Babies and seeds

Baby peppered corydoris catfish

Gutter avocado

Well, we’ve got a new baby.  Our Peppered Corydoris catfish have a youngun.  I noticed it this morning.  It’s about an inch long, so it’s been around a while.  I don’t pay too much attention to the aquarium.  The sun was out early and bright and there that little bugger was . . .

As to the attached plant wall, I’m in holding mode until my Rex Begonias arrive.  I dabble.  the current dabble is a gutter avocado.

I eat a lot of avocado.  I have already given away a 5′ tall many limbed avocado tree.  Sometimes I just can’t help myself . . . this was one of those “what if” moments.  I just had to set the seed in the gutter to see what happens.  I checked it this morning and it looks like it’s starting to split!

I’ll give this one away as well once it’s established.  I don’t have room for an avocado tree.

Ferns and orchid cactus

Wood ferns
Long frond with a second starting
One in the gutter (bottom right corner) and one in the wall, both showing new growth
Fronds with legs! <grin>
Nubs of growth

Orchid cacti

I got a single lot of mystery ferns on ebay. I put as many in the wall as I could but still had some bigger starts left over that I couldn’t find a spot for.  I passed those on to LouAnn.  They might prove to be interesting!

My wood fern is doing fine.  Of the four starts I put in the wall, all are growing.  One has grown a normal hairy foot with two fronds running off through the greenery.  The little one on the left is the one doing most poorly.  It puts out little puny fronds that never seem to mature.

I pulled one wood fern start and replanted it in another part of the wall.  I thought it was dead, but once I pulled it I realized the new growth was down between the backing and the felt.

I’ve got at least two new ferns that are in the gutter.  One I can see easily and it’s got a frond sticking up from the foot.

One of the ferns near the top of the wall has produced a long frond with arms sticking out from it.  That one should be interesting.

I’ve got a fern with a thick stalk that’s putting out multiple blunt protrusions.  That, too, should be interesting.

And finally, I bought a lot of orchid cactus cuttings.  They came all nicely hardened off and I was able to put them directly into the wall.  None of them is showing growth.  We’ll see how they do.

Plant wall

A happy jumble of green

This is the left side of the plant wall.  The Ricinifolia Immense is really happy, as is the dumb cane and rain forest cacti.  Everything seems happy.

I’ve cleared out my garden window,  giving away the two hoja and the desert cactus.  I also gave away a 5 foot tall avocado tree in a 12″ pot, but I still have five pots to water.  Two will be torn apart to go in LouAnn’s wall.  Two are very large pots, one a yucca, the other a combo palm and ficus (visible to the left of the plant wall).  I’m hoping I can back off to watering once a week, but probably not.  I still have one small pot of crown of thorns that will require twice weekly watering to continue to bloom and do well.  We’ll see how it does.  The big ones I don’t worry about as much.

Plant wall status

New vine
Grapefruit seedling in the gutter

Happy Ricinifolia Immense

LouAnn has a vine in her yard I just love.  I don’t know what it is, I just know it reseeds itself readily.  It’s got a lovely leaf shape, a pretty flower and is a nice compliment to my wall.  I stuck it in the hole left by the expired orchid.  If you look at the Cape Primrose leaf in the background in the center of the image, you’ll see a mess of seeds dropped from one of the seed pods.  At this rate I should have a mess of these in the gutter by this time next year.

This summer I had a couple of grapefruit that had sprouting seeds.  I dropped them in the hydroton in the gutter.  Of the three or four seeds I dropped there, two have produced plants.  I don’t know what they’re going to do, but they’ll be fun to watch.

The Hawaiian begonia is happy in its new space.  Both begonia transplants are growing vigorously.

Kissing aphids goodbye

I’m still battling aphids in the plant wall, but I am making headway.  Instead of seeing a dozen, I’m seeing an occasional very lethargic speck of green with legs.

Jill at JMH Water Gardens gave me a recipe for a fish safe aphid spray that seems to be working really well.  The fish are alive and the aphids aren’t.  I see that as being the measure of success.  Oh, did I mention it’s cheap to make out of common stuff?  Yeah, that too.  Blend oil into a beaten egg white, store in the fridge.

