went out to campus on a chilly, rainy day just to check up on things and see what was up...the top three photos are a sort of simple study in wheat morphology...the ancestor intermediate wheat grass is in the top...in its third season it is going to seed again and will be augmenting its rhyzomatic spread with a new round of seeds...the second photo is of a winter wheat seed head that has ( so far ) been spared by the starlings, and the third is of a volunteer spring wheat seed head that the starlings haven't noticed yet either...there's a family resemblance all down the line that becomes even more noticeable once the seed heads ripen...the intermediate wheat grass seed heads do not shatter as readily as say something like spinach or a dandelion..it's easy to see why wheat is as labor intensive to thresh and winnow as it is...the trait was simple strengthened through the artificial selection of domestication...and speaking of ancestor-domesticate pairs...the fourth photo is of some newly emerged hopi blue maize ( there are three up in my back yard as well ) and the last photo is of the ancestor zea diploperennis...there is no sign of oaxacan green dent anywhere yet...more on that as it crops up.
the top photo is a red nordland and the bottom is the "primitive cultivar" ojosa negra to show that potato plants as well as potatoes come in different shapes and sizes...the next two are eastern gamagrass seed heads and tghe bottom is jerusalem artichoke row.
another warm, windy day here so after i watered here at home i went out to campus again this morning to keep things moist...along with planting some spaghetti and acorn squash i srtung some more bird tape...like a scarecrow that doesn't move, bird tape in the same place eventually loses its impact so i changed it up a bit to throw the wheat eating starlings off ( i could hear them scolding me as i worked and i sympathize with their need to make a living...but it's my wheat and this is an experiment in human intervention...it may be dangerous to match wits with birds in public...but it is necessary )...we'll see if it has any impact on what's left to harvest...the third photo is of an asparagus spear that is fully "ferned" and the fourth is of one well on its way...the asparagus season is pretty much done as they get to be fairly woody when it gets warm...i will be staking them all up as the grow to keep them off the ground and out form under the mower...the bottom photo is of some zea diploperennis...the obligatory, almost totemic, teosinte
just a couple of photos to illustrate branching and tillering...the northern tepehuan teosinte in the top photo looks sort of like a bunch grass at the moment with multiple stems coming out of the ground at the base...this will change as the plant grows and the branches come up off the ground to , eventually, thicken and develop ears of seed...the zea diplopoerennis in the second photo is tillering...the rhyzomes the plant puts out break the surface close to the parent plant...as the season progresses more will radiate out in a circular pattern and lay out across the soil developing support roots at the nodes along the stem...just a couple of plant strategies for anyone ( besides me ) who is interested )
here's a post with a fair photo of what the northern tepehuan branches look like as the plant growes
it's supposed to be quite warm here today and since i haven't watered since friday i drove out to campus to give the plants a drink...judging by the number of broken wheat stems and the amount of chaff on the ground ( as well as the half eaten seed heads ) i'd say the starlings have discovered the wheat...the wheat that is covered by bird tape is still intact so i am in hopes of some harvest next month...but there are no guarantees...proof ( as if any were needed ) that human intervention can only go so far in the biological world and then it is undone...i expected this...there has to be room for failure, if for no other reason than to learn...i will still be putting up bird tape in the wheat beds in my back yard...i need seed for the nitrogen fixing project and i don't want to purchase any more if it isn't absolutely necessary...the aim is to be as self-sufficient a project as possible...the intermediate wheat grass ( fourth photo ) is going to seed on the opposite side of the garden from the gamagrass...a bit earlier than last season but nothing extraordinary...the warm spring threw off the timing of the new growth but reproduction still seems on schedule...the bottom photo is of an asparagus spear that went unharvested for too long...so it will "fern" and feed the roots...the season is pretty much over anyway...the spears are decreasing in diameter and it's time to let them all fern...if it gets truly hot today i will likely be back out there tomorrow to water again ( at least the shallowly rooted plants and the maize i'm trying to germinate ) it's a holiday but the garden doesn't take time off does it?
