Saturday, January 26, 2013

Excerpt # 3: What do brown leaf tips mean, anyway

Looky, looky, the month is almost gone already.  I did well with my 7 posts in 7 days, then I promptly let myself off the hook.  However, let's try again, let's try 7 posts in 14 days.

First up is an excerpt from The Color of Your Thumb Has Nothing To Do With It.

 Brown Leaf  Tips Mean Too Much Water

The tips may be yellow through orange, orange-brown, to dark brown.  There may be a brown band or yellow band between the green part and the  discolored tip.  Older and middle leaves are most often affected.   Please note, tan, or paper-bag-brown tips indicate different conditions.  Also, a few brown tips here and there can be attributed to aging or breakage, nothing to worry about.   But brown tips over most or all of the plant,  98% of the time, are an indication that the soil is not aerating (drying) sufficiently between waterings.

Now, it is absolutely true that brown tips can  mean a number of things in addition to wet soil: humidity too low or high, soil too dry, too much light, too little light, mineral deficiency or toxicity, too much salt buildup in the soil, fungus, bacteria, bugs, even breakage.   However, if you're talking about indoor plants,  most of the time, brown tips mean too much moisture in the soil, and that would be the place to begin investigating the cause or causes of your plant's distress.
                                                                                                        (by Marlie Graves)

Monday, January 7, 2013

Techish weirdness

That was so strange.  I thought if I hit publish today, those posts would post today.  No, they posted under the date they were originally written.  But it was good also, because I was able to add the video that goes with the book excerpt, and I had been wondering how I could get those videos onto those excerpts.  So, in a way, what I wanted to do, just...happened.  Weird. I guess those don't count for my 7/7, though, do they.

Amazing discovery

I have just found that I apparently never hit the publish button on several of the entries I made in 2012.  I thought I had.  I thought I'd seen them when I viewed my blog.  But they're not there now.  Still saved in draft.  So I'm going to attempt once again...

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Reprise and techno obstacles

( I just realized I haven't been titling, sorry.)

Well that didn't take long.  I started to reread The Secret Life of Plants, and found the experiments I described in my previous entry to be the opening discussion of the book.  They were done by a lie-detector expert in 1966, starting when he hooked his machine one day to the corn plant ( aka mass cane and Dracaena massangeana) in his office, just to see what would happen.  The story as I told it already was not exact, but close enough, so I'm not going to change it.  If you're interested, you can read it yourself sometime.

I spent quite alot of time writing yesterday as it turns out, just none of it on the blog.  I subscribe to several houseplant forums, and I try to check in with them once a week, and answer a few questions if there are any that I can contribute to.  I spent around 3 hours doing that, and I'm sure that there must be a way to transfer what I write on the forums to my blog, but I don't know what it is.  Maybe I'll see if I can google an answer tomorrow.  I did figure out how to transfer a picture from Facebook to Pinterest, and my daughter the Pinterest queen didn't even know how to do that.  Also, I know, I know, I really need to get some pics onto this blog.  It is deadly dull like this.

Trouble is,  the first order of business tomorrow has to be packing up the Christmas decorations and cleaning up the debris.  And yes, I have 2 blog entries to do if I'm to stay up with my 7/7 challenge.  Why do we all feel that we must accomplish so much.  (I won't even mention the closets that need cleaning, the cupboards and drawers that need fumigating, the writing that needs to be done, the video that needs to be shot, the plants that need to be repotted, the cuttings that need to be rooted, the yardwork, the 401k, the doctor...)  I know, everyone has pretty much the same story.  But I realized not too long ago that my time to disembark this lifecraft is coming up, and I've already wasted so much time, I have no more time to waste.

There's a quotation, goes something like this....
       The good die young,
        But those whose hearts are dry as summer dust
        Burn to the sockets.

When I was young, I thought this meant that if you were good (in the sense of romantic, meaningful, artistic, passionate, and so on) you were pretty much destined to die an early death, but those old heart-dead dried-out fogeys would just continue on, 'long after the thrill of living is gone.'   But as I got older, now I think I understand that it means if you are good, you are forever young, your heart fills up with the juice of beautiful life, and it's only the turning away from the things you know in your heart are your joys that dries up your soul, no matter how young in years you may be.

So my goal is to be as young as possible when I come to the end of the path.  And I also know that the important thing is not the destination, but the journey.  And what do all these deep musings have to do with plants or social media?  Damned if I know, but maybe someone who might read this will.  Kind of like the old Japanese nobility and their haiku writing,  make a beautiful poem, then toss the paper into the river, to be swept wherever the winds of chance flow.

Good sailing to you, wherever you may be.
                                                                                                    (by Marlie Graves)

Thursday, January 3, 2013

There is a book called The Secret Life of Plants, by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird, written in 1973.  It is full of the most wonderful tidbits about plants and plant people.  I've read it twice, once in the early 80's, and again a couple of years ago.  I'm going to be referring to it as I write on this blog, and picking it up today to leaf through it, I see that I need to read it again.

