Fish and Foliage
you're looking for an interesting way to display your houseplants,
take a look at this. The latest rage in the pet and plant
world is the combination of your houseplants, like this
peace lily and a very particular type of tropical fish known
as a beta or Siamese fighting fish. These are selling in
stores for 30 - 40 dollars. I'll show you how you can make
one for a fraction of that price.
First of all let's understand what is going on. This is
a perfect example of a symbiotic relationship. In other
word, the plant benefits from the fish as it eats and gives
off waste, that's fertilizer for the plant. And, the fish
benefits from the plant because the roots act to remove
waste products from the water, keeping is crystal clear.
So what do you need. First, select a plant that is durable
and whose roots will live in water. Two of my favorites
are pothos or devil's ivy. Both have fleshy roots that will
thrive in water as long as you keep the top of the roots
and base of the plant slightly above water. In other words,
you cannot just toss a plant that has been growing in soil
into water. The plant will have a difficult time adapting.
Instead, you're going to need a clear plastic cup or saucer
that fits into the neck of your container but won't drop
through. It is important that it is clear because you don't
want to be able to see it through the glass.
So the container needs to be narrower at the top to allow
the plastic cup to sit above the water. Take a sharp knife
and cut out a hole about 2/3 the width and set it in the
neck of the vase. Key point: You want the bottom of the
plastic container to be about ¼ " above the level of the
Take the plant that you've purchased and wash the roots
off. Be gentle and remove all the soil around them and gently
push them through the plastic container. Make sure that
their base of the plant doesn't fall through the opening.
See how it is enlarged here. You want it to fit snug because
it also supports the plant.
As far as the water and fish. There are a few requirements
as well. First, there is a lot of chlorine and fluoride
in tap water, and you need to remove it. Boiling it will
work, as will anti-chlorine tablets. The easiest approach
is to let it sit out for 24 hours and all of the chlorine
and fluoride will dissipate as a gas.
Finally, you can't just use any fish. It has to be one that
won't dirty the water and doesn't need much food. The perfect
choice is a betta or Siamese fighting fish (Betta splendens).
They're native to Cambodia, and about 3" long. They are
beautiful and the males prefer a solitary life. In fact,
the worst thing you could do is put two of them in the same
jar. They'd fight to the bitter end.
Fill up with water.
Place plant in container.
As far as care, keep the vase in indirect light. Direct
sunlight may damage plant roots and it will encourage algae
to grow. Try to keep the water temperature about 78 degrees.
Remember, this fish and the plant are tropicals. They can't
take cold temperatures.
The fish do not feed on the roots of the plants. They need
to be fed occasionally. The operative word is occasionally.
They really prefer ground up meal worms once every other
week or so. Too much food will quickly cloud the water.
Finally, the container ought to be cleaned out about once
a month to keep every one healthy.
Kudzu Vine Wreath
Elizabeth Dean from
Wilkerson Mills Gardens shows us how to make a
wreath from Kudzu vines. Find vines growing in a tree then
cut lengths of approximately 10 feet. The vines should ideally
be about the size of your finger. Wrap them around in a
circle, then wrap other vines around the initial form. Decorate
with berries such as Hollies, Winter Gold, etc. Cut the
berries in small sprigs and attach with a glue gun. Another
approach is to use longer sprigs and stick them into the
wrapped vine. Finish with a bow and you will have a natural,
beautiful addition for the upcoming holidays.
Dr. Rick Discusses
The Proper Care and Storage of Your Containers For Winter
It is now time to think about your
containers. When we get a hard freeze if your pots have
hair line cracks moisture will get into the pot and destroy
it. To tell if you have a hair line crack, turn it upside
and strike it with a metal object, like a ring. It should
sound like a
bell. If it sounds like a dull thud, its cracked. Plastic,
doesn't crack. You could seal the pot to prevent moisture
getting in the
pot. The best solution is to take the pot inside for the
winter, turn it
upside down and let it dry. It will then be ready for the
We Watch A Potter Make A Pot
Mosaic Stepping Stones
If you're looking to add a little personality to your garden,
has just the plan. You will need ceramic tiles, stones from
store, pre-cast pavers, weather proof glue and grout. Break
hit them on their back to avoid marring then lay out your
a space between pieces and leave at least 1/4 inch at the
edge to bevel
the side. Glue the pieces and let them dry 24 hours. Mix
the contents of
the bag of grout, add water until you have a mud pie consistency.
gloves and apply the grout, packing every crevice. Scrub
with a wet
course nylon pad, bevel the edges of the paver, then wash
the surface so the design shows. Cure for three days. Keep
the stepping stone moist while curing to avoid cracking.
After curing, remove any excess grout. This is the final
cleaning so be through. Once dry seal with an exterior sealant,
use three coats of weather proof sealant. Making stepping
stones is something the whole family can do and will be
a beautiful addition to your garden.
Setting Stepping Stones
You've now made the stepping stones, we'll show you how
install them in the ground. If they're not supported properly
way around they can crack. Find a location for the stones.
Outline the area around the stone. Make the outline about
1/2 inch larger than the stone and dig the hole about 1
inch deeper than the stepping stone. Add a layer of sand
underneath the stone giving it a firm secure base. Use enough
sand to bring the stepping stone to ground level, then fill
around the stone with the excess dirt. It should be secure,
last a long time and add a personal touch to your yard and
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