Picture of a Crash

Today, May 12th, is the Awareness Day for ME, Fibromyalgia, Lyme Disease, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Multiple Chemical Sensitivity. I potentially have all of these (had my blood drawn for a Lymes test this afternoon). I don’t really talk about it too much, because while my illnesses are without a doubt a part of me and greatly impact my life, I try to not let them consume me. Some days it’s easier than others and today was not an easy day. Today I crashed, unexpectedly, and very hard, for the first time in a few months.

My day started out normally enough. I woke up tired and both slightly nauseated and ravenous. My hands hurt and my joints sounded like rice crispy treats as I got out of bed. I took my early-morning meds and started to make breakfast. Then I took my morning-morning meds, ate breakfast, and headed to class.

This is where it all started to go down hill. Today we got our take-home final. Instead of letting us go home to work on our 20 short essays we have to write by Tuesday we got to be free manual labor and plant plants for the school. Now normally I’m super happy to do anything with plants, but I had not budgeted my energy for planting today. Still, I felt okay enough that I thought if I was careful I would be okay. I didn’t dig many holes, I didn’t even do much of the putting of plants in the ground. I took plants out of the pots, because it wasn’t extremely physical, didn’t involve bending over or standing up quickly, and was still helpful. I thought it’d be okay.

Picture of medications and supplements.

All the meds and supplements I take in a day so I can function.

I was wrong. It was sunny outside where we were working so I went in to get some water, because being hydrated is especially important for me. As soon as I got inside the crash hit. I felt light-headed, weak, nauseated, and disoriented. I couldn’t form thoughts or complete sentences. I got grumpy and felt like crying. Fortunately I was by myself so I didn’t have to communicate this to anyone. I grabbed my bag with my food, water, and meds and went back outside, one because it was cooler than inside, two so there’d be people if things got worse, and three so the professor didn’t think I skipped out early.

I ended up sitting on a bench, eating trail mix to get my blood sugar up, drinking my water, and eating salt to make sure my blood pressure didn’t drop too low. The professor started to give me a hard time about “sunbathing” but once I explained I wasn’t feeling well and was done for the day he let me be. Other than that, and the one kid who asked if I was okay, people pretty much left me alone. It was lovely because I could do what I needed to without having to explain or having people try to help and just making things worse.

I ended up sitting/laying on the bench until class was over, because I just continued to feel worse. Mom took me home after class and I was able to get a small nap (didn’t help) before I went to get my blood drawn and have acupuncture. And now I’m home. The worst thing about crashes is that I never know how bad they’re going to be or how long they’re going to last. Will I feel fine tomorrow or will I not even be able to get out of bed? This one is particularly unknown because unlike the last few I didn’t see it coming. I thought I’d be fine.

So now it’s a waiting game. I’m heating up some soup that I had frozen for days like this for dinner and drinking tons of liquid. I plan to lay on my couch for the rest of the evening and head to bed when the sun goes down. All I want to do is curl up and sleep. I’m hoping that maybe if I do the right things this won’t last long.

But yeah, so that’s what a crash looks like. Sometimes. All crashes are slightly different, but they’re never fun.


Last Year’s Post

My CFS/ME/Fibro resources page

May Garden Update

It’s officially growing season! This means that for the next few months the garden updates will be much longer and picture heavy.

Houseplants

Lime tree, african violet, and thanksgiving cactus on bench

There hasn’t been a lot of change with the houseplants in the past month. The African violet is still in bloom, though it seems to be slowing down. The basil, Thanksgiving cactus, lime tree, and ivy are all doing well. Since the weather is a bit nicer the rosemary got moved outside to become a deck plant and seems to be enjoying the change in scenery.

Deck Plants

Planters with plants on deck

There are now a lot of plants on my deck and it’s wonderful. The spinach I started in March is now to the point where needed thinning, so I’ve been doing that this weekend and eating the very small and delicious harvest. I sowed dill, chives, lemon balm, and basil last month and the dill and chives are starting to come up. It’s exciting to watch them grow and I think baby plants are adorable.

Baby Spinach Harvest

First harvest of the year!

I’ve also added thyme, oregano, sage, stevia, and strawberries (from the local garden center) to my menagerie. Interestingly, the birds immediately started attacking the stevia, sage, and thyme as soon as I planted them and completely demolished the stevia. I constructed a sort of soft cage with bird netting to protect the plants and I haven’t had any issues with birds since. Fortunately the stevia seems to be making a recovery from the brutal attack.

