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17th Issue Vol. 3 No.

02 ISSN 2094-1765 February 2010

EDIBLE MUSHROOM CULTIVATION

Unknown to many, Rizal Technological University houses one of the technology centers
in Philippine Mushroom production. The Mushroom Technology Project under Research and
Development Center, has been existing for more than 10 years with its mission of establishing
vital parameters towards improved and maximized production of edible fungi in support of the
mushroom industry in the Philippines. Mushrooms are crops which can be effectively produced
in the urban environment using wastes.

Headed by Prof. Patrocinio O. Macalinao and its co-project leader Prof. Angelita P.
Medalla, its objectives includes (1) to establish a viable academe - industry partnership in
mushroom research; (2) to identify research agenda catering to the needs of local mushroom
industry; (3) to establish and maintain in vitro gene banks for different mushroom strains and
species; and (4) to promote the development and the use of mushroom as food, medicine, animal
feed and bio-remediant.

Mushrooms are fungi and classified in the Class Basidiomycetes. In a broad sense
mushrooms are macrofungi with distinctive fruiting bodies which can either be epigeous
(aboveground) or hypogeous (below ground), large enough to be seen by the naked eye, and can

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be picked up by hand. They are characterized by the presence of gills under the umbrella—
shaped cap called pileus. Some have rings while others have none.

Most mushrooms have stalks while others some have none. Their size and color vary
according to types and species.

Parts of a Mushroom

Some grow in masses or clusters, singly or in pairs. Others thrive well on cool weather,
others in warm places. Mushroom growth vary even on substrates on which they grow. Some
grow on decaying wood or logs, others on composted materials.

Mushroom are propagated through spores. Just like plants, mushrooms have seed-like
structures – spores -- responsible for propagating the species. All fungus produce spores. These
spores are very minute and microscopic, and they are dispersed and disseminated through the
air with the wind. When they happen to fall on a suitable substrate, these spores will germinate
and develop into mycelium If conditions are favorable it continuous to grow, ramify and develop
into fruits. These fruits or fruiting bodies are actually what we call as mushrooms.

Mushroom life cycle.

Mushrooms are cultivated commercially in caves, dark cellars and in specially


constructed mushroom houses in properly maintained humidity and temperature. They are grown
in beds (e.g. Button mushroom) consisting of a mixture of animal manure (cow or chicken) and
chemically treated rice straw, over which a layer of soil is spread. Prior to this. the mycelium is
grown in pure culture under laboratory conditions, using aseptic tissue culture techniques.. In a
few weeks the spawn will ramify the entire bed and the mushroom fruiting bodies will begin to
appear. Several flushes of mushrooms develop in this manner.

Mushrooms are thought to be the most evolved fungi in the natural world. As traditional
foods from the ancient times, mushrooms become more and more important for their ability to
bio-convert inedible lignocellulose biomass (like wood and plant fiber) into rich protein foods with

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excellent nutritional value. Beside their famous delicate flavors, taste and texture, mushrooms are
also valued for their medicinal and tonic properties.

Some of the Mushrooms grown in the Philippines includes the following:

1. Volvariella volvaceae – They are also called rice straw or banana mushrooms. They are locally
known as “kabuting dayami” or “kabuting saging” because they grow in nature on decaying
banana trunks and leaves and rice straw. The culture of this mushroom is popular in rural areas
where the substrates are abundant.

2. Auricularia spp. – They are also called ear fungi or “taingang daga” . They are also grown
either on ipil-ipil logs or on pasteurized rice bran – sawdust substrate combination similar to
Pleurotus. Auricularia are popularly cooked as a supplement to vegetable dishes such as
chopsuey and soups. They are commonly marketed dried and revive fast to original shape by
soaking in water for 5 – 10 minutes.

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3. Agaricus bisporus – popularly known as the white button mushroom or champignon. Popular in
western countries, the technology of growing these mushrooms is well developed and can be
adapted under Philippine conditions. They are grown in cool areas like in Baguio and Benguet.

4. Agaricus bitorquis – a semi temperate or tropical species of white button mushroom. This
mushroom species are cultivated during summer since it can thrive at a temperature range of 280
to 320 centigrade

Agaricus is grown on composting of rice straw, chicken manure and other supplement like urea
and ammonium sulfate. A mushroom growing house where the environment may be adjusted to
suit the requirements of the mushrooms should be provided.

5. Lentinus edodes – is the


Shiitake or brown or black
Japanese mushroom. They are
cultivated either on cut logs or
sawdust – rice bran
combination similar to
Pleurotus and Auricularia.
They are sold as fresh but
most of the imported are
packed and sold in dried forms.
Among the edible mushrooms,
the Shiitake mushrooms are
the most known and studied as
anti cancer. They are also
popular due to their exotic
taste and high food value.

