Monday, June 6, 2011

Hand pollination works!

The very simple technique of hand pollination works!

Taken last 19-May-2011, see the picture. I will take care of my chili plants, then do hand polination, so I get the pods.

Till then!
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Sunday, May 15, 2011

No chili pods yet, but have sweet potato shoots!

While I am waiting for the chili pods to come out, if ever my hand-pollination technique using a round paintbrush is ever successful, what I see coming out from the potted soil are a number of shoots from my chopped-off end of sweet potato root crops buried beneath were alive - and growing!

I resorted to this method because the leaves they sell don't include the stems where new shoots could grow, and also since I like very much the Japanese sweet potato variety, I decided to chop off some ends every time my wife buys some. And if I am the one doing the marketing chore, I would pick up some loose ends, broken ends of these sweet potatoes, and would simply just show them to the clerk at the check-out counter, and she would smile and let me go off this 3 or 4 of these.

That's only twice, if I recall correctly. Just the few pieces that I need to start off my sweet potato farm.

So while I'm waiting for the pods to come out, I'm seeing purple stems and leaves shoot up.

So now I see some colors other than green and white. And I am looking forward to some boiled sweet potato shoots dipped in vinegar and anchovies. Yum!

Till then!

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Sunday, May 8, 2011

Hand pollination

Pollination01Image via WikipediaI have come across several articles in the web for doing manual pollination. Some suggested paint brush use, just the size enough for the flowers to be inter-pollinated, and some others suggested the use of cotton buds.

I chose the paint brush, as I always have these within my reach, and I don't have to throw them away after use.

Now, all I have to do is wait. I hope to be successful in my manual pollination technique!

Till then.

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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

No pollinators

chiliPollinatorImage by cskk via FlickrThe chili plants that brought me high hopes as my provider for leaves and pods - they all grew well. But it is just so disappointing, in that living up high in the flats among an almost concreted area will not have even a single pollinator!

The flowers come, sprout, spread, then wither and die. No pods.

And the leaves are almost always having some aphids sticking underneath them. I wouldn't have minded that for all I care, but then, there are no fertilized flowers that will show me some colors other than green and white, so I would be on the lookout on how to perform artificial pollination.

I hope to make this work - many flowers are waiting!

Till then!

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Saturday, April 2, 2011

One of my phals

Here is a picture of my yellow phal. I really thought that it was very difficult to take care of this mysterious orchid, but I was wrong. It is even easier to take care of than a dendrobium. Just bright light and a continuous breeze whole day, and the watering can go from weekly to bi-weekly. And they will thrive.

Here goes!


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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Good books on Orchids

Orchid Basics (Pyramid Gardening)I borrowed some books from the library, and there are three that I can recommend to anyone who is just beginning, or is already an expert, on orchid cultivation.

it can serve the purpose of clearing doubts, or correcting assumptions, or gleaning new nuggets of wisdom. There are always new things (if we can call them new) every now and then.

So here goes:

Orchid Basics   
A comprehensive guide to care and cultivation
by Brian & Sara Rittershausen

  • very simple and easy to grasp explanation on how to go about with orchids
  • shows by photograph how to perform hybridization (first book that I "see" how to hybridize), and believe me, it is very, very complicated (if you now what I mean)!

Orchids to Know and GrowOrchids to Know and Grow
by Thomas J. Sheesan and Robert J. Black

Growing Orchids in your garden
by Robert G. M. Friend
  • emphasizes growing orchids in their natural habitat
  • tells where each variety is originating, where found

Growing Orchids in Your GardenI intended to supply only a few words on the books, as I want you to know the good merits from these books - firsthand.

Will you share when you're done reading?

Till then!

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

New terms, new skills

Oncidium varicosum OrchidImage via WikipediaI am coming across many words that I do not use every day, or, to say it more accurately, I have been away from for so long. I have stopped doing gardening, and the technical terms to correctly describe this and that, and all things about plants and their care is, well, they’ve been away from me, too.

