sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

February 24, 2019

grow light/grow lamp recommendations needed
posted by soe 1:33 am

When I lost my job in November, the thing that hurt most was the loss of an above-ground window safely away from plant-loving cats. (There were several other things that came in a close second, but honestly that sixth-floor windowsill had always been one of the things that had kept me at that job.)

Pie Chest

I cleared off the top of my pie chest as a place safe from the cats and tucked my plants (three pots of African violets and two of orchids, plus a jade plant) in amongst the knitting needles, but while it fixed one of my problems, it did not fix the major one: there is no sunlight in my apartment, not even indirectly.

I’ve shifted my Ott light over to sit in between the plants, but it’s a flip lamp and requires my remembering to turn open it up, which does not happen every day. And it can only illuminate two of the plants at a time and then I have to turn it, so it’s an inadequate stop-gap, at best.

So I’ve been on the hunt for a better solution. I think it will involve another couple lamps up there, honestly, which isn’t great, because it requires running an extension cord over there, but I’ll make it work. Right now, I’m leaning toward desktop-type lamps with grow light bulbs in them, but if anyone else has suggestions that work for them, I’d love to hear them.

I took my plants down today to water them and the bigger of my two orchids is clearly suffering. I hadn’t worried overly much when the bottom leaf started losing color; that’s what happens periodically. But today I noticed two more are also rapidly turning color, so my casual search for a solution has become vastly more acute. While I wouldn’t want to lose the violets, the orchids were a birthday gift from my favorite uncle, who died several years ago, and keeping them alive is important to me. I need to come up with a solution this week in order to avoid inflicting any more damage on this delicate plant.

If you have any suggestions, please let me know. And I’ll keep you all posted on what I decide and how the interior garden fares.

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January 21, 2019

winter sunday study in contrasts
posted by soe 1:08 am

January Garden

With the temperature rapidly nosediving, I decided to head to the garden and harvest any greens still alive. It would have been better if I’d done this on Friday, before things got so cold, because my poor plants were crunchy with the chill. There were small amounts of lettuce and arugula from a late season planting and my sorrel was still flourishing, so I ended up filling the bag I’d brought.

January Still Life

At home, I have a cheerful bouquet of yellow tulips in a blue glass pitcher we salvaged from someone’s discard box a few years ago. I thought it looked particularly nice with the red of our Dutch oven and the winter scene from our Conn College calendar.

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November 11, 2018

fall violet
posted by soe 1:51 am

Fall Violet

A killing frost is a possibility tonight and later this week, so Rudi and I headed down to the garden this afternoon to pull out the last of the Thai basil and pick any peppers that were big enough to do something with (I have dozens of pepper nubbins on the plant still, so I’m hopeful for the forest will offer enough buffer to keep them alive a while yet. This is somewhat early for a freeze here, lately.)

I still had a few flowers on my lavender, and the violets that have popped up in the garden this fall are still providing pops of color amidst the fallen leaves I keep on the ground to insulate the roots.

We also helped ourselves to fallen figs and persimmon from the trees by the park. I don’t know who planted fruit trees there, but we appreciate the bounty!

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October 14, 2018

t’is the season
posted by soe 1:17 am

For monarch butterflies to make their way through D.C. on their way to their winter home in Mexico.

Last week, I saw one floating outside my coworker’s window, six floors up from the street (but still moving with the flow of traffic on the one-way street). Today was a little more prosaic, as several were flitting around the butterfly bush at our garden gate.


Butterfly Bush

Have you noticed any critters preparing for the cooler weather?

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August 12, 2018

early august garden report
posted by soe 1:05 am

Early August Garden

The garden has become a jungle, as it often does at this time of year.

My tomatillo is about seven feet tall and way too big for the small tomato cage it’s in; it’s fallen over into the dill.

The tomatoes are equally unruly, well over six feet tall, and sprawled over the main section of the garden. I keep picking anything that has a hint of color so that we get the tomatoes, rather than the squirrels, because, honestly, squirrels are jerks and would take a single bite out of every ripe tomato in your garden if they could.

Even my chard is approaching several feet in height.

I have a few flowers on the squash plant, but I’m not positive they’ll turn into anything. I picked the yard-long beans when they were only a foot long and I fear no more will grow this year.

The peppers are slow to perform, but at least one of them finally has fruit on it. The one in the back of the garden is being blocked by whatever pollinator bush I planted a couple years back. I should pull some of it out, but there is a yellow jacket colony in the back part of the garden and I’m a little nervous about messing around too much back there.

This also is preventing me from getting to any herbs other than my basil. I harvested several handfuls of the biggest leaves off my regular basil today — which also has benefited from the sun and rain and is now about four feet tall — and will pull some of the purple basil next time. The popsicle shop near me makes a purple lemonade with opal basil, which is an intriguing thing to consider…

In the next few weeks I’ll need to start considering some fall plantings, but right now there’s nowhere to put anything. I could probably sow some lettuce seeds in between the tomato plants and see if anything comes of them later in the autumn once the tomatoes are done.

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July 8, 2018

first week of july garden update
posted by soe 1:31 am

First July Weekend in the Garden

Strawberries and peas are pretty much done for the season. I’ll pull out the pea vines this week and stop watering the strawberries.

Garden Flower

I harvested my first tomatoes today. They aren’t ripe, but they had their first hint of color and I’ve learned that if I leave them until they get ripe, squirrels take a bite out of them and then leave the rest. Cheeky buggers. So instead, these — one bigger one and two yellow grape tomatoes — will ripen on my counter. I also had to add some more stakes to my biggest tomato plant, which was leaning dangerously far into the pathway, despite already taking up two cages.

Squash Plant

I finally found a squash plant growing in my garden. I’d put down seeds for them and for beans last month.


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