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6.. Pleurotus spp. – these are the oyster or abalone mushrooms. The temperature requirement
for growth and fruiting ranges from 15 – 30 oC, hence the choice of species to be grown depends
upon the existing temperature conditions where the mushrooms will be cultivated.

Pleurotus is one of the most popular edible mushrooms now being grown all over the world. It is
commonly cultivated not because of its unique taste but its ease of growing. Pleurotus is
popularly grown in a combination of rice bran and sawdust plus with combination of some
inorganic fertilizers. They are also grown in different ways and containers such as small
polypropylene bags or in plastic trays.

For more information, contact PROF. PATROCINIO O. MACALINAO, JR - Project Leader or


PROF. ANGELITA P. MEDALLA -- Co-Project Leader -- MUSHROOM BIOTECHNOLOGY
PROJECT, Research & Development Center, Rizal Technological University, Boni Avenue,
Mandaluyong City, Philippines

BASIC PEST & DISEASE MANAGEMENT


FOR THE ORCHID GROWER
Common complaints of orchid growers both in the rural and urban areas are the
prevalence of pests and diseases attacking their plant collections. However, disease prevention
and cleanliness are still the best approach, while chemical spraying is the last resort. Below are
some guidelines on preventing or minimizing orchid pest and diseases in your plants.

1. Choose plants carefully before you buy. Inspect plants parts for insect damage, presence of
pests, symptoms of viral infection, or signs of rotting. As much as possible, buy only vigorously
growing, healthy, pest-free, and diseases-free plants.

2. Quarantine newly acquired plants before mixing them with your collection. Designate a holding
area in your garden, maybe in one small corner of the garden, wherein new plants will be placed
for 2-3 weeks for observation If in doubt, you may spray or drench the pot with a weak solution
of insecticide and fungicide as a propylactic. If the plants looks fine, without changes in health or
appearance, then you can mix them with your other plants.

3. Wash and sterilize all pruning / cutting instruments before using them on your plants. Wash
them with soap and water and then wipe it with 70% rubbing alcohol. Another way is to dip
pruning instruments in Saturated Tri-Sodium Phosphate (TSP) solution, which is a common

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sterilant for metal garden tools. To prepare a saturated tri-sodium phosphate (TSP) solution, add
1/2 cup of TSP into 2 gallons of hot water. CAUTION The solution is very corrosive. Mix well
using a wooden paddle. Add more TSP until some crystals remain undissolved. A saturated
solution is necessary to inactivate viruses. Store excess solution in plastic-covered glass bottles.
Make a wide-mouth bottle available in the garden, half filled with TSP, wherein you can dip your
pruning shears before cutting or dividing orchids.

4. Learn to identify the common orchid pests or diseases in your garden and consult your local
Orchid club on how to control them. Make a routine spot-check protocol every week to check
status of your plants in the garden. Make a list of protocol or steps on what to do for certain pest
or diseases in a notebook and follow it diligently.

5. Regularly check your plants. .It is unrealistic to expect to eradicate every pest and disease in
the garden. There is truth in the phrase, "they breed like flies". Insects multiply rapidly. A
"terminated" adult population often leaves behind eggs or larvae. Control may mean learning to
live with a few teenage bugs.

6. Remove all dried, yellow or rotting leaves, dry leaf-sheaths, dead or broken roots and spent
flowers from your orchid plant. As much as possible, remove all unnecessary parts of the plant
where pests or diseases may harbor.

7. Spray prophylactic fungicides like Captan or Dithane on orchids during rainy season to prevent
rotting. Allow air movement or ventilation between plants and provide space between plants. Do
not over-crowd plants together, because it will encourage rotting.

8. When in doubt, do not water. Over-watered orchids tend to rot. Water vandaceous and
monopodial orchids once a day or every other day (or adjust when necessary) and every 3 days
for sympodial orchids.

9. Spray insecticide only when necessary. Remember that these are poisons, so take note of the
color coding in insecticides, green the least toxic, yellow – moderate, and red tags are highly
toxic. Wear proper garments and protective clothing when using pesticides. Consult your local
agricultural supplies store for available brands for particular pests or consult your local orchid
club. Always read the label of the bottle and follow dilution instruction. Wash hands or take a
bath after spraying. Call a doctor in case of poisoning or chemical injury.

10. Regularly fertilized plants once a week using orchid foliar fertilizer, either organic or synthetic
in order to supply them with the much needed nutrients for optimum growth.

Here are some insect pest of


orchids and how to control them.

(LEFT) Scales are common


traveller along with new orchids.

