I’ve gone green.

Hello!

It’s been almost 18 months since my last post but we’re just going to gloss over that because I still haven’t disabled my monthly reminder that says “Tasmemia blog post (no really DO ONE)” so that means I’m still here and I’m still invested. This post has also been heartily encouraged by Kamal, who I first thought was spam, but is just a really lovely Egyptian dude who enjoys reading my rambling. Hi Kamal!

So here’s where I’m at right now: entirely surrounded by indoor plants. I’m kind of annoyed that my subconscious seems to grab onto trends, because indoor plants are very hot right now. I tried to get an article to link here to back me up but googling “indoor plants are cool in 2018” only brings up articles about which indoor plants are predicted to be cool this year (hot tip: monstera deliciosa and devils ivy). I might even be a couple of years behind things, but I’ll have you know I’ve had my peace lily for almost three years so whatever. It’s still alive. Kind of. No, it is, but it’s just not super healthy looking. It’s fine. It’s alive.

Peace lily joined by plectranthus and golden umbrella (and my #1 girl).

I did add a couple of other plants to the peace lily’s posse before the madness really kicked in—a curly-leafed spider plant and a ruby ficus both made their way into my house (the ficus was a pity rescue from Coles and I can’t even remember where the spider plant came from!) some time in the last year or two… but it was really when I started dating my horticulture-studying boyfriend that I gave myself a green light to buy more green babies. I let him know very intentionally that it was his job to keep them alive, but he’s reassured me many times over the months that it’s been all me.

Once the enabler light was on, I’m not ashamed to admit that I got a little bit insatiable. The obsession reached a peak and then settled—once my house was essentially full of plants and I actually had to give a bit of thought as to where any new acquisitions would live. There will likely always be a bit of reshuffling, but because plants are living, breathing things, sometimes one is going to die, and that’s ok.

An indoor plant costs the same amount—or a fair deal less!—than a bouquet of flowers, and a bouquet is expected to die.

(I read that analogy somewhere a couple of months ago and it made me feel a lot less anxious about the care of my green babies.)

I still have a wishlist of plants, but during the height of my acquisition obsession I managed to tick a lot of items off the list—some easily, some with a bit of surprise and delight, some with a little extra effort. The plants that are still on my list I don’t expect to get my hands on quickly, cheaply, or any time soon. Being over the peak of the obsession now, I’m ok with that. I’m happy with my surroundings.

I guess it’s a little bit silly of me to have fostered this interest just in time for the colder, more dormant months of the year instead of the exciting growing time of spring and summer. But it does mean that every new leaf is absolutely doted upon and noticed with full enthusiasm!

Indoor plants have such a wide range of needs, and having a house full of them now means that I’ve had a crash course on some of those needs. Finding the right amount of sunlight and the right amount of watering (and the right size pot, and the right potting mix, and and and) can be a tricky dance, and a new leaf is a sign that you’re doing a good job. A new leaf, particularly in a dormant time of year, means that my plant is happy and healthy. A new leaf is basically the plant giving a thumbs up.

As well as shuffling plants around to find the right space for them, we’re also having to do a bit of shuffling around just recently now there are some foster cats in the house.

We discovered after the first night that they seem to enjoy the taste of my boyfriend’s hen and chicken fern (thankfully one that isn’t toxic to cats, it’s like they knew). They’re also very keen to stare out of windows, which means the cat tower I had delegated to plant stand duties had to be recommissioned for its original purpose, and a few plants had to take a few steps away from windows (and some others had to be repotted and potting mix vacuumed up from the carpet after a particularly obnoxious couple of occasions).

My current battle is fungus gnats, and by battle, I mean they’ve infiltrated a number of my plants and I haven’t done anything to combat them yet apart from squishing a few. I’m looking forward to dedicating some quality time to destroying them. The gnats. Not the precious plants they want to live with. Get away from my plants, you stinkers! I’ve got some work to do and some self-watering trays to empty out.

Ok, I think this was a good welcome back post. I’ve got a much harder one to write next. Gonna go surround myself with plants while I write it.

Archer & Archer.

