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Stars and Portents

I tried my first starfruit about a month ago. Yes, I know. They’ve been available locally for years now, but I just never picked one up. So when I passed them in the grocery store, I bought one on impulse, just because I’d never actually tried one before.

To be honest…I wasn’t all that impressed.

Oh, the flavor was good, what there was of it. It’s not that I hated it. But…there just wasn’t a whole lot of flavor there. It was rather watery, not very sweet. In short, rather unimpressive.

But then I thought of how store-bought tomatoes are typically rather watery, flavorless and unimpressive and it got me wondering. What if I tried a starfruit right off the tree?

Well, I’m growing everything else now, so why not?

So, just to give it a try, I planted the seeds. And guess what?

All four seeds sprouted.

Two sprouted within only a few days. The others close to a week after (you can see the tiny sprouts at the base of the larger sapling). I have lost one to unknown causes – trying to harden them off too quickly, I think – but the others are…well, they’re not looking as healthy as I’d like, but they are surviving so far. I wasn’t quite prepared to have them sprout as quickly as they did – or, honestly, at all – so I ended up to researching their care a bit later than I probably should have.

Hopefully, now that I know what they’re looking for, I can try to get it to them and they’ll become happier little plants.

But this does lead me to another thing I wanted to share. See that sign in the above picture with the horrible handwriting? Yep, that’s my handwriting. That’s not what I’d like to focus on, however. I’d like to focus on the sign itself. The ‘portent’ of the title, predicting how well a plant will grow for me.

You see, with me trying to build a garden with so many various kinds of plants requiring such a variety of conditions and care…frankly, I was getting completely confused. Was this a plant that needs moist soil or does it like to dry out between waterings? Did this one like heavy fertilizer or does it prefer only light feedings so it won’t get burned? Keeping them all straight in my head just wasn’t going to happen.

But carrying around a notebook when working with a lot of water just didn’t seem to make sense, either, even if I wanted to have one hand constantly occupied with my cheat-sheet. I thought of hanging a page nearby where I had the plants, but it’s spring. The plants are moving in & out of the house as I harden them off for the summer and they don’t always get put back in the same places. Besides, when they’re outside, it’s not like a sheet of paper would last if it were posted next to them.

A bit of online searching found me a solution here at Macore. This nifty little store is geared towards more professional greenhouse operations, but they still had a great solution for me. Large (5×7) white cards made of thin, stiff plastic. I considered some of the shaped tags they offer, but none seemed quite large enough for what I had in mind. So the big rectangle it was. And, of course, the marvelous, ever-useful Sharpie marker.

I tried a few different iterations, sideways, upright…and I finally decided on upright with a quick triangular cut at the bottom to make two points. This gives me plenty of room to write, while the points make it easier to stick into soil. And, while the overall care of each plant may be more involved than can easily fit in such a space, by narrowing the information down, I can fit on enough to act as a reminder as I pass by with a watering hose or fertilizer can.

Here’s one on some passionfruit seedlings I started.

(And yes, I plan to sell off most of these. This is from one store-bought fruit that I planted the seeds from. The germination rate is…very good, by the way, in case you couldn’t tell. Each of those pots has 5-7 little seedlings in it.)

And another for the banana.

But you get the idea. All the pertinent information I need, where I need it, in a form that won’t get destroyed every time I water.

I still have a few cards left to fill out, but there will be one in each pot, cluing me in to how I need to care for my new green babies. Because mama is forgetful. That’s why she works on computers that remember things for her. So she doesn’t have to.

So, if any of you have memories like mine, I’d like to offer my solution – write everything down and stash it in front of your face where you can’t miss it when you need it.

Hope this helps fellow CRS sufferers! Happy gardening!

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