Monday, December 21, 2009

Avocado for the Holidays

Instead of buying a Christmas tree, I convinced my parents to break from tradition and have an Avocado Christmas. For about $40 we purchased a Bacon Avocado tree from the local nursery and replaced it with a would-be Christmas tree. This potentially saved us a few bucks, and rewarded us with a wonderful avocado tree to plant outside in the spring. Sadly not every ornament could fit on the tree so we had to improvise, but overall I would say it was a great experiment and looks wonderful!

Happy Holidays

Saturday, December 12, 2009

How to: Propagate Sugarcane

Sugarcane is a tall perennial grass that is a very popular source for sugar and biofuel. It has a commercial growth period of between one to two years before harvest. For landscaping purposes sugarcane acts a lot like bamboo and is also cold sensitive, so those living in cold climates may have trouble cultivating sugarcane. Eating it raw provides a delicious sugary snack, all you have to do is shed the hard outer layer to expose the fiberous juicy core. Make sure not to eat the fibers and instead just drink the juice. Growing sugarcane is a very simple task once you get a hold of some raw cane. You will notice that the cane is in segments, at the end of each segment is a bud and some small dots.The bud is where the new sugarcane will grow, while the small dots are where the new roots will grow from. To encourage root growth I take the cane segments and wrap them in a wet paper towel before putting them in a zip-lock bag. I then put the bag somewhere warm and wait for 1-2 weeks.
The result will look a bit like this. You can see the roots grow very long and stringy which will provide a head start for the plant. You can see the bud in the center of the image.

The next step is to acquire some potting soil and add some sand to it. It should be in soil that will provide good drainage.

Now place rooted end of the cane deep in the soil, with the bud facing up. It should be oriented at about a 45 degree angle to allow the bud to grow straight up into a new cane.

Sugar cane is easy to start indoors and to transplant outside, make sure it stays warm and gets some sunlight. Fertilizer should not be necessary as it requires little nutrients.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

This is an introduction to what I have starting in my solar porch, in addition to many other plants and seeds that have yet to germinate, such as mangoes, avocados, and kiwi.

I bought this lovely young plant on the internet and it's called a Dwarf Orinoco banana. It will reach a height of 6-8ft and it should bear some fruit so it will be perfect for the greenhouse, seeing as how it fits my space restrictions.

I also purchased Myrciaria cauliflora on the internet, more commonly known as a Brazilian grape. I have read that they can be used in the same fashion as grapes when making jams and wine. This is a very different plant than your average grape vine however and it grows more like a tree with profound branching and many leaves. The Jaboticaba (Brazilian Grape) is a very slow grower and it may take up to ten years before it bears fruit so I am in for a long wait.

This is one of my better looking sugar cane plants. It is a glossy black variety that has been propagated by cutting and it is doing quite well.

This happens to be a Pitaya plant that will eventually bear dragonfruit. There are many different species of Pitaya and I am not certain but I believe that this is a Red Pitaya (Hylocereus undatus).

Last but not least is one of my favorite plants, Vanilla planifolia, which is of course a vanilla bean plant! It belongs to the orchid family and supposedly is one of the more difficult types of orchids to grow so I am crossing my fingers. This particular species is native to mexico and is supposed to vine excessively.