Wednesday, October 08, 2008

And this is why we're all glad I don't own a kitten

As regular readers may recall, at some point in the last two years I appear to have developed a penchant for small cacti in Mexican-themed earthenware pots (newbies can catch up here and here).

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.

One down.

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. 

Needless to say, this has left me a little distraught, but desperate times call for desperate measures. And by 'desperate measures' I actually mean 'ever-so-slightly insane measures.' On Sunday night, y'see, I accidently pulled off one of the little spines on the surface of the cactus while I was prodding it with my finger. This left a hole in the surface. By scientifically poking the cactus further I discovered that it was indeed overly moist (stuff dribbled out the hole when I poked it), so I attempted to rectify this by rolling up bits of tissue paper and bunging them in the hole to soak up any excess liquid. 

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.

34 comments:

Inexplicable DeVice said...

Yay! First again!

* goes off to actually read the post *

Inexplicable DeVice said...

I just knew the oven was going to be turned on... Poor cactus.
Don't listen to Homebase, listen to me: Your cacti need to be in the sun if you're going to water them any more than once a week. Full sun all day!
However, as we don't get full sun every day - especially in the winter - cacti should be watered only sparingly (maybe a few drops each week?) as they won't be growing. They just need enough to stay alive.

Failing that, just feed them to Hawkeye. That fat cat looks like it's eaten practically everything else going!

Inexplicable DeVice said...

P.S. I was only channeling Percy for the first part of my comment.

Tim said...

Inexplicable Comments. I mean Device - I wasn't watering it that much! I gave it a little sip once every two weeks… I think I'm going to make it once a month for the surviving two. And any more that I buy to replace the dead ones.

"Channeling Percy?" That sounds rude.

Inexplicable DeVice said...

I sound rude?! I've just had to mop up with a jam rag after the comment you left at mine!

Tim said...

Mmmm… jam…

Inexplicable DeVice said...

Please don't let it be strawberry?

Tim said...

I'm thinking raspberry.

CyberPete said...

Oh poor cactus!

Like IDV said, water the cactii very rarely. I would say a few drops every two or three weeks.

I used to have lots when I lived with my parents. It was the only plants that could survive that combination.

Tim said...

That's what I was doing! Seriously, though, I'm going to water them every four weeks now just to be on the safe side…

Inexplicable DeVice said...

I used to like raspberry jam, too.

Tell you what: How about I come and stay at Sparky Towers to look after those poor little cacti in their Mexican-themed earthenware pots? I notice you don't have a spare room, so we'd have to 'top & tail'...

CyberPete said...

Less is more when it comes to cactii but also sometimes it's just time for a cactus to die.

If IDV moves in with you Tim, then I'm moving up to Norwich for a while. Although it'll take a while to get to work.

Tim said...

Inexplicable Device - Used to? What jam-related trauma turned you against it? We're listening.

And that's very generous of you to offe- wait! How do you know I've not got a spare room!? Are you - are you outside?!? Begone or I'll call the police!

Cyberpete - I think you should go stay with IDV because his guest room looks a bit drab and you could spruce it up for him.

Inexplicable DeVice said...

Actually, I bought (and have already eaten some) raspberry jam today, forgetting our most recent of comment conversations. Thinking about it now makes me feel sick, but at the time it was delicious - Especially as it was on thickly buttered crusty white bread! Mmmmmmm....

Oh, and of course I'm not outside. How ridiculous!
I'm inside. I can see you now...

CyberPete said...

OK everyone!

I'm hosting a houseparty at IDVs house while he's stalking Tim

Come on over!

Tim said...

Inexplicable Device - Did you enjoy? Did you? All that lovely jam, so jammy-jammy? On bread? All red and jammy? Mmmm… JAM!

GET OUT OF MY HOUSE!

Cyberpete - Have a great party at IDV's house! WRECK THE JOINT!!! MUWAHAHAHAHA!!!!

CyberPete said...

Well we'll definately start in the living room and work our way up to the bedroom.

Do you have any of those canned foamy strings you use on new years I can borrow?

Inexplicable DeVice said...

* ignores jammy goading and rifles through Tim's things while he's out running *

Tara said...

Maybe you should fill a Mexican-themed earthenware pot up with sand and let the cactus sit in there. It'll think it's in the desert and will therefore flourish.

That is one plump cat in the video. I think it needs to go on a diet before learning to scuba dive.

Tim said...

Cyberpete - What, the whole party? IDV, IDV, Cyberpete's holding an orgy at your house! The guest room is *so* going to be redecorated!!

Inexplicable Device - What the hell would you rifle though!?

Tara - Hawkeye is one tubby kitty, isn't he? It's a wonder he doesn't just sink!

watch*paint*dry said...

Thank god you didn't put the cctus in the microwave I have visions of weird Cactus Kid mutations.

Tim said...

I know - that's exactly why I didn't do it! I didn't want to be responsible for a mutant outbreak!

CyberPete said...

I know!

Who knew. Glitter balls and the occational spill perhaps?

And thanks for the rotating leopard print bed Tim. That'll come in handy.

Tim said...

No problem - I knew you'd put it to good use.

CyberPete said...

I hope you don't expect it back in the same state as when you sent it over/up.

Tim said...

What - is it tiger print now?

CyberPete said...

Erm, sure. That's it.

Yes, now it's tiger print.

Erm. Yes.

Tim said...

Hmmm.

CyberPete said...

Hmmmm indeed.

BEAST said...

Same thing happened to my Polish cleaner . all wrinkled and squishy. Yuk. I was quite glad when she got deported

Tim said...

Cyberpete - Indeed.

Beast - You should've tried putting her in the oven.

CyberPete said...

Is it still alive?

Tim said...

I would say 'teetering.'

CyberPete said...

Well fingers crossed.