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Clay & cherries

I'll be moving into my house in a week. I've been holding off on transplanting my seedlings, but today I thought I'd move the squash and just put it in the ground rather than wait til we can get raised beds built (decided to go with table-style raised beds, made from cast off pallets, with a plastic lining). Nope! The clay content is way too high. With the difficulty I had with a trowel, there's no way the roots would make it through. So, the container is sitting on the back deck, waiting.

Meanwhile, I pruned the definitely-cherry trees in the front yard (a few weeks ago I saw the flowers and was pretty darned sure they're I saw the cherries) that are growing over the driveway and road at annoying-to-get-out-of-the-car height. I think there are two different varieties. One is about 10-15ft tall with 1cm cherries, deep red, and tart. The other is more sparse looking, I think weeping, with 1in cherries higher up, so I don't know how they taste. Skud suggested I post photos, so I'll do that after my next camera-toting visit to the house.

Oh, and discovery as of last week: we definitely have rabbits. And I don't mean that I have acquired (soft, fluffy, lovely) angoras.

ETA: Thanks to the British Natural Museum's cherry identifier I've determined that they are both wild cherry trees. The fruit can range 10-20mm and black or yellow-red. So, there ya go. One is 10mm black and the other is 20mm yellow-red. The yellow-reds are past their prime. They've all split.

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New features: photos, crop improvements, RSS and more!

We just pushed a number of new features to the site, including:

  • Photos! You can now add photos to plantings, using Flickr. Stay tuned for lots of improvements in this area in the coming weeks. (Yes, we know you can only see the most recent few photos in your Flickr stream, for instance, and that there's not yet any way to delete them... we're on it!)
  • Crop improvements: we've done a bunch of behind-the-scenes work to improve the crop management interface, and to set up the hierarchical crops that we've been talking about for a while now. Shortly we'll be recruiting some "crop wranglers" to help us manage all the crops. Think that sounds like fun? Let me know.
  • RSS: we've made sure that markdown formatting appears properly in RSS feeds, and added an RSS feed for comments
  • Bugfix: don't allow blank garden names. Any old gardens that somehow managed to get a blank name have been renamed to "Garden"

There'll be more soon, so keep an eye on this forum or follow Growstuff on Twitter for updates.

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Beans!! Beans all 'round!!

I planted my bush beans and pole beans on May 27th. They have all germinated and have their first set of leaves and are at least an inch tall. Probably a bit more. Today is June 2? GO BEANS.

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Too Late for Starting? - Northeast USA

I live in Massachusetts in the US, and just found out that I do, indeed, have space for planting in the giant garden that is apparently shared between the neighborhood. Is it too late to start zucchinis and watermelons? What about sauce tomatoes? I've never tried to start anything this late in the season before and am wondering if I should just go buy transplants.

ETA: According to the google machine, our last frost date is usually the end of April and first frost is in October.

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Seeking advice on fledgling plant & bushy thyme plant

The first plant is a cucumber, Mexican sour gherkin, which I've grown from seed. Firstly, yay, the things I grew from seed this year have been way more successful than last year!

The cucumber looks like this: alt text

There's a little tendril coming up the top - if this vines, am I supposed to do something when it's this young to encourage growth? Is it big enough that I should be potting this already? Also, I planted a couple seeds in each segment of the black plastic planter (there are two segments being used here). Am I supposed to murder the weakest one, so that only one plant per segment survives?

Secondly, I have questions about this awesome thyme plant (NOT grown from seed!), which looks like this:

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Obviously I need to repot it into a bigger container. But am I supposed to be trimming (pruning? Can it be pruning if there's no fruit??) this, or just letting it grow wild? If trimming, how do you decide what to cut off?

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Fava Bean -- ripe or not?

I planted several fava bean plants last fall, mainly as a way to get something into my newly dug flowerbed.

Now they've flowered and set pods. Does anyone know how to tell when fava bean pods are ripe for picking? I've never grown fava beans before, so I really have no idea.

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Season change

Well, it looks like this is the end of the line for this year's (massive sarcasm quotes) "cool season" here. Pea production appears to be slowing down significantly, and I'm pulling out the last of the lettuce while some is still edible. Much of it is too bitter to eat. New lettuce stopped coming up over a month ago, of course.

Sweet potatoes are planted in containers of aged compost, and have put out leaves. Cherry tomato is waist high and has a number of immature fruits on it. The other tomato plants have been getting limited sun due to a thicket of bolting rocket while I was too busy with work to clear it out, but I've done that now, so we should see some growth. Garlic is forming bulbs. As soon as I finish getting rid of the last of the lettuce and arugula I need to get the eggplant and squash in so we can get the summer started.

