Archive for November 2010

Plant-Unrelated: Weight Watchers And Plant-Related: Aloe "Firebird" Flowering

I started attending Weight Watchers meetings on 17 June 2008. I've been on that journey for a little more than half a year longer than I have been blogging on here--but, I cannot doubt that by having this blog, my weight-loss efforts were maintained and encouraged with photography forays (walking!), cooking challenges (cooking for myself instead of eating out!), and constant exposure to thoughts of fresh fruit and veggies grown locally and organically (healthier things in my mouth!). This blog and the ones I read encourage me to keep my health at the forefront of my mind.

At my first Weight Watchers weigh-in, I clocked in at 278.2. I had been having a "biggest loser" type of contest with two friends (we were doing a percentage, because I, clearly, could kick their butts if it were just absolute value of pounds lost) and had already lost about 15 or 20 pounds. At the time, I'm not sure whether I cooked at home at all--I think most of my meals came from Papa John's or one of the many local Chinese-food delivery places. (That hasn't exactly changed that much, but what I order and how often have.) Eventually, my two friends kind of let the contest slide--but I kept going. I had incentive, I was getting great results, and it was just awesome to see what small dietary changes such as substituting whole-wheat pasta for the regular kind can do to one's waistline.

Eventually, however, those small, intermittent, incremental, or other changes built up to a significant shift in how I approach what I allow into my body. I still eat Chinese delivery, sure--but, instead of General Tso's chicken, crab rangoon, fried rice, egg rolls, combination lo mein, and wonton soup (I might be exagerating by implying that I ate all that in one sitting, but that wasn't always necessarily untrue), I order steamed broccoli with brown sauce and steamed vegetable dumplings with that yummy spicy/sweet/garlic/soy sauce from this one place I like. Better yet, I try to prepare my own meals in bulk and portion them out for later eating, but y'know, the life of a bachelor in the city often involves not cooking!

But then, also, these tiny, incremental changes in diet and behaviour that led to the weight loss happened to include a gradual shift to vegetarianism. I have been (mostly) vegetarian since January 2009, purely by accident. The moment I realized I had accidentally been vegetarian for an entire month, I ordered sesame chicken--and felt ill beyond belief. I still eat meat, occasionally (such as turkey, pot roast, shrimp, etc. at Thanksgiving), but those are exceedingly rare occasions. I'm not vegetarian for any political or ethical reasons--it's purely calorie-related. I can eat more vegetables prepared in a more healthy fashion than I can eat meat. I get the same amount of full, for longer, with fewer calories. Win-win!

So, about a month ago, on 26 October, I reached goal on Weight Watchers, weighing in at 185. "Goal" means I had reached the weight that was healthy for me and stuck within range of it for six weeks (maintained). (Although my goal weight is about 15 pounds outside of what Weight Watchers would consider a healthy weight to be for one of my height and age on the basis of Body Mass Index calculations, my body fat percentage is in the "athletic" range, and I would have to lose muscle in order to reach what BMI says is healthy for me--and I'm not willing to do that. In fact, I am working on building muscle. And losing skin. No one ever tells you about the massive amount of excess skin you'll have after losing over 100 pounds, do they...? It isn't too horrible on my legs and arms, but the stomach area makes me self-conscious.) Most of my weight loss can be directly attributed to the change in diet, but this past year has been more toning--I have only lost about 20 pounds since New Year's, and the only way I was able to do that was by being physically active (hence repeatedly broken collarbone!). Now that I'm a Lifetime member of Weight Watchers (I reached goal and maintained, so now I don't have to pay the monthly fee!), I got a personal trainer at the gym to improve upper-body and core strength.

Having Thanksgiving with my mom and all of my siblings for the first time in almost a decade gave me a weird feeling, and part of that was recognition of how much I've changed through Weight Watchers and my other endeavours. Only one of my siblings was interested in going for a walk post-binging, and after half of a mile, he started complaining about how long we had been walking. Walking a mile in freezing weather is nothing to me. In fact, it's irritating--I could be jogging, when it's such a short distance.

But, even as my eating and activity habits have changed drastically in the past two or so years, so has my gardening changed. In the past half of a year, I've lost only three or four plants, despite acquiring about 50 new ones. My ability to keep a large variety of plants alive has increased, and with time, I'm sure I'll even be able to help them thrive! For example, this Aloe "Firebird" that I picked up in August seems to be doing pretty well (or suffering horribly and trying to make babies as fast as it can to continue the existence of its species). Either way, it's flowering!

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Ginkgo Gardens

A few weeks ago, around the beginning of October, I decided to visit Ginkgo Gardens for the first time. The store was having a sale--and I picked up a few winners! I was extremely pleased with the selection, both indoor and outdoor, (at least, in relation to the amount of space they have available) and the staff were helpful. I spent about $50, I think, but early October necessitated heavy plant therapy.



Salvia elegans, pineapple sage--to replace the cuttings I killed from a previous plant trade. I figure if I get one already rooted, even though it looks like death, I might have better luck at keeping it alive!


Sisyrinchium montanum, Blue-Eyed Grass. It's related to Iris, I think. I don't know how well it'll like my apartment.


Tricyrtis hirta "Samurai." I let the cat out of the bag early on this one!


Asparagus densiflorus


Asparagus meyeri


Eucalyptus


Aglaonema "Maria"


Dracaena deremensis "Warneckii"


This Sanseveria trifasciata is, I believe, "Bantel's Sensation." It wasn't labeled, but it looked so amazing, and there don't seem to be many varieties like this, so I'm pretty sure of the identification. It had a spent flower spike on it--never having had any of my Sanseverias bloom, this excited me almost as much as the variegation!


