Monday, December 28, 2009

Venus's Fly Trap

I don't want anyone to ever say of me that I couldn't commit... because "commit" I have.

Ray and I have officially quit accumulating pets. We are quitting because of necessity. We are finding we have a propensity to collect pets with LOOOONG life spans and LOOOOTS of commitment. Even though our final count will end at only two. We're making an official statement: "two pets and no more."

Ray and I just found out that Houdini (the turtle Ray gave me for my birthday) has a longer life expectancy than either of us. This knowledge was a bit of a blow because, well... I plan on living to 105, Ray plans on living to 111 and neither of us pictured our last years with Houdini in them. So, Houdini has claimed spot #1.

Spot #2 is going to Ray's Christmas present. Melanie, Ray's sister, gave him a Venus Fly Trap starter kit for Christmas. We were both pretty excited, and still are. However, after realizing the Venus Fly Trap came with a 32-page instruction manual, I started feeling overwhelmed. I only made it through half of the instruction manual before overwhelmed turned to stressed-out. These plants aren't like African Violets; you practically have to beg them to live.

Just to prove I'm not over-reacting or being dramatic. Here are a few clips from the instruction manual:

(those 3 little dots in the water are the seeds)

1. BEFORE YOU BEGIN: Keeping the VFT seeds in their plastic bag, soak them in a cup of ice water for 8 hours. After the 8 hours, remove the bag from the ice water and immediately store in the refrigerator for a period of at least 3 weeks.

(My Response: I've already set my alarm clock for 2:00 AM so I can take these seeds out of their ice water and place them in the refrigerator. Also, these seeds are the size of this period "." I hope I don't lose them in the fridge. Three weeks is a long time.)

2. WARNING: Growing a VFT from a seed is very difficult and takes a great deal of patience. Your plant will not begin catching flies until it is at least 3 years old.

3. GROWING: If you want your plant to trap insects, you actually don't want to put it in good soil, because then it may not need the nutrients that a bug would provide. The trick is to starve your VFT of vitamins so it will desire insects.

(My Response: I'm supposed to starve the plant while still keeping it alive. That sounds really hard.)

4. PLANTING: Make sure the soil is good and moist, but not SODDEN.

(My Response: The kit only gave us about 2 tablespoons of soil to grow it in. How do you water that amount of soil? With an eye dropper? Side note on a side note: I'm not even sure what sodden means.)

5. LIGHTING & DORMANCY: The VFT needs to become dormant from November through March. To go into dormancy, the plant must be cold. However, you cannot let it freeze.

(My Response: I only know of two temperatures in the winter, "Inside-the-House" temperature and "Outside-the-House" temperature... aka warm or freezing.)

6. LIGHTING & DORMANCY: You can keep your VFT in the refrigerator during the winter to initiate dormancy.

(My Response: I don't really want to house a plant in my fridge for the winter. It sounds too complex.)

7. FEEDING: You may feed your VFT flies, caterpillars, crickets and spiders. However, they cannot be any bigger than 1/3 the size of the trap. If they are bigger, your VFT will not be able to seal properly when it digests the bug. This will cause it to get an infection and DIE.

(My Response: This sounds VERY complex.)

8. FEEDING: The digestive process takes up to 2 weeks. Once your plant has had it's fill, it will open and reveal what remains: a dry, crunchy exoskeleton. You can give your plant a helping hand by reaching in and removing this debris.

And that folks, is why we have carved only enough room in our hearts for two pets. Houdini the Turtle and Venus the Fly Trap have us committed.