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Lessons from the spring garden

The leaf crops did marvelously. In fact, they are still growing strong since temps have been below average. The peas and root crops were a disaster. Nothing bulbed up particularly well and the peas were all leaf and no bloom. Apparently the nitrogen content of my soil is too high for root crops. If I want them to work I would have to amend the soil to their liking.

Have decided that I am not going to do that in the main garden beds and just forgo root crops there. The soil mix I have works brilliantly on my summer veggies and they are more important to me than the spring crops. In the fall I am going to prep some pots with a root vegetable soil mix and try it that way.

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Yes, definitely tomatoes, in fact.

Remember that hopeful post I made about possibly some tomatoes coming up volunteer?

That has since developed into 'WTF DO I DO WITH ALL THESE TOMATO PLANTS'.

There were thirty-six of them over two inches high as of this afternoon, and increasing. I'm scared.

I got one of those upside-down tomato planters for my birthday, so I put two of them in there and hung it in the middle of the yard. (The process of hanging it in the middle of the yard involved everything from sawhorses to fire, mind you.) If it works as advertised - i.e., the upside-down planter making them twice as big as usual + the special potting soil I found in the shed making them twice as big usual + the eggshell I added making them twice a big as usual + these are children of The Plant That Ate The Greater Metropolitan Area - I may not have a yard left in a few months. Right now they look small and wilted hanging there, though, and if we get another frost ( wtf frost warnings on Memorial Day weekend? hello global climate change) they'll probably just die.

They had much less root than I was expecting (and than the instructions on the planter were expected - it assumed I'd have a storebought seedling with a solid rootball that it could hang from, hahaha no) and if the others are like that they can probably go another few weeks at this rate without thinning, so I'm going to put off figuring out what to do with them.. (these >36 tomato plants are in a two-foot-by-fifteen-foot flowerbed that also has squash, beans, and bunch of perennials, they can't all stay.)

Also I finally thinned the beets! They also look sad and tiny now and have less root than I expected; I hope I didn't damage them. I didn't have the heart to actually off the ones I thinned, so I ended up transplanting most of them out by the road. They mostly looked flat as of this evening though, so I'm not going to add them to the garden on here yet in case I jinx something.

The plants out by the road are in general looking pretty sad - the perennial and annual flowers we put out there usually do all right, so I don't know why vegetables just end up hangdog in that bed; it's a shame because it's one of the sunniest spots we've god. I've decided to start some weed tea and use that to water regularly out there, just in case that helps.

Also something is nibbling a couple of the bean plants but they're still putting out new leaves fast enough to keep up so I've decided not to worry about it yet.

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New to gardening

Hello, I've been programming since I was 13 and I love Ruby have done it the past 7 years. I recently got into gardening because my husband said I needed to do something besides "code" :) And I am finding it super fun!

I wanted a house plant, I have two big window seats. I think Ivy s are neat. I picked this up at a local greenhouse and planted it in a pot inside. It seems to be doing very well, here's a picture

On a whim walking out of the hardware store, I saw this hydrangea and now the biggest head has died off and the other two have changed from green to pink. I am wondering how to care for it now? I would like to try and add something to the dirt to make them turn purple (read about it) and wonder if its too late for this season to add acid to the dirt? should i cut back the head that died? currently when I got it

Basil! I got 2 basil plants that grew into four. I read about how to start cuttings and it worked! and have started cuttings in water and planted in dirt and given to friends and family. Fun!

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Arugula flowers

I got way too busy for a couple of weeks, and it decided to get hot right in the middle of that time -- so of course various things in my early salad stuff have bolted like crazy.

Arugula flowers are, first of all, surprisingly beautiful. I know this isn't meant to be a site for ornamental gardening -- but while they're simple things, not all the kind of bright showy stuff people normally plant for flowers, I'd be happy to find these in any patch of cultivated "wildflowers". They're white, four-petaled, purple-veined, about an inch across -- and all that delicacy makes an interesting contrast with the tall spiky stems and deeply cut leaves.

And as it turns out, they're edible and attract pollinators.

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Bean mosaic virus?

I never have good results growing beans here (SoCal, not too far from the high desert). Few ever sprout. Those that do never grow above 4-6" high and product 1-3 podseach, if they live long enough. (Note - I use legume inoculant on most, but not all, seeds of each type of bean. I always plant in a set of half soaked and half unsoaked. Because science. I also generaly plant new plants that I haven't yet had success with in a variety of soil types ranging from pure potting soil to unimproved local soil, generally a few seeds at a time at 2-3 week intervals during the months when conditions are favorable to sprouting (if I'm feeling particularly stubborn, I'll plant from february to july and from september to early december).

