Monday, December 31, 2018

Journal December 31, 2018 - Killing time, waiting for spring

Seeing as there is not much gardening to do this time of year it gives me a great excuse to get outdoors and do some photography.  

Recent surgery on both eyes has returned my vision to where it was when I was in my twenties, so it is like a whole new world and I intend to take advantage of it. 

I have been itching to try my new Nikon DSLR to get familiar with the different settings and lenses but my images were out of focus, so here are some examples of what it can do now that my vision has been corrected. 



Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Journal December 11, 2018 - Follow-up to pervious post

I thought I would post examples of a photo that had been modified with the Nik Collection plugin HDR Efex Pro 2.

The photo above is the original photo as taken on September 30, 2018.

Below is the photo modified in Efex Pro 2 using the landscape vignette selection. 

It might be interesting to print a modified photo on a matte surface stock just for fun.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Journal December 9, 2018 - Great Plugin

I would like to digress from gardening to do a post about something I found and would like to share with fellow photographers.

Recently I read something about a plugin called the Nik Collection being available for free some time ago.  I like free, so I thought I would like to try the free version and searched for it online.   It did not take long to find a site that still allowed users to download the free version.  There is a new version, but not being a professional I was happy to get the free version even though it does not have all the new bells and whistles.

The plugin was used to modify a mundane photo of the Martin Dunham reservoir in Grafton, New York.  I took an extreme approach and with a few clicks really modified the photo, to the point that it now looks like a painting from the Hudson River School Of Artists.

Of course, you don't have to be so radical when using the plugin, but it was interesting to try the different features to get a feel on how they work.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Journal December 7, 2018 - Dispel the winter gloom, grow a flower.

Winter has descended on upstate New York with a vengence!  The National Weather Service said the winter would be warmer than normal, and I say: Bring it on, soon!

Just to have a single flower this winter I am growing a Thumblina Zinnia to dispel the winter gloom.   The plant is being grown hydroponically in a recycled container.

I just love fooling Mother Nature.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Journal November 11, 2018 - Phaelenopsis from seed, the final post

As my test plant was doing nicely I decided to deflask one more plant. Then, I saw another promising plant I just could not throw away, then another, and another and so on, until at eight I decided enough is enough. I will ask my wife to get rid of the excess plants before I have a house full of them.

All in all, I am very satisfied with this experiment.  It took a little over a year from the time I pollinated the flowers until I had seedlings.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Journal - October 30, 2018 - Phalaenopsis from seed success

One of the seedlings has been deflasked and planted in moist sphagnum moss to determine if they can survive out of flasks.

The seedling has been placed in a domed growing container under a small T5 6500k fluorescent lamp and will be gradually acclimated to live outside the container.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Journal September 11, 2018 - Dendrobium faux pas

Early in 2017, we had a speaker at the orchid society meeting and as is customary the speaker brought plants for sale. The speaker receives no fee but member plant sales are suspended if the speaker is bringing plants.

By the time I arrived all he had remaining were dendrobiums that he had hybridized himself and I bought one just to help offset his travel costs. I don't know anything about dendrobiums and never had one previously.

At the same time, I was experimenting with Keiki paste, a hormone paste that when applied to a node may cause a new plant to form. Some paste was applied to a node on the plant and I promptly forgot about it.

Last winter the plant appeared to have died, which I could not understand. There was, however, a small plant growing from the end of one of the canes. I removed and planted the tiny plant and discarded the dendrobium I had purchased.

Last month we had a Ph.D. from the American Orchid Society whose topic was, you guessed it, dendrobiums. It seems it is normal for them to drop their leaves and go dormant, so my plant was alive when I discarded it.

This week, I noticed a strange plant with the Cattleyas and picked it up to examine it. I was shocked to find it was the Keiki from the dendrobium I had discarded!
Well yeah, I goofed, but I like the new plant better than the parent plant.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Journal September 2, 2018 - Phalaenopsis in vitro

The results of this project have been much better than I ever expected!

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Journal August 15, 2018 Carnations in a can.

Winters in upstate New York tend to be pretty dismal, so I was casting around looking for a fragrant flower to grow hydroponically to dispel some of the winter gloom.  I was looking for something that did not take up a lot of space and would grow well hydroponically.

