With just four weeks left of term it’s all hands to the orchid lab at Writhlington. Our plan is to complete at least 30 jars of seedlings every day until July 23rd. This will give us 600 jars of seedlings growing and ready for our customers to buy at the London Orchid show next year. To make room in the lab we will also be planting out all the seedlings that are now big enough, so our greenhouses will be full of cute little baby orchids….aaawww, so sweet. By the way ST6 is the classroom next to the greenhouse where we do our media cooking.
It seems that the summer is really here…..it must be because the older members of greenhouse club are stuck in exams all day! Summer is the time that most tropical orchids do most of their growing as summer is the wet season in tropical climates.
So what should you be doing to keep your orchids happy? Summer for Writhlington’s orchids means lots of water, frequent feeding and lots of fresh air. If you have a look at our webcams you can watch our summer temperatures which we keep down with a combination of ventilation (all of the vents are open most days and the cooler sections often have vents open at night too) damping down (spraying the floor and walls with water that then evaporates to cool the greenhouse and also keep the atmosphere from becoming too dry) and shading (our shading operates on light sensors but is across on all sunny days from April – October).Of course we are trying to mimic summer conditions from the orchids’ natural habitats and draw on our experience of visiting tropical habitats in the summer including the mountains of Costa Rica.
The plants in ‘Cool Americas’ require this climate. We found it very wet (as shown in this photo) and never very hot. So maximum day temperatures of around 28 degrees C. At night the temperature fell to around 15 degrees C.
We have also visited lowland Guatemala in the summer where is contrast it was very hot with day temperatures from 28-34 degrees C and night temperatures falling at best to 23 degrees C. This is the climate we replicate in Warm Americas. Oh yes, and it was wet but not as wet as Costa Rica.
Today we are having a trial visit from the Mid-Wales Orchid Society. This is a great excuse for us to get out the prayer flags again and don’t they just look stunning!
The visit today will be so that we are well practiced by the time WAOF comes along on 25th September! We’re all really looking forward to this, and want everything to be rehearsed and maybe slightly better than just making it up as we go along!
I hope everyone likes the web cams. I keep logging on to check the greenhouse at night and suprise suprise ….it’s dark. Teachers! Anyway, I couldn’t let the chance pass to thank Dan Groves publically for all his work on wsbeorchids.org.uk and earlier versions of the orchid project website. Dan has now finished his sixth form studies and is off to university in the autumn. It is fair to say that without Dan’s flair and technical know how there wouldn’t be a wsbeorchids.org.uk and it has been a real pleasure to let him do his thing. His efforts to set up the web cams powered by scrap netbooks and costing almost nothing to the project is an act of pure genius. By the way, the cameras update every 60 seconds and we will soon be adding information about what each one is showing.
Once again, thanks Dan, and I look forward to keeping in touch through the virtual world for many years to come. Simon Pugh-Jones
You’ve been waiting, we’ve been working, and finally we are ready to launch our ‘secret project’. While you’ve been entertained by my image of the eye – Dan has been working with four old netbooks and seven webcams to bring you what can only be described as a unique insight into the Writhlington Orchid Project.