The blueberry bush is completely leafed out, green, and seems to be growing along happily. I guess the pruning and repotting didn’t kill it.

Blueberry bush

Unfortunately the daffodils in the glass jar didn’t make it. They got moldy and stopped growing so I scrapped that experiment. It’s probably for the best since we’re heading into severe weather season and having glass outside seems like not a good idea.

Community Garden

It has been a busy two weeks at my community garden plot. I transplanted the beans, squash, and marigolds that I had started in April. I also sowed dwarf and Moulin Rouge sunflowers and a second round of beans. The carrots I sowed a while ago are starting to grow so it looks like I’ll have a crop of those this year. Unfortunately I only had 3 beets sprout so I pulled them and used the space for beans. Maybe I’ll have better luck with them in the fall.

Raised bed with marigolds, squash, and beans

I’ve been out to my plot almost every day checking on things and watering if needed. I really enjoy going out and seeing the progress in my own plot and other people’s as well. Plus there’s a robin’s nest near the yard waste bins and it’s been fun to watch the chicks grow.

Other

Last month I submitted a proposal to the architectural committee for changing the landscaping in the front of my house. The meeting was on April 21st and I haven’t heard back yet. Since most of the plants I wanted to put in are already in the neighborhood at other people’s houses I went ahead and did some landscaping. The new plants include yellow and purple chrysanthemums, purple coneflowers, “Hot Summer” coneflowers, daisies, and black-eyed-susans. I also had to replace four of the six lavender plants that I put in last fall since they didn’t survive the winter.


This month I hope to work a lot in the community garden, finish up the front landscaping, and read up on fruit tree/bush care.

What are your garden plans for May?

Lanky Lime Tree

My lime tree has been growing like crazy this winter and is now a whopping 3 feet tall (well almost). I know that this isn’t actually tall as far as trees are concerned, but since my lime is an indoor tree, if it grows much taller it’ll be a bit too big.

Lime tree and measuring tape

A whopping 33.5″ tall.

In order to halt vertical growth, and hopefully redirect growth horizontally to form branches, I’ve decided it’s time to head my lime. This involves chopping off the top few inches, which will remove the apical meristem. The apical meristem is responsible for the upward growth and also secretes hormones that inhibit certain other types of growth (like branches) from taking place near the top of the plant. Hopefully with it gone the lime starts to branch out and become more tree-like instead of looking like a leafy stick. I have no idea if it’ll work that way, but I’ll keep you updated.

Lime tree after pruning

Post Pruning

Blueberry

I’d like you all to meet my new (to me) blueberry bush. This little bush had been living in my parents’ backyard for several years where it was attacked regularly by vicious rabbits. It has never been pruned (except by evil rabbits) or fertilized, and never produced any fruit. It was not a very happy bush.

Blueberry plant in pot on deck

It came into my possession after I half-jokingly told my mom that I wanted to take it home. I had been over at my parents’ house helping prune their fruit trees and my mom, as is her habit, asked me if there was anything I wanted to take home. I didn’t actually expect her to let me take the blueberry and that day she didn’t, but a few days later when she brought over some groceries (because she’s awesome) it was in the back of her car. She thought it would be happier here, even if the sole difference is that rabbits can’t reach it on my deck. I hope she’s right. Either way, now I have a blueberry bush.

The first thing I did with it when it got here was give it a good pruning. It has some twiggy, less-than-healthy looking branches at its base and I removed one of the two (the other one will probably go too, but I didn’t want to shock the plant too badly). I also removed the three fruiting buds at the tip of the one cane, because I want the plant to direct its energy into growing instead of trying to fruit.

Close up of blueberry buds

The second thing I did was change the soil. Blueberries like acidic soils with a pH between 4.5 and 5.1 (According to Perdue Horticulture) and the potting soil it was in was not nearly acidic enough. It had also been in the soil for several years so I figured a change might be what the plant needed. I mixed sphagnum peat moss with organic soil conditioner (75% pine bark and 25% compost plus trace minerals) from Suburban Lawn and Garden. I aimed for 33% spahgnum and 66% soil conditioner (Based on this recipe which seemed to be pretty standard) though I didn’t really measure.

Now it’s a waiting game. I have no idea if the change in soil and location will have any effect what-so-ever. The blueberry hasn’t leafed out yet, but it does show signs of life, so that’s encouraging. If I haven’t shocked it enough to kill it, the next things on my list to do will be to find some mulch, a suitable fertilizer, and maybe some sulfur to further acidify the soil. If it survives this is going to be one heck of a pampered blueberry…

If it survives, I may have to get it a friend

Wire Cages (or How to Stop Spinach Thieves)

Someone has eating the tops of my baby spinach!

