Saturday, June 30, 2012
Thursday, June 28, 2012
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
although it has rained a bit this month all that has accomplished on the palmer drought indices is to bring the short-term and long-term drought projections into line as "moderate" ( as opposed to a moderate long -term and severe short term ) so the rain hasn't had much impact as evidenced by the water i'm using on my gardens...i hadn't been to campus since sunday...i skipped yesterday because it was fairly cool...but when i got to campus this evening i go a message that told me to come out more often for a while when i saw the curled leaves on the zea diploperennis ( top photo ) ...water passes through the plants and evaporates as part of the water cycle...when the plants begin to lose too much water the stomata close and the leaves begin to curl...the second photo is of the same leaves about twenty minutes or so after i began to water...like its descendant maize, teosinte takes up water quickly and the stomata open causing the leaves to flatten out to their original shape...it is going to be hot according to the forecast with no chance of rain before the end of the week ( and i will believe that when i see it )so i will be doing daily visits to the garden to keep things well watered...dry or not the jerusalem artichokes are indeed about to burst into yellow blooms almost a ,month early ( third photo ) they still aren't more than three feet tall and their rush to bloom is odd to me...especially since th e far larger plants in my yard are in no seeming hurry to do anything of the sort...no even nascent buds back there and they are pushing five feet in height...none of them are water starved so i have to think its a sunlight issue...the plants in my back yard get some shatde and the ones on campus are in full sun all day... the fourth photo is of another zea diploperennis plant and the fifith is of hopi blue maize which is growing rapidly ( as it is in my backyard as well )...there are some brussels sprouts up on campus...which is the only place i have any...lots of peas, beans, kholrabi, turnips, potatoes, sweet potatoes, sunflowers, maize, garlic, squash, wheat,beets, herbs, and jerusalem artichokes...but no brussels sprouts...hope the ones on campus are productive.
Sunday, June 24, 2012
perennials are every bit as geared towards reproduction as annuals and today we're talking rootstock perennials...the intermediate wheat grass and gamagrass are still flowering ( first and second photos ) and they have been joined by the chinese yams ( third photo ) the asparagus has been flowering cyclically...seeming to be working its way from the northwest corner of the garden to the southeast ( i don't know if there's any significance in that or not...but it's what's happening ) so the fourth photo is of a plant to the south east and the fifth photo of asparagus "berries" is a plant towards the northwest...the major difference between annuals and tuberous plant/replant perennials and rootstock perennials is that in the former humans eat the reproductive organs ( seeds, tubers ) whereas in rootstock perennials we eat stored starches or stems and shoots...plants are weighted heavily towards reproduction ( like every other living thing ) and so the annuals and tuberous perennials produce far more food than the rootstock perennials...it would take a lot more work to make a living off chinese yams than jerusalem artichokes or wheat...so rootstock perennials aren't usually ( if ever ) staples...status or medicinal foods ( you can buy chines yam extract all over the place but it took me a couple of months to run down plants to purchase ) but not everyday support food...too much work spread over too much land area...and too difficult to take along if you're moving too...it's also why rootstock perennials can be invasive...no one is eating the "seeds" so they're free to grow...chinese yams for instance.
Saturday, June 23, 2012
the winter wheat in the raised beds isn't done yet but the wheat in the half barrels is...so i brought it in before it rains again...oddly the wheat here hasn't been touched by birds at all ( unlike the savaged campus wheat ) and i used no repellents of any kind...so even with the bird sanctuary some of my family are running in the jungle out there i have a complete harvest ( and the attendant hours of threshing and winnowing by hand...no threshing room or oxen here ) staring me in the face...the half barrels will be seeing more herbs planted and when the raised beds are harvested there will be some inoculated cowpeas going in to continue the "green manure" build up of fertility and organic matter in those beds...i'm not certain of the status of that project on campus...if things go the way they appear to be there will be a significant change in the perennial garden project that will pretty much end its use of annuals ( it is about perennials after all ) and plant/replant tubers...moving more towards rootstock perennials and permaculture...however that's dependent on all the variables aligning properly which may or may not occur...as always in a garden, nothing is certain.
photos form yesterday's campus trip...on top the aforementioned eastern gamamgrass...easily five feet tall and four feet across on the big one ( actually two ) and nearly that on the runt form last year...the improbable zea diploperennis...and the bottom tow are hopi blue maize and teosinte ( more zea diploperennis ) that were planted about the same time.