But after reading some books, and going through a lot of articles in the web, I am slowly but steadily gaining back the knowledge needed to get me through.


Here are some terminologies that I’m sure are common to those who do and describe them every day.

Heft – to carry with the purpose of weighing: Heft the pot to see if it is heavy with water or not.

Leach – filter through, pass through: Leach the pot to get rid of extra water or fertilizer.

Adventitious – by chance and not an integral part: Orchids not at the right flowering environment may come up with adventitious growths rather than flowers.

Incipient – only partly in existence; imperfectly formed: If an orchid isn’t given the proper treatment during the period of rest, incipient flower buds will undergo a drastic change.

Pseudobulbs and Canes – Specifically applied to orchids, a cane is like a slender stick, while a pseudobulb is like a hand pump, flattened at the ends. Both are for storing water, but the pseudobulb acts like a reservoir. Therefore, use this to determine if you will water your orchids twice a week, or only once. Of course, this is the general guide.


Here are also some skills that you would sure make use of, if you aren’t doing already.

Misting using a spray – Instead of using a shallow bowl or a separate pot serving the same use to induce humidity by filling up with pebbles and water around or below the orchid pots, induce humidity by misting the leaves and roots 2x daily.

Under the sun, out of the sun – growing orchids are placed under the sun, or given their dappled light, or whatever is suitable to your variety of orchid, but when the flowers are out, they only need the bright light, and not the sunlight. Again, this is the general rule.

Growth and rest periods – orchids in general are following a seasonal cycle. When growing, they are provided with the necessary sunlight or bright light, humidity, fertilizer, etc, most of which are cut back when the leaves fall (as in the case of dendrobiums) and the plants go to rest.

A leafless cane is not a useless cane – part of their growth (how can dropping leaves be called ‘growth’?) is to shed old leaves and become dormant for a time. This is to process the remaining nutrients they have stored, in order to use up for new flower buds or new growths. So don’t throw away that orchid simply because all the leaves have fallen. Like the Resident Evil phrase, it may talk back: “Hey! I’m not dead yet!”

Recipe for death for a hard cane Dendrobium – If we are all looking for ways and means to be able to care and make our dendros grow and flower well, one article indicated the recipe to kill a hard cane dendro: Wet and cold. Dendros can take a momentary wetness, or a momentary coldness. But both happening at the same time, being wet and cold, well, that will kill the dendro.

I will continue to read a lot of articles and books, so long as I have the time. I am enjoying both the amassing of knowledge and skills and the real-life experience from hands-on activities.

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Sunday, January 23, 2011

A major rearrangement

NuMex Twilight Chili PlantImage by hbl via FlickrYesterday, Sunday, my wife got an eyesore with some of the leafy plants at home. She would usually be thrilled with the flowers (orchids, cyclamens, begonias), but she would be irked by some inconsistencies in the sceneries sporting leaves, purely leaves.

An emergency move was done, and I was set to repotting (which was planned for some time already when the flowering plants were seen to be overgrowing their small pots. And of course, I was 'experimenting' with some of the leafy varieties, cutting some and planting those cut stems. Most wilted, I could say, due to the non-mature age. I know, because at least one of them I saw to be shooting out roots. I guess that is what she saw, the wilted plants!

And the orchids, especially the phalaenopsis and dendrobiums, are directly under the sun. I am trying to see if these can tolerate the midday sun right at our front door. We get the morning sun, midday sun, and the afternoon sun. Our balcony is more of the bright light, but not the sun directly, only at the later part of the day, evening time, then some sunlight peeks at the balcony; I think about 3 days, and the sunburn at the leaves of the phalaenopsis is becoming more and more evident, so I told my best half about it, and we were off to the major rearrangement!

The begonias and cyclamens that were in the balcony before, at the opposite side where the sunlight doesn't shine, were brought out and put right in front of the main door - as if to make you be greeted by flowers when you open the doors! And the orchids were transferred to their original place: from the midday sun, the orchids would still be receiving bright light and good breeze, without the scorching midday sun. Boy, isn't that a lot of heat to take?

