Archive for May 2009

Getting A Fix

I'm convinced that gardening is like cocaine.

No, really, think about it.

You're walking down the road and you see some empty patch of lawn or dirt, and the craving hits you. "Gotta plant, gotta plant, holy shit I need to go buy things to put there right now." You're walking into work and notice weeds growing in the flowerbeds, so you bend over and pull them out. You get a rush of satisfaction, which keeps you going until your lunch break when, antsy because the office plants can only stave off your cravings for so long, you get to go to your outdoor garden and do some weeding, thinning, and have a frozen yogurt.

And when you wake up in the morning, you look at this and think "Oh gods, what did I do last night?" You pull yourself out of that months-long haze and look in horror at what you had become: a plant-crazed addict.

I took this photo today specifically to show the people at the farmers' market how well the tomato plant I bought is doing. (I bought four, but they gave me aphids, and the other three ended up not surviving my brutal Death-To-All-Insect-Bearing-Plants method, but this one, oh this one is doing splendidly!) I'm sure they get a lot of people saying "Oh, my peppers are doing well" or "Dag nabbit, the deer ate the tomatoes and lettuce again this year."

But, y'know, I'm on gardening-crack. I need a fix. And I want to show the kale guy how well my tomato is doing.


Gardening Is My Exercise

Because my indoor garden doesn't require hoeing, weeding, shoveling, or any really strenuous activities, I'm a volunteer for the National Arboretum's Youth Garden. My first time was three weeks ago; I dug up a path, put down garden cloth or somesuch, and shoveled mulch into wheelbarrows to put on the path. Two weeks ago I was sick, and volunteering was cancelled last weekend because of the holiday. But this weekend, I got to help dig 10 raised beds.

To be honest, I don't do it for the kids. My motivation is primarily to get outside in the heat with a garden tool in my hands, sweat a little, and build up some upper-body strength so I don't have to go to the gym. But it's hard not to appreciate the mission this garden has when you see such a cute small child planting celery, and you know that coming to this garden every week will be such an impact upon that girl and every other kid who comes here. Because that's where I got my start--gardening at age 4 or 5.

Gotta get 'em when they're young!

Update: Her name's Camille.


To Stave Off Pretty-Picture Overload

So, my latest philosophy is this: shorter posts for easy digestibility. But that also means more frequent posts. Maybe I'll just do more frequent long posts. That'll appease me! But for the moment, here's a short post. It would be longer, but some of my pretty pictures were used up in other recent posts.

I bought this sunflower at a little store off 18th Street in Adams Morgan. I just Googled, and I almost had the name right: A Little Shop of Flowers. I also bought a yellow and cream orchid and an off-white daisy-type flower that isn't a daisy but I'm not so good at these things. It was for a small bouquet for my sister when I went to visit a portion of the family last weekend. It gives me hope that some of my sunflowers will look this good!

I have, of course, noticed the roses in DC blooming profusely. We do like our roses here. I have, for some reason, been leaving electronics at home: I haven't had my MP3 player with me for weeks; my camera is less of a passenger; and I even forget my mobile phone sometimes. Because of this blog and my gardening, I have been noticing more plants than ever before, and I keep snapping photos of them. I only have one photo of beautiful roses, but over at Gradually Greener, there are more pictures of roses from DC yards. I did notice last night that the Grenada embassy has some cute little flowers, even some arranged in a circle around a manhole. I intend on shooting that photo on Sunday.

This is... Hm, I feel my Gynura aurantiaca needs a name of his own. He's so much cuter, purpler, and awesomer than all the images I find of other G. aurantiaca on Google. They look like deadly icky weeds; Barton (just named him, right here, right now! YOU were there! Wanna buy a T-shirt?), here, looks friendly, cuddly, and fun-loving. This is a photo of one of his leaves from the underside, inspired by the transmitted-light posts over at PATSP. Not quite so in focus--I'll try for a less bendy leaf next time.

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Pumpkin Puberty

My little Cheyenne pumpkin plant, small though it is, has tiny little flower buds on it! For size comparison, notice the few-day-old spinach seedling on the right. I know what pumpkin flowers look like when fully developed, so these Tiny Tims have a ways to go before I stick my Q-tip in them, but it gives me hope that I'll get pumpkins! Somehow.

Where will they grow? There's nowhere to put the fruit...! Oh no... I guess by the time I have to worry about it, the beans will be done producing and I can get them out of the way, but the tomato will still be there.

