the cornfield behind the big box stores with spiffy curbs and street lights ( top two photos ) is still "available" ( third photo ) for whatever commercial prospects you might have in store for it...a dearth of takers this year resulted in a crop of dense yellow #2 that has just about come to fruition...not quite yet though...there's till some green in the leaves even though the husks are dried and in some cases splitting open like the ones in the fourth photo ( and what's up with that secondary ear? are those kernels in there? looks odd...if i can find it again this weekend i will take another look...would they really extrude a mutant into hot pockets? )...so harvest is a bit of a ways off...next month perhaps...certainly before thanksgiving...there are some impressive support roots out there ( fifth photo )...i am interested in all sorts of zea morphology and support roots strike me as an excellent adaptation...but that's just me...there are some wild flowers blooming out there at the tail end of october...the season hangs on..but they're talking about a possibility of snow tomorrow and that could be that...even if it doesn't stick.
early blue leafing away downstairs in the top photo...the scorzonera is starting to unwind own there too ( second photo )...there may be frost to night and there is talk if snow by the end of the week which may spell the end of the season for the teosinte in the last three photos...it is wrapped up tonight so should be fine if it frosts...snow is another matter...the odds against viable outdoor seed this season are mounting.
the scorzonera seed i planted weekend before last is up and running...the top photo is what it looked like twenty-four hours ago and the second was taken less than an hour ago...my friend fern tells me it has been grown extensively in europe since the middle ages and research tells me it was considered a sovereign remedy against the bubonic plague...research also informs me it is part of the sunflower family...another sunflower root crop...imagine...it also tells me that harvesting can be difficult since the roots are fragile and lose nutritional value easily when broken...they also contain a latex which makes the broken roots sticky..this will be interesting as it progresses...the early blue under the lights continue to develop leaves ( third photo ) and the northern tepehuan teosinte down there seems to be far more robust than past indoor attempts...sturdier and not nearly so "leggy" as earlier attempts at indoor growth...perhaps the broader spectrum lights were worth the investment...we will see what happens.
that zea mexicana seed from 2010 that had germinated a few days ago was ready to plant ( top photo ) so i did the standard compost/potting soil mix, watered it well, planted the seed ( second photo ) and put it under the light with a plant grown from seed i brought in from the back yard last autumn...overall it looks like there will be annual teosinte in 2015...i started three of those seed si brought in from out back last fall and two germinated..66%...the data from the seed i took off one of the plants in the basement i "finished" down there lats autumn was skewed by mod...originally i soaked nine seeds but six were lost to mold...66% gone...two of the remaining three germinated so you could call it a 66% success rate among the remaining seeds or 22% overall...five of the six seeds i bought from native seed search in 2012 germinated...so 83% there...and so far one of seven zea mexicana seeds from 2010 has come to life for 14%...the data from that isn't complete yet as i intend to let the seeds left in the baggie go at least another week before i call an end to the trials...still, things look good for teosinte next year.
the green peppers i found last thursday have all but disappeared..which is the point of growing them...this one will be gone as soon as it gets a bit larger...the yellow peas and winter rye in the fall green manure mix are doing fine ( second photo )...the peas are annuals and will set nitrogen only until frost kills them but the winter vetch and winter rye will continue to work in tandem to provide the beds with nitrogen and organic matter...the new zealand white clover is as lush as ever and there are several plants intercropped among them soaking up the nutrients...there is mashua in the third photo ( think nasturtium leaves and you may be better able to pick the single plant out of all that green ) and i have hopes of tubers to replant...and there is some asparagus poking its head up through the legume in the fourth photo...enjoying late autumn sun and a free feed by the clover...there's more to the clover story coming along in the post about the spuds.