Jill’s recipe says 1 cup of oil to 1 tbsp of egg white.  I confess to not being that precise.  Store in the fridge, mix a bit with water in a spray bottle and spray.  I did say I wasn’t that precise, didn’t I?  Her instructions say 2½ tsp of the egg/oil mix to 1 cup of water.  I don’t need that much at a time so I mix a little over a teaspoon to ½ cup of water.  Spray as needed.  It doesn’t keep so dump what you don’t use right away and mix new each time you need it.

Reconfiguring the plant wall

Wall in profile with ricinifolia Immense on display.

I was forced to shuffle plants around in the plant wall.  Terry couldn’t feed his fish without having to fight through the ricinifolia Immense, and the plant was happily increasing in size.  The largest leaf is over 18″ long on a 2′ long stalk.  As the leaves matured the situation was going to get much worse, so decisions had to be made.

To reconfigure the wall I pulled a areca palm on the left side of the wall and increased the opening and installed one of the begonias.  Then I cut another opening in a blank spot and installed the other, removing the majority of the large leaves at the base of the plants.

Orchid is the stick at the very right of the wall half-way up, the Immense begonia is on the left and the new philodendron is center right.

I pulled the orchid and put it in a new spot against the right side of the wall next to the window and put a split leaf philodendron in the spot where the largest begonia was removed.  This fills in the spot and gets the orchid out to where it’s not so crowded.

I was amazed when I pulled the ricinifolia Immense how little root it had added since being installed in the wall.  It had not much more root than when I put it in the wall, but the leaves were getting . . . well . . . IMMENSE.

Now Wadly can get to his tank to feed his fish without  having to do it by braille.

Plant wall snapshot

Current state of the wall

With the surrounding plants pulled away to sweep and clean, it’s time to take a picture.  Yes, the Hawaiian begonia really is that big.  The leaf showing fully to the camera is 17″ long.  The stem it is on is 23″ long.  The largest leaf is over 18″ long.  It is immense.  Click the picture for more detail.

Everything is filling in nicely.  I’ll use this time to put one more plant in the wall and clean up dead foliage.

When the new house is up (years in the future) I’ll have a plant wall whose system spans two rooms.  I’ll put the aquarium in the tv room where it can shine.  The plant wall will be on the other side of the wall in the living room where it can get lots of natural light and act as an art piece on the wall.

Ricinifolia Immense

Ricinifolia 'Immense'

It turns out the big begonia in my wall is Ricinifolia Immense, a rhizomatous variety.

I got a start for my ricinifolia Immense from a friend over 20 years ago.  I’ve propagated it, given friends starts, passed my plant on to someone else and just lately got a start back.  This plant LOVES being in the plant wall.  The growth is more lush than when it was potted.  The leaves are bigger, the stalks are longer.  The largest leaf on this new start is 17″ long and over 13″ wide.  The stem is a full 2 feet long.  This new start hasn’t bloomed yet.  I don’t expect to see a bloom stalk until this fall.

And I’ll be really glad when the weak chlorotic leaves age and fall off . . .

Fish aren’t everything

Chlorotic leaves

It’s important to note the plants in the wall aren’t going to get everything they need from the fish.  From this I’m going to extrapolate that the fish aren’t getting everything they need from the fish food.

If you look at the two leaves in the picture, you’ll see one is chlorotic (showing insufficient chlorophyll from deficiencies in nutrition aka splotchy color).  The leaf on the right, the chlorotic one, is the older leaf.  The leaf on the left is healthy with a much more even distribution of chlorophyll.  The leaf on the left is new, appearing after I sprayed the wall with worm casting tea.

So I extrapolate . . . if the plants are getting incomplete nutrition from the fish, the fish are getting incomplete nutrition from the food they are eating.

LouAnn’s Aquarium

I got the glass for LouAnn’s aquarium a couple days ago but didn’t get around to peeling the paper away until today.  It looks good.  The edges were really sharp so I used a foam sanding block to knock down the abrupt edges.

I need to make a frame for the bottom, so I’ll stop in at Home Depot and see what kind of corner molding I can find.  If I can’t find corner molding I can make a frame by cutting down some larger dimension lumber.  I’d like to use hard wood, if I can find something I like within my budget.  I used to have an iron wood 6×6 but I think Dan (brother) saw it and got wood envy.  Maybe I can find some maple . . .