Monday, March 26, 2007


When I bought a whole load of cuttings from Paul Shirley, I waited for them to root and then potted them up. However, because of a complete lack of pots at the time, I potted them into huge great big pots that kind of swamped the poor things. I bought some much smaller 3inch and 2inch pots from my not-so-local garden centre a few months ago. However, it only recently occured to me that I could either a) downsize or b) pot together my hoyas, mostly due to the fact I was thinking about moving and the amount of huge pots of plants I have padding around. In the end, I decided to just repot each plant into its own littler pot. This poor lacunosa had such a small rootball that it got downsized from the huge black pot on the left to a diddy 2 inch pot. I'm hoping now it'll flower, or at very least not die (!). A few others got downsized at the same time, including the now growing polyneura, which got lovely gravel as well as soil with a large amount of perlite in it to improve drainage. The only one I didn't dare repot was the heuschkeliana, which is still attempting to flower...

Monday, March 19, 2007

Reasons To Be Cheerful

Well, I don't know whether it's the beer fertilizer, the prolonged daylight, the warmer weather or more sunshine, but most of my hoyas are very happy at the moment (woohoo!). Here, on the left, is the publicalyx I've been watching with bated breath as it produces loads of buds... let's see, any bets on having to wait another month before I actually see flowers?!?
The heuschkeliana, right, is trying its hardest to flower again. I know it's almost inevitable that I have once again hexed this plant but I still hope that I'll see flowers - third time lucky and all that. I had to prostrate myself on the floor to get a good shot of the buds!
I'm not sure whether the lauterbachii growing every time I look at it is a reason to be cheerful or just generally scared of having to deal with what promises to be a humungous plant... I will be reporting back on this one I guess!

I've heard that the javanica/multiflora, right, is a reliable bloomer and I was extremely pleased to see what definitely looks like a new peduncle forming on this plant.. only three nodes long and allready trying to flower! Now all I have to do is not forget to water it!

And in other news, I have an interview in what looks like a brilliant job in London, so I hope you'll all wish me luck on Wednesday.... eek!

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Beer Fertilizer

So, there's been a lot of talk about this beer fertilizer. I, for one, had no idea where to find the ingredients and then, once I did, I had a lot of fun making it. So I thought I'd bring you Hills' Guide To Making Beer Fertilizer. (This has been edited as of April 19 2007 to reflect my experience of using it)

I will note here that I had an American cup measurer in my cupboard, so I used it most of the time as opposed to attempting to use my not-very-small measuring jug.

Get a 2 pint bowl (this is about 4 litres, which is about one US gallon).

The first ingredient is 12 oz beer. This is 1.5 cups, 35ml, or just more than one small bottle of beer. I used some flat beer I talked about in an earlier post that someone kindly left to expand and dribble beer all over my freezer.

1/4 cup Epsom salts. This is about 250g by my reckoning. I found Epsom Salts in Boots, a UK-based pharmacy, in the "digestive aids" medicine shelf, as you can probably see by the picture.

1/2 cup ammonia. According to the conversion, this is about 10ml, so I used the cup measurer for this... I found ammonia in a hardware/miscellaneous cooking/gardening/cleaning items shop called Robert Dyas, masquerading as a household cleaner. When you add this, you may want to open some windows. Ammonia stinks! You can just see the mixture behind the ammonia.
2 cups water. This is approximately 50ml, which I did measure out using my jug.
1/2 cup molasses. I found Organic Blackstrap Molasses in a health food store (GNC). I measured it using the cup again, because it's much easier.

Ok, by this stage you should have what looks like a bit of a mess. I can say that because that's what I got. The useful information like, use warm water, would have helped me a lot. I guess you could always warm the mixture up over some boiling water (please take care, I'm not responsible for burns!!) as the epsom salts don't readily go into solution. In the end I poured the lot into a 2 litre bottle (it makes just over 1) and shook it until the salts went into solution.

You use 1 teaspoon of beer fertilizer per gallon of warm water.

One US gallon is approximately 4 litres.

To this four litres, I also added:
Quarter teaspoon of Superthrive (yes, you can buy it here, on Ebay)
Some Bloom Booster - I have some African Violet Fertilizer, which is 12:36:14. It says one measure to 2 pints. 4 litres of water is 7 pints, so this is about 3 and a half measures. It seems a bit strong, so now I just add one measure to the mix.

I water this on the plants once a week. If they need watering in the interim I use plain rain water.