Luckily, the potato died, so there won't be a big bush in the way on that side. I'm working on replacements, but I will keep them in a three-gallon bucket instead. Yeah, they could use more space, but I'm experimenting.


The Happening

Or, Random Plant-Related Events. With some pretty pictures. Because I have a lot of stuff that has been waiting its turn while I've been busy. Most of this wouldn't deserve its own post, or even a feature in the regular Pflanzenfortshreibungen. But they're interesting, pretty, or cool little happenings that I think deserve a tiny spotlight.

Y'all know I'm a sucker for purple! I was just cool with it until I started seeing it in all these flowers and plants everywhere--now it's one of my favourite colours. This is a photo of what I think is a kidney bean flower from yesterday morning with its purplish petals (they look more pink than lavender here, but I blame the camera. We've not been getting along lately.).

Here are my oh-so-vigorous peanut plants, prior to the thinning. I don't think an 8-inch pot will be large enough for even a single peanut plant, so there's this spot in the Mr. Yogato garden that I'm thinking about transplanting my remaining peanut plant into... There were supposed to be strawberries there, but one died and the other two or three never materialized. So there's a ring of strawberries around this empty patch of ground... Which could be growing peanuts.

I bought grape vines. "Flame" red seedless grapes. Let's see how they do, eh? I might be a bit crazy, but hell, it was only $10.

Who can resist viny tendrils of bean love? This mystery bean is growing up the grow-light's power cord. I angled the metal reflector differently so the branch wouldn't toast, but I'll have to rig the cord away instead--the light is needed in its old position!

My dwarf climbing jasmine that I bought at the National Arboretum's plant sale last month didn't appreciate my attention. I think I had been overwatering and underlighting--the peeps at Meehan's Miniatures told me to keep it in partial sun, which to me meant on top of the computer table hutch thing, which barely gets any direct sunlight. The begonias were happy up there, and they were happy with the watering schedule. I am fond of the begonias, now in my office, so the jasmine got more attention than I think it liked. So, after a short conversation with an employee at the Garden District, I transplanted it and moved it down on the planter so it could get more light and less attention. It is still dropping some leaves, but new ones are growing, so excitement abounds! But not attention. No, I can't afford to pay too much attention to this guy.

I bought a pineapple from Trader Joe's on Monday with a coworker. I don't have pineapple often, but I splurged. And is was ridiculously delicious. So I planted the top. Of course. I plan on harvesting another pineapple in about a year and a half.

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Bothersome Insects

I think I just have to be okay with having bugs in my apartment.

When I think about my numerous roommates, I think of the song "Cotton Eye Joe." Where did you come from? You gotta go! Where did you come from? I'll smush you down low!

So here's the latest installment of the bug-drama. I was taking photos of the garden yesterday morning, because the radicchio and chives that I planted in January were doing amazingly well--I had used some radicchio about two weeks ago for a salad, but now I could almost make a salad with just this!

All excited and thinking of eating the beautiful, large leaves, I approached the planter after taking photographs of my setup (click for much-enlarged versions).

Only to find spider mites (right, the adult forms?) in addtion to... Something else. Spider mites I blame on bringing outdoor plants inside; something else, where the hell did YOU come from? From the same outdoor plants? Or from outer space? How long have you been there?

At first I thought they were whiteflies--I had heard about those before. But then I Googlipediaed, and they don't look like whiteflies. So, here's my working theory--they're insects and they have to die because they're on my plants in my apartment.

So, actually, I tossed the plants and reclaimed the planter. The soil in there was from the original bag that had bred the fungus gnats. It was pretty poor, compactful soil, although the radicchio and chives seemed to finally be doing well (four months later). I replaced it with organic potting mix amended with some organic compost and transplanted my Gynura aurantiaca cutting (which recently rooted) into it. It'll be a nice gift for someone at some point--the contrast of the green planter and the purple leaves? Very nice!

Additionally, I'm still fighting the last skirmishes in the Great Spider Mite (?) War of 2009, this time on a bean plant that's currently flowering.

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Carnivorous Germination

My little sundews are germinating! Well, half of them. Two of the four coke-bottle-bottom greenhouses have little green blobs in them that look like tiny plants! (Click the picture for a view that shows more than just the little green blobs. Photos were hard to get through plastic wrap and with an autofocusing camera!)

