a Hosta failing, a Camcorder falling, and Light getting to lengthy!
Winter comes tonight with 8 to 12 inches of snow! The plastic over raised bed has been pulled back for the snow to freeze the ground out for the winter. The end ot the growing season has come to the out side garden.
Frosted Mouse Ears
- Plant A: Three leaves Spike is a leaf which is unfolding and being recored in time lapse, Time lapse is 2/3 done for the initial test. Not quite ready to move the count to 4 leaves.
- Plant B: Five Leaves The leaves are adjusting but for what I am not sure. It might finally getting comfortable.
- Plant A: Two spikes growing; Spike A is just under 2 inches, and spike B is still at ground levels.
- Plant B: Two spikes now noted; both seem to be in a pause for growing. The taller of the two is probably at 2 inches.
- Three leaves The leaves are adjusting but no significant change. .
Withe the lower temperatures I might see some changes in behavior in these plants as they are in a north window.
02:00 PM: It is has been a month ([28 days] by the calendar) since I started this Indoor hosta growing! So far It has been mostly successful.
Frosted Mouse Ears
- Plant A: Four Leaves Spike of the 5th leaf has emerged from the center of the fourth unfurling leaf! This too will open soon! Probably was there yesterday but could not see it.
- Plant B: Five Leaves The leaves are adjusting but for what I am not sure. It might finally getting comfortable.
- Plant A: Two spikes now noted;
- Plant B: Two spikes now noted.
- Both spikes are now the same Height. Just under 2 inches.
- Three leaves The leaves maybe trying to optimize light. Still no new growth seen.
Having leaves emerge from centers of other leaves is pretty common in the hosta world so Frosted Mouse Ears: Plant A is growing normally, and very well I might add! This suggests that the plant likes where it is and will probably continue growing as such for the rest of the winter with the same speed!. As an a growth guess this might mean that by the end of the winter season inside it may have 8 new leaves for a total of 11 leafs. It would be about the development stage of those that are outdoors now, I doubt at this time I will see additional eyes Frosted Mouse Ears: Plant A this winter. I will return to this prediction when the plants can be moved outside next spring.
IF I could get Frosted Mouse Ears: Plant B and Popcorn to grow things might be more fun, but then not all things in a garden happen at the same time!
09:00 PM: First video is looked at with my roommate. Original leaf is definitely seen moving. The rest of the plant looks stationary - which seems contrary to what might be expected. I go back to look at the plant itself and there is indeed a fifth leaf growing from the center of leaf number 4. I return to the video to examine it carefully and find that the fifth leaf is spotted peeking out on the first night of the video. I still do not see any sign of anything else moving, The hypothesis is that each leaf compels the next leaf to open. This growth is contrary to what has been seen in the raised bed where leaves come only one at a time for Frosted Mouse Ears; and these are within each other.
I opt to zoom in on the video. And after very very careful examination of the leaves I do find subtle but shuttle (archaic meaning) movement. I can't find anything else until I manually moved the time lapse with the mouse manually. I find that Frosted Mouse Ears DOES move. But It is not in the left-right dance motion that other time lapse of hosta I have seen from online present. Rather it has a bouncing motion that is in rhythm with sunsets (NOT sunrises)..
Now I wish I had more space to work with to carry these observations further.
08:00 AM: Last night I noted that one of the leaves on Popcorn had dried. This brings the plant down to two leaves. Everything else seems to be ok. This prompts me to reconsider the watering schedule from once every 10 days down to once every 8 days, I am hoping this will prevent further leaf drying on Popcorn and the rest of the hosta. I will do the regular watering this evening, and change schedules from there. Keep in mind that these plants are being grown in Peat Moss. Peat Moss retains water better than most soil types and permits me to extend the watering cycle. The volume of water will still be one cup of water per each plant.
Liberty will reach the top of the other planters probably today. The spikes at each of their bases are waiting for to be signaled to grow; maybe after this next watering.
06:00 PM Frosted Mouse Ears second video suggests that as leaves fall back from opening they seem to move faster than when they grow in a spike. There is indeed a 6th leaf coming up. This hosts is in full speed; and much faster than if it was outside.
