A Plant Aquarium Update

So, you read yesterday’s post about the aquarium melt-down…this post is about the plant aquarium, a five gallon aquaponics tank—with no live plants…

This tank (known as the plant tank, even without plants in it/on it) was stressed out, holding twelve+ fish, for a few days. I wasn’t entirely sure how long that many fish would need to live there…and the meltdown of the other aquarium actually happened at a point where I had already been thinking about what could live in that environment…with that many fish in there though, I wanted to have extra filtration and cleaning added as quickly as possible, without having to buy a new filter or whatever—because the top of the tank is styrofoam with holes cut into it where we put the mesh baskets through to the water. There is a space (now) cut off at one side in the back to accommodate the heater and the airline tubing. Until this weekend, there was no heater in the tank…because…well, no one had gotten around to cutting a space out for the heater…and the water temps weren’t that chilly that I thought the fish would be affected. But, since this was the week to upgrade all the aquariums here, and talk about bringing the tall tank back upstairs as well – it’s just talk…I have no intention of doing that for a long time…although the talk originally started because my youngest expressed a deep love and admiration of angel fish…right now, that whole process to bring the tank up, clean it, set it up—just the idea of it is too exhausting for me right now…so maybe in a few months…so, the spacer got cut out and the heater installed…and although the water is a might bit warmer than it was, the fish don’t seem much changed…we’ll see how it goes once winter hits though…

So, my original intention, even before we had to plop all our mollies and their sidekicks into the smaller plant tank, was to find a peace lily. To be honest, I’ve actually been looking for a peace lily for nearly two months. Maybe three at this point. Wherever I go, not what I am looking for…even when I switched and decided to try to find a diffenbachia…no diffenbachia…of course—it’s what I was looking for, in several different stores, in several different locations…well, this past weekend when we all went out to run errands, I actually found some peace lilies…about two feet + tall peace lilies—the HUGE peace lilies—the really expensive ones…and what I have been after were smaller ones…that would not look or be out-of-place on top of a five gallon aquarium.

This past weekend, when we went out, there was only one houseplant in the store we went to. The poor thing was outside in the ‘garden center’, dying with all the other sun-burnt plants. She was stuck out in the midst of yard plants and garden plants. She was in a six-inch pot, so root bound that the roots were curling out the bottom, the sides and over the top. She was bone-dry…when I got her home and rinsed off the soil, there wasn’t much soil to speak of. She was straggly. She was massively sun-burnt. I picked her up, looked at her, and walked away, searching for any other sort of house plant. Finding only tall tropical plants that were completely inadequate for my needs, I started to head back into the building…but as I walked past her again, I heard her plea to come with me…so I had to pause. I picked her up. I saw that she had a lot of life left within her…so…she ended up coming home with me. Not a peace lily by any means, but a pothos.

I was far too tired to do anything once we got home, other than take my meds and curl up in my chair to wait for the pain meds and sinus meds to kick in and rest rest rest. I did get a plastic bowl, drop the plant as she was into the bowl and fill it up completely with water. She sat in that water overnight, and through most of the next day…until I had the energy to work with her.

The plant tank has eleven holes cut into the top for the mesh baskets. You may recall we were trying to grow catnip from seed her in growth wool over the recycling glass stone we have. Yeah. Not enough light—which I why I went for a low light loving plant. We had many of the seeds sprout, but they never got much past the sprouted out of the seed stage…

I took the pothos outside and I dumped out the water. I gently worked her out of her pot and she did come out pretty quickly. I rinsed all the dirt and soil and particles away. It didn’t take long; she really was nearly all root. I kept rinsing her, even after all the visbile dirt had come away. I refilled that plastic bowl again and plopped her in there. Then we went back inside…and I had to take a break. The heat wasn’t all that bad that day…and there was a light breeze, but still…I am not well, just getting on the mend now…and I needed to rest.

Once I felt up to it, I took her to the sink and started to pull her apart. She came apart into smaller rootings, as I call them, very quickly. I filled ten pots with the pothos…I have to leave that other hole empty so I can feed the fish. I took one single rooted stem, dropped in the growth wool, topped it off with the recycled glass stones – and plopped them into the tank.

The plantings have been in the tank for a day or two now—and they are happy.

Now, this plant has a lot more than ten rootings. She probably has closer to thirty or forty little rootings in total…whatever was leftover after I finished filling the plant tank baskets went into a half-gallon mason jar full of water (with some added kelp fertilizer) and even those pieces look so much happier than when I brought her home.

We have an older pothos. It’s belonged to my partner for years. It was a gift from a friend. I have been eyeballing that plant since I had to repot our beloved diffenbachia – and she ended up in a jar full of water and is now growing quite happily, lots of roots, growing new leaves as we speak…I am thinking that perhaps giving her the water-bath like these new pothos may be a good thing to bring her back around. She tends to fade, come back, fade, come back—although she gets very little light. She’s been happier lately since I moved her to a shelf on the wall where she gets better light—I may just need to think about a new pot and fresh soil for her…I’m still debating…I am in no rush to start a new project as yet.

These guys on our tank top will eventually start to vine out…and that is not really a bad thing…but by the time they get long and leggy, I hope to have found some peace lilies to replace them so that the pothos can all be potted in soil and allowed to grow and live happily. But for now, they are helping the fish keep the tank cleaner and the fish are helping them recover from their sun-burnt desert-like experience before we brought them home.

The Ginger Experiment

I love ginger.

I use a lot of ginger.

I cook with it.  I drink ginger tea.  I bake with it.

I was so thrilled to learn about stem ginger…so thrilled, I actually made my own.

I made biscotti using pine nuts and crystallized ginger the other day and everyone here who ate it loved it and couldn’t get enough of it.

I was absolutely over the moon when my father sent me four lovely pieces of ginger that be bought on etsy, ready to plant or to eat…and I wanted them to plant.

I planted two in a huge pot I have outside–where the ginger root I had bought from the store failed to do anything…I did prep them with rooting solution and water them thoroughly with a weakly fertilized water.

I dropped one into a large mason jar with clean water, weak fertilizer and rooting solution.  That I set on the windowsill here in the kitchen.

And since we are playing around here with the experimentation, I filled one of our containers with perlite (because I happen to have it on hand), water, the rooting solution and the weak fertilizer…and popped the final ginger root into that, a bit on the top.  I covered that with plastic wrap, as we hadn’t made the lid from styrofoam for this container, and put it out on the front porch.  The plastic wrap isn’t just to keep the water in; it is mostly to keep the birds and other animals out of it.

I will let you know how things go…as they go along…


Vegetative Experimentation

So, we have an experiment running in our house at the moment.


We are just starting to try this out.  We know we have a long way to go.  But, we are learning, and that is the important part to us.


We are venturing into the hydroponics and aquaponics realms.


The first thing we did was: find an old aerogarden set-up at the thrift store.  Then, we found a five-gallon aquarium with no lid at a different thrift store.


Months and months later…we set up the aquarium and we set up the aerogarden.  We ordered baskets and medium.  We found styrofoam to cut up (for the aquarium, to support the plants on top of the water).


We went to our favorite local hardware store and found out they have a truly sucky selection of garden veg and herb, but we bought what they had: tri-color sage, peppermint, rosemary, and large leaf basil.


We bought two pots of each, thinking to divide each pot into smaller plantings.


We planted some of each type of plant in baskets and set them in the aquarium.


We planted some of each type of plant in baskets and set them in the aerogarden.


We planted some of each type of plant in potting soil and set them up close to the aerogarden so they could reap the benefit of the extra light.


After one week, we learned…large leaf basil is a picky little thing.  Most of them, except in the potting soil, were either dead, dying or considering it.


Mint grows anywhere, under any darn condition.  The roots of the mint took off in the aquarium (where we can look ever single day without messing with anything) the day after we settled them into their new place.  In the aerogarden, within that first five days, lots of brand new baby leaves appeared.


In the soil…the mint proved to be the strongest, fastest and healthiest as well.


The tri-color sage looks a little sad and droopy in the aquarium but is nowhere near death at all.


Now, as we are planning to put fish (green and yellow and purple, according to my youngest) into the aquarium, the only fertilizer I am putting in there is a 100% kelp mix.  In the areogarden, I am not hampered by such restrictions.  I put in a weak solution of fertilizer and of rooting solution.

The plants in the soil got weak solutions of fertilizer.  That’s it.


We did lose one basil, but someone kept messing with it.  Not that I think that it would have been totally ok if no one had messed with it.  The messing just hastened on the inevitable, but still…I feel we need to give everyone a bit to adjust and to find their legs (so to speak) for a bit before we start pushing things.


I will let you know how things progress … once they begin to progress…