Sunday, January 31, 2010

January: Growing an avocado from seed

The January/February 2010 edition of Chicagoland Gardening Magazine has an article about how to grow an avocado (Persea americana, Lauraceae) from seed. I know a lot of people have done this but I don't think I ever even saw an avocado when I was a kid, and now we don't like avocados so we don't keep them around. However, I have been known to grow things I don't like to eat, including strawberries, hops, and green beans. Sometimes TMCH eats the results, and sometimes I just like the plant. I tried to grow a mango last year, but instead I grew a nice crop of mold. The avocado will go better, I just know it!
The first step: wait for the avocado to ripen. I am using a Hass avocado, and today it was black and soft, definitely ripe. I cut through the rind and the two halves fell apart easily. The avocado fruit is a berry.
I scooped the seed out from the pericarp with a spoon and washed it with water and a sponge to get all the icky off it. The surface of the seed is beautiful, like marled wood. It's about 1 1/2 inches long and slightly egg-shaped.
I then poked three toothpicks into the soft surface of the seed, about 1/3 of the way from the top, the top being very slightly more pointy than the bottom, and suspended the seed over a glass. I filled the glass so the water is 1/3 of the way up the bottom of the seed, and wrote the date on the glass.
I put the glass in a south-facing window. It needs 6 hours of daylight a day. If it doesn't sprout roots in 6 weeks I will have to start over, but hopefully something interesting will happen soon!

Monday, January 25, 2010

January: Events in the indoor garden

The snow melted over the weekend and I went into the garden to peer hopefully at places where bulbs might be. No joy yet, and today it's cold and snowy again. Luckily the indoor garden is purring along nicely. I don't use grow lights so winter growth rates are slow, but I have African violets and crown-of-thorns and two species of Aeschynanthus in bloom.

IMG_4617 IMG_4620The Peperomia ferrerae > and Gasteria NOID >>, mostly dormant in summer, are putting on new growth, and the Kalanchoe daigremontiana is growing so fast I have to keep raising the mini-blind to keep above it. I will deal with that one in a later post. There will be a knife involved.  o_O


My pre-Christmas amaryllis is finally starting to sprout. I seriously overwatered it during the Bt fungus gnat treatments so I hope it's okay. It's a Smith + Hawken from Target; I didn't really want another amaryllis, but I could not pass up that cool metallic pot.

IMG_4571 IMG_4588
Bowie, my so-cool Bowiea volubilis, is once again on its January trek towards the ceiling. The first vine emerged around Christmas Day. Then I...broke it. Oops. Luckily, a second shoot emerged on Jan. 18, and I promise not to touch it. I love this plant and am excited to see that the bulb is finally getting fat and interesting. I will have to repot it this spring into a wider, shallow pot, and give it a support less pathetic than that bit of dogwood stick.

Pseudorhipsalis ramulosa, not doing anything interesting, really; I just wanted to show a picture of it. I am developing a deep affection for the leafy-looking cacti.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

January: The ongoing quest for surface area

I tend to keep all my houseplants in two rooms of the house because they have the best light and I'm more likely to take good care of them if I don't have to walk a mile to water them all. Thus there are houseplants crammed onto every available surface in my dining room and the-room-that-we-used-to-call-the-breakfast-nook (now called the plant room). I've resisted the urge to cover the dining table itself with plants although sometimes one or two or five find their way there, "temporarily," and then end up on the floor if we want to do something crazy like eat at the table. (The breakfast nook table hasn't been breakfastable in about five years and we've long since given up on it.) I spend a lot of time searching for solutions to my ongoing space problem. Last week I ordered two plant stands that match the dining room furniture perfectly, and tonight I put them together all by my little self.


"But that's only two more square feet!" my readers protest. Never fear, I have a plan! I am going to scare up a nice oak board or maybe order a piece of glass to make a table top and turn these two stands into a 4.5-foot wide console table. I am excited about the prospect of displaying a photo or even un objet d'art. Or maybe I'll go plant shopping and fill the new table from end to end and find myself back where I started. This is of course according to the houseplant corollary to Parkinson's Law: The number of houseplants increases to match the amount of available surface area in the house.