Antibiotics set to flood Florida’s troubled orange orchards

Meyer’s Lemons gathered before a frost


In the next month or so, orange trees across Florida will erupt in white blossoms, signalling the start of another citrus season. But this year, something different will be blowing in the winds. Farmers are preparing to spray their trees with hundreds of thousands of kilograms of two common antibiotics to combat citrus greening, a bacterial disease that has been killing Florida citrus trees for more than a decade.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is in the process of allowing growers to use streptomycin and oxytetracycline as routine treatments, spraying trees several times per year, beginning with the ‘first flush’ of leaves this spring. Growers in the state could end up using as much as 440,000 kilograms of the drugs. Although the compounds, which are both used in human medicine, have been sprayed on other crops in the past and applied in limited amounts to citrus groves, the scale of this application has researchers and public-health advocates alarmed.

“They are doing a huge experiment with limited monitoring,” says Steven Roach, a senior analyst in Iowa City at Keep Antibiotics Working, a coalition of research and advocacy groups that has formally objected to the plan with the EPA.
( read more at Nature )

Citrus Greening Quarantine in Texas

Citrus Greening

Antarctic fungi found to be effective against citrus canker

Citrus canker is a disease that affects all citrus species and varieties. It is caused by Xanthomonas citri, a bacterium originally from Asia, where it is endemic in all citrus-producing countries. Although the bacterium can be combated in several ways, none is sufficient to eradicate the disease. Therefore, new chemical or biological methods of protecting citrus groves have to be pursued.

In an article published in Letters in Applied Microbiology, a team led by Daiane Cristina Sass, Lara Durães Sette and Henrique Ferreira, professors in São Paulo State University’s Bioscience Institute (IB-UNESP) in Rio Claro, Brazil, identify 29 fungi with proven action against X. citri. The origin of the fungi is surprising. They were isolated from samples of soil and marine sediment collected in Antarctica. read more…

Terrestrial and marine Antarctic fungi extracts active against Xanthomonas citri subsp. citri
Biotechnological potential of secondary metabolites from Antarctica fungi with activity against plant pathogenic bacteria

Growing plants in vinegar could help them survive drought



It sounds—and sort of looks—like something out of a middle school science experiment, but according to a study done at RIKEN Center for Sustainable Resource Science in Japan, a new and simple way to increase a plant’s drought tolerance is to grow it in vinegar……

Acetate-mediated novel survival strategy against drought in plants

Ghost Orchid Flasks (Dendrophylax lindenii)



8/13/14
I decided it was time to try something more challenging. So I ordered a couple of flasks of Ghost Orchids ( Dendrophylax lindeii ) on eBay.

The flasks arrived in a few days, everything looks wonderful.

I did have to break the flasks to remove the plants, not a big deal, wrap the flask in a towel and use a hammer.

After removing the orchids, I dropped them into a container of water with fertilizer and rooting hormone while I gently untangled them and removed the agar.

So far so good.

They are currently dispersed across 4 terrariums, worm castings on the bottom, sphagnum moss, then mulch, orchids are resting on the mulch.

For now I’ll keep the light levels low. The largest trick is to keep the humidity close to 100% and keep mold and fungus from killing the seedlings.

I use a light dose of fertilizer with rooting hormone to water my orchids, these included.



8/18/14
I’ve lost two of the ghost orchids to fungus, I’ve dispersed a few that didn’t look good into the carnivorous terrariums.

About a half dozen have grown their baby leaves, these two leaves are temporary and will fall off once the plants get settled.



Sept 12, 14
I admit to slaughtering most of the ghost orchids, of the half dozen to a dozen remaining most are showing new growth. They are in a large southwest facing window, in a not tightly sealed terrarium and I’m spraying them with water in the morning and evening.

Oct 6, 2014
These are tough, every time they start doing well, they start doing poorly a week later. I moved them from the southwest window to a spot under a bright LED which doesn’t get as hot in the afternoon. We’ll see how that goes?

Feb 2015
I killed all but one of the Ghost Orchids. The surviving one is floating on a piece of bark in a fish tank under an extremely bright light. So far it seems to be surviving.

Newly unflasked Dendrobiums

New try. After slaughtering the first two batches of dendrobiums I deflasked I decided to try another. This time the newly deflasked plants are being placed in an Aerogarden seed tray. It’s only been a day but so far so good.


Today (Aug 13, 2014) my order of Dendrobium Moschatum from eBay arrived. These were grown in a flask, unflasked by grower prior to shipping.

Much like cuttings started in water these will grow new roots to replace the ones they grew in the flask. For now they’ll stay in a terrarium to keep the humidity up. As they grow new roots and leaves I’ll start leaving the cover off eventually planting them up in pots.

I tried putting them worm castings and sphagnum moss in the terrarium and inserting the plants. They are so fragile now that wasn’t really working. I removed them and took each plant, made a ball of moss around the roots and inserted that into the terrarium.

I’m told newly unflasked plants do better when they are kept near their siblings? I don’t know, maybe so. These are closely planted in two terrariums sorted by plant size.

The terrariums have worm castings and sphagnum moss, they’ll be weakly fertilized with rooting hormone added as the terrariums need more water.

The biggest trick is to keep up the humidity but not let molds or fungus attack the new seedlings.

Aug 15th, leaving the cover off the terrariums for a while, the seedlings still look good, so I’ll start to harden them off.

Aug 26th, I’ve started leaving them outside in a mostly shaded area. So far I haven’t lost any plants. The stems are thickening up a little, no new leaves yet.

Sept 13th, all the orchids are still alive. They are not much, if any, taller, but the stems are noticeably thicker.

Oct 6, 2014 The seedlings are struggling and I’m not sure why. They are receiving bright morning sun, there’s a fluorescent lamp nearby, the cover is off the terrarium. The other newly un-flasked orchids in the container next to them are doing great.

Feb 2015. I killed all of these. Unflasking plants into pots is more challenging than I thought it would be.

But I have a new batch, they are in an AeroGrow garden, semi-hydroponic setup.

First Rays, semi-hydroponics for orchids

Nature’s Way Resources

I’ve heard John talk about soil, everything you ever wanted to know about soil he knows and if you get a chance to hear one of his talks don’t miss it.

Nature’s Way sells composts, soils, and every thing you could want for your garden and as of this season plants.

Today is the first chance I had to wander up and check out his nursery. It’s at 1488 and 45, on the east side of 45. 1488 is much easier than 45 if you’re coming from The Woodlands.

If you are looking for shrubs or roses it’s the best and largest collection I’ve seen in any of the local nurseries. While they also have a selection of perennials and annuals, it’s the shrubs and roses that make it worth the trip.

I’ve not run across a better source of information on soil and organic plant growing than the company website.

Blue is for leaves, red is for flowers

The tip of the leaf of a plant senses blue light and signals the plant to grow in the direction of the blue light.

The red glow of a sunset is what signals the plant when it is time to bloom. A plant kept in a dark closet can be signaled to flower with just a short flash of red light.

Plants use both blue and red light to feed themselves but slightly favor red.

Plants appear mostly green because they are reflecting most of the green light that hits them, it doesn’t get used by the plant.

If your plant is not growing well, try adding more blue light. If you’re not getting flowers try more red light.