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EDIBLE MUSHROOM CULTIVATION
Unknown to many, Rizal Technological University houses one of the technology centers in Philippine Mushroom production. The Mushroom Technology Project under Research and Development Center, has been existing for more than 10 years with its mission of establishing vital parameters towards improved and maximized production of edible fungi in support of the mushroom industry in the Philippines. Mushrooms are crops which can be effectively produced in the urban environment using wastes. Headed by Prof. Patrocinio O. Macalinao and its co-project leader Prof. Angelita P. Medalla, its objectives includes (1) to establish a viable academe - industry partnership in mushroom research; (2) to identify research agenda catering to the needs of local mushroom industry; (3) to establish and maintain in vitro gene banks for different mushroom strains and species; and (4) to promote the development and the use of mushroom as food, medicine, animal feed and bio-remediant. Mushrooms are fungi and classified in the Class Basidiomycetes. In a broad sense mushrooms are macrofungi with distinctive fruiting bodies which can either be epigeous (aboveground) or hypogeous (below ground), large enough to be seen by the naked eye, and can
be picked up by hand. They are characterized by the presence of gills under the umbrella— shaped cap called pileus. Some have rings while others have none. Most mushrooms have stalks while others some have none. Their size and color vary according to types and species. Parts of a Mushroom Some grow in masses or clusters, singly or in pairs. Others thrive well on cool weather, others in warm places. Mushroom growth vary even on substrates on which they grow. Some grow on decaying wood or logs, others on composted materials. Mushroom are propagated through spores. Just like plants, mushrooms have seed-like structures – spores -- responsible for propagating the species. All fungus produce spores. These spores are very minute and microscopic, and they are dispersed and disseminated through the air with the wind. When they happen to fall on a suitable substrate, these spores will germinate and develop into mycelium If conditions are favorable it continuous to grow, ramify and develop into fruits. These fruits or fruiting bodies are actually what we call as mushrooms. Mushroom life cycle.
Mushrooms are cultivated commercially in caves, dark cellars and in specially constructed mushroom houses in properly maintained humidity and temperature. They are grown in beds (e.g. Button mushroom) consisting of a mixture of animal manure (cow or chicken) and chemically treated rice straw, over which a layer of soil is spread. Prior to this. the mycelium is grown in pure culture under laboratory conditions, using aseptic tissue culture techniques.. In a few weeks the spawn will ramify the entire bed and the mushroom fruiting bodies will begin to appear. Several flushes of mushrooms develop in this manner. Mushrooms are thought to be the most evolved fungi in the natural world. As traditional foods from the ancient times, mushrooms become more and more important for their ability to bio-convert inedible lignocellulose biomass (like wood and plant fiber) into rich protein foods with
excellent nutritional value. Beside their famous delicate flavors, taste and texture, mushrooms are also valued for their medicinal and tonic properties. Some of the Mushrooms grown in the Philippines includes the following:
1. Volvariella volvaceae – They are also called rice straw or banana mushrooms. They are locally known as “kabuting dayami” or “kabuting saging” because they grow in nature on decaying banana trunks and leaves and rice straw. The culture of this mushroom is popular in rural areas where the substrates are abundant.
2. Auricularia spp. – They are also called ear fungi or “taingang daga” . They are also grown either on ipil-ipil logs or on pasteurized rice bran – sawdust substrate combination similar to Pleurotus. Auricularia are popularly cooked as a supplement to vegetable dishes such as chopsuey and soups. They are commonly marketed dried and revive fast to original shape by soaking in water for 5 – 10 minutes.
3. Agaricus bisporus – popularly known as the white button mushroom or champignon. Popular in western countries, the technology of growing these mushrooms is well developed and can be adapted under Philippine conditions. They are grown in cool areas like in Baguio and Benguet.
4. Agaricus bitorquis – a semi temperate or tropical species of white button mushroom. This mushroom species are cultivated during summer since it can thrive at a temperature range of 280 to 320 centigrade Agaricus is grown on composting of rice straw, chicken manure and other supplement like urea and ammonium sulfate. A mushroom growing house where the environment may be adjusted to suit the requirements of the mushrooms should be provided. 5. Lentinus edodes – is the Shiitake or brown or black Japanese mushroom. They are cultivated either on cut logs or sawdust – rice bran combination similar to Pleurotus and Auricularia. They are sold as fresh but most of the imported are packed and sold in dried forms. Among the edible mushrooms, the Shiitake mushrooms are the most known and studied as anti cancer. They are also popular due to their exotic taste and high food value.
6.. Pleurotus spp. – these are the oyster or abalone mushrooms. The temperature requirement for growth and fruiting ranges from 15 – 30 oC, hence the choice of species to be grown depends upon the existing temperature conditions where the mushrooms will be cultivated.