Liberty is now opening its leaves. It seem to have begun at sundown. They are unfurling starting in a counter-clockwise motion. It nearly made it to above the height of the other containers before this process began. Petioles (stems), i am guessing, will carry the leaves to about the same height. The next video segment will watch these unfurl as a pair for about 10 days [14.9 minutes estimated], Edges ought to be yellow… we'll see in the next few days.
As I water plants it looks like Popcorn will lose a second leaf - leaving only one leaf to try to survive with. The second Frosted Mouse Ears still sits there with limited change.
08:00 AM: Since opening the points on the unopened leaves of Liberty seem to be moving counter-clockwise, Liberty: Plant A has moved from the 1 o'clock position to the 10 o'clock position, and Liberty: Plant B had moved from the 1 o'clock position to the 11 o'clock position, They seem to be resisting opening and also trying to put some additional height on as well.
Hosta Popcorn is still holding on to two leaves … but the coloration does not look good. It has gone from bright green to a metallic blue or blue green, All of the nutrients ought to be there for this plant but the plant is struggling. Hypothesis: Does Hosta Popcorn depend on a broader range of light frequencies than other hosta? Might this be the reason why it does poorly in outdoor gardens?
05:30 PM: Noted a one of the hosta purveyors I watch having a half off sale - for next spring!. They have Empress Wu and Humpback Whale. I have the money BUT NOT THE SPACE (long painful sigh). Alas the agony.
Frosted Mouse Ears
- Plant A: Five Leaves Spike of 6th leaf not open. Robust growth pattern has slowed. Leaf number 5 now has signs of an edge developing.
- Plant B: Five Leaves Leaves stable - no change since being planted
- Plant A: Spike A is now 3 inches tall. Spike B: No change still near ground.
- Plant B: Spike A is now just under 3 inches. Coloration of an outer edge seen partially down what will be the leafs outer edge easily seen. Spike B: No change still near ground.
- Two leaves Both leaves have diminished in size noticeably. Uncertain of its future. As I have written before all the nutrients are there so the decline is puzzling me.
02:00 PM: I have come to a realization that Popcorn began to fail when the light was on 24 hours a day, Starting today the ±6 hour rest period will be reintroduced in the hopes of reviving Popcorn. Maybe that will help a little.
04:00 PM: The Frosted Mouse Ears: Plant B I think finally bouncing up and down. The leaves earlier today were further apart, and at this moment they very tightly together, Might be a good sign that it will begin to grow by the next watering time. FME: Plant A seems to be at a resting point.
Both Liberty plants are looking like inverted cones, I think they are open just enough to take advantage of the light but no further. Both also seem to want to grow taller before fully opening.
Popcorn. What can I say. The plant has diminished to less than half its size, and looking sad, It is either experiencing chlorophyll decline, fertilizer shock, or light bleaching, or even a combination of these. I hope I can sort this out before I loose this plant. My general judgement reminds me that Popcorn is hard hosta to grow to begin with.
I have moved the micro-florescent lamp another inch higher. The light cycle of it being ±6 hours off will resume tonight and plants will be watered on Thursday evening. The video will have darkness for about 22 seconds for each day.
12:00 AM: Liberty leaves seem to be bending further backwards They are still trying to stay in a closed position but it is getting difficult for them. By the end of the week they will hang over the sides of the OTHER containers; good 4 to 5 in./10.16 to 12.70 cm. long.
09:00 AM: Roommates camcorder that had been being used for filming the time lapse photography has fallen. I'll know tonight if I need to get him a new one (sigh).
Hosta Liberty leaves are at about 90º to being open. Wide fingernail margins that are yellowish green and very lightly feathered can be seen. Both leaves are now a full 4in/10.16cm. tall; they feel taller but rulers never lie. Leaf surface area is smaller than what I would have expected, maybe they will grow more in the coming days, This bright spot in my growing keeps getting brighter.
Frosted Mose Ears: Plant A has wide round round leaves, with the 6th one just open - from this morning? Plant B still just sits there,
Popcorn continues to dry out.
