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Orchid Detox - The experiment begins

This is a discussion on Orchid Detox - The experiment begins within the General Orchid Culture forums, part of the Orchid Culture category; *** I am also running a sister experiment here . *** I just thought I'd ...

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  1. #1
    wetfeet101b's Avatar
    wetfeet101b is offline It's not dead! It's just permanently dormant.
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    Default Orchid Detox - The experiment begins

    ***I am also running a sister experiment here. ***

    I just thought I'd share with you what I am planning to do with my orchid care regimen.
    Now that I have a greenhouse and I have some significant control to counteract what Mother Nature throws at me, I feel it is time to strip clean my feeding regimen and go back to a simplified feeding regimen for a couple of years and see what happens.

    When I was taking an inventory of what I feed my plants, it is amazing that I still have not appeared on the Department of Homeland Security watch list.

    Here are the items that I have on my feeding regimen.
    I feed weekly, 3 weeks out of 4, with the 4th week just watering to flush.

    Fertilizer based on season (soluble powder, 20-20-20 balanced, 6-30-30 bloom, and 30-10-10 foliage) 1/2 tsp/gal every feeding.
    Superthrive - 1/8 tsp/gal every feeding.
    Sea Weed extract - 1 tsp/gal every feeding.
    Pro-Tekt - 1/8 tsp/gal every feeding.
    Epsom salt - 1/2 tsp/gal every feeding.

    It is possible that all these ingredients mixed together are ending up with a solution that is so saturated that it becomes counter-productive to the plant growth.
    I may be giving the plants something that they just end up discarding, or worse, something that is actually harming them.

    So this is my plan:

    1. Starting August 2008, I will reset to using just the 20-20-20 balanced fertilizer and Superthrive for 3 months and observe the plants.
    It is possible that some plants would manifest "withdrawal" symptoms from the omission of their usual "goodies". But the situation should stabilize as the plants make adjustments.
    This new fertilizer mix will be administered weekly, 3 weeks out of 4.
    20-20-20 Fertilizer 1/2 tsp/gal.
    *Superthrive 1/8 tsp/gal. - After some thought, I have decided to remove Superthrive from the first year of the experiment.

    2. First observation window - 3 months (Aug-Oct 2008).
    I will observe the plants' response and performance, and continue with the feeding regimen.
    The plants are probably still experiencing some transition shock during this time, but should be minimal.

    3. Second observation window - 3 months (Nov-Jan 2008-2009).
    I will observe the plants' response and performance.
    This also goes into our winter season so this fact will be considered when measuring plant performance as some plants naturally go dormant in winter.

    4. Third observation window - 3 months (Feb-April 2009)
    I will again monitor the plants' performance during the sprouting season (new pseudobulbs and roots) as they wake up from the winter rest.

    5. Fourth observation window - 3 months (May-July 2009)
    This is the active growing season for me. I will observe the plants performance.

    6. Repeat the process for 1 more year (without altering the feeding regimen from the first year of the experiment)

    At the conclusion of the first year (July 2009) I will compare the plants' performance to the previous year, quarter by quarter.
    I will then be able to make a reasonable statement whether the simplified feeding formula has produced better results or worse results compared to my original "fat" formula.

    Some considerations:
    1. Feeding is not the only factor that influences plant performance. There might be plants that do better next year because I learn more about their individual quirks and thus they respond and perform better as I get to know them more. The plants will also be older next year, so that will account for more robust growth regardless of feeding regimen.

    2. If a plant is suffering from any form of disease or infection, I will take the usual steps to cure the plant, even if it involves giving it other chemicals as needed. This plant will then be marked so that this fact is accounted for when it is time to compare the annual performance of the plants.

    3. If a particular plant is sulking because of non-disease related factors (it does not like my greenhouse temperature, humidity, etc) and it appears that these plants are a very small fraction of my collection, I will not compensate for environmental factors by giving the plants any of those "miracle products" that supposedly help the plant tolerate warmer or cooler or drier conditions, etc. If the plant's preference is outside of my growing environment conditions, that plant will be placed on the S.T.O.P. block or discarded in any other means possible.
    I am no longer bending over backwards for one plant, at the expense of the rest of my collection.

    Possible results:
    1. Bad: The plants show less vigor and lower quality blooms compared to the previous year.
    If this is the case, then I will slowly introduce new supplemental products to my feeding regimen (one by one) and go through a reasonable observation period.

    2. No Difference: Plants show the same vigor and bloom quality compared to the previous year.
    This would indicate that my "fat" feeding regimen was just resulting in wasted supplemental products which translates to money ill-spent.

    3. Good: Plants show more vigor and better quality blooms compared to the previous year.
    This is unlikely, but hey it is a possibility. This could be a case where "less is more" applies.

    4. Catastrophic: I buckle and abandon the experiment.
    If this happens, then I am probably forever an "orchid fashion slave", buying every single "miracle product" advertised on orchid magazines that claim to give my plants super large flowers.

    Admittedly, this will require TONS of discipline on my end. Not only do I need to take notes on my experiment faithfully, but I also must resist the urge to reintroduce my old chemicals into the feeding regimen.

    If the simplified feeding regimen produces positive results, then it will be a better gardening experience for me.
    1. The plants will be happier.
    2. I have an easier time preparing the fertilizer.
    3. My wallet will thank me too.

    Some people may say that 2 years is a long time for an experiment. But look at my join date, the year went through very quickly and it felt like I only joined last month



    Wish me luck, and May The Chlorophyll Be With Us!
    John
    Last edited by wetfeet101b; July 27th, 2008 at 02:51 AM.

  2. #2
    Lambert's Avatar
    Lambert is offline Senior Member
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    This is a great idea, John, I am curious about what your findings will be throughout the process of what will surely be a very documented experience.
    I am very curious about how your plants will adjust, perform .... I wonder if plants which are used to a heavy feeding regimen can readjust to a lesser one.

    I was recently thinking about the whole fertilizer issue as I was looking at the latest pics posted by fellow OT member "Gotsomerice", his plants are incredibly healthy, his blooms are always stunningly beautiful and he has repeatedly mentionned that he never ever uses any fertilizer.

    Good luck!

  3. #3
    mycologist's Avatar
    mycologist is offline Senior Member
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    Default

    Very interesting. You would be a good grant writer too!

  4. #4
    Ron-NY is offline rothaholic
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    John...I would be more conservative with the Super thrive...I was using it for awhile and started getting some flower deformities...I had posted somewhere about it and I have not been the only one to have run into problems using this product.

  5. #5
    cindiras's Avatar
    cindiras is offline Senior Member
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    John, What about a "control" group that continues to recieve your current regimen? That would give you a group of plants in the same conditions to compare the simplified version to.

  6. #6
    Gin's Avatar
    Gin
    Gin is offline Senior Member
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    You are more ambitious then I am mine get the Msu. Fert for rain or ro weekly using plain once in the month , The only variation are the ones that don't want much Fert. at all . In the fall I change the Cymbidiums to a low nitrogen .. I am interested to see what happens . Gin

  7. #7
    wetfeet101b's Avatar
    wetfeet101b is offline It's not dead! It's just permanently dormant.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ron-NY View Post
    John...I would be more conservative with the Super thrive...I was using it for awhile and started getting some flower deformities...I had posted somewhere about it and I have not been the only one to have run into problems using this product.
    Hi Ron,
    I was considering cutting out Superthrive completely from the feeding regimen experiment as well.
    After giving it some thought overnight, and doing some more research, I have decided to remove the Superthrive from the experiment.

    Quote Originally Posted by cindiras
    John, What about a "control" group that continues to recieve your current regimen? That would give you a group of plants in the same conditions to compare the simplified version to.
    cindiras,
    I have thought about a control group too, but since I do not have a large enough sampling of duplicate plants, it will be hard to pick out a group to be the control batch without having problems with the unique plant variations.
    And given the small confines of my greenhouse, anything I spray on one group would have a high probability of catching the other group as well.
    The control group in this case would be the historical performance of the same plants from the previous years under my fat feeding regimen.
    It may not be a double-blind experiment, but a valid experiment none the less.

    Quote Originally Posted by mycologist
    Very interesting. You would be a good grant writer too!
    mycologist,
    Thanks. I have had it up to my neck in Technical/Grant writing courses back in my engineering college days
    I guess those things I cannot shake off my brain anymore.

  8. #8
    Brutal_Dreamer's Avatar
    Brutal_Dreamer is offline Dreaming with my eyes open...
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    This looks really promising. I look forward to your findings at the end of the experiment.

    Cheers,
    BD

  9. #9
    Becky15349's Avatar
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    Excellent experiment idea!! I'm sure we've all wondered from time to time if all our supplements really do any good. I can already tell that your experiment will be very thoroughly conducted, and I look forward to the results! But one additional question: what is your hypothesis?

  10. #10
    dsm's Avatar
    dsm
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    wow. I don't even know what is in the fertilizer I use. I have "pink stuff" and "blue stuff'. Lately I have been using the blue stuff more than the pink stuff....

    I can see I have to become a little more conscious of the details! *LOL*

    And mycologist is right, John, there is definitely a grant in that!

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