Amparo Bertram (spacealien_vamp) wrote,
Amparo Bertram

August Update

I kept meaning to update all through July, but I somehow never got around to it. Part of the reason is that I had quite a hectic month. For example, right before I was going to be off work for the weekend, I was told that I would be going on a job training trip to Seattle bright and early on Monday, so I had to rush around making reservations and getting my trip expenses approved. It proved to be an interesting trip, and I got to see a little bit of Seattle while I was there, including the Science Fiction Museum.

My impressions of Seattle:
  • It's COLD in the morning, even in July.
  • There are far too many people who just stand around smoking on the sidewalks.
  • I didn't find any money on the ground the entire time I was there. (For reference, I found 6 cents in downtown San Francisco the day before I left, and I found 4 cents on my way to and from work the day after I returned.)

My schedule will continue to be irregular as I have yet another out of state training trip coming up this month, and next month I will transition to the K9 schedule so that I can shadow the other canine handlers to learn how they do things.

Otherwise, I've mainly been working on harvesting the various items growing on my balcony.
Experiment: Stevia
Results: You catch more flies with honey
I decided to try growing stevia because it sounded interesting--an all-natural zero-calorie sweetener that can grow in a pot on the windowsill. The plant itself grows well enough, and the leaves are distinctly sweet. The problem is, the plant is an aphid magnet. I tried everything I could think of to get rid of the aphids--picking them off by hand, running the plant under water to wash them off, and spraying with soap. They just keep coming back. If I leave the plant alone for a couple days, the next time I check there are huge colonies of the suckers covering the stems. It's more trouble than it's worth, frankly.

Experiment: "Quinault" everbearing strawberries
Results: Quality over quantity
I didn't get very many strawberries, mainly because the earliest ones dried up during my trip to Hawaii. The ones that did ripen were rather small, about the size of marbles. However, when I ate them, they had intense strawberry flavor and were as sweet as if I had poured sugar over them. Hopefully next year I can grow some in better conditions to increase the yield.

Experiment: Scarlet runner beans
Results: Where have all the flowers gone?
The bean plants took off growing like crazy, and they produced lots of bright flowers. (Supposedly they attract hummingbirds, though I have only seen one so far this summer. Maybe they show up when I'm not looking.) Strangely, most of the blossoms fell off without producing any bean pods. It wasn't until the last few flowers that I started to get a few beans appearing on the vines. Since this variety is supposed to be a huge producer, I can only guess that perhaps it's just not happy growing in a shallow windowbox. At least the flowers were pretty, so it has ornamental value.

Experiment: Pelargonium
Results: A rose by any other name would smell as sweet
I tried growing three types of these scented geraniums, and they have all been doing well. My favorite is the "Attar of Rose" variety, which has a lovely smell. The leaves can be used for a number of purposes. So far I've tried making scented sugar, which was interesting, and herbal tea (or, as the purists apparently call it, an "herbal infusion"). The plants are flowering right now, and the flowers are small pink blossoms that are quite attractive. I'd call this one a success.

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