Pleurotus is one of the most popular edible mushrooms now being grown all over the world. It is commonly cultivated not because of its unique taste but its ease of growing. Pleurotus is popularly grown in a combination of rice bran and sawdust plus with combination of some inorganic fertilizers. They are also grown in different ways and containers such as small polypropylene bags or in plastic trays. For more information, contact PROF. PATROCINIO O. MACALINAO, JR - Project Leader or PROF. ANGELITA P. MEDALLA -- Co-Project Leader -- MUSHROOM BIOTECHNOLOGY PROJECT, Research & Development Center, Rizal Technological University, Boni Avenue, Mandaluyong City, Philippines
BASIC PEST & DISEASE MANAGEMENT FOR THE ORCHID GROWER
Common complaints of orchid growers both in the rural and urban areas are the prevalence of pests and diseases attacking their plant collections. However, disease prevention and cleanliness are still the best approach, while chemical spraying is the last resort. Below are some guidelines on preventing or minimizing orchid pest and diseases in your plants. 1. Choose plants carefully before you buy. Inspect plants parts for insect damage, presence of pests, symptoms of viral infection, or signs of rotting. As much as possible, buy only vigorously growing, healthy, pest-free, and diseases-free plants. 2. Quarantine newly acquired plants before mixing them with your collection. Designate a holding area in your garden, maybe in one small corner of the garden, wherein new plants will be placed for 2-3 weeks for observation If in doubt, you may spray or drench the pot with a weak solution of insecticide and fungicide as a propylactic. If the plants looks fine, without changes in health or appearance, then you can mix them with your other plants. 3. Wash and sterilize all pruning / cutting instruments before using them on your plants. Wash them with soap and water and then wipe it with 70% rubbing alcohol. Another way is to dip pruning instruments in Saturated Tri-Sodium Phosphate (TSP) solution, which is a common
sterilant for metal garden tools. To prepare a saturated tri-sodium phosphate (TSP) solution, add 1/2 cup of TSP into 2 gallons of hot water. CAUTION The solution is very corrosive. Mix well using a wooden paddle. Add more TSP until some crystals remain undissolved. A saturated solution is necessary to inactivate viruses. Store excess solution in plastic-covered glass bottles. Make a wide-mouth bottle available in the garden, half filled with TSP, wherein you can dip your pruning shears before cutting or dividing orchids. 4. Learn to identify the common orchid pests or diseases in your garden and consult your local Orchid club on how to control them. Make a routine spot-check protocol every week to check status of your plants in the garden. Make a list of protocol or steps on what to do for certain pest or diseases in a notebook and follow it diligently. 5. Regularly check your plants. .It is unrealistic to expect to eradicate every pest and disease in the garden. There is truth in the phrase, "they breed like flies". Insects multiply rapidly. A "terminated" adult population often leaves behind eggs or larvae. Control may mean learning to live with a few teenage bugs. 6. Remove all dried, yellow or rotting leaves, dry leaf-sheaths, dead or broken roots and spent flowers from your orchid plant. As much as possible, remove all unnecessary parts of the plant where pests or diseases may harbor. 7. Spray prophylactic fungicides like Captan or Dithane on orchids during rainy season to prevent rotting. Allow air movement or ventilation between plants and provide space between plants. Do not over-crowd plants together, because it will encourage rotting. 8. When in doubt, do not water. Over-watered orchids tend to rot. Water vandaceous and monopodial orchids once a day or every other day (or adjust when necessary) and every 3 days for sympodial orchids. 9. Spray insecticide only when necessary. Remember that these are poisons, so take note of the color coding in insecticides, green the least toxic, yellow – moderate, and red tags are highly toxic. Wear proper garments and protective clothing when using pesticides. Consult your local agricultural supplies store for available brands for particular pests or consult your local orchid club. Always read the label of the bottle and follow dilution instruction. Wash hands or take a bath after spraying. Call a doctor in case of poisoning or chemical injury. 10. Regularly fertilized plants once a week using orchid foliar fertilizer, either organic or synthetic in order to supply them with the much needed nutrients for optimum growth. Here are some insect pest of orchids and how to control them. (LEFT) Scales are common traveller along with new orchids. 1. SCALES - This is one of the most frequently encountered pest found on orchids. Low humidity might be a significant contributing factor for its prevalence. These small pests attach to stems, leaves, pseudobulbs, and rhizomes. They can hide under the dried sheaths, which often makes early detection difficult. Of the armored scales, Boisduval scales are the most common. Armored females can deposit from 30-150 eggs under the armor which is round and about one millimeter in diameter. The eggs hatch in one to two weeks or longer, depending on the temperature. The
