Saturday, December 6, 2008

Its a Hot Tamale!!

by Richard Chew

I looked up the word 'Tamale' in the web and learned it is a kind of spicy Mexican dish.

However what I have here is a miniature rose known as Hot Tamale. It is called with this name, simply for its flower characteristics. It can grow up to a height of between 60cm to 90cm. The flower size is about 2 to 3 cm.

It has a unique bloom characteristics. Its petals are mainly orange red and its center is yellow in colour. It looks like lava glowing within the rose!

Gradually the orange colour fades and turn into pink, where as the yellow will fade into white. It is quite unusual.

I got my Hot Tamale bloomed with some flowers, unfortunately I didn't get this effect. The rose bud was already pink in colour when the bud started to open.

Below is picture taken at the following day. Fully opened and fully pink in colour, with darker pink veins appearing at the petals.

This is the side view. It has a nice full bloom. I wonder how it would really look like when a cluster of these miniature blooms burst out.

Earlier on (about 2 weeks earlier), I capture some photo shots on the shoots and new buds. I noticed some distortion on some leaves shape (not symmetrical). Though the leaves colour looked healthy, the distorted shape suggest that during the growth stage it lacks certain nutrients for stem and leave development.

Below is another closed up shot, and very obvious the shape of new young leaves looked odd, where as the older ones looked more symmetrical.

I believe this is due to some unsuccessful experiments (it was a trial and error thing) on the top soil, thus causes some 'bio-chemical' shock in the soil which affected the growth of the stem development.

However after correcting my soil, as I am writing this post, there were another 2 newer shoots. The newer shoots seemed to be doing well. Its leaves are darker tone (almost black) in colour , suggest it is growing well. Gradually the leaves will turn to lighter tone when its growth has reached maturity.

Below is another closed up shot. The little bud emerges. Notice the little 'bulge' at the tip of the stem?

Hopefully within 3 to 4 weeks time, I get to see the red hot lava flower bloom!

Other interesting things happened, decided to post it here.
I noticed a tiny weeny bug resting at the edge.

Remember the rotted chili that I used as fertilizer. The seed germinated! Initially I thought it was weeds, but soon realised it wasn't when I noticed it sprouted in clusters. I covered it, by over turning the soil.

Well I got to wait for another few more weeks. Hopefully by Christmas, I wish....

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Soil Mix - Transplanting

by Richard Chew

I suppose most of you would likely have this common question to me.

What do you put in the pot that causes the roses to bloom with pretty flowers? How do you start?

Just to give you an idea, I made a simple diagram for ease of understanding.

Basically the purpose of the coconut mulch and charcoal is simply to hold the soil and prevent the soil from escaping through the drainage holes. Charcoal is good material against fungal infection.

Based on experiences so far, it is best to mix soil with grass cuttings, a ratio of 9:1 would be sufficient before you transplant your roses into the soil. The purpose of this is to improve drainage and also to kick start the microbes activities beneath the soil. The new bag of soil that you got from your gardening shop is very likely had been dormant for couple of weeks, so by mixing grass cuttings into the soil, you induced (or 'instigate') the soil bacterias into action. Grass cuttings (dried type) is excellent source of nitrogen too.

Believe me, it really does make a difference. Even if you purchased a ready pre-mixed soil, it is still more effective to add in grass cuttings (of 1/10 portion) as you transplant. It also helps to improve the soil structure, especially to counter the heavy showers of rain.

As the rose is being transplanted, you may want to loosened some of the roots from the root ball. However do not attempt to remove the soil attached in the root ball. The last time I did that, my rose 'layu' the next day. There are probably millions of micro-organism living in the root ball that aids in nourishing the plant roots. You don't want to mess with them. These micro-organism forms an unusual Symbiotic relationship with the plant roots. Both needs each other to co-exist. Removing the dirt from the root ball is not doing a favour to your plants. It suffers when you break the mutual relationships.

Lastly I want to share is the Top Soil Layer. This is the most important ingredient or recipe for good flowers. I don't think I can share everything within a single posting as I am still learning the trade. However I like to share the purpose of dividing an equal ratio of peat moss and grass cuttings. The main reason is to form better aeration at the top layer. If too much peat moss, it tends to tightened the top layer thus reduces soil aeration and increases excess moisture retention. At such a rainy season, maintaining a ratio of 1:1 (peat moss and grass cuttings) is better.

It is necessary to have sufficient peat moss too, because it aids in decomposition of organic fertilizer. I will reserve my suggestions on fertilizer mix in future postings. Having said that, it is important to note when transplanting, the root ball has to be planted at least 5 cm below the container brim. This is to allow sufficient depth for your top soil mix.

I will conclude this here. If you are considering transplanting, try this mixture. Hope it works for you!!! I believe it will!!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Horticultural Oils for Pest Control [EXT]

I extracted this from doityourself. Good info on horticultural oil as pesticide.

An antique pesticide gets a modern make-over.

By Whitney Cranshaw

Gardeners have long used oils to control plant-damaging pests, but for many years their use was limited to the dormant season. Today, new horticultural oils on the market are more versatile and safer to use on more plants. Horticultural oils are now one of the best ways to control a
wide variety of plant pests during the growing season.

How Horticultural Oils Work

These oils (except neem oil) kill insects by suffocating them. Oils also kill insect eggs by penetrating the shells and interfering with metabolic and respiratory processes. In addition, oils disrupt feeding by insects such as flea beetles, whiteflies, and aphids without necessarily killing

The fact that oils kill insects by smothering is a key virtue. Many other pesticides kill them by interfering with biochemical processes that are similar to those in other animals, including people. What kills a tiny insect can make us sick, too.

Also, oils have few residual effects, and so their impact on beneficial or benign insects is minimal.

To Control Diseases

Horticultural oils prevent the spread of viruses by aphids, including watermelon mosaic, squash mosaic, and potato virus Y. Oils also curb the spread of viruses that humans transmit by hands or tools (for example, tobacco mosaic virus). Additionally, oils control powdery mildew. Diluted horticultural oils, mixed with baking soda, control this common fungus.

Effects on Beneficial Insects

Most beneficial insects, such as green lacewings and ladybird beetles, scatter before the spray comes and aren't bothered by the residue when they return. However, small, soft-bodied beneficial insects such as predatory mites can't move out of the way fast enough and are killed. If
you rely on beneficial mites to deter other pests, think twice before using oil (or any other pesticide). Better still, release beneficial mites several days after you treat with the oil spray.

Types of Oils: Petroleum, Vegetable, and Neem

Horticultural oil is the preferred general term for the various oils gardeners use on plants. Most horticultural oils are refined from crude oil. They have several common characteristics but different names (see below). The exceptions are vegetable and neem oils, which share some
petroleum-oil features but not all.

Petroleum-based Oils

Most horticultural oils contain naphthene and paraffin compounds. Paraffins are valuable to gardeners because they're more toxic to insects and less toxic to plants than other oil compounds. In contrast, oils containing naphthene are less pesticidal and more likely to injure plants than paraffinic types. Oils high in naphthene also contain more impurities such as phytotoxic aromatic and unsaturated hydrocarbons.

However, the newest horticultural oils contain only tiny amounts of those compounds. Another plant-damaging compound in oil is sulfur, and oils sometimes have a "UR" (unsulfonated residue) rating that indicates sulfur content. The higher the rating, the lower the sulfur content. Most horticultural oils have a UR rating of 90 or above.

Viscosity or thickness is another labeled measure of an oil's effectiveness and safety. (Oil viscosity is measured by how long it takes a given amount of oil to pass through a hole or ring.) For example, a lighter oil that takes 60 seconds to pass through a ring is a 6E oil; thicker oil that
takes 80 seconds is an 8E oil. Lighter or thinner oils are more desirable. The UR rating and evaporation range are more reliable plant-safety predictors.

Over the years, horticulturists have coined several, sometimes confusing, terms for various oils.

