Thursday, December 29, 2011

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Asiatic Lily Seedlings already? - Torn down Woods

So I go out back while muttering about Old Man Winter's tardiness, see? What do my eyes see?

No. Yes. What? Wait...

Is this some weed taking over my box? No. The other three pots with different winter-sowed seeds are empty. I snap a picture, hop on Google, and to my horror, I discover that these indeed are asiatic lily seedlings. What are they doing popping up already? This is the curse of a winter that won't stay cold. I dragged the pot into the greenhouse because with the seedlings trying to grow before winter has even fully settled in yet is making me nervous. Now I wonder if the other winter-sowed seedlings are setting out roots and haven't popped up yet. Stress. Stress. Stress.

Speaking of stress...

The picture above was taken on December 3rd when I noticed the pink string on the tree.

This picture was taken today. The owner of the land decided to hire a company to take down all the pine trees so that he could sell them to a sawmill. It was sad to see the pine trees come down and be carted away. I don't even know if they're done yet because their machines are still sitting in the woods. Now when night comes, we can see lights from other buildings on the other side of the woods. It's an odd sight to see when coming out onto the back porch at night.

I lived in this house since 1995 and for a lot of things to change so abruptly this year alone was really difficult for me to handle. Our beloved Bear that we adopted in 1995 passed away this year. The fence we built for him around the backyard in 1995 had been destroyed during Hurricane Irene. Now the beautiful woods have been destroyed. I think 2011 will personally be the year that will be remembered as the year that everything 'home sweet home' came to an end.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Smith & Hawken: Amaryllis Bulb Kit

I hope everyone had a very merry Christmas! For Christmas, I received an Amaryllis Bulb kit from Smith and Hawken. It contained a Minerva Amaryllis bulb.

The bulb was pretty good sized and there were leaves trying to start.

What I found baffling was that after I poured three cups of water into the pot and came back after an hour, I saw that the 'growing medium' didn't even come up halfway. I used a butter knife to stir it and the growing medium was mostly soggy and only came up halfway in the pot.

So I re-read the directions in case I missed anything. I didn't know if I had to add something beforehand.

Even the illustration shows that the pod was supposed to fill up the pot.

Lucky for me, I remembered some pellets from a mini-greenhouse that never got used and tossed in about eleven of them to fill the rest of the pot.

Voila! A potted Amaryllis.

Besides the lack of growing medium, what makes me nervous is how the pot has no holes. It has three little "rubber-stops" on the bottom to prevent the bottom of the pot from scratching the surface.

I guess as long as I just keep it moist and not wet, it should be fine until I get it into the ground come next spring.

Still hoping to get my hands on a white amaryllis but it seems they're not easily found for some reason.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Schlumbergera Flowers amongst some others

I guess Winter doesn't exist anymore... Or he's just dragging his butt this year. It's sort of hard to believe that we're in December and my plants are still alive. The heater was used once thus far when it hit 30 overnight. I left out the two boxes of spider plants and while they got singed, they pretty much continued on.

Anyhow, my schlumbergera (Thanksgiving Cactus) are blooming. Got the red, pink, and Dark Maria going. Normally cold temperatures come and I stick them in the greenhouse with the heater. The plants lose their buds before they have a chance to open. With how warm it's staying, the flowers are coming out to play.

The yellow schlumbergera is always the last to open so this one is still working on opening their flowers.

And of course, randomness like a decaying angel.

And the shadow of a lizard. They're all running rampant still...

Also! Before I forget, as a personal note to myself, I received two new bearded iris bulbs about a week ago and I know come next spring, I'm going to forget and say, "I know it said 'cherub' something!" Instructions said to get them out before first frost so I stuck them in a pot. They looked pretty shriveled up as is so I don't know if they're even alive. Guess I'll find out come next spring.

Bearded Iris Cherub's Smile
Hope everyone else is doing well!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Winter Sowing and Schlumbergera

Pots ready for winter-sowing of the seeds!

I got these four pots ready for winter sowing. Iris (Black Mom/Purple Dad), Iris (Purple Mom/Black Dad), Asiatic Lily, and Clematis. I kept reading over and over that winter sowing was needed for these seeds so I'm just going to have these pots sitting outside all winter long and see if the seeds do pop out come spring. A fun new experience. At the moment, it's the Iris that I can't wait for. I'd love to see those pop up but the others would be fun to see too.

Dark Maria - Schlumbergera

It also turns out that the schlumbergera have started pushing out flower buds. I guess I was a bit surprised because a good chunk of them fell apart or got too much water or it was too hot or... It was a serious pain to keep them happy this year and I have just about given up. Though, it's refreshing to see them try to flower. I know the buds will fall off once the temperatures drop and I have to get the heater running to prevent them from freezing - which always shocks them into dropping their buds, unfortunately.