As I've come to refresh and add to my knowledge about orchids, I am hoping that my collection now will start to grow, both biologically and numerically.

The balsams, planted from seeds, were a fiasco. I think these packets of seeds are a no-good way to start with. I've tried it back then, and the results are consistent: nothing grew, not even one. I was in need of more soil, and I have several pots big and small (I think 4 of them) with soil and the supposedly seedlings that were being grown. I tried to spade off the soil in the pot with the Anaheim chili seeds, and knowing where I've situated the lot, I dig on the soil around that area. Primary goal is to use the soil, and second is to check on the seeds. I was happy that they are actually growing; the roots are starting to come out, measuring about 5mm already! A month and a half ago, I was able to grow Cayenne chili from seeds, and about a week ago, the capsicum seeds were also sowed, and they grew! The Anaheim chili seeds are my second batch to be sown, the first batch, about 3 weeks ago, failed. These were from dried seeds. I guess I haven't learned that skill yet, sowing from dried seeds. The Cayenne chili seeds were from mature pods that were not dried, simply taken out from almost-decaying pods, specifically set aside for the seeds for sowing. The capsicum and the Anaheim, having learned from the failed batch from dried seeds, were both sown from seeds of pods while they are fresh - can be used in seasoning. I did that because I saw in one of the books that we have at home (I wasn't using my resources properly, you see) stated it in one of the methods of propagation, using other fruit as example, of course. Then I learned from my primary school kids that competition among plants and trees happen when their root systems are adjacent and crossing bounds - one's roots would tend to 'grab' the soil nutrients faster than the other - and that makes them healthy (or should I say, healthier?) Using that updated knowledge, I put the seeds about 3 inches away from each other in a rectangular pot, and there they are growing nicely.

The capsicums are doing the same, as if they are trying to catch up with the cayennes, and the leaves are just starting to come out. With the Anaheim seeds already germinating, 2 to 3 more months, I should be seeing those pods soon, very soon!

I have to say that I enjoy watching the pods change color as they go through the stages of maturity from the flower, to the ripened pods. And what way to enjoy them more when the leaves and pods are used in savory dishes?

So hopefully, we will have our own backyard in pots, providing greens, flowers and fruits (pods), adding beauty and spicing up dishes.

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

My orchids: Dendrobium and Phalaenopsis

Phalaenopsis Moth Pink OrchidsImage via WikipediaI have finally settled for 2 orchids: dendrobium and phalaenopsis.

Dendrobium, I would call it freely this way, is like the 'grass' in the orchid genera: hardy, easy to grow, and almost always flowering. That doesn't say it cannot die. But it is to say that if you are a beginner trying your hand on orchids, dendrobium should be a good choice.

I'm not a beginner when it comes to orchids, having taken care of many plants and trees before, for leaves and fruits, and also orchids. I actually don't find the vanda that I had before back in the Philippines. Just fortunate that I had a picture of it when it bloomed with at least 5 flowers.

And I don't have ample space now so I settled with a dendro and a phal. Actually my dear wife already cautioned me not to be over indulging on these lovely creation. Not that she doesn't like them. She just knows how I can get lost in it, especially the financial side. Of course, that would upset so many things in the family. Doesn't that prove again that our best half are our greatest blessing?

She did say that each month, get one. A plant for its leaf. Another for its scent. The next month, for its flowers, and so on. If that is not wisdom in order, what would you call it?

Enough of being philosophical!

I picked a very simple dendrobium so I don't have to be so meticulous (once again) with my plants. I already have pots lining up our balcony side and at the entrance side: cyclamen, begonia, mosaic, palm, hibiscus, corn plant, poor man's orchid, ferns, flaming katy, euphorbia, and some spices: short chili, long chili and capsicum. There is also the pineapple - too bad for this one - some kids at our block like this very much, and go on to picking out the growing leaves at the center when we're not around! Last night I just planted some seeds of balsam plants, for the flowers. And this is not the first time that I attempt to grow from seeds. Some grew, some didn't. Mind you the chilis and capsicums are grown from seeds, and they're quite cooperative somehow, a shoot, a green stem, and now a couple of leaves, with each day trying to show off by enlarging those leaves while extending the stems up.

