30 June 2020


I think my angelfish has septicemia. For a very long time- years actually- she's had redness where the pectorals meet the body. I came up with septicemia before but thought that couldn't be it, as all the accounts I read said that fish die very quickly from the disease. This week, in spite of the fact that I've been feeding more lightly, doing larger water changes and cleaning the filter sponges more frequently than I used to, she's got redness on the body margins, and fin rot on all. Her dorsal is split, anal fin shortened, pelvic and tail fin edges ragged. I feel like I'm failing her.

I started reading more, and somehow my searches turned up a different set of case studies this time- several with fishes that lived years with septicemia. Damn, the symptoms match. I bought kanaplex and started treatment on sunday- today was the second dose. I don't see any improvement yet, although the fin deterioration might have slowed down, it's hard to tell. She still has appetite, but hides in the back nearly all day and doesn't come out to greet me as often, or as eagerly.

24 June 2020

baby bird!

The catbirds have fledged! Or at least, one of them. Saw it on edge of the lawn near garden. One of the parents was on the deck railing while I stood outside (much closer than they usually get), chat-chat-chat at me constantly. I figure now the parent was probably warning the chick to stay still, and it sat absolutely motionless for a long time. Later in the day I saw the fledgling again (or another one of the brood, no idea how many there are) in the far back yard, edge of lawn near fence. The parent once again was making alarm calls, the baby sat very still, just a grey lump in the grass.
After a while I noticed there was a hawk sitting in the tree above. I walked across the lawn in an arc, not near the baby bird but angling towards the hawk. It flushed and flew away. Small birds around me immediately stopped yelling. Went back to garden edge and sat with my youngest, we watched as the parent approached the young one, flitting for a long time on the fence, on a shrub, on the edge of compost bin, until apparently it felt no danger was near, then it flew down and fed the baby- three times put something in its mouth. My daughter laughed to see the baby bird still holding its mouth agape for more, as the parent flew away. She helped me pick caterpillars off the collard greens, to set on a stepping stone in the perennial bed, and we watched the parent come back, pick them up, and feed them to the chick.

second cull

This morning I took another twenty fry out of the 20H, fed them to the angelfish and tetras. So I've culled out fifty total now. And there's still more than twenty remaining for me to grow out. Most of these appear to be eating the first bites without trouble.

23 June 2020

minnow fry- 1 week

It's been a week since my first white cloud mountain minnow fry showed up in the 20H. Some of them are probably a few days younger; there's a visible size disparity. On the larger fry, I can now just make out a spade shape of caudal fin forming, and a brilliant sky-blue sparkle of color near the eye. The smaller ones are still moving dots with thread of tail, to my eye. Yesterday was the last feeding of egg yolk I did. Today I gave them first bites powder food, and the smaller fry couldn't eat it. Waited half and hour and then I did the first cull- removed some of the smallest ones whose bellies didn't plump up with food. There are way more than I estimated at first. Using a medicine cup and waiting for them to come near surface, I scooped out thirty tiny fry- counting by tens- and fed them to my dwarf guppies (that's how small these are!) and the tank of black skirt tetras and angelfish. Tried to count the remaining fry- there's still easily twenty-five or thirty in there.

I did try to get a few photos- this first one can make out five smudges and blobs that are baby fish, one in center between leaves across the cord is a bit sharper.
Fry in this photo is just above/right of center, where the fake plant stems meet base. Can kinda make out the bit of color and shape of tail- I can see this much better with my naked eye than my camera manages to capture.

19 June 2020

garden notes

I think soon I will be able to plant these tokyo bekana seedlings into the garden.
The pole beans are nearly up to my shoulder, now. There's yellow flowers on the zucchini plants, and I've started eating cherry tomatoes. They never make it into the house- I pick a few when I'm out working in the garden, eat them on the spot.

