Saturday, November 8, 2014

Little Plant Problems

So I really like to have plants. I wanted to give you (and myself a little break from all the feminism writing. It's not that I find feminism to be bad or difficult to talk about, simply that I insist on keeping space to recognize moments of love and growth. As much attention given to male violence, twice as much should be given to female growth and creativity. For me, a big part of that life giving in my daily home routine is taking care of my plants. 

[caption id="attachment_188" align="alignleft" width="300"]1de8e-img_0995 Plants in the window of my dorm room.[/caption]

Since being in the dorm, I've always had an assortment of plants growing around my room, usually right in front of a sun lit window. It was great to see little seedlings grow up to be big plants. I'm always amazed how quickly things can take root and start giving off tendrils of life. At the end of each school year, I would leave my just-grown plants in the care of a friend who would at some point over the summer manage to kill my plants. I did feel a little bad, but I couldn't take them home with me either so I figured they had a good if short life.

[caption id="attachment_423" align="alignright" width="224"]IMG_0918 My cat posing with the a few of the plants I had.[/caption]

Once I got my cat, I was chagrined to find that I needed to give up by beloved hydrangeas and a few other plants that I liked to grow or have cuttings of.  But still I persisted and grew cat safe plants. My cat didn't seem to mind them much; I on the other hand adored my plants. In my apartment now, Prilla will sit in confusion and watch me as I groom, prune, and water my plants occasionally swatting at an offending snake plant tendril. I adored seeing the plants grow and prosper along with the little routines of pruning dead leaves and dusting the slowly growing african violet.

When I moved out of the dorms, my flat mate and I both inquired about having plants in the little alcoves in front of our windows. We grew a few herbs right in our kitchen window for eating, but one plant from Whole Foods introduced aphids to the whole lot of them. We shuttled our plants outside and left them to the elements. Since Cambridge has warm plant-supportive summers, our plants did quite well. And the outdoor plants had no pet-safe restrictions so I could have any old type of plant I wanted.

[caption id="attachment_422" align="alignleft" width="300"]IMG_1069 A mix of housemate and my plants.[/caption]

When I was moving out, things were totally crazy rushed. Possibly on poor advice, I left most of my plants in the window alcove and didn't bring them to my new apartment. The only plants to make the trip were the herbs and my african violet.

[caption id="attachment_424" align="alignright" width="217"]IMG_1262 The plants in my new apartment[/caption]

In my new apartment I have a new set of plants, mainly basil, rosemary, a long time african violet and a spider plant that has given me many many more baby spider plants. Like really, I am growing so very many baby spider plants. I got a little brass spritzer (which I can also use for art projects). A fair number of my containers are just re-used plastic containers. But the plants don't mind and neither do me nor the cat, so I think it's just fine.

I also have grown wheat grass for my cat since I got her. She really likes the wheat grass, but doesn't pay attention to any of the other plants. I read that spider plants can have an effect like cat nip on cats, but she wasn't interested in my spider plant. As far as my plant eating habits, I have been taking trimmings of the rosemary and the basil. They're very cost efficient. And taste delicious!

Where is the little plant problem? Well, I have gotten fungus gnats. I don't know where they came from! I did have my window open but I am up very high. Maybe one of the new plants had them? Apparently I've been overwatering my plants and have gotten these irritating little gnats at a noticeable level. I've been reading up on them and there are conflicting words about them. Some say they simply eat the fungus and dead plant material while others warn that they can mess with the plants root system. Either way, I want them gone! My cat has done her bit to help, carefully tracking their movements and attempting to catch one or two in her mouth. However, her efforts are mainly futile. I don't think I've seen her ever actually catch one of the bugs.

My current plan is

  • water the plants less often to dry out the evil bugs

  • water the plants with water and dish soap solution to kill the bugs

  • monitor to see if there are fewer bugs

  • once few bugs, repot the plants in clean containers

So today I gave them a healthy dose of water with dish soap solution and sprinkled some cinnamon on the soil to control fungus. Once the supplies arrive, I will carefully repot the plants. Some of them I will put in shallower containers to there is not as much water sitting below.

To be fair, I probably need to repot the one's I've had for a long time anyway. I never really properly potted my plants.  I just ordered a bunch of things since I finally took the time to read about how you're supposed to pot them. Especially now that I want to disperse my plants around the apartment, I realize I need to take good care of their health and presentation.