Sunday, April 7, 2013

Unfinished business: various

One of these again.

The first bit of unfinished business that I should bring up is the announcement I hinted at last Monday. I am really, no fooling, finally in the process of writing a book, as of Wednesday night.

I am doing it entirely wrong, of course. I have no idea whether it will wind up being a book. I have no publishing deals. I've not even talked to any publishers since a couple years ago, nor are there any plans to do so soon. And I don't know whether it will ever be for sale as a self-published thing either. I also don't know how long it's going to take me to write or how long it will be. Basically, I have no idea what I'm doing at all. But the thing is: I have been intending to write something for a very, very long time now. You're surely tired of hearing me say this; I'm definitely tired of saying it. And I haven't been writing anything, all this time, because I've been trying to get everything lined up properly in advance. What do I write about? How shall I format it? Should I try to write a book proposal up for a real publisher, or plan on self-publishing? Etc.

As of Wednesday, I am officially no longer caring about any of that. Those are not fun things to think about, and I don't know how to make those decisions with the information I've got at the moment anyway. So I am going to write a thing, and then I will try to decide what to do with it after that. At this point, I'm only planning to do plant profiles, and I have twenty-one candidates.1 Probably not all of those are going to happen, and others will turn into something else. Also I might well give up on the whole idea before finishing any of them, but: what little vision I have of the future is currently revolving around those twenty-one plant profiles. For whatever it's worth, I'm starting with Madonna.

I'll eventually set up a progress page or sidebar or something to let you know how it's going.

I do not know, at this point, whether this is going to affect blogging frequency or quality. The hope is kind of that writing the profiles -- which I always used to enjoy, however much I also complained about them -- might make me more excited about, and interested in, plants again, so you may not notice a difference.

And now some plant-related content.

Random plant event: Columnea orientandina (30 August 2012)

The near-perfect pentagon formed by the leaves of the Columneas wasn't planned; I didn't notice it until after I uploaded the photos.

A few of the Columnea orientandina seedlings I started last summer are still with us, though most aren't -- I transplanted twelve pots' worth of C. orientandina seedlings, I think, and only three of those still contain living plants. Eight of the remainder got too dry or too wet or both; one got thrown out because of scale.

I've started two additional rounds of seedlings since then, but the sprouts are so tiny and stringy when they first emerge that I'm scared to handle them. Consequently, I haven't transplanted them yet, and they're probably going to die before I can psych myself up to do it. In the future, I'm going to try starting them directly on soil, rather than trying to start them in vermiculite and then transfer them. If it works, then I don't have to worry about hurting them during transfer, and if it doesn't, well, there will be more seeds later.

Though it sort of doesn't matter anymore, since the seedlings in those three pots are large enough to take cuttings from. I don't have to start them from seeds if I don't want to.

Selling and Trading (30 April 2012)

For all intents and purposes, I won't be selling or trading plants in 2013. It's the whole scale-and-thrips business, mostly: the worst of that seems to be over, but I don't know if I've actually gotten them all. There are other reasons too (mailing plants is a big time drain; sometimes people are supposed to pay for their plants and then don't; I don't always know what I'm going to get when I agree to a trade), but not wanting to mail bugs to people is the main thing. And anyway, I supposedly have a new project now; see above.

Having said that, I'd now like to undercut it by saying that if you've seen a plant on PATSP that you're desperate to have, and you've checked the "Plants I've Tried" list and I'm still claiming to have one, feel free to e-mail and ask about it. (Especially if it's something I've talked about offering for sale in the past.) I'm not going to try to be all organized and official about selling and trading this year, but there are still a few plants I could send out, and maybe a few plants I'd be interested in bringing in, so we'll see what happens. If you're looking to trade, you should check out the "Plants I Want" page first, because there's a whole big list there at the bottom, of plants I am definitely not interested in, and checking that could save us both some time.

Somewhat last-minute grab bag (3 April 2012)

The Philodendron bipinnatifidum sucker is still there. Not growing very quickly, but still there, and the parent plant keeps getting bigger (very slowly), so I guess it didn't signify anything bad.

The poor plant has been terribly, terribly abused, so it's a wonder it's even still alive, never mind growing and self-propagating and all that.