It was therefore with trepidation that I planted my first english peas (Green Arrow from Botanical Interests) last year. I was delighted when they grew well and produced many delicious pods.

I recall looking at the foliage toward the end of the season and thinking it looked... off. Weather-bitten and pitted. Not pretty. But the plant kept growing and producing. I figured it was the heat getting to it.

This year in addition to Green Arrow I planted Super Sugar Snap (from Renee's Garden) and Wando (from Botanical Interests). Sugar is doing fine (though I planted it late so it's just now flowering). Wando never game up. All the pea plants, while growing happily and producing, look funny. Sugar has white streaks.

I tried yard long beans this year. They came up but did not grow well. The foliage was warped, brittle, and had yellow splotches.

I looked through my seed packets. Of all the legumes I have planted here (peas, bush beans, pole beans, scarlet runner beans, yard long beans, two varieties of edamame, cowpeas, and sweet peas) only two of the packets say "Disease resistant."

Green Arrow and Super Sugar Snap. The two that actually grew.

So uhh... anyone have a favorite disease resistant variety of warm-season legume? The more heat tolerant the better. I want something for fresh eating (I'd be happiest with edamame but I'm not getting my hopes up), but I confess I'd be happy to grow a dry bean or even an ornamental just to HAVE SUCCESSFULLY GROWN A BEAN PLANT. (It is amazingly frustrating to have a garden overflowing with wonderful things like garlic and tomatoes and eggplant and funny-looking lettuces, only to be defeated by something traditionally grown as an exercise by kindergarteners! I don't even like green beans all that much!)

I'm betting on mosaic virus, although my experience diagnosing plant diseases starts end ends with the phrase "Google Image Search."

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My raspberries are flowering!

Anyone whose english pea plants yield spherical peas must be a saint. I only get spherical peas if I miss a pod. In the evening I sit out in the garden and eat peas until there is nothing worth eating left on the plant. Then I am done until tomorrow. I will happily do this all pea season.

Strawberry is producing hordes of tiny berries that are being eaten before they get ripe. Also being chewed on: asparagus, chard, kale, melon seedlings, rhubarb, carrots, dill, basil. The squash also mysteriously vanished. I rather suspect earwigs. It is 100 out and we are having a bumper crop of bugs. I found an earwig and a ground beetle in my fridge the other day.

My new cherry tree is getting rather scalded. I need to shade it. If it is not already too late. The nectarine and apple are happy though.

The pomegranate and the blueberry are still not leafed out. I don't think they ever will.

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Replacing lawn - need ideas

I'm buying a house with a big lawn and basically no other plantings. I'm not a fan of lawns and am looking for ideas for killing the grass and something to replace it. The newspaper and mulch method is not a good option as if anything there is too much soil (ie the house is too close to the ground and the yard is a bit higher than the sidewalk).

I want to replace it with something more permeable than sod, that doesn't require mowing or watering during our summer 'drought' (it can die off like grass does if it comes back when it starts raining), and that can stand up to my dog walking all over it. Eventually I plan to add some garden beds and plantings (service berry and elderberry are high on my list) and I may eventually use it for goat forage but in the meantime I want something simple. I'm thinking clover might be a good option. A meadow is probably not (I think it would be taller than is allowed for fire safety and neighborhood standards.)

Any ideas would be welcome.


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Repotting houseplants

I live in a small apartment. I like to have a bit of green around the place, and for the last two years I've not been able to successfully grow much except aloe vera, which is very forgiving and currently thriving! It's grown so much since I got it that I've been thinking it probably needs repotting, as it's still growing out of the seedling container it was given to me in. I've been putting this off because I've never actually kept a houseplant long enough to need repotting before, so I'm unsure as to what sort of soil I should be using, and whether I should get a much bigger pot or just a slightly bigger one for the moment. Any advice for a newbie?

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First strawberry!

I had the first tiny strawberry of the season today! I'm looking forward to many more.

Also, I transplanted a lot of seedlings into the community garden today: 2 cucumbers, 3 green beans, 2 tongue-of-fire beans, an ornamental sweet potato, and an artichoke.

I also scattered some lettuce seed, sowed trenches for radish, carrot, and parsnip seeds, and planted more green beans, tongue-of-fire beans, and several sunflowers.

We'll see what takes.

And I transplanted one of my alpine strawberries into a bigger pot, which means that eventually I'll have a lot of big strawberry pots.

