Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Deflasking is not always exciting

I recently deflasked a group of Phal. mannii seedlings from Woodstream Orchids that supposedly come from a very dark form. It was expensive but with a description like that I couldn't pass it up. Plus there was one very big seedling in the flask (as you can see at left). It is basically big enough to bloom for the first time already.

Unfortunately, it was not all beer and skittles in that 500mL flask...see below.

*Shakes Fist!

(Please note, they didn't look like this when I bought the flask back in late winter/early spring at the MOS show.)

About half of my prize are sporting what look like half dead roots. They're still attached, but they're a suspicious combination of off coloring and slightly translucent appearance. I'm concerned the little brats are going to die. Plus, of course, there are the many dead leaves and a few outright dead plants.

I deflasked the little buggers in a hurry when I noticed the browning from the outside looking in. I'm not sure what happened. Maybe there was some toxicity response from being in the flask maybe a little too long. Maybe it heated up and cooked a few. This is the price I pay for procrastinating while I debated if they would come out and get typical treatment in a compot of sphagnum, or if I would be creative and slap them on mounts or in some aggregate mix. Dang.

At least there's several plants that will live, and some that might make it if their roots recover or they grow new ones in a hurry.

They better be cool when they bloom! *Shakes fist some more

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Goodies from the Garden

For the first time this year I'm growing corn, and I couldn't grow "normal corn". Its just not my style. So I'm growing "Black Aztec" sweet corn. As you can see from the examples at left I'm still learning how to pick it at the right stage for sweet corn. The one on the top is a wee bit too young, the two in the middle are a bit too old, and the one on the bottom is just about right. We ate them all anyway and they were fine. The too old ones, which are starting to develop their mature dark purple-blue coloration, were not surprisingly more starchy.

The ears on this variety are a bit on the skinny side. I don't know if this is a matter of my sub-par soil (= 100% red clay) with the afterthought, thin top dressing of composted manure, or just the nature of the variety.

It is an heirloom variety, first sold in 1864 according to Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. They also suggest that it makes nice cornbread. I plan to let some go to seed for use as cornmeal for polenta, etc., and for next year's seed too. We'll also find out if a coffee grinder can make cornmeal.

Check it out, I also grew some fish.

Ok, yeah, I bought some fish. Wild salmon, to be exact. One of my very favorite things.

In my typical cooking style, I dropped it in the pan and gathered whatever I could find around the house - garden, refrigerator, cabinet - toss, chop, random. This pan includes scallop squash, blueberries, and herbs from the garden. There's also lemon's worth of juice and pulp that I managed to forage out of the 'fridge, and some random spices. (photo shows appearance prior to cooking) Bake. Eat. Enjoy! mmmm...

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Visit to Parkside Orchids

Next weekend is the Parkside annual Orchid Fest, where they invite several other vendors to come and have a little fiesta-like sale. Parkside does hold regular open hours throughout the year, but it is extra incentive for those who have never been to make the trek. Their field is full of cars first thing Saturday morning. Its an impressive crowd.

This year, ogecko and I decided to visit the weekend before when they'll be both nice and stocked up and not quite so packed out with people. It makes for a more mellow shopping experience. Below are a few photos of things you might find in Parkside's greenhouses if you go next week.

Podangis dactyloceras
There were a few cute little Podangis dactyloceras among several very attractive looking Phal. parishii which were very very tempting, but I resisted.

Promenea (Limelight x stapelioides)
Several nice looking Promeneas, including this Promenea (Limelight x stapelioides), which produce very large flowers for the plant size.

Paph. superbiens var. curtisii
This is Paph. superbiens var. curtisii, and this one I bought because it was the least reflexed one I've ever seen. It looks fully open and stretched, so I'm gambling that it won't reflex later. There were other plants of this there too.

Paph. Becky Fouke
A nice little population of Paph. Becky Fouke.

Paph. Armeni White
A few nice plants of Paph. Armeni White. Flowers were of good size.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Um, what is that?

A mystery.

