Friday, November 27, 2009


Several are in full bloom now. Schlumbergera = "Holiday cactus" = "Thanksgiving cactus" = "Zygocactus" = sometimes, incorrectly, Xmas cactus

Salmon, cutting-grown 4 years old. Summered outdoors, North side of house.

3 years old pink. Summered same as the others.

Lost in Translation: Chinese signs

Some signs from my October trip to China. I think anyone would find these signs funny. To be fair, how many signs in the US are translated into Chinese? We get protests if signs are bilingual, with Spanish. So these signs acknowledge and welcome the foreign tourists. But they're still funny.

Protect the ecological environment. Advocate the new civilization.

Be careful off the grass.

The food signs were especially interesting. These were in a Buddhist all-vegetarian restaurant. In any other restaurant, "vegeterain" includes real pork, chicken, sausage, ham. In this restaurant, simulated 'meats' are all-vegetarian.

My favorite. The actual translation is "mouth watering duck."

"Fresh greens"

I don't know what this is supposed to translate to.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Peach in Winter: Leaf Curl Prevention

This year's experiment with leaf curl prevention was so wildly successful, I didn't want to miss the opportunity to repeat it. So last weekend I did. Even if I don't get into the garden again for a month, I've done the most productive task.

I did the following:

1. Strip off remaining leaves. That's easy and fairly quick on these genetic dwarf peach varieties. They are compact, and the leaves come off easily. I strip off the leaves so that all of the spray goes on the stems, and so that they don't interfere with bundling the branches.

2. Rake up all debris, leaves, and weeds, under the trees.

3. Spray with copper spray. Copper is considered "organic" because it's a mineral. The concern is to over-do it, and have too much copper in the soil. So I was careful not to over-do it.

4. Bundle the branches into compact packages that would be easy to cover with white plastic garbage bags. I chose white plastic because it is somewhat reflective, to keep the branches from overheating.

5. Cover the bundled branches with the plastic bags.

6. Tie the bags into place.

7. Prune off any little branches that did not fit into this scheme.

My worries last year were that this process would damage the trees. It did not - this year I had the best peach crop ever, with only about 10 leaves impacted by leaf curl disease. Click on the labels to see the devastating effects of that infection. It's the reason people keep telling me "you can't grow peaches here"

I also sprayed the Moorman apricot and the potted dwarf apricot, that I will move into better shelter soon. I don't know if that will help - apricots tend to die quickly here, and I have not figured out why, yet.

Orchid experiment

With so many orchids available, I've been tempted into buying some. Over the past few months, I've added several. The flowers last weeks, even months, so if they don't re-bloom, it's not a total loss. Still, I hope they do, and they were one of the reasons for adding the West window to my home office. I have a lot of learning to do about growing orchids. Most do not like wet medium, grow best in bark-based substrates, like cool nights and warm, not hot, days. The light requirements also vary by genus and species. Apparently, modern hybrids are more flexible than species, but who knows what will happen to these particular varieties?

These are all unnamed hybrids. With thousands of varieties avaiable, over 20,000 species, I'll probably never know the variety names. I've been reading about the evolutionary adaptations of orchids. About 1/3 of the species have deceptive anatomy, color, or scent, to fool insects into pollenating them. Unlike the relationship between fruit trees and bees, or many other flowers and pollenating insects, the orchid provides no nectar or nutrition. Just a 'thrill' to the male insects that are convinced that the orchid flower is a female. Many of the adaptations are specific to one insect species. For some, it's wasps, for some, hornets, for some, bees, for some, moths, for some, beetles. Amazing.

Oncidium hybrid

Phaelenopsis hybrid

Oncidium hybrid

West window garden. The upper shelves are great for the Shlumbergera.

South window garden. I think that the white flower is a Dendrobium intergeneric hybrid, but I'm not certain. Pacific northwest winters are so gloomy, I don't think there is much risk of leaf sunburn.

Better pics of home office / solarium / guest room

I "shoulda" taken some "before" pics. This project is done. Might add a mirror to the bare wall to further brighten the room. By creating a dedicated home office, now I hope "not-to" spend time looking for cell phone, ipod, keys, glasses, ID/office key, because they now have a home. I will endeavor not to let it become cluttered. That way I can find what needs to be found. Desktop computer still needs to be moved.

I refinished the old table about 30 years ago. I've spent many years studying at this table - makes me feel at home. It belonged to my great aunt, and her parents, so is about 100 years old. Not a valid antique because I refinished it, but it's usable and has beautiful oak grain.

The plant stand and coffee table are glass top. Intentional - clean with some windex, no effort. The sofa folds out, in case there are guests. Now I have a bright, cheerful, comfortable, oganized place for the long hours of homework, as well as a guest bedroom and a place for my indoor garden. Cool!

The west window is shaded by a deciduous tree. Lack of leaves lets in more light in winter. Leaves keep it cool in summer. Perfect place for my orchid "experiment" and epiphytic cacti.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Eggs / Schlumbergera / leaves

Day off today, lots of homework to do. Fortunatly I have my new home office for that.

The schlumbergera are budding profusely.

I need to clean the chicken house. The poops are making stalactites under their roost. Here is yesterday's egg crop. Somebody didn't try very hard. The rest of the time they are all doing their little chicken jobs.

Monday, November 02, 2009

November 1 2009

Will plan on amending with some pics later.

One week ago I returned from 10 days in Southern China. I was about as far as it's possible to get from internet connection to work, and blogging sites were also blocked. There, I did get to see, first hand, a vanilla orchid farm (where vanilla beans are grown), and rice fields, tea, and coffee. Ning still has the camera, so I hope that photos will posted on his return in 3 weeks.

Meanwhile, here I've completed my home office / guest bedroom / pseudosolarium. Again, photos (maybe tonight). With an added West window, in addition to the current South window, the winter light will be as bright as I can make it. A bird feeder outside the window gives me something interesting to look at between computer entries. The orchids and holiday cacti are in the windows now, too.

The schlumbergera (holiday cacti) are heavily budded. I hope that putting them into a different room doesn't cause bud drop. They look like they'll have the heaviest bloom since I started growing epiphytic cacti, about 6 years ago. The summer ouside did them good.

Last weekend I raked up leaves from my yard and my neighbor, whose house is for sale and he has moved out. Small leaves (dogwood, birch) which made for a good mulch over the bulb plantings. I had also planted another batch of Narcissus (Jetfire) and a red tulip mix. So this year I'm making up for not planting bulbs last winter.