it has to be...i'm running out of room...four of the five seeds from the teosinte plants i brought in last autumn that have sprouted have gotten to the point of planting...so i made up four peat pots with the standard mix of potting soil and compost...gave them an ample watering...planted the sprouts...and took them downstairs under the lights...there may be one last planting but that's about it..the other indoor seeds and the store bought holdovers have failed to germinate and the outdoor seeds simply molded and rotted...a distressing failure...these things happen...still i am pleased to have been able to produce viable seed in indiana and i will be carefully nurturing these plants for outdoor planting...some in the ground...some in containers...in hopes of more seed next autumn...they will go outdorrs if and when spring shows up...i'm thinking may...perhaps.
we have devoted enough air time to wild potatoes for the nonce...these are some photos of the robust domesticates sharing the plant room downstairs with their wild cousins...first: early blue...second: some early blue foliage...third: a sprouting ollala...fourth: some yema de huevos...looks good for seed potatoes for the community garden in a few months.
this store bought seed ( from native seed search in arizona in 2013 ) had begun to green up on the tip so it was time to plant...they probably aren't readily visible in the photos but the root hairs had begun to form as well...another sign..so into a mix of well watered potting soil and compost in a peat pot and down under the lights...next to the only viable second generation plant from homegrown seed( so far...the four that germinated from indoor seed are coming along well but aren't quite ready to plant just yet...a few more days and there will be another post about those ) which has produced a third leaf...bona fide teosinte on the hoof with a two month jump on the season...still geeked..i will be going on and on about this maize ancestor while i ponder domestication...you'll need to adjust to that.
after an agonizingly slow start the wild potatoes have obviously found an environment under the lights that suit them...good growth, much larger leaves...something of a relief. all from bolivian seeds...now i hope for tubers to plant...geeked...that's where plant morphology has me this evening.
...and the news is encouraging...the one store bought seed from 2013 that germinated is coming along well and will get out into the light this week...its six compatriots seem to be inert...which i was wondering about until i opened up the baggie of indoor seeds i soaked and put in to germinate last monday...there is a teosinte plant germinated from a seed from my back yard downstairs under the lights...the sole representative of a second generation from homegrown seeds until now...four of the seeds from the plants in the basement have germinated and they are a mix of light and dark seeds to boot...no differentiating viable seed by color...that does not seem to be a factor...i moved these seeds to a warmer climate than the basement and it seems to have had an effect...so with a bit of luck and patience my seed ears will produce at least five second generation plants...nothing tremendously unique in that...but not a bad showing for a semi-tropical grass in northwest indiana...more as they move along.
the snow on the north side of the community garden has melted back a bit...last years ( and probably this year's too ) cucumber bed has emerged and across the garden you can just make out the corner of the strawberry bed...the south side is still firmly in the grip of the snow...still there are signs of life...the winter wheat has not gone completely dormant all winter despite the cold...the retreating snow has uncovered a stand that is about half and half...by next month the dormant grass will begin to "green" and there will be seed heads for the starlings to ravage by june...it may not look auspicious but i will be out ther in the next few weeks ( by mid march) to plant tesosinte seeds and the early potatoes ( notably the "early blue" growing in my basement ) will be cut, calloused and planted in the next forty-six days or so...there is already garlic in the ground ( that will be unmulched next month ) and the fearless jerusalem artichokes which should be up in early april as well...it is closer than it seems.
for all the grip that winter still has on the community garden the climate across campus is remarkably different...the pgp is free of snow and i can only attribute that to the proximity of hawthorn hall that both shelters and warms it...the mulch covering has held up well...but the system has been tested for three winters now and it is what i expected barring critter interference...there are still threads of green in the eastern gamagrass which is a bit odd...it is usually totally dormant by now and it is still too early for it to be "greening"...so the chlorophyll never completely left the leaves apparently...all the seed ears on the northern tepehuan teosinte plant have shattered so there should be plenty of seed scattered about..now if it's viable ( see the next post about the attempted germination of seed from my back yard ) we may have another generation in spring which might wrap up annual teosinte on campus ( but not in my yard )...we could say we did it and document it...what more is there? perhaps some cross-pollination with maize...but goofing around is what my yard is for.
