Monday, April 5, 2010

Two months and I'm learning to be thankful for the first housefly of the season...

On February 4, DS, accompanied by DH, attended a Carnivorous Plant Workshop at the Edith J. Carrier Arboretum and Botanical Gardens at JMU. He came home with a terrarium in which he'd planted five carnivorous plants (a venus flytrap, pitcher plant, and, I think, three sundews) provided by the workshop presenter. He had notes on how to maintain the terrarium -- when to feed, ideas on what to feed, how to collect snow or rainwater for watering, lighting needs, everything except a supply of insects.

We still had snow on the ground that week and by the end of the next week we had another foot added to it. Where's a bug when you need one?

DS's tried growing carnivorous plants before. For several years he would save his allowance for a few weeks before the local farmer's market opened for the season and purchase a venus fly trap from one of the market gardeners. Unfortunately, though he assiduously cared for each one and reported back to the seller whenever we went to the market, none survived more than a few months. These are looking better.

The venus flytrap set a flower stem, one of the sundews is blooming and the pitcher plant has a big beautiful new pitcher. Or whatever you call it. The part that catches the bug.

The main difference seems to be DS collected snow for melting or rainwater for watering the plants. Previously, we used our well water, thinking that was better than the treated county water. Seems we forgot to take the minerals in the well water into account, neither the public water supply nor most well water is good for these guys.

Now the only problem is finding insects for the plants. I'm assured that once summer arrives the plants will earn their keep by dispatching fruit flies but for now excitement comes from finding a slow-moving housefly buzzing around early in the season.

(Photo below is current. Note decomposing apple bit in lower front, resting on, I think, a Lego. According to DS, it's supposed to draw in unsuspecting fruit flies... I'm not sure what purpose the Lego serves. Maybe it keeps the soil from getting gooey? Photo at top of post is from early March.)

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