males usually occur in clusters that look like white lint. Boisduval scales are difficult to control, and it is necessary to examine each plant at least once a week to detect a reoccurrence. 1 tablespoon of Malathion, Lannate or Sevin to 1 gallon of water (plus a few drops of dishwashing liquid) is somewhat effective if the infestation sites are scrubbed (using a toothbrush) with the solution, the entire plant is dipped in the solution, and or thereafter the plant is sprayed once a month. Rubbing alcohol sprayed directly onto Boisduval males will kill them on contact, but does nothing to the armored Boisduval females. As the eggs hatch underneath the armor, the scale pierces the host and causes chlorotic (yellowing) areas by extracting plant fluids. If just one armored female is undetected, the battle to control scale will have been only temporarily "won". In addition, if ants are present in your growing environment, the acts can "carry" newly hatched scales from plant to plant. 2. MEALYBUGS - These are soft-bodied pests which look like cotton. They excrete honeydew in large amounts, and this attracts ants. Adult females are usually oval in shape and from 1/16 to 3/8 inches long. They have well-developed legs, and most mealybugs can move about. Rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle will kill the mealybugs on contact. They favor new growth, but large colonies have been found attached to roots that are near the bottom of the potting medium. Insecticide sprays are good control for this group. 3. ANTS – Ants per se are NOT orchid pest, but they do carry scales, and mealybugs. Also they are nuisance especially the red ones that sting as they thrive inside pots. Control them by Malathion, Ant Chalks, or other insecticide spray. 4. COCKROACHES – They are not regular orchid pests, but they may visit your plants and chew young tender shoots or inflorescence. Control them by spraying Malathion, Sevin or Lannate. Presence of lizards (bubuli) or toads in your garden may control cockroach population. . 5. SNAILS AND SLUGS - These molluscian pests becomes active and feed at night. They leave a silvery trail of slime and often hiide under pots or rocks during the day. They may defoliate seedlings, eat tender shoots, including flower buds. They can be controlled by Snail Pellet Baits, by placing 1 pellet per square meter of the garden, usually on the ground, but NOT on the pots. The snails and slugs are attracted by the metaldehyde scent, lick the pellet and are poisoned. Snails can also be collected by hand, and then crushed by food (the sound of which is a rewarding and fulfilling experience) or placed in a can with concentrated salt solution. 6. APHIDS - These insect pests live and feed in colonies on young growth and on buds. They stunt plant growth and cause buds to fail to open. They may be treated with a spray of 1 tablespoon of Malathion to 1 gallon of water, or sprayed with rubbing alcohol.
7. SPIDER MITES AND FALSE SPIDER MITES - These pests are more prevalent during summer months. They are close relatives of ticks, spiders, and scorpions. Some species spin a fine web similar to those of spiders. False spider mites can only be confirmed by examination of a damaged leaf under a microscope. However, the presence of mites can be determined by rubbing a white cloth over a suspect leaf. If mites or eggs are present, brownish streaks will be seen on the cloth. Also, there is a characteristic silver-like appearance to a leaf infested with spider mites. Spray with miticides, usually containing diazinon, dimethoate or dimite. A non-toxic mixture for red spider mites is composed of : 2 tablespoons cold water + liquid detergent 1 tablespoon methyl alcohol or rubbing alcohol (isopropyl or ethanol) 1 tablespoon cooking oil enough water to fill a hand plastic sprayer These are then filtered in a cloth before being placed in a hand plastic sprayer. 9. WEEVILS – These are one of the most serious pests of Dendrobium, Cymbidium and Vanda orchids. These are small black bugs with a curved snout, similar to rice weevils. They are often difficult to control and they bore holes in pseudobulbs or stems where they lay eggs. Eggs hatch into larvae which feeds inside the orchid plant and is therefore protected from insecticide spraying. Adult weevils comes out at night. Spray insecticides or handpick weevil bugs at night using a flashlight, or sprinkle diatomaceous earth (sand-like) in crevices of orchid leaves where they usually hide. Another control is to spray plants with a systemic insecticide containing Carbaryl. 10. WHITE FLIES – White flies are prevalent during summer. They resembled clouds of nearmicroscopic snowflakes and suck the sap of orchid plants. They also attack other garden plants and trees. The color yellow is a particular "favorite" of white flies. Growers successfully controlled the problem by placing white fly "traps" close to any yellow colored object. The white flies became stuck in the sticky substance like “molasses traps”. Irrigate plants more frequently during summer or use diluted Perla soap solution sprays to deter this pests. For major infestation, spray insecticides.. Though insect pests are major problems in orchid growing, fungal, bacterial and viral diseases do also set in as a secondary problem after insects. It is recommended to always control insect pest problems to minimize diseases, and also follow sanitation, limitation in watering, sterilization of pruning utensils, fertilization and proper spacing of plants. Here are some diseases to watch out for and possible remedies: 1. BACTERIAL ROT - This problem occurs as soft, dark brown/black areas on leaves, and is frequently circular. On pseudobulbs, the blackened area can extend to the rhizome. This is due to bacterial infection. Cut off infected parts and seal wounds with fungicide paste (e.g. Captan or Dithane). Sterilize pruning shear afterwards before using in other plants. Allow air-circulation around plants in the garden and limit watering. 2. LEAF SPOTS AND BLOTCHES -- Leaf-spotting fungi such as Cercospora, Septoria and Phyllosticta produce unsightly speckles and blotches on the leaves of orchids such as
Cattleya, Dendrobium, Oncidium, and Vanda. The spots are rough to the touch. Microscopic examination will reveal the presence of a fungal tissue with distinctive spores. Infection causes premature leaf fall, thus reducing plant vigor and flowering capability. Severely infected plants may die prematurely. To control this disease, remove and burn diseased plant parts. Improve air circulation in the garden or nursery and spray with appropriate fungicide solution (e.g. Captan or Dithane). 3. BLACK ROT -- Black Rot is a particularly aggressive infection of Cattleyas caused by a fungus, Phytophthora. This can be observed when a new shoot suddenly turns black: the rot moves rapidly, killing the rest of the plant. A whitish 'bloom' of fungus spores may be seen on
the diseased tissue. Heat-stressed orchids are more susceptible. This disease is more prevalent during wet weather: it is spread primarily by splashing water from plant to plant or from soil to plant This disease can be controlled by sheltering plants from excessive rain during monsoon months.. Isolate infected plants, cut and burn diseased parts. Spray or dust with appropriate fungicide
4. BLACK LEG / DRY ROT -- Dendrobiums and Vandas growing in waterlogged potting or bedding materials are susceptible to a slow but inexorable rot of the roots and stem from below. The causative fungi are Fusarium and Rhizoctonia. Pseudobulbs become spongy and discolored. The leaves, especially in Vanda, will yellow and drop off, one by one, until none are left and the plant dies. Fortunately, plants can be salvaged, and uninfected pseudobulbs of Dendrobiums can be removed to allow keikis to form. If a Vanda has many aerial roots, sever the stem above the line of infection. Since the disease is caused primarily by poor culture, fungicides are not recommended for control. Use potting / bedding materials appropriate to the plant type. Replace potting materials before they become old and waterlogged. Burn infected materials. 5. BACTERIAL SOFT ROT -- Soft rots are difficult to diagnose but whatever the causative agent, they can be devastating to an orchid collection. Orchids will be more vulnerable to infection if they are over fertilized, given insufficient light and ventilation, and if they are permitted to remain wet especially in the crown. Rots are a problem during the wet season, also after storms or typhoons when plants are bruised and leaves are torn by strong winds. Shelter susceptible plants from excessive rain. Be vigilant for rot during the wet season. 6. BACTERIAL SPOT ROT – These is caused by Pseudomonas and Erwinia. Symptoms includes soft, brown, smelly, fluid-filled blisters on leaves and in the crown of Phalaenopsis, Paphiopedilum, and Catasetum. The disease is highly contagious. Crown rot will quickly kill a plant. Leaf spots can be excised or removed so that the plant can be saved. The disease can be controlled by withholding water, improve ventilation, and removing / burning infected tissues. Be careful not to break the blisters as its sap can infect other plant parts. Reduce the amount of nitrogen component of fertilizers, and increase the potassium component. Pot Phalaenopsis plants vertically, usually mounted on a slab, so that the crown drains freely and will not collect water.. Use Captan fungicide.to prevent secondary fungal diseases. 7. VIRAL DISEASES - Viruses are the most dreaded diseases of orchids. There is no known cure although some plants appear more resistant to damage than others. An infected plant remains a constant source of infection for others in a collection. Viruses can cripple, disfigure and weaken plants. Two viruses, Cymbidium Mosaic Virus (CMV) and the Odontoglossum Ringspot Virus (ORSV) are transmitted solely by the grower. They are most commonly spread with a cutting tool contaminated with infected sap. Other viruses are spread by insects. Bean Yellow Mosaic Virus is spread from infected bean plants by aphids to orchids, especially Masdevallias, then between susceptible plants if aphids infest the collection. The presence of viruses can be determined by laboratory testing procedures. ALWAYS STERILIZE YOUR PRUNING INSTRUMENTS BEFORE DIVIDING PLANTS! Isolate all suspected virus-infected plants from you collection. Do not re-use old or used potting media.
