Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Journal February 26, 2013

For several days now I have been watching, with concern,  the Trilye and Edemerit seedlings that I purchased on eBay from Turkey.  At first I noticed a brown sludge on the bottom of one of the plants that I at first thought was mud.  I scraped off the sludge and continued to observe the plants.

Next I noticed a white fungus type growth at the base of every plant, and my concern deepened at that point.  Yesterday, it was apparent that the plants were beginning to die, from the base up.  It is apparent in the above photo that only the top half inch of the stem is still alive, and that death is slowly progressing up the stem.

The dilemma was: what to do.  I had written to the person who I purchased the seedlings from, twice, and received no response.  I moved the plants away from my other plants so the disease would not spread and thought about what to do next.  I could just take a loss and destroy the plants, or try to salvage something.  

I decided to try to salvage the plants.  If I fail I lose, if I don't try, I lose.  At least by trying I might have a chance of salvaging something.

In an attempt to save the plants, I cut off the tops of the stems to just above the points that were turning brown, or dying.  I scraped off the outer bark to expose the cambium layer and applied a generous coating of rooting gel to the cambium layer.  The stems have been planted in coir and perlite in an attempt to clone them.

If the stems still show some green though the bark after a month or so I will know if there is any chance of saving these plants. 

Fortunately I have seeds for Trilye olives, so I still may be able to grow a variety from Turkey.  The seller's name was goldenpera_com, and I would recommend that you do not purchase from him to avoid diseased plants.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Journal February 22, 2013

Yesterday I received some olive seeds from Israel that I purchased on eBay.  The total cost of the seeds was $2.50, including delivery.  The postage on the envelope was about six dollars in Israeli currency, so I don't know how the kid made any money on the transaction.   They came in a padded envelope; and the seeds were in a small plastic bag with instructions; additionally,  the seller included a gift package of three manzanillo seeds.  Needless to say I was happy with that deal.

The variety is Barnea, a relatively new cultivar, Barnea was selected and developed by Professor Shimon Lavee in Israel. Barnea was named for the Kadesh Barnea region in which it was found, on the border between the Sinai Desert and Israel.  In addition to the Barnea, I had seeds from Turkey for Trilye olives, so I decided to spend some time today tinkering with the seeds to see if I could speed up the germination process.  I can't imagine what Mother Nature was thinking when she designed the olive seed, as they are practically indestructible.  Perhaps she intended them to be eaten and run through the digestive tract of a rhino. 

First I removed any trace of olive from the seeds and cleaned the oil from the seeds using hot water, detergent and a small brush.  Following the cleaning, I soaked the seeds in white vinegar for 10 minutes and than cleaned and dried them.  

The seeds were then rubbed on sandpaper to scarify the outer coat to weaken it.  At that point, I decided to further weaken the coat by exposing the embryo on at the radicle end of the seed.  To accomplish this I used a Dremel with a small sanding drum and carefully sanded the end until I could just see the coat surrounding the embryo.

After sanding, I soaked the seeds for a few minutes in hot water and then planted them in a tray containing perlite and coir.   Four seeds of each variety were planted on each side of the tray and I placed a small piece of plastic to mark their location so I could find them and check their progress from time to time.

This batch of seeds will be kept just slightly moist to prevent rotting, which is what happened with the first batch that I planted in November.  The tray will be placed in one of the tents, where the temperature is about 70 degrees at all times.

And, while on the subject of temperature; using LED lighting in the grow chamber in place of fluorescent lighting has an added benefit of reducing the temperature in the chamber to just slightly under 70 degrees, which is perfect for lettuce and chard.   Even though fluorescent lights run fairly cool, six tubes in an enclosed area will increase the temperature somewhat.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Journal February 20, 2012

Today I discovered tiny roots peeking out of the sides of the media holding a manzanillo cutting taken on January 25, 2012.  It seems that I may have finally found a way to clone olives successfully.

It is pretty amazing to me that it has taken less than a month for the cutting to root after all of my previous attemps.

The changes I made this time were: that I used the horticubes and placed them in netpots rather than in coir and perlite; additionally, I used a neoprene collar to stabilize the cutting, anti-wilt was applied after the cutting was taken, and, I used the dome with CO2 enhancement; further changes include  increased potassium (K), adding only a small amount of calcium nitrate to provide nitrogen (N), and finally, I used the small red/orange/ blue LED and ran it 24/7.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Journal February 16, 2013

Two pots of annuals, in this case zinnias and calendulas, were planted in system 4 today, along with a dozen seedlings of grand rapids lettuce.

This should have been a common practice all winter, but without Ava here to remind me I completely forgot about growing flowers along with the lettuce.

The grand rapids seedlings are a mixed batch, some being OK, and some being substandard.  The seeds are dated 2009, so I guess it is time to toss them and purchase new seeds.

I think going forward I will purchase a few varieties of lettuce each spring, when the seed is fresh,  staying with those varieties until the following spring.  There are probably close to a hundred varieties of lettuce seed in my freezer presently, some of which are five years old.  It is a case of growing a few of each variety, and moving on to another, and another, and another variety, which was a waste of seed

The LED grow light for system 4 is selectable, with the choices being: vegetative, flowering, or both.  I always opt for both, as I like a lot of light during all stages of growth.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Journal February 14, 2013

Today I received a mission olive plant from Forest Farm in Oregon.  The plant I received from Florida several weeks ago seemed to be still in shock and was doing absolutely nothing; so I decided to get a few more plants, as I really want a mission olive tree.  

