Archive for October 2009

Titan Sunflower Makes Babies

Remember Titan? He had a gigantic flowerhead--over a foot wide. And, yes, he was full of seed at harvest time. I plucked his head, dragged him home in a bag, and hung him up to dry for a while. Actually, for quite a while. I picked the flower in early September when I harvested one of the donkey-dong trombetta squashes from Mr. Yogato, so it's been hanging around for almost two months.

Getting tired of having to bend around it when watering or tending some plants, a week or so ago I decided to finally pop all those seeds out. I got about two and a half cups worth of seed--I don't even want to hazard a guess about the number. Several hundred? Some were too tiny, some misshapen, others I just didn't get out, some fell under the bed or the couch and will be lost until I sweep up. But I have so many...! I planted a few in tiny pots, just to make certain they are viable--and, behold! That they are! There are three, now, that have germinated.

Next year? Titans everwhere!

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Crocus Surprise

That sounds like a bad cafeteria special, doesn't it?

I planted dozens and dozens of Crocus, Scilla siberica, random Tulipa, a Fritillaria, a few different Iris, et cetera. I expected some stuff (the Irises, the Hemerocallis ["Dominic" daylily], others) to grow leaves and then die back for the winter. I did not expect anything to flower. But some of the crocuses decided to go for it! (By the way, after a social-bookmarking presentation during my staff meeting last week, I joined Twitter and twittered about the Crocuses on Saturday.)

I first noticed these on Saturday when I stopped by to clean up my Datura. I didn't get a photograph until yesterday when I stopped by after the market. Saturday was torrential, so they're a bit flattened, but still happiness-inducing.

Here's the spread after buckets of rain dropped down on them the lot of 'em. Also included there are some Irises, ornamental sweet potato, and purple Verbena.

Here's a closeup. I can't recall which variety these were--I didn't order any white ones. There seems to be hints of purple (several different varieties of which I did order). They are, by the way, the same variety (I think they are these) as the Crocus in my apartment.

I know there are some fall-blooming crocuses, so I guess these are they. I didn't think I had ordered any, but I have an empty bag that says I did, and the website says they're fall-blooming. Maybe they were one of the "free gifts" these bulb companies always seem to want to supply me with?

I'm not complaining, not at all.

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I bought this Tillandsia vernicosa some weeks ago. Many weeks ago, actually. These pictures were taken at that time. Man, it must have been long ago--I still had that squash and some beans coming up in the pot in the background! But it was not too long after I purchased the Davallia trichomanoides in August. I had bought another fern, Dryopteris marginalis, "Leather Wood Fern," at the same time, but I haven't shown him on here yet, either.

I tied some twine around the guy and suspended him near the fluorescent light. He has been doing well there, but I worry sometimes that misting him occasionally doesn't provide him the moisture he needs. You can see a few pups he's growing--they're coming along nicely.

Here are the tiny flowers from the inflorescence. I wonder if they will release seeds? The Internets tells me some Tillandsias are self-pollinating, some require birds (or humans with patience). Status: unknown.


How The Garden Grows

It's high time for a garden update. So, let's start with the edibles (a brief update), and then on to the ornamentals! This is by no means comprehensive. There are a lot of garden happenings here, but these are some of the most rewarding.

Ace has about ten tomatoes on it. They're smallish--only two to three inches across. I think they're supposed to be larger, but I'm fine with what Ace is willing to provide me. I can't wait for them to ripen!

Here's the surviving pepper on King of the North. It's the only one that has reached anything that could be considered sizeable. I'm hoping it won't fall off like all the others!

Did I never mention how during my hike, spider mites took over my eggplant and decimated it? The promising flower on it was destroyed. The webbing encased the entire plant. Although I had won my fight against the aphids (this was the only eggplant to make it beyond the one-inch-tall seedling stage), it was for naught: The eggplant survived only to be taken down by spider mites. So, I cut it down to soil level. It is growing in the same pot as the above pepper plant, so I didn't want to disturb the roots or anything.

Apparently, that means that my eggplant will just regrow! Crazy!

My pregnant onion isn't dead--that makes me happy.

Speaking of happy... Here's my iris, "Hello Darkness," one of three that I bought from various companies. Two are outside of Mr. Yogato, and the third I wish to grow for my own. I love purplish flowers!

This is my stolen Dracaena something-or-other. I was walking down the main entrance of my apartment at 3 AM on morning, and the Dracaena that I had been eyeing for weeks in front of the cafe called my name. So... I yoinked this bit off, rooted it, and potted it up. It's a little pale, but the one downstairs is even paler--mine has gained colour since I stole it.

I have some Crocus and Scilla siberica in this pot; a few leftovers from planting the spring bulb garden at Mr. Yogato. The Crocus are coming up, but I'm still waiting on the S. siberica. I'm not sure which Crocus this is--I ordered a few varieties. I don't even remember which ones I ordered, let alone which ones I saved to plant in my apartment.

My Chlorophytum is doing swell! I got it half price because it lost its variegation, but all the new leaves have a nice pale stripe down the middle, and I have a nice pup on him.

My Streptocarpus isn't dead, oh no! Some of the leaves are a bit ratty, but I have a new one coming in (see there? In the middle?). I'm hoping that I can keep this alive to see it flower.

Barton, my Gynura aurantiaca, was a bit out of control a few weeks ago. So I chopped him down. What's left is still pretty tall, but it needs to be more lush. I might pinch of the apical meristem on this guy to encourage more bushy growth. Does that even work?