my thinking is running something like this...i haven't been out in the back yard in a while but if there are still unshattered seed ears or stray seeds on the teosinte plants out there the seeds have surely had enough cold to break dormancy without the help of a peroxide soak...so after i got home form campus i went and had a look...most of the ears have shattered...a few had some stray seeds, and a couple were intact...so i gathered them up, brought them in, soaked some brown paper towel in water that had been siting out for a few days, and popped them in a baggie narked with today's date...then i put the baggie in the box with the rest of the seeds i am trying to germinate ( and which i have moved to a place warmer than the basement to speed things along a bit )...now we wait some more.
the last ten yema de huevos tubers from the second generation have been sprouting for a while now but they have begun to shrivel so it was time to plant...i shallowly filled pots that came to hand with potting soil and put the tubers in with the intention of "hilling" them as they grow...no tubers will grow beneath the level these are planted at so i put them deep in the pots leaving room for tuber growth...it's almost too late for these...the potatoes i planted at the end of last year should produce tubers for planting in april and i have a few i started this year that should be ready to go in in may...these should be done by mid-june at the latest which will allow a staggered potato planting and a fall crop in late september or early october...we will be tuber rich in the community garden this coming season if this all works to fruition...anyone who favors yukon golds should like these little guys ( they will not be large tubers...i can understand stunted tubers from the indoor harvest last december, but the fall harvest of outdoor grown tubers didn't see any much more than an inch in diameter ) and i am curious to try them myself...bite sized spuds.,..boiled and seasoned, topped with a butter sauce...i, for one, think that sounds inviting...it's getting crowded down there under the lights...thirty-nine plant in residence so far and these will push it to forty-nine if they all work...new teosinte plants from the last soak ( see the next post ) will push it past fifty...there are limits to what can be done without further investment in lights, fixtures, and space...part of sustainability is respect for limits...my conclusion here is that the basement seed potato/teosinte/whatever else crops up project has pretty much reached its full size...more as it happens.
the early blue in the top photo are doing well as well as the others in the bushel basket...the two plants on the left of the second photo are yema de huevos i planted on the ninth of this month...the ollala in the third photo are progressing...but very slowly...and there is definite movement in the teosinte seed i soaked five days ago...more viable seed makes the gardener happy and if i can give more plants a head start on the long tesointe season the more likely there will be seed ears earlier...human intervention in the life ancient corn.
i am relieved to say that after a full day in the breeze from a fan the leaves on the early blue have mostly uncurled...i don't see any more yellowing and there is good new growth at the tops of the plants...they will be on a strict water rationing program at least until they begin to set tubers in around in about twenty-nine days...then it's outdoors for the next generation...outdoor plants indoors aren't especially touchy but i have to do more work on learning the parameters of their indoor needs...this has been a cobbled together experiment born of a failed storage project..well not failed...they did actually keep for the four month standard storage duration of andean tubers...i just asked them to do too much...like all dna, potato dna is determined stuff...here's hoping it helps pull us through the next fifty days or so...more as it comes up.
it seems fairly clear that the wild potato root systems have finally gotten beyond the peat pellets they germinated in and have tapped into the compost in the pots...looking much more robust and the leaves are larger and much more numerous...feed the roots and grow tubers...that's what we are after.
when i checked on the early blue potatoes before i left for work this morning i found curled leaves...in the zea family curled leaves is a sure sign of a need for immediate watering and potatoes are moderately heavy users of water...particularly when setting tubers ( which these are not doing right now...sill days to go before they start ) i watered them thoroughly and left...when i got home an checked some of the leaves had indeed uncurled...unfortunately just as many had yellowed badly...a sure sign of over-watering...so i pulled off the yellowed leaves...they will never be green again, they will simply retain moisture until they die and fall off, i just preempted that...and threw them in the compost bucket...so now what? i turned on a fan to circulate air and dry things out and i am scurrying around looking for answers...there is till new growth at the tops of the plants and the upper leaves are not yellowed...they aren't all uncurled either...no aphids or visible pests...a fungus? perhaps...or maybe just a peculiarity of outdoor plant being grown to maturity in a basement under broad spectrum lights...any and all possibilities beyond not enough water are on the table yet...this does not please me one bit...however the early blue in the other pots and the yeme de huevos ( bottom photo ) all seem to be doing fine..it is the taller of the early blue that are behaving oddly...here's hoping there is a positive result...but failure is still an option...more as this develops.
turns out it is TOO MUCH moisture, not too little...humidity is up in the basement...fans all around...more as it occurs.
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.