Thinking I will bottom water these on Thursday to draw some neutralists lower and away from the rhizomes of these plants,
Last issue I promised you I would talk about light in this one. Before I begin I must disclaim that I am just a 'simple' gardener and what we're about to talk about is highly complex. As such what I am about to present is HIGHLY simplified!
We think of the sun as a highly stable light source, Unfortunately … the sun is anything but stable. It is very very slowly changing form yellow star to become a white star and that will occur over 3 to 4 billion years. So you can rest easy; it won't happen overnight. The outward indication of this are the solar flairs and sunspots that occur from and on the sun. Now … these events have a 23 year cycle which outwardly effect our weather. Much more subtly our light is also being effected and slowly changing from the same reasons. Ninety-nine percent of all life as we know it depends on light to survive.
Light comes in various frequencies of the electromagnetic spectrum. We say that the visible frequencies to be: Violet, Blue, Green, White, Yellow, Orange, Red. To the left and right of these visible frequencies are invisible Ultra-Violet, and Infer-Red sections of the same spectrum. The spectrum does not end there but we don't need to be concerned about those other ranges. Note that when talking about light we also include white as a color. A prism in sunlight can demonstrate some of these points.
While humans see visible sunlight as only white/yellow light; plants sense visible light in distinct color ranges. In exceptionally simple terms for plants the colors to the left of white are used for vegetative growth the colors to the right help with reproductive growth (scapes, flowers and seed pod development). Many LED light purveyors try to fully convince you that only Blue and Red light are important for growing plants. How the plant uses the color of Light gets to be much more complex than just blue and red. At this point what I have read and understand is listed below. Bear in mind that the scientific community may or may not fully agree with these concepts at this time as research continues to define how light really effects plants and their growth.
- Ultra-Violet: deals with some of the mold, mildew, and pest control issues.
- Violet: Not seen any documentation on this, but inferences say is also works with vegetative growth.
- Blue: deals strongly with vegetative growth.
- Green: deals with three aspects of growtzzzzzz
- Emergence of seeds
- Anti-Shade receptors of the plant.
- Acts as a breaking point between the red and blue growth periods.
- White: seems to aide more with vegetative growth
- Yellow: has two identified aspects
- Aides with breaking from seasonal growth
- Interacts with Anti-Shade receptors
- Orange and Red: still are tightly identified to each other as being for flowers and reproductive growth.
- Infer-Red: deals with what we identify as the taste of vegetative material.
So what does this all mean to a 'simple' gardner trying to grow hosta inside?
Let's start with what I DO know directly.. Amber light (from a building security lamp) does indeed effect the reproductive process. During the seasons that is burnt out June produces flowers and Sum and Substance does not; when it is working Sum and Substance has flowers and June does not. Amber light comes within the Yellow to Orange range of the spectrum. This says to me that Red and Orange may not be the only frequencies needed for the reproductive process in at least in some plant species. Since the observed variables for frequencies are not absolute I must also assume that what I have read is not purely absolute or correct either. Apparently some 'give' has to be taken for this planning.
Lighting is probably the most important issue for growing plants anywhere - outdoors or indoors. Unlike past lighting arrangements for Incandescent, fluorescents, halogen, high intensity lamps (HIL) are all forms of light that have been used in the past for indoor gardening enthusiasts. The Light Emitting Diodes (LED) is the newest technology for lighting, and has many advantages. First and foremost is that the temperature for these lights are much cooler, in many cases approximately room temperature. Another advantage is that they can last 5 times longer than florescent lights (50,000 hours), another advantage is that they can be more cost efficient, and a fourth advantage is that they can have specifications for any color frequency needed! Pretty cool right! This makes it nearly ideal for the Indoor gardening!
But wait some of you are saying isn't LED technology limited to just indicator lights and low level displays? The answer is a resounding "NO"! The age of LED's has come and these can do as much as any Edison incandescent light can do - and sometimes better!
For a moment let's go back to the original reason why I started the Blue Mayhem Project. The stated goal was to grow Blue Mammoth seeds inside to see if could be done. IF you half trust the usage of light by plants as it is currently understood then you also have to presume that one would need a mixture of Blue, Green and White light to achieve this goal.