1. SCALES - This is one of the


most frequently encountered
pest found on orchids. Low
humidity might be a significant
contributing factor for its
prevalence. These small pests
attach to stems, leaves,
pseudobulbs, and rhizomes. They can hide under the dried sheaths, which often makes early
detection difficult. Of the armored scales, Boisduval scales are the most common. Armored
females can deposit from 30-150 eggs under the armor which is round and about one millimeter
in diameter. The eggs hatch in one to two weeks or longer, depending on the temperature. The

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males usually occur in clusters that look like white lint. Boisduval scales are difficult to control,
and it is necessary to examine each plant at least once a week to detect a reoccurrence. 1
tablespoon of Malathion, Lannate or Sevin to 1 gallon of water (plus a few drops of dishwashing
liquid) is somewhat effective if the infestation sites are scrubbed (using a toothbrush) with the
solution, the entire plant is dipped in the solution, and or thereafter the plant is sprayed once a
month. Rubbing alcohol sprayed directly onto Boisduval males will kill them on contact, but does
nothing to the armored Boisduval females. As the eggs hatch underneath the armor, the scale
pierces the host and causes chlorotic (yellowing) areas by extracting plant fluids. If just one
armored female is undetected, the battle to control scale will have been only temporarily "won". In
addition, if ants are present in your growing environment, the acts can "carry" newly hatched
scales from plant to plant.

2. MEALYBUGS - These are soft-bodied


pests which look like cotton. They excrete
honeydew in large amounts, and this
attracts ants. Adult females are usually oval
in shape and from 1/16 to 3/8 inches long.
They have well-developed legs, and most
mealybugs can move about. Rubbing
alcohol in a spray bottle will kill the
mealybugs on contact. They favor new
growth, but large colonies have been found
attached to roots that are near the bottom of
the potting medium. Insecticide sprays are
good control for this group.

3. ANTS – Ants per se are NOT orchid pest, but they do carry scales, and mealybugs. Also they
are nuisance especially the red ones that sting as they thrive inside pots. Control them by
Malathion, Ant Chalks, or other insecticide spray.

4. COCKROACHES – They are not regular orchid pests, but they may visit your plants and chew
young tender shoots or inflorescence. Control them by spraying Malathion, Sevin or Lannate.
Presence of lizards (bubuli) or toads in your garden may control cockroach population. .

5. SNAILS AND SLUGS - These molluscian


pests becomes active and feed at night.
They leave a silvery trail of slime and often
hiide under pots or rocks during the day.
They may defoliate seedlings, eat tender
shoots, including flower buds. They can be
controlled by Snail Pellet Baits, by placing 1
pellet per square meter of the garden,
usually on the ground, but NOT on the pots.
The snails and slugs are attracted by the
metaldehyde scent, lick the pellet and are
poisoned. Snails can also be collected by
hand, and then crushed by food (the sound
of which is a rewarding and fulfilling
experience) or placed in a can with
concentrated salt solution.

6. APHIDS - These insect pests live and feed in colonies on young growth and on buds. They
stunt plant growth and cause buds to fail to open. They may be treated with a spray of 1
tablespoon of Malathion to 1 gallon of water, or sprayed with rubbing alcohol.

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7. SPIDER MITES AND FALSE SPIDER MITES - These pests are more prevalent during
summer months. They are close relatives of ticks, spiders, and scorpions. Some species spin a
fine web similar to those of spiders. False spider mites can only be confirmed by examination of a
damaged leaf under a microscope. However, the presence of mites can be determined by
rubbing a white cloth over a suspect leaf. If mites or eggs are present, brownish streaks will be
seen on the cloth. Also, there is a characteristic silver-like appearance to a leaf infested with
spider mites. Spray with miticides, usually containing diazinon, dimethoate or dimite. A non-toxic
mixture for red spider mites is composed of :

2 tablespoons cold water + liquid detergent


1 tablespoon methyl alcohol or rubbing alcohol (isopropyl or ethanol)
1 tablespoon cooking oil
enough water to fill a hand plastic sprayer

These are then filtered in a cloth before being placed in a hand plastic sprayer.

9. WEEVILS – These are one of


the most serious pests of
Dendrobium, Cymbidium and
Vanda orchids. These are small
black bugs with a curved snout,
similar to rice weevils. They are
often difficult to control and they
bore holes in pseudobulbs or
stems where they lay eggs. Eggs
hatch into larvae which feeds
inside the orchid plant and is
therefore protected from insecticide
spraying. Adult weevils comes out
at night. Spray insecticides or
handpick weevil bugs at night using
a flashlight, or sprinkle diatomaceous earth (sand-like) in crevices of orchid leaves where they
usually hide. Another control is to spray plants with a systemic insecticide containing Carbaryl.

10. WHITE FLIES – White flies are prevalent during summer. They resembled clouds of near-
microscopic snowflakes and suck the sap of orchid plants. They also attack other garden plants
and trees. The color yellow is a particular "favorite" of white flies. Growers successfully controlled
the problem by placing white fly "traps" close to any yellow colored object. The white flies became
stuck in the sticky substance like “molasses traps”. Irrigate plants more frequently during summer
or use diluted Perla soap solution sprays to deter this pests. For major infestation, spray
insecticides..

Though insect pests are major problems in orchid growing, fungal, bacterial and viral diseases do
also set in as a secondary problem after insects. It is recommended to always control insect pest
problems to minimize diseases, and also follow sanitation, limitation in watering, sterilization of
pruning utensils, fertilization and proper spacing of plants. Here are some diseases to watch out
for and possible remedies:

1. BACTERIAL ROT - This problem occurs as soft, dark brown/black areas on leaves, and is
frequently circular. On pseudobulbs, the blackened area can extend to the rhizome. This is
due to bacterial infection. Cut off infected parts and seal wounds with fungicide paste (e.g.
Captan or Dithane). Sterilize pruning shear afterwards before using in other plants. Allow
air-circulation around plants in the garden and limit watering.

2. LEAF SPOTS AND BLOTCHES -- Leaf-spotting fungi such as Cercospora, Septoria and
Phyllosticta produce unsightly speckles and blotches on the leaves of orchids such as

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Cattleya, Dendrobium, Oncidium, and Vanda. The spots are rough to the touch. Microscopic
examination will reveal the presence of a fungal tissue with distinctive spores. Infection
causes premature leaf fall, thus reducing plant vigor and flowering capability. Severely
infected plants may die prematurely. To control this disease, remove and burn diseased
plant parts. Improve air circulation in the garden or nursery and spray with appropriate
fungicide solution (e.g. Captan or Dithane).

3. BLACK ROT -- Black Rot is a particularly aggressive infection of Cattleyas caused by a


fungus, Phytophthora. This can be observed when a new shoot suddenly turns black: the rot
moves rapidly, killing the rest of the plant. A whitish 'bloom' of fungus spores may be seen on
the diseased tissue. Heat-stressed orchids are more susceptible. This disease is more
prevalent during wet weather: it is spread primarily by splashing water from plant to plant
or from soil to plant This disease can be controlled by sheltering plants from excessive
rain during monsoon months.. Isolate infected plants, cut and burn diseased parts.
Spray or dust with appropriate fungicide

4. BLACK LEG / DRY ROT -- Dendrobiums and Vandas growing in waterlogged potting or
bedding materials are susceptible to a slow but inexorable rot of the roots and stem from below.
The causative fungi are Fusarium and Rhizoctonia. Pseudobulbs become spongy and
discolored. The leaves, especially in Vanda, will yellow and drop off, one by one, until none are
left and the plant dies. Fortunately, plants can be salvaged, and uninfected pseudobulbs of
Dendrobiums can be removed to allow keikis to form. If a Vanda has many aerial roots, sever the
stem above the line of infection. Since the disease is caused primarily by poor culture, fungicides
are not recommended for control. Use potting / bedding materials appropriate to the plant type.
Replace potting materials before they become old and waterlogged. Burn infected materials.

5. BACTERIAL SOFT ROT -- Soft rots are difficult to diagnose but whatever the causative agent,
they can be devastating to an orchid collection. Orchids will be more vulnerable to infection if they
are over fertilized, given insufficient light and ventilation, and if they are permitted to remain wet
especially in the crown. Rots are a problem during the wet season, also after storms or typhoons
when plants are bruised and leaves are torn by strong winds. Shelter susceptible plants from
excessive rain. Be vigilant for rot during the wet season.

6. BACTERIAL SPOT ROT – These is caused by Pseudomonas and Erwinia. Symptoms


includes soft, brown, smelly, fluid-filled blisters on leaves and in the crown of Phalaenopsis,
Paphiopedilum, and Catasetum. The disease is highly contagious. Crown rot will quickly kill a
plant. Leaf spots can be excised or removed so that the plant can be saved. The disease can be
controlled by withholding water, improve ventilation, and removing / burning infected tissues. Be
careful not to break the blisters as its sap can infect other plant parts. Reduce the amount of
nitrogen component of fertilizers, and increase the potassium component. Pot Phalaenopsis
plants vertically, usually mounted on a slab, so that the crown drains freely and will not collect
water.. Use Captan fungicide.to prevent secondary fungal diseases.

7. VIRAL DISEASES - Viruses are the most dreaded diseases of orchids. There is no known
cure although some plants appear more resistant to damage than others. An infected plant
remains a constant source of infection for others in a collection. Viruses can cripple, disfigure and
weaken plants. Two viruses, Cymbidium Mosaic Virus (CMV) and the Odontoglossum Ringspot
Virus (ORSV) are transmitted solely by the grower. They are most commonly spread with a
cutting tool contaminated with infected sap. Other viruses are spread by insects. Bean Yellow
Mosaic Virus is spread from infected bean plants by aphids to orchids, especially Masdevallias,
then between susceptible plants if aphids infest the collection. The presence of viruses can be
determined by laboratory testing procedures. ALWAYS STERILIZE YOUR PRUNING
INSTRUMENTS BEFORE DIVIDING PLANTS! Isolate all suspected virus-infected plants from
you collection. Do not re-use old or used potting media.

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NOTE
Insect Pests tend to build up resistance to chemicals, and thus, it is necessary to alternate
products used for effective control. Use at least 3 types alternately, example: Malathion, Sevin
and Lannate. Water plants first before spraying with pesticides. Spray early in the morning or late
in the afternoon, but never in mid-noon as the heat of the sun coupled with pesticide spray will
burn the plant. Always wear protective clothing when spraying insecticides or fungicides. Read
and follow label instructions carefully before using.

WEEDS
Various plants will grow in containers with orchids, competing with them for fertilizer and
water. Weeds include Ferns, Peperomia, Lace Plant (Pilea), climbing vines and some monocot
grasses. The grower should be alerted to the invasion of weeds. Not only do they compete with
the orchids for space but they can also harbor pests. Remove the weeds by hand before they
become firmly established and reproduce.

Cattleya: The Perfect Orchid for Beginners


This genus Cattleya is named
after the English orchid collector
William Cattley (in early 19th century).
The Cattleyas and their alliance (60 or
more species) remain to be the best
known and most popular of all orchids
around the world. A picture of a huge
Cattleya flower always comes into mind
whenever the word orchid is mentioned.
Cattleyas have long been counted
amongst the best known and most
sought-after orchids because if their
beautiful, colorful and large flowers.
Their value to the nursery man has
increased through the culture of specific
hybrids and intergeneric hybrids.
However, Cattleyas are not native to the Philippines, they native only to the tropics of the Western
Hemisphere, from Brazil through Venezuela, Columbia, Central America and Mexico.

Cattleyas of today actually consist of a complex group of hybrids created by combining


Cattleya species or hybrids with closely related genera such as Laelia, Brassavola, Encyclia
(Epidendrum), Sophronitis, Broughtonia,
Schomburgkia, Diacrium, and
intergeneric hybrids like
Brassalaeliacattleya (Blc.) Laeliacattleya
(Lc.)

Growth Habit

The Cattleyas have a sympodial type


of growth habit, wherein the real orchid
is its rhizome, a underground horizontal
stem, and new pseudobulbs grow from
each new node. The pseudobulbs are
capable of storing water and nutrients;
thus, the growth of new pseudobulbs is
dependent on the previews old

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pseudobulbs.

They can be divided into two groups according to the number of leaves namely the
single-leaved or labiata group, to which the C. labiata species belongs, with few, but relatively
large flowers, and the twin leaved group, which has as many and somewhat smaller flowers. A
sheath forms at the base of the leaves at the end of the growing period, and from this the
inflorescence develops and emerge.

Cultural Requirements

Light. Matured Cattleyas grow in 60% sunlight up to full sun, provided that they are protected
from intense heat and light at noontime, to prevent scorching of leaves. They require light at
intensities 32.29 to 53.82 klx (3000 to 5000 footcandles) and can also withstand 64.58 klx (6000
fc) for short periods if a constantly moving air cools the plants (specially high tropical cloud
forests). Speaking of providing light for Cattleyas, it is like the saying "expose cattleya to all the
light minus the heat. When plants are properly exposed to light, its pseudobulbs are plump and
hard, light green in color, with thick leaves, flowers have strong stems, with heavy substance.
Insufficient light usually produces spindly growth, thin pseudobulbs, and dark green leaves. They
may even fail to flower. Overexposure to sun produces plant with stunted growth, yellowing to
almost bleached appearance.

Potting Techniques. Cattleya could be planted either in plastic or clay pots, and the plant have
to be properly stalked or anchored in the center of the pot using GI or copper wires. The plant
must also be tied properly into the wire stalk to prevent it from moving during watering. Stalking is
very important because insufficiently
stalked plants will fail to root. A matured
plant can be divided into individual plants
with 3-4 pseudobulbs. The plants need to
be cut using a sterilized pruning shear
(dipped in Chlorox solution every time a
new plant is to be cut or washed in soap
and water) and swabbed with 70% ethyl
alcohol to prevent spreading plant
viruses. The wound needs to be sealed
with a fungicides paste (a teaspoon of
water added in 2 teaspoon fungicide
powder) to prevent entry of fungal
diseases into the wound. Newly potted
plants needs to be sprayed with a rotting
hormone like Hormex, Quick Root or
Root Booster to induce new roots.

Water. The rate of watering depends on


location, wind movement, and light
intensity. Water only when the media is
dry; and allow plant to dry (not bone dry)
before another watering. Spraying water
all over the plant using a water hose until
the plant is dripping wet is satisfactory.

Ventilation or wind movement is very


important in drying the plant. Plants
needs to be kept dry a few hours after
watering. Water soaked plants tend to rot.
Use an industrial or electric fan to dry

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plants if wind movement is not available. Also check the water quality, since orchids prefer soft
water (similar to rain water) with low total dissolved solids (TDS).

Flowering. Plants flower when mature, and when well exposed to light, and well fertilized and
watered. Some species and hybrids are photo-periodic sensitive (responds well to short day or
long day photoperiod). Cattleyas usually flower once every year, but if you have a potted plant
with several leads, then it could produce 2-4 blooms a year.

Fertilization. Cattleyas are heavy


feeders, they respond very well to
fertilization. Fertilize only during active
growth and do not fertilize during dormant
periods. Use foliar fertilizers for orchids
(with trace elements and follow the
recommended dilution rate in the label.
Cattleyas could be fertilized 3X or once
every week. Use balanced growing
fertilizers with high Nitrogen (N) for
seedlings and high in Potassium (K) or
blooming fertilizers for matured plants.
Wet plants with water first before
spraying dilute solutions of fertilizers.

Growing Media. Cattleyas are epiphytes


and usually grow on tree trunks in their native habitat. In culture, they could grow on charcoal,
croaks (broken pottery), and chopped tree fern, acacia wood, or caimito branches.

Propagation. Conventionally, Cattleyas could be propagated through division of pseudobulbs.


Plants can be divided using sterile prunning shears into 3-4 pseudobulbs each and mounted on
clay pots with charcoal. The fastest and efficient way of propagation is through seed culture
technology in the laboratory. Flowers of selected plants are pollinated, and their seed capsule
are allowed to mature. Cattleya seed capsules mature in about 6 months (but also depends on
species and hybrids). They usually contain about 50,000 to a million seeds! The seeds are then
sown in the laboratory in a glass vessel with an artificial nutrient medium, when the seeds will
germinate till they become hardy seedlings in a years time. Then, they are out-planted in the
nursery where they mature from 2 to 5 years.

Growing a Venus Fly Trap

The Venus Fly trap, or scientifically known as Dionaea muscipula, is the typical
carnivorous plant that catches and digests animal prey—mostly insects and spiders. Mostly seen
in science fiction books, they are sometimes given the wrong image of being large plants and
can devour humans, is certainly not true. It is actually a small to medium sized herbaceous plant,
forming a rosette of four to seven leaves, which arise from a short subterranean stem that is
actually a bulb-like rhizome. The plant is usually found growing in very humid or moist areas, and
can actually be grown by an amateur home gardener as long as he or she learns the plants basic
requirements. Their ability to trap insect prey is an adaptation to supply the plant with added
nourishments, as they do live in nutrient deficient habitats.

Its trapping structure is formed by the terminal portion of each of the plant's leaves and is
triggered by tiny hairs on their inner surfaces. When an insect or spider crawling along the leaves
comes into contact with one or more of the hairs twice in succession, the trap closes. The
requirement of redundant triggering in this mechanism serves as a safeguard against the

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spurious expending of energy toward trapping other, non-living things which may not reward the
plant with similar nutrition.

The leaf blade is


divided into two regions: a flat,
heart shaped photosynthetic
capable petiole, and a pair of
terminal lobes hinged at the
midrib, forming the trap which
is the true leaf. The upper
surface of these lobes
contains red anthocyanin
pigments and its edges
secrete mucilage. The lobes
exhibit rapid plant
movements, snapping shut
when stimulated by a prey.
The trapping mechanism is
tripped when prey items
stumble against one of the
three hair-like trichomes that
are found on the upper
surface of each of the lobes.

The trapping mechanism is so specialized that it can distinguish between living prey and non-prey
stimuli such as falling raindrops; two trigger hairs must be touched in succession or one hair
touched twice, whereupon the lobes of the trap will snap shut in about 0.1 seconds. The edges of
the lobes are fringed by stiff hair-like protrusions or cilia, which mesh together and prevent large
prey items from escaping. The holes in the meshwork allow small prey to escape, presumably
because the benefit that would be obtained from them would be less than the cost of digesting
them. If the prey is too small and escapes, the trap will reopen within 12 hours. If the prey moves
around in the trap, it tightens and digestion begins more quickly.

Speed of closing can vary depending on the amount of humidity, light, size of prey, and
general growing conditions. The speed with which traps close can be used as an indicator of a
plant's general health.

The Venus Fly Trap is not a native of the Philippines , and is found in nitrogen-poor
environments, such as bogs and wet savannahs, where fire increases its survivability. They are
small in size and slow growing, the Venus flytrap tolerates fire well, and depends on periodic
burning to suppress its competition. Fire suppression threatens its future in the wild. It survives in
wet sandy and peaty soils. Although it has been successfully transplanted and grown in many
locales around the world, it is found natively only in North and South Carolina in the United
States, specifically within a 100 mile radius of Wilmington , North Carolina . The nutritional
poverty of the soil is the reason that the plant relies on such elaborate traps: insect prey provide
the nitrogen for protein formation that the soil cannot.