NOTE Insect Pests tend to build up resistance to chemicals, and thus, it is necessary to alternate products used for effective control. Use at least 3 types alternately, example: Malathion, Sevin and Lannate. Water plants first before spraying with pesticides. Spray early in the morning or late in the afternoon, but never in mid-noon as the heat of the sun coupled with pesticide spray will burn the plant. Always wear protective clothing when spraying insecticides or fungicides. Read and follow label instructions carefully before using. WEEDS Various plants will grow in containers with orchids, competing with them for fertilizer and water. Weeds include Ferns, Peperomia, Lace Plant (Pilea), climbing vines and some monocot grasses. The grower should be alerted to the invasion of weeds. Not only do they compete with the orchids for space but they can also harbor pests. Remove the weeds by hand before they become firmly established and reproduce.
Cattleya: The Perfect Orchid for Beginners
This genus Cattleya is named after the English orchid collector William Cattley (in early 19th century). The Cattleyas and their alliance (60 or more species) remain to be the best known and most popular of all orchids around the world. A picture of a huge Cattleya flower always comes into mind whenever the word orchid is mentioned. Cattleyas have long been counted amongst the best known and most sought-after orchids because if their beautiful, colorful and large flowers. Their value to the nursery man has increased through the culture of specific hybrids and intergeneric hybrids. However, Cattleyas are not native to the Philippines, they native only to the tropics of the Western Hemisphere, from Brazil through Venezuela, Columbia, Central America and Mexico. Cattleyas of today actually consist of a complex group of hybrids created by combining Cattleya species or hybrids with closely related genera such as Laelia, Brassavola, Encyclia (Epidendrum), Sophronitis, Broughtonia, Schomburgkia, Diacrium, and intergeneric hybrids like Brassalaeliacattleya (Blc.) Laeliacattleya (Lc.) Growth Habit The Cattleyas have a sympodial type of growth habit, wherein the real orchid is its rhizome, a underground horizontal stem, and new pseudobulbs grow from each new node. The pseudobulbs are capable of storing water and nutrients; thus, the growth of new pseudobulbs is dependent on the previews old
pseudobulbs. They can be divided into two groups according to the number of leaves namely the single-leaved or labiata group, to which the C. labiata species belongs, with few, but relatively large flowers, and the twin leaved group, which has as many and somewhat smaller flowers. A sheath forms at the base of the leaves at the end of the growing period, and from this the inflorescence develops and emerge. Cultural Requirements Light. Matured Cattleyas grow in 60% sunlight up to full sun, provided that they are protected from intense heat and light at noontime, to prevent scorching of leaves. They require light at intensities 32.29 to 53.82 klx (3000 to 5000 footcandles) and can also withstand 64.58 klx (6000 fc) for short periods if a constantly moving air cools the plants (specially high tropical cloud forests). Speaking of providing light for Cattleyas, it is like the saying "expose cattleya to all the light minus the heat. When plants are properly exposed to light, its pseudobulbs are plump and hard, light green in color, with thick leaves, flowers have strong stems, with heavy substance. Insufficient light usually produces spindly growth, thin pseudobulbs, and dark green leaves. They may even fail to flower. Overexposure to sun produces plant with stunted growth, yellowing to almost bleached appearance. Potting Techniques. Cattleya could be planted either in plastic or clay pots, and the plant have to be properly stalked or anchored in the center of the pot using GI or copper wires. The plant must also be tied properly into the wire stalk to prevent it from moving during watering. Stalking is very important because insufficiently stalked plants will fail to root. A matured plant can be divided into individual plants with 3-4 pseudobulbs. The plants need to be cut using a sterilized pruning shear (dipped in Chlorox solution every time a new plant is to be cut or washed in soap and water) and swabbed with 70% ethyl alcohol to prevent spreading plant viruses. The wound needs to be sealed with a fungicides paste (a teaspoon of water added in 2 teaspoon fungicide powder) to prevent entry of fungal diseases into the wound. Newly potted plants needs to be sprayed with a rotting hormone like Hormex, Quick Root or Root Booster to induce new roots. Water. The rate of watering depends on location, wind movement, and light intensity. Water only when the media is dry; and allow plant to dry (not bone dry) before another watering. Spraying water all over the plant using a water hose until the plant is dripping wet is satisfactory. Ventilation or wind movement is very important in drying the plant. Plants needs to be kept dry a few hours after watering. Water soaked plants tend to rot. Use an industrial or electric fan to dry
plants if wind movement is not available. Also check the water quality, since orchids prefer soft water (similar to rain water) with low total dissolved solids (TDS). Flowering. Plants flower when mature, and when well exposed to light, and well fertilized and watered. Some species and hybrids are photo-periodic sensitive (responds well to short day or long day photoperiod). Cattleyas usually flower once every year, but if you have a potted plant with several leads, then it could produce 2-4 blooms a year. Fertilization. Cattleyas are heavy feeders, they respond very well to fertilization. Fertilize only during active growth and do not fertilize during dormant periods. Use foliar fertilizers for orchids (with trace elements and follow the recommended dilution rate in the label. Cattleyas could be fertilized 3X or once every week. Use balanced growing fertilizers with high Nitrogen (N) for seedlings and high in Potassium (K) or blooming fertilizers for matured plants. Wet plants with water first before spraying dilute solutions of fertilizers. Growing Media. Cattleyas are epiphytes and usually grow on tree trunks in their native habitat. In culture, they could grow on charcoal, croaks (broken pottery), and chopped tree fern, acacia wood, or caimito branches. Propagation. Conventionally, Cattleyas could be propagated through division of pseudobulbs. Plants can be divided using sterile prunning shears into 3-4 pseudobulbs each and mounted on clay pots with charcoal. The fastest and efficient way of propagation is through seed culture technology in the laboratory. Flowers of selected plants are pollinated, and their seed capsule are allowed to mature. Cattleya seed capsules mature in about 6 months (but also depends on species and hybrids). They usually contain about 50,000 to a million seeds! The seeds are then sown in the laboratory in a glass vessel with an artificial nutrient medium, when the seeds will germinate till they become hardy seedlings in a years time. Then, they are out-planted in the nursery where they mature from 2 to 5 years.
Growing a Venus Fly Trap
The Venus Fly trap, or scientifically known as Dionaea muscipula, is the typical carnivorous plant that catches and digests animal prey—mostly insects and spiders. Mostly seen in science fiction books, they are sometimes given the wrong image of being large plants and can devour humans, is certainly not true. It is actually a small to medium sized herbaceous plant, forming a rosette of four to seven leaves, which arise from a short subterranean stem that is actually a bulb-like rhizome. The plant is usually found growing in very humid or moist areas, and can actually be grown by an amateur home gardener as long as he or she learns the plants basic requirements. Their ability to trap insect prey is an adaptation to supply the plant with added nourishments, as they do live in nutrient deficient habitats. Its trapping structure is formed by the terminal portion of each of the plant's leaves and is triggered by tiny hairs on their inner surfaces. When an insect or spider crawling along the leaves comes into contact with one or more of the hairs twice in succession, the trap closes. The requirement of redundant triggering in this mechanism serves as a safeguard against the
spurious expending of energy toward trapping other, non-living things which may not reward the plant with similar nutrition. The leaf blade is divided into two regions: a flat, heart shaped photosynthetic capable petiole, and a pair of terminal lobes hinged at the midrib, forming the trap which is the true leaf. The upper surface of these lobes contains red anthocyanin pigments and its edges secrete mucilage. The lobes exhibit rapid plant movements, snapping shut when stimulated by a prey. The trapping mechanism is tripped when prey items stumble against one of the three hair-like trichomes that are found on the upper surface of each of the lobes. The trapping mechanism is so specialized that it can distinguish between living prey and non-prey stimuli such as falling raindrops; two trigger hairs must be touched in succession or one hair touched twice, whereupon the lobes of the trap will snap shut in about 0.1 seconds. The edges of the lobes are fringed by stiff hair-like protrusions or cilia, which mesh together and prevent large prey items from escaping. The holes in the meshwork allow small prey to escape, presumably because the benefit that would be obtained from them would be less than the cost of digesting them. If the prey is too small and escapes, the trap will reopen within 12 hours. If the prey moves around in the trap, it tightens and digestion begins more quickly. Speed of closing can vary depending on the amount of humidity, light, size of prey, and general growing conditions. The speed with which traps close can be used as an indicator of a plant's general health. The Venus Fly Trap is not a native of the Philippines , and is found in nitrogen-poor environments, such as bogs and wet savannahs, where fire increases its survivability. They are small in size and slow growing, the Venus flytrap tolerates fire well, and depends on periodic burning to suppress its competition. Fire suppression threatens its future in the wild. It survives in wet sandy and peaty soils. Although it has been successfully transplanted and grown in many locales around the world, it is found natively only in North and South Carolina in the United States, specifically within a 100 mile radius of Wilmington , North Carolina . The nutritional poverty of the soil is the reason that the plant relies on such elaborate traps: insect prey provide the nitrogen for protein formation that the soil cannot. Venus Fly Traps are very popular in America as cultivated plants, although they have a large reputation for being difficult to grow. However, Venus Flytraps are safely grown in pots under conditions that mimic those in their natural habitat. The 'Dentate' cultivar of the venus fly trap in cultivationVenus Flytraps ideally should not be watered with tap water as accumulated salts in tap water may kill carnivorous plants. While soft water yields good growth, both distilled, reverse osmosis water or clean rain water are ideal.