A close-up of the leaf variegation. The vertical white/cream stripes are accented by a marbled green variegation. AWESOME.


These aren't from Ginkgo Gardens; I picked up Philodendron "Prince of Orange," Adenium obesum, Tillandsia, and Coffea from Garden District about a week after my Ginkgo Gardens visit. So far, everything seems fine, except A. obesum, which drops a leaf or two every once in a while, after its initial halfway-defoliated-from-shock-or-something-else event when I first brought it home.

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Sweet Success

This is my 300th post. Yeah, that went hella fast! My first-ever post was on 9 February 2009--that's an average of one post every other day or so. Well, averages are a whole lotta bull, because two-thirds of my posts were all in 2009, so I was clearly more active then, but still, that's a lot of writing, a lot of time, a lot of my life committed to the Internet and plants. I imagine all the posts that were going to happen but never did due to time constraints or just plain old timeliness issues. It's a bit whelming.

But as I sit here baking homemade jalapeno poppers and reeling from the implications of the Halloween scare I received, I would like to think of the positives and successes. It's nothing I really plan, but it seems that for both my 100th-post anniversary and my 200th-post anniversary, I thought along the same lines. When important dates or events happen, I like to remember them for the good that comes out of them, what inspiration I can glean from them, what happiness they bring me. And there's plenty here at The Indoor Garden(er) to be happy about, inspired by, and all feel-goody toward/with/etc.!



The dwarf lime tree I bought via mail order wasn't doing amazingly on my windowsill, so it spent a few months outside at Mr. Yogato, where it proceeded not to do amazingly because of drought and people's butts. I recently brought it back home, and now it's sprouting a great deal of new growth!


Have I seriously never, ever, EVER posted a picture of my little purple-flowering Phalaenopsis? I purchased this last winter sometime (December? January?). Well, heck. Anyway--dude had a flower spike on him when I bought him a little less than a year ago, I got him home, and the almost-opened buds withered and fell off. A few months later, the remaining four or five matured and flowered, which was nice, and I can't believe I didn't post that occurrence, but it may have coincided with my multiply-broken collarbone or my niece's death, so whatever. Anyway! My miniature Phalaenopsis is growing well, has a crazy root system, and is now sending out a flower spike! That means it likes me! It really likes me!


These have had some frequent coverage here on The Indoor Garden(er), and on Twitter, where I post photos every two weeks or so (for example), but...it's November, and I have tomatoes ripening on the vine on my windowsill. Despite only having about eight or nine small tomatoes from this one plant (not a high-yield baby at all, what with it being grown in the living room), they are some of the tastiest and most rewarding I have ever known! Yeah, maybe I'd get more and tastier ones from a garden out-of-doors, but then I wouldn't be able to tell people "I grow tomatoes on my windowsill. Suck it, landowners!"


This is a complete unknown! It's in my trailing-succulent mullet planter. It started popping up last week, and I have no idea what it is or even what it could be. I don't remember planting anything in this pot other than the succulent and the Sempervivum. For scale, the leaves are about half of an inch long.


My Aloe "Firebird" that I acquired in August started sending up an inflorescence! The focus was difficult, but the blooms haven't opened yet, so I didn't try all that hard. I always take flowering as a sign of a happy plant--but it could also be an "I think I'm going to die so I better procreate now!" sign. But, regardless--flowering! Yay!


And, speaking of flowering, I can't seem to get a better picture of this Tricyrtis formosana "Samurai" than the one I posted on Twitter. That photo is the background of my phone right now. The one above I find to be cool, however, because if you click on it, you can see little individual trichomes on the underside of the flower petals. I think that's wicked-cool!

Also, I bought this a few weeks ago at Gingko Gardens here in DC. I bought other plants, too, but that's a post for another day, and one of the last in my series of recent plant-acquisition posts. This one gets on here 'cause it's prettier than the rest at the moment (but don't tell them I said that, or I'll have a riot on my hands...!).

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A Halloween Scare

With all the plant acquisitions I have made in the past few months, it was almost inevitable. I mean, nothing is inevitable, I guess, but I don't always wash every plant or quarantine them for long enough before I stick them in the midst of the jungle in my studio apartment.

And so, when I returned home from dinner with a friend on Halloween night, after weaving my way through screaming parents, screaming children, and people in costumes for the occasion, too, I was greeted with this fright: mealy bugs.

They were exclusively on my Hippeastrum seedlings, situated on the "I like these plants" shelf of my metal shelving unit (these plants get special plant-bulb fluorescents; the other two fluorescent fixtures on subsequently lower shelves have only normal tubes). They didn't have mealy bugs (noticeably) a week ago when I posted about them, but that means nothing--they have them now. So, instead of going to sleep, I spent a few minutes freaking out, thinking I needed to wash every single leaf, sterilize my entire apartment, breathe, just breathe... Okay, I'm better. I chopped all the leaves off of the Hippeastrum and dug up the bulbs. I laid them out to dry. I'll replant them in a month or so, maybe. The "if the plants ever go dormant, I might dig up any bulbs that exist and separate them" came to pass in a way I hadn't anticipated, but I never would have done it otherwise.

I had looked over all of the other plants and didn't see any mealy bugs, but now I'm extremely worried. I'm going to start spraying the shit out of The Indoor Garden with neem. Best get to steppin', you creepy crawlies!

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