Category Archives: Plant Life

I just can’t. What the hell is this weather? I didn’t sign up for this. Last year, it hardly went over 80. The summers were beautiful and occasionally it got dry and hot, but nothing like the sweaty humidity that’s the East coast. It’s funny how quickly we forget the things that are uncomfortable. I had COMPLETELY forgotten (or blocked out – whatever is more appropriate) the ridiculous humidity of the East coast during the summer. When I got off the plane in June, the 70% humidity (and it was only in the 70s, guys) just knocked me over. My hair, no joke, was soaked my entire trip. Even when it’s 100, it never gets to be that way here… but seriously… 105? This is just absurd.

What little of what I planted in the garden is all starting to flower. That may sound nice, but you don’t want your vegetables to flower or the leaves/vegetables become incredibly bitter. :( My cilantro, spinach, and lettuce all flowered, because of this oppressive heat. The veggies just weren’t having it. They quit. All my raspberries came in early. My grass is dying (which is fine). Uhg. Tomatoes are my only hope. They are the only thing that will do well in this heat. Hopefully.

20140201-224802.jpgAs I mentioned before, Ryan and I were away from the apartment for 4+ weeks. I originally didn’t intent to be away for that long. I knew 3 weeks was a little long, but I knew they would be ok for 2 weeks, and I was willing to risk the extra week. Little did I know that the East coast Polar Vortex had another plans for me. When my flight was canceled, they weren’t able to schedule me on a plane for another WEEK.

Luckily, I was just at my in-laws and I wasn’t stranded in the airport or in a hotel for that extra week. It was pretty lovely and I worked from home.

So, my poor fish. We had 11 fish in a 20 gallon tank. I cleaned the tank before I left and had a timer on the light. (I have plants in there – so I wanted to make sure they wouldn’t die.) I lost 2 fish, which probably became fish food for the rest of the fish (yeaaaaaah…), and my aquaria was infested with red and brown algae. I guess that was to be expected.

All of my rummy nose tetras survived. The neons, though, didn’t do well. My 2 cardinals were fine. The algae just made my tank LOOK SO UGLY. I was pretty depressed about my tank and when I came back, I cut the amount of light to the tank to restrain the growth. (Of course, I also did frequent smaller water changes to keep the nutrients out of the water.) It helped a little bit.

The second step was to buy some extra plans so that they out compete the algae for the light.

The third step, which made me nervous, was to do a bleach dip of the old plants covered in algae. (They won’t be able to get light and they are going to die. My java fern was already turning all sorts of red shades.) I made a solution of 20 parts water and 1 part bleach. I soaked the leaves and stems for 1-3 minutes (depending on how fragile the leaves where) and rubbed off as much algae as I could without damaging the leaves. I also did a quick bleach dip on the new plants to make sure I wasn’t introducing any pests to my aquarium.

I decided to clean much of my cloth plants and my castle, as well. The result is that my aquarium is not as bad to look at again. (Final picture above.) I am so pleased with the extra plants. I hope they survive. I did a quick water change, and I may do another one tomorrow, since I am paranoid about the bleach. (After the bleach solution, I soaked everything in regular tap water for 3-5 minutes, then I soaked them in dechlorinated water for 10+ minutes.)

It’s been a couple of hours + a feeding and so far so good.

Odd Note – The Neon tetras and cardinals were always SO skittish. I think the great hunger of 4 weeks, made them come out of their shell. That, and the fact that there is only 3 blue fish, they sort of joined the rummy nosed school. They follow them around and the result is that they are visible and not skittish anymore. They come out for food, I see them schooling regularly. I was thinking of getting 3 more neons to finish the school, but I may leave well enough alone for now.

22ac4beafa0411e18fe322000a1c8660_7This summer, I totally got on the succulent bandwagon. Let me explain, I didn’t actually know what succulent plants were. (In botany, succulent plants, also known as succulents or sometimes fat plants, are plants having some parts that are more than normally thickened and fleshy, usually to retain water in arid climates or soil conditions. A common succulent plant is Aloe Vera, for example. A lot of times they were mistaken as “cacti,” but it’s actually not the case.) Ryan and I were in wholefoods, and saw the little succulent (On the right in the blue planter – an echeveria). We were charmed by it. They were having a sale, I think I bought it for something like $2-4, I forget.

That was the summer I was growing basil leaves. (which was a success, except for when I would forget to water them and they would shrivel up. I eventually threw the plant out due to one too many times of neglect.) 2-3 Summers ago, I bought some orchids to liven up the place, but once winter came, my neglect and the cold air in our apartment basically left me with a dried up twig. My point being that I was desperately looking for something that was cute and something that wouldn’t shrivel up. :P

After I added to my collection I decided to replant the succulents I had (at this time I had the burro’s tail trailing one) into colorful blue and yellow planters. The first picture is from this time. I also topped off my collection with 4 air plants in globes. The small container above the echeveria was it’s original container, which it outgrew. There were some small burro’s tail, that I wanted to separate and cultivate on its own in that container.


Now, I have a couple of different “nurseries” going. You can see the growth of the plants compared with the first picture. The top right is a pepper plant that I got from Las Vegas that I am trying to incubate with no luck. Below is the little burro, which is growing at a snail’s pace with some additional echeveria cuttings. To the right of that is my original echeveria plant with a child (a little hidden) in the top. I might separate the two in the near future. To the right of that is my “nursery” of echeveria cuttings. One is really propagating (below), so I am looking forward to that. I made the little containers by cutting a toilet paper spine in half, cutting snippets of the bottom, folding them in, putting in soil, and leaving the cutting on top (once the roots grew out). This way, when I am ready to plant them, I can put the whole thing in soil, since it’s biodegradable. I also used half an egg carton to drain the water. To the very right is my burro succulent, which is doing ok, but growing very very slowly.


On the left, you can see the little burro surrounded by echeveria cuttings that sprouted roots. They are pretty firmly planted in the soil, although you wouldn’t be able to tell by looking. On the right, you can see one really growing a little child at the end of the cutting. (This is tiny and in the toilet paper planter.) I am hoping to grow the $4-6 investment into several small little plants that will eventually grow on it’s own.

If I can do this, anyone can. Given their hardiness, cuteness (so plump, not flowery, and adds greenery) you can see why it’s so trendy now. For me, I think they are just aesthetically pleasing, and they seem to like me. :P It’s very forgiving, low maintenance and rewarding. I bought some cactus soil to plant them in, but succulents are very very forgiving. Maybe during the spring I’ll get a new type to add into the family. I like the idea of terrariums, but I’ve been a little gun. I would rather just multiply them, but maybe in the future I can play with the children in different terrarium set ups.

Next time we’ll talk air plants!