Venus Fly Traps are very popular in America as cultivated plants, although they have a
large reputation for being difficult to grow. However, Venus Flytraps are safely grown in pots
under conditions that mimic those in their natural habitat.

The 'Dentate' cultivar of the venus fly trap in cultivationVenus Flytraps ideally should not
be watered with tap water as accumulated salts in tap water may kill carnivorous plants. While
soft water yields good growth, both distilled, reverse osmosis water or clean rain water are ideal.

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Healthy Venus fly traps
may produce blooms of
white flowers when
mature however, many
growers remove the
flowering stem early
(2~3 inches), as
flowering consumes
some of the plant's
energy, and reduces the
rate of trap production. If
healthy plants are
allowed to flower,
successful pollination
will result in the
production of dozens of
small, shiny black
seeds, which can be
sown immediately or
stored in the refrigerator.

Cultural Requirements for Venus Fly Trap Plants:

Grow you Venus Fly Traps in an enclosed clear glass or plastic container, similar to a
terrarium. An aquarium, or an inexpensive large mineral water plastic cylinder can be an ideal
growing condition for this plant as moisture can be retained inside.

Light – Venus fly traps inside the glass or plastic container can be exposed to diffused bright light
(about 50% light). Protect them from direct sun, . to avoid scorching of leaves.

Watering & Humidity – Water plants regularly by misting with rain water, soft water with TDS of
100 ppm or less, water from the faucet or distilled water. Do not use mineral-rich water like from
deep well. Grow plants inside a terrarium or an aquarium, similar how you treat terrarium plants.
The soil should be kept constantly moist by placing the pot in a tray full of water, with the root
bulb of the plant allowed to be above the level of the water at least part of the time to prevent root
rot in stagnant water. There is no danger of over-watering as Venus flytraps can survive short
periods of immersion underwater.

Potting Technique – Venus flytraps are best grown in mixtures of sphagnum peat moss and/or
peat often with the addition of sand, perlite or other inert salt free material. In local conditions, a
mixture of sphagnum moss, sand, and paslak can be used as potting mix. Soil pH should be in
the range of 3.9 to 4.8.

The Urban Gardener is an official electronic publication (in Fertilization / Feeding. As much as
PDF Format) of the Plant Biotechnology Project, Research & possible, do not fertilize, as there is a
Development Center, Rizal Technological University, Boni tendency to over fertilize. Some
Avenue, Mandaluyong City, Philippines. It is published
monthly. For more information, please inquire thru email:
horticulturists have experimented with
rdc_rtu@yahoo.com or plantbiotech_rtu@yahoo.com and giving small amounts of fertilizer to Venus
landline (+632) 534-8267 Local 135 or Fax (+632) 534-9710. fly traps, usually diluted solutions of orchid
fertilizers using cotton swabs, to the
Edited by N.R. Bautista © February 2010 plant's foliage. Another method of fertiliser
The Plant Biotechnology Project Committee is composed
application is a spray bottle or pump.
of: Alexander B. Quilang, Norberto R. Bautista, Jovita A. Beginners, however, and those without
Anit & Carnette C. Pulma. expendable plants, would be wise to avoid
fertilizer in favor of insects.

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Healthy Venus fly traps are entirely capable of catching their own food. However, for plants inside
terrariums or containers, feeding them manually is not necessary. Feed your plants with live
insects no larger than 1/3 of the size of the trap, as larger insects tend to have a detrimental
effect on the plant as they often drastically shorten the individual trap's life and/or cause it to die.
Algal growth near the plant is an indicator of overfeeding, as is an abundance of dead, black
traps. 1 insect per 2 weeks maybe sufficient.

Pruning. Leaf traps die naturally as the plant grows. Dead or dried parts need to be trimmed off.

Pest & Diseases. Most plants has not much pest, specially when grown inside a bottle,
aquarium or terrarium.

Propagation. Venus fly traps can be propagated by division or by seeds. Plants usually flower,
and pollinated flowers produce seeds. Seeds may be sown on damp chopped sphagnum moss
or paslak enclosed in a plastic disposable container. One may produce seedlings from seeds,
although seedlings will take several years to mature. Efficient propagation techniques also
makes rare species available and affordable to plant hobbyists and collectors.

A commercial grower producing hundreds of Venus fly trap plants for plant enthusiasts.
These plants are botanical curiosities among children and adult alike, making them an
ideal “plant pet” in the home.

15
Farmer's Guide to Companion Planting
By Henrylito D. Tacio
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on February 1, 2010.

EVER heard of companion planting? It is based around the idea that certain plants can benefit
others when planted next to, or close to one another. It exists to benefit certain plants by giving
them pest control, naturally without the need to use chemicals, and in some cases they can give
a higher crop yield.

Companion planting, considered to be a form of polyculture, is used by farmers and gardeners in


both industrialized and developing countries for many reasons.

Researchers have proven that by having a beneficial crop in a nearby field that attracts certain
insects away from a neighboring field that has the main crop can prove very beneficial.