I planted them on, I would assume, 25 April, when I went to the National Arboretum's plant sale. So, 31 days ago. The back of the packets all say the same thing:

"Sow seeds from Spring onward, on the surface of very damp peat and horticultural sand (60/40). Keep constantly moist with rainwater or equivalent. Cover to keep humidity high. 70+ days to germination at 55-75 degrees F in bright light. Store seeds cold."

I think I had less sand than prescribed, and I haven't really "kept moist." I made the mixture moist, sprinkled seeds, covered with plastic wrap taped tightly to the side, and poked a single hole in the center for aeration and possible watering, if necessary. There has always been condensation on the plastic wrap, so I figured all was well and I just left it alone.

Tonight, reinvigorated by the idea of starting a plant-sale business, I pulled out my garden journal again and started taking notes: potted this, transplanted that, seeded those, oh look how well that's doing, uh oh, that's doing poorly, er, what's that again? You know, standard garden observations.

Maybe in a few months, these babies will be big enough to break out and start eating the fungus gnats, aphids, spider mites, white flies, and whatever those larger black flies are. They don't look like normal garden pests... They look like younger, leaner versions of normal houseflies. There aren't many, but there are enough that I am very, very happy that my sundew is growing months ahead of schedule.

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Guerrilla Gardening Gone... Well, Just Gone

I would like to say "Gone Wild," but when someone has systematically removed each and every seedling from most of the street, then things really can't get to the "Wild" point.

There are two planters at the southern-most part of the street with some sunflowers left, and the weeded mass across from it has some, as well as sugar snap peas. The square planters at the northern-most point have a few survivors, but the bags, trash, and intentional removal have inhibited the beauty that would have arisen in a few weeks.

Just a quick map to show you the general location of the surviving sunflowers.

See the bottles? These were in the planter. See the trash can? Too far away for people, clearly. I normally just pick out the trash (paper towels, candy wrappers, bottles, cans, other items) and walk it to the trash while I'm on my way home from some event or meeting, but Friday, 22 May, I was a bit disgusted. You can see a few sunflower seedlings in the planter to the left of the bottles, but those were gone by Monday, 25 May. Not crushed, like some in the planters--gone. Picked. Targeted, identified, and systematically removed.

This one only survived, I think, because the purple salvia is hiding it. For now. I'm trying not to get my hopes up about it growing tall and being beautiful, because there are clearly people who would rather not see that happen.

These are some of the only surviving seedlings. They survive because they're in a raised bed of weeds and people don't care. My friend and I planted enough that even if dogs, gophers, or drug addicts dig holes or roll around, some should survive to maturity.

Where's Snap Pea? Can you find him? The snap pea leaves out here are significantly larger than the ones I have growing in my apartment. They must get more light or something that I can't offer mine.

This is one of two planters along the street that retain any sunflowers. These are all probably the Titan variety, which can grow to 12 feet tall--almost as tall as the little tree they're planted under. Let's see how it goes, eh?

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This beauty deserves its own post, does it not?

On Friday, 22 May, I finally got down to Mr. Yogato after dark to see the Datura bloom. I felt a bit dirty--I had just come from an old haunt, where I met up with an old university friend who lives in the area and just graduated. We went to Sprinkles, in Potomac, MD. I had ice cream there. I didn't order anything when I got to Mr. Yogato.

But then, I'm not gardening out front of Sprinkles. That's the ultimate expression of love for an establishment, is it not? I'm sure Mr. Yogato won't feel jealous that I was at a competitor... Wearing a T-shirt with that competitor's name on it, too.

Maybe when we finally have our Boggle tournament, Mr. Yogato will feel the real love... As I crush him! Consider yourself challenged, Mister!

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Blossoming Beans... And Business?

I really love alliteration. I can't lie. It pleases me deep down inside when I can put two words together with the same first letter.

Anyway. My oh-so-lovely bean plants (the survivors of the cull) are flowering! That includes the edamame. But those flowers are surprisingly tiny.

The other beans, I don't know what they are. I think one is kidney bean--the plant is more bushy than the others. The runner bean type plant I think is navy bean. But it could be black bean. Who even knows? I'll figure it out after harvest. I'll make a nice stir fry or a bowl of soup!

I've been having thoughts about opening some sort of small business--making granola, making mochi, something along those lines.

But granola is high in calories and I kept eating it all, and the type of mochi I was trying to make apparently requires a microwave, which I don't have room for, so those ideas are out the window.

But what about an indoor-vegetable-garden-themed plant-sale business?

