Cactus for Geyri

On a big uromastyx FB page, many people said that uros really like cactus. I’m constantly thinking of good foods for him. Right now I can collect things like dandelions and clover to add to the staples he gets every day. Winter will come, so I’m drying some dandelions and wanted another thing I can feed him in the winter, fresh stuff for moisture and something that doesn’t have to come from the grocery store.

So I ordered some spineless cactus pads online. Since little Geyri is a bit of a picky eater, I had to first let him try some before I went on a search of tips to grow them.

I gave him some, cut into little cubes cos he’s still small. I offered the cubes at the same time I offered a sprouted lentil, one of his favorite things. He normally eats the lentil and the sprout and the root. For him to walk over top of the rest of a lentil to get to his cactus cubes was all the encouragement I needed to learn how to grow some in the house, with less than ideal light. It’s a challenge I’m up for.

I watched videos and learned to cut a slice off the bottom of each pad to make a new surface, then let them lay for several days till a callous forms over that, to prevent rotting. Then just plant them.

One lady on the FB page said they are so easy to grow, that she left some lay in her car for a week during the lock down and they started making new pads with no ground, no water, just growing cos that’s what cactus do.

He’s sure entertaining me while we learn about each other and figure out good things for him to eat. We need to find sanity……..and it’s hard to find right now. Our country is in chaos, the worst kinds of chaos, as if the virus wasn’t enough for us to constantly concern ourselves with. Riots, fires and looting in our streets are not what peaceful protests for a good reason are supposed to be, but it’s what they have turned into.

So, we find sanity. Learning to grow cactus for a dear little lizard. Or, working in the garden, my hands involved with the magic of the earth. For encouragement and hope, I got out my garden pickin’ basket. There’s nothing to pick yet, but I like seeing it sitting on the kitchen floor……waiting. There have been lots of good veggies gathered in that old basket.

After a while the basket will have cucumbers and beans and tomatoes. The good earth provides if you treat it right.

We can’t eat everything that grows in the garden; we need beauty too, like the first show of the roses, which is always the best.

Be well. Find your individual happiness, peace and sanity. Maybe get a lizard, lol.

26 responses to “Cactus for Geyri

  1. !OH!
    How odd that he like cactus that are not native to Africa.
    I put some pads out by the road over winter, but the crew that came to cut the vegetation did an extra thorough job, and cut them down. I know they will be right back.

    • There aren’t even any cactus in the kinds of areas that his species lives. We can’t get what they eat there, so we have to try different foods that have nutrients that are good for uros and won’t hurt them. It’s a challenge cos he’s a picky little bugger. Some will eat carrots and squash, but he doesn’t like them. He sure likes his little cactus cubes tho. Cross your fingers I can get them started over the summer in pots outside and then grow them in the house in the winter, so I can take pads off to slice up for him. I’ll try one right in his enclosure after I get them rooted. Good heat and UV in there……cactus should like that. 🤞

      • They are ridiculously easy to grow, but probably will not like to be inside, even with light and warmth. I do not know though.

      • I have a 40 year old barrel cactus in an amazingly low light area for a cactus, healthy and gives me a couple blooms every June. I have never understood how that was possible, but it’s been in the same place for 19 of those years. I grow a couple herbs in my kitchen with a gro light and minimal light thru double glass windows. I’m going to try them there. Try almost anything once?

      • Barrel cactus are surprisingly easy to grow. Many species from the desert really want to live in the desert. I saw barrel cactus growing wild near Pal Springs, out where they were completely exposed to that nasty dry heat. They should be uncomfortable in the cool redwood forest, but they are not.

      • This old one on a west facing window, under a porch, which gets very little sun…..that really surprises me. I hope pear pad cactus are as adaptable and I can grow some inside. .

      • Those that are most adaptable, which live as understory vegetation in chaparral oak woodlands, are unfortunately not the sort that would be as culinarily appealing. The pads are rather thin and flimsy, with nodes of tiny fibrous spines (glochids) that need to be cut out VERY thoroughly. The tiny spines can be dangerous if eaten. Prickly pear with thick ‘thornless’ pads (with fewer and bigger glochids) are easier to handle and process, but really like warm exposure to produce big plump pads. Of course, they will survive for a very long time in places that are not hospitable to them. Those that I just planted were left out on a workbench for about a year before I put the pads into the ground. The pads just started to grow where they were, like potatoes.

