Friday, March 27, 2009

orchid seed pod

Just sent another orchid seed pod off for flasking. This is a mini-catt x brassavola cross. The pod on the mini-catt suddenly turned yellow. The pod on the brassavola is still green. Here's a picture of the seed pod I sent in. It doesn't look quite right to me, but the flasking service I'm using will test it for viable seeds before getting it started. I made the cross October 4th, so it's been almost 6 months.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


I purchased this poinsettia as a small plant in bloom after Xmas 2007. I brought it outside last summer and it bloomed until May or so. I kept it in partial shade. Last fall I brought it in and put it on top of the bookcase in the guest area upstairs a couple feet from a west-facing window. In general, it got only that natural light. There may have been some indirect incidental light from the adjacent area, where I grow my orchids.

It did not bloom for Xmas this last year, but is sort of blooming now. However, not all the bracts in a cluster are red, only some of them. Still, it did sort of re-bloom and I think I'll keep it for another year and see what happens

Marigold seedlings

At this point, the marigold seedlings under both kinds of lights have their first real leaves. The leaves are a bit larger under the fluorescent lights. The radish seedlings in both trays are leggy looking and the arugula has not sprouted, in spite of the fact that I thought I saw seeds swelling and tips of green showing. On the top is the tray under the fluorescent lights and on the bottom is the tray under the LED lights.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Felted Socks

I just finished a pair of felted socks for my son's girlfriend. This is the fourth pair of felted socks I've made and I still have trouble with the kitchner stitch, which thankfully is not obvious after felting. I use Lopi light yarn and #10 needles. The heathered lopi yarns felt up very fuzzy, which I like. Here's a picture of the socks before felting:

After two hot-cold cycles in the washing machine, they look like this. See how fuzzy they get? The white cuffs don't get as fuzzy because the white is not heathered and has a carry-along yarn that I added every third row.

I decided I wanted them just a wee bit smaller, so I ran them through a third time.

Next knitting project is a beret--not felted.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Specs for LED panel and estimated electrical costs

Several radish seedlings are now up in both flats. It's possible that the marigold seedlings are less leggy in the flat under the LED lights. I'll post a photo in a few days when the seedlings are a bit larger.

I checked the air temperature at night and it's about 63 degrees. That should be the same for both flats.

Here are the specs for the LED panel:
  • Body material: Thermoplastic
  • Circuitry board material: Diecast Chrome
  • 60 Blue light LEDs: 465nm (nanometer) wave length
  • 165 Red light LEDs: 650nm (nanometer) wave length
  • 165 + 60 = Total 225 LEDs
  • Color: Red + Blue = Purple looking to the eyes
  • Working Voltage: 12V or 110V-220V
  • Power: 13.8 Watts
  • Dimensions: 12 ¼ inches (30.5cm) square
  • Thickness: Low profile 1.25"
  • Power cord length: 48 inches
  • Recommended coverage: one panel per 18 inches square
  • LED life: Approx. 15 years used all year long. (60 years for spring starting of seedlings)
I tried to calculate the approximate cost per year using the figures from my current electric bill. It comes to around $10 if the lights are on 12 hours per day year round. If three panels can replace one fluorescent fixture with two 40 watt bulbs, then the cost is roughly $30 for the three LED panels and about $50 for the electricity for the fluorescent fixture.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

First seedlings and a temperature check

A few marigold seedlings are up in both trays and I can see both the radish seeds and the arugula seeds beginning to sprout. I'm amazed at how fast the seeds are germinating. At this point, there seems to be more activity in the flat under the fluorescent lights, but the difference is not great.

I just checked the temperature to see what sort of difference there was. The temperature in mid-day at the top of the soil in the flat under the fluorescent lights was 79 degrees, while that in the flat under the LEDs was only 72 degrees. This will certainly make some difference in germination rates.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Testing LED lights for plants

Since I couldn't find anyone who had actually tried the LED light systems I see advertised, I decided to try one out. I purchased a square panel of 250 LED lights, a combination of red and blue. The fixture is about 12 inches square and about an inch thick and weighs a pound or two. Here's a picture of it.

The color of the LEDs doesn't show up well. They really are red and blue. I supported the fixture by its corners with some empty coffee cans.

To test this for starting plants, I made up two trays of small peat pots with a seed starter mix and planted small marigolds, radishes, and arugula in each tray. I put one tray under the LED lights and the other under fluorescent lights, in both cases positioning the lights 5 inches above the top of the soil. I put them on timers for 12 hours of daylight. It's taken a couple days to fiddle with this to get the two timers pretty much synchronized.

Here's a picture of the setup.

So I have a race going. I don't have a control tray under no lights, but I didn't think of this until now. I set this up on Saturday, and I can already see the radish seeds beginning to swell.