My indoor garden is like a proof-of-concept trial. My gimmick: veggie crop plants that are fairly easily grown indoors for those who don't have access to outdoor space (it sounds so obvious, doesn't it?). For example, beans seem to love growing inside my apartment. I want to find a good variety of tomato that will grow in a container--the Cherokee doesn't like small pots, and I'm certain that a much too large pot would be required to grow most tomato varieties. Maybe a cherry tomato?

Basically, I'd test out different types of herbs and vegetables indoors (more scientifically than I am doing now, I guess), set up a seedling station (metal shelving unit with fluorescent lights), and sell seedlings to people with the general idea of growing said seedlings indoors. Of course they can be grown outdoors, but hand-picking edible plants for indoor use is a service I might be able to offer that farmers or garden centres just can't compete with.

Besides, it's an excellent way to justify further spiralling into my plant obsession!


Tomato Towers (Condos For Sale; Inquire Within)

On 19 April, I bought some young Cherokee tomato plants. They were about, say, 12 or 14 inches tall? I didn't measure them. One was overly infested with aphids, the other was put in my planter box, a third was put in an eight-inch planter, and the fourth is, er, still sitting in its plastic cell. I think it's a goner.

Since that day (36 days ago), my Cherokee tomato in the planter box has grown about 20-something inches taller. I didn't really notice it until last week when I installed the shoplight with the fluorescent grow bulbs. In a few days, the top of the tomato plant hit the lights.

There are little flower buds--I'm just waiting for them to bloom so I can fertilize them and then start collecting tomatoes!

Holy jeez, I just thought; I'm going to have to buy canning equipment if I really want to start making pizza and spaghetti sauces to can and store. Or maybe I'll just get freezer bags and freeze the sauces. I have time to figure that out, I'm not harvesting anything from the plants yet!

Photo taken (probably) 5 May (that's at least when I put it on the computer), about two weeks after buying/planting the one tomato in the box. Not too much growth since I bought the plants, but a little.

Photo taken last Friday (22 May), I think. It would have had to have been after my first harvest, because the morass of beans has been tamed and the remaining bean plants are staked. I installed the shoplight last Sunday (17 May).

Photo taken tonight, 25 May. The "stakes" weren't working too well, so I used some twine and tied the stake and plant to the 4x4 post that holds up the lights. Plant height: 35 or 36 inches, depending on at what angle you measure. But I think 35 inches from the soil level to the apical meristem.

For comparison, here is the one surviving Ace Bush tomato I planted on 28 January. This guy has led a rough life and is only about four inches tall. But that's about 400% larger than he was just weeks ago. So I have faith that he'll keep on truckin' and maybe produce excellent fruit later this summer!

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Weekend Gardening

My sister picked me up and drove me to my mom's on Saturday while my mom was away on a wallpapering job. That gave me time to landscape her backyard a little bit, a belated Mother's Day present.

By "My sister picked me up and drove me to my mom's," I mean we were en route for about 7 hours, so unfortunately some of the plants looked a bit unhappy. Particularly the fern-leaf bleeding heart plant. It's a variety that has similar flowers, but in a bunch instead of in a row. Flowering is done for them now, but I think it'll be nice next year, after my mom finally nails down a permanent dwelling.

I also planted a flowering hosta that I've seen in the DC area--one of my beefs with hostas is that they are so overused for something that has what is to me a boring leaf shape, variegated though they generally are. But, to my surprise, some of them flower, and I like that, so I got one for Mother Dearest.

I also got some daylilies, African marigolds, purple- and red-flowering Salvia somethings, cherry tomatoes, and some... Er... They were, like, fun-shaped pink/red variegated leaf tuber things. That's the "surprise." It was a bit late to plant them, but still within the two-month window according to the back of the bag.

Mom's backyard is a bit... Mmm... In need of weeding? But the soil is pretty good, and I have hopes that the plants will do well.

The purple Salvia and the African marigold. I kind of think the Salvia should be called "Lizard Tongue" or something. See the up-close version later to see why.

Flowering hosta and some more marigolds. Marigold was a plant we had all the time growing up, my mom loves them!

The daylilies and yet more marigolds.

Red Salvia and the final marigold.

African marigold is larger than standard marigold blooms, but the flowers are more compact. They're kinda cool.

These hosta flowers are very pretty. They grow on a spike that comes out of the centre of the plant. I have seen many in the DC area in the past few weeks.

Red Salvia up close. This one and the purple one below look like little lizard heads, some complete with tongues. The "tongues" seem to fall out pretty readily, but I'm sure new inflorescences will have them.