Here are all the cuttings. They've already rooted, of course, because G. aurantiaca is crazy like that. I plan on potting them up mostly individually for unsuspecting vict... I mean, friends. Yes. For my friends.


Mystery Plant

My coworker was given a bunch of cuttings of these. She wanted me to have a few, so I brought some home, rooted them in water, and then potted them. It roots very readily in water. When my coworker first brought them in, the margins of the leaves had an intense but tiny line of red colouring. As time went on, the red colouring of my coworker's leaves' margins faded and disappeared. Mine have a bit of colouring in the new leaves, but it's not very noticeable (see new leaves in top of picture).

Anyone have a clue what this is?


Extra Baggage

Remember how I said "I can see huge potential for death and mayhem in our future" in reference to my Davallia trichomanoides? And then it started dying?

I think I found out why. Click for (much) larger pictures.

Here's some I found in the soil and on top of the fern's "feet."

Here's some taking a dip in the water--I overwatered again, of course. That's how I discovered these little critters. They came out for some air, I think.

Must have come from the supplier... Garden District had just got them in when I bought mine. I can never remember the difference between centipedes and millipedes. But the Internets have a good comparison. On the basis of that information, I have decided that they're millipedes, 'cause centipedes are carnivorous (so what were they eating if they are centipedes, huh? Other than themselves, of course.), and the things in the pictures seem to have two sets of legs per segment.

They made me feel icky inside. I wonder if I ate any in my sleep.


Goodbye, Summer

This past Saturday was the last day of volunteering at the Washington Youth Garden. I'm used to seeing the work truck full of what is called "The Devil" at the garden (Bermuda grass) and other plants, but it's an odd sight when it's full of some of the most productive tomato plants in the world.

I had dragged my friend to the garden to volunteer (she was down visiting from Maine and I didn't want to leave her all by her lonesome in the city), so there were six of us there that day. Beyond making a nice border around the perennial garden and removing the last of the okra, we got five entire rows of all sorts of tomatoes: Cherokee Purple, Zebra, roma, Brandywine, Sungold Cherry, even some tomatillos.

It was windy, drizzly, and cold. Fall is here, everyone. Fall is here, and the happy, bright, cheerful plants of summer are but poignant memories.

But, y'know what? I prefer the potatoes, apples, turnips, and onions of fall and winter. I adore storage crops! I never get tired with a nice root veggie stew!

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This Isn't Right At All

"Drop the weapon, sir," the Secret Service agent ordered, gun in hand pointed at Chris Themum. Chris frantically waved his pruning shears around, squeezing and relaxing them threateningly to keep the approaching agent at a distance. How in hell did my little White House vegetable heist escalate to this level? he wondered. "How about you let me go and we call it even?" Chris tried to negotiate. Without a change in his implacable pace, the agent drew closer and repeated, "Drop the weapon, sir, now!"

Chris, eyes darting around looking for means of escape, threw some of the spinach and lettuce he had collected in the agent's eyes to distract him and took off toward the west gate. Heart pumping and jumping into his throat as he dashed toward the road, Chris felt a sudden pinching bite in his shoulder. He jerked and stumbled, confused, but he kept on going toward the gate, arm numb and limp at his side. The gate was locked. Screaming in panicked rage, Chris dropped the pruning shears from his working hand and tried to climb the metal bars of the gate. A quick bark of noise, followed by another, echoed through the side yard. Chris felt as if he had been hit by a bus. Numb, slow, and a bit shaky, he stop trying to climb the fence. He looked down at his chest. His hoody had holes in it and was wet with something dark. Chris never learned what that was--the agent tackled him from behind, bringing him to the ground next to the gate, where Chris died seconds later.

Or, that's what I imagine happened here. I can't begin to surmise why else one would be so cruel to a mum, despite their annoying prevalence in autumn. This one was near a fence directly west of the White House.

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Harvest Shmarvist

You know how you go on vacation and get behind for a few days, then catching up just seems too hard so you focus on other things, and you never get around to catching up on your regular activities? Such as posting on this blog and following others' blogs on a semiregular basis?


Well... So I never mentioned the potato I got at the organic market and forgot about for a long, long time in a bag somewhere. It formed eyes, so I was like "Hm." and planted it in the planter box. After a week or two, it sent up dozens of shoots. They got about a foot and a half tall before finally succumbing to the spider mites and under(!)watering. I am currently looking at relocating, and I would find it difficult to do so with so many plants, so I have been maybe less attentive (I'm waiting for the big ones, like the tomatoes, to die), but I have also been on a cleaning binge. So, when the potato shoots keeled over, I thought "Eh, I'll dig it up and feed it to the worms." (The worms are doing excellently, thank you!)

To my surprise (although I guess I should not have been), I found tiny little potatoes as I dug the plant up! Not many, not really anything to call a harvest, but they'll make a nice home-fry thing with eggs soon. Also, one of the two peppers that didn't fall off the plant immediately fell off the plant, so I'll add that to the potatoes for breakfast. The "large" one is still on the plant, and I'm hoping it'll ripen. I'm almost certain the variety is "King of the North."

So, I am happy to have grown things in my apartment. I repeat the sentiment that I know I have shared before--I need to do more studyin' on what is amenable to growing indoors. Oh. And I need to kill the spider mites.


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