Feeding Your Cactus
Trichocereus are different than desert cacti, they enjoy a good feeding, and consistent moisture in the root zone. I feed and water my Trichocereus in almost the same way I would a tomato plant. I use liquid kelp, fish hydrolysate, calcium, and Recharge or compost tea. During the growing season, I feed them at least once a week. I will go into more detail later about frequency and strength for different stages of their life.
all at the same time, but I feed the kelp and fish at half the recommended amount for each. I also feed the calcium by itself as it's only once a month so I give that at full strength.
I use Biomin Calcium from Safergro, also use their fish hydro which is called Aqua Power. I use Neptunes Harvest fish hydrolystae as well, as it has a different NPK, lower N, but higher PK. For kelp I usually go with Growmore brand. I am about to try out a new brand of kelp with a guaranteed level of cytokines in it, I will update this with info after trying ot out.
I feed mine fish hydrolysate and liquid kelp once a week during the growing season. I use either Recharge or a compost/worm casting tea every time I feed them.
Once every month I give them some calcium.
For the calcium, I use Biomin Calcium from safergro brand ( I use this at 1 tablespoon per gallon.
For the fish I use Safergro brand as well, it's called Aqua Power ( I use this at 1 tablespoon per gallon as well.
The kelp I usually go with Growmore brand(1/2 to 1 tablespoon per gallon).
And this is a link to Recharge
You can get smaller containers of Recharge. I use it at 1/2 to 1 teaspoon per gallon.
I use the above nutrients on both my mature cacti, as well as my seedlings. For seedlings 3 months and under, I cut the above doses in half, except for the Recharge.
I either make compost tea, or use Recharge once a week or every other watering.
Something to keep in mind if you are going to brew your own teas. One of the key things is making sure the organic inputs actually promote microbial and fungal growth, and having a big enough air pump to actually have them grow while in the tea. A must have is a big enough pump to grow bacteria/archaea, fungal hyphae, flagellates, and ciliates. Most aquarium pumps will not work with a 5 gallon ACT, let alone a 55 gallon. The pump is not where you want to skimp. My 55 gallon has two nice sized pumps, one for the air lift, and one for the bubbler. You need at least .05 CFM/gal or ideally .08 CFM/gal or greater. Most air pumps are specified in LPM (liters per minute). So for one gallon you need at least 1.42 LPM or the optimum 2.3 LPM. If you were to brew 5 gal you would need at least 7.1 LPM, but preferably 11.5 or more.
If you want a simple but very effective tea, this is a break down on one of Tim Wilsons(Microbe Man) recipes...
1) EWC, compost, humus, soil, etc. @ 2.38% (Gallon x .0023)
2) unsulfered pure black strap molasses @ 0.5% (Gallon x .005)
3) kelp @ 0.25% or less Gallon x .0025
4) fish hydrolysate @ 0.063% (Gallon x .00063)
So for a 5 gal brew, it would be:
1) 2 cups compost
2) 1/2 cup BSM
3) 3 T kelp
4) 12mL fish hydrolysate
For a lot of in depth info on brewing teas, check out his page, there is so much info!
I have my own worm bin made out of a 55 gallon barrel(attached a pic). I like to feed my worms kitchen scraps, and also half broken down compost from the compost bin. Turns regular compost into even better compost with their calcium coated turds.
This is my homemade brewer with a air lift and bubbler.
When transplanting BioAg VAM for a couple of weeks before starting Recharge can be beneficial, as it is Trichoderma free. Trichoderma is aggressive, so this gives the endos a chance to take hold without having to compete with the trichoderma. Trichoderma is more than amazing though, just best to introduce it later if possible, but not a deal breaker if added at the same time. It should also be pointed out that VAM contains only endo-mycorrhizae, so you aren’t wasting money on ectos that only associate with trees. Lots of myco mixes are watered down with the cheaper ectos.
Starting Trichocereus From Seed
So first I am going to explain a little about equipment used, and how to use it.
So lets start with lights. I use a T5HO, with either Sprectralux or Quantum 6500K bulbs.
I keep the light about 3 feet from the seedlings. They will turn red if they are getting to much light, so what I aim for is a very faint hint of red, as this ensures they will not become etiolated.
I don't use heat mats, as the T5 keeps the temp pretty much perfect, and because the seeds are sowed on top of the soil, you don't really need bottom heat. I aim for around 75 degrees for daytime temps, and anywhere in the 60's for night time temps. I keep the lights on 24/7 until all seeds have germinated. After that, I put it on a timer and have it on a 18 hours light, 6 hours dark schedule.
For soil I use Fox Farms ocean forest. I sift out all the bigger chunks with a 1/4 inch screen, and I also do this for their first transplant into 200 cell trays.
I use 2.5" to 4" square pots in a 1020 tray with a humidity dome to start the seeds in.
Okay, so now that we have covered what you will need, lets start the sowing process.
The first thing you will want to do is get your containers full of soil, then water it well before putting the seed in.
Next you sprinkle the seeds on top of the soil, try to space them out the best you can. When you are done sprinkling them, don't cover them with any soil.
After this I use a pump sprayer set on a fine mist and spray the top of the soil to set the seeds into place and get them a little damp. Now put the humidity dome on your tray, and place it under the light.
After a couple of weeks, once almost all seeds have germinated, I take the lid off the tray for about an hour a day. I do this until they are starting to get their first tiny spines, then I start increasing the time I leave the lids open. I also start leaving the vents on the humidity dome open slightly. I increase the openings on the humidity domes a little bit more each week.
By the third month, the vents on the humidity dome are fully open. At this point I take the lids off of the humidity domes for about 6 to 8 hours a day for about half a week. After that I take them off for about 12 hours a day for around a week. After this I leave the lids off and bring them into my greenhouse and start adjusting them to outdoor light. I try to aim for the very beginning of spring to do this, as the sun is still not that strong, so it's easier to acclimate them. I acclimate them usually in two to three weeks- using 35% shade cloth. When I remove the shade cloth they are still getting diffused light from my frosted greenhouse panels, so keep this i mind if you are growing outside. I would say it is about 15% shade.
After being acclimated, I then transplant them into 200 cell propagation trays. They stay in these trays until they are around 6 months old. Then I transplant into either 75 cell trays, or 50.
A note about watering habits:
You wan't to make sure to maintain moisture, don't let them dry out too much, as well as don't keep them too wet. There is a definite balance to this, but if they dry out too much, growth slows down considerably. Too wet, growth slows and you may get rot. When they are 3 months old and younger, I don't really let the surface dry out completely. I give it a little spray as to not wet the whole container again, but to give the top inch some moisture. I pick up the pots to feel the weight and determine if they need a full watering.
Pehno hunting tips:
One of the ways I like to be able to choose my phenos, while also at the same time maximizing space, is to keep them in the 200 cell trays for a year or more. This will slow down their overall upward growth, but will let them show some of their more mature spine variations, as well as color and rib structure. They will also be nicely displayed next to all of their siblings, so you can pick up on subtle differences easier. Make sure to look closely at the runts of each batch, as sometimes these are either variegated or mutant. They both can start with very weak root systems, that take a lot more time to develop.