of actually biting. And later that day they ate all the eggs.

Funny moment- I saw one of the zebra snails crawling on the airline inside the filter uplift.

cory fry on leaves

I swear they get a bit bigger every day, but when I compare these pics to the last, can't really tell. Anyhow, they sure are cute- and lively!

lettuce planting

I set out all my lettuces
into their garden space
newly planted
Front to back: simpson elite, crisp mint, slow bolt, webb wonder.

29 March 2019

final shelter

Some photos from the last day these plants spent in the coldframe- window lid set aside for a few milder nights (above 40°).
Chervil and marigolds-
Leaf beet chard, arugula and dill-
Leeks in the back corner-
Tomato seedlings stay in the coldframe, but are next to get pots-
I am really pleased with how healthy my young plants grew this spring. Maybe I did a little better at timing, being gentle when pricking them out, and keeping an eye on temperatures. I think the real difference was using higher quality seed starting mix, though.


My coldframe has a flaw. Where the muntin is broken/missing, it leaks. I ought to seal it with something, but for the moment simply rearranged the plants inside so the little pots didn't get swamped. Not much longer use for this season anyway.

28 March 2019

some updates

on a number of things. It's going much better with my catfish fry in the mesh box. Now the amanos hang out picking over the outside of the mesh, the larger one chasing the others off! so what bits fall through or the fry don't eat, gets mostly cleaned up. I'm feeding the fry three or four times a day, either a teensy bit of first bites, or a tiny pinch of pulverized food mix (basically the powder from the bottom of all my fish food containers combined). I can see they pass over some bits and stop to eat others- wish I knew which food they aren't eating, I wouldn't have included it in the mix! Every morning I'm using an airline as siphon to clean the underside of the mesh and then the inside of the box, then use regular siphon to do a 25% water change on the tank. The main part of the tank gets fed once or twice a day, right now mostly protein flake broken into small bits so it scatters enough the juvenile cory can get some. The shrimps are greedy and fast! I'm kind of annoyed at them. My striped kuhlis are starting to come out more though, which is nice. Not so great that all the inhabitants of this tank are bottom feeders, but they're not all staying in here long term...

I think Perry is sick. He looks clamped, sometimes not interested in food, now and then flashes on plant edges. I think there's parasite in the tank, dang. Puzzled why Lady seems unaffected. Maybe her immune system is stronger. I'm debating whether to use a medication and which one, or just do more thorough cleaning and water changes.

I finished the first stage of my garden project. All the blocks for the new raised bed walls are sealed with several layers of waterproofing, and sitting on my basement floor to dry and cure well- at least seven days- before I paint. Then will replace the old walls with new. 

In the meantime, I'm getting ready to plant. So excited that tomorrow is the first planting day. Two days of cloudy weather, then a day of rain before sun again, perfect. I turned over the soil in half the beds to work in the compost. I'm going to plant regardless of the rebuild that will come a bit later- just keeping the plants away from the edges so they don't get disturbed. As soon as I have all the coldframe plants into the ground, I'll have space to move the next set of plants out of their seedling containers into paper pots- and then can start sowing the last group (cucumbers, beans, zucchini, etc). Lots to do!

They've been growing fantastically- only a few mishaps (spilled another tray). Will have pics soon.

26 March 2019

catfish fry

I am still boggled, how small these cories are I received. I felt anxious to give them at least three feedings a day to help them grow, but right away that became a problem. Yesterday I put a few sinking wafers in the tank- hoping also to see my striped kuhlis come out of hiding (they love these wafers and hadn't had any in a while). I deliberately broke one up into small pieces first, so the shrimps would get their share. Yep, the amanos all showed up quickly, each grabbing a piece (or two!) and hurrying off with it. The juvenile cory was right there, too- in fact it spent all day at the front of the tank feeding. But my kuhlis never emerged from their rock hideout. Poked their whiskers out, that's all. The smaller cory fry approached, but long after the shrimps had finished off their portions and returned for seconds. They try to shoo the juvie cory away, and barge into the smaller fry making them skitter back into shelter among the rocks and leaf litter. Sigh. I got my acrylic stick out and started nudging shrimps away whenever they tried to drag off the remaining wafer pieces, but of course this startled away the cories also- the juvenile one doesn't go far and comes back quickly but the fry stay away a long time.

Later in the evening I tried again, dropped in one spirulina wafer. This is too big and heavy for a shrimp to carry away, but they sure tried. It was funny to see them- one would land on the wafer, and pedal its swimmerettes as fast as it could, and get nowhere. Then they settled to picking bits off, constantly chasing each other- and the cories- off. It was dimmer light so the kuhlis finally began to come out, but when trumpet snails began to swarm up out of the substrate, I realized it was far too much food. I plucked out the remainder of the spirulina wafer- scattering plenty of small bits that had softened- and fed it in pieces to my paradise fishes.

I did a 25% water change, and set up the mesh breeder box for the fry, with some leaf litter and subwassertang. It took some patience to gently catch those little fry- with a shrimp net. After things were settled I put in a tiny bit of gold pearls. It seems this food was too big? they would nose over it and leave it behind. This morning I cleaned out the fry box with a straw, did another water change on the tank, and then dipped a toothpick in a tiny bit of Hikari first bites in my palm, then into the fry box. It's an amount no bigger than a pinhead. I tried to sprinkled it over a leaf, so I can see how much the fry consume, and it won't fall as quickly out through the mesh. They found it quick enough, and ate most. I see their bellies round and golden now.
This pic isn't quite in focus, but you can see both fry on the leaf!

broken tail?

Perry's caudal extension droops suddenly. He must have snagged it on something.

small rearrangement

Some of the anubias were knocked loose by angelfish activities in past weeks, so I tied them down again.
Moved a few java fern around- put some on the left in front of the other filter sponge-
and found that some new leaves are sprouting off root hairs that attached themselves to the wood, and a few fiddleheads came up on the rhizomes. Maybe I have just been too impatient to see new growth on this.
I put the righthand sponge filter back in the corner- if the angels like to spawn on the anubias and guard their babies behind them, it will be easier to spot feed without the filter right there pulling stuff in. So moved the planters around a bit- I want to see wendtii better- its color is very nice now, although some leaves look puckered?
and tied two pieces of crypt undulata from the paradise fish tank on another small chunk of wood.
I usually would wait to do all this on a water change day, but wanted to fix the things before the angels decided to spawn again. None too soon- this morning I see their breeding tubes again, and they are starting to inspect leaves. Skye particularly is beginning to clean the anubias. I haven't even fed them up- deliberately just gave them regular flake and NLS pellets this week- no frozen foods- hoping if they weren't in top condition, wouldn't feel like breeding yet. In spite of my family's encouragement, I'm not ready for the work of helping them raise babies, yet. Maybe it will just keep the spawn small.