I can’t actually remember how it first happened that I stumbled across Archer & Archer on Facebook, but I’m sure glad that I did. The Archers have been running this business for two years as of this week, so I thought I’d get around to pulling my finger out and writing this blog post slash love letter to Troy & Sarah (and Minnie, and Ollie).

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All wrapped up.

While they’re celebrating their second birthday, it’s been twenty-one months now since I officially became a customer of this unique store, where a handful of items are uploaded to Facebook and the first person to comment SOLD on each item gets to purchase it. It’s the thrill of the race, you know? Hitting refresh, judging very quickly whether the item is something you want and then whether the price is something you can agree with/afford and then typing SOLD! ENTER! And hoping you’re the first one there. Rejoicing when you are, despairing when you’re not. Taking your time to read through Troy’s oft-hilarious descriptions of the items. Scrolling through to see who gets what, taking note of familiar faces from months of sales battles, smiling when you see a friend or family member show up out of the blue and throw a SOLD on something.

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Little porcelain planter cat.

My first ever purchase, true to form, was a porcelain cat. Back then the sale was less stressful, less urgent. I strolled in, took a look around, pointed at the porcelain cat and said, Yes please. I’ll have that one. The cat is still with me, with a succulent planted in its back. It lives on top of a shelf under a window, sitting in a timber tray that also came from the Archers. On one of the shelves underneath is an amazing orange ice crusher. On the bookshelf opposite, a few different bits and pieces, including but not limited to a trio of fabulous glasses and a couple of duck men I thought I was going to have a conniption over.

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Herbaceous babes are GO!

Help, it turns out I can grow herbs.

Top L-R: coriander, dill, basil. Bottom L-R: chives, parsley, mint.

I don’t really know how it happened. I’m kidding, of course I know. I bought some herbs and I put them in pots and continued to water them and they’re all doing okay (except for Basil, but he’s got a story). So I guess what I mean to say is, this is unexpected because I’ve never kept herbs alive before. I’ve never kept much alive. I even managed to kill one of those lucky bamboo stalks that a coworker gave me a few years ago. Bamboo’s meant to be really hardy, right? Well, I killed it. I didn’t kill it on purpose, it just happened, because these things always happen to me.

So I’m actually at a bit of a loss with what to do with these herbs now that they’re thriving. I’ve never gotten past the “yay they’re planted I can’t wait until they thrive” stage to the “yay they’re thriving” stage. How do I look after thriving herbs!? Look at that parsley! That parsley is a monster and I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with it! Do I prune it back? Do I lop that enormous stalk off and re-pot it to make another parsley bush? Does that work? When I prune, do I prune it from the base? How do I identify older leaves vs newer leaves? SEE? THOSE ARE JUST MY QUESTIONS ABOUT PARSLEY, I STILL HAVE FIVE OTHER HERBS!

How it all began.

I didn’t start from seeds, of course. Anyone whose thumbs are on the opposite side of the colour wheel to green isn’t that stupid. I started a little big, particularly with the parsley, but that was the only parsley left and I wanted parsley. It’s a good garnish, I guess? My herb choices can all be classified under the heading “I GUESS?”. No, that’s not entirely true. Here’s what I chose, and why I chose it.

Parsley: good garnish, I guess? (I wasn’t lying about this one)
Mint: COCKTAILS! Ginuary is on the horizon, after all. STAY ALIVE UNTIL JANUARY, MINT!
Basil: THE GOD OF HERBS
Coriander: people either love you or hate you and BABY I LOVE YOU
Chives: Good soup topping, I guess?
Dill: Good with fish, right?

Those were literally the thoughts I had concerning those herbs when I bought them. Help. Help me. I can’t eat enough fish for all this dill. I don’t even know what to do with coriander. It smells amazing and tastes good in the Thai takeaway I have always procured but I am such a novice in the kitchen, help me. For the love of herbs, help me. I wasn’t even sure the coriander (I call her Corrie (I actually address my plant by a given name, yes)) was going to survive because the first week or so after I planted them it was very windy, and nowhere outside is safe. It got to the point where everything else seemed to be tolerating it but the coriander was horizontal.

