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Now It's My Time

This is a discussion on Now It's My Time within the Flasking Equipment & Technique forums, part of the Orchid Propagation category; Finally I designed and built my own glove box! The hexagonal design happened because I ...

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  1. #1
    SvenLittkowski's Avatar
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    Default Now It's My Time

    Finally I designed and built my own glove box! The hexagonal design happened because I wanted easy angles for how to put my arms inside the box.

    Having finally my own glove box, I felt it was a good time to boldly go where I never went before: germinating orchids! I found this instruction for the orchid germination medium on the Internet.


    90 ml Water
    4 g Mashed Peeled Banana
    1 g Agar Agar
    2 g Sugar (I use icing sugar dust instead)
    10 ml Fresh Peeled Crushed Tomatoes (I use 12,5 g tomato paste instead)
    0.12 g Thiamine (Powderized Vitamin B Tablets)

    But instead of fresh tomatoes, I used tomato paste. Where other mediums are almond-colored, my on e has the pleasant color of a brick red. But I hope, it does its job the same good as other germination mixtures. It is my very first attempt.

    I boil my mixture in a steam pressure cooking pot for 30 minutes (I gave that longer time to make sure to kill any bacteria or fungus) to fully sterilize.
    I kept in pot until next day, and then closed the lids.
    I kept bottles in clean supermarket bags (the transparent ones from the vegetable department) to avoid surface contamination.

    And now I am waiting 5 to 6 days with seed propagation, in order to check if no bad fungus or bacteria came in.

    I want to try germinating vanilla seeds. But how to sterilize the vanilla? I don't want that the seeds bring any bad fungus or bacteria into the germination mixture. Who has an answer for me? Also: can a vanilla bean from the supermarket be used as germination candidate?

    Any advices, suggestions or hints? Comments are welcome, too. Thanks.


    above: wheeled carrier construction and glove box

    above: the glove box from different angles

    above: the empty glove box is now filled with the germination flasks which contain the germination mixture, and my germination candidate - a vanilla bean from the supermarket

    After the seeds have been placed on the surface of the germination mixture and the lids are closed, I will use candle wax to seal the lid area against any unwanted infestation of fungus or bacteria. But for now I will test them for one week for any unwanted invaders. The wetness on the glass is caused by the spraying of hydrogen peroxide to sterilize the box from the inside.

    QUESTIONS

    How to avoid that the seeds carry any unwanted bacteria or fungus inside the flasks? is there any way to sterilize the seeds, too?

    Instead of sugar, I used icing sugar because it is much easier to mix. Should I use icing sugar?

    Instead of fresh tomato, I used tomato paste. Could that cause any problems?

    Can I use hydrogen peroxide to sterilize the box from the inside?

    How long do you keep the filled flasks for contamination test before putting the seeds inside?
    Last edited by SvenLittkowski; January 4th, 2014 at 03:50 AM.

  2. #2
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    Jx3
    Jx3 is offline Paphcrazy
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    Not familar with this aspect of growing orchids, but it looks cool. Good luck!

  3. #3
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    I look forward to following this topic.

    Cheers,
    BD

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    Icing sugar is fine, it is just regular sugar ground up finer.

    You can sterilize your seeds. If your pods are green when you open them, you shouldn't need to sterilize the seeds, but if you let the capsules open, then you should sterilize the seeds. Use one part of household bleach with 19 parts of water, shake the seeds in there for about 5 minutes, and rinse them with sterilized water.

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    Thanks a lot for all the replies, and for the hints.

    Two more question: Online photos show that the orchid growing medium is transparent or almond-colored. But my own one has a pleasant brick red color. I used tomato paste instead of a plain tomato. Could that be a problem?

    What would be the right germination and growing media mixture for Paphiopedilum?

    I also consider adding a small amount of coconut water to my future growing mediums.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SvenLittkowski View Post
    Thanks a lot for all the replies, and for the hints.

    Two more question: Online photos show that the orchid growing medium is transparent or almond-colored. But my own one has a pleasant brick red color. I used tomato paste instead of a plain tomato. Could that be a problem?

    What would be the right germination and growing media mixture for Paphiopedilum?

    I also consider adding a small amount of coconut water to my future growing mediums.
    The red color is going to be there no matter what form your tomato is in, unless you get some yellow tomatoes. The commercial growing media don't have any tomato in them, that is why they are almond colored. Using coconut water isn't going to hurt, several commercial media use it.

    As far as specific growing media for specific plants, it sounds like you aren't ready to purchase pre-mixed orchid media, those will have been formulated for the best germination and growth. Using homemade will likely work, you might not get the highest level of germination though. On the other hand, if you are only getting 1% germination, but you planted 100,000 seeds, that's still 1,000 plants.

    The basic needs of orchid seeds are going to be a sugar source such as sugar, tomato, banana, etc. and fertilizer with Nitrogen (N), Potassium (K), Phosphorus (P), along with smaller amounts of Calcium (Ca), Magnesium (Mg), Iron (Fe), and other micronutrients. Tomato, banana and other fruits are likely to provide most of those, although I would add small amounts of additional fertilizer if available. You don't really need very much. My main worry about using tomato is that it might be a bit too acid for the orchid seeds. Are you doing anything to neutralize that? A small amount of crushed eggshell would help, with a bonus of adding Calcium to your mix. Maybe the shell of one egg for a small can of tomato paste.

  7. #7
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    Hi, thanks for your suggestions!

    I was reading about small amounts of powderized charcoal, can this be used for the same purpose like the eggshell?

    Also, I always hear that the tropical avocado contains of all elements the biggest amount. Would avocado be better than other fruits or should I stick to banana and tomato?

    I thought, Agar Agar is important for an orchid germination mixture. But abandon AA? What is the purpose of AA in such a mixture?
    Last edited by SvenLittkowski; January 12th, 2014 at 12:02 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SvenLittkowski View Post
    Hi, thanks for your suggestions!

    I was reading about small amounts of powderized charcoal, can this be used for the same purpose like the eggshell?

    Also, I always hear that the tropical avocado contains of all elements the biggest amount. Would avocado be better than other fruits or should I stick to banana and tomato?

    I thought, Agar Agar is important for an orchid germination mixture. But abandon AA? What is the purpose of AA in such a mixture?
    Some mixes use charcoal, the charcoal is used to absorb toxins. If you know that your plants are going to take a very long time to get mature enough to take out of the flask, then adding powdered charcoal will help. Another thread has a picture of a flask where there are a few brown spots on some leaves, this could be caused by toxin build up, or too weak of fertilizer mix in the medium. The charcoal won't actually do much to neutralize the acid though.

    I wouldn't use avocado, but mostly because it is tasty and delicious, and I would eat it before it could be used. Avocado also has compounds that oxidize, and form tannins and phenolic compounds, which is why it turns brown. This wouldn't be good for your germinating seeds. A cheap alternative would be "compost tea" soak some compost in water for a couple of hours, then strain it, use some of that with your water. Make sure the compost tea gets sterilized.

    Another idea would be to make an alfalfa tea. Alfalfa hay is generally available, inexpensive, has relatively high nutrients for plants, and in addition, has a plant growth hormone that may help your seeds grow faster. Boil a couple of handfuls of hay (pellet rabbit feed will do, if you don't want to buy a whole bale) in a gallon or so of water, strain, and use that for your water ingredient.

    Agar is only there to make a semi-solid base. You don't need it, you could use cotton instead. Balls or even woven cloth. If you have agar, I wouldn't swap it out.

  9. #9
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    That is a good answer, and makes me understanding many things. Thanks a lot!

    Can you imagine any reason, why this web page uses tomatoes, too?

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    Quote Originally Posted by SvenLittkowski View Post
    That is a good answer, and makes me understanding many things. Thanks a lot!

    Can you imagine any reason, why this web page uses tomatoes, too?
    Their recipe doesn't have any kind of fertilizer in it, so it looks like the tomato is there along with the banana as a source of needed fertilizer elements. The site appears to be set up so people in low technology areas can germinate orchid seeds.

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