My serviceberry bushes looked a bit yellow today. I'll drop some leaf compost on them, but if anyone knows more about what they need, I'd love to hear it.

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New features: search nearby by distance, connect to twitter and flickr, etc

We've just pushed a bunch of new features, so please try them out and let us know what you think!

  • Search nearby members: specify distance and units (km/miles) -- when you go to "search for nearby members" you will see options to select a distance, where previously it just defaulted to 100 miles and didn't let you choose.
  • Connect member profile to Twitter and Flickr -- soon, this will lead to being able to post pictures of what you've planted, and being able to tweet your Growstuff activity if you want to
  • Added planting counts to crops pages: the and individual crop pages (eg. basil) now show a count of how many times they've been planted by Growstuff members. This will lead, in due course, to things like "most popular crops" and "most popular near you".
  • Post comment page now shows all previous comments, making it easier to remember the context of what you're replying to in a long thread
  • Added direct "reply" link to notifications, making it easier to reply directly to a comment or private message, rather than having to use multiple clicks to get there.
  • Small fix to signup confirmation email formatting (some weird spacing around links)
  • Added contact page (link in footer)
  • Misc security tweaks and administrivia
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I think I have tomatoes! Last year we planted four cherry tomato plants from the local nursery/produce stand (one flat worth) and three of them just sort of spindled along, sickly-looking and not growing much, putting out one fruit here and there. The fourth one became The Tomato Plant That Ate The Local Metropolitan Area; I was still pulling a dozen tomatoes at a time off of it in late October, and it completely engulfed a Forsythia.

So since we've had tomatoes come up volunteer the next year before, I decided to scatter tomatoes from that plant around the garden-y areas and let them go to the soil naturally. (If I had tried to grow tomatoes from seed I'd've failed miserably, but 'let fruit rot on the ground' is hard to screw up.)

And we have what I'm pretty sure are tomato seedlings coming up in a few places! They're very small still, but I'm keeping an eye on them. Who knows what (if anything) they'll do for fruit, but it'll at least be interesting to see.

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link: Ten Mistakes New Herb Gardeners Make (and How to Avoid Them!)

This is a nearly-5-year-old blog post, but i just ran across it and it addresses just about every mistake i've made/had in my little balcony garden. Really useful!

Ten Mistakes New Herb Gardeners Make (and How to Avoid Them!)

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So it's spring for real finally, and the compost is still frozen.

We made a blunder last year and packed the compost layers in too tight. Oh, and the main brown material was straw.

I used to read about people making icehouses in this area with straw packed around the ice blocks and still having ice in July. Now I believe it.

The compost has been mostly pulled apart now, and spread out to warm up in the sun, but there's still a few very large frozen chunks. Even after yesterday's 20 degrees and sunny.

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Can you grow other stuff in a lavender bed?

Our landlords tried to make our rental property's garden low-maintenance by filling it the beds with all kinds of perennial shrubs and small trees. Unfortunately they planted everything really close together and it's caused all kinds of problems -- things under trees not getting enough light, things next to each other competing, the whole garden just not being very drought resistant. We've seen several of the shrubs die, including a few of the lavender bushes that are grown in a row under my bedroom window. There are now gaps in that bed, like missing teeth.

While I like lavender as much as the next proto-Nanna, I don't need that much of it, so rather than replanting more lavender there, my thoughts have turned to planting other things in the gaps. Other useful or edible things. However, the soil in the gaps is dry, compacted, and generally unpleasant-looking. Even the lawn nearby never seems to thrive.

Today I threw a thick layer of mulch (raked autumn leaves) down in the gaps and was thinking of repeating that over the next few months and seeing whether I could make anything of it in the spring. However, I'm wondering whether the lavender itself is going to cause a problem. Is the lawn a hint of what will come if I try planting there?

The largest gap is about a metre across, between two metre-wide/metre-high lavender bushes. The bed is not quite a metre deep, from the lawn to the wall of the house. It has full sun but doesn't get much rain as it's partly under the eaves of the house. I was thinking of sticking some sunflowers in there, and maybe growing some scarlet runner beans up them and something sprawly at their base, either a squash (if I can get enough nutrients into them) or some nasturtiums. What do you think?

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Do tomatoes ever overwinter and go for a second year?

It's autumn here.

A couple of weeks ago I was cleaning up brown, dry, dead-ish tomato plants and started by cutting them off a few inches above ground level with the secateurs, meaning to come along later and pull out the root balls and deal with the remainders of the soil in the containers.

Since then, they've sprouted new leaves and are growing back rather nicely. Since we have mild winters with very little frost, I have a suspicion they might make it through until spring.

