Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Peat moss: use and benefit

What is peat moss?
Peat Moss, as used in gardening, is a fibrous, decomposed remains of these certain types of moss, which are found in very wet areas of the country. It is a highly prized natural plant food and can be used as a covering or mulch like substance for seeded areas.
Why should we use peat moss?
Peat moss has many benefits to plants and especially, it’s very helpful to seed the cactus & succulent.  

- improve compost

-    condition the soil : Peat moss is ideal for improving the texture of the soil, and when  added to garden soil it will stop nutrient runoff from occurring by holding water and nutrients in soil.

- Adding peat moss to clay soils can help break down clay by aerating it and applying peat moss to sandy soils will help bind it and retain nutrients rather than leach them.

I was told by a cactus experts that he used the peat moss and pumice (volcanic rock) when he seed the cactus.  That would increase the survival rate of the baby cactus.  But the peat moss would be dry quickly so you should often water the cactus with peat moss.
By the way, coconut fibre can uses as a valid substitute for peat moss. It has many of the same qualities inherent in the moss yet is more environmentally friendly. Coconut fibre is sourced from the husk fibres of coconuts and has given some hope for normally what is seen as a waste product.  
I cover the top of soil of the flower and the vegetable with the coconut fibre  as it can keep moisture in the soil.  But for the cactus & succulent, coconut fibre is not the good choice because coconut fibre holds water in the pot and that can cause the plants being rotten.
Where to find peat moss?
In local farm supply, outdoor or gardening section of most department stores

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Human urine as organic fertilizer

Generally, urine is the liquid waste from our body but in the Asian agriculture, it’s common to use urine as a good source of nitrogen and other minerals and, providing it is used correctly, is completely safe.  The research at University of Kuopio's Department of Environmental Sciences in Finland assumed that the nitrogen contents of human urine could be a good fertilizer for many other plants or crops.  

The study said that the cabbage fertilized with urine was compared with similar plots of cabbage that either went unfertilized or where commercial fertilizer was used. At harvest, the cabbage enriched with the urine had several advantages: It was slightly larger, it grew to its maximum size more quickly, and, for most of the growth cycle, it suffered less bug damage than the commercially fertilized variety.

I tested to water with the mixed urine 2 times a week in the morning and now, my plants (such as vegetable, roses, orchid, cactus and etc.) grow well and quickly like they do in the rain season. 

How to keep and use it
  • Keep it separate. The golden rule with urine use is to keep it separate from other bodily wastes. Urine is clean and needs to be kept that way. Pee in a bottle, or invest in a urine-separating toilet.
  • Dilute urine with water at 1: 10.  The pure urine is too strong and salty to be used neat on plants.    
  •  Use it fresh. We all know that stale urine smells. That's ammonia, and it's made from nitrogen. The smellier your collected urine, the less nutritious it will be for your plants, as well as being unpleasant to apply.
  •   Water at the roots. It's good practice when watering not too splash the leaves, but to water at the roots. This saves on evaporation, and dry leaves are much more resistant to disease.
  • Feed hungry plants. The plants that will benefit most from urine fertilizer are the ones with the highest nitrogen requirements. Try it on leafy vegetables like cabbages and cauliflowers, corn, or anything that needs a quick pick-me-up.
Other use. 

Neat urine is too strong to be used directly on plants, but it can be used as a weedkiller; a few applications, especially if used on hot days, should finish off your weeds. It can also be used neat as a winter spray for fruit trees, to discourage fungal diseases.

Using urine is the real organic gardening: it is a relatively clean substance.  You can save money, fossil fuels (used extensively in the production of chemical fertilizers) and water (no need to flush!).   

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Welwitschia mirabilis - one of "most bizarre plants on earth."

Welwitschias are extraordinary plants and certainly rank among the top ten list of "most bizarre plants on earth." 
Welwitschia is a monotypic genus of gymnosperm plant, composed solely of the very distinct Welwitschia mirabilis. The plant, which is considered a living fossil is named after the Austrian botanist Friedrich Welwitsch who discovered it in 1859. The geographic distribution of Welwitschia mirabilis is limited to the Namib desert within Namibia and Angola.
Welwitschia grows from a short, thick, woody trunk, with only two leaves that continuously grow from their base, and a long, thick taproot. After germination, the cotyledons  grow to 25–35 mm in length, and are followed shortly afterward by the appearance of two permanent leaves.
These leaves are produced opposite of the cotyledons, and continue to grow throughout the entire life of the plant. They eventually grow to a length of 2–4 m and usually become split into several strap-shaped sections.  The species is dioecious, with separate male and female plants. Fertilization, that is, the transfer of the pollen from the male to the female strobili, is carried out by insects that are attracted by "nectar" produced on both male and female strobili
Watering: The plant absorbs water through structures on its leaves, harvesting moisture originating from dew that forms during the night.
Light: Welwitschia mirabilis needs full sun but it should be under roof when it rains.  So it will be great if Welwitschia mirabilis locates in the greenhouse.
Soil: normal soil for cactus and it should be well-drained.  If its leave becomes yellow, it means that you water too little.
Propagation: Welwitschia mirabilis is propagated from seed. Fresh seed will germinate in 45-60 days at 85°F (30°C).