My favorite thing to do right now is feed cabbage loopers to the catbirds. I pick them off the collard greens, then put a few on the brick edge of another garden bed- on the path the birds usually take through the garden. Then sit and wait for them to come by again. It really pleases me to see the birds come flitting through, hop-hop stop to inspect everything, flit and hop again- then quickly pick up the caterpillars I've left- often adding them to a beak already holding a worm or insect- and fly off into the shrub where the nest is. I picture those fat caterpillars going down into hungry baby bird bellies.

more fry

I can't count them- but there's definitely over two dozen. Easily thirty, probably forty or even fifty. Some are smaller than others, I don't know if that means they hatched later (the female probably laid eggs several days in a row) or are better at finding food. They couldn't quite eat the first bites powder- I saw them darting all over after it, but none of their bellies plumped up. So I've been giving them egg yolk.

I boiled an egg, set aside about a quarter teaspoon of the yolk, and made a delicious deviled egg with mustard, fresh lovage and dill from the garden. For a feeding, I cut a small bit of cloth from an old, clean cotton pillowcase. Put a tiny crumb of yolk on the cloth, fold it up around, and pinch the yolk through the cloth with my fingers in a medicine-cup of tank water. It turns the water cloudy, then I drip that into the tank with a straw, near where the fry are hanging out. Not really difficult, and the small lump of egg yolk should last me almost a week in the fridge- maybe by then the bigger fry can eat the first bites. Before I feed them they look so slender- dot of eye and thread of tail. After feeding I look again and can just make out different shape- little pot bellies full of food. I'm feeding them three times a day, and in the late afternoon do a small water change with the siphon hose in the mesh box. Take out about a gallon, replace with half gallon fresh conditioned tap, and a half gallon from the parents' tank. I also spot-clean some mulm off the bottom with a pipette- this stirs some stuff up into the water column and then the fry seem to be feeding again. I do see little specks skittering around- copepods maybe but can't really tell if the fry are eating them. Thought I'd see the fry picking stuff to eat off the subwassertang, the leaf litter or the sponge filter, but nope- they always seem to be in the upper half of the water column.

I'm only going to keep a fraction of these to live in my 33L- Aqadvisor tells me a dozen white clouds is max for that tank and my filtration. So when the fry are larger, I'm probably going to cull the smallest ones and just grow out ten or twelve. Even with daily cleanings I don't think I can raise forty-plus fry to adult size in ten gallons (with a 24" x 12" footprint). I have to grow them out that big or Laddie will eat them in the home tank. Ten maybe I can manage. When it gets to be fewer fry on cleaner food (first bites as soon as they can manage it, then I'll give then gold pearls, crushed flake and pulverized hikari bio-gold) I can probably do every-other-day or twice-a-week water changes.

17 June 2020

white cloud fry

First thing this morning checked on the minnow fry in there. Half a thought maybe the parents ate some. Nope- there's more little specks darting around- I count at least a dozen, probably there's twenty or so. I shouldn't be so surprised, really- but I feel so giddy happy about this! I wanted more white clouds way more then I ever wanted extra guppies. Kept wondering when I'd feel comfortable enough to go buy some at the LFS, now I don't have to.

Glad now that I tested nitrates a few days ago when cleaning tanks- I skipped doing a water change on this 20H because it actually had below 5ppm. Phew- didn't unknowingly siphon out all the eggs/fry, and don't have to worry about doing a wc for a bit- if so, I can put the hose in the fry box that's still in there, so it pulls the water through the mesh and doesn't get the babies.

Going to spend wayyy too much time crouched down in front of that tank just staring delightedly at the tiny things.

16 June 2020

it worked!!

The separation I did.

I fed all the fishes just now, and was thinking of moving the white clouds back into the 33 and tearing this 20H down- but sprinkled in some crushed betta flake and bent down to watch them eat. Thought I saw a speck of fly moving against the glass. Then realized it's in the tank. Then realized it was a tiny baby fish. Then saw there's lots more. I have white cloud fry!

Can't get a photo. They are so very small. The parents don't seem to be eating them- went after the food. I fed them well just to be sure. They get excited and gobble down the first bites alongside the fry. I did think the male was flitting his pectorals in a begging gesture over the subwassertang bed- but then had doubts because the one I assumed female is nearly as bright in colors as the other two, and still looks plenty plump. Maybe she's not done laying eggs. Only reason I kept holding out thinking this was a female was because I never saw her spar and display alongside the other two.