Purple "Lizard Tongue" Salvia. (Common name of my own making, I dunno what they're called.)


Mind: Blown

Pothos isn't Pothos at all. It's Epipremnum aureum. Like, what the hell? It used to be Pothos, but now it isn't. That's why it's called pothos still. But it's not.

That's what I get for making assumptions... So maybe that's why little Brendan had taken so long to grow his first leaf: I kept telling him he was someone he was not and he couldn't figure out what to do. (He is working on his fifth leaf right now, he's zooming!)

As an update, hopefully I crushed or removed the ten million little pests I had been expecting, or else I'll come back from my weekend away to an insecty apartment. The fungus gnats are still around, but they're almost gone; the aphids or whatever the hell they are are clearly from some plant that I've taken in in the past few days... Or maybe one fell off the tomato from so long ago and made babies--but they look very different. Less crickety, more spidery. So I'm thinking new infusion.

Maybe from the bleeding hearts I potted for my mom. Maybe from the two flowering plants I kept from the lady who gave me all her seeds. Maybe from the grape vines I bought. (Yeah, that's right, I'm growing grapes now.) Maybe the bugs floated up to the 12th floor, made it through my window screen, and were deposited gently upon my peppers and eggplants by a magical force.

Yeah, that seems likeliest.

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First Harvest!

Last night, I had some time to tend the garden (I skipped German class, I'll admit here, but I was so incredibly drained from work, I just couldn't think of going to class).

I looked at it, and it was crazy. I had beans growing on top of other plants, things trying to peek through from under the layer of compost I added last weekend, other plants hardly identifiable beneath the mass of bean leaves.

The beans had to be thinned. They're all getting flowerbuds on them right now, so I was hesitant about clipping them back. But when I saw the basil, tomatoes, pumpkins, and potatoes trying to grow but overshadowed by the beans, I knew what I had to do. So, I got a pair of scissors and a bowl and went to work. I clipped about eight bean plants. To be honest, I don't know what kind they are, mostly--I planted black beans, navy beans, kidney beans, and azuki beans. I know the azuki beans (they were all cut down, because I have plenty growing more healthily in the strawberry pot), but I don't know what more-mature navy or black bean plants look like--at least one of them is a runner bean (oh dear gods). It'll be a surprise to me what I harvest from the remaining plants.

The leaves and shoots from the ones that were cut back ended up in the bowl; the stems and cotyledons ended up in the compost. I also cut back two more sugar snap pea plants and added them to the bean leaves in the bowl.

This morning, I gathered a few lemon basil leaves, some lemon geranium leaves, and a sprig of cilantro. That's all that's in the photo here--some refrigerated-overnighted bean leaves and some fresh herbs. I cracked pepper and salt over the whole deal and added a few chard leaves from the farmers' market (they didn't have any kale this weekend, but the guy is incredibly nice, so I had to buy something, and chard is good too). I forgot to thin out the arugula seedlings and add some to the salad--I also forgot to, y'know, get dressing. So I stole some vinaigrette from the fridge at work, and the salad was awesome!

It'll be a while before I get another harvest, but this one was extraordinary for me. It makes me look forward to growing more beans from my cabinet, just for their leaves, if nothing else. It also makes me look forward to the rest of the season. Leaves aren't the only thing that will come out of my indoor garden--one of my Cherokee tomato plants is 28 inches tall and has some flowerbuds. The potatoes are growing, the peanuts seem to be doing well, and the peppers are well on their way to being healthy, productive plants.

Oh yes, grow, my pretties, grow!


Mr. Yogato Garden

The Mr. Yogato garden is doing fairly well. It has been a month and a half since I planted there, but things are finally picking up as it gets hotter and the plants get sunlight, not just days upon days of rain.

Even some of the employees there don't seem to know that there are plants in front of the shop. But others notice. It doesn't stop them from putting spoons, cigarettes, or other such treasures in the planter beds, or from even stepping in them, but I know they do notice the plants.