In late May I had a few lots of seed soaking prior to planting. I had been procrastinating the task for a couple days for some unknown reason, and suddenly one morning I decided they needed to be taken care of immediately or the viability would decrease. So one morning before work I threw them into community pots and left, thinking I would label them when I got home. I did not. After a couple days I couldn't remember which was which, but vaguely thought I should be able to identify them by their leaves if they came up.

This week this seedling appeared. You can't see it in the photo, but there are two other small sprouts coming up too. I was very confused when I saw the shape of them. I thought everything I had planted was passifloras. Despite the variety in the genus Passiflora in regards to leaf shape and markings, so far all the species I have grown have been quite homogeneous in cotyledon morphology. This was not it. Looking closer I realized they also were not cotyledons.

I sorted through all my seed containers (twice) for inspiration but found none. After a couple days it finally hit me - while in Florida I had collected some fruits off of a Suriname Cherry tree. Three, in fact, equaling the number of seedlings showing. They had single, nut like seeds inside. After digging around in the pot near one seedling I found that same nut nestled in the soil.

Hey, they grew! Mystery solved.

I have grown other seeds (such as from mangoes) that have not shown cotyledons above the soil, but never anything this small. The nuts were hardly larger than a peanut. I wonder why there is this difference in habit from the typical seed.

I'm pretty sure the other pot contains Passiflora lutea, which are also germinating.

Anyhow, I will now resolve to always take the 60 seconds to make a label. Um...lets hope I don't slip up again.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Advice for the Lazy Gardener: Amaryllis Tubs

Ok, so lots of people have amaryllis bulbs. You go into the garden center, and there they are...tempting you... But most people think of them as a Christmas flower, and so force them to grow at that time of year. Very few actually realize the bulbs are summer growers and are actually hardy to zone 8, even 7 if in the right spot, planted deep, and mulched over winter. Growing them in such a way means you have BIG impressive flowers followed by nice foliage in your garden in summer with very little effort vs. attempting to grow them well in a pot during the dimly lit winter months, which generally results in weak growth.

I however live in zone 6. I used to plant them out in the garden every year, and dig them up in the fall just before or just after the last frost and store them in the basement in a plastic bin. This is a hassle, and they take up space that could be filled by the weedy fiesta I call my veggie garden. So this year I decided to try something different.

I got some 14 gallon plastic bins, the deep kind with good handles on the side, and drilled about 4x half inch holes in the bottom plus a couple on the sides about 1 inch up. Fill to a depth of 1-2 inches with some aggregate (non-biodegradable styrofoam peanuts are ok) then dump in your favorite potting mix. Mix in a bit of bone meal and/or whatever other goodies you have around, then set in your bulbs and fill in with soil. I recommend setting the bulbs so the top of the bulb is just below the rim of the container (I shall explain in a moment). You can also add some nice mulch on the top if you like.

Voila! Stick that sucker out on your deck or back patio in full sun. In the top photo you can see I also have some basil plants co-habitating in the tub on the left. Growing them in summer means they can get lots of light, and they can be watered frequently with the hose.

As the weather starts cooling, water less. When first frost sets in, drag that sucker into the garage or basement and let it dry out completely, then put the lid on the container and stack them up (hence the need to set the bulbs below the rim). Instant out of the way storage free of digging, wriggling messes and extraneous effort. Next spring, drag them outside and open them up as soon as the temps are consistently averaging around 50F at night. If they stay with the lids on too long they'll grow funny - they always know when its spring even if you don't bring them out of the basement.

PS: the flowers currently in bloom are slightly fragrant. They smell a bit like pine.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

In Bloom: Paph. Pinocchio

Paph. PinocchioPaph. Pinocchio is probably *the* plant for people who don't have much space but want lots of flowers. It is sequentially blooming, one flower lasting 2-4 weeks until it is replaced by a new one, so only one flower on an inflorescence is open at a time usually. But this process can go on for months even in young plants. It is not uncommon for older, larger plants to basically be in bloom non-stop, replacing old, bloomed out spikes with fresh ones as time goes by.

Its pretty easy to grow, basically the same way you would a phalaenopsis with 1-2 hours of early morning or late evening sun in average home temperatures.