I have several different things to share with you today.
As I explained in yesterday"s Bonsai Tree Log entry, I went ahead and set up my experimental hydroponics system in a seven-gallon aquarium. However, being as I am not sure if the apple seedling is even going to survive, I decided to create my hydroponics system on a smaller scale, using smaller plastic containers, which sit inside the aquarium. If the seedling does survive over the next few weeks, then I will consider setting up a larger system for it when it becomes necessary to do so.
Currently, the apple seedling is planted in a shallow plastic tray that is about one and a half inches tall. As I described previously, the tray has holes in the bottom for water drainage, and sits on top of two other plastic containers which are submerged just below the water level in the aquarium.
There is about half an inch of aquarium gravel in the tray to hold the apple seedling in place. The two small roots dangle through the center hole in the tray, and are immersed in the water below, which is a mixture of old aquarium water, tap water, and chlorine remover. I also soaked some Hikari fish pellets in the water in order to add some additional nutrients to the water.
I am not sure if the apple seedling"s roots will be able to survive in water or not. Some plants cannot be grown hydroponically, because their roots become water-logged. Aside from that, apple trees prefer loamy soil, which is a mixture of clay and sand. This allows for drainage. If I notice any deterioration in the seedling"s root system, I will be forced to place it back in soil again. Time will tell.
Several days ago I planted an additional six apple seeds in the Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle terrarium. However, these were from Gala apples, and not from Granny Smith apples. As I mentioned in an earlier log entry, according to what I read online, in order to produce fruit, an apple tree needs to be pollinated by a different variety of apple tree, and not by the same variety. So, even though my Granny Smith apple seedling is years away from maturity -- assuming that it even lasts that long -- I decided to plant the Gala apple seeds, just in case the day arrives when I want to try to cross-pollinate the two trees. None of the six seeds had sprouted any roots yet when I planted them, so I am not sure how long it will take before they sprout above ground.
Regarding my two Coconut Rhinoceros Beetles, they continue to do fine, although somehow, one of them lost the long thin filamentous structure that extends from its front right leg. I don"t know if it was digging too hard in the sand substrate or what. I don"t think that the beetle possesses the ability to grow back the structure, being as it develops during the pupal stage.
Ever since I acquired these two CRB"s on October 16th and 18th of this year, I have not been certain of their sex. Physically, they more or less look the same, including the length of their cephalic horn. Without at least a third beetle with which to compare the size of their horns, I have had no way of knowing if I have males or females. However, due to the absence of the thick red body hair which is associated with the females, I assumed that I had two males. Yet, at the same time, even when I put them together, they never fight -- as males would do -- which left me even more confused regarding their true gender.
Well, to my great surprise, I received a definitive answer to my question the other day while turning over the compost in the terrarium. While doing so, I discovered three grubs in the sand. One or both of my beetles must have been fertilized by a male CRB prior to my catching them. With the presence of the grubs, I am now leaning towards the belief that both beetles are females, because their horn length is about the same. I also know that the grub couldn"t have come from anywhere else, because the sand was formerly used in my aquariums, and was submerged under water, for years.
I almost didn"t see the CRB larvae because they blend in so well with the color of the sand and other organic matter in it. There may possibly be more grubs, but I stopped turning over the compost because I didn"t want to take the chance of harming them. Considering that I have only had the two CRB"s for about five weeks, I was surprised by the size of the grubs. They are each about an inch long. I am going by visual memory, being as I didn"t actually take the time to measure them with a ruler.
At any rate, based on their size, how long I have had the CRB"s, and online images which I have collected, I think it is safe to assume that the three grubs are in their first "instar". An instar refers to the growth phases that occur between the various molts that a CRB larva undergoes during its development and maturation to the adult beetle phase. CRB"s go through three instars, a pupa stage, and then the adult beetle stage.
So discovering the three CRB larvae was my first surprise this week. The second surprise occurred today, and it made me really happy and excited. No, you probably won"t consider it a big deal, but I most certainly did. I believe it was while I was testing some fluorescent tubes on the terrarium that my eye caught sight of something in the terrarium. Taking a closer look, I couldn"t believe my eyes. There, after waiting for three weeks, and popping out of the surface of the sandy substrate, was my rain tree sprout! I felt like a little kid receiving a nice present on his birthday, and so I thanked the Lord for letting my rain tree seed sprout after all.
That little sprout immediately took all of my attention. I say "little", but it was actually quite big. After carefully removing the sand from around it, and washing it off in dechlorinated water, I held in my hand a rain tree sprout with two large yellowish-white cotyledons, a creamy-white stem, and a white root. From the curve of the stem where the cotyledons bend down, to the tip of the root, the sprout is about two inches long. Again, this is just a visual approximation. The root tip probably ran into the glass bottom of the terrarium, which is probably why it couldn"t grow any longer. Anyway, the sprout looks really healthy.
Leaving the sprout in a little bit of water so that it wouldn"t dry out, I then fashioned some plastic egg crate and a piece of screen, so that I could suspend the rain tree sprout in the water, in the same hydroponic system where I have my apple tree seedling. I am going to be watching the rain tree sprout very closely to see how well, and how fast, it develops chlorophyll under the two Aqua-Glo bulbs.
Well, that is about it for this log entry. I hope that you have enjoyed reading it. Until next time.
Bonsai Tree Log: Two Big Surprises