Monday, December 28, 2009

More herbs, orchids and the amaryllis


Herbs are holding out. Mints look pretty lanky though.

Succulents are thriving.

The amaryllis is going to bloom.

I dropped my favorite orchid. Check out the damage on the top layer of leaves.

It's fall didn't damage the blooms though.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Herbs + new amarylis bulb


My herbs are, I think, doing well overall. Some — the thyme, lemon verbena, marjoram, and stevia — put out a lot of weak, tender growth. I'm not sure what to do about it. Maybe I'll just harvest the spindly bits to encourage more compact growth.

I had a helluva time keeping them watered. At this point I have them on a schedule of every other day. Although, some of the tender (and thirsty) ones like the lemon thyme and the mints get a bit droopy. Last week I forgot to water them until day 3 and almost every plant started dropping leaves. Even the ones that really like it to be dry and I hadn't had any trouble like that from before (the thyme, oregano, lavender, and sage).

I think the design of my apartment contributed to the problem. I have to keep the plants in front of the windows so they get enough light. But the heating vents are also right in front of the windows, so the plants have hot air blowing on them — making them dry out faster.

On the plus side, they keep the air nice and moist. Last winter I had to have a humidifier running full blast every night and sometimes during the day, just to keep the air comfortable. Out of habit I ran it a couple days when we turned the heat on last month, but woke up with condensation all over the windows. Even the curtains were slightly damp. So I turned it off, and put it away. Plants rock :D

I wanted to get some tulips to force for xmas, but I got to the garden center too late to get the ones they put out for fall, so I got an amaryllis bulb instead. A few days after I potted it I saw a bunch of little maggots wiggling around on top of the soil. Ick! So I threw the soil away and rinsed the bulb as well as I could. I didn't have enough potting soil to re-pot it, so I used sphagnum moss. At one point I let it get too wet and a bit of mold developed on the top layer, so I picked it off, and I'm trying to do better at monitoring when it needs water. It won't bloom in time for xmas, and maybe not for New Years. I'll have to make a note to start earlier next year.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Edible walls


The Dirt
recently posted about the benefits of green walls (like green roofs, but vertical), highlighting their potential for urban farming. I think that while it's a really cool idea it definitely isn't for every situation. Like for me right now. See, while I wish I could try this out, I don't have a good place for it. I don't want to completely block my view out of the sliding glass doors, and I don't think they'd get enough sun if I put them to the side.

But, if I ever get to build a house or do a major renovation, green walls will definitely be on my "must have" list!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

More orchids! 2


Check out this adorable green/yellow guy :)

I picked the best one I could find, but I got what I paid for...

It's super cute, but some of the buds shriveled up :( This happened to me last year, when I bought my first orchid. After a couple fell off, I just trimmed the ends off those branches. Luckily, some of the buds are still green and plump. One even bloomed and all the other blooms still look good! So maybe I got it in good growing conditions soon enough to save it.

Aren't the little red freckles pretty?!

And if anyone noticed the black/white photo in the first shot, yes it's an orchid — the photo was taken on our honeymoon to the Biltmore estate. The greenhouse had the most beautiful orchids. So yeah, I have an orchid growing next to a picture of an orchid. :)

Monday, November 16, 2009

More orchids!


Walmart had $15 orchids again!

So I got a couple more — one for each side of the bed. I spend a lot of time digging through their inventory looking for ones that looked absolutely healthy. This white one I think I made a good choice on — a couple more buds have opened since I bought it a week ago! And everything still looks nice and lush. I'll post photos from the other one tomorrow.

Enjoy some close-ups. I want to know what makes the petals sparkle — so pretty!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

My orchid is going to bloom! UPDATE


The flower stalk has grown several inches from when I first posted about this particular plant about a month ago. It started curving over, and developed little bitty buds. I wonder how much longer until it blooms!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Entering domant period in 3...2...1


Slowly going downhill
Orange Mint

Still hanging on, at least enough to stay green

I tried planting a fall crop of lettuce, but in August+September it was too hot, then October was too wet, now they're starting to grow, and I just know there's some bad weather around the corner that'll kill it all. Crossing my fingers I can get a mini-salad out of it before it snows.

Inside, the lemon thyme dropped a lot of old leaves. The lemon verbena dropped a lot too, but I think that's because I accidentally let it dry out. It's really hard to keep everything watered. They're thirsty!

And the stevia is growing some new sprouts.

The herbs make my bedroom smell so good! But they get really thirsty. If I don't water them every day they wilt and start dropping leaves. BUT the extra work paid off when I wanted fresh herbs to make pasta sauce the other day!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Harvesting stevia


I got the chance to harvest the stevia the other day. It was really bright and sunny when I woke up, so I broke off the stems and hung them in the window.

I read that it's best for them to take a day or less to dry in the sun. But these took a couple days.

When they were nice and crispy I tore off the leaves.

And packed them in jars.

They're really, really sweet. I just nibbled a corner and it was almost overwhelming. It didn't have any of that overcooked broccoli taste the other stuff ended up with either. Yay! I think they'll be nice for sweetening tea.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

My favorite posts from October


My Latest Garden Images from Gardening in Heels

Generation X and Y Survey Results from Life on the Balcony

Half Full from Balcony Gardener

Carving the Death Star I have do this if I host a Halloween party next year.

Vegetarian Chick'n and Dumplings from Fresh 365

The Garden that Climbs Stairs from The Dirt

The Devil is in the Details from Balcony Gardener

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Thursday, October 22, 2009

What's dead and what's clinging on









Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Cinnamon Butternut Squash Soup



I'm always in the mood for cinnamon, but especially in the fall. I just can't get enough!

about 3 lbs of butternut squash, peeled, de-seeded, and cut in cubes
4 c skim milk (or vegetable broth)
1/2 block of tofu
1 T cinnamon
1 t nutmeg
oil, salt, pepper

  1. Peel, core and cut squash in cubes.
  2. Pile on a baking sheet.  Spray with oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  3. Bake for 1 hour at 350˚
  4. Puree all ingredients in a food processor. (Careful not to fill it too full, do it in batches if yours has a small bowl.)
  5. Eat.
It's almost too easy. And too tasty, this stuff isn't going to last long :)

Monday, October 19, 2009