In my seed cache, I came across a packet of Dwarf Fragrance mix carnations from Ed Hume Seeds that I purchased years ago.  I started some seeds in a used coffee container to grow deep water culture with a wick.  I found that the container was just the right diameter to support a 3" net pot.  The media is in the 3" net pot and consists of 80% agricultural perlite,  a thin layer of coco coir holding the seeds and a thin layer of activated charcoal covering the coir.  For nutrients, I am using the same mix and strength that I use for basil, except, I have been adding .5 ml of a potent phosphate to promote flowering. 

As the plants grew it was necessary to add a few skewers to support the plants as they tend to be top heavy.  My objective is to grow flowers, not to win an award for the most attractive plant.

As I recall I tried to grow these same seeds in the greenhouse but abandoned the idea because the plant was a magnet for spider mites.

In the meantime, I have purchased seeds for a similar variety that only grows to a height of six to eight inches, which would be ideal if the flowers are not tiny also.

The plants are easy to grow and take up hardly any space so I will be growing a lot more canned carnations this winter season.  

P.S. The flowers are opening and they smell fantastic!  I am going to start another batch to keep the supply going.


Thursday, August 9, 2018

Journal August 9, 2108 - Sweet Pepper Bonanza

We are picking a lot of sweet peppers both from the greenhouse and garden.  And, for whatever reason this season we have picked more tomatoes than ever before.

That said, the recent bouts of heavy rain have caused some of the tomatoes to split in the last week or so.

The Phalaenopsis seed project is humming along nicely.  Translate that: I have nothing to do but watch them grow.

What I thought were single large corms and planted individually are turning out to be multiple corms fused together.  So, at some point in time, it will be necessary to separate the seedlings into individual plants.  That, however, is some ways off in the future.

In the meantime, I have crossed a large plant with a miniature plant and the cross has taken on the miniature plant.  There are so many buds on the large plant I am not sure that the cross has taken on that plant yet.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Journal August 3, 2018 - Kapia peppers are ready.

Someone and I do not recall who gave me seeds for Kapia Hungarian peppers last season.   There were only a few seeds in the packet so I did not have many to plant, perhaps six or so. 

Two plants were placed in the greenhouse and the remaining plants in the garden.  The greenhouse plants have ripe peppers and they are real beauties!

The seeds will be saved and next season I plan on planting just these peppers.  Yeah, they are that good.

"The Red Kapia is a small, tapered pepper with a brilliant lipstick-red color.

In the same family as the bell pepper, this mild 4-5 inch pepper has a distinctive sweetness. This pepper is a native of Eastern Europe and, in fact, the main flavor ingredient in Hungarian Paprika. It’s a great addition to salad, roasted or simply tossed in a quality olive oil with pasta."

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Journal July 28, 2018 - Phalaenopsis - seed starting success!!

Several of the more vigorous protocorms have been placed in individual vessels, while others remain grouped common vessels.  As I have experience in deflasking orchid seedlings I am now certain that this project will be a success.

The parent plant is back in full bloom and is magnificent.  To think that I purchased this plant last year at Aldi's for about eight dollars still boggles my mind.

The large Phalaenopsis has been crossed with a small Phalaenopsis that is almost purple, and already I can see the flower stem getting thicker which indicated pollination has taken place.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Journal July 15, 2018 - Phalaenopsis protocorms starting to look like plants.

Real progress is being made now, the protocorms are developing into plants.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Journal July 9, 2018 - Phalaenopsis orchid from seed in a test tube.

No matter what happens going forward I am going to call this a success!

There is definitely a new orchid growing from this protocorm.

What a fun project!

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Journal July 8, 2018 - Phalaenopsis protocorm developeing leaves.

The process is so complicated I really did not expect to pull it off, but I wanted to learn something by trying.

I made a lot of mistakes, like putting way too many seeds in the media. They germinated but used up all of the nutrients in the media in a short period of time. I did not replate soon enough, so many of the protocorms ran out of nutrients. Still, I have a few dozen corms that appear to be forming into plants. This time when I replated the corms I only put a few in each vessel, and isolated a few to a single vessel or test tube.

Since I replated and isolated them the corms have begun to develop rapidly. In just one day the one in the photo went from just a bump on top to what appears to be a tiny leaf. 

Actually, I am looking forward to crossing a full size plant with a miniture in the near future and repeating the process.

It was that much fun!

