Paul Nickerson

Archive for September, 2011|Monthly archive page

Pineapple Update!

In Propagation on September 21, 2011 at 9:24 am

Pineapple Update

So I thought it was high time I posted a photo of the pineapple I rooted in my Indorm Aquaponic system. To recap, we rooted a number of different pineapple tops both in traditional potting soil, as well as two in the aquaponics system. The ones in the system formed roots very rapidly, and within a few months began to show shoot growth.

Eight month ago I placed this top in my Indorm Aquaponic System. (It is pictured in soil as I was transporting it from Ct to Pa. This is the newest picture of the pineapple. It seems to be growing really well. As Pineapples are Bromeliads, I have found it to be very advantageous for shoot development to periodically add water to the cups of the leaves.

Propagating Papayas

In Propagation on September 20, 2011 at 3:59 pm

Papaya Seedlings

So about a month ago, I was talking with an older, Chinese woman about some mango trees I am growing. She was put off by the length of time it take for a mango tree to mature to fruition, and told me I shouldn’t be growing mangoes, but papayas. ‘Just remember,’ she stated, ‘you need one of each gender. If you have that you will get fruits very fast.’

Germinating papayas is almost too easy. After removing the seeds from fruit, soak them in a soapy solution to break down some of the fleshy material encapsulating the individual seeds. This is important as residual flesh rots and stinks. Once the flesh is removed from the seeds, they should be thoroughly rinsed.

Covered Seedlings

Sow the seeds just below the surface in a small pot, water evenly, and cover with a piece of plastic or a plastic bag. I first attempted to germinate the seeds on a paper towel in a plastic bag. After a week, I opened the bag to check on them. I had not cleaned off all of the flesh, and had to continue the process outside due to the smell. My second attempt was carried out in a covered pot, and had wonderful results.

Once the seeds germinated, I placed a clear container (we got tea in it from a Chinese take-out) over the top of the pot to keep in moisture and warmth.

Potting Carnivorous Plants and African Violets

In Potting, Propagation on September 20, 2011 at 3:41 pm

African Violet in Moss System

When potting carnivorous plants, African Violets, and other plants that need a steady, moist environment, it can be difficult to maintain a balance between too dry, and saturated. Typically, these specimens require daily attention, but with this method, you can water these plants once every week or so, and the plant will absorb moisture as needed between watering.

Smaller Porous Pot

This setup require two different pots. The first is a large, watertight (plastic or glazed terra-cotta) pot. The second is a small, very porous, terra-cotta pot. There is a type of clay that is used on a lot of cheap, decorative terra-cotta pots. This work especially well, and is what I used.

Two Pots Set Up

Pot the specimen in the smaller pot as would normally be done. Fill the bottom of the larger pot with peat moss. Fill it so that when the smaller pot is placed into the larger one, the top of the pots are even. When this is done, center the smaller pot within the large one, and firmly pack more peat moss around all side of the smaller pot.

To water the plant, fill the moss-filled space with water. The water will slowly seep through the porous terra-cotta pot, and into the media in which the plant is growing. This osmosis will slowly, evenly, supply water the plant.

Friendly Fungi: Leucocoprinus birnbaumii

In Pest Management on September 19, 2011 at 12:00 am

Photo From

I am not a Mycologist. I just wanted to preface this post with that.

I was recently working with a group of students in a small CSA garden in Philadelphia. During the course of the day, a number of students asked be about long, yellow fungi that were growing all throughout the garden.

There is a lot of discussion on forums out there regarding this small yellow fungus that seems to pop up in house plants, compost piles, and garden rows. Although I am not a Mycologist, I have collected a number of these samples from my own vermicompost and the pots I have treated with it, and brought them to a number of different Mycologists and Botanists.

For all of you out there wondering, as I was, they are completely harmless to your plants, but are considered toxic. They tend to grow in areas of high nutrients, particularly in raw compost where such levels are very high. Fungi such as this are an essential part of the composting system as they break down decomposing matter.

If you wish to rid you plants of these fungi, a number of different steps can be taken. First, quarantine the infected plant. You can attempt to remove the fungi by pulling them up from their bases, however, it may be necessary to completely change the infected potting media. When I had this problem I simply waited it out as I did not have any animals or children near my plants. Just to see how it works, I removed to soil from one of my plants, baked in for an hour at a low temperature to sterilize it, then reused it. This seemed to take care of the problem.

Germinating Prickly Pears

In Propagation on September 18, 2011 at 11:15 pm

Prickly Pear Seedlings

So this is a little more involved than your usual ‘bury and wait’ germination, but its not impossible. At the beginning of this past summer, a friend brought a number of Prickly Pear seeds home from vacation. Being the type of people we are, we HAD to give it a shot.

The first step to germinating these seeds is cleaning off any extra pulp that may remain. This can be done by soaking the seeds in a warm, soapy bath for a few minutes. You may have to use your fingers to pull the pulp from the seeds. Once the pulp has been removed, rinse the seeds.

This is the fun part. In nature, the seeds pass through the digestive system of different animals before they are ready to germinate. For higher germination yields, we will need to imitate this. The seeds need to be soaked for an hour in an acid bath. It is possible to germinate Prickly Pear seeds without washing them in acid, but it can take up to a year! (I recommend you use the acid.) Courtesy of the Department of Chemistry, we were able to use sulfuric acid for this step. Lemon juice will work fine however.

After allowing the seeds to soak, rinse them again in water, then stratify them in a mixture of 1:1 vermiculite and perlite. Cover the container, and place in an refrigerator for 90 days. After the 90 period, vent the container and place in a sunny location. You should begin to see sprouts shortly after. The individual plants can be potted separately in a well draining media. We had a very high rate of germination, and the plants seem to be doing really well!

‘Artificial Leaf’ Solar Technology

In Alternative Agriculture, Gardening on September 18, 2011 at 11:03 pm

‘Artificial Leaf’ Solar Technology.

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