Orchid Care

My Earthly Connection to Barb

Grumpa Joe has entrusted you with the almost impossible task of caring for a phaleanopsis  orchid plant. Here are the rules:

  1. Remember, the total dollar value of this plant is zero. I paid less than twenty dollars for it, and I received more than that in enjoyment while it bloomed in our house. Your mom’s orchid is another matter. I have taken care of it for nine years, and it has bloomed every year. As long as the plant lives, she is closer to me. That plant is priceless.
  2. It is very hard to kill an orchid, but you can do it if you are too diligent, and over water it.
  3. Orchids are air plants. Their roots do not like to be immersed in water. That is why there are holes in the pot. The roots need oxygen to survive.
  4. The roots don’t always grow in the pot. Often they grow out of the main stem into the air and look like green worms looking for a meal.  That is normal.
  5. The dangling roots will become desiccated on the ends. If so, don’t worry. They all do in an indoor environment in the winter. Mom’s orchid has survived since 2001 in a dry house.
  6. Orchids like lots of daylight, but don’t like a burning sunshine and heat. Any window in your house during the winter is fine. They survive cool nights, and moderate days (60-80 F).
  7. If the plant is too slow to bloom, it may need more light. Don’t sweat it, move it to a new spot with more light if you can. If it’s in the best place you have, be patient.
  8. The orchid you are taking care of is near blooming. If it does bloom, you will have blossoms for at least three months. Enjoy the bloom.
  9. Here are the secrets:
    1. Keep water in the pebbles. The pebbles make a mini-eco-system of humidity.
    2. Give the plant a cup of water weekly.
    3. Every week or two, place the plant in the kitchen sink, and run a spray of tepid (warm) water over the entire thing for five minutes. This re-dampens the media in the pot, and the orchid thinks it is back in the rain forest where its relatives grew up. The sink thing is watery mess, and requires some floor mopping .
    4. Before you take it out of the sink, pour water with fertilizer over the entire plant. Cover the leaves, the roots, and the potting media. Let it drain for a minute then put it back on its pebble base. Fill the pebbles with water.

To make fertilizer use this formula:

  1. In a gallon jug, place 1/8 teaspoon of the mix I have provided. (30-10-10) into the jug.
  2. Fill the jug with warm (not hot) water.
  3. Pour over the plant.
  4. One jug of mix makes two uses. If not, so be it.

Take time to smell the flowers

(These orchids don’t have an aroma.)

Eatin Chickin

Grampa Jim loved chicken and chicken soup.  Most of his teeth were gone, so he had a hard time chewing tough meats.  When Mom made chicken soup, she used the entire chicken in the pot.  We ate the soup with her homemade noodles. For chicken soup she cut the dough into long fine strands.  We ate the soup first. She served the boiled chicken parts for the main course.  Dad always took the breast; I always took a leg.  Gramps stuck to the wings, feet, neck, and head.  He thought he would be taking it off our plate if he took a larger part to eat.

By the end of the meal he had the neck sucked down to a pile of discrete vertebrae.  He did the same with the wings, and feet.  We all hated the boiled skin, so we pushed it aside into a pile on our plates.  Gramps always asked for the skin, remarking “You’re leaving the best part behind”.

Toward the end of the meal, Gramps attacked the chicken head.  He used the fine point of his pocket knife blade to pick the eyes from the socket, and eat the eye right off the tip. He never washed his pocket knife, he only wiped it off, folded it, and put it back into his pocket. I was with him at times when he used the same knife to cut fish for bait.

It was a short time before the chicken head was a bare bony skull; smaller than a walnut.   One would think that there was nothing more to eat, but we were always wrong.  Gramps set the skull down on the table. He lined up the sharp edge of his knife along the top of the skull. Then, SLAM. He hit the dull side of the knife with a karate chop. The heel of his hand slammed against the knife to split the skull in two.  Again, he used the very tip of the knife to pick out the chicken brain which was the size of a small pea.  Sometimes he had to pick a piece out of both parts.  The brain disappeared into his mouth off the end of the knife like it was caviar.