Some time around the turn of the millennium a friend gave me a cactus. It’s been sitting happily in its pot ever since, proliferating into a cluster of green phalli until it was clearly too big for the pot. Yesterday I relented and transplanted it to a larger one. This involved a few arcane steps to make sure it would continue to thrive, steps I will describe in the following. The thing to note here is that I didn’t know what I was doing. I have no cactus expertise, instead making it all up as I went along. Watch closely — and kids, do try this at home.
Getting the cactus out of the pot wasn’t hard, using a bread knife and a pair of thick leather work gloves. Most of the pot’s interior was roots.
I think I heard somewhere that cactuses like sandy soil. Sounds reasonable given their desert habitats. But the only soil you can buy at the supermarket is a rich dark loam. So I went out to the sandbox and took some sand home in a saucepan. To kill off any unwanted micronasties, I heated the sand on the stove until all water had evaporated. This I learned as a child when my cousins prepared sand for the floor of their budgie cage. (They never said anything about cacti.) I’m pretty sure the phosphates and uraea deposited in the sand by thoughtful local cats were not harmed by this procedure.
Mixing hot sand into the soil, I think I killed a lot of the loamy microdaddies too. But we’ve got this plant nutrition stuff to mix into the watering, a black foul-smelling liquid, that supposedly contains microgoodies to replace whatever I may have fried.
Isn’t that pretty? With its newfound Lebensraum and faith-based living conditions, the cactus should be looking at a Golden Age now.