Sunday, May 29, 2011

The new incubator and flowering Polystachya paniculata

This past rainy weekend I received the shell of my new incubator, a beast at 1500mm high x 1000mm wide x 600mm deep. I got to work to install the heater and the temperature controller. I cut a panel at the back of the incubator for easy access and any future replacement of the heater. The panel is hinged and everything is bolted for easy removal. Today I will hopefully complete the installation of the lighting and finish off the electrics. I have kept the glass sliding doors wrapped and will put them in last once everything has been cleaned. The incubator has a combined surface area for flasks of 3m² and is heated with a 270 watt panel heater controlled with a Danfoss EKC 102A temperature controller which has an impressive overall functionality. This is the upgrade of the EKC 101 which I use in my greenhouse. The glass doors were purposefully made without finger grooves or handles of any kind to prevent my todler from accessing any flasks! I will post an update with pics once it is up and running and I have programmed the controller. Here are some pics:

Incubator and Harry the boerbull's bottom
Incubator front view with heater at the back
Incubator's rear end with heavy-duty heater access panel
Danfoss EKC 102A temperature controller
UPDATE: 5 June 2011

The incubator is now complete (minus a few wires to neaten up). I moved flasks into the new space this past weekend and monitored the temperature closely. Apart from the electricity interuption that we experienced on Sunday, which tested the readiness of my generator, everything ran smoothly. I did some dry seed sowing for a client on Sunday evening which included various Stenoglottis species and hybrids and some Bletilla hybrids. Here are some pics of the working incubator:

Working incubator with flasks
Babies happily enjoying their new home
My Polystachya paniculata flowered this weekend. The flowers are beautiful. The photo really doesn't do the flowers justice. The flowers are small and quite rigid and waxy. I will be selfing a few of them to see if they take but I will need to find a good magnifying glass first!

Developing buds 11 May 2011
Polystachya paniculata

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

New kid on the Blog!

David has invited me to be a contributor on this very informative and well worth while blog. So an introduction to the followers and guests is in order.

My name is Bradley, I have been mentioned on previous posts on the blog. I reside in Worcester Western Cape where it hardly ever rains. I just recently moved here from living near the coast most of my adult life. It was a big adjustment for me and my family but the orchids took a bit of a knock.

My orchid obsession started about seven years ago. I had been collecting and growing succulents, medicinal and psychotropic plants, when I had got hold of an Oncidium cebolleta. That's what I thought it was!As I did research just to find out exactly how to grow the plant, a whole new world of plants was opening up on the screen in front of me.I was amazed!!
 At that moment I just wanted to know as much about orchids as possible. I soon learnt that there are orchids growing just about every where.

At this time I was living in Betty's Bay and I did not know there would be so many orchids for me to discover. One December I went on an orchid hunting hike in the nearby mountains which was routine now. I was not prepared for what I was about to discover!
I was following a stream up a kloof when I eventually made it to a waterfall, I was catching my breath while looking around to see if I could spot an orchid, as I looked up I saw many red flowers hanging from mossy banks on the face of the waterfall. I had to get up there and see what they where. When I reached a small colony near the bottom I was muddy and soaking wet but that all faded when I realised that these red gems right in front of me where the famous Disa uniflora. I wanted it badly!!

After that I have been orchid crazy!! Those Disas triggered something in my brain. Only recently I decided to specialize in African and Madagascan species mainly Angraecoid orchids with a few exceptions. There will always be exceptions.

And here I am! I hope I can make contributions that are help full and informative to orchid growers every where and look forward to collaborating with David to making an already great blog greater.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Duckitt's 7 May Open Day

I was up early this past Saturday to get to Duckitt's just before they opened so I could get some good plants. When I got there I had to wait in the queue of cars making their way into the entrance! It looked like I was not the only one with that idea. Bradley was smart though. He got there way before me and the rest of us and it was good to catch up with him again.

I forgot the bloody camera at home in my mad rush but most of the plants on offer were the usual bread-and-butter stuff, with the odd gems between them. I missed out on a lovely Polystachya of which there were only a few on the table, but I did get some other Polystachyas including P. Duckitt limelight, P. titan and two other hybrids whose names escape me now. Polystachya Duckitt limelight is relatively new primary hybrid registered in 2009, between P. vulcanica X P. galeata. I also found a nice looking Coelogyne massangeana hidden between some Cattleyas and promptly put it in my basket. Bradley also pointed out some small Rossioglossum grande plants on the table and I bought one of these. I have always wanted one of these and when I got home I re-potted it in bark chips and hope that it grows well.

Polystachya Duckitt limelight at home

Friday, May 6, 2011

Some more flasks

I took some images of some developing flasklings last night, some of which are almost ready to remove to compots. I am particularly impressed with the Polystachya ottoniana seedlings that have done very well from seed and these will be raft-mounted individually when the time comes. The Myrmecophyla tibicinis seedlings are developing slowly but surely. I have two flasks of about 15 seedlings in each and I hope they all do well. My Disa thodei seedlings are still very small and growing slowly. I am considering splitting them up to new flasks of MS1/2 since the BM-1 they are currently growing on is nitrogen deficient which might be partly to blame. This said, I have a flask of several hundred germinating D. bracteata from the seeds I collected and sowed at the end of last year from wild plants growing on the farm. These are also on BM-1 but are growing well. I suppose I will only know once I have transferred the D. thodei to new flasks.

Polystachya ottoniana seedlings
Myrmecophyla tibicinis seedlings
Eulophia speciosa protocorms and seedlings
Stenoglottis fimbriata subsp. fimbriata seedlings
Disa thodei protocorms/seedlings
This morning I received some seeds in the post of Disa caulescens, D. polygonoides, D. thodei and D. uniflora. These I will sow tonight (after the kids are asleep!). It will be my second attempt at D. uniflora and D. thodei and first attempt for D. caulescens and D. polygonoides. Click on the names of these plants to see what the flowers look like.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Ansellia africana ex vitro

Ansellia africana ready for deflasking
Large healthy seedlings!
This past weekend I moved my Ansellia africana seedlings ex vitro after 163 days in vitro. The seeds were originally collected from a wild plant in Mpumalanga. The seeds germinated after just 13 days on P6668 full strength and developed quickly. Seedlings were moved to P1056 to develop further.

Seedlings removed from flask
To begin with all the seedlings were carefully removed from their flask with large forceps, taking care not to break any of the roots. Seedlings were carefully teased apart and placed into a plastic bowl into which I added a solution of Margaret Roberts’ organic fungicide. I submerged the seedlings with the solution and left them to soak for about 20 minutes before I carefully agitated any remaining media from the seedlings’ roots.

Seedlings soaking in anti-fungal solution
A seedling tray with milled bark chips was prepared using pre-soaked bark chips. Seedlings were carefully introduced onto a layer of bark chips before carefully adding the second layer to cover the roots at the correct depth. The largest and most healthy looking seedlings were transferred to the large seedling tray while remaining small and clumped seedlings were planted in a mixture of bark chips and sphagnum moss in a small plastic pot. All seedlings were then sprayed generously with a second solution of Margaret Roberts’ organic fungicide mixed with a few drops of Tween20 as a wetting/sticking agent. Both seedling trays were covered to maintain humidity for the first two weeks and were moved to the greenhouse for further development.

Filling up the compot with pre-soaked milled bark
Seedlings planted ex vitro
Once large enough to move to individual pots, the seedlings will be made available for sale.