Friday, October 1, 2010

Pelecyphora aselliformis

P. aselliformis is a well known medicinal peyote sold in the markets of San Luís Potosí, Mexico, and is used as a remedy for fevers and rheumatic pains. Extracts have also been shown to have antibiotic activity.  As this plan grows very slowly, therefore, it is usually grafted and rare.   So P. aselliformis may be a challenge for cactus collectors to grow it successfully.

Scientific NamePelecyphora aselliformis Ehrenberg
Synonym: Mammillaria aselliformis, Anhalonium aselliforme, Ariocarpus aselliformis
Common name: Peyotillo, hatchet cactus, woodlouse cactus.
Origin: Mexico (San Luis Potosí - around the city of San Luis Potosí, above 6000 feet (1800 m))

Minimum Avg. Temperature: 50°F (10°C)

Sun Exposure: P. aselliformis needs a very well drained soil and requires strong sun to part sun to develop good spinal growth. You can grow this plant in the shade of bushes and don’t get direct sun at midday.  

Watering Needs: Watering should be rather infrequent, to keep the plant compact and not become excessively elongated and unnatural in appearance. Keep dry in winter, or when night temperatures remain below 10° C (but some people give this plant a light monthly watering to prevent the drying and shedding of the lower tubercles.) it is hardy to -4°C for a short period.  

Flowers: Pink to violet flowers with lighter outside petals, 2 - 3.5 cm in diameter. The floral buds are acuminate and appear on the apex. 

Blooming season: It normally flowers from February till October
, but only if the sunlight is strong enough.

Propagation: It can be reproduced both by seeds and cuttings, but it is often grafted because difficult and slow to grow on its own roots. Older specimens shoot tillers from under tubercles, so they can be grafted, which is a much easier way of propagation than sowing. Young seedlings are tiny and they need several years to reach adult size, and require  close care.


Friday, September 10, 2010

Idea for Green House in Apartment

Here is the good idea of small Green house for people who don't have many spaces and budget for cactus green house.  You can adapt the idea with your home.

Cardón cactus - World's Largest Cactus

Cardón cactus or Pachycereus pringlei (official name) is the tallest cactus species in the world, with a maximum recorded height of 21 meters (70 feet) high and weigh up to 25 tons.  Cardón  grows very slowly and is long-live. Many specimens live well over 300 years. Therefore, Cardón is not the popular cactus and usually founded in the dessert more than in the green house.

Cardón is a species of cactus, native to northwestern Mexico in the states of Baja California,Baja California Sur, and Sonora. You can also find a similar species in the Canary Islands (Spain), Euphorbia canariensis also known as Cardón.  Don't be confused with the Saguaro  (Carnegiea gigantea).  Although Cardón and Saguaro look similar, they are different: most Saguaro are found in the Sonoran Desert and they have fewer ribs on the stems, in being more heavily branched from near to the base of the stem, and in the location of the blossoms. 

The cardón are especially spiny when they are smaller, protecting them from predators. As they grow older, many of the spines fall off and are not replaced. The lower trunks of older plants turn gray, and a cracked, woody bark makes them look like the thick legs of an elephant. Woody vertical ribs allow the columnar cactus to expand and contract like an accordion, storing the water it needs to survive in the arid conditions. These cacti have developed extensive, shallow root systems which quickly capture the brief, but torrential rains of the region. In order to support this great weight, the large cactus has an interior framework of hardwood vertical rods, lightweight, yet extremely strong, which act to stiffen the ribs. This amazingly tough hardwood skeleton has allowed the cardón to become the largest cactus species, able to thrive in the very harsh climate of the Baja California's Sonoran Desert.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Cactus Farm in the industrial style

Let see the industrial cactus farm with automatic machine in Netherlands.