Has anyone had experience with overwintered tomatoes? Do they fruit in the second year? Is it worth it?

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Transplant Ho!

Most of the rest of my seedlings came up last week all together - I had forgotten how violently beens and squash can grow - so I did a bunch of transplanting. All but two of the seeds I started came up, and I think one of the other two is about to - I am gratified! Although if I end up with six producing zucchini plants this summer I'll regret it deeply. Or possibly have to flee the state. :P

Anyway, they're spread around the three garden beds we have set up that get at least partial sun in the summers; they will probably all die or be eaten shortly. (the downside of living in what is basically a fully operational forest-edge ecosystem.) They looked so big and strong in the little seedling pots, and now they look so tiny and vulnerable! (Well, except those two bean plants, they're still going for full-out Audrey II.)

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Into bed with you!

I finally got frustrated enough to establish one of the raised beds the other week, using a combination of enriched coir and compost.

I've sown Purple Haze carrots, brussels sprouts, purple broccoli, peas, turnips, english spinach and have transplanted two zucchini plants and two strawberry plants into the bed. The zucchini and strawberries are looking well pleased with themselves as I managed to transplant late on a cool day which was followed by gentle rains through the evening and the next day.

Perth weather has been lovely and crisp this last week. Lots of gentle rains meaning I haven't had to water, I've not been overheating and the littlest ninja has been having a better time of it all.

Now, I couldn't find much info on using coir for vegetable gardening. A lot of sites talk about using it as potting mix and in a way a raised bed is just a big pot :P So this will be partial experiment of sorts. While the coir is fibrous, it has a very nice light and loose texture which should be perfect for things like carrots and the more gentle seedlings to sprout but it can also be compacted into ridiculously small sizes. One block, not even a foot square expanded to 60 litres of 'soil'.

Can you call it soil?

I'm also chuffed that my parents were surprised at the size of my oregano plant/leaves. It is doing mighty fine ;)

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This pot is at least 30cm across: Oregano and Italian Parsley

The raised bed before sowing and transplanting: Raised Bed with Square Foot Template

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I have tomato seedlings! I need to see about transferring them to a larger pot than the little seedling pot they're in. I have several trays that I need to sprout some seeds in as well for other things.

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Raised bed help

I think it would be nice to have raised beds tall enough to not need to bend over constantly. For building them, I'm thinking about cinder blocks, since they're pretty cheap. Has anyone here done waist-high cinder block raised beds? Did you need to mortar the blocks together, or did you use something else to stabilize them, or did they just stay?

Alternatively, what have you used to make cheap raised beds nice and high up? I don't see a super huge benefit to raised beds that are only raised 8 inches off the ground!

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Garden trouble!

Something's skeletonizing my carrots and dill. It did a number on the sweet basil I planted, and is taking out the kale plants one by one. I haven't caught it in the act yet, though I've seen a couple big fat grasshoppers around; they're pretty likely culprits.

My blueberry (southern highbush) hasn't leafed out. Nearly all the other perennials have, with the sole exception of the pomegranate. I suspect the blueberry has either too little organic matter or too high soil pH. perhaps I ought to try a container next time.

Speaking of containers I got a huge one at the garden center last weekend. I have to get some soil to put in it, and it's going to house my sweet potato crop this year, for ease of harvesting.

I found some tiny red things in the soil of last year's sweet potato patch. No idea where they came from, or if they're sweet potatoes or potato potatoes. They sure are cute though! First round of slips is in the ground, second round is sitting in my vermicompost bin, which is where the first round came from (first round was an accident!)

Beans are ... still alive. Certainly not time to get excited.

Cauliflower didn't do so well. It kind of fizzled.

There should be peas soon. At least, the plants are blooming. I really expected to be getting peas before now. Next year I'll plant earlier.

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Achievement: Tomato plants!

I came home from work yesterday, and I had three inch-high tomato plants of the Abraham Lincoln cultivar.

I came home today, and they're two inches tall! Yay!

Now, hopefully the other seeds will also germinate right quick now...

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New features: search nearby members, and some other small stuff

Hey everyone,

I just pushed a few new things to production. The biggie is that you can now search for members near you. It's very basic at present but we have some improvements in the pipeline, including being able to specify the radius to search in (which will particularly help people who live in very highly populated or very sparsely populated areas).

Other changes:

  • there is now a link to Gravatar on your settings page, to make it easier/more obvious how to change your user pic
  • bugfix: sender's name is now clickable in your Inbox
  • switched the ordering of sign up/sign in in the top menu bar
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I've got buds on my grape plants!

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