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Journal June 10, 2018 - Lighting change

I look forward to checking on the progress of this project each day, it is kind of like watching an old Saturday serial movie; things are happening, but happening slowly. 

Thinking that the major contributing factor to plant growth is light, I decided to change the quality and quantity of the lighting, drastically.

Today the lighting was changed from a small compact fluorescent to a small LED grow light tuned to both vegetative and flowering spectra. The intensity has changed by a factor of 10, from 50 footcandles to 500 footcandles.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Journal June 2, 2018

Today I "replated" almost all of the seedlings, selecting the largest darkest green seedlings for replating. Replating is literally scooping them out of the vessel and placing them on a plate then transferring them to vessels with fresh media. 

They were replated because I noticed the growth slowing down, almost to a halt. Hopefully, I have carried out the replating in time. This is the step that has the most chance of introducing contamination, so I used several vessels to lower the odds.

The slope in the media is deliberate so that the condensation runs to the low side and does not puddle and drown the seedlings.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Journal June 1, 2018 - Growing hydroponically cheap, really cheap.

My wife brought home hydroponic basil from the supermarket recently.  It was bare root in a horticube, two stalks for about six dollars.  In just a day or so it turned black and was tossed into the garbage, kiss six bucks good-bye.

To prevent any further episodes of buying hydroponic basil I told her I would grow all the basil she wanted.  Basil is about the easiest thing to grow hydroponically, so I simply rescued a suitable container from the recycle bin and set to work.

The basil is supported by expanded clay pellets and grown in a 3" netpot.  The netpot is suspended in nutrients to a level just below the rim.  Any water soluable nutrients will work, but keep the nutrients on the weak side, about quarter strength.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Journal May 22, 2018 - Phalaenopsis seed starting, continued

It has only been six days since I transferred some of the forming protocorms into the experimental media that I prepared using the M&S nutrients but already I can see a difference.

The transferred protocorms are now a much lighter shade of green and are growing more quickly than those remaining in the original media.

Also, the ends of some of them are developing points that may mean that they are forming leaves.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Journal May 16. 2018 - Phalaenopsis seed starting progress

Today I noticed a tiny spot of what I thought was mold in one of the flasks.  Already I had discarded one flask because of mold, and both flasks contained the seeds from the dry pod.  That appears to confirm that the chance of contamination is greater with the dry pod seeds.

The seeds from green pod are really making progress now, beginning to form protocorms, which will form tiny orchid plants, thousands of tiny orchid plants.

Not wanting to give up on the flask with the mold I decided to attempt to rescue the forming protocorms.   An experimental batch of media was prepared using 1/4 Murashige and Skoog with vitamins, distilled water, coconut water, agar, and sugar.  

Under sterile conditions, small clumps containing the protocorms were transferred to the prepared media.  Now, it is a matter of waiting to see if mold begins to form in these vessels. 


Saturday, May 12, 2018

Journal May 12, 2018 - Getting into hydroponics for literally peanuts.

My wife has this thing for fresh basil, she loves basil on pretty much anything.  She has been buying hydroponic basil, spending about five dollars for a few stems growing from a horticube.  The problem is, that in a day or so the basil begins to turn black and wilt.

Well, if you want hydroponic basil, why not grow it?  It is not rocket science.  

 Deciding to go with the "deep water" method for this grow I selected a container that would accommodate a 3" net pot, and that container just happened to be a plastic peanut container that fit the net pot like it was designed for it.

Expanded clay pellets are being used to support the seedlings and the nutrient mixture is just below the brim of the container.  The mixture has a PPM of about 700 and a pH of 6.7. 

As it is only one container, and to keep it simple, I am using a small red/blue 10 watt LED grow bulb for lighting.

The grow bulb is a spotlight configuration and even though it is only 10 watts the concentrated light level on the plant is a not too shabby 1500 foot candles from 18" above the plants.



Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Journal May 9, 2018 - Vanilla planfolia arrived.

A new orchid arrived today, Vanilla planfolia, which is the plant that we get vanilla flavoring from.  Well, artificial vanilla comes from chemicals, I mean the real stuff.

It is a climbing vine so I scouted around the yard and found a clean dead branch to place in the pot for the plant to climb.