i went out to campus this morning and planted some oaxacan green dent and hopi blue maize in the garden and then i strolled over to the community garden behind lindenwood hall and had a fine time chatting with dr. szarleta and her group of gardeners as we worked on planting their new season...they have a slew of raised beds back there and planted, among other things, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, and a cherry tree named george...when i got home i found that the garlic i had ordered had arrived ( just as ups said it would ) so i went out and worked in a garden...i found a spot that would get full sun most of the day..stripped off the sod...turned in some compost and ( hopefully ) started half a dozen more plants out there...i will be scouting spots and trimming limbs tomorrow to get the rest in the ground..the fourth photo is of turnips (in front) snow peas (with poles) and the potato patch in the rear...the bottom photo is the obligatory teosinte photo...northern tepehuan this time (in its anti-critter cage) growing like the "wild and weedy ancestor" it is...things just keep happening and the season just gets to be more enjoyable..still geeked...still having fun
a few photos of the back...the top is the "primitive cultivar" potato ojosa negra and right below is a red nordland...both recognizably potatoes...but different enough to be noticeable..the third is a healthy stand of jerusalem artichokes...easily larger than those on campus...last census was about fifty plants and counting...the last two are the potted zea diploperennis that spent the winter in my basement...i put them outside about three weeks ago nd just like the improbable teosinte on campus they began putting out numerous shoots...so zea diploperennis dies back and has a dormant period...all i idi was water the roots once a week to keep them moist and they came back this spring...i see a re-potting in a larger home at the end of the season and an effort to kepp them alive and running as long as possible.
my clumps of eastern gamagrass ( well...can you really "own" a plant? probably not much more than a cat...but i planted the seeds and i've done he maintenance work since 2009 so i get to be a bit proprietary ) have seed heads in various stages of development, from those still well down in the proaxes to some fully developed terminal spears....the timing isn't terribly surptising...one developed a seed head in early june last year and the other followed in july...but the number that are developing has me wondering...altogether they produced four seed heads in 2011...i count twenty proaxes today...admittedly not all of them have emerging seed heads...yet..but once again i'm wondering if that extreme warmth we had in march is part of the reason for the burgeoning of reproductive structures...the only way to tell is another season really...one without eighty degree march days to use as a control...and who knows what 2013 will be like?...whatever the cause it looks like a bumper crop of gamagrass seeds this season that i will be replanting around my yard ( among other pl;aces ) in an effort to get some to grow at home...gamagrass is not an easy plant to establish...those three plants represent ten percent of what i planted there in fall 2009...and so far that is the only place i have been able to establish them...if i can grow teosinte here on e would think i would be able to grow gamagrass too...we'll try again in the fall.
some stuff not rerlated to gamagrass...another grass, the obligatory teosinte ( zea diploperennis ) the northern tepehuan will begin branching soon and then there will be many more photos...a peculiarly shaped asparagus spear the would never make it to a supermarket but which will be eaten anyway...jerusalem artichoke row...the "primitive cultivar" potato ojosa negra and, for comparison, a red nordland
back on campus again i finally got some decent photos of the gamagras seeds developing...the usda and university of kentucky
tell me that the seeds are called terminal spears and that they're growing out of a thickened, rhyzomatic stem called a proaxe...so the top photo is a terminal spear and the second is a proaxe ( in the center of the photo )...i counted fourteen proaxes on three plants so we may be in for a bumper crop of seeds this season with which i will try again to establish some at home...i germinated three northern tepehuan teosinte pklants in peat pots out in my yard...i plante done in my back yard and took the other two to campus and found spots in the wheat for them...the weather appears to be warming up and so the heirloom maize i got will be going in soon...we will have morphological comparisons between "wild and weedy"ancestors and domesticates again this year...the asparagus plant that hes "ferned" has also flowered ( bottom photo ) so there will be "berries" again this season which tempts me to try to grow asparagus from seed rather than year old crowns...all i need is space
an industrial worker and university student (everyone needs a hobby...my hobbies have evolved and, to keep things straight, i have left my formal student career behind for reasons that are too detailed to delve into here...continuing to be a student of life however and not adverse to learning...stasis is death ) sliding down the back side of middle age...a social loner with collectivist leanings...explain that.