31 August 2020

beans, lizard, frog

Picked more purple pole beans. Enough for everyone as side dish this time. So that's one thing in my garden actually doing better this year!
When I was on my way out the back door to pick them- startled this little skink on the deck.
Tried for a closer photo-
and it skittered behind some pots.
Even better, when I was out behind the pole beans, I found this little guy among the leaves-
Not sure which species- some kind of tree frog? but none of the identifying photos I find online are quite as orange- 
He moved while I was looking close, and the skin seemed very loose on his back.
Next day, I saw the little frog in the middle of the beans still-
Didn't walk around under the vines this time, but just took a few photos from the back- can see the skin pattern now 
I like to think he's eating all those pests that used to make my bean plants sickly. Here's the bright-colored round beetle in the garden- causing damage I think- and I recognize them now- immature stink bug.

29 August 2020

violet collection

Another of the new ones has bloomed. 
It's the 'Crackerjack Red'. Although I wouldn't think to call this red, I think it's lovely- my favorite one so far. It has a very tidy, compact growing habit, and the leaves are nicely scalloped on the edges.
Whereas its neighbor 'Frosted Brandy' has leaves that kind of droop-
The 'Bob Serbin' flowers faded and it doesn't have any more buds yet, but the foliage looks very healthy!
I finally potted up two more of the smaller ones from their first cutting containers- another 'Bob Serbin' -
and this 'Lavendar Magic' -
The two smallest are still in their first pots - both 'Royal Rage.'
Here's all of them on the bookshelf-
and view from above
If more of the cuttings finally grow- there's still eleven under glass in the dining room corner- I'll need another location for violet pots.

28 August 2020

window tank update

I've added more hornwort stems into the tank (trimmings from the 45), pegged down into substrate. For the summertime it makes the tank so green, and cut out the algae film on the rear glass completely. No more backdrop needed to reduce sun, seems balanced for now. 
Side view through the short end. 
My white clouds are spunky! I wonder now if I kept loosing some earlier, not because Laddie ate them, but because of the gill flukes... 
Today was the last dose of prazipro. A water change in seven days completes the treatment. Fingers crossed all better. Laddie is perked up again. Went eagerly after betta micro pellets today- first time I've seen him eat those since he got sick. Even flared a few times. (At what, I couldn't tell). 
The minnow fry are ten weeks old today.
Getting harder to take photos of them. 
They pretty much look like the adults now, just half the size. Some are starting to show white band on the edges of the unpaired fins. 
Two or three of them have very short dorsals- as if they only have 3-4 dorsal fin rays instead of the usual 6-7. Genetics? or poor water? I tested today- nitrates 10-20ppm. I'm bumping the wc schedule back up to every other day, until I can move some of these fishes out. 

27 August 2020

deterrent or not?

I found a pile of very fresh deer droppings in the backyard- near the perennial bed, on the lower end of the slope. Still surprised they don't touch the garden. I circled my leaf-mulch-pile fencing around the oakleaf hydrangea to prevent them from eating more of that, but shrugged off the hostas as a loss this year. Trimmed some hyssop that's now sprawling into the driveway, and stripped its pungent leaves to scatter among the tomatoes and zucchini. I do this with lavender and summer savory as well. 

The cuban oregano didn't do so well along the edge of the roots bed, or the edge near the turtlehead patch, but the ones across the end of the first bed that has pole beans this year, are thriving. I trimmed a few and planted the cuttings on either short end of the new beds, so one set near the leeks and tomatoes, the other near the empty bed. It's also a pungent plant, maybe that also helps.
Marigolds are very thick in the garden this year, but with few flowers. Is it because I saved my own seed? or something to do with the soil? However when I brush against the foliage there's the same strong odor, so maybe they still do just as good a job of repelling some pests.
Because I mentioned turtlehead, here's some of those- in full bloom now.

26 August 2020

new pest- and a helper

I found another new pest in my garden. It appears to only be on the zucchini plants- one in particular has a lot of serious wilt right now. They look like white stink bugs. Surprisingly easy to catch- if I disturb the plants (watering, snipping off wilted leaves, pulling out rotted stems) they climb to the topside of the stems, where I can pluck them off. 
Even though the broad leaves have wilt and some mildew-
Still looks like it will give me a few more fat zucchinis.
I found a brown preying mantis- it was on the underside of a chair arm, where I was hanging laundry out. Next to the holly shrub. Maybe it was eating bugs off the holly, but I'd really like it to eat bugs out of the garden! I gave it a ride over to the garden on a faded pink frisbee- wonder what it made of that- and let it walk off onto a zucchini leaf.
Then it was time for photos!
it threatened me at this range. So cool and alien-looking-

25 August 2020


My tokyo bekana are transplanted, but immediately full of holes. I suspect slugs. 
Doused the plants with soapy water, and set out a new slug trap- saw the idea online from another gardener. Cut slots in the side of a carton and sink it in the ground so the slots are level with surface, pour into the lower half a mixture of warm water, yeast and sugar, lid on top keeps rain from diluting it. I've been catching some big fat crickets and a handful of slugs every night. Not sure yet if it's enough to make a difference- the pests certainly seem to find these tender green leaves very tasty. 
I cut down all the glaze collards, and the blue collard from last year. Too bitter from heat to eat now and they were harboring lots of leaf hoppers (dark gray ones) and some brightly colored round beetles I know I've seen before, but if I identified them once, I can't recall the name now. 

I held a baby skink. I lifted the 'kiwi fern' coleus from the larger pot it nests in, to rotate it, and saw a scurry on the bottom of the bigger pot, with a bright blue skinny tail. A tiny skink- its body no wider than my pinkie finger. Its tail so very blue. It skittered around and around but couldn't climb out. Managed to get it to crawl onto my hand and lifted it out into the garden, where it dashed away. 
Few days ago when I moved the lawn mower, startled a large, very fat dark brown toad. And recently I also saw the leopard frog again- either it's grown bigger, or there's more than one. I hope they eat some of the slugs!

The poles my purple pole beans are growing on, fell sideways and lean against the wall now. 
It's crowded to get back there, so I propped them up with more short bamboo poles perpendicular off the wall. 
Cleaned off some unhealthy-looking foliage- same ailment or pest, but doesn't seem to be getting the best of the plants this time! The vines are so full of leaves it's hard to find the beans, in fact I missed quite a few from my first picking so now those are fattening up to make seed I can save. 
This will be part of our dinner tonight: