Friday, January 19, 2007

Ceropegia Woodii-Air Layering Hack

I guess this method of propagating a Ceropegia Woodii can be described as air layering. Even though you aren't really wounding the plant by making an incision to make it produce roots in a certain spot. Here we're taking advantage of what this plant does naturally if you don't have a lot of confidence in your ability to grow from cuttings.

All I really do is set the tuber that this vine produces in a smaller pot that is filled with soil and I bury it in a little bit. It's important that the tuber you are trying to root isn't move or gets dislocated so anchor it in. Maybe with a piece of twine or a U shaped hook you make out of a paper clip or stakes made from toothpicks. Once I have the pots in a position where I know they won't be disturbed I just start watering the smaller pot as I would the larger plant until I figure that it has started to produce it's own roots in a few weeks or months. You can tug gently on the tuber and if you feel resistance then you know that it has started to produce roots. If it lifts up and you see no roots set it back in the soil and continue to wait a little longer.

Once you have observed the formation of roots in your Ceropegia Wodii you can then snip it off from the parent plant and continue to grow it as an independent plant and transplant to a pot that is one size larger. If you find that your plant looks straggly you can fill it out by wrapping the tendrils along the surface of the pot and allow it to form tubers and root itself. This has to be the easiest way to propagate Ceropegia Woodii because you don't really have to do much once you've gotten to this point other than wait.

If you'd like to read more about this plant based on my experience growing it see this link from my Rate And Review blog.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Citrus Hack: Free Plants From Your Grocer

Another seed starting method that can compliment or be used in place of the Ghetto Greenhouse is the "Baggie Method" if you don't have the space or desire to make seed starters out of plastic soda bottles. This method also saves you money because you don't need soil right away to start and when time comes to transplant your seedlings you can put them in an appropriate size pot. You only need a plastic sandwich bag, some seeds and a paper towel.

The kinds of seeds you can start with this method is really only limited by the variety in your collection or what you can find for sale. In this example I started citrus seeds from a citrus I got from the grocery store.

Once I was done eating this particular citrus I saved the seeds and soaked them for a day or so in a glass of water. When I was ready to sow them using the baggie method I laid them out on a napkin and moistened the napkin with a spray bottle. You want to moisten and not soak your paper napkin to avoid having your seeds get moldy. It's imperative if you're going to start citrus seeds that you sow them immediately because the longer you wait the less your germination ratio will be.

Once I had soaked my citrus seeds overnight and set them on the paper towel which I moistened I folded the napkin in half and set it inside the plastic sandwich bag which I sealed. Then I found a very warm spot for them in my bedroom. Since it's winter I take advantage of the heater we have running and place my seed baggies near a vent. The warmth from the heating vent helps with germination especially in the middle of winter when temps aren't really optimal for seed starting.

After a few days days I checked on my seeds and found that some had started to germinate. Once they get big enough I pot them up into little pots and let them continue to grow until they're big enough to re-pot again. Citrus like a lot of light if they're going to be grown indoors and whenever possible should be allowed to spend Spring and Summer outside.

At this point I should tell you that it will be a number of years before your citrus tree gets big enough for it to flower and fruit. But if you're a patient person or just growing for the fun of it that shouldn't be a problem for you. You can use this method to start a whole collection of citrus trees from seed to grow in your home or yard. Next time you're in the grocery store look for Key Limes, Calamondin Oranges, Kumquats, Mandarins and give them a try. If your store doesn't have a large variety of citrus available check out some of the ethnic grocery stores in your areas and discover a whole new world of fruits and veggies.

If you're not interested in growing citrus from seeds then you can use this method to start any kind of seeds that you are interested in. But I'd suggest sticking with larger seeds because they'll be easier to pick out and transplant into pots when they've sprouted. If you find that your bag retains a lot of moisture while you're waiting for your seeds to sprout open it for a few hours a day and let a little of the excess moisture evaporate.

Cati Collecting: Hack A Large Collection- Fast

If you find yourself bitten by the Cacti & Succulent collecting bug and want to start a collection there are many ways to acquire one in a relatively short amount of time. Here in Chicago I don't have many options and I can't walk into a great Cacti nursery and browse the plants. Here's how I started my collection and how it got to be too much.

I check all of the big box stores whether it's Home Depot or WalMart or Lowe's or Menards if the place sells plants I will go and take a look at what they're offering. You never know what you're going to find. Make sure to look over the dish gardens you find in such places, some times they have one or two nicer plants mixed in with the common one. I'll buy it for the one plant and give the others away if I already have enough of them. Right now I'm particularly fond of shopping at Home Depot because they're carrying plants from Altmans and as far as I've seen the selection is very good. If you're going to shop at big box stores try to make nice with the person who's in charge of the plants and ask them when the new shipments come in. The best plants are the first to go, so get there first. Think outside the box and look around in your area and pay attention to where you can find C&S plants. I picked up some last summer and this Christmas from Walgreens. In my area WM is the cheaper place as their C&S start at ninety-nine cents.

Another way to get a large collection fast is to propagate the plants you do buy. Take some leaf cuttings and make more of what you have. Take your extras and trade them with other plant hackers. Ask around and see who will give you cuttings of their plants so you can start your own Cacti & Succulent collection. Going a C&S forum and get to know people and do some trades. Join a C&S group near you and go to meeting ask if they have fund raisers and go shop at it. You'll probably find plants there that are very rare in retail.

Look at the seed racks of stores near you I found two stores carrying seeds last spring and start from seed. If you shop on-line check out places like Amazon and ebay or see if anyone is trading seeds on gardening forums like GardenWeb.

If you want a nice collection of plants you'll have to do some leg work and have various sources that you check up on often. But be responsible, many popular C&S are endangered so don't buy plant that are collected from the wild. Ask if you're not sure and ask again if you don't believe.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Recent Garden Hacks