there are, at this writing, twenty six potato plants from tubers up and running in various stages of development in the plant room ( top photo )...on the whole they are prospering ( second photo ) in the basement environment...even before the wall went up on the plant room the basement was a fairly uniform 66 degrees fahrenheit and around 60% humidity ( the walls are as to keep the cat out as to control the environment in terms of temperature and humidity )...there is new growth on all the plants and the third and fourth photos are of the structures that are producing new leaves on various plants...when i had a look at the top growth of the plants, one sent me back to have a look at those new leaf structures once again...that new growth in the last two photos isn't going to produce leaves...those are flower buds...so i have a plant fixing to bloom in the artificial environment of my basement...probably nothing new...but new to me so i get to be geeked and you cannot stop me...blooms in the basement? cool...and cool and moist conditions are what led to the plants in last season's garden to produce potato fruits...i have those conditions downstairs...another generation of potato fruits? well...probably only if potatoes are self-fertilizing ( more research, no? )...however i would not turn down more seed for the freezer...the only thing to do is the research and to wait and see...this business teaches patience.
the potato seedlings are all still up and running...and growing ( first three photos ) which is fine news today...they continue to show good deal of genetic variation as well...i am curious to see what the mature plants will look like comparatively...even more curious ( and hopeful ) about what sort of tubers they will produce...if we are fortunate enough to get to that point...sometime in late may or early june i'm thinking...there are many hurdles between here and there, including hardening the plants off to natural sunlight after being in a grow light nursery...we'll see.
it's only forty-nine until spring and time for a look at the garden...the bachelor's buttons in the corner box are still holding some color...persistence is a trait in many plants...these seem determined to hold on fro the next season...the arborvitae is looking robust and has added about a foot of new growth since planting...we kept it well watered ( with a generous assist from nature in the form of a preternatural abundance of rainfall last summer ) and it has become well established to the extent that we can throttle back its watering schedule in its second season...the alfalfa is still green as is the winter rye ( third photo )...not dormant, but probably not setting much nitrogen either...we will be leaving both to grow until about three weeks before planting day and then we will be turning them under to fortify the so8il for a new crop...the winter vetch in the fourth photo looks a bit less vigorous...it will recover though and serve the same purpose as the rye and alfalfa...the clover in the bottom photo is thoroughly matted down and beaten back...which was expected and will allow us to experiment with masanobu fukuoka's "do-nothing" approach...we will be planting early spring crops in that bed before the clover recovers and begins to grow again...this will allow the beets, turnips, sea kale, cucumbers, and potatoes we plan on putting in time to establish themselves...then, once the clover recovers, it will provide nitrogen and weed control by shading out weeds...the first year of trying out a new system will doubtlessly involve some failure and so some learning as well...time to start thinking in serious terms about the next season...spring won't wait.
some of the seedlings are pushing two inches tall ( top two photos ) and i was fearful that some were becoming pot-bound in the two inch square starter peat pots..so i filled some five inch ones part way with potting soil...tore the bottoms out of the starter pots ( third photo ) and placed them in the larger pots ( fourth photo ) and filled in the gaps until they had new homes ( fifth photo )...and the bottom photo is of the re-potted plants under the light...hopefully replanting them pots and all will reduce any root shock and they will be fine...the potting soil was a bag i had outside and brought in yesterday to thaw...condensation has made it very moist so there will be no watering for the foreseeable future...here's hoping things continue to go well...there is more seed and more gibberellic acid here so there is every possibility of a start-over if there's a problem...i'd rather avoid this..we'll see.
since the warranty work on the refrigerator has been done and the freezer is functional again i decided it was time to preserve the potato seed that i extracted from the potato fruits last autumn...i have quite a few actually...there were a total of 458 seeds in the containers so i split them up into bags of fifteen to twenty seeds...ended up with twenty-eight bags...divided them between three containers and put them into the freezer where the usda assures me they will remain viable for any number of years...seeds, peat pots, and gibberellic acid should provide an interesting platform for demonstrations of potato genetic diversity for some time to come.
the "plant room" in the basement is officially a "room"...with my son-in-law's help ( thanks tim! ) walls were installed and the cat banished for perpetuity...a more controlled environment in terms of both temperature and humidity is what is in the cards down there...an exterior paint job is next up...but what color? blue, or green?
"...the potato and andean culture have co-evolved in their mountainous homeland for at least six thousand years...some five thousand morphologically distinct varieties have been identified out of more than thirteen thousand andean accessions held at the international potato center." stephen b. brush. farmers' bounty: locating crop diversity in the contemporary world._______________ these fifteen seedlings are something of am empirical proof of that genetic diversity...different leaf shapes...different branching patterns...different heights...different coloration...and doubtlessly some differences a more trained and subtle eye could pick out...dissimilar plants and yet they were all germinated from seed from the same potato fruit from one of the early blue plants in last season's garden...i have kept the seed from each fruit separate and will document morphological differences as i germinate them...five thousand varieties and seed as genetically diverse as apples...it will be interesting to see how these differences develop as they mature...there will no doubt be more posts.
a small early blue that was planted on the nineteenth of october has died back and produced the first indoor tuber for the seed potato project...it is a drop...not large enough to cut and callus...but it will be a potato plant this coming spring...the red pontiac, all red, and yema de huevos in the second picture weren't even close to the top of the container fifteen days ago ( third photo ) but the have topped it now..that's a red pontiac in the fourth photo, leafing out nicely...and it's neighbor is a purple valley that is looking robust itself...twenty-one plants from tubers are up and running with some due to begin setting tubers this month...add in the seedlings ( all doing well so far ) and we have a potential abundance of spuds to plant...space may be the defining issue.
to say that i am pleased with the indoor teosinte results so far this winter would be gross understatement...the plants have been trans planted into larger containers ( first and third photos ) and all appear to be doing well...the larger plants are over eighteen inches in height ( second photo )...fifteen to twenty percent of their possible mature stature of eight to ten feet...all eight plants are still up and running and if i do manage to bring them through to full adulthood the next challenge will be to accurately shorten their photo period to simulate the shortening days of autumn and stimulate the formation of ears...sounds like more research to me...more as it develops on this...i, for one, am all attention.
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.