Friday, October 31, 2008
For Halloween I thought I'd share a back from the dead, zombie story - at least as close as one can find in the garden! I can't tell you how many times I have "killed" this aloe vera plant. We first got it at a farmer's market from a woman selling lots of odds and ends. She came up to us as we were leaving and offered us a small grocery store bag. Inside was a near dead, smelly, soggy, little aloe vera shoot. She said she couldn't sell it since it was in such bad condition so we could have it. Ever since the hippies living down the street with their cactus collection would share their aloe gel with us I've wanted one. So I took it and wondered if I could get it to grow with my barely green thumb.
But it didn't grow. It just sat in a pot on our porch and gave off the smell of death. So I researched a little and thought that maybe the Texas humidity was too much for it. So I brought it inside and put it in my son's bedroom window since it got the most light. And it started to get strong and turn green again. I thought it must be the warmth and was pleased. I was afraid to water it too much since I had read that it needed drought like conditions with a watering every once in a while. And once it was strong enough again I once again moved it out on the porch only to find it dying again. What I didn't know was that every night when we'd give the boys some water to drink my son would reserve some for the plant and give it the last few drops. He knew how to recreate drought like conditions perfectly!
By the time I realized that my plant had turned completely brown and limp with it's few stalks hanging over the edge of the pot. I had completely given up on it but hadn't gotten around to getting rid of it yet when my son asked if he could water it. I told him it was dead but to go ahead since it couldn't hurt now. He doused it with water - like tons and tons. And to my HUGE surprise - a few days later there started to be some green patches appearing on the seemingly dead plant. And it started to come back! We went through this cycle a few more times but after a move across the country this plant was dead for real. This time it wasn't just droopy - it was shriveled, light brown and kind of crispy. I knew it was dead this time and moved it under a bench in the backyard and forgot about it. Well, a couple weeks later this is what it looked like. And it's been thriving ever since. This plant is one tough survivor - no thanks to me! I guess the conditions out west was just what it was looking for!
So now, I don't touch it - I don't even water it. Though I am wondering if it's time to bring it in since the nights are starting to dip below freezing. I am sure some of you wiser gardeners can tell me what my next move should be and how to better care for my little zombie.