Plant Mum Post #3: Giving the Houseplants a Bath and Adventures with Spiders (no spider photos, merely an anecdote or, um, three)

Happy solstice to everyone who observes it! How are you all? I am relieved that autumn feels like autumn – in Southend at least – after the weirdest summer I can remember for ages. Not sure how I got sunburnt in the last week of July and spent the first week of August wrapped in blankets, watching rom coms set in Greece in a bid to warm up. Britain, eh. God, I am so English. When was the last time I came here and didn’t talk about the weather?!

Not about the weather

It was my birthday last week, and 26 got off to an auspicious start when I got back into bed with a cup of coffee and sat on a spider. I didn’t notice until I was making the bed later in the morning and thought ‘… what… is that…?’ I thought initially that a bit of my skin was falling off, so in some ways it was a relief to realise that the blood and bits of tissue were, er, not mine.

Oops.

(I have been having moderately bad dreams featuring spiders ever since, so we’re even, spider world. Do you hear me? DO NOT TAKE REVENGE.) (We’re not going to talk about how I was dusting my printer yesterday and I am ninety per cent sure a spider crawled into the paper tray before I could stop it. RIP little guy.) (Also there was a false widow on the porch the other day, directly below my window.) (I am going to stop thinking about arachnids now.)

Also not about the weather

I gave my plants a wash this morning. I read once that it’s good to put all your houseplants in the bath once a year, and hose them down. It’s to imitate seasonal storms, or something, and get rid of any dust. I think I might have enjoyed it more than they did…

I had to trim back the aloe (not pictured, it’s looking a bit waterlogged as it drains out) after some leaf death. How long are aloes meant to last? This one’s been knocking around for about five years, but what’s left seems okay, with new sprouts. I think I may have done a smidge of overwatering in the summer, because I was watering the same amount as I have during the last couple of summers, when it’s been insanely hot. This summer – sorry, weather again – hasn’t really been like that. The Flaming Katy cutting seems fine, too, minding its own business.

How are the courgettes and the peppers, you ask. Well, I succumbed to peer pressure and put the courgettes outside before they were strong enough to weather some truly bonkers storms (sorry, more weather). Those that made it were promptly eaten by snails. Rest in peace, babies, I will try again another year. The peppers are not that much bigger than they were in June, to be honest. My nan’s plants have all been late blooming this year, too, so I am not too worried. In fact, I have given the peppers to my nan because her flat is usually about 32 degrees Celsius in the winter, so they will likely grow in time for Christmas.

Here are some photos of neighbourhood plants from the last few weeks, just as the season began to turn. I love summer, I love autumn and I always feel like the weeks where summer shifts into autumn are a little bit magic. Sad, but also a bit magic.

I’m off to check the plants are all, you know, not drowned. Wishing you all a spider-free autumn, or at least a spider-free bed…

Look after yourselves,

Francesca


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In which I am becoming a plant mum (post one of, possibly, hundreds)

Afternoon! I’m drafting a post in which I take the piss out of some of my old school work, but I’ve been editing my final project for my diploma so I’m not quite up for being witty this weekend. My braincells are sort of hanging onto life with the grim determination of someone who knows that a holiday is right around the corner. I don’t want to frighten them. So I thought that I’d talk about something nice instead and what is could be nicer, on May Day, than plants?

Okay, maybe more reliable weather and a gin but let’s not quibble. HERE ARE SOME PLANTS I’VE BEEN GROWING.

Let’s start with some courgette sproutlings. I don’t know the name for vegetables once they’ve stopped being seeds but before they look like the things you buy in the supermarket. These little dudes started growing ridiculously quickly. This was day two or three:

tiny courgette sprout

This is them on days, I don’t know, seven or nine? They got real bolshy real quickly. I was reading Maggie Stiefvater and Morgan Beem’s Swamp Thing around now and I definitely started to wonder about the extent to which plants are sentient.

Last Monday I separated them out and I’m kind of hoping the weather gets better before they grow too much more, because the next size of pot is going to be way too big for a windowsill:

This is them today:

I am so glad I’ve hoarded old, broken mugs for the last year or so. This is why I can’t be a proper minimalist. I’ve also just noticed the bird shit on the window. Yay nature!

I like telling them how I’m going to eat them. They don’t seem to mind. All right, next plants! I can’t photograph most of them, because they are either gifts or being propagated as gifts. Might get awkward. Anyway, here is what is going to become, hopefully, a pot of peppers.

I planted them this afternoon. I’ll keep you updated. I’ve been sending my mum daily courgette photos so you guys can keep track of the peppers. Okay now for something inedible: my aloe veras! (Aloe verae?)

I’m saying that they’re inedible like I have any idea if you can eat aloe vera. Some people probably do. The one on the left is a plant I’ve had for… four or five years? It’s grown like the clappers and keeps sprouting. A couple of offspring are on the right. To be completely honest, I’m not sure if they’re going to make it: I think they got a bit too much sun when I first repotted them. Fingers crossed though. Also, points to me for using an old candle holder as a plant pot. That shelf, the one with the aloes and [redacted, because it’s a gift] is right by my windowsill. It also holds my speakers, so I’ve put as many plants there as I can fit partly for the light and partly because sound is good for plants. You’re meant to talk to them I think? I reckon that between me talking to myself, Radio 4 and my MCR CDs, they’re enjoying a balanced diet.

All this plant/food talk is making me hungry so I’ll leave this here. Oh, if you entered last week’s giveaway to win a signed copy of The Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes then unless you are Sonia Marie you haven’t won. Sorry. I let a computer generator thing chose the winner, so it wasn’t based on the strength of anyone’s fairy tale-related comments. I loved all of them! If you are Sonia Marie, CONGRATULATIONS.


Want to support this blog and/or enjoy exclusive access to stories and chatter from me? Join the No. 1 Reader’s Club on Patreon! Alternatively, use the button below for one-off support of as much or as little as you’d like (if you’d prefer, you can use PayPal or Ko-fi). If you’re into fairy tales and/or want a brief respite from reality, you can also buy my bookThe Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes, from most ebook retailers and as a paperback from Amazon. (That link’s an affiliate. Gotta scrape every penny from Bezos, you know?)