Dormant oil is used on woody plants, especially fruit trees, during their dormant seasons. New, refined, lightweight oils have replaced older heavy dormant oils. Today, the name refers to the time and rate of application.

Mineral oil is a light, petroleum-derived oil gardeners can use to control corn earworm.

Narrow-range oil is a light oil graded according to the range of temperatures over which it evaporates. Lighter oils evaporate over a narrower range of temperatures than other oils, and thus this term is synonymous with superior or supreme oil. If an oil evaporates quickly,
as light oils do, plants have a greater margin of safety.

Spray oil includes soaplike emulsifiers that allow water and oil to mix for spraying.

Summer oil is used on leafy plants during the growing season. Generally, it's the same as narrow-range, superior, and supreme oils.

Superior oil describes new, more refined oils that can be applied safely at lower rates-to green leaves. Today, all horticultural oils are superiortype oils, and label directions specify varying application rates for use during dormancy or the growing season.

Supreme oil is one brand name for a superior or narrow-range oil.

Neem oil comes from the seeds of the neem tree (Azadirachta indica) and is used as both an insecticide and a fungicide. Neem oils such as Rose Defense or Trilogy (formerly NeemGuard) are effective at killing insect eggs and immature insects, notably small soft-bodied pests such as
whiteflies and aphids. It has been shown that neem oil kills certain mite eggs, too. Neem oil also prevents powdery mildew and black spot. Use it on roses, fruit trees, and vegetables. Neem-derived insecticides contain azadirachtin. Sold under trade names such as Azatin, Bioneem, Margosan-O, and Neemazad, they control whiteflies, aphids, and other soft-bodied insects. Neem oils are largely azadirachtin-free. Other neem-seed compounds inhibit insect feeding, repel pests, disrupt insect growth, and kill fungi.

Vegetable oil is the term for any oil that's derived from oilseed crops such as soybean, rapeseed (canola), or cottonseed. Stoller's Natur'l Oil is cottonseed oil (the most insecticidal vegetable-seed oil) with an emulsifier. Soybean oil provides good control. Canola and sunflower oils
are less effective, and corn oil shows mixed results in tests.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

November Bloom

by Richard Chew

Here it is... the moment we've been waiting for.

Though nice to see some new collections, there were a few set back.

Ok first the good news. I just bought this yellow rose this month. This is new addition to my collection. I don't know the name yet. Will post when I find the origin of this rose.

This was purchased from the same nursery. It is peachy pink. Medium size. The picture below was taken a day before it fully bloomed.

This picture was taken when it was fully opened.

This rose (picture below) has smaller flower size. The flower quality wasn't good, it is largely due to poor soil preparation. The soil was not mixed correctly when the shoot emerged from the bud. That could be the possible cause that affected the flower development. I estimate the next bloom shall be sometime in January, hopefully by then will get better quality flower.

The rose below is one of my favourite. I bought it last month (Oct). It has an unusual gentle jagged edges at all its petals. And it size is about 8 cm in diameter. I am still looking for a name for this rose. Its flower has similar characteristics of French Lace Rose.

The setback was I accidentally damaged the roots when I transplanted into a larger container. Fortunately the nursery that sold me this rose, has another one for sale. I just transplanted it, and it is doing fine. I am anticipating next bloom in Dec.

Below is also another new addition to my collection. It has medium size bloom. And this rose is more of a medium hedge plant. It spreads horizontally and it grows up to 1 meter in height. It is still young. I will take a full picture of this rose when it fully grown. I do not know its origins yet.

I also had another bloom from my purple rose. Unfortunately the flower quality was not good at all. It was mainly due to my poor soil preparation. It didn't take long for the rose to burst out with new shoots. Below picture was taken recently. I believe it will bloom in December. And there are about few more of similar bud stage. Hope to get about 3 or 4 blooms.

I added fish meal into the soil. Fish meal is popularly used as rose fertilizer to get nicer blooms. Hope it works well for this rose.

Please come again in December.