Well, now I can well re-populate the white clouds that died too soon in my 33L- and then some! I'm so very pleased! Of course, down the road it would be best to get a few more unrelated adults to mix in, as these three adults are probably siblings (just like my first guppies were), but I'll just enjoy what I have for now.

the wildlife

A few days ago my husband and I saw a fox, walking on the path through the woods behind our neighborhood. We were just at to the end of the trail where it loops back to the street, the fox came trotting straight towards us, then saw us and veered off cutting corner through someone's backyard to circle around behind. So close! I love that.

Haven't seen the blue jays in a while. Still a wren or two, robins, the pair of cardinals, sparrows and the cheeky little catbirds. If I sit under the deck a long while I can observe them closely. The catbird has a regular route from its nest in the euonymus by the corner of the house, across one side of the garden and down the other, poking through the tomato bed last. Then it circles around and comes back down the opposite side of the same beds, before flitting back into the shrub. Usually with some insects in its beak.When I'm not sitting there, I've seen it take a shortcut to the tomato plants, stopping halfway to perch on the arm of my chair! But I haven't seen a jay anywhere, or a tail sticking over the nest rim, in a week or more. I wonder if the squirrels finally got to the nest.

This year I have all my herbs lined up in a row on the deck against the house- here in the pic you can see left to right: chocolate mint, bay laurel, three basils on the shelf and two dill below (cut back because I harvested a bunch), further beyond are the other mints, rosemary, chervil, etc etc. I'll get a better photo soon.
But this! I had to move all the shelves so my husband could rip out some rotting planks on the deck and put new boards down (the news ones are the natural wood color, not the old red stain) and I found this guy
his face, trying hard to ignore me
Now I can try identify: I think it's a gray treefrog.
I let him be after the few photos. He was tucked behind the pot of chives, and didn't move at all when I lifted the whole shelf to shift the plants. Still there when I moved them back again!

more flowers!

At least, I'm hoping for 'em. The milkweeds look great. Celosia don't, but oh well maybe next year I'll get big 'cockscombs' again. First 'seashell' cosmos!
Here's a better pic of a nasturtium
Few days ago I was sitting down under the deck, just four or five feet from the bit of wire netting that sweet peas are climbing. Only one bloom so far, and a hummingbird came to drink from it. I heard the strong thrum of its wings and looked up. What a wonder. Hope it comes back. There'll be more sweet peas soon.

It might be just too late in the season, but today I finally planted out a little row of cardinal climber behind the turnips and carrot bed, and another handful of them against the neighbor's fence. Also dug up another corner of grass on the edge to plant the zinnias malva sylvestris, and put some 'red spider' zinnias in blank spots between the cosmos and marigolds.

13 June 2020

some plants

One of the rue I transplanted last year near a hydrangea, is grown taller and flowering now
Most of the rue cuttings I tried to grow in pots died. This one left.
I planted the zinnias in a row near the back perennial bed. Not sure if they'll get enough sun. It's kind of rough conditions back there.
Near them, the false indigo I thought was going to die last year, is actually looking good!
In the borage bed I created on the skirts of a maple tree, some are just starting to bloom. I cut down the borage in the garden spot, near peas and beans. It was collapsing all over the place. I did leave the base of the plant with a few leaves, perhaps it will grow back some.
Peony flowers are all done, the cut ones in the house have faded. I still enjoy the foliage out front,
especially where a blue cranesbill peeks through. Mine are leggy from shade but I kind of like how they creep up through the peony.