while i was rummaging around in those beds of clover i stumbled on three potato plants all but obscured by the legume as they died back...the first was the early blue in the top photo...curious after that find i looked about a bit and found a yukon gold that yielded the spuds in the second photo...the third photo is of the of the early blues after i removed them from the roots and the fourth is the haul from the third plant i found which was an all red...brought them home and washed them up then weighed them...three plants produced 2 pounds 8.375 ounces of tubers at the end of october...there are still a few early blues up and running in the pgp mostly because they are still trying to produce potato fruits...i will be interested to see what they produce..but not until after a killing frost...which should be soon...i was planning on turning the clover under in spring because, like cow peas, it seems to be a green manure that wants to colonize a whole bed...but after finding this production from three small potato plants ( and reading "the one straw revolution " ) i do believe i would like to leave one intact to inter-plant with a variety of early spring plants ( beets, turnips, etc. ) that will go in when the clover is compressed and somewhat weakened by winter...just to see if the results could be as good...there may be good reason come spring to conserve every possible square foot of bed space for food plants but i may feel compelled to keep one experimental bed running...we'll see.
the early blue potatoes in both gardens on campus have finally given up blooming ( a signal that this incredibly long potato season is drawing to a close..the early blue in the community garden were planted one hundred and fifty-nine days ago...and they are still verdant as could be..the ones in the pgp are a few days older and just as green...clearly this season will be defined by frost )but that hasn't stopped them from trying to produce fruits...i found four nascent ones( top two photos )...doubtlessly they will not see maturity...if frost doesn't end them something else will...you can see by the barren stems in both top photos that there were more..well...i brought in five...two on the fifteenth of september and three on the twenty-ninth just to be sure of having some...prudence wins out this time...the potato fruit on the left in the third photo has been ripening in a paper bag since the fifteenth of last month and the one on the left since the twenty-ninth...the older one is much softer and has begun to evince a shriveled appearance and looks to be about ready to process for seed...the potato introduction station in sturgeon's bay wisconsin sent me some rather detailed instructions for seed removal which, among other things, involves a blender...there will be more on that as i assemble the necessary equipment...the other seed news involves the zea mexicana seed from 2010 that the coach returned to me and that i began to test germinate a few days ago...seems teosinte seed ( at least some ) is viable beyond two years...there is definitely a root there in the fourth photo and there are signs of movement in other seeds...so i am inclined to declare the teosinte seed crises resolved ( or, more accurately, state that there never was a crisis..just the perception of a possible one )...so parts of this season are melding into the next as we perpetuate generations...i am geeked...there's no stopping me.
the purple valley spud in the top two photos has begun to sprout in a couple of places and looks to be the next likely candidate for cutting, callousing, and planting...but probably not for a few weeks...while those are coming along the early blue i planted last saturday are greening up and will be producing leaves soon enough( third through fifth photos...i just noticed several roots on the surface in the fourth photo ( all that white stuff...if you click on it you may be able to actually see root hairs off to the lower right of the stem )...so far the indoor seed potato project is up and running...i would expect casualties...i also expect enough tubers for spring planting of exceedingly local potatoes...i have many more photos of teosinte...i will refrain for now.
it's october in northwest indiana and many of the industrial crops in the nexus are died back and dried sufficiently to be harvested on a sunny friday...this field of soy beans ( top photo ) and the one of dense yellow #2 ( second photo ) are actually two halves of one large field and the harvest of both has obviously begun...the jerusalem artichokes in the community garden are ready to harvest anytime as well and a few days ago , just to see what was what, i pulled one up by the stem and found enough tubers to feed several people without having to do much rooting around ( third photo )...it's true that we are not growing food on an industrial scale ( if we were i don't think i'd want to be there ) and so our methodology for harvest is vastly simpler...there's something in the masthead of this blog about "work instead of chemicals" and the fuel for the combine being used to harvest the corn ( fourth and fifth photos ) is a petrochemical that's doing most of the work here...true it does harvest the fields more quickly than humans or a horse-drawn mccormick would and it does spread out the shredded stalks and husks and leaves as a mulch it kicks out the back...that said i wonder how long the equivalent number of humans producing the same amount of horsepower would take to bring in the harvest and if the would do an inferior job of mulching the field...questions i can meet with only supposition without research so we will leave that for another post...i am left wonder though, as petrochemicals become more difficult to procure ( no we are not out of oil but the costs of procuring it, both environmental and monetary, are only going to increase )...how much of this sort of harvest is going to be reinvested in running this machine and how much will end up as mountain dew and extruded hot pockets?
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.