Companion planting exists in a physical way. For example, tall-growing, sun-loving plants may
share space with lower-growing, shade-tolerant species, resulting in higher total yields from the
land.

Planting tall or dense-canopied plants may protect more vulnerable plants through shading or by
providing a windbreak. In some instances, the benefit is derived when companion plants provide
a good environment for beneficial insects, and other arthropods, especially those predatory and
parasitic species that help to keep pest populations in check.

Other ways that companion planting can be beneficial is to plant a crop like legumes on an area
where it will feed nitrogen into the soil, then it will not be necessary to use any chemical fertilizers
for the next crop.

Unfortunately, there are other plants that slow down each other's growth. These crops should not
be grown together. Experts call this phenomenon as antagonistic planting.

Now, here's a list of vegetable crops with their companion plants and antagonistic plants (culled
from various sources):

Amaranth: A tropical annual that needs hot conditions to flourish. Good with sweet corn; its
leaves provide shade giving the corn a rich, moist root run. Also, amaranth is host to predatory
ground beetles.

Ampalaya: This all-year round vegetable can be grown along with trellised lima bean, yard-long
bean, and winged bean.

Asparagus: Friend of tomato, parsley, basil, and marigold. Avoid planting asparagus with onion,
garlic and potato.

Basil: Plant with tomato to improve growth and flavor. Basil also does well with peppers,
oregano, asparagus and petunias. It can be helpful in repelling thrips. Basil is said to repel flies
and mosquitoes.

Beans: All beans enrich the soil with nitrogen fixed from the air. Generally, they are good
company for carrot, celery, corn, eggplant, peas, potato, beets, radish, and cucumber. Beans are
great for heavy nitrogen users like corn because beans fix nitrogen from the air into the soil so the
nitrogen used up by the corn are replaced at the end of the season when the bean plants die
back. Keep beans away from the alliums.

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Cabbage: Potato, celery, dill, and onion are good companion plants. Celery improves growth and
health. It does not get along with tomato, peppers, eggplant, grapes and pole sitao.

Carrot: Its pals are leaf lettuce, leek, peas, onion and tomato. Keep dill away from carrot. One
drawback with tomato and carrot when planted together: tomato plants can stunt the growth of
the carrots but the latter will still be of good flavor.

Cassava: It gets along well with sweet potato, swamp cabbage, pechay, alugbati, lettuce, garlic,
golden squash, and peanut.

Celery: Among its companions are beans, cabbage, leek, onion, and tomato. Its foe: corn.

Corn: Grown best with amaranth, beans, cucumber, melons, parsley, peanut, peas, potato,
soybean, squash, and sunflower. Keep corn away from celery and tomato plants.

Cucumber: Cucumber is great to plant with corn and beans. The three plants like the same
conditions: warmth, rich soil and plenty of moisture. Let the cucumbers grow up and over the corn
plants. A great duet is to plant cucumber with sunflower. The sunflower provides a strong support
for the vines. Cucumber also does well with peas, beets, radish, and carrot. Radish is a good
deterrent against cucumber beetles. Dill planted with cucumbers helps by attracting beneficial
predators. Keep potato away from cucumber.

Eggplant: Plant with amaranth, beans, peas, swamp cabbage, golden squash, radish, and
marigold. Eggplant is a member of the nightshade family and does well with peppers. Avoid
planting potato near eggplant.

Garlic: This spice crop accumulates sulfur: a naturally occurring fungicide which will help in the
garden with disease prevention. Garlic is systemic in action as it is taken up the plants through
their pores and when garlic tea is used as a soil drench it is also taken up by the plant roots.

Lettuce: Does well with beet, bush bean, pole bean, cabbage, carrot, cucumber, onion, and
radish. It grows happily in the shade under young sunflowers.

Onion: Planting chamomile with onion improves the former's flavor. Other companions: carrot,
leek, beet, dill, lettuce, and tomato. Intercropping onion and leek with your carrot confuses the
carrot and onion flies! Keep onion away from peas, beans, and asparagus.

Peas: Companions for peas are bush beans, pole beans, carrots, celery, corn, cucumber,
eggplant, parsley, radish, and sweet pepper. Do not plant peas with onion, garlic, and potato.

Potato: The following may be planted with potato: bush bean, cabbage, carrot, celery, corn,
marigold, peas, and onion. Don't plant these around potato: asparagus, cucumber, squash, and
sunflower. Keep potato and tomato apart as they both can get early and late blight contaminating
each other.

Tomato: Grown along with asparagus, parsley, cabbage, onion, radish, garlic and carrot. Tomato
protects asparagus from asparagus beetles while asparagus protects tomato from nematodes.
Planted with garlic, the latter repels red spider mite. Don't grow potato and tomato with each
other; potato inhibits tomato growth while tomato renders potato more susceptible to blight.

17