Friday, June 22, 2012
...but a bit peculiar none the less...but then it's been a peculiar season so far anyway...the jerusalem artichoke plant that is topping out just over a meter in height in the top photo is the tallest of the bunch on campus...and yet some of the shorter ones are starting to bud and acting as if they are going to flower soon...the texts all say jerusalem artichokes flower in late august or early septemeber...which is fine, but in the last two seasons of growing them mine have begun flowering in july and carried on until early septemeber at which time the plants began to slowly die back...once again we're almost a month ahead of schedule ( remember the winter wheat ) oddly the jerusalem artichokes in my back yard are almost five feet tall and they are showing no inclination to flower...so what's up? more research and observation apparently...some of the sixty odd terminal spears on the proaxes of the eastern gamagrass have begun to mature...that's what's left of a shattered seed head in my hand and the first seeds for autumn planting here at home...they look like chunks of wood and are devilish hard to start...once they do you get clumps like those on campus which are huge this year and destined to get bigger ( on my watch anyway )...the season's cooking along and i have a few more photos of maize and teosinte form today that i plant to post later for anyone who's interested...i am curious to see what the sunchokes do and will be monitoring all the plants that i have going to compare behaviors and results...i have also received a message from the potato introduction station at sturgeon's bay wisconsin and i will have news about new potato landraces going into the gardens.
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
"...all of us are dependent on civilization, which itself is dependent on the draw-down of even short-term renewable varieties of the earth's capital stock, such as soils and forests."_______________________________________ "some thirty percent of all surface water is being drawn to irrigate land to produce our food...corn typically needs about 24 inches of water, either precipiation or applied, during the growing season..." - wes jackson________________________________________________ "there is no such thing as a post-agricultural society" timothy weiskel __________________________________________________________ for the second evening in a row ( and for the foreseeable future ) i went out to campus to water...it rained well saturday night but then the weather turned hot and windy...tailor made to exacerbate transpiration in both the maize and teosinte and impact the tubers ( potatoes and jerusalem artichokes )...the perennials are more deeply rooted and will suffer less but may yet need some irrigation...the drought may have been temporarily relieved but we are still down about 50% on precipitation over the last few months and rain is not a major part of the near-term forecast...so i will be practicing human intervention to keep things green and growing...a second acorn squash has popped up ( top photo )...they both are inter-cropped with the asparagus and so will have natural trellises to vine on...like the sunflowers, runner beans, and squash in my back yard...the next three photos are of members of the zea family...northern tepehuan teosinte, hopi blue maize, and zea diploperennis respectively...and the last photo is the perennial garden project at about 4:45 this evening...everything humans do seems to be extractive in some respect...try as i might to allow natural processes to run the garden i still have to poke my nose and and fiddle with the ecology ( if it's not too arrogant to call it that ) of the garden...in the present case adding an artificial source of water( namely a garden hose ) to short circuit dry weather...if everything works out this fall will see a significant change of direction in the gardens ( campus and home ) that may take some of the arrogance out of the "ecology" nomenclature...a move towards a more co-operative group of perennials requiring less of my help than the grasses seem to need ( maize is utterly dependent on humans to reproduce and corn is in a multitude of food products... a symbiosis if ever there was one )...until then i will be a fixture in the garden.
Sunday, June 17, 2012
it rained last night to the extent that there are were still afew flash flood watches and warning around earlier this morning...so while i was out running errands this morning i went by farmer brown's field and sure enough the industrial corn has perked up from last sunday...you can see the thirty inch rows standing tall...the second photo is some industrial plants and the third one is some hopi blue i planted at the end of last month...the industrial plants are bigger and probably will remain so because of all the engineering ( as opposed to artificial selection...which is a sort of engineering...but on a much slower and less costly basis ) that allows them to grow so close together...the last two photos show that the corn wasn't the only thing that benefited by a break in the drought...dandelions and some other noxious weeds are taking hold and will continue to do so until atrazine time ( which is another bit of industrial corn engineering since the corn can process atrazine and the weeds can't...round-up ready, liberty link...monsanto...bayer...patented seed that needs chemotheraphy to grow ) competing with the industrial plants for what anhydrous ammonia they can scrounge.
Saturday, June 16, 2012
the backyard season is moving along...the radishes are done and the turnips are just about finished...the winter wheat in the half barrels is done and ready to be harvested...i am a bit puzzled...i used bird tape on campus and the starlings savaged the crop...i just turned it loose here and...nothing...with all the habitat left in the half-cleared jungle you'd think it would be open season...but i get to thresh and winnow the whole crop instead...the hopi blue maize in the second photo isn't as tall as the engineered corn in farmer brown's field, but it is coming along...the snow peas are producing pods now that they've flowered and i have already harvested some for salads...the fourth photo is of the kohlrabi that's come up and will be done later this summer...the bottom photo is red nordland potatoes in the back with snow peas, turnips, sunflowers, and, perhaps, a stray squash...there ar e apple trees in there too...so far so good...except for the brussels sprouts...and it's not just me...lots of complaints about the lack of those critters and some folks are having difficulties with sunflowers as well...as one sage put it. "maybe it's just not a brussels sprouts year"...stuff like that happens...a passing "scattered thundershower" is giving my garden just a tease of rain right now ( after i have watered here and on campus )..a tease won't do it...for me or the industrial folks...an all day soaking rain is in order...maybe on the fourth. 6-16-2012 8:10 p.m. okay...the storms have organized themselves a bit and it looks ( on the national weather service web site radar )like we might get a bit of drought relief this evening...a bit before the fourth...and just about in time for farmer brown.