      • Still growing after a year on a workbench, wow. That gives me encouragement about my less than perfect inside growing ideas. The ones I got are called spineless. Some people who keep uromastyx are willing to deal with the spiny ones and remove the spines. but I’ve had some of those spines in my fingers already and nahh, not any more. This kind is definitely appealing to my little Geyri. He runs right up on my hand to get some, right away!

      • Although there are several known as ‘spineless’, the most common are good both as a vegetable (nopal or nopalito while small) and for fruit (tuna, but not the fish). I got mine (at another garden) for the fruit.

      • I got jelly made from the fruits once when I was in Arizona. I doubt mine will ever be big enough for fruit, tho they’ll live outside in the summers. This little Geyri sure eats those little cubes up really quick.

      • They need to be rather established and big to produce fruit. Even then, they may not produce fruit without a specific pollinator. Most develop fruit here, supposedly because the same pollinating bat that visits the native species also visits exotic species. (The nearest native species is actually more than thirty miles away; so I do not know how that works.) Lack of fruit is not big loss though, if you just want them for vegetative pads.

      • Wow we sure don’t have those bats here. Yea, I just want pads that produce more pads, so I have a supply for him. I could keep ordering some from the same guy I bought them from online, but it’s a neat experience to try to grow them. I’m always up for a good gardening challenge. 😊

      • Growing more pads should be no problem. They are good at that. Where the weather does not get rather hot, the fruit is overrated anyway.

      • We can grow the prickly ones outside here. They lay down under the snow in the winter and just get up and going again in the spring. A few will flower once they get really old and established, and have spread out from making new ones.

      • Is that a native species? The nopal tolerates snow too. When you eventually get a surplus of pads, you might want to put a few outside over winter to see how they do.

      • No, no cactus varieties are native in Pennsylvania. I did have some of the prickly ones up in the end of the yard maybe 30 years ago and got rid of them then. I probably will plant some out in the ground eventually, and in the spring I should have a growing supply then once they get up and going.

      • Opuntia humisifolia, Eastern prickly pear, is rare but supposedly native to a few counties of Pennsylvania. It is not so rare in adjacent states. It is the prickly pear that I met in Oklahoma, which is very different from the prickly pears that are native south of here. It might live where you are at. I do not know how different your climate is from where it lives naturally. Unfortunately, it is not one that I would recommend as a vegetable. It is the one that I mentioned earlier, with the dangerously small spines that get everywhere. The pads are too thin to bother with. It is edible, but is too much work. Yet, it is an indication that other species of prickly pear may be able to survive there. These links show where Eastern prickly pear is native, and where other prickly pears are native. The color key link is in the upper left corner of the collective maps.

        http://bonap.net/Napa/TaxonMaps/Genus/County/Opuntia

      • Well isn’t it amazing that it takes a man from California to teach me that we have native prickly pear cactus in Pennsylvania! The map tells me that they are rare where I live and in a few counties near here, in the southern part of the state. Then I googled and read some more about them. Those are probably what I had years ago and just thought whoever I got them from had gotten them for some western desert. Yes small spines everywhere; you hardly have to brush against one of them and you have 50 little spines you need to pick out with tweezers. No more of that. Thank you so much for taking the time show this to me and teach me that we have native cactus here . Wow.

      • Yes, they are secretly wicked! I was surprised to see them growing as flatly sprawling understory in Oklahoma. I brought some back and left them with Brent for a while. He did not like them because the spines blew around in the dry wind. Anyway, those are the sort that I would not recommend.

      • No I remember those spines. On a big FB page about Uromastyx, people mentioned spineless ones and I never knew there were any without spines, and I hunted on line for a place to buy some. Now, to get them to grow…… Thanks. 😊

      • Once I get some growing and definitely have enough for him, I’ll find a good recipe and try cooking some to try, cos I’ve never eaten cactus. Until then, they’ll just be eaten cut into little cubes for a little dinosaur. 😉

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