31 July 2020

with pictures

Baby cantaloupes!
Joe pye weed- the standard one- turned out to be more attractive than I expected.
Still really happy with the lamb's ears under my gladiolas (which are nearly done flowering now).
But the catmint I got from friend, died. I had one cutting still alive in a pot of soil and it started growing new leaves and I thought it was time to put it outside to get more sun- but the day was too hot and when I went back outside to water it, it had dried to a crisp. I think it was too soon, didn't have enough good root system yet. 

This is definitely my hollyhock mallow (zebrina) coming up!
Tithonia starting to get taller and flower more. One got devastated by pests and I pulled it out. Have been cleaning wilted lower leaves and deadheading old blooms every other day or so, it seems to help.
Here's my cardinal climber! It looks kinda silly going up these metal racks which were for shelves in the greenhouse I didn't use, I just propped them by the fence in case the cardinal plant needed something to cling to. Which it sure did.
I'm hoping the hummingbird will come for its flowers. Last week one day when I got in the car, I saw the hummingbird at the black-and-blue salvia, hovering from one flower to the next for several minutes. And this week I saw it once in the garden, it stopped at the tithonia and then paused at the hydrangea (I didn't know hummingbirds would feed from hydrangea). It's like magic, seeing that tiny bird that hangs in the air with a thrum.

My newest set of chinese cabbage sprouted
Final news: I busted my pinkie toe. Stubbed it hard on something in the garden and it hurt a lot. Noticed later it's bloody and the nail split down the middle, vertical completely from edge to the cuticle. Spent most of yesterday sitting with my foot up and ice on it. It's not torn off or swollen, so I am just going to wait and see how it heals. I read that it takes up to eighteen months for a nail to grow back! Meanwhile I am keeping a bandaid on so it doesn't snag on something and actually tear off, and it's still a little sore today so I'm not doing as much outside work for the time being . . .

28 July 2020

garden report

No photos today, but some brief notes. Bugs have got ahead of me in the garden again, since I wasn't out there much last week. I have to put in a few hours before ten or eleven if I want to get something productive done, as by nine it starts to get unbearably hot. Insects have killed my nasturtiums and are making inroads on other plants. I doused many in soapy water again and it's helped some. Pulled all the old snap pea plants- they're past saving for seed as all look diseased. Cut sickly foliage off the bean plants and sprayed them again. If the soapy water doesn't help enough I'll do neem oil before a rainstorm today. Newer foliage still looks fresh.

I was looking forward to amaranth greens again, but the potato beetles like it just as much as I do- they are completely riddled with holes and on two plants the leaves have started to drop off. I've been squishing the beetles as I find them but didn't realize there's larvae as well- short fat pale grey caterpillars on leaf undersides. Never seen them before. Picked two dozen off the plants this morning. Cleaned up sickly leaves off the glaze collards, swiss chard, zucchini, cuke and tomato plants. Not very many so I'm still ahead of it there.

Took a large harvest of chinese cabbage (aka tokyo bekana) cutting the plants nearly down to the ground and dousing the remaining crowns with soapy water. They were very much riddled with bug holes. Not just slugs, something else too I think. Had a nice meal the day before- portabella mushrooms sliced and cooked with leeks and onions, then simmered in a bit of soy sauce with zucchini sautéed in farm butter on the side, and chinese cabbage cooked in soy sauce and apple cider vinegar, all on a bed of rice. I used apple cider vinegar in place of rice wine vinegar, it just takes a dash. I also used ginger mint in place of fresh ginger root (my ginger plant has long since died and I don't have another yet). So that dinner had four garden ingredients: leeks, chinese cabbage, ginger mint and the zucchini. It was a lovely zucchini. There's another one growing! There's a baby cantaloupe on the vine out there, too. Today I cut more chinese cabbage, pretty much using all the rest of it (going to make the same dish but with salmon and couscous today). I think I only got two harvests out of that lot of chinese cabbage. I started more seed of it today, but really I should have done a new sowing as soon as the young plants went into the ground. Aim for that this time.