So the next question becomes who males a LED lamp with those frequencies in mind? Readers would search the internet for grow lights and find LED tubes. panels, boxes, strips. lamps and even Edison equivalents for the E26 and E27 light bulbs; but very likely no design that would permit Blue, White, and Green would come up. In all likelihood you could find white and blue combinations. Many growers might easily accept some combination of white and blue as acceptable; as I nearly did.
But then .. .I am not always your average gardener. I dug a little deeper. and looked for what I really wanted. The solution I found came from a US company located in Texas. They are known as BML (Build My LED).
(1) BML'a roots are in commercial horticulture—both of their co-founders came from careers in one of the most well-known horticultural LED lighting companies out there, but thought they could expand LED lighting design for photosynthesizers into other areas. So they started the BML to sell lights for reef and aquatic plant-keeping, and are now slowly moving back into the horticulture industry. This company builds LED strip lighting on a custom basis.
What I found on their design page was that a entirely blue and white LED had considerable red frequencies in it. What I learned was the white and yellow LEDs have a fair amount of red light associated with them. It was a case of how the technology works. After shifting the lights around about 50 times I found the following arrangement:
|BML LED arrangement chosen for this project.|
The report that BML offers for each arrangement is rather technical so I will not list all of it. This arrangement is rated as follows on the BML website:
- PPF Efficacy (mmol/joule) 1.1
- Blue (400 – 499nm) 73%
- Green (500 – 599nm) 22%
- Red (600 – 699nm) 4%
- Far Red (700 – 750nm) 0%
Again you might ask where is this 4% red coming from? It comes out of the White and Yellow LED lights being chosen for this arrangement. And "Far Red" is sometimes referred to the frequencies between Red and Infer-Red sections of the spectrum. Apparently it is a acceptable term that is sometimes used interchangeably with or in conjunction with 'Magenta'. There is also Far-Blue but BML says they put the all the blues into one aggregate on their report.
IF you go the custom route for LEDs do it responsibly. In my arrangement there is some serious thought that has gone into this - they are not just diodes thrown in to look pretty. The goal is to grow vegetation so the emphasis is on blue. Since I will be growing seed there is green to aide that process, In addition the green is there to help the plant make internal adjustments for growing patterns. Diodes of orange and red are omitted since those frequencies propel flowers, scape, or seed for reproduction.
As irregular as it might seem there is something inside me that says hosta need some yellow to go with that white. I'm gonna follow my instincts and keep those in. In thought alone a 4% red rating probably will not trigger scapes or flowers, while offering the hosta some limited orange as well. In the end what I do is offer the hosta a full spectrum of color without directly offering the orange, red,, or far-red of the spectrum directly.
Also consider the position of the diodes. That to has been thought out as well. The Ultra-Violet light is on the end which would be the inside edges of the grow tent. That would be more likely place to find mold, mildew and fungus. I moved the green from out from the center to the 'middle' of the strip to accommodate the seedlings as they grow. Again the white and yellow diodes are in the center to try to limit the effects of the red spectrum. And of course the blue is evenly spaced out as best I could. Since the pattern repeats itself from edge to center to edge again I probably will provide a relatively even coverage for the 2ft. x 2ft./60.96cm. x 60.96cm. area of the inside of the tent. As a side note: if were doing this for the scapes and flowers I might have a second strip of LEDs to interchange with this one that would be a reverse of this in red, orange, yellow and white.
Are you still with me‽ Good, because there's more to this than just having a light above plants. Some of our parents (including my mom) have grow tables with a pair of full spectrum white florescents above their plants attached to a timer. These go on and off over and over again on a flat cycle. While that technology is quite adequate for growing plants inside it can be taken further. But before I write about that I am going make an educated guess and suggest that the fluorescents used for those tables are/were probably two 20 watt tube bulbs for a total of 40 watts of light.
