Why this is I don't know. I do know that I like cacti, and I've had a bit of a thing about Mexico ever since I saw the Brad Pitt/Julia Roberts opus The Mexican (it's one of my favourite films). That being the case, I suppose my interest in small cacti in Mexican-themed earthenware pots is a bit of a given.
In my time at Sparky Towers I've owned four small cacti in Mexican-themed earthenware pots. Unfortunately, a tragic series of events means that number slipped to three, and an even more tragic series of events means it's actually currently standing at, um, about 2.5. I lay the blame for this totally at the feet of Homebase, who sell a broad range of small cacti in Mexican-themed earthenware pots; indeed, the reason I once owned four was because, like Pokemon, I decided that I 'gotta have 'em all.'
Where were we?
Oh yes - Homebase. I've come to the conclusion, y'see, that Homebase stick the same instructions tag in every plant they sell. I've bought a spineless yukka, a dramatic green thingy for my bathroom, and the aforementioned small cacti in Mexican-themed earthenware pots, and they've all had the same care instructions. And while I'll openly admit I'm not Percy Thrower, I really don't think a metre high yukka and a small cactus that barely pokes two centimetres above the rim of its Mexican-themed earthenware pot have much in common when it comes to appropriate care.
This I learned the hard way, because the instructions told me to "keep well watered during growing/flowering season. Keep moist during winter." And, as I discovered, those instruction apply more to me than to a small cactus.
The first sign that something was amiss came a few months back when one of my cacti went … how shall I say this … squishy. And by squishy I mean that it had the general consistency of a rubber stress toy and made a bit of a funny noise when I poked it – which I did often because a) it was gross and weird, and b) it was a funny. It stopped being funny, however, when the whole thing just deflated and dried out.
After that incident I took to watering my cacti a hell of a lot less, but once again it seems as if, rather than green fingers, I've got blood on my hands – my favourite small cactus in a Mexican-themed earthenware pot has started to go squishy.
Stage two of Operation: Save Cactus came to me in a flash on Monday evening. I was sitting watching Gilmore Girls (Lorelai's just had her opening weekend at the Dragonfly - I'm *so* excited for her) when I got to thinking about the environment in which cacti originate: hot, dry, arid landscapes. Hmmm … maybe if my ailing cactus was exposed to a hot, dry, arid landscape it'd lose its excess moisture and may be able to stage something of a recovery? But where would I find such an environment?
I fired up the oven.
Now before you get all prissy on me, I didn't cook the bastard. And I didn't put it in the microwave (just in case it went all mutated and bonkers). I merely warmed the oven to a medium heat, turned it off, popped the cactus in there, and left the door ajar a bit so the hot air would waft out like a desert wind. And do you know what? I'm a genius. Enough about me though - let's get back to the cactus. Post-oven adventure it actually seems to be doing OK - it certainly hasn't shriveled up and deflated as quickly as the last one did. I'm not getting my hopes up completely, though, and I do have a contingency plan if it does look to be failing on me: I could inflate it using my bicycle pump, or fill it with that expanding loft insulation foam stuff.
And for anyone who accuses me of cruelty to cacti, at least I'm not forcing it to go scuba diving with me.