Pink? Red? Schlumbergera

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Gourd? Squash?

Trying to figure out what this big bad boy is... I posted it on a Pumpkin/Gourd/Squash forum but haven't had a reply yet. Does anyone know what this is? It's a very large gourd or squash. My first reaction was that it was a gourd so no idea if this thing is edible or not.

I've been hitting Google Image but haven't come across anything that looks like this yet.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Post-Irene with thoughts about Katia

It's hard to think of how a week ago, I was annoyed at the local meteorologist for popping on every 30 minutes to give updates about Irene. I just kept grousing that it'll be, "just wind and rain!" Now that I've had time to absorb everything that's happened last weekend, I feel a little gun-shy towards hurricanes. I've always welcomed them because it meant rain - and I definitely welcomed Irene because I thought she'd come in and get us caught up water-wise due to the drought we had during the summer. I never could've seen it coming that she'd destroy a lot of things in the process.

I propped the plants (Purple Bells? Purple Stars? I can never remember the name of this plant...) up with posts and they recovered pretty well.

As it is right now, a lot of things are still sitting around (Can't really move big trees around and there's no chainsaw here). For the first couple of days, the smell of rot filled the air because the wind wasn't really moving at all and the haze was sitting around. Yesterday and today have been really nice weather and there's some wind so everything smells better.

Looking at the 10 day forecast on TWC, it seems the days of 90's are at an end. Just a lot of 80's.

There's more and more talk of Katia and maybe purchasing a generator. A friend of the family let my father borrow his generator on Monday which was used for about 2 hours to power up some floor fans before the lights finally kicked on. A brief experience with that says that maybe one should be purchased after all. Who knows... If Katia actually does come flying straight in like a bat out of hell and does an 'encore' of what Irene did...

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Hurricane Irene came and left...

Hurricane Irene roared over us in NC and caused a lot of damage. When I came out the morning of Saturday, I filmed this:

And then I did an update video:

A tree fell on our lines.
A better shot.
Fence was pushed over.
It had enough of the winds and keeled over.

Came out Sunday morning (28th) and looked around. The butterflies and hummingbirds were out in full force. I made a fresh batch of nectar on the grill's burner and snapped this picture of a butterfly making do with a couple of flowers from the Salvia Coccinea

(I went into more detail on my other blog: Hurricane Irene paid a visit.)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Prickly Pear Growth

May 17, 2011 - Prickly Pear Cactus

August 23, 2011 - Prickly Pear Cactus

You know, it really stuns me how fast this prickly pear cactus grew. It was struggling in this small terra cotta pot and the main pad died down (that shrivelly gray mass that all the pads are on) so I finally had enough and decided to stick it in a pot that was clearly too big for it. My reasoning was that I didn't want to repot it any time soon - if ever. I was also hoping it would just die off and I can toss it away and move on.

That didn't happen. Instead it's been growing by leaps and bounds these past three months. I can't believe it. It won't take long before it's too big for THIS pot and I am definitely way too afraid to try and repot it in a larger pot.

I do want to experiment with a pad though. I'm thinking that next spring I'll stick a pad in a fresh pot, let it grow, and then leave it out all winter to see if it'll overwinter like my eastern prickly pear does every winter.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Schlumbergera Seedlings update & Stapeliad

Stapelia Gigantea bud growing longer...

Schlumbergera Seedlings
I don't like the idea of posting pictures of my schlumbergera seedlings. I guess I'm so discouraged when it comes to them. With the utter total failure of the first pot earlier this year, I've sort of adopted the attitude that as long as I don't develop an attachment, it won't be no skin off my nose when they keep dying. With that in mind, I decided to finally add a smidgen of miracle gro fertilizer to the spray bottle. I figured if this small amount still burns them, oh well. At least I tried.

I can't help but feel some sort of excitement in the back of my mind that there's still a good amount that's still growing. With first leaves popping out of some while random others just keel over... It's survival of the fittest even though I'm trying to find advice online.

I posted on a forum that was meant for growing schlumbergera from seedling. After explaining that my first pot attempt was potting soil and this current attempt is peat moss, I was told that next time I should add perlite and vermiculite to break it up a bit. There's also suggestion of maybe buying a cheap grow light. With how long it's taking these to grow, I'm worried they won't make it in the greenhouse over winter. Maybe I could set up some small grow light in the laundry room and bring the seedlings in to keep them safe. It's something to think about.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Stapelia Gigantea

Stapelia Gigantea Flower Bud
You know, it's kind of neat to see it sending out a bud. My experience with this plant has been pretty much a roller coaster. After receiving the plant in a rather soggy pot last year - it was given to me with black rot already having set in. Pretty soon the entire plant just died. I realized that after everything was slowly dying away, there were these little 'clippings' that had been tossed into the pot and was pretty green. I potted those up in different soil.

