Worms and Flowers

Formosa Lily and Poor Woman’s Time-Lapse

Posted in Lillies by Lzyjo on August 20, 2009

The Formosa lily is a 6-8 foot tall species lily, originally discovered in Taiwan, fka, Formosa, growing near the island’s highest peak.

Yushan Peak Photo: From Wikipedia User 'Kailing3' Creative Commons License Attribution

This Tainwanese native is hardy to Zone 5- Zone 10., but requires refrigeration in Zone 9 and 10 to simulate winter. It is also known as August Lily after its typical flowering time. In northern climates the Formosa Lily may flower as late as October.

It’s a little difficult to see in the photos, but there is a faint blush of reddish purple on the back of the petals (or are they sepals?) The flowers have a slight sweet fragrance, nothing to write home about even with nostrils flared inches away from the source. The overall look of the white outward facing flowers is very similar to Easter lilies.


These photos were taken at 24 and 48 hour intervals approximately. ; )

It took about one month and one week from first bud sighting to blooms opening.


This lily, more so than other species lilies, is easy to grow from seed. I started this one last spring (’08) and now approximately 18-months later it has flowered for the first time at about waist height. I bought the seeds for a few species lilies for $2.00 per pack of ten seeds from BuggyCrazy. She doesn’t have Formosa Lily seeds in stock right now, but I can attest that everything I bought was fresh and germinated quickly.

Printable Seed Envelope

Posted in Printable Seed Packet by Lzyjo on June 29, 2009

Now is prime seed saving time. Peas, lettuce and other cool season crops are are maturing and their seeds are almost ready to harvest. One of the most important things, besides basic seed saving information, is having packets and a place to store the precious seeds for next year’s garden.

I got the instructions for this paper seed envelope pattern in a public domain book about children’s gardening on Project Gutenberg, which I haven’t been able to find since. I drafted the pattern and have been using it for quite a while now.

I made a traceable template out of lightweight cardboard box.  Any cereal, cheez-it, or snack food box will work. The pattern can also be printed on regular or reused paper.

Materials: Scissors, glue stick, paper

Instructions: Pre fold tabs A-C on dotted lines. Fold and glue in alphabetical order. Fold tab A. Apply glue to the outside vertical edge of tab B. Glue tab B to back of tab A. Fold tab C over edge AB and glue. Write the harvest date and contents. The envelope is ready to be filled. I usually wait until sealing before folding tab D.

Click on the link Printable Seed Packet and Adobe Reader will open a PDF that you can print and save.

Plumeria Seed Pod

Posted in Plumeria by Lzyjo on June 23, 2009

Last week the plumeria seed pod finally popped open.


There were almost forty seeds in the pod, approximately 20 per side.


The seed are stacked like shingles. Their tails are attached to the pod.


The collage shows the first 60 days when most of the development occurs.


Above is how the pod looked just before it split open. I thought there was something wrong with it, since it looked brown and mushy (think of the texture of a vanilla bean) . The drying seems to be the final stage of ripening that causes the pod to split open.

Due to the genetics of plumeria, seeds of pink cultivars, like this one, or red, produce the most variation in their offspring. Seeds from the classic white are more likely to produce 50% white offspring.

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Three Ways to Grow Avocados from Seed

Posted in Avocado by Lzyjo on June 22, 2009

Back in the day, hippies from here to Northern California sprouted their avocado pits and kept the trees in their apartments. If every hippie and their best friend grew them, how hard could it be? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

A few years ago I tried sprouting some, I put a couple pits in dirt and a few more suspended by toothpicks in jars of water. Nothing happened. I blamed it on some sort of treatment the avocados had been through. Now I know better. I think I made two mistakes, no, three. The first mistake was thinking that the radical sprouted from the side of the fruit, like squash seeds, so I planted them on their sides. Wrong. For the best results, the pointed-end should be placed at the top. Some are more subtly shaped than others. The bottom is usually flatter and there is most often a circular marking in a slightly lighter color.


The First Sprout

The second mistake was allowing the soil to dry out.

The seeds of avocados, like many tropical trees and fruits are recalcitrant, which means they cannot dry out, or they won’t germinate. Seeds like this cannot be kept outside of the fruit. Sellers who offer recalcitrant seeds often sell them in moist peat, or even pre-germinated.

The third mistake was not waiting long enough. I would say the average germination time has been six weeks.


Two and Four Week Old Seedlings

Planting is soil and suspending in a jars have worked equally well for me.  There are advantages and disadvantages to the jar method. An advantage would be the cracking open and emergence of the root is very visible, but the disadvantage is that the jar requires numerous cleanings and water changes during the six weeks. Another disadvantage is the transfer from jar to pot. When I removing a pit from the jar it slipped out of my hand, flew across the room, and landed on the floor, snapping off part of the radical. It was okay and grew normally nevertheless.


The third way to sprout avocado seeds is in the worm bin, the bin provides an excellent balance of conditions favorable for germination. I tossed a couple in my worm bin approximately two weeks later they are beginning to crack. Remember which area of the bin they are in and be careful finding the pits because the roots are very delicate.

Avocados take an average of ten years to reach fruiting size and they will only do so in tropical climates. Avocados fruit best when cross-pollinated with a different cultivar. Because of the dichogamous flowers self-pollination is rare. Darwin was the first to hypothesize that dichogamy was a mechanism to prevent inbreeding. Even though they won’t fruit, for most of us, they are still lovely ornamentals.