Here is an excellent reason to subscribe to Avant Gardener, an on-line gardening newsletter. This article in the April issue caught our eye because the very same orchids caught our eye in a local grocery store. The price, alas, was not $10.00. It was twice that, but still a fair price for one who loves orchids.

The article,below, gives good instructions for the care of this beautiful plant. So if the urge to be owned by an orchid hits, this is a fun one to consider. Beautiful flowers and a great story.

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Developed by Barbara Baldan, an orchid grower near Homestead, Florida, the Kaleidoscope variety of Phalaenopsis orchid, commonly called a moth orchid, is the biggest-selling orchid of all time. Developed in 1986 from a cross between 'Hausermann's Candy' and 'Daryl Lockhart', the Baldan Orchid nursery has closed for business, following Barbara's retirement, now aged 75 years old. During a recent interview about the history of Kaleidoscope, Barbara confirmed that she erred in not applying for a patent when she saw the commercial potential for her introduction. However, its unique coloring – purple veins on an apricot background with overtones of pink – had other orchid growers skeptical of its value, and so she began selling clones for $350.00 each to orchid collectors and growers – thus ending her chances of receiving a patent and subsequent royalties. Today, in department stores and florist shops across the country, and in many foreign countries, her Kaleidoscope can be purchased for as little as $10.00, notably on-line from Carter and Holmes (www.carterandholmes.com). They sell a blooming-size potted plant in a 3-inch pot that can remain in flower for 80-120 days.

Kaleidoscope produces as many as a dozen flowers up to 4 inches across on 3 ft. arching stems, with up to five stems per plant. Flowering mostly in winter and spring, it is one of the easiest of orchids to grow and to re-bloom. Water whenever the root ball feels dry, usually once a week. Do not use softened water which can kill orchids. The ideal humidity range is 70-85F, made possible in the dry environment of a home by placing the pot on a deep dish of gravel, partly filled with water. Feed twice a month with a 30-10-10 fertilizer at quarter strength, and switch to a 10-30-20 formula during winter to promote re-bloom. Re-pot after three years. Ideal temperature range during the day is 70-85F, and during the night 60-65F. A rest period at 55F in the fall is also helpful getting 'Kaleidoscope' to re-bloom.

During her career as an orchid grower Barbara has hybridized more than a thousand orchids. One of the seedlings from her original cross, named 'Golden Treasure' won an Award of Merit from the American Orchid Society and it is 'Golden Treasure' that she recommends, correctly identified as Phalaenopsis Baldan's Kaleidoscope 'Golden Treasure'. She recalls first taking an interest in orchids when she lived in South Jersey and her grandmother would take her into the woods to try and transplant wild ladyslipper orchids, which they were never successful in getting to flower. In her teens she became an orchid enthusiast and after marriage and a move to Miami developed an orchid business as a sideline from her work as a nurse. Asked how much of a royalty she could have commanded if she had patented Kaleidoscope, she did not know, but a leading retail orchid grower we spoke to in Homestead, Florida, believes she could have received up to $2.00 a plant in its early years of introduction, making her a millionaire many times over.


Summer Food in Wintry February


16 Popular Foods You Didn’t Know You Could Freeze

1. Garlic – You can freeze whole garlic, garlic cloves or chopped fresh garlic. Frozen garlic does lose some of its texture, but the flavor remains intact.

2. Corn – You can freeze fresh-picked corn on the cob for up to one year. Pack it in freezer bags — husk and silk and all. For store-bought corn, husk and blanch it before freezing.

3. Avocados – The bad news is that frozen avocados lose their consistency. The good news is that they do not lose their taste, so you can use them for guacamole or dressing. Wash and halve them before peeling. Freeze as halves, or puree them with lime or lemon juice and then store for up to eight months.

4. Mushrooms — You can freeze raw button, creminis and portabellas mushrooms for later use. Chop and slice mushrooms and then spread them on a cookie sheet. Freeze. Then transfer the pieces to bags or containers.

5. Onion – You can save chopping time – and tears – by freezing onion for cooking later. Store peeled, chopped onion in plastic freezer bags. The best part is you can just toss them into your recipes without thawing them first.

6. Hummus – Scoop your fresh hummus into plastic containers. Then drizzle a thin layer of olive oil on the top to keep it from drying out. Thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours before mixing and serving.

more such winter gardening from Off the Grid News