Then they grew a little bit. Then they got stung in the greenhouse over winter. I thought the plant was pretty much going to die after it got stung but to my surprise, once spring came, it set out to grow new 'arms'. Now to see it have a flower bud, I'm really pleased. Had it died after being stung from the cold, I might've written this plant off for good.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Amaryllis progress and chili peppers

Amaryllis Seedlings

It's hard to believe I got more seedlings coming up. It's very very addicting. I should probably quit planting them because I probably will have too many to know what to do with! I'm still hitting them with a very weak fertilizer mix every time I water them because I want them to bulk up as fast as they possibly can before winter comes.

Chili Peppers
 I believe these are ghost chili peppers. They sprouted from some peppers that fell back into the pot last year. I didn't think the seeds could overwinter but apparently they can! So the plants popped back up and there's some new peppers.

Chili Pepper Bloom

Monday, July 25, 2011

Odd Bug? - Solved: Wheel Bug

As I was watering the plants, I came across this unusual bug clutching a bee. I want to say that it looks like a preying mantis and stink bug mixed together. Anyone recognize it?

Mystery solved. It's a Wheel Bug (Arilus cristatus). I went to take better pictures but the winds kept moving the plant around so all I got were fuzzy pictures. I also accidentally scared it into dropping its meal and it took off. Once the winds calmed, I managed to get a better side profile picture of it.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Venus Fly Trap, Gladiolus, Phlox

New template design. Like it? Heh! I was told that the template I had on here was years old and that I should hit the template library for a fresh design. Now it's got that Google +1 that's sweeping the internet by storm.

Venus Fly Trap

My VFT is doing good. You can see a couple traps have dead bugs in them so they're slowly thriving. It's impossible to tell from this angle but this pot sits on top of a saucer that has rainwater in it.

 I thought I had a gladiolus that was red with yellow 'throats'. This one is more on the pinkish/purplish side.

Butterfly in Phlox
In the humid morning when the sun comes out and there's no wind, there's this strong heady smell that surrounds this huge batch of White Phlox. I took a few pictures of this butterfly and this one came out the clearest.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Bees on Sunflowers

 Bees on Sunflowers. Pretty neat, huh?

Here's the full picture. You can see my stake on the left is struggling like heck to support the sunflower. It was straight up at one point but has fallen over ever since and the stake hasn't been able to keep it upright since. If it wasn't for the bees on the little flowers, I think this would've been cut down at some point! Is this an unusual sunflower with so many little heads on it?


My vegetable pots pretty much shriveled up at this point. I think I have some unidentified vegetable vines still growing but no idea what they are. The female flowers die off even though there's plenty of male flowers.

The tomatoes that I planted just for the heck of it are still going strong.

These are the Tiny Tim tomato plants. I tried tying them up but the plant sort of bent over seeing as how they were unable to support the tomatoes.

That big weird streaky red tomato on the bottom right is from a grape tomato plant. It was growing in a pot that had the husky cherry tomato plants. Kind of odd!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Amaryllis Seeds growing...

So... hot... 

Anyhow, a quick capture of my five flower boxes of amaryllis seedlings. Just stick a bunch of seeds in some pots or flower boxes and after a couple weeks, they should start growing.

For personal records:
The two red boxes and the tan box - Red Mother/Red Father.
Two green boxes - Red Mother/PinkWhite Father.

I was also asked about my other flower boxes.... A bit embarrassed to post a picture.

I know, I know. Shame on me! It amazes me how persistent the weeds are. I spend all spring and early summer constantly plucking everything out. Once the temperatures get too hot for me to stick around too long, the weeds take off like wildfire. There's four flower boxes pictured there if you can't tell from all the weeds. ... heh.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Hiding in the handle of a watering can

It was incredibly hot and muggy out today. After I watered the vegetable pots and set the watering can down, I noticed a pair of eyes watching me.

It's amazing how long the smoke has been lingering in this area. There's fires going on around here in several counties and just when it seems like the air will clear and the sky won't have some rust tinge to it, the air quickly becomes white and the smell is really bad. Central air has to be turned off or the smell gets into the house.

It's also weird to see it say "Smoke" on I never knew that status existed until I saw it in mid-June or so. Could sure use some rain... The drought is kicking my butt here.