In an order to stop further destruction and save my spinach from the thieves (who I suspect are either birds or squirrels) I set about making cages out of coated chicken wire this past weekend.

Baby spinach under chicken wire

First I measured the dimensions of my deck boxes. They’re 10 inches by 16 inches. Since I wanted my cages to be 4 inches tall, I added and additional 8 inches to each of those measurements to get what size the sheet of chicken wire needed to be (18” x 24”). I cut the rectangles first then cut 4” x 4” squares out of each corner. My wire cutters weren’t the best so this took a long time. To finish forming the cages I folded the sides up and secured them to each other. I had cut the wire in such a way that all I had to do was twist the wire ends together, but I imagine using a separate length of wire would work just as well. (Pictures of the process are at the end of the post).

I had planned to have the cages sit inside the boxes and be secured by landscape staples, but as usual nothing goes according to plan and these ended up fitting better over the outside of the boxes. On the plus side, they were snug enough that all I really had to do was slide the cages over the outside of the boxes and the texture of the box was enough to keep them in place.

So far they seem to be working. I had a squirrel on my deck this morning inspecting one but it decided that it was too much work and left the boxes alone. Victory!

Rectangle of Chicken Wire

Cutting the rectangle

Chicken Wire cage

Folding the sides

Securing the corners

Securing the corners

Chicken Wire cage over deck planter

Finished cage on deck box

April Garden Update

WooHoo! It’s finally Spring! The last frost date here is April 15th so gardening season isn’t quite in full swing yet, but things are definitely happening. Here’s what’s been going on the past month:

Marigold Sprout with flower bud

House Plants

Two, that’s two (!), of my houseplants are in bloom right now! The Thanksgiving cactus had a second wave of blooms, which are slightly redder in color than the first, very pink, ones. It also has a lot of new growth, which is exciting. I may need to get it a bigger pot soon. The African violet continues to bloom ever so slowly, with three flowers currently open and about twelve more on the way. It didn’t bloom last year so it seems to be putting on quite a show this year to make up for it.

The rosemary plant is in full growth mode and seems to be doing well. Once the weather gets a bit more stable I plan to move it out to the deck so it gets more sun. The lime tree’s growth has slowed down, but is still occurring so I’ll likely be pruning it back this month to encourage more branch growth. I also need to fertilize it sometime this month. I have added some basil plants (from the grocery store), which I still need to pot, and a cutting from the Thanksgiving cactus that I’m rooting for someone in my soils class to my indoor menagerie. The basil will be going outside once the weather gets better and the cutting will be going to a new home once I’m confident that it will survive.

 

Deck Plants

I now have 5 planters on my deck. Two of them have not been planted yet. One planter has spinach in it, which is tiny and only has two leaves at this point. Another of the planters is that glass vase that I put the daffodil bulbs in. They started to get moldy in the house so I moved them outside because mold and I are not friends. They seem to be doing okay and are growing slowly. The last planter on the deck is a blueberry bush from my parents’ house that I hope will be happier on my deck (there will be a post about it later).

Daffodil bulbs in a glass vase

I think the deck planters are going to turn into my herb garden so that’ll be happening gradually over the next month. I’ll also have a few pots with flowers. All of this depends highly on the weather, which is a bit mercurial this time of year.

 

Community Garden

Community Garden Raised Bed

Again, since we haven’t gotten past our last frost date here, I haven’t done a lot with my actual raised bed. I did seed two types of carrots and some beets, but they haven’t sprouted yet. The marigolds, tomatoes, and peppers I started under my grow light are doing well though. One of the marigolds even has a flower bud on it! I’m not sure what it thinks it’s doing because it’s tiny. I also ordered the last of my seeds (this time from Botanical Interests). They should get here just about the time I want to start seeding things. Even though the last frost date is April 15th, I think I’m going to start my beans and squash indoors first incase the weather decides to be mean and freeze late like it did last year.

 

Other

I wrote up and submitted the proposal to change the landscaping in front of my house. Since the lawn care company that takes care of the grass seems to use fertilizer, herbicide, and pesticide on EVERYTHING I’m not going to grow anything I want to eat where they could possibly get to it. Instead I’m leaning towards turning it into a bee and beneficial insect garden / cutting flower garden. We’ll see if the architectural committee approves it.

 

That’s everything that I’m up to right now gardening wise. How about you? What are you doing in your garden right now?