Bright light is a requirement so I placed it in a sunny spot in the greenhouse where it can live pretty much undisturbed for quite some time.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Journal May 7, 2018 - Phalaenopsis seed starting dry vs. green pod

The first Phalaenopsis seeds started were from a pod that had split.  When the pod has split the seeds are referred to as dry.  As the seeds must be sterilized there is more chance of damage, or contamination, when germinating dry seeds.  The above photo shows the progress to date of the dry pod seeds that were started on April 17, 2018.

On the following day, the remaining pod was removed from the plant and sterilized with the seeds intact.  The premise is that the seeds are sterile as long as the pod is intact, so there is less chance of contamination or damaging the seeds by having to sterilize them.  

The difference in the two methods is amazing, considering that the dry seeds were started one day before the green pod seeds.  I have no idea of why there is such a huge difference in germination.

 As always this time of year the greenhouse is overcrowded with plants, as it is too soon to plant the garden.  Dealing with the garden plants in the small containers is a major pain but I will have to deal with it for at least ten more days.

The tomato plants are starting to flower so today I installed the cords to support them during the growing season.

For the peppers, I elected to use small baskets rather than bamboo canes.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Journal May 5, 2018 - Orchids to the greenhouse.

Today I turned off the indoor grow lights and moved the orchids to the greenhouse for the season. If I have to turn the heat on for a few nights it will be less costly than running the lights 16 hours a day. 

Somehow the orchids just know it is spring and have been straining to produce new growth, now if they would only produce flower spikes all would be great.

They must have an "internal clock" because they seem to know the season is changing even if I don't change the indoor lighting cycle.

Mother Nature knows best.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Journal May 3, 2018 - Orchids from seeds day 16

Well, here it is more than two weeks since the Phalaenopsis seeds were placed in vitro and all is going along really well, as far as I know.

If I had it to do over I would have preferred a lot fewer seeds in the flask.  That said, however, given the size of the seeds it is very difficult to control how many are in each drop in the syringe. 

It is hard to imagine what the future holds in store as the protocorms develop and enlarge as there are just so many of them. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Journal May 2, 2018 - Greenhouse setup complete

The Autobots are planted and operational, the feed lines and valves have been tested so now I can just relax and let automation do its thing.  

Tomatoes are on the south side of the greenhouse, peppers on the right side of the greenhouse and the orchids will be in the center, with additional shading of course.

Also in the greenhouse are the potted plants intended for the garden, peppers, tomatoes, and eggplant.  I have strict orders from the wife to cut back on the eggplant, as we had a huge surplus last season. 

One tomato variety intended for the garden is New Yorker.  Someone gave me the seeds to try because I live in New York.  It should be interesting to see how it stands up to its name with our crazy weather.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Journal May 1, 2018 - Springing into spring

The upcoming weather forecast looks pretty good so I decided to open the greenhouse for the season.  Checking my log I found that I am only three days later than last year, so that is not so bad considering the terrible weather we have been having.

After gathering all of the ingredients I mixed the media for the Autopots and began planting the tomatoes.  Again this year I am going with Tropic tomatoes, as usual, however, someone gave me seeds for a variety called Redorta, so I have included one of those just to try it.

"Named for a mountain, Pizzo Redorta in Bergamo, Italy. TomatoFest preferred Italian paste tomato. A much larger tomato (8 oz., 4-inch) with much better taste than its cousin, San Marzano. Meaty, delicious enough to eat off the vine with the bonus of ending up with more tomato paste per plant. An excellent choice for a wonderful complex and flavorful choice for tomato sauce, canning or salsa." 

 On the north side of the greenhouse this year I will be growing sweet frying peppers.  Another variety I am looking forward to trying is a Hungarian sweet pepper, giant Kapia.  It is said to be fantastic and if it lives up to its reputation I will save the seeds as I only received a few as a gift.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Journal April 29, 2018 - Orchids from seeds day 10

It was not my imagination, just overnight I can now see green in the flasks.  Hopefully, all will continue without any contamination. 

To minimize the risk of contamination forming I have placed the flasks in my makeshift hood.  For lighting, I am using a CFL, 6500K about 13 watts with a photoperiod of 18 hours.  Additionally, I have a heat mat under the bottom of the hood to maintain a warm environment during the evening hours.

Above is the parent plant, a Phalaenopsis I purchased at Aldis on special for $7.99.  It is really a magnificent plant with beautifully colored flowers. The plant has not flowered since it was pollinated, however, since the pods have matured it has begun producing a flower spike.