AS YOU CAN SEE, THAT’S NO LONGER A PROBLEM.

HELP

The coriander is a monster. Some of the leaves are starting to look different? I think it’s growing seeds? Coriander seeds are a thing, right? WHO KNEW I COULD GROW CORIANDER THIS WELL? (LOOK AT THAT FREAKING PARSLEY, SERIOUSLY.)

Basil’s story (he comes with a given name!) is that the first basil plant I bought was kinda stalky (you can see it in the second photo group in this post). It continued being stalky, and just kept climbing up and up and then flowered (I’ve since learnt enough to know to pinch those pretties off to keep the plant focused on making tasty leaves). I got frustrated with its stalkiness and so two Sundays ago I bought a shrubbier seedling from the farm gate market and did some repotting. Stalky still exists, but he’s planted into the retaining wall, and I’m trying to encourage my new little friend Basil to take wing. Why is it that the herb I could do the most with is the one that is being so difficult?

I’ve used almost all of the herbs so far, but in very rudimentary ways. I’ve thrown basil and parsley through some pasta dishes, and I’ve used the dill with (you’re never gonna guess) some baked salmon. I’ve occasionally plucked a mint leaf and carried it around and smiled and dreamed of all the uses I’m going to have for it in January. I haven’t used the chives yet because I haven’t made any soup, and that’s the only link my brain has between chives and food. I haven’t used the coriander yet because I just don’t know.

I don’t even know how long these last for. I just googled for the definition of “perennial” because I know that’s a word people use for plants (IT MEANS FOREVER! FOREVER HERBS!). Of course, I paid zero attention to what any of the labels for these herbs said because I guess I expected to have killed them by now. Sorry, herbs.

Shrubby Basil, aka “Sweety Baz”.

Help me, dear readers. Please share with me any ideas, or even specific recipes, for herb uses. Maybe even some suggestions for what herbs I should branch out to next, seeing as I seem to be A HERB-GROWING WIZARD. If you have any killer tips for looking after thriving herbs, those would also be welcomed.

Human company and fortnightly flowers.

This weekend was a real treat. I guess it all started when my neighbour caught me yelling at the clouds in disbelief on Friday, because to be honest, they were ridiculous.

Is that you, heaven?

Perhaps I didn’t need to be standing on my front doorstep and yelling, “CLOUDS! SHUT THE HELL UP! WHAT ARE YOU DOING!? YOU ARE NOT REAL! YOU ARE RIDICULOUS, CLOUDS! JUST SHUT UP!” and perhaps my neighbour was right to be looking a little confused when I finally realised she was within earshot, but she did a very fine job of taking it all with a grain of salt and waving hello. We’ve not properly met yet.

It was after that happened that I realised I needed some form of in-person social interaction, so I managed to bribe two new acquaintances into coming over for afternoon tea on Saturday. I’m kidding! I didn’t even have to bribe them! They invited themselves! Of course, my house was still almost empty because I am still waiting on my things to arrive from Brisbane (let’s talk backloads and movers in another post) but I did the best I could with what I could and I think I like my new little makeshift coffee table so much that I may just keep it as is.

Suitcases from Archer & Archer (facebook), wooden serving tray made by my grandad.

So I don’t actually have any photos of the lovely ladies that I kept company with on Saturday afternoon, but I’m hoping you’ll meet them in the future in any case. The important thing you need to know about Emma and Liz is that they are both crazy for cats, so we had a lot of cat things to talk about. We also talked about other things. It was a lovely afternoon, and I’m only sad that I didn’t see my neighbour hanging around outside her house at all to notice that I was keeping human company.

And aren’t those flowers beautiful? They’re my second batch of flowers. I’m going to try to keep up a habit of getting some new flowers every fortnight from the Farm Gate market, which I’ll tell you some more about in my next post. My mum bought the first bunch for me as a housewarming gift on our first market voyage; they were calla lilies and bluebells. This time around I got some leucadendrons, irises and… those droopy guys whose name I’ve forgotten. Sorry, droopy guys.

fortnightly flowers! and cat.

Flowers, Jellyfish, flowers, flowers.