Orchids of the Earth

It's time to repot some cymbidiums.  As my mother-in-law would tell you, it's a chore I should do more often.

In general, cyms should be repotted every 2-3 years. It's not a tricky process but it is hard work and messy at times.

First, to determine which plants need to be repotted, look for plants that have filled up the entire pot. Maybe they look more dead than alive and the mix is broken down, that would be another sign that they need to be repotted.

You'll need the plant, a pot (usually I put them back in the same one, on very vigorous plants I might increase the pots size a bit), mix, trowel, hammer, and pruning seal (not shown above).

Knock the pot off. You can see this plant is more root that soil, indicating it needs repotting. With your fingers, reach in and break up the root ball. Remove as much soil as you can, along with dead roots.  I also remove the dead-looking back bulbs and maybe even some green growths to make a more centrally-shaped plant.

You can also pot the dead looking bulbs, as long as they feel very hard and firm to the touch, and new plants will grow from them.

Cymbidiums are terrestrial orchids, meaning that they grow in the ground in the wild unlike epiphytic orchids (like cattleyas, dendrobiums, and phaleanopsis), which grow on the side of trees.

This means you can't use straight bark chips on them like the other orchids. I buy a pre-made mix from an orchid nursery but you can also make your own using 50% small to medium bark chips, 25% perlite, and 25% peat moss.

You can see that there's a hole in my bag. Want to know where the Cheapskate is? Just follow the trail of cymbidium mix.

Put an inch or two of mix in the bottom of the pot. Spray pruning seal on any wounds left by tearing off old bulbs. Find the leading growing edge of the plant. Cymbidiums don't grow out in all directions, the green point at the bottom of the bulb above is the new growth. The plant will grow in this direction.

Put the none-growing edge up against the edge of the pot and the new growth facing the center.  Fill with mix all the way to the edge of the pot. Use a hammer handle to pound the mix down as tight as you can.

If you've pounded the mix tight enough, you should be able to lift the plant by the leaves and the pot will not fall off.

Once done, it should look something like this with the growing edge given room to grow across the pot for the next two or three years.  Water it in and put back on your orchid bench.

Copyright 2014 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

The Collapse of the Rainbow Coalition

Ok, so my last attempt at mockingbird dissuasion failed.  I put holographic tape on the grapevine. It's supposed to give them vertigo and headaches and leave the plants alone.

Not here, these mockingbirds just see it as decorations for a free grape buffet.

One last try...I'm using the netting that you find on some fruit you get at the grocery store on each cluster as a barrier. Unfortunately, I only have two of them.  If it works, we'll be saving more of the fruit netting for the next crop.

Copyright 2014 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Rainbow Pride on the Grapevine

No, it's not a gay grapevine...I think. 

I'm always in search of a better scarecrow. The birds, especially mockingbirds, just love the grapes. Last year, I put in netting but my wife thinks that crowded the plant together too much resulting in small grapes.


This year, I'm going with a high-tech scarecrow.  You'll see this a lot in wine country.

I've got some holographic tape that I cut into strips and tie in strategic parts of the plants.

It's supposed to give the birds bad acid flashbacks and drive them away. I know it does it for me.

We'll see how it goes come harvest time.

Copyright 2014 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

A Mysterious Chile Lovin' Varmint

Each year it seems I face new challenges with the garden. This year are varmints. Some obvious, like the deer who are eating my roses, and some not so obvious.

The not-so-obvious one is the mysterious creature that lives under our water heater. Our pest control guy said to put bricks around it to block it's lair.

But, it just digs a new hole under the bricks.

It only comes out at night, so I haven't been able to see it yet. Only the damage it leaves behind.

Here, you can see my Anaheim chile plant, which miraculously still produces even with 90% of it's leaves chewed off.

It's pretty much decimated my much-anticipated pasilla chiles but I'm not giving up yet.

I've filled a pot with mix and transplanted the best looking of what's left of the pasilla and put a spare dripper on it.

I've hung on the wall, out of the reach of a certain night-seeking, ground dwelling creature...I hope.

Stay tuned.

Copyright 2014 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

DINNER TIME! Dutch Oven Beef Stew

It can still get a little chilly at night here in Northern California. A hearty stew is just the thing to take the chill off. This reci...