Monday, July 20, 2009

Dragon fruit, back from vacation.

Sorry for my lack of posts, I was away until the other day, and while I was traveling I came upon something interesting! At a chinese market I finally found the elusive dragon fruit. I was just passing by and I noticed a fruit exactly like the pictures, and next to it I saw one about twice as big but without the scales. I purchased one of each, not being cheap ($6 a pound for the smaller ones and $3 a pound for the larger ones.) The larger ones, I was told, were white fleshed, and the smaller ones were red fleshed.

When I got back to the hotel room, After both were in the refrigerator for an hour or so (I was told to eat it chilled) I decided to cut open the white one, the larger one. It sliced easily in half, and had a strange wood smell (best description possible.) I have no idea if it was just spoiled, but I must say I was extremely disappointed. It was slimy, bland, and like my previous description, it had a woody taste. I also strongly not recommend putting sugar on the white one. It just made it taste gritty.

Nevertheless, I saved the remains and put it in a plastic bag, along with a few spoonfuls of flesh in another bag, to be used for planting. I wanted to try it anyway. There was a huge amount of seeds, probably a few hundred in the sample I took.

For about two days, I refrained from eating the red dragon fruit, because I thought it would taste just as horrible. I knew I had to try it soon though, because they spoil very quickly. It looked nicer, but it still had the strange wood smell. I cut it open and hoped for the best.

It decided to be the best! I took a cautious nibble and let me tell you, it was much better than the white dragon fruit. it had a better texture, less seeds, and a strange combination of strawberry and pear taste. It tasted very good, looked better inside and out, and it was almost eaten before I could take seed samples.

This was the one I was going to put more effort on, definitely. I will try to grow both, but this was the one I would tend to a little more often, strain the seeds the right way, and CARE ABOUT.

To seperate the seeds I took the pieces of flesh from each fruit and soaked them in warm water in a bowl for about half an hour. After the flesh is soaked as much as possible. I poured the mixture seperately into a fine strainer and continually ran water over it until it was mostly just seed. when I had both of them fully done, (about 200 seeds for each) I just sprinkled the mass over a two shallow plastic containers filled with regular miracle-grow soil topped off with perlite. I'll transplant them later into a better mixture, but when I did this I was rushed. I got it watered, and it's been by a window for the past few days.

I also got my carnivorous seeds, but that's for tomorrow.

I strongly suggest you get the red dragon fruit if you're at a store but it's too hard to choose.

Pictures enclosed are the fruit, the fruit soaking, and the tray (before I topped off with perlite)



Thursday, July 9, 2009

Good, Good, Meh.

First good. I have another seedling poking up, and it's the only one with true leaves. They're not green yet, but I at least can tell that it's a leaf unlike the green spikes coming out of the other plants.

Second good, is that a couple of carnivorous plants came today. I tried again, and when they were about to ship it I realized that it was likely they would come while I was away. I told them to postpone shipment for a few days, but they shipped anyway, but it worked out in the end because it arrived in less than a day, enough time to unpack it and get it ready.

I got a venus fly trap and a drosera capensis, a cape sundew. I was originally going to just get the sundew, because I have a project in mind for getting several different species, and seeding them all over a terrarium to get a forest of the glistening insect eaters. I decided to get a fly trap anyway, even though I have heard they can be tough growers, and I don't like the dormancy issue. Both were well packed, and mostly healthy though most of the traps were closed and the sundew had no dew, but that's something affected by the sun, which they don't have in a box.

I still have no idea where to permanently keep them, as the light requirements are high. I'm currently keeping them outside in the day for full sun with a cut soda bottle over them for humidity, and at night I put them on a windowsill. I hope they do okay, and while I'm gone they get enough light inside.

The bad is that my large miracle fruit plant has lost some more leaves. They just turn a crinkly brown and shrivel up, some falling off. It's still not more than 20% of the leaves, so I sincerely hope that it is just transplant issues.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

A little bad, a little good, a small change to setup

My larger plant has some leaves turning yellow and turning off, maybe ten percent or so. The seller said that about 20% of the leaves falling off from transplant shock is normal, so I hope it's that. I noticed a lot less condensation in the inside of the bag, so I went against the sellers advice and opened the bag, added some more water and misted the plant. I hope this doesn't void my warranty!

On a better note, two of the seedlings have two structures now that I'm pretty sure will open into leaves. They've also grown a bit more, and they're apparently two or three times as tall as they should be (currently three inches each.) This gibberellic acid must be strong stuff. It's too bad that all of the others have either died back or shown no growth. I guess it's not too bad, I have two healthy seedlings, which is infinitely more than I expected.

I'm also changing the grow light setup. I'm replacing the compact with two 24 inch flourescent grow lights, and going to add mirrors around it later. I hope that with this, and the 2-3 hours of sun the ledge gets, I'll have enough light for everything.