25 July 2020

garden food

I was pleased with this meal last week- the potatoes are from a box and the peas from a bag of frozen,
but the minced green onion garnish, cooked amaranth greens, turnips and dill with the peas are all home-grown. People weren't kidding- amaranth 'calaloo' has great taste! Tossed it with a bit of butter and salt, that's all. Much better flavor than collards or even leaf beet chard, very close flavor to spinach. And it loves the heat. It's growing like crazy in my garden though I've cut it back twice already. Great plant.

new eats

Picked my first cucumber. It was better-tasting than previous years (no bitterness) and fat, too!
Zucchini, going to eat this one tonight.
And a large tomato. I brought it in to finish ripen on the windowsill.
Something has been eating my tomatoes. I kept thinking I saw more cherokee purples on the vine, but then when they ripened, only a few are left. Then I found a large tomato with a spot of decay on one side- or a bite, because the next day the hole was larger. Third day I went out to pick and bring it inside, and even more of it was missing, from the same side! Is it the squirrel? usually they carry the whole thing off, or take a bite and then go on to another fruit, but whatever creature nibbled my tomato came back every day to eat a little more of it. Maybe the chipmunk.

I don't have a photo of this, but started picking the sunberries. Only two or three at a time- the clusters don't all ripen at once. I offered some to each of my family. My kids liked them all right, my husband didn't. They're not very sweet, the flavor is mild and they're kind of mealy in texture. I think I will have to pick and freeze a lot in succession, get enough to try a small pie. If we're not too fond of that, this might be a plant to skip in the garden next year.

23 July 2020

paradise fish status

I'm nervous to either take a gill sample or make potassium permanganate dip for Laddie. I reconsidered all his symptoms- pale, mostly clamped fins, lethargic, no appetite, hanging at the surface, sometimes flashing off the filter uplift tube, seeming to gasp for breath. Now I think could be gill flukes?

I looked through my box of fish meds and last night dosed the tank with general cure (praziquantel and metronidazole). I have enough to do one complete round of two doses fortyeight hours apart- and then will have to buy more to repeat in however many weeks this parasite reproduces- or use prazipro to continue treatment (still have a bottle of that, but not sure how much is in it).

I think maybe I'm on the right track- Laddie looks much better this morning. He's alert, looking at me expectantly through the glass, went after flake, even competing with the guppies and minnows for food. He's moving about the tank at normal levels, inspecting stuff with interest, not hanging at the surface, and fins are not so clamped. I'm glad to see him better but have to figure out when to repeat treatment and what to use (get more general cure or just go with prazipro).

22 July 2020

collard seed

Harvested from my blue collard plant. I only gathered a fraction of the dry seed pod. These look nice, dry and mature
there's more that seemed to only have one mature seed, or looked musty.
I broke open and sorted the seed separately. Inside of the split-open pods there's little pockets left where the seeds had formed. The seeds grow in two rows down the length of each pod.
This handful is from the nice, mature pods
and this from the smaller and dingy-looking ones.
After sifting out the chaff and smaller, deformed or immature seed (there were plenty in each set of pods), I put them in separate seed packets in the fridge, marked accordingly. Curious to see if I get healthier plants from the nicer seed pods, but I'll have to remember to plant some from each group and label the seedlings to tell them apart.

20 July 2020

a zucchini is growing

the good and not-so

Of my window tank. Next door in the 20H, white cloud fry look like neon tetras with red tails!
I did cull three more fry this week that are behind in growth and can't manage to eat gold pearls (half size to the others)
No great loss. Still loose count when I get over twenty-
Best photo this week of fry- in terms of clarity. They're eating mostly gold pearls and crushed flake or pulverized shrimp, omega one or NLS pellets. Starting to gather in the front corner of the tank when I feed, instead of being at random everywhere. 
Corner shot of the window tank, in sun. I've been culling out trumpet snails in favor of ramshorns and bladder snails, which are the spots on the rear glass there.
My paradise fish is back to hanging at surface lethargic, after two days of looking well and eating eagerly. He went half-heartedly for bits of shrimp pellet this morning, but spat it out. Had a worse bout of gasping with that odd noise. Now I wonder if he's got gill damage. I have dosed this tank with levamisole and prazipro before, Laddie is still ill. I'm looking for instructions on how to do a potassium permanganate dip, and take skin or gill scrapings to look under microscope (I've tried this before and wasn't able to identify anything, but gill flukes sound easier to see).

18 July 2020

17 July 2020

fishes update

My angelfish completed a second round of kanaplex. The fins are all growing back nicely. Still red around the pectoral joint. She comes eagerly to the front glass when I approach the tank now, and sometimes goes so avidly for food that water splashes out of the tank.

