Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Forcing Amaryllis to bloom for Christmas

I have a very large amaryllis bulb from last year so I was determined to make it bloom for Christmas in 2013. I chopped the leaves back in August, lifted the bulb and stored it in a closet until new leaves started to poke through. This happened around November 1st so I potted the bulb around that time. Just in time for Christmas blooms!
Amaryllis Red Pearl
I have a few more bulbs which I didn't force into dormancy by cutting the leaves. They are still sitting in pots with no blooms in sight.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

2014 Garden Plans

This fall was too long and too warm so the bitter cold of December caught me by surprise. The temperature today didn't get above freezing all day long; we had  -6°C shortly after sunset.
It's a good time to curl up inside with a cat on my laps, dreaming about next year garden.

I have a rule of no seed purchases until January. Why? Because plans can change a lot between now and spring. I already allocated one place three times over. I dreamed about sunflowers there in October, artichokes in November and now I crave dahlias. Oh, and irises too.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Pumpkins and Watermelons. Why?

I'm endlessly fascinated by turning store-bought food into seed material and then into food again.
I have never bought seed garlic, all of my garlic for planting came either from grocery store or a farmer's market. The results are great by the way.
It's often cheaper that way too. For instance, a packet of Red Kuri squash costs 3.95 at Johnny's while the same squash is $1.50 per pound at the store. I got a small 2-lb fruit so the seeds were cheaper with the squash attached. I may even have a surprise hybrid if I plant those!

Red Kuri squash seeds

Figure 1: several hundreds of seeds. There is no way I can plant them all. Maybe I will squeeze in just a couple of plants on top of tulips after they finish blooming

On Thanksgiving I was cleaning the said squash when I thought about why such fruit exists. I mean, from evolutionary standpoint.

I'm not aware of wild pumpkins but I've heard about wild watermelons; they even grow like weeds in some places. Apparently they thrive in their home Africa. But which evolutionary forces shaped them into their present form? What kind of animal or natural process facilitate seed dispersal?

This Australian website mentions that wild melon's seeds are easily spread by irrigation water. I also noticed that my pumpkin seeds can float. If that is true for all the melons then it makes perfect sense.
Watermelons seem to be adapted to semi-arid areas with heavy rainfalls in spring. The flood waters may pick the seeds from previous year's rotten fruit and re-deposit it along waterways. So these fruit don't need animals for seed dispersal. Humans picked up from there. They used artificial selection to make fruit more "meaty" and sweet to get watermelons and pumpkins as we know them.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Breck's Photoshops its Catalogue

Today I saw Breck's Gifts catalogue and was quite surprised by the image on the back. It just didn't look right. I know that amaryllis flowers can be gorgeous but there is never THAT many at the same time. Also something was wrong with lighting. Apparently, they just copied a few flowers and pasted it around.
Just look at it! I marked identical areas with boxes.

Photoshopped Amaryllis Image from Breck's Gifts

It's not the first time I see a grossly retouched image in a garden catalogue. My friend caught DirectGardening/Burgess doing this. Even Mr. Subjunctive mentioned their gross photoshopping of Angel Trumpet flowers. They still didn't take down that image!
Did anybody see more examples of image retouching in a garden catalogue? I would love to hear about that! Update: Ahahahaha! The joy continues! Breck's guys say "In a world filled with faux, we've always been true to nature" and display photoshopped flowers on the same page.

They even make a mirror image of one to conceal retouching. Way to go guys!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - November 2013

After 1 and 1/2 year break I'm starting to write again. Thankfully, there is enough time because I quit My Terrible Job.

Today's bloom day is indoors-only. Ladies and gentlemen, I'm happy to announce that I can consider myself a True Orchid Grower.
One of my Cattleyas (which is not an easy kind of plant, let me tell you) is blooming! Weeeee!!

LC Star Parade 'Volcano Queen'

Next will be my Oncidium orchids. While I'm fairly used to seeing Sharry Baby's flowers (red ones), the Gower Ramsey guy blooms for the first time in 2 years. This plant is also known in my house as "Bloom, dammit!"

Oncidium Sharry Baby 'Sween Fragrance' and Oncidium Gower Ramsey
'Orange Delight'

Also, Christmas Cactus. Also known as Thanksgiving Cactus. This guy out-did itself this year. It's blooming non-stop for a month now, starting around Columbus Day . There are still some un-opened buds left.


The secret to all of this? I removed blinds from my window completely. My first floor apartment window looks like a florist shop but the result is worth it. Light levels top around 3,000 foot-candles which is around the lower limit for Cattleyas to bloom.