Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Journal May 30, 2017 - Double cross

Today I cross-pollinated these Phalaenopsis so I wanted to make a record on the blog of the date and what the parent plants look like.

The plants are really nothing special, they are what are now called "Grocery Store Orchids" by some people.  To many people, this is the variety that comes to mind when they hear the word orchid.

Also today, I harvested a Phalaenopsis pod from another cross to use as a test for a process known as green seedpod flasking.  

The idea is that by harvesting the pod prior to its opening and sterilizing the pod and removing the seeds in sterile conditions there is less chance of damaging the seed, vs. trying to sterilize the seeds after removing them.   

The pod was sterilized for 20 minutes in a 20% water bleach solution with frequent agitation.  Placed under the hood the pod was rinsed in sterile water before being opened.

The media is my own concoction and I will be more amazed than anyone if this actually works.  I have media that is specific for Orchid seeds that I purchased from a lab, but I am holding that until the remaining pods have been on the plant a little longer.  

The big question that hangs over this process is the age of the pod.  Some sites state it should be 120 days from pollination, some recommend six months, another a year, still others say wait till it turns yellow, others say wait until it is soft, still others say you can obtain viable seed 2/3 of the way through the period.  Who to believe?

Anyway, I have extra pods to experiment with, so I thought I would go with my own instinct and try this pod at about 100 days.   It will at least give me a practice run in working with a live pod and seeds.

On the topic of seeds, I expected to see seeds when I cut open the pod with the scalpel, not so, I found white fluffy material.  Using the tweezers I deposited clumps of it on the media and sealed the vessels and hope for the best. 

Upon examining the pod and remaining material under the microscope when I finished I could not see anything that remotely resembled a seed.  That said, it looks exactly like some other attempts I have seen on the web, so time will tell I guess.

The media contains distilled water, sugar, agar, 1/4 teaspoon of Orchid food, Super Thrive, coconut water,   Inositol and vitamins B and D.  That should be potent enough to grow hair on a golf ball.

The vessels have been placed under a 24 watt T5 grow light with a photoperiod of 8 hours.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Journal May 27, 2017 - Shade for the orchids

I wanted to place my heat and light loving orchids in the greenhouse along with the tomatoes and peppers for the summer, however, the light levels were too high for Cattleyas, even with the 45% poly shade cloth on the greenhouse.

After giving the problem some thought I came up with a workable solution: a temporary shade.

Using a folding frame that I had for camping I made a tent of shade material that came with a blow-away greenhouse some years ago.

Now, under the temporary cover, the light level during mid-day is about 3,000 foot-candles, which is ideal for Cattleyas. It is not pretty, but it works.  It is a simple matter to add or remove the tent as needed.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Journal May 25, 2017 - Tomato plants fruiting

This is the weekend that most gardeners in New York will be placing their tender plants like tomatoes in the ground.  For my part, I elected to go with the long range weather forecast and planted tomatoes, eggplant and peppers in the ground several days ago.

All of the plants have buds or small fruit and are much larger than anything available locally at garden centers.

The greenhouse tomatoes are much much farther ahead of the garden plants, even though they were started on the same day.  Once again, the difference is protective growing, where heat and light work their magic on the plants.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Journal April 12, 2017 - Hybrid orchid seedlings

At this point, as a result of purchasing flasks, I have well over a hundred hybrid orchid seedlings.

My expectation was when I bought the flasks that many of the seedlings would not survive being removed from the flask, but I was wrong as very few were lost.

The seedlings are in the small 2" or 3" pots and there is another tray not shown in the photos.  So, as I can not possibly raise all of the seedlings I am going to have to try to sell the excess plants, either on EBAY or at the orchid society meetings.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Journal May 6, 2017 - Another orchid for the collection

Another hybrid orchid was added to my collection today: Ryc Mem Darlene T Atkins x Higher Ground.   The plant, shown above, was purchased at the Northeastern Orchid Society meeting held today in Colonie, NY.

A representative from Woodland Orchids in Charlotte, NC was the guest speaker today and she brought several hybrid plants for sale.  Woodland does not sell from their greenhouse or ship plants but sells only at orchid society meetings so I could not pass up an opportunity for an unusual hybrid.

All of my plants are grown in ugly plastic pots that do not lend themselves for display when the plants are in bloom; it would be nice to be able to bring the plants into the living area to enjoy the flowers while they bloom but the plastic pots present a problem.

To make the plants more presentable I purchased a few inexpensive pots for display only.  To accommodate different sized and shaped pots I purchased pots quite a bit larger than the pots that the plants are grown in.   The plant and growing pot are placed in the display pot and the area around and on top of the plant are filled with expanded clay pellets.

When the plants are watered the water runs right through the clay pellets and out through the drainage holes on the bottom of the pot.  When the water stops dripping from the pot the plant can be put on display again.  When the plant is no longer blooming it is a simple matter to remove the expanded clay pellets and reuse both the pellets and display pot for another plant.

This year I have decided to grow banana peppers in the greenhouse rather than cucumbers.  At this point, I am not really sure how I will support the plants so I added bamboo canes for now.