Here's about 1/3 of the spread. Some of the strawberry plants didn't make it, some are doing pretty well. I'm waiting for them to thrive, but they'll do it in their own time. (They are mostly located in the top-right corner; there are others, but they're obscured by other plants in this photo.) At the middle-top, there's something from the morning glory family; they said it's an ornamental sweet potato-like thing. I have a fondness for purple (could you tell?), so I paid the $3.50 for it and stuck it where the Scarlet Runner beans should have come up but never did. The Cupressocyparis leylandii "Gold Rider" (Leyland cyprus) in the back corner is doing alright. It doesn't seem too happy, but it doesn't seem too upset, either. It's just waiting to adapt, I'm sure. There are some marigolds in there, too, and one of the Alternanthera dentatas (the other is alive as well, it's just not pictured). The Alternantheras seem to be doing well--they have new growth, and they get enough light for the leaves to be purple, as does the ornamental sweet potato-thing. I can't wait until they take off and get all busheriffic!

But look at the middle. I've been dancing around it so far. But it makes me want to dance! I had a friend text me a picture of this plant the other day. I bought it a few weeks ago at the farmers' market; a Datura moonflower (the Internets says it's probably D. inoxia. I don't really know enough about it. I remember having bought seeds when I was a teenager, but none of them had ever germinated, and guess what? Tons of things are called "Moonflower," even sweet potatoes! So whatevs.). I cannot wait to see its flowers open in person! Tomorrow night, I think, I'll hang around and see 'em. I think they only open at night (hence the "Moonflower" appellation), although someone said something along the lines of "They stay bloomed all day." I don't know if it was the sales guy; I seem to recall it was a girl or something, so probably not. Either way, the one flower looks like it has been just waiting to burst for almost a week, so I'm inclined to believe that it opens at night and I've just been seeing it wrapped up for the sun-shiny days.

This is the window planter. There were a few surprises in here, even for me. I had forgotten I planted strawberries underneath the right window. They're doing pretty well, along with their marigold friends. I also didn't know what zinnia seedlings looked like--I "weeded" most of them the other day, despite having put them there intentionally. I remembered I had dropped an old packet of zinnia seeds (bought at the same time as those famed Moonflower seeds) in the planter, but only after most of the seedlings had been ripped up from around the sunflowers.

Which, by the way, are looking beautiful! These guys... Well, I hope there's enough room down below to support their growth. I kind of just dropped a smattering of sunflower seeds in two plots and hoped for the best. I think the biggest are Titan sunflowers; there are three other varieties that will grow less tall, but the Titans are doing the best at the moment. I thinned them out about two weeks ago--I will have to do further thinning soon, but I've been waiting so I don't just pluck everything that isn't Titan. I think the ones that aren't slated to grow to 12 feet tall (like the Titans) might be better for the planter, but I want them to get bigger so I can identify the different varieties before I thin again.

Besides, if you look to the right side, that's where I keep my thinnings/weedings, so they can decompose and return nutrients back to the soil. I weeded/thinned and covered the bodies with a bit of dirt. Some of the sunflowers said "Eff that, a little uprooting isn't going to stop me!" and they have decided to keep on growing. I can't let them go, 'cause the purpose of planting them where they are is that they won't cover the windows and obstruct people's view into the store, so the little rebels will have to die (besides, they'll cover up the "Open" sign and the Soupergirl drop-off poster if they keep growing).

Oh yeah, the mint is doing alright. It's been having a bit of trouble getting established--some sprigs died outright. Others are establishing themselves, but they aren't going as crazy as I thought they would. Next year, maybe.

Just a close-up of one of the marigold flowers. Hopefully this will get bushy and beautiful, attracting bees to polinate the strawberries and sunflowers!

Here is some Verbena! It is beautiful, I think. It grows low to the ground, the stems root themselves, and the inflorescenses are incredibly delightful, deep purple. One stem (with roots at the end) got detached through the actions of someone who frequents the area (I don't know who the person was, but they stepped all up on my plant), so I stuck it in a different location and told it to get better and grow.

It didn't have a chance.

Grant, one of the owners/managers at Mr. Yogato, saw a bird swoop down, grab it up, and carry it off today. I can only assume the bird is going to use it for its nest. At least it's being used! I'd much rather lose plants to someone/something who will use it than to just buttmunchery. I can always get more Verbena to plant, once this one gets larger.

Now, this doesn't go with Mr. Yogato's garden, but I thought I'd share it in this post.

On Friday, I hauled one giant bag each of potting soil and compost back to work to transplant some stuff I had been rooting in styrofoam cups full of water. The two begonias were the only plants I bought in this spread, and they were transplanted earlier, and Brendan, the Pothos, and the Philodendron in the green planter have been there for a while. But the rest I stuck in dirt last Friday. Some Pothos that was sitting on top of the fridge in the kitchen, Philodendron from the administrative officer's office, two types of African violet from around (the kitchen and my boss's office), and a cutting of a palm tree type thing from my boss. I don't know how well the African violets or the palm tree will do. I remember as a child rooting African violet leaves like this. Or maybe I kept trying like that and I assume it worked? I'm not sure. The palm, well... I read a little, and people say that seeding is the way to propagate. I don't know if it'll work. If it doesn't, no harm done. If it does, happiness ensues!