My fry are growing, growing. I'm feeding them four times a day now, usually gold pearls or pulverized regular foods but once a day the first bites still. There are a few fry half the size of the others, they can't eat the gold pearls yet. One looked like it had half its caudal fin missing with white on the edge- fin rot? I quick did a water test- nitrates below five so that's fine- and a three gallon water change carefully siphoning all the bottom. Also removed a few of the oak leaves that are starting to break down. Later in the day I can still identify that smaller fry with half a tail fin- but the whiteness is gone so hope it's better.

Guppies- all the same. No problems there.

Laddie looked so poorly most of the week, I was seriously considering giving him clove oil or the brick. He floated at surface, barely moving, didn't eat for days on end. Day before I was alarmed to see a guppy picking at his side, and he didn't react for a moment, then moved off but slowly. He looked more alert later in the day, tried to eat but spit it out repeatedly and then ignored food. But then he went for a snail. And later I heard him making that clacking noise, saw him gulping air.

Yesterday, surprised to see he greets me at the front of the tank, swims back and forth a bit, avidly ate omega one betta flake. I was so glad to see him eating I tried to spot-feed him more flake after the guppies and minnows had got their share- placing individual flake with tweezers right in front of his nose. The smaller fishes still grabbed some, but Perry darted and snapped up the food with eagerness I haven't seen in a long time. I spot-fed him flake several times through the day, happy to see him eating again, and also today is the same. He's eager to eat, he looks interested in things again, he's moving around the tank more not sitting in one spot for hours looking comatose. Even has a bit more color.

Has he beaten whatever was making him feel unwell?

16 July 2020

new flowers- inside and out

Surprised and delighted- one of my young african violets has bloomed.
It's 'Bob Serbin'
I really thought they wouldn't bloom until a year old, but here we are!
Older purple one has been flowering more or less continually since March.
I've started cutting gladiolas to bring in the house. With a few hosta blooms tucked in.
Not so new, but I noticed the nicotiana 'peach screamer' opens pinkish,
and then they turn white later on.
Out in the yard, the first rose of sharon has opened!
and the second plant has plenty of fat buds, so not far off either.

15 July 2020

outside today

I had a very satisfying, sweaty morning. Got up before seven, so it was still cool. Went outside and started digging up the end of last year's leaf pile. Tossed some into the compost bin and spread the rest on the garden beds- as mulch and feed. It took several hours, but looks great. Trickiest is mulching around the carrots and beets, without breaking a lot of foliage. Found some leaf hoppers- grr- pretty cobalt blue ones, pale grass-green and one grey. Didn't catch them all. Cantaloupe vine has grown into the roots bed- but that's okay because more turnips are coming out soon.
I have some baby cucumbers
Don't see any zucchini yet, although there are lots of yellow flowers.
Tokyo bekana is doing better
In spite of the pest damage, gonna start eating it.
Sunberries are growing!
Amaranth greens got taller- nearly up to my shoulder. Cut and ate some today. First tried four leaves in scrambled eggs, then topped all four plants and sautéed them lightly in butter as a side for pasta dish at dinnertime. It's good. Very spinach-like flavor, better even than the leaf beet chard. A new garden favorite.
Although the bug holes- a few caterpillars but mostly the pest seems to be false potato beetle, one I haven't seen before. They're quick to evade my hand-picking. Don't seem to be spreading disease though, just making lots and lots of holes.
The beans and peas are in terrible shape. I started cutting out dried pea vines, trying to leave the ones still holding seed pods- don't seem to be mature yet. But they also seem all diseased. I thought they were just drying out but they're mottled and some have got smushy. Then saw familiar discoloration and sickly look on my bean leaves. I threw soapy dishwater over the plants from the deck, a few days later started cutting out all the sickly bean leaves. Lots of new leaves sprouting that seem unaffected by the pest, so maybe will recover and I'll actually get some beans. It looks like spider mites.

14 July 2020

wc fry update

My little white clouds are four weeks old and they actually look like tiny tiny fish now. I can easily see all the fins- anal and dorsal as well as caudal. I tried three times to get photos today and this was the best could do- because they never stop flitting around!
Had my first actual casualty- I did a water change and hours later found one dead fry in the tank- with edges degraded. At first thought maybe it starved, because I'd accidentally skipped one of the midday feedings. But later saw a very tiny one, so obviously if that one didn't die from missing a feeding this one wouldn't (it was as large as most). I think it may have gotten caught by the hose suction against the mesh side of the box when I siphoned water out.
The tiniest one I saw in the evening- most of the fry then congregate loosely about an inch under the water surface behind the mesh box. I saw one that was less than half size of the others- still just looked like a tadpole with spade tail shape barely visible. I culled that one

Few more blurry pics: