Jim Shields' Garden Notes
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Blog Home : March 2008

- Winter Weary

I'm sooooo tired of winter. We have another winter storm side-swiping us today and tomorrow. At least, I hope it is just a side-swipe.

There was a problem with the enviroonmental control computer in the Clivia greenhouse a few weeks ago. I finally installed a replacement motherboard on Wednesday, so the heating and cooling are once again computer controlled. The heaters are wired through double-pole double-throw switches, so they can be controlled either by the environmental computer or by conventional thermostats. The coolers are left out of the circuit when the computer is off-line.

There are still problems to sort out, including why the sunlight sensor seems to be dead. And what happened to the wind speed meter? At least the outside temperature and the wind direction sensors seem to still be working. I foresee a long day on the phone with customer support (a very nice guy named Randy) at Wadsworth Controls in Colorado. I suspect the problem was a near-miss by lightning, when we had a thunderstorm here in February.

We had planned to have the Midwest Clivia group get together here tomorrow, Saturday, but this morning I sent out a Clivia Alert note suggesting Sunday would be a better day for it -- the snow should have stopped by then.

The Midwest Clivia group if very informal, and is composed of whoever shows up for get-togethers. A few of us went over to Columbus last weekend, just to get a look at one member's greenhouse. There were some nice plants in bloom. We have some plants in bloom now too, but didn't have last weekend. Next weekend might be even better here, if anyone wants to drop in.

We have some Belgians in bloom, and they are orange this year. Last year, they were decidedly light pastels, but that may have been due to their having spent some days in a dark box on their way from Belgium to Indiana in the previous autumn.

We have several Chubb Peach plants in bud, and some Victorian Peach as well. The Victorian Peach plants are mother plants from Victor himself. Some Solomone Yellows are also in bud, and a couple Solomone Reds as well. I'm not sure what color the Solomone Reds are going to turn out to be in our greenhouse.

There are a couple of Australia yellows from Dash Geoghegan (sp?) in bud as well. Only one of them bloomed last year, and it had marvelous flowers with wide petals. That particular one is not going to bloom this year. I'm eager to see what the others look like. I expect to cross them with 'Vico Yellow' and with 'Aurean Majesty', both of which have flowers that open nicely, and both of which have scapes growing on this year.

If the sun ever comes out again, I'll get some photos of the clivia blooms and share them here in the blog.

It's hard to believe, but Daylight Saving Time starts tomorrow morning! There was a recent study that showed that going to DST actually increases power usage compared to staying on standard time all year long. Having DST start so early is probably just the retail merchants and shopping mall owners buying off politicians; so what else is new? An honest politician is just one who stays bought, so they say.....

Good gardening,


- Spring chores

I'm coming to the conclusion that I have too many irons in the fire! I spent quite a bit of time in the middle of this month getting ready for and taking part in the annual science review panel for my undergrad alma mater of days long past. I've also been trying unsuccessfully to find DNA lab support for a Trillium project in Great Smoky Mountain National Park.

Besides which, the big greenhouse, home of our clivias, has needed some repair and maintenance work. Most of that is now done. The circuit board on the environmental controller had to be replaced, which was expensive but quick, once the board got here. Then I had to get the shade system working again. That took a lot more work, and I needed my son-in-law for a good deal of it.

A couple of the outdoor sensors, including the light intensity (sunlight) sensor that should tell the environmental computer when to close the shades and when to open them, seems to be dead. Another tricky repair job in the offing, I'm afraid. The wind speed sensor also seems to be dead. It tells the computer when it has to close all the vents and run the exhaust fans on high because a wind storm is starting! We need that one in this part of the country!

Winter held on long and hard this spring. The Narcissus are only up about 4 inches so far, and there is no color yet on their flower buds. The only Trillium up in my woodland garen so far is T. nivale, the Snow Trillium. I've been pollinating them like mad because a friend wants some seeds of this species. It really does not look like Spring yet in central Indiana.

In the greenhouses, the Clivia have been in bloom for the past two weeks. We had great bloom on Chubb Peach plants were bought from Sean Chubb a year ago, and on some of the Victorian Peach mother plants we got from Victor Murillo at about the same time.

Then some of the Solomone Red plants bloomed, and this year they have flowers that look as red as Clivia flowers ever seem to get in Indiana. When those plants arrived here, they were starting to flower and the colors were pale, pastel orange, almost pink. That now seems to have been due to weather conditions at the Solomone greenhouse near Monterey, California. Dark days, overcasat or trainy, can lead to red flowers that are faded out from lack of strong light to bring up the anthocyanin pigments.

Two old favorites also bloomed this year for the first time since they suffered badly from a very rainy summer outdoors, before the big greenhouse was built: 'Vico Yellow' (from tissue culture in Japan) and my own yellow, 'Aurean Majesty' from a batch of seeds from South Africa.

I've been busy pollinating clivias, but the flowers are about finished for this spring. Now to wait till autumn to see whether I get any seeds from these crosses. We are running out of space for startng clivia seeds, so I'm busy trying to sort through and organize our pots and trays of clivia seedlings. I may or may not have more space when I finish, but at least I'll know what we actually have growing and where they are.

To thin things out a bit, I've listed three types of unbloomed seedlings of yellow clivias in the web price list. I suspect by the time my sorting and counting is finished, I'll be able to add some more seedlings to the price list. All of these seedling plants are growing in 5½-inch square plastic pots, which is a size of about ½ gallon, more or less. The plants are 1½ to about 3 years old and have all been repotted at least once.

The Midwest Clivia Group

We had some Midwest Clivia folks at the greenhouse on Saturday, March 8th. We ended up being rather scattered over the calendar this year, so we should try to get together on one weekend next year. Judging by the flowering, I think that Saturday, March 14, 2009, would be a better time.

Shown left to right are Bonnie Ion, Patrick Ion, Rimmer de Vries, and Tedd Gorman.

Good gardening,





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