12 June 2020

in the new beds

I have been a bit dubious about how well my new beds would perform, because I never threw dirt over a base layer of sticks before, and the soil I topped it with was not well-mixed. Hoped that the compost I added was rich enough to make it good, the dirt would sift down into the stick layer so roots reaching that far would find what they need, and the wood hold moisture then start to decay just adding to it all. But not sure if that's good for the plants meantime. However, they appear to be doing just fine! My zucchini is growing rapidly
and even has buds forming now
The tomatoes have grown taller- I added more ties and strips of cloth to give them support. Not pretty, but it does the job.
There's tomatoes coming in on all plants- Cherries
Cherokee Purple
This one is Beefsteak
Even my Brandywine plant is doing better than I've seen in the past (they usually get ailments or pests before the others)
So far no sign of blossom end rot or fungus, only a few leaves on the lower stems have yellowed and had to be removed. No hornworms have found the plants yet, aphids are minimal and when the sun is on the bed, the leaves practically sparkle with health. I'm hopeful to have good tomatoes this year.

last coleus

I still had some small coleus in the house, from the last set of cuttings.
Yesterday I planted them out- we've had days in the eighties and low nineties, so I wasn't sure if these would take the stress of transplanting. But after a thunderstorm the ground was well soaked and the next morning cool, so I took the chance. Most went across the front bed, where the older coleus I put out too early is just starting to come back from its cold shock. Newer plant has greener color and larger leaves- the older ones are rather yellowish, and their new growth small still.
Some I put in pots under the deck where the lentils died (I've put beer traps for slugs out)
This one which I always think of as lime-and-orange even though now they're quite red, in a pot on the deck
On the porch, two that have been out there quite a while- the one that's usually 'watermelon' pink has gotten quite dark and velvety looking (I like it better that way) and the crazy 'rodeo drive' one has a darker aspect on the new leaves as well. From much sun?
There's also this pot of 'kiwi fern' by the garden, where two of the three plants died early on, so I moved into the pot a new set of plants from other cuttings. Doing ok now.

11 June 2020

tenner stable

This tank is doing so well for me now, I hardly think about it. Feed the little guppies once a day, give it a water change and dose some vitamins once a week, done. Haven't used ferts in a long time. Only thing I don't like about it is how all the plants are similar height in the tank now- nothing reaches above midlevel- but buces are starting to grow atop the skull again so maybe that will help break up the evenness. Left side:
Someday soon I'll get a full tank shot again.

the young violets

Decided today that some of my african violet babies were big enough to move up into real pots. On this one, 'Bob Serbin' the younger leaves are grown nearly as large as the parent leaf!
in its new pot:
Also potted up 'Crackerjack Red'
and 'Frosted Brandy'
The shelf of violets in my bedroom, before and after:
Noticed after I'd potted them, that 'Bob Serbin' has two more little nubbins of green coming up off to the side. So I bet it will grow a second plant, or form a double crown then I can split it
Older purple one is still blooming!
Finally had a casualty among the cuttings under glass. One collapsed and started to rot. 'Leading Lady'. Not surprised, it was bound to happen to some of them after seven months! Here's those that are left, still looking fine:
I inspected close when doing the weekly watering (a strawful per tiny pot). One more has a tiny bit of growth emerging and got moved to the plastic baggie- 'Royal Rage.'

10 June 2020

things we're eating

There's sugar snap peas to pick every other day or so
Kale and more kale-
I like to sautee it just until crisp, with salt and garlic or sesame seed- goes nicely with rice and salmon or lentils or just alongside a stir-fry...
Enjoyed arugula flowers in the kitchen for a while, but now I've pulled the arugula, tatsoi and mizuna plants. They were all flowering and going to seed, and would cross.
So the greens bed looks half empty now
The glaze collards are growing back from where I cut them down
and soon I'll plant these young tokyo bekana into the empty space

The second greens bed is still full of slo-bolt simpson lettuce, last-year's blue collards gone to seed, and leaf beet chard. It looks kinda messy. I'm going to pull some of those lettuces and only let a few go tall.
Other side of it has the swiss chard, a few marigolds and alyssum.
Up on deck: figs are starting! on both my older plant, the chicago fig
and the newer brown turkey fig:
And of course, there's the herbs- almost every day I use something: chocolate mint or lemon balm for tea, chives sprinkled over something, sage chopped into a quesadilla, a bay leaf for simmering soup or lentils, basil on top of re-heated pizza (yeah, haven't made from-scratch pizza in a while). Dill in eggs or with fish, and just yesterday I used dill in a turnip-and-peas dish. It was pretty good! Going to repeat- when more turnips are ready (I only had two, so had to reduce that recipe by eighths.