Sunday, March 20, 2011

Bug ID please: do I have a problem?

I discovered these guys while taking care of my light garden. Looks like they're munching away at the surface of the leaves of my moonflower seedling (the one that turned purple) and potato vine cuttings. I'm pretty sure they originated with the moonflower seedling. Do I have a problem? Should I be reaching for the neem oil? Are the guys in the fourth picture baby versions of the ones in the first three?

In other news, The Dirt Gently Nursery for Slightly Fungus-ridden Toilet Paper Rolls has been integrated into the germination and propagation station. Behold!

In the three big pots on the bottom shelf are bok choy, spinach, and carrots that I'm hoping to harvest after growing them completely indoors.

According to Xanboni, the fungus growth in TP roll pots can be avoided by baking the rolls for 30 minutes at 250°F.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Lithops Grow-along Day 26

Even more little green guys have been appearing over the last several days. I love how they look like bags of glistening emeralds. Some are starting to darken now, though. I'm not sure how I feel about that.

Dirt Gently Nursery for Slightly Fungus-ridden Toilet Paper Rolls: an Update

The seedlings have thrived in their toilet paper homes despite the initial appearance of white fuzzy fungus. There's no visible trace of the stuff any more on the rolls themselves, or on the soil surface. Instead, carpets of lush green growth.

Well, "carpets" might be overstating things a bit, but there is certainly a lot of happy little seedlings with one or more sets of true leaves today. Even the sad-looking purple moonflower seedling, and his brother whose seed coat is permanently attached to its seed leaves, are starting to vine away.

Clearly, time to pot them on, but with only a limited amount of potting soil on hand, only the most desperately leafy were transplanted today.

The germination rate for the bok choi from Richters was excellent, with 15 of 16 seeds producing viable little guys. I sowed these a little too densely with 4 seeds per TP tube. As I separated out the toilet paper tubes and peeled back the cardboard, it was clear that the fungus had been driven underground and was thriving between the tubes and in the seed mix. Still, roots and leaves looked healthy — roots were peeking out from every crack in the rolls and some had even driven right through the cardboard. I thinned each tube to 2 seedlings each, and planted two tubes intact, and two tubes with the cardboard removed.

I ate the thinnings; they tasted like roquette.

Next up was the Bloomsdale long-standing spinach from Sage Garden Herbs, with 5 seedlings for 8 seeds planted. These were not thinned, and were planted 1 intact, 2 naked. Roots looked healthy, though less rambunctious than bok choi, and the fungus was also comfortably co-existing.

Out of those that have emerged, most of the Tree & Twig Jaune du Doubs carrot seedlings still looked a bit small. Only 7 seedlings out of 16 seeds have emerged to date. There was 1 tube showing 3 seedlings so this was transplanted into the same container as the spinach, TP tube intact, after the smallest seedling was removed.

Eight of 8 cape daisy seeds from Seeds & More had hatched, so tubes were planted intact and 2, naked. 2 seedlings were immediately thinned, one each from an intact and naked tube.

The purple moonflower was also transplanted.

I'll probably give the TP rolls one more shot and see if baking them before use (paper burns at 451°!) will prevent fungal growth, and if the seedlings I planted with TP rolls intact do OK.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The purple menace

So my lovely, vigorous moonflower seedling has been gradually turning purple over the last several days. What's up with that? The purpleness started with the stem and crept its way up into the veins of the seed leaves. The leaves themselves are now a mottled with yellow, green, and purple-black areas instead of the healthy green of a couple days ago.

February 28: Lower stem purple but otherwise healthy looking

March 1: Seedling still looks healthy ...

March 1: ... and so I'm not worried yet

March 3: Now worried. Purple stem, veins. Leaves purple-black, yellow. Sad trombone.

Even though some other seedlings also have purple stems, and true leaves appear to be emerging from this moonflower seedling (see below), the seed leaves look pretty unhealthy. Am I worrying too much?

Moonflower crotch shot. Wonder what kind of search engine referrals this will bring?

Some googling leads me to believe that this may be due to impaired phosphorus uptake and the resultant  increased concentration of anthrocyanins in the plant due to restricted transport of sugars around the plant. Possible culprits include restricted root growth (compacted soils), too-cold or too-moist soils, too much light, or a shortage of micronutrients (B, Fe, Mg) (Why are corn seedlings turning purple?Purple pepper leaves, Help! My seedlings are turning purple, what do I do? Function of phosphorus in plants). Given that it's pretty warm in the propagator, the soil is moist-but-not-wet, and there's a rootlet poking out of the drainage hole at the bottom of the pack, I am leaning towards restricted root growth. Time to pot it up, I guess ...

Hopefully the toilet paper rolls are deep enough for the moonflower seedlings in Dirt Gently's Nursery for Slightly Fungus-ridden Toilet Paper Rolls.

In the same plastic 4-pack as the purple moonflower, a couple of "chinese spinach" seedlings seemed to have succumbed to damping off, or maybe they were just weak to begin with. I will have to keep an eye on things. I wasn't so concerned about how purple they were because that's how they came up.

February 27

February 28

March 1: 2 weak-looking seedlings top centre

March 3: Weak seedlings die

March 3

It looks like even more little lithops seedlings have appeared overnight. They are delivering 100% concentrated happy like champs.

Meanwhile, in Dirt Gently's Nursery for Slightly Fungus-ridden Toilet Paper Rolls, the seedlings keep on coming up and the white fluffy fungus seems to have mostly disappeared. You can see that the spinach and bok choy seedlings are starting to develop true leaves. Like the moonflower, the stems of some of the seedlings are also turning purple, but it can't be because of restricted root growth: the seedlings are tiny, and there's at least 3" of medium in the TP rolls.

February 28: bacopa seedlings emerging from pellet
March 3: Bacopa seedlings
Bok choy: 94% germination!
Purple in front, green in back. WTF?
True leaves developing on most bok choy seedlings

March 3: Spinach

March 3: Spinach true leaves budding

March 3: Cape daisy with 100% germination

March 3: Tree & Twig carrots
 The ivy geraniums continue to bloom under lights.