Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Whew! Gotta Get my Automated Irrigation Going.

The recent heat wave we had has really toasted the new growth on some of roses. I missed a day of regular hand watering and there was some serious wilting going on. I checked last night after they had some time to absorb the drink I gave them and most of them seemed to be perking up. I'm going to go to daily watering on the 5 gallon and smaller pots. I was getting by with every three days when it was cool.

I lost two bare roots, Dr. Dick and Picture. These were late season (end of January) Home Depot purchase, grade 1 1/2, with fairly long sprouts already showing. I was surprised to see them go because they looked pretty good throughout February. The ones I was most worried about, Charles Aznavour, Sally Holmes and Bronze Masterpiece are all hanging in there. Sally Homes and Bronze Masterpiece both had damaged bud unions and a full-length split of the understock from the bud union to the roots. I coated the damaged areas with tree sealer and planted them in my rooted medium, 50% peat and 50% perlite. They look pretty good.

The Charles Aznavour is down to one cane and some spindly growth that wilted in the heat. He was another late season HD purchase. The other sick child is Marechal Neil. He was a huge Grade #1 I got from Ashdown that was a little slow to break dormancy. A lot of the canes atrophied but I got sprouts on two of them. The recent heat killed one so I'm down to one cane.

My real trooper is Pascali. All the canes broke off when it fell from its shelf. It grew a basal from the bud union but I accidently broke it in half when I was watering. I propped it back and splinted it and it seemed to be recovering. It sprouted two more basals. Then the wind broke my splint and the main shoot died, but the two remaining shoots are going strong and survived the heat wave better than many larger plants. No burning at all. It was next to the Dr. Dick and 18" from the Picture that both died.

On the other hand, there's no substitute for hand watering to get rid of aphids. I can blast most of them off with my shower wand, and the ladybugs get the rest.

I saw a few saw fly larvae. I had hoped they were gone for good after I sprayed for them last year. They really destroyed the leaves on my roses while I was trying to control them with squishing. I just don't have enough fingers.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Not just roses, tomatoes too!

It's official! April 2, right after April Fool's Day, you can buy over 325 varieties of heirloom tomatoes at Tomato Mania Learn more at Tomatomania.com, official site of Tomato Mania at Tapia Brothers farm (on Hayvenhurst just off the 101 freeway) in the San Fernando Valley.

Marilyn L. Chambers, purveyor of fine fungus

Last Sunday, Marilyn Chambers, proprietor of Marilyn's Own - Products for Natural SOILutions spoke at the LARS meeting at Descanso Gardens. Definitely not the Marilyn Chambers I remember from my youth, heh heh.

After her presentation on mycorrhizae (which I knew little about) she offered some of her samples for sale. Talk about flashbacks, the stuff is grown in Thailand, imported in bales and cut up and put into little plastic baggies for sale. I slipped her some bills and hid the baggie in my pocket. Now if I can only remember to take it out of my pocket before they go in the laundry.

This stuff sounds interesting and I intend to investigate it more. The price is around $240/kilo wholesale but you only need to apply maybe 70 g/acre. Sounds like I need a digital scale, too.

The King of Mycorrhizae

This is the home of the King of Mycorrhizea, Dr. Mike Anoranthus, proprietor of Mycorrhizal Applications, Inc. and expert on root fungus. On his website is a FAQ, where you will find answers to burning questions like "What Are Mycorrhizae?"

Here's a sample answer:
"The word "mycorrhizae" literally means "fungus-roots" and defines the close mutually beneficial relationship between specialized soil fungi (mycorrhizal fungi) and plant roots.About 95% of the world’s land plants form the mycorrhizal relationship in their native habitats. It is estimated that mycorrhizal fungal filaments explore hundreds to thousands more soil volume compared to roots alone."

Mycorrhizae are supposed to improve nutrientient and water uptake, root growth,plant growth and yield. Plus you get more disease resistance, less transplant shock, less drought stress.

"Improved nutrient and water uptake" basically means you can water and fertilize less and still get the benefits.