Monday, May 17, 2010

JJ market - biggest outdoor plant market

Now, Bangkok is not the safe & peaceful place to visit.  As a Bangkok person, I’d like to say that it’s the temporary aspect.  Bangkok still has another interesting place to go and today I want to introduce the biggest outdoor plant market in Bangkok.  It is called Jatujuk market (JJ market) which is the plant marketplace from midnight Tuesday to afternoon Thursday.   And on the weekend, it becomes the weekend market where you can find everything you’re looking for.
At the JJ market on the mentioned weekday, major group of visitor are plant wholesaler, garden designer, company officer (go to the market at the lunch) and general people looking for new plants & decoration for their gardens.
In the JJ market, people can find everything for gardening decoration, garden accessories & equipment, fertilizer and, importantly, almost every kind of plants such as herb, vegetable, orchid, cactus, flower, bonsai.  Most of plants are sold by the farm owner and importer.  Some beautiful and rare cacti are imported from Japan and USA.  So the hard-core, rich Thai collectors love to visit JJ market to see the new imported cactus in each week as well as talk about the cactus things.

 As JJ market is in the centre of Bangkok, you also can go to there conveniently with BTS Sky train, MRT subway, public buses and private cars.  Many people like to go by cars because it is more comfortable to take plants back home.  However, some people go with the public transportation and bring the plants back by Tuk Tuk (3-wheels local vehicle)
By the way, now it’s summer in Thailand and the weather is so hot and sunny.  People need to have an umbrella/hat or wear the long-sleeves shirt if they don’t to get burn or a fever.  Fortunately before the day I went to JJ market, it rained.  So it’s cooler.

Wish you guy will love JJ market and visit here in some days.

Friday, May 7, 2010

EM for green garden

What is EM?

EM is is an acronym for Effective Microorganisms™. It is a brand name referring to a line of microbial-based products using a technology developed by Japanese scientist Dr. Teruo Higa who was a Japanese professor of horticulture at the College of Agriculture, University of the Ryukyus.

"EM Technology" uses a laboratory cultured mixture of microorganisms consisting mainly of lactic acid bacteria, purple bacteria, and yeast which co-exist for the benefit of whichever environment they are introduced, as has been claimed by the various em-like culture purveyors.

Dr. Higa claimed that 3 groups of microorganisms exist: ‘positive microorganisms’ (regeneration), ‘negative microorganisms’ (decomposition, degeneration), ‘opportunist microorganisms’.

Benefit of EM

EM has the benenfits in the various fields: agriculture, wasted water managment, household.

EM is the great and useful technology and it is the helpful choice for the organic farm/garden. I write about the EM, not for trade or commercial but I just want to share my experience about EM which is good for my plants and can save my money for ferlitizer.

Usage of EM

There are many ways to use EM. The simplest way is mix a cap of EM with 1 liter water and water to your tree.

Weekly, I mix the EM with water and water that solution to my plants. I got the recipe from my friend:
mix EM with an egg (including its finely broken shell), sugar mollass or yogurt and 1 litre water into the bottle.

Shake the bottle and leave it for 1 week.

Then you'll get the growing hormone solution. Combine the 1 cap of solution with 1 litre water and water to your plants. I do it once a week and I think it's good for my garden because the rose, orchid and cactus grow so well.   

Or you can make the organic pesticide from EM:

Mixing Warm water 300 ml
Molasses 50 ml
Natural vinegar 50 ml
Whiskey or ethyl alcohol 50 ml
EM liquid concentrate 50 ml

Select a suitable sized container for mixing, some plastic bottles with caps for storage and a funnel. Add the molasses to the warm water and stir till thoroughly mixed.

Add the vinegar, whiskey and EM concentrate. Pour the mix into the plastic
bottles and add small quantities of chopped garlic etc.

Seal as tightly as possible and leave in a warm dark place (20-30 C). Release any gas produced at least twice daily by releasing the cap.

The EM is ready for use when the production of gas has stopped and the product has a sweet fruity smell. The mix can be stored in a dark cool place which has a uniform temperature for up to 3 months. If garlic etc. has been used, filter this out before storage. Do not store in the refrigerator.

In my opinion, EM is a part of organic fertilizer.  It can add the microorganisms into the soil and help the plants to grow well.  However, EM can't not be replaced with the fertilizer perfectly.  You still need to give the necessary nutrient (Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium) to your plants.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Let's know more about LITHOPS

Lithop is one of my difficult cactus to take care.  Its color looks so fantastic and shape is cute.  So it's not surprise that most people (including me) will fall in love with Lithop (But it can't ever survive in my care :( So today we will know more about Lithop.

Lithop is commonly called "Living Stones" or "flowering stones" because its shape, size and color causes Lithop to resemble small stones in their natural surroundings. The plants blend in among the stones as a means of protection. Grazing animals which would otherwise eat them during periods of drought to obtain moisture usually overlook it.
 The origin of Lithop is in South Africa where the plants receive less than 2 inches of rainfall per month throughout the entire year.