There's also one pot unaccounted for--it has rue seeds and some jalepeno, I think, just for fun. It's too small a container for such growth these plants will have, but if they do well, I can always get a bigger pot.

The office lamp the plants surround? Two grow-light bulbs in it. Yeah, that's right. I operate a grow-op in my office.

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The Lone Wol...Pest

Is it possible to ever find just a single aphid, all by its lonesome? I'm not even convinced this is an aphid, but it's the best ID I can make. I'm not conversant in plant pests, really, or even insects in general. Either way, just one. Only one. I'm waiting for the other ten million shoes to drop.

This is the best picture I could get (click on it to see a much larger version)--the thing was on my summer crookneck, but none of the veggie pest ID sites offered much help, unless it's an aphid. It looks spidery, for sure, and it's easily visible, so that rules out a lot of other pests.

What else is left? Doesn't matter. This one sure as hell isn't left in my garden. It has gone to trash heap heaven!



Template updated!

That was fun. I think I'll do it every now and then. It'll be easier now, probably just changing header image and colour scheme. I'm not certain of how much I like all these strong purples, but I am so much happier than with the standard green Rounders 4 template that all garden blogs seem to have.

I didn't really change this for you folks, I just did it 'cause the previous design bored me, but I don't want to make the blog inhospitable to readers! So if y'all notice any crazy things or if anything is hard to read, please let me know.

Maybe I'll work on those plant profiles next. Grumble grumble...

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I'm working on the blog template.

Things might look ugly and unsettled for the next day or so (depends on how long I take and depending on when you visit). I will default to "Rounders 4" template when I'm done screwing with stuff, until I'm done screwing with stuff.

Never fear, things will be pretty sometime.

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Marigold, Not Mary Jane

How many times have I been asked if I grow weed in my garden? Surprisingly, only once.

How many times have people just assumed that I do and ask me who my supplier is? A lot more than once.

Just because I have grow lights and a garden in my living room does not mean in the least that I do or grow any sort of drug. It's kind of annoying, actually, that people just assume, even after having known me long enough (long enough in my mind, at least) to know that I've only even seen pot a few times in my life and never have even had an inclination to smoke it or do anything harder. I mean, I guess I'm so fun-loving, ADD, distractable, and eccentric that people just assume I'm doing drugs left and right. But, surprise, this is me naturally!

Sooooo, I just tossed the one bag of "lavender" seeds that the woman said look like cannibis seeds, not lavender. Because they really don't look like lavender seeds. Google tells me that they look like cannibis seeds, too. The bag also has an empty pill capsule, with who knows what having been inside it. Click on the image to open a much larger version--you can see the bag the "lavender" seeds and the pill capsule came in, as well as lavender flowers from a different lavender-labeled seed bag.

So many people I know would be so upset that I'm just throwing such illegal treasures away. Ah well!

Do all gardeners get the random "Do you grow pot and where can I get some?" question? Or is it really only serious indoor gardeners who are queried that?


Whoa Seeds

On Thursday night, I was volunteering and met a woman whose name I recognized somehow... Turns out, I remembered her name from the DC Urban Gardeners e-mail list I'm on, and she's the program director for the America the Beautiful Fund, which gives out free seeds. I need to read up about it more, but it seems like a great initiative!

At work the other day, I was cruising around on Craigslist looking for free planters or espresso machines or whatever, and I saw this post from a lady in DC saying she had free seedlings and clumps of groundcover to give away. I replied, and when she got back to me, she said most of them were gone, but since I had expressed interest in just a tiny amount, she'd see what she could pull up for me.

I walked away with dozens of plants, including about a dozen irises, clumps of ornamental grasses, sage seedlings, vining flowers, variegated groundcovers, lemon mint, and a lot of other things I just can't begin to recall. I guerrilla gardened my recently laid off coworker's front yard with the irises, some of the groundcover and pretty grasses, and... Er, really, I don't know what else. Some variety of black-eyed susans, and I stuck some of the tomato seedlings I had going in his front yard too. Let's see how they do. I'll get some pictures if things take off.