This tree spent over a week traveling across country in a truck, and it seems to have survived the trip alright.  The description online stated the plant would be about six to eight inches tall, and that is exactly what I was looking for.  When UPS delivered the box, it was about three feet long and I thought: Oh no, here we go again with another telephone pole.

The plant was tall, about eighteen inches, and very very slender when I took it from the box.  It was being supported by a bamboo stick and did not have a chance in hell of standing on its own.

Fortunately the plant has some lower branches, so when I removed about a foot from the top of the plant it turned out pretty much as I would like it to be.  The section I removed was divided into two six inch sections and I will try to clone them.

Also, I found a deal on eBay for mission olives for less than seven dollars each and a second ships for two dollars

Monday, February 11, 2013

Journal February 11, 2013

One of my best performing olive varietals, in terms of growth,  is the Amfissa olive tree that I received from Greece on December 17, 2012.  The top photo shows the tree on the day I received and potted it, and the photo below was taken today, February 11, 2013

It has been necessary to pinch out the growing tips several times to keep the tree as compact as I would like it to be.  As this variety tends to produce olives fairly early, perhaps in only a year or so,  it should be interesting to see what spring and summer in the greenhouse do to this plant.

Yesterday I noticed that one of the Trilye seedlings, received from Turkey on January 14, 2013, is beginning to sprout.  When I first saw them, I really thought that they would take at least several months to come out of dormancy.

And, last but not least, the Manzanillo olive tree I call Fernando El Magnifico, is still the real star of the show.  I have removed several cuttings from the tree and pruned it a few times to control the shape.  I would like to balance the left and right sides of the tree so that they are more or less equal.  The left side of the tree has been turned away from the light to direct more growth to the right side of the tree.  Still, it is a great looking tree.

 As I expected they would, all of the olive trees are responding very well to being grown hydroponically under LED lighting.  I did a web search and did not find anyone else growing olive trees hydroponically, let alone under LED lighting.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Journal February 6, 2013

Up until today I thought I had just about reached my ultimate cloning system; that is until I found the small greenhouse shown above.  I just happened to see it at Wal-Mart, and I was impressed with the quality of the dome.  The dome was made in Germany, of  durable plastic, with vent holes on both ends and an adjustable vent on top.  Additionally, the bottom has molded recesses that fit my 2" net pots perfectly.  

I wanted a higher dome, as I was limited to very short cuttings with the domed container that I was using.  Some of the cuttings in my existing dome were being pressed against the top and my maximum size was only 4".  A heat mat has been added, as well as a thermometer and a wet wash cloth to keep the humidity high.  The bottle contains water, sugar and yeast to add carbon dioxide to the dome and I will be still using the small red/orange/blue LED 24/7.

While looking for seeds later in the day I saw the exact dome at Lowe's for about six dollars more than Wal-Mart was charging.  I guess Lowe's is more upscale than Wal-Mart.

Just a comment about comments:

I moderate comments to the blog and I WILL NOT post any comment that contains a link to any commercial site.  Just today I had to trash three comments from someplace called kelp4less, so I wrote to them and told them to knock it off, that they were wasting their time and mine by posting the comments.  Why anyone would even consider using their products is a mystery to me anyway.  

I hope they read that comment.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Journal February 4, 2013

Today I made a few improvements to my cloning setup, and if the clones are successful I will probably do something more permanent using the same principals.

The plastic collars were replaced by neoprene clone collars, which really hold the cuttings firmly in place; as well as prevent the media from drying out and algae from forming on the media.  Additionally, I added a grid to the bottom of the container for drainage, and I added carbon enhancement via a home built CO2 generator using sugar and yeast.  The openings on the sides of the net pots will allow me to see the media, so I can determine if roots are indeed beginning to grow.  

Consulting one of my books on the subject of cloning I found that: "while rooting, cuttings require a minimum of nitrogen and increased levels of phosphorus to promote root growth."  The same holds true for germinating seeds.  A new solution has been prepared according to the book's instructions and I will use that to water the cuttings and seeds and also for a weekly foliar feeding. And, the book also recommends a 24 hour light cycle to maintain the cuttings in a vegetative state.

 So far the cuttings are looking good, and remain turgid, green and healthy, but time will tell...

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Journal February 3, 2013

I am really delighted with the results that I have seen since converting the grow chamber from fluorescent to LED lighting.  Going forward I will add a pot of annuals to each tray, just to annoy Mother Nature, as she continues to send very cold temperatures our way.  The first seeds, zinnia and calendula, have already sprouted and will be planted in about two weeks.

Not that I had any concerns about the intensity of the LEDs, but it is comforting to see how compact the plants are under the LEDs.  They actually outperform the T5 lights, and are much more energy efficient.

 Being semi-tropical the olives are also doing extremely well indoors under the LEDs; to the point that I must continually pinch out the growing tips to keep them compact.