Holy Mole-y: it’s a January Branch-out!

Walking across the backyard puts a spring in my step, but not from happiness! 😉   Spongy, raised mounds extend from the middle of the rear cutting garden to an area 10′ beyond the bauhinia tree. I suspect an entire mole/armadillo subway system exists beneath my feet 🙂  Here’s the entrance to what I’ve been calling Aloe Station: 😉

"Aloe Station" 1/05/2013

Aloe Station functions as a point of transfer. If you reach into this very wide hole, you feel 3 separate  tunnels, branching south, east and west.  I fear I was complicit in their construction when I staked bamboo poles (above) to assist the Climbing Aloe–no good deed goes unpunished, as they say! Incidentally, the aloe that caused all the trouble 😉 has started to bloom…here, I’ll show you:

Aloe Ciliaris in bloom, 1/6/13Back to the moles….

I’ve lost 2 growing season’s worth of flowers to this problem, and it’s time to plant again.  After researching various eradication methods, I decided herding the vermin away was the most reasonable option. Bring on the Sweeney’s Mole and Gopher Repellent, a granular castor oil product that (allegedly) sends the little buggers packing, as this video explains:

The goal is to apply the product over a four day period, shaking the granules further from the origination point each day. I didn’t want to hurt or kill the critters,  just relocate them faaarrrrrrr from Aloe Station.  If you’re wondering, “Did it work?”

New Mole hole, 1/6/13

This not-so-great photo attests the repellent is working! The morning after the first application, the hole above (and two others like it) appeared a foot beyond where I sprinkled the granules. As you can see at the top of the shot, Aloe Station is plenty far away for day one!

Today marked day 3. A section of the rear cutting garden, where mole-runs abounded instead of flowers, looks REALLY good!  Check it out:

Annual bed, rear cutting garden, 1/6/13

I am best pleased! 🙂  Maybe I can plant annuals here again:?:

…..and now it’s time to show you literal “branching out” re: two phalaenopsis orchids.

Remember the Winn Dixie Dyed Blue orchid from last August? It was growing a second spike when I purchased it.  During class last year, we learned if you cut a phalaenopsis spike along a middle node as its last flower fades, you might induce an additional spike to grow.  Well….I finally tried it, and here’s the result:

Phalaenopsis Lila Mystique w/ branching spike x 2, 1/8/13

Spiking x 2!

I nearly flipped-the-frig-out this morning when I noticed the teeny-tiny spike branching off the very top! (The bigger, side shoot I’d already flipped-the-frig-out over last week)  Pretty cool, yeah? At the conclusion of the current flowering cycle, this phalaenopsis might need a little rest. I’ll definitely watch it closely for signs of stress.

I’ve been more successful with orchid growing since hanging my plants in the Bauhinia tree: some are loose in baskets; others, lashed directly to branches. I think they’re getting better air circulation and the right amount of water this way. Overall, they seem far healthier, which brings me to the final picture:

Purple Phalaenopsis spike, 1/8/13

I’m not surprised this phal spiked–it typically flowers in February/March–but the heft and diameter of this particular spike DO surprise me. I hope the flowers follow suit!

If you’d like to read more about orchids, check out the blog in the related links. I’ve been following it for awhile now and it’s got great information!

Until next time…

🙂 🙂