Healthy Venus fly traps may produce blooms of white flowers when mature however, many growers remove the flowering stem early (2~3 inches), as flowering consumes some of the plant's energy, and reduces the rate of trap production. If healthy plants are allowed to flower, successful pollination will result in the production of dozens of small, shiny black seeds, which can be sown immediately or stored in the refrigerator. Cultural Requirements for Venus Fly Trap Plants: Grow you Venus Fly Traps in an enclosed clear glass or plastic container, similar to a terrarium. An aquarium, or an inexpensive large mineral water plastic cylinder can be an ideal growing condition for this plant as moisture can be retained inside. Light – Venus fly traps inside the glass or plastic container can be exposed to diffused bright light (about 50% light). Protect them from direct sun, . to avoid scorching of leaves. Watering & Humidity – Water plants regularly by misting with rain water, soft water with TDS of 100 ppm or less, water from the faucet or distilled water. Do not use mineral-rich water like from deep well. Grow plants inside a terrarium or an aquarium, similar how you treat terrarium plants. The soil should be kept constantly moist by placing the pot in a tray full of water, with the root bulb of the plant allowed to be above the level of the water at least part of the time to prevent root rot in stagnant water. There is no danger of over-watering as Venus flytraps can survive short periods of immersion underwater. Potting Technique – Venus flytraps are best grown in mixtures of sphagnum peat moss and/or peat often with the addition of sand, perlite or other inert salt free material. In local conditions, a mixture of sphagnum moss, sand, and paslak can be used as potting mix. Soil pH should be in the range of 3.9 to 4.8.
The Urban Gardener is an official electronic publication (in PDF Format) of the Plant Biotechnology Project, Research & Development Center, Rizal Technological University, Boni Avenue, Mandaluyong City, Philippines. It is published monthly. For more information, please inquire thru email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com and
landline (+632) 534-8267 Local 135 or Fax (+632) 534-9710.
Edited by N.R. Bautista © February 2010
The Plant Biotechnology Project Committee is composed of: Alexander B. Quilang, Norberto R. Bautista, Jovita A. Anit & Carnette C. Pulma.
Fertilization / Feeding. As much as possible, do not fertilize, as there is a tendency to over fertilize. Some horticulturists have experimented with giving small amounts of fertilizer to Venus fly traps, usually diluted solutions of orchid fertilizers using cotton swabs, to the plant's foliage. Another method of fertiliser application is a spray bottle or pump. Beginners, however, and those without expendable plants, would be wise to avoid fertilizer in favor of insects.
Healthy Venus fly traps are entirely capable of catching their own food. However, for plants inside terrariums or containers, feeding them manually is not necessary. Feed your plants with live insects no larger than 1/3 of the size of the trap, as larger insects tend to have a detrimental effect on the plant as they often drastically shorten the individual trap's life and/or cause it to die. Algal growth near the plant is an indicator of overfeeding, as is an abundance of dead, black traps. 1 insect per 2 weeks maybe sufficient. Pruning. Leaf traps die naturally as the plant grows. Dead or dried parts need to be trimmed off. Pest & Diseases. Most plants has not much pest, specially when grown inside a bottle, aquarium or terrarium. Propagation. Venus fly traps can be propagated by division or by seeds. Plants usually flower, and pollinated flowers produce seeds. Seeds may be sown on damp chopped sphagnum moss or paslak enclosed in a plastic disposable container. One may produce seedlings from seeds, although seedlings will take several years to mature. Efficient propagation techniques also makes rare species available and affordable to plant hobbyists and collectors.
A commercial grower producing hundreds of Venus fly trap plants for plant enthusiasts. These plants are botanical curiosities among children and adult alike, making them an ideal “plant pet” in the home.
Farmer's Guide to Companion Planting
By Henrylito D. Tacio
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on February 1, 2010.
