Mirrored from Velvet Kerfuffle Kitchen and Garden.
So a little over one week ago, I woke up bright and early to do my morning rounds. The birds were twittering, the air was clear and everything was looking dew-covered and freshly green and spring-y in the garden of Pierydys.
Then, I got to my miniature dahlias and discovered that something had gone horribly wrong. There were these little brown things all over the flower and bud stems! They looked like mites. Evil little mites. Eating my brand new flowers. It was springtime for them as well, I suppose. And woe to them, they caught me at my most unreasonable time of the month. Suddenly, on my things-to-do list between (1) have ice cream and potato chips for breakfast and (5) have huge mood swings at lunch, there was a new item: kill all things with more than four legs within a five mile radius of my house by dusk. I’m ambitious that way.
After getting the little hassle of a final examination in Restoration literature out of the way, I made a beeline for the Santa Monica location of Armstrong’s (they closed within an hour of my finishing the exam, so there was no chance to drive the forty minutes home through rush hour traffic and hit up my local garden center), which, to their credit, is staffed with very helpful and patient employees. Being also in LA, they weren’t particularly phased by having grimly-attired* girls with murderous gleams in their eyes ask for their most poisonous substance available in a spray form, please.
One lovely young man was kind enough to point me towards a bottle that was marked “50% Malathion!”, remarking proudly that it would probably be off the shelves by law in another few months. This option was discarded after short consideration because although I’m not particularly fond of my neighbor’s cat, Whiskers, and really could do without him trying to eat Wilbur and use our lawn as litterbox, having him keel over from just walking by my garden probably wouldn’t do anybody any favors. We consulted with a few more store clerks before I selected a large bottle of “Rose and Flower Bug Killer” with an acceptably high level of toxins that promised to (1) destroy all soft-bodied invertebrates and (2) not kill small children and animals, all in a single application.
Now, I suppose this is a huge fuss over a very small and commonplace home improvement situation, but you must understand that I’ve never used chemicals in the garden before, neither as insecticide or fertilizer. Not so much because we were being organic (well, on my part. my mom definitely leans that way), but because I just didn’t feel like spending the money. But as part of my front yard makeover, I was determined to have everything remain healthy and figured it’d be an interesting experiment in the effectiveness of various popular garden remedies. Okay, and there might have been something horribly satisfying about being guaranteed that “insects exposed to this stuff will shrivel up and become desiccated corpses while you watch”. Bahahaha. Icky tumor bugs didn’t stand a chance.
Below is a pictorial:
The “after” shot was done a day later. Look at the dried-out husked remains! Pardon my slightly manic glee. We’ll see how long before they re-infest, if they dare.
Remember my schizanthus seedlings from last week?
Notice the 60% reduction since last update, which was, in turn, a 60% reduction from the total sprouted in the beginning. The good news is that the remaining plants seem quite happy and will probably reach maturity, having made it out of intensive care and into the recovery ward. As karinberry noted, the Santa Ana winds and the accompanying parching air did not help in the slightest. Still, the majority of the blame falls on me for even daring to move them. I am such a plant sadist.
Having encountered the standard algae bloom in the water garden promptly at the appointed ten-day mark, I set out to Petsmart and got myself a 3-inch plecostomus. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of him before we released him into the pond, so I gacked a picture off a random aquarium website.
Mine is a bit lighter in color and much prettier, in my opinion. His name is Hoover. Edgar Hoover. Much like the original, he’s a bottom-dwelling slimesucker. Only mine is much more endearing and doesn’t wear nearly as much lingerie. Hopefully, he will get along okay with Wilbur. Technically, they’re tropical aquarium fish, but according to the clerks at the petstore, several people had previously bought them for their outdoor ponds to marvelous effect and they adapt very well to our weather even in the winters. I’m crossing my fingers that no little fishy corpses will bob into sight in the next few weeks, since the skies have gone cloudy again.
An early (and huge) gladiolus that was hiding in the rose bed made its appearance known this week. I wanted to cut it and put it in the living room, but decided that the first bloom of any species should always be left to nature. Kinda like a Greek libation, only without the dairy products.
In the backyard, we have a huge tree that has been growing for over two decades. I never bothered to find out what it was until two weeks ago, and it turns out that it’s among the largest in the state. Go figure. This is our giant tree aloe (Aloe barberae). It’s over two stories tall and doesn’t get watered or fed at all, but still manages to pretty much steal the scene whenever anybody looks around back there. It’s kinda neat, in a prehistoric way.
Because you know I can’t ever go out without something following me back home. Sigh. Another fern for the shade area, nephrolepis or “Emerald Queen Fern”.
…and a pretty little orchid for my windowsill. It’s an odontoglossum intergeneric hybrid, which apparently has the same cultural requirements as cymbidiums, so hopefully will fare better than the tropical orchids that I’ve murdered in the past. Houseplants and me have never gotten along. The second spike has even started to flower since its arrival, so that was encouraging.
* Which, I suppose, requires explanation in and of itself, for anybody who knows me and my normal wardrobe tendencies. Normally, I’m about as “edgy” (gads, somebody needs to take that word out of circulation) as a pink Gap angora sweater. However, I hadn’t done laundry in a month and was out of options. It was finals time. Nobody cares what you look like during finals. Besides, there was something terribly amusing about slouching around in a black “angry little asian girl” t-shirt, baggy black trousers with more cargo pockets and buckles than were strictly necessary, and oversized black studded, cleated workman’s boots that could be used to stomp heads flat. Combined with the circles under my eyes (why bother with eyeliner when the haggard look is free?) and a pretty convincing pre-caffeine scowl, I was able to maintain a pleasingly wide berth from almost every human on campus that morning.