And the phalaenopsis I picked, again, is not a complex one. I'm not that expert when it comes to phalaenopsis, but as far as I have read from many articles over the web, both the dendro and the phal are moisture-loving plants. I did come across one article that hit the point right at home. How can you remember just how much watering should you be doing for this and that orchid, aside from all the other intricacies required by each and every kind of an orchid, even though they belong to the same kind, different only by some characteristic due to its hybridization? Then I read that pseudobulbs are for storing water, just like a camel's humps. And so it goes this way: an orchids having pseudobulbs can store water, and therefore - should not be water as much as one that doesn't sport pseudobulbs! Dendros and Phals don't have pseudobulbs, so you should water them more. They like moisture. Their natural habitat in the rainforests (and jungles; I should say, 'the wild') are usually wet with rain and moist afterwards, be it the sun evaporating the water, or the moon cooling the air. But don't water the flower! That is killing the flowers that you've waiter for so long to come. Did you ever hear of the story of the fireman team that saved an old lady's cat from her burning apartment, and she threw a tea party, wherein when they're done and leaving, they run over the it? The cat, not the old lady! It's like that. You do everything conceivable just to make the plants flower, and when the flowers are coming, you nip them at the bud. So don't do that by watering the flowers. It's simple as this. You water the plant to make it flower. You don't expect the flower to flower by watering them, do you?

So I'm down with a dendrobium and a phalaenopsis. I should say, I'm starting with a dendrobium and a phalaenopsis. Hopefully the balsams give me the expected flowers (if they ever grow). My wife is already suggesting that I repot the begonias and cyclamens - they seem to be growing bigger that they will overgrow their current pot size. I'm hesitating because they are at their flowering peak. I'll wait and see. I hope to make good with my present collection, and make good at future additions.

Tilll then. Enjoy!

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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Orchid care

The various shapes and colors of flowersImage via WikipediaI've been going back to gathering plants for our new flat, and I've already got some flowers in: hibiscus, begonia and cyclamen. The other one I think is poor man's orchids. I have also gotten a young euphorbia, and it is just furiously growing, shooting out new stems and leaves ever since it was repotted, to a larger container. For the non-flowering plants, I have a cactus, some red and green mosaics, ferns and one that I haven't identified yet, but it is more of a palm species, having read and green foliage. The only other plant I have is a big one already, and is taller than me. It is a palm plant, and is most suited to the windy and sunny place, either at the balcony, or in front of the house. We put it at the balcony for now, and should I be getting a smaller one in the future, it will be at the front where it will get the most sun and wind and rain - the right environment for it to grow nicely.

Understanding Orchids: An Uncomplicated Guide to Growing the World's Most Exotic PlantsI still have to choose which orchid I will get: a phalaenopsis, a dendrobium or a vandaceous. Watering isn't the concern, nor the sun. Bright but not sunny isn't either. What I am looking it is how to take care of the plant when it is flowering, to get more flowers, or how to care for it when the flowering period is over.

I've been looking and looking, searching and searching, and I've come across many web pages that has given me valuable info, provided data, but so far, there is one that has mentioned something that I can use, and will use, as a basis to know when it comes to watering needs: pseudobulds is a water container. That's the info that breaks the levels.

And with that, any orchid that doesn't have pseudobulds should not be left too dry. Of course, that will be the general rule, but it is half the battle between simply remembering, and understanding why.

Fresh Flowers - Purple Dendrobium OrchidsThat website, before I forget it, is here: My Orchid Care. I kow, I should give credit. Someway, somehow, they hit the right spot for givingg just the kind of info that will help me with my orchid growing.

May it help you as well.


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