The "body" of the plant is divided into two succulent leaves fused together in the shape of an inverted cone. The fissure or slit at the top of the plant is the division of the two leaves. There is no stem as such, but rather the taproot joins abruptly at the base of the leaves.

Therefore, the Lithop love to grow in low humidity and need infrequent watering and care, they make ideal houseplants, providing the conditions of adequate light and proper watering are met.

Lithops do well if they receive about 4 or 5 hours of direct (or only slightly filtered) sunlight during the early part of the day, and partial shade during the afternoon.

he majority of lithops produce their flowers during autumn and early winter. They are daisy-like and yellow or white depending on variety. They first open during the afternoons of sunnier days.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Harworthia Care

Harworthia are a kind of succulents whose origin is in South Africa.  They are closely related to Aloes and are in the Aloe family, Aloaceae.  Harworthia can be rotten easily if you don't know the right conditions for Harworthia: soil, watering and light

 Soil: Harworthia like the dry soil and can't stay wet for the long time.  So their soil mix should be drained very well.

This can be accomplished by making a potting soil using as a component materials such as; perlite, pea sized pumice, or even pea gravel.   The trick here is to produce a soil that has some organic mater, but not so much that it becomes water logged and rots your plants roots 

Do not use sand as it is too fine and clogs the pores in the soil. If using a peat-based potting soil, remember that peat decomposes in a few years, resulting in an unhealthy soil. As some Haworthias are slow-growing and can stay in the same pot for years, there may be a tendency to forget to repot into fresh soil, a practice which should be done every 2-3 years.

Watering: It's simple instruction: "water Harworthia when its soil is dry"  I got a tip from the Thai cactus collector to test whether the soil is dry or wet: dig the tooth stick into the soil and see if the soil is damp You can apply another thing instead of tooth stick.

If the plant looks unhealthy, unpot it and inspect the roots. Remove any weak or decayed roots, even back to the stem of the plant. Allow the plant to lie out unpotted for a week, then repot into fresh soil and begin watering carefully until it is apparent that the roots have reestablished and the plant has regained its health.

Light: To put a plant in direct sunlight that has never seen the sun will cause a fatal sunburn.  If you place your Haworthias in the brightest light you have that is not direct sunlight, you will grow into very nice looking plants.  For growing, a greenhouse is ideal, next choose a sunny South facing window, then an East or West facing window.

Haworthia makes good accent plants on porch, patio, or deck and can be grown outdoors during frost-free periods. Be careful when you move plants outdoors. If they have spent the winter without much direct sunlight, don’t immediately put them into full sun outdoors or they may sunburn. Gradually move them into more direct light over a period of a few weeks.

Harworthia is the slow-growing plant so it doesn't need much fertilizer.  If you repot Harworthia often (every year), you don't have to fertilizer.  Anyway, when I fertilize my orchid, I  give some to my harworthia in the few amount.  

If you want to know more about Harworthia such as popular propagation from leaves & roots, containers and pest & disease.  I'd like to suggest you to visit the useful websites: www.harworthia.org and http://www.hort.wisc.edu. 

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Sanamluang II - one of most famous gardening markets in Bangkok

Have you got any ideas about the plant market in Thailand? Now, I will introduce one of the most famous gardening markets in Bangkok: Sanamluang II.  It opened in 1990 and locates the suburb of Bangkok .  It has the area about 15.80 acres.  In the past time, this area was used to be the orchid garden and the Bangkok Metropolitan turned it to be the public garden and market.  

Nowaday, there are many sellers in the market who sell almost everything you’d like to buy: orchid, plant, gardening tool, fish, pet, bird, pet fish, painting, antique, furniture, food, clothing, jewelry, home decoration, etc.  However, the best-seller categories are orchid, plant, fish, pet and food. 

Sanamluang II opens everyday but on Monday it is the wholesale market for every plant and Tuesday for fish as well as pet.  Anyway, most people go to there on the weekend to relax and shopping the plants and gardening decoration. 
Today, the temperature in Bangkok is about 91F-95F (31-35 C).  The sunny shine could burn you quickly and it was so hot that people tried to be under shade as much as possible.  The Bangkok Metropolitan also turned on the stream fan to reduce the warmth.
In fact, there are some cactus shops but they are small and have the plain cactus.  JJ (Jatujut) market, the biggest and best plant shopping market in Thailand is the meeting place for the cactus collector in Thailand. If you’re looking for the rare, strange, different cactus, you must go there.  In the next time, when I visit JJ market,  I promise to take the pictures and show you all. 

