Sunday, November 30, 2014

Journal November 30, 2014 - Callitier clone

It has been six weeks since I started the first batch of cuttings, so I decided to check their progress today; each cutting was gently removed from the media to determine if it had developed roots. 

One cutting, the Callitier, had two large white roots growing from the very bottom, it has now been placed with the other small trees to grow indoors.

The Manzanillo, Tosca and Picholine cuttings are apparently still alive, but are showing little progress so far.  Fresh rooting hormone has been applied to these cuttings and they have been replanted.  The Chemlali cutting was discarded, as the leaves were falling off when touched; there is little chance a cutting will root if leaves fall off.

As there is room for eight cuttings under the LED grow light, I took a cutting each from an Arbequina and Manzanillo olive tree to replace the Callitier and Chemlali cuttings.

 In late spring I was about to discard a Mission olive tree, that I thought was lost from being over watered.  Instead of discarding the tree, I cut the top completely off, leaving only the large root system.  The root system was planted in new media in a large pot, which was left outdoors on the deck all summer.  In early fall the roots began putting out new growth, so I moved the plant indoors for wintering.  

If this plant continues to grow like it is now, it will be a magnificent specimen, so I am really glad I attempted a rescue mission on this Mission.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Journal November 26, 2014 - Bella Di Cerignola in vitro

Several weeks ago I came across an ad offering five seeds of a rare olive called Bella Di Cerignola.  The photo that accompanied the ad was of a huge red olive, so naturally I had to have the seeds. Since then, I have found that the olives are not red, but are turned red by some secret process, which I would rather not know anyway.   The olives can also be left green and processed like any other olive, which I would prefer.

Having only five seeds to work with, I decided to germinate some in vitro, and some in moist coffee filters, after having first removed the seeds from the drupe. 

The seeds in the moist coffee filters are turning black and have a white fungus of some sort growing on the seed coat.  Today, I decided to take a blade and scrape off the fungus and black coating from one seed.  In doing so, the seed coat came off also, which left a sort of white long cylindrically shaped seed.

Using the tip of the blade, I  carefully cut into the outside layer to a depth of about 1/64" to examine the very heart of the seed.  Inside I found the complete embryo, shown above.  The radicle can be seen on the right, attached to the undeveloped cotyledons.

Well, noting ventured, nothing gained, so I placed the embryo in a weak solution of sterile water and hydrogen peroxide to sterilize it.  

The embryo is now in vitro, and tomorrow I intend to do the same to the remaining seeds in coffee filters.  I may not remove the outside layers, as that may serve as a carbon source for the embryo, however, the media contains sugar, which is a carbon source.

In any event, it will be a learning experience,  which is what this is all about.
Obtaining plant material from seeds is a frustrating time consuming process, however, in some instances it is the only way to obtain an unusual varietal.  The rare variety shown above, was grown from seed started this year, it was well worth the effort.  Once you have a single plant, you can then clone as many as you wish. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Journal November 24, 2014 - Indoor hydroponic garden

Nutrients in the ebb and flow systems were changed today, so I  turned off the grow lights to take a photo to post on the blog.   Seen from left to right: salad bowl lettuce, beet greens and Swiss chard, or silver beet.

Only three systems are in use, with the fourth system in reserve for a dozen romaine lettuce seedlings that are in process.  

My plan is to start seeds for more beet greens and chard a few days before I harvest the plants in the photo so the systems remain active.

 Salad bowl lettuce, shown above, is one of our favorites, as it is very tender and sweet.  It is another variety that seldom makes its way to produce markets.  That may be that it is so tender it is difficult to ship and store for any period of time.  It is a good selection for indoor hydroponics, as it likes cool conditions and does not require a lot of nutrients to produce a good crop.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Journal November 17, 2014 - Closing the greenhouse for the season

The weather has really turned cold, with the forecast calling for the cold temperatures to hang around for the next ten days, so I decided that the olives have had enough chill time.

It was really miserable today, with cold drizzle and a little snow on the ground, which really inspired me to get the job done and close the greenhouse for the season.

Instead of growing warm season vegetables in the tents this winter, I decided it would be better to use the tents to overwinter the olive trees.  Six plants have been placed in each tent, with the left over plants in  seldom used space in the basement.  This arrangement is much better than keeping the plants all together; this way the plants do not take up anywhere near as much space as they did last year.

The LED grow lights in both tents are only running on the vegetative stage, which is very energy efficient.  For the plants in the basement, I am using the low power LEDs used for supplemental lighting in the greenhouse.  Their total wattage is probably about 100 watts, so they are also super energy efficient.  If that was not enough, I have set the photoperiod to local sunrise, sunset, or about ten hours.

It is best to let olives almost dry completely during the winter, with very infrequent fertilizing, so I should have plenty of time on my hands to catch up on some reading till spring. 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Journal Nobember 1, 2013 - Donkey olive ex vitro

The donkey olive seed that was in culture has now been planted in soil, so it is now ex virto. It is my intention to leave it covered with a dome until true leaves begin to form, though that may take a while, as olives do everything at their own pace.

The transfer was made early, even before the radicle, or tap root, had emerged from the seed.  My feeling was that the tap roots are very long and delicate, so I did not want to take the chance of breaking it off during transfer, which would have been the end of the seedling.

There is another donkey olive seed germinating, though this one is not in culture.  The seed was soaked in a mixture of nutrients and other ingredients for several hours.  Following the soak the seed was placed in a coffee filter moistened with the mixture.  At that point, the seed was placed in a sealed container, with the container then placed on a heating mat under the LED grow light.  That seed began to germinate in only eight days, rather than the four months the first seed spent in vitro before germinating.  This should be another interesting experiment.

The Ascolano clone is making great progress now that it is on its own.  There are a few yellow leaves that I expect to fall off soon; the yellow may be a nutrient deficiency, or senescence.  The yellow leaves are not a concern, as there is a lot of new growth at the very tips of the laterals. 

 One nice aspect of cloning your own trees, is that you get to determine their shape early on, so that you don't end up with a buggy whip.  This plant will have the ideal martini glass shape so desirable in olive trees.