Friday, October 31, 2014

Journal October 31, 2014 - Hydroponic chard and beet greens planted.

With the end of the outdoor gardening season it is time to return my attention indoor gardening.  Two of my favorite indoor crops were planted today: beet greens and Swiss chard.  

To better control algae I have filled the spaces between the pots with the expanded clay pellets.  Not that a little algae is harmful, but it does take nutrients from the plants, is unsightly, and is difficult to clean once established.  The pellets dry completely between watering cycles, so they will eliminate algae buildup. 

 For chard and beet greens a slightly different approach is used; the seeds are started in coffee filters moistened with dilute nutrients, then placed in horticubes as soon as roots appear.  As both of these plants have long slender stalks, I pot the seedling and cube deep in the container, even before true leaves appear.   Being placed deep in the container gives the seedling much better support during the growing period.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Journal October 24, 2014 - Ascolano olive cutting

Today the first cloned olive cutting was removed from the protective dome to begin its adjustment to normal growing conditions.  On sunny days the plant will join its parent plant in the greenhouse, however, for the first year I will treat it as I would a tropical houseplant.

When the plant was removed from under the red/blue LED grow light I noticed that the upper leaves had lost their bright green coloring and are starting to fade to yellow.  That may be due being too moist, or lack of nutrients, possibly iron.  As soon as the soil begins to dry I will start the plant on a normal feeding and watering schedule, which should correct the discoloration problem.

As this is my first successful conventional cutting, I named the plant Il Primo, which is Italian for the first.

The variety is: Ascolano (Ah-sko-lah-noh) This large light green olive is native to the Marche region of Italy. The Ascolano is famous for its huge size, soft texture and delicate taste. Often served as an hors d’oeuvre, the Ascolano can also be the perfect complement to pastas and salads.
Another unusual variety should, hopefully, be joining my arborium very soon.  The photo above shows a Donkey olive seed just breaking dormancy in vitro.  I seriously doubt that I could have gotten this seed to germinate using conventional methods.

The Halkidiki olive, also known as Chalkidiki, is grown exclusively in Greece in a region that is adjacent to Mount Athos. They are also known as “donkey olives” because of their large size and make excellent table olives.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Journal October 23, 2014 - Manzanillo explant in vitro

At times I wonder if the explants in tissue culture are doing anything at all.  One way I use to tell if an explant is making any progress is by using time lapse photography, which is what the above video is about.

The vessel was placed in my video box with the camera set to take a photo every five minutes.  After several days the photos were compiled into video to determine what, if any, progress the explant has made.

This one is unusual, in so far as the "arms" droop, then callus begins to form at the shoulders and then the top.  There is also new growth forming on the callus on the top of the stem.

These may be the last olives I place in culture, as my last batch of conventional cuttings have been a total success.  Six out of six cuttings have rooted, and, they are from six different varieties.  

Tissue culture will be used going forward for starting difficult seeds and for more difficult or exotic plants.

For olives I intend to use the method described in my last post, as I am not looking to produce thousands of plants, just one of each variety, which I have now begun to accomplish.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Journal October 16, 2014 - Olive cuttings

Since I switched to the new media for the olive trees there has been a spurt of new growth on all of the trees; that said,  it is not unusual for olives to put out new growth at the end of summer.  And, in the greenhouse, conditions are still summer like.

With all of the new growth I thought I would give traditional cloning another try, except this time I have made some major changes.

Instead of using sterile media, like coir and perlite, I used the same media that I am using for the mature trees.   Six semi-hardwood cuttings were taken, with the bottom leaves removed, leaving about six leaves and in some cases the growing tip.  Half of the remaining leaf sections were cut off to reduce moisture loss but still allow the plant to collect light.

Using a sterile scalpel I cut a one inch wound into the bark at the very bottom of the cutting just above the node.  The cuttings were sprayed with anti-wilt and dipped into Vita Grow rooting hormone for thirty sections before being placed into the media.

The top was cut from a clear plastic bottle to form a dome for the plant.  Several small holes were drilled in the bottle for ventilation and several vertical cuts at the base of the bottle allow it to compress to fit the container.

After watering the cutting the insides of the container were sprayed with water to increase humidity; when condensation is not visible on the inside of the plastic it it time to spray again. 

The cuttings are receiving sixteen hours of light per day and have been in process for exactly one month.   To date, not a single leaf has fallen or discolored, and, it has been only necessary to water the cuttings a few times.

On the first of November it will be 45 days since the cuttings were taken,  I expect to see new growth begin soon thereafter.  

Of all of my previous attempts at rooting olive cuttings without a misting system this approach appears to be the most promising.

One nice aspect of doing it this way, is that there will be no need to transplant the cuttings when they root,  they can be grown on in the containers they were started in.