Monday, February 8, 2010

Organic Pesticide

I believe that everyone who grows every kind of plants must ever have the problem about the pesticide invading your garden. Me, too. About 3-4 days in a week, I have to kill the small plant louse or aphids in my garden. However, I don't want to use the chemical pesticide neither as it's not friendly environment. My solution is to use the organic pesticide whose ingredient you can in your kitchen or house. The organic pesticide can control the pest when you use it often and the situation in the garden is not severe and you use. In case the situation is beyond control, I'll suggest you to use the commerical pesticide and use the organic one later.

1. Tobacco or Nicotine Spray:
This mixture is great for combating many different types of bugs, but especially caterpillars, aphids, and many types of those nasty worms.
1 cup of tobacco

1 gallon of water

Put the tobacco into the container of water. Allow the mixture to set for approximately 24 hours. After it has stood for a day, check the color. It should be the shade of weak tea. If it is too dark, just dilute it with water until it looks right.

*** Don't use this solution on peppers, tomotoes, eggplants, or any other member of the solanaceous family. Tobacco chemicals can kill these types of plants!

2. Soap Spray (My favorite)

Another way to stop the slugs is with soapy water. Collect some of the water in a pan and pour it into a watering can or even use a pitcher to pour it over the plants. This works really well on hostas and mums, but also can be used on other hardy plants. Many bugs do not like their lunch spoiled by a soapy aftertaste!

For a stronger solution, mix 3 Tablespoons of liquid detergent into a gallon of water, I prefer Dawn, but any will do. Use this weekly in the evening otherwise the leaves will get burned.

3. Garlic Spray:

Here is the recipe for a garlic spray that fights slugs too. To make this smelly spray, use the following list of ingredients:

1 garlic bulb

1 quart of water

1 medium onion

1 tablespoon of cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon liquid dish soap

Crush the garlic, mincing it fine. Add finely chopped onion to the mixture, while adding the rest of the ingredients except the soap. Wait an hour before adding the soap to the mixture. The spicy ingredients must sort of stew or steep, almost like tea. After an hour, add the soap and your non-toxic spray is ready to use! This can be stored in the fridge for a week.

4. Spearmint-Hot Pepper-Horseradish Spray:

This works on many different kinds of bugs- too many to list!

1/2 cup of red peppers (hot)

water (read below)

1/2 cup of fresh spearmint

1/2 cup horseradish (root and leaves)

2 tablespoons of liquid detergent

1/2 cup green onion tops

Mix all of the spearmint leaves, horseradish, onion tops and peppers together with enough water to cover everything. Strain the solution. After mixing all of these, add a half-gallon of water and add the detergent also. To use this solution, mix 1/2 gallon of this solution with 1/2 gallon of water. You can use this to spray almost any plant safely. Store this mixture for a few days in a cool environment.

5. Buttermilk and Flour Spray:

Garlic spray is great for getting rid of cutworms, wireworms, whiteflies, and slugs too.

What you need:

1 pint of water

1/4 cup of dish liquid

2 teaspoons of paraffin

6 tablespoons of chopped garlic

Soak the whole garlic in the liquid paraffin for at least 24 hours. After a day, add the dish liquid and water to the mixture. Remember to shake it very well. Strain the solution and store it in a glass jar. This lasts around a week.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Canker disease in Cactus

Happy New Year everybody! Wish you be healthy and happy in 2010.

For the cactus & succulent planters, I think you all should ever have an experience with canker disease. The bacterium in the humid soil and air causes the canker which can occur with the citrus species (such as lime, orange, cherry) and cactus as well. The first symptoms in autumn are shallow depressions at the base of plants which enlarge in spring, completely circling the base of the branch and causing it to die. An amber like gum may also appear. When the size of the circle is enlarged, the circle will look like full sponge, which later become dark brown flakes split button which is rough and hard curve. But the middle will collapse into the sink itself.

How to Treat Canker

If your cactus has the canker, you should be cut out, back to good part, using a knife or chisel - burn the diseased one. The exposed healthy part can be painted with a canker paint available from larger garden centres. If canker is a major problem, spraying with a copper based fungicide (bordeaux mixture is sold by most garden centres), in August, September and October will greatly assist. Three consecutive sprayings are needed for the full effect.

However, the study show some growers use low rates of copper-based products during bud break to reduce symptoms of dead bud. Copper-based products have not worked well under conditions favorable for disease development. Heavy use of copper products is not recommended as Bacteria will resist copper products and the concentrations in the soil can build up to toxic levels in the long term. Now, we can control the canker the organic chemistry. Anyway, I don't know yet how to do and what the exact result is because the organic chemistry is successful with the lime and orange farms. So I'll have to test it and inform you later.