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December 17th, 2008

Winter

bio_billI suppose winter is here. At least I’ve had to break out the winter coat for a couple of mornings. Fog envelopes us for most of the day even if the ground is dry for lack of rain. I’ve detected just a light dust of frost on some of the plants in the early morning – enough to make me don rubber gloves to cut broccoli raab and bunching greens.

We’ll need much more sub-freezing weather to put the fruit and nut trees into full dormancy and hopefully that will come after New Year’s Day. It usually does.

Meanwhile I’m enjoying daytime temperatures around 50F with occasional sunshine. A heavy flannel is sufficient for working once the morning chill is gone. The foggy air slows evapotranspiration, so weekly watering is plenty for now. And the plants do thrive in the cool weather.

Garden cress is my new experiment for the winter, and customers are enjoying its spicy/sweet flavor. I’ve grown Persian cress before and I’m trialing Wrinkled Crinkled Crumpled cress as well. I simply couldn’t resist a name like that. The seed catalogs claim if you cut them, they will come right back. Seems to be true.

With baby lettuce and baby braising greens and arugula this time of year, I really don’t need one more crop that has me on my knees, harvesting with scissors in hand. But what flavor in a tiny little green! It’s worth it…

Bill

December 17th, 2008

Desert Orchids? You Betcha!

bio_lesliedHi All, Leslie in Las Vegas here.

When we think of orchids in the wild we conjure up pictures of hot steamy jungles and visions of a tropical paradise.  So, it’s fairly safe to assume that you aren’t aware that there are over 13 varieties of native orchids growing in the wild in Nevada; Hawaii doesn’t have nearly that many.  I think I am close to right when I tell you Hawaii only has a measly 3 native orchids.  You research buffs should have some fun on the web with this.

However, I am not up to trekking into the desert to view our amazing varieties of orchids, so I am stuck with having to purchase them. This is good because there is a great selection and orchids are cheaper to buy than a short lived cut flower arrangement.  I am a sad girl if I don’t have blooms in the house in the grey of winter.  The orchids in the picture will be beautiful and blooming for weeks and weeks.  Lucky me.
1

These are 5 Oncidium orchids in little 3″ pots and grouped together to make a bigger show.  My serving bowl is just about the right size for this display.  I have placed some wet towels around them because they like a lot more humidity than we have in the desert.  The towels also help keep the pots from tipping over.  The yellow towels are those wonderful micro-fiber things that are sold in the automotive section at Costco; great for washing windows as well as cars, but I wish they were brown.  As the towels dry I will pour a little water on them, being careful it doesn’t puddle in the bowl.  I will lift each pot out of the bowl and water them at the kitchen sink about every 3rd day; it’s very dry here in the desert.

Hidden behind the bowl of orchids is a spray bottle filled with DISTILLED water that has a teeny tiny pinch of Amazing Kelp powder mixed in it,  www.SweetTomatoTestGarden.com , which I use for misting the orchids many times a day, mostly because I’m home and like to visit them. “Hi Guys, How about a little spritz?”  Orchids like to be misted.  I use DISTILLED water because there are no minerals in it; no minerals means there will be no water spots or mineral crust on the leaves or the furniture.  I add Amazing Kelp to the misting water because the plants really respond to it and they bloom better and the blossoms last longer; this is typical behavior for all plants misted with it. But, you can use any concentrated liquid kelp made from ascophyllum nodosum kelp, (very nutritious stuff, yum).

2When you purchase orchids at the market it’s best to select the plant that has mostly buds rather than open blooms.  They will open over a long period giving you more time to enjoy their blooms.  Don’t leave them in a hot or cold car until you are finished shopping, take them home immediately and mist them as often as you can.

I grow several orchids here at my house, but when these orchids are finished blooming I will take them back to my orchid society meeting and donate them to the monthly raffle and buy more orchids in bud. It’s a merry-go-round for me – I call it Bloom and Go.  I just don’t have room to grow all of them.

There is lots of information on growing a variety of orchids on the American Orchid Society website:  www.aos.org. You also may have a local orchid society in your community.  My Greater Las Vegas Orchid Society meets once a month and is a great place for me to buy orchids at a huge discount – The more you buy, the more you save. So please tell me, why is my wallet empty when I’m saving so much money?






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