Saturday, December 28, 2013

Journal December 28, 2013 Arbequina olive setting flower buds

When I first decided to grow olives, one of my main concerns was how I would get them through our winter while providing the conditions that they require to fruit.  It seems that I should not have been all that concerned, as the trees have adapted fantastically to being indoors.

Another concern was lighting, with visions of leggy trees struggling to find adequate light,  Again, that is not the case.  The above photo shows the tip of my small bushy Argequina, which by the way is setting buds, which also means OLIVES!  Simply looking at the tight internodal spacing it is evident that the tree is receiving all of the light it needs.  The fact that it is setting buds is an indicator that the light level is ideal.  

Considering the tree is sharing a 36 watt LED grow light with another tree, and, that the light is about two feet from the tree, my decision to use multiple low power LED grow lights seems to be a good choice.  It has been possible to winter about twenty trees, using less than 200 watts of lighting to do so.


Friday, December 27, 2013

Journal December 27, 2013 Plant Tissue Culture Propagation

 Several years ago there was an orchid breeding greenhouse locally that we used to visit. While there I would watch them tissue cloning orchids under hoods. They were using microscopes and placing small bits of plant material in petri dishes and placing the petri dishes into incubators. I thought: Good Lord, you must have to have at least a Ph D to tackle that.

Over the years the process has evolved so that it is possible to do tissue culture at home, so I thought I would give it a try. As I needed a sink and clean environment, I elected to wait until my wife was going to be out for a while and use the kitchen for my laboratory.

I used an opaque storage container for a hood. The storage container had to be sterilized with 90% alcohol, along with everything else used in the process, A small section of green growing branch tip was removed from a Mission and Pendolino olive tree. It was necessary to wash the plant material in detergent, alcohol, beach with detergent and finally sterile water. Rinsing was also required several times between each wash.

The sterile water rinse was performed under the hood, along with all trimming and placing the plant material into the vials containing the nutrient gel. The vials have been placed in a sterilized container under a small T5 grow light, where in a few weeks new plants should begin to develop. That is if I have the process correct, but if not I will try again, as I found it fascinating. It should be possible to produce hundreds, or thousands, of plants from a tiny piece of the plant.

Here is a link with more information, and youtube also has several videos on Plant Tissue Culture for anyone interested.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Journal December 20, 2013 Arbequina ending chilling cycle

The tree in the photo above looks pretty sad, however, I fully expect it to begin perking up and becoming a nice specimen very soon.

When it was purchased on eBay in the fall this tree had olives on it.  Within a few days of receiving the tree, the olives fell off as it went into shock, with the tips of the leaves turning brown.  The seller replaced the tree, but recommended that I keep this tree as he thought it would recover.

It appears that the seller was correct, as the tree now has a lot of new growth after having spent two months chilling under the low power LED grow lights in the basement.

The branch that had the olives was the leader and did not appear to be growing, so it was removed, which made the tree lopsided. Using bonsai wire, a lateral branch was bent upward to form a new leader to correct the shape of the tree.  The correction will be hardly noticible as the tree grows and fills in.  

Deciding  to end the tree's chilling cycle, it has been placed in a grow tent using the 150 watt LED grow light with a photo period of sixteen hours.  Also, I will begin feeding the tree again, as it has only been getting plain water for the last three months.

While watering the olive trees today, I noticed that one of the other Arbequina trees is forming  different shaped growths on the ends of some of the branches.  Never having seen an olive tree flower, I am hoping that the growths are flower buds.  

Having thought that keeping the trees alive during the winter was going to be a difficult process, I am pleased to say that they have been no problem at all, requiring very little care.

It should be interesting watching the tree in the photo respond to an early spring.


Monday, December 16, 2013

Journal December 16, 2013 Growing Tropical Plants Indoors

One of the tropical plants I am growing is flowering and two more are going to flower soon.  The plant above is Jasminum sambac, Maid of Orleans.

The flowers are very fragrant and used in perfume.  Although the flowers are small, there are a lot of them on the plants, as they often grow in clusters.  The scent is really strong when I open the grow tent in the morning.

The olive trees are doing much better than I ever expected under the low power LED grow lights.  In spite of the reduced photoperiod and light intensity some of the trees are still putting out new growth.  Those not actively growing are forming new buds preparing for spring.