EVER heard of companion planting? It is based around the idea that certain plants can benefit others when planted next to, or close to one another. It exists to benefit certain plants by giving them pest control, naturally without the need to use chemicals, and in some cases they can give a higher crop yield. Companion planting, considered to be a form of polyculture, is used by farmers and gardeners in both industrialized and developing countries for many reasons. Researchers have proven that by having a beneficial crop in a nearby field that attracts certain insects away from a neighboring field that has the main crop can prove very beneficial. Companion planting exists in a physical way. For example, tall-growing, sun-loving plants may share space with lower-growing, shade-tolerant species, resulting in higher total yields from the land. Planting tall or dense-canopied plants may protect more vulnerable plants through shading or by providing a windbreak. In some instances, the benefit is derived when companion plants provide a good environment for beneficial insects, and other arthropods, especially those predatory and parasitic species that help to keep pest populations in check. Other ways that companion planting can be beneficial is to plant a crop like legumes on an area where it will feed nitrogen into the soil, then it will not be necessary to use any chemical fertilizers for the next crop. Unfortunately, there are other plants that slow down each other's growth. These crops should not be grown together. Experts call this phenomenon as antagonistic planting. Now, here's a list of vegetable crops with their companion plants and antagonistic plants (culled from various sources): Amaranth: A tropical annual that needs hot conditions to flourish. Good with sweet corn; its leaves provide shade giving the corn a rich, moist root run. Also, amaranth is host to predatory ground beetles. Ampalaya: This all-year round vegetable can be grown along with trellised lima bean, yard-long bean, and winged bean. Asparagus: Friend of tomato, parsley, basil, and marigold. Avoid planting asparagus with onion, garlic and potato. Basil: Plant with tomato to improve growth and flavor. Basil also does well with peppers, oregano, asparagus and petunias. It can be helpful in repelling thrips. Basil is said to repel flies and mosquitoes. Beans: All beans enrich the soil with nitrogen fixed from the air. Generally, they are good company for carrot, celery, corn, eggplant, peas, potato, beets, radish, and cucumber. Beans are great for heavy nitrogen users like corn because beans fix nitrogen from the air into the soil so the nitrogen used up by the corn are replaced at the end of the season when the bean plants die back. Keep beans away from the alliums.
Cabbage: Potato, celery, dill, and onion are good companion plants. Celery improves growth and health. It does not get along with tomato, peppers, eggplant, grapes and pole sitao. Carrot: Its pals are leaf lettuce, leek, peas, onion and tomato. Keep dill away from carrot. One drawback with tomato and carrot when planted together: tomato plants can stunt the growth of the carrots but the latter will still be of good flavor. Cassava: It gets along well with sweet potato, swamp cabbage, pechay, alugbati, lettuce, garlic, golden squash, and peanut. Celery: Among its companions are beans, cabbage, leek, onion, and tomato. Its foe: corn. Corn: Grown best with amaranth, beans, cucumber, melons, parsley, peanut, peas, potato, soybean, squash, and sunflower. Keep corn away from celery and tomato plants. Cucumber: Cucumber is great to plant with corn and beans. The three plants like the same conditions: warmth, rich soil and plenty of moisture. Let the cucumbers grow up and over the corn plants. A great duet is to plant cucumber with sunflower. The sunflower provides a strong support for the vines. Cucumber also does well with peas, beets, radish, and carrot. Radish is a good deterrent against cucumber beetles. Dill planted with cucumbers helps by attracting beneficial predators. Keep potato away from cucumber. Eggplant: Plant with amaranth, beans, peas, swamp cabbage, golden squash, radish, and marigold. Eggplant is a member of the nightshade family and does well with peppers. Avoid planting potato near eggplant. Garlic: This spice crop accumulates sulfur: a naturally occurring fungicide which will help in the garden with disease prevention. Garlic is systemic in action as it is taken up the plants through their pores and when garlic tea is used as a soil drench it is also taken up by the plant roots. Lettuce: Does well with beet, bush bean, pole bean, cabbage, carrot, cucumber, onion, and radish. It grows happily in the shade under young sunflowers. Onion: Planting chamomile with onion improves the former's flavor. Other companions: carrot, leek, beet, dill, lettuce, and tomato. Intercropping onion and leek with your carrot confuses the carrot and onion flies! Keep onion away from peas, beans, and asparagus. Peas: Companions for peas are bush beans, pole beans, carrots, celery, corn, cucumber, eggplant, parsley, radish, and sweet pepper. Do not plant peas with onion, garlic, and potato. Potato: The following may be planted with potato: bush bean, cabbage, carrot, celery, corn, marigold, peas, and onion. Don't plant these around potato: asparagus, cucumber, squash, and sunflower. Keep potato and tomato apart as they both can get early and late blight contaminating each other. Tomato: Grown along with asparagus, parsley, cabbage, onion, radish, garlic and carrot. Tomato protects asparagus from asparagus beetles while asparagus protects tomato from nematodes. Planted with garlic, the latter repels red spider mite. Don't grow potato and tomato with each other; potato inhibits tomato growth while tomato renders potato more susceptible to blight.
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