Euphorbia milii 'Candyland' eventually succumbed to the Euphorbia-ravaging fungus. The leaves kept fuzzing over. I pulled them off, but it kept happening. I tried spraying with various things. It kept happening. Finally, in frustration, I cut the top off the stupid thing. The theory was that if there weren't any leaves to infect, the fungus would give up and go home. Instead, the plant got upset about being beheaded, and rotted, and I wound up throwing it out anyway. Oh well.

Unfinished business: various (6 March 2012)

The Excoecaria cochinchinensis lasted until February 2013, so not quite a year. It wasn't dead, and I didn't have a strong recurrence of spider mites (there were occasional small infestations), but it had dropped a lot of leaves, it wasn't replacing them quickly, and it had gotten floppy in a way that was inconvenient. I could have let it stay if it had continued to be pretty, but it wasn't even doing that, and this was during the spell when I was trying to get rid of a bunch of plants I didn't like anymore, so out it went.

The Hatiora with magenta flowers is still around, but it obviously hates it here. Only two of the original four salvaged pots are still around, and one of those just shattered because I moved it up to a bigger pot. Also it's never rebloomed, though that's probably because it's in the basement, where the days are always too long for it to set buds.

The Ananas lucidus is still doing nicely. Here it is in March 2013:

Random plant event: Crassula perfoliata var. falcata (5 March 2012)

And now I'm like 0 for a billion, on Crassulas. This was the one Crassula that was halfway working for me, but then I had to move it out of the south window because it got too big, which it didn't like. Then in the late fall I dropped it, or something fell on it, or something like that, and the main stem broke off. The remaining branches grew for a little while after that, but since they weren't getting the same amount of sun, and the plant was taking up water more slowly (both because there was suddenly a lot less plant there and because it was colder), they eventually wound up rotting. So I'm just done done done done done with Crassulas. They have nice qualities, but they're not well-suited to what I can do here.


1 The "people:"
Juliet Capulet • Little Brother • Drag QueenPatient ZeroSinead O'Connor • Night Owl • Character ActorMadonna • Lab Assistant • Stunt Double • Wanker • Fish Out of Water • Understudy • Michelle RodriguezReal Estate DeveloperJoan JettRosemary's Baby • Labor and Management • Stick in the Mud • Yayoi Kusama
I'd list the plants that go with those, but at the moment, I'm thinking I'd rather not give too much away in advance. Even if I gave you a random-order list of the plants involved, some of them are obvious enough that you'd be able to figure them out, ruining the surprise anyway. So for right now, I'm not going to say which plants, other than to note that two of them are plants I've already written profiles about, but I think I can improve on those so I'm going to attempt to write them again.


Ginny Burton said...

What wonderful news! Put me on the list for a copy!

Pat said...

Great news. Certainly those are some of the weirdest people, quite dotty in one case.

I love Sinéad so I am intrigued to see what plant you think can compare (see what I did there?). Bard, priest, campaigner and lately suffering from nymphomanic-depression. It is 20 years since she bravely highlighted the issue of child-abuse and the Catholic Church has still hardly addressed their complicity in such evil crimes.

The plant for Madonna should be antagonistic to O'Connor's, of course. The Madonna lily strikes me as perfect already, aggressive, excessive and difficult.

Liza said...

I'd soooo buy anything you write. Good luck! It takes a lot of discipline and time, but I have faith in you. The world needs better houseplant books! I look forward to hearing how it's going.

Anonymous said...

Your book will be on my best seller list.

Joseph said...

Hurray for the book! I think your thinking makes a lot of sense. Just dive in and figure out the details later. Can't wait to read it.

Emily said...

Yes! I will buy your book with pleasure!

Houseplant Guru said...

Congratulations on deciding to write your book! It will be great!

CelticRose said...

Best of luck with the book!

Anonymous said...

You were absolutely correct; that wasn't the news I was expecting! (Or however you phrased it. Unless I'm crazy.)

I was hoping the news was the official end of the Scalepocolypse. Or, obscenely selfishly, that you'd be offering plants/cuttings again this year.

But. Haaahaha, Joan Jett. I mean, my god, I want your book just to know the plants to buy that resemble my idols. Who would be Roseanne Barr? I think of when she had JJ on her show, and . . . when I water tomorrow, I'm gonna worry about that. You spark imagination. It's beautiful. Don't change for the world, bro.

Anonymous said...

I would pre-order your book on Amazon....thats how much I enjoy your blog!