(3) Most LED manufactures use 3 watt diodes in their LEDs. BML produces light strips in 12 inch increments. Every 12 inches has 15 diodes producing a maximum of 45 watts of light. The selection of LEDs in the diagrammed strip above produces 36 watts of light. Note that what is used in florescent light tables and the LEDs being used here is nearly the same.
As plants respond to moving light it might be nice to implement some representation of light movement. The largest problem I have is exceptionally limited space. Most moving light technologies have gear and chain movement systems; again not practical for this space. The solution I will be implementing is rooted in unproven thinking as I have never seen any studies or experiments for this; and yet it makes passing sense. It makes sense because at least young hosta 'bounce' as they grow, and older hosta 'dance' as seen in time lapse video of the plants. My solution will be to turn lights on and off from TWO tracks of LED lighting set at 4in/10.16cm a part to give a left right movement of light.
As I did research for lighting I noted that BML does have lights that are multi-channel and controllable in thirds but these are for dedicated aquarium settings and are not specifically for agricultural use. It would take a bit more time to adapt these for indoor growing. BML has also indicated that this technology will not be transferred to agricultural use any time soon. Personally it would be nice option if they could, but for right now that is not available.
Rather BML does offer options for turning LEDs on and off and be programmed to simulate morning light and afternoon light. Setting them apart by 4in/10.16cm my not be much, but it would offer an extremely (4) rudimentary simulation of solar motion and foliage over head. Being that four inches might be enough to effect a few leaves to grow better down the road I am thinking that some light change is better than none.
So how might this be actually implemented. Hosta unlike some other plants CAN be grown in 24 hours of sunlight. This has been demonstrated by those gardeners who live near or above the Arctic circle in places like Norway and in USA in Alaska. My goal is not to subject my hosta to those rigors of growth.
Growers have various observations about hosta and sunlight. I was first told that hosts need 50 to 70% shade (thats 6 to 8hrs 30min of full shade during a day), others say you need more like half sum during the day and still others suggest that yellow and white hosta need more sun than blue and green ones.. My goal is to offer them a more 'warm' Minnesota like environment to grow in while they are inside. I must keep in mind that Hosta can become bleached from TO MUCH sunlight. This point will be one that will have to be explored for this gardening experiment.
Diagram #2 (below) shows how two LED tracks might be employed. One small draw back at this time with BML technology is that their lights can only be dimmed to 8% of their full intensity (in this case 2.88 watts) By decreasing and increasing light at separate times one can simulate moving light, and again this will be only be a slight left right motion. The diagram also demonstrates that a rough simulation of what hosta prefer for sunlight. Stronger light in the mornings and evening and less light in the midday. In this diagram I offer the plants 8 full hours of light (remember that PFF discussion earlier?) over the course of a day. Lastly In this scenario we have 8 hours of darkness for a rest period as even plants need rest too!!
|Note that at Noon the two lights overlap in timing on and off ever so slightly.|
BML provides technology called SOLunar which will permits what I refer to as 'Global Deviation' of sunlight so that the hours that the lamps increase and decrease by ±x amount to adjust for winter and summer sunlight, In my scenario I would like an Global Deviation of ±2 hours (indicated by the red vertical lines). Since this is available, total range of daylight will change from 14 to 18 hours a day over a one year period.
With the sun being a natural source of light it is hard to fully reproduce its full effect of it inside. Today's LED technology offers the indoor gardener with some flexibility. With the right technology and a little creative thinking the indoor grow table can become something to be amazed at. The question that this point is if I am still a 'simple gardener'?
In the next edition of the Blue Mayhem Project I will look at seed sowing methodologies for hosta seed, and touch on their moisture requirements.
- Paragraph was adapted from correspondence between author and a BML Representative.
- PFF stands for Photosynthetic Photon Flux. This is the phrase that indicates the light used by plants in photosynthesis.
- Take some suspicion if you see LED spec sheets that say their lamps have less than a 50.000 hour life span. This may suggest that they are running more electrical current through their diodes than what is 'safe' or appropriate.
- The next company above BML asks for over $1,500 USA funds. BML will do this for UNDER $500.00 USF in this growing configuration. The retail company below BML refuses to accept e-mail from consumers.