On my way home, I saw a woman trimming ivy in front of a townhouse. I stopped, said hello, and asked her if she wanted plants. She was a bit flabbergasted, but I successfully offloaded the lemon mint, some unidentified flowers, crysanthemums, and, um, those other flowers. I ended up having two clumps of "those other flowers" left over, and the pretty white-flowering things that the woman said she had kept indoors for 10 years before she knew they could overwinter. I am happy I ran into that lawn-tender before getting home--I don't know what I would have done with the rest of those plants!

Not only fresh-dug plants, but the woman gave me almost her entire seed collection. Datura, morning glory, zinnia, coneflower, peach, walnut, sand dollar seeds, catnip, all sorts of seeds! I don't even know half of them--they're labeled as "orange flowers on long stem" or somesuch. I'm excited to see what I can do with these.

And just yesterday I decided not to spend $40 on 15 seed packets from Richters because I thought I had enough seeds and didn't need more. At least I got a lot of the seeds I would have ordered without having to pay for them. Rue (Ruta graveolens) was something I was interested in for some reason, and the lady had some growing in her front yard and had a giant bag of seeds that she gave me. I love their smell, although I'm not certain I would eat it, I'd have to find the perfect dish to make with it, but it seems like a tiny bit would be good in curries.

I'm so incredibly excited... So many seeds of vining plants! Oh DC, such a wealth of gardening... I would never have guessed!

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Grow My Pretties!

This are getting jungly. I can barely see the pumpkins (which are finally growing sizable leaves) underneath all the beans. Although the strawberries had a few problems, what with some random fungus and then the fungus gnats, they seem to have gotten over it and there are still three green leaves. The peanuts are HOLY FAST GROWTH Batman! Everything else is just going to town.

I have noticed that despite the fact that I grow indoors, the seasons have quite an impact upon how well plants grow. But that's a post for another day.

Hm, less talk, more pictures!

The beautiful spread.

The arugula basket, lined with a plastic bag. I hope these grow well--the growing medium is pretty much peat and sand. I'm going to add some leaf compost that I just bought to try to mix it up a bit.

My nasturtium and rainbow chard container. I just seeded these a week or two ago, they're pretty strong germinators!

Peanuts are crazy growers! I had them in a four-inch pot and within two weeks, the roots were poking out of the bottom. This eight-inch pot clearly won't hold them for long, but I figured it would be good for a month or so until I can get a larger planter just for them.

My strawberries had a rough time. I planted azuki beans in with them (legumes are a plus for almost any plant and are specifically recommended as companion plants with strawberries, if I recall properly). Hopefully the little mold problem that the strawberries had is gone--I was overwatering, clearly.

Willow branch number 1. It lost all its leaves as I was rooting it, but they're growing back! I... I don't know what I'm going to do with this one, or the second one. But I have two weeping willow trees now.

Radicchio/chive planter. These plants are four months old. The soil isn't that great, and I brought them in for a coworker. They didn't like her window, so once I brought it home, it perked right up. I will make a salad tomorrow featuring this radicchio at the very least.

My Gynura aurantiaca and its companion sugar snap peas. This dude is doing pretty well--so well, in fact, that I took a cutting to root (you can see the tip of it in the picture with the radicchio).

This is my South African squill, Scilla violaceae, leaves and all. I think they're cool plants, and it seems to love the sunshine!

Here's one of the three potato plants, overshadowed by the leguminous jungle.

I think these are eggplant seedlings and cilantro. There may be some hot pepper or bell pepper--the early plants look very similar to me, and I didn't mark anything, so... Heh. I don't know!

My new edamame! It had a bit of transplanting troubles, so the main stem is now gone, but the lateral growth is taking off and I put a few more seeds in the ground. It's tiny at the moment, but I have faith in these guys.

You can (I hope) see the pumpkin leaves amid the mass of beans. I kept worrying about the cucurbits, as they kept making leaves but the leaves wouldn't get very big--but I think it's related to the season. It needs warmer weather, which we're getting more consistently, and now the leaves are becoming larger and the plants are filling out. I might cut off some of the bean plants. I don't know which types of bean they are, but they're using up all the light!

Here are the four-month old plants--lemon basil to the left of the Ace bush tomato, Greek Mini Yevani basil to the right (underneath the Cherokee Purple tomato leaf, you can barely see it). All three plants are getting bigger, bushier, and generally healthier as it gets hotter and I stop watering as much. My being busy has clearly been a good thing for my plants!

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