Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Fuente del RITMO

Finding a great new wine is always a thrill! The shop nearest my house now has a refrigerated walk-in room with all the white wines in stock, and for some strange reason I always feel more adventurous picking wine from there instead of the regular shelves. Maybe it's the idea that I could drink it right away...?

Discovered a Spanish white called "Fuente del Ritmo", Centro Espanola, La Mancha, 2012. Made from a grape I never heard of, Airen. I feel kind of silly about that. My explorations of Spanish wines clearly leave something to be desired, well beyond Tempranillo and Albarino!

It turned out the wine was absolutely perfect for a quick throw-together meal of green veggies, roasted potatoes and smoked trout fillets with capers. Another bottle went great with sashimi.

Cool, refreshing, semi-dry, full-bodied. The overwhelming flavors were tropical fruit -- lychee, pineapple -- with a strong peach element. Reminded me a bit of peach schnapps or a great Moscato! Nice acid on the back of the tongue too, which is why it was sooooo good with fish.

Imma buy MORE.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Clowesetum Raymond Lerner

It seems hard to believe I've been growing orchids under lights alone for 20 years now. That is to say, for twice as long as I grew orchids on windowsills. And I still have so much to learn. Changing over from T-12 to T-8 light fixtures is going slowly, but excellent results so far. More light for the same $$, and the plants really seem to enjoy that wider-spectrum boost.

I picked up this Clowesetum Raymond Lerner not long after I was forced into all-lights growing. I absolutely love Catasetums, and desperately wanted to try growing one even though bringing a large deciduous plant into a limited space setup was, frankly, crazy. I knew Catasetum pileatum could get quite large, but hoped the Clowesia russeliana parent would keep the plant size down. I totally lucked out...not long after I got mine, I saw one at an orchid show that was ENORMOUS, with two really long spikes full of flowers that looked very much like the Clowesia. But my plant stayed pretty compact.

For 10 years, it bloomed with a couple of flowers every 2 years. It piddled along, growing but not really thriving. Repotting definitely helped. Feeding helped. But then the next 10 years were sad. Even while other orchids were making me happy, the CRL was not happy. It only bloomed three times, and one time the spike blasted. I was not happy. The back bulbs shriveled, as they will in this genus. Repotting time again.

And a big rethink of the rest period. Warmer and brighter, as Fred Clarke and other Catasetum geniuses say, is better. So after the leaves died, I stuck the plant, still in only a 6" pot, on the bottom shelf of my lights off to the side a bit, instead of on the Windowsill of Exile and Doom. Watered it every 7-10 days to keep it alive, as the winter humidity is root-puckeringly bad. Watched

This spring, the second year in the "new" mix, I saw nice upright aerial "basket" roots forming, on a really nice fat new bulb growth. Yay! I decided to keep it where it was, as the leaves seemed quite OK from the amount of light they were getting -- near the center of the T-12s, but a couple of inches away to the side.

I was being really good about feeding my plants this spring. And I spritzed everything like mad, once a week, with MegaThrive, including the Catasetum.

And then the spikes appeared. TWO of them. This happened.

Needless to say, I'm going to be really nice to this plant from now on.