Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Baby bloomer

I have a collection of about 150 cacti. At this time of the year, they start to display their wonderful flowers. Here's a baby cactus, no more than a few years old, I should think, and it has made a sterling effort to produce a flower that is bigger than itself. The cactus is just 5 cm in diameter. As is often the case with cacti, it is difficult to know exactly what sort of cactus it is.
I have numerous books and spend hours searching through them, trying to identify my cacti, but with very little success. The closest I have got with this one is that it is perhaps a Parodia, but that's very iffy.
I have two larger plants of the same cactus, both about 12.5 cm in diameter and both of which have already flowered magnificently, as can be seen in the photo of one of them below, taken a couple of weeks ago.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

World famous… in Guardamar

Walking in Guardamar this morning (Elise was having her usual Wednesday-morning visit to the hairdresser), I came across this poster. It advertises a local dental clinic. Elise had a new crown fitted there and they have used her name as one of their customers. (This follows a recent smear campaign against the clinic, in which fly-posters were put up around Guardamar.) If you can't see the name in the photo above, here's a close-up:

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Lithops seeds (and some fell on stony ground…)

I have quite a number of cacti, but am also fascinated by Lithops. These are small succulents, which originate from South Africa and look so much like pebbles, that they are often referred to as "living stones." I have already bought some of these as mature plants, but some weeks ago I came across Lithops.es, an amazing blog, where Khenai explains everything you ever wanted to know about cultivating Lithops. I therefore decided to have a go at growing my own Lithops.

Living in this part of Spain, it isn't always easy to find things, but after a few weeks I was able to collect everything I needed: square pots (ordered from Lithops.es), 1000 seeds (ordered from Cono's Paradise), and the quartz sand and vermiculita, as suggested by Khenai. Of these, the quartz sand was the most difficult to locate, but I ended up with a couple of bags of 2-3 mm. aquarium sand, produced by Edna, and a bag of larger-grade sand produced by Friskies:

Based on Khenai's instructions, I prepared a total of forty pots, but used three different mixes of sand and vermiculita, topping all the pots off with a white granite mixture of about 5 mm. I mixed the seed with some fine sand in an old herb shaker:
(ignore the contents of the shaker!) This allowed me to more easily spread the seeds across the forty pots -- time will show how well they were distributed!

Each pot was given a marker, indicating the mixture used and the date of sowing. Then, again following Khenai's instructions, I lightly sprayed the pots with water and covered each one with some cling-film. The final result:

So now it's wait and see!