Much of it could be dismissed by many as metaphysical nonsense; much of it wanders down paths of inquiry that have been forsaken by most researchers.  But whether or not you groove on the "new-ageyness" of it, the mystical and magical, or you prefer your science hard, clear, and no nonsense, there are still many tantalizing researches and experiments that can't help but pique your interest no matter where you sit on the curve between whacko and stick-in-the-mud.

As I recall from reading it before, the authors begin each section by looking at the history of some aspect of plant life, whether it be from antiquity or from the early 20th century, then follow that aspect as it has been investigated up to the modern age.  In most cases, the modern experimentation was ended by WWII, and there it's all sat since then.  It struck me that many of these old inquiries are just waiting to be taken up again, a treasure trove of papers and theses and research projects for the 21st century.

Just to give an example, (I might have some of the details mixed up here, as I said I read this a few years ago, but if I find any significant errors when I come on it again, I will retell the tale correctly.)  some researchers were interested in the possibly measurable responses of plants to their environment, so they hooked up some electronic devices to the leaves of some potted plants, and turned on their machines.  They observed that when someone burned or cut the plant leaves, there would be one kind of response, which they interpreted as negative, and when the plants were kindly watered, cleaned, and cared for, there was a different response, which they of course termed positive.  Then they found that the only stimulus needed to evoke either the positive or negative response was for the plant care person to simply think of either watering of cutting the plant.  Then they saw that one particular person elicited the strongest positive responses when he came in to care for the plants.  And then they found the coolest thing of all - they put some of the plants onto an airplane and sent them to the other side of the continent.  And when the plants in the original site were watered and cared for, and they gave off the "positive" response, the plants 3000 miles away gave the same response at exactly the same time.  Is that not amazing?  And worth following up on, don't you think?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Today was one of those days that came close to being an acceptable excuse for not meeting my challenge, because my adorable and active 2year old granddaughter, whom I have the great fortune of being able to take care of every day, was  sick with a cold and fever, and all she wanted was to sit on Granma's lap.  Made me so sad, to see her under the weather.

However on second viewing of the problem, she went home at 5:00, my good man took us out to dinner, I came home and took a hot bath, so now I have enough energy to string a few words together.  

Where is The Ficus Wrangler headed?  Well, like my little blog intro says, I want to teach the professional methods of plant care to the general public.  In addition, I might find a role as a liason between that professional world and the general public.  Since I started accessing the internet and going on some houseplant forums, one thing that has amazed me is the total ignorance of the public, the plant-interested public, that is, about the function and activities of interior plantscapers.  On the other side of the coin, the industry seems to have totally dismissed the hobbyist public as irrelevant.  I think there is some real room for improvement here.

Also, I will be adding pictures.  As soon as I can figure out some technical issues.  Some of them will be from my videos, which we are shooting to accompany the text from the book, some of them will be of projects I'm doing around here.

The book is another big direction.  The Color of Your Thumb Has Nothing To Do With It and it's accompanying video is destined for publication in some fashion or other, and though the progress is slower than I thought it would be, it is, nevertheless, progress.

Also, I would like to bring to the public many of the products that are generally available only to the industry.      And possibly operate a news letter and/or forum where people can ask questions and discuss plant topics, though there are some excellent forums already:   and  are two that I have found especially informative.

That sounds like plenty to keep me busy for the next year.  

Tomorrow I'm going to share some thoughts on the thoughts and thinking of plants.  So till then...

Happy trailers to you, until we meet again. And always, Bona Fortuna.
                                                                                                   (by Marlie Graves)

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


Kind of a strange sounding number for a year....2010 was nice and round, 2012 was alliterative, but 2013 just sounds....peculiar.

At any rate, I am undertaking a creative challenge to write 7 blog entries in 7 days.  Whoa, you say, now there's a heavy challenge.  Well, considering that the last time I "challenged" myself to writing every day, I did 2 days,  then after 3 days attempted to catch up with 1 entry, then pretty much blew it all off, 7/7 sounds pretty major to me.  So I start with a little bitty challenge, and after that we'll see how it goes.

Also I know this is supposed to be a "plant" blog.  Some one might drop by here looking to find "what your plants are thinking about you," a very clever idea from my friends at Hamblin Media, who do my animation and videography,  but which I have not yet figured out exactly how to express.

I have a few ideas, about thinking plants as well as blog development, promotion, etc, but my major problem in Fighting the Procrastination Pit is too much mulling, not enough serving. (Totally obscure reference to the recent holiday preparation of hot mulled wine.  Which was delicious, by the way, but would have been of no value at all if it hadn't been scooped from the mulling pot, poured into cups, and consumed.)  So I need to get out the old ladel and start pouring a few words onto...what exactly, not paper...the collective electronic conscious, I guess we'll call it.

And no more excuses - I'm too tired really is not acceptable.  While I realize that a few occurrences could conceivably stand between me and accomplishment of my simple challenge, like climatic catastrophe or debilitating disease, I just don't expect such in the next 7 days.  So let this stand as introduction and policy statement.  Tomorrow I promise something that involves plants, plus a little about where The Ficus Wrangler is heading.

Prayers for peace for all in this new year, and Bona Fortuna on all your houses.