the potato introduction station in sturgeon bay, wisconsin is one of the few corners of the federal bureaucracy that finds favor in my tenure as a gardener and they have come through again in today's mail...all three accessions of wild potato seed we requested landed in the mailbox and now the process of test germination and ( if we are exceedingly lucky and our skills are up to the challenge ) over winter seed tubers can begin...challenged and geeked at the same time...it will be interesting, if nothing else...some research is in order and then to work...one packet of seed claims to have scored 100% test germination this year...how could we go wrong with that? last post was indoor teosinte so here's a look at what's in the back yard...fall colors abound but there is still green as well...still not sanguine about mature outdoor seeds though..still the teosinte did extremely well this year and here's hoping we can take what we learned forward into a more successful ancestor/domesticate comparison in the iuncg next season...all this practice should have honed some skills...more on the wild ones as it comes up
i went out to the garden after work to try to get a handle on mulching around the beds...the bed that the iun police had this past season has died back enough that it should be okay to mulch the garlic that has been planted there...research informs me that 1.) strawberries need to be hardened to colder temperatures before mulching, and, 2.) they should be mulched before temperatures drop below 20 degrees fahrenheit because temperatures below that can damage exposed crowns...the strawberries are obviously still robust in the current climate and low temperatures forecast for the next week aren't even close to 20 degrees...and it is supposed to be rainy off and on as well...so i' thinking we should probably delay mulching for a bit...say november seventh perhaps...the garlic is in the ground and in no danger so we can do it all in one shot about a week-and-a-half from now...hairy vetch is still blooming..it will overwinter and resume growth in spring along with the winter rye...the yellow peas have begun to die back in earnest and we will be harvesting more pods over the next few weeks to add to our pile of saved seeds while the clover seems to be fine for now...this project has done well for us and it is certainly a process i am interested in expanding into as many beds as possible and plan to grow a bed out back specifically of this mix in the spring to generate seed for an expansion...fall is advancing in the iuncg but we aren't done for 2013 yet...you can still see some green ( the winter wheat in the end of the sweet corn bed for instance ) and there's still stuff to do...more on mulching as it transpires.
unlike the winter wheat in the iuncg ( or what's planted in the ground in my back yard for that matter ) the containerized winter wheat is showing serious signs of dormancy...fall planting was seriously disrupted last year and i didn't grow any wheat this season, but the year before all the wheat, in beds or containers, stayed active all winter...so this is different...down in the basement in the meantime the potatoes are shedding their bottom leaves as they develop new growth...i had to raise the lights a few inches yesterday as the taller plants were touching the bulbs...so we have growth and that is pleasing...the teosinte is still green and still has seventeen ears...how long its season can be extended in artificial light is anybody's guess ( although if i wrote mary eubanks a polite enough email i bet she'd tell me...for someone who has no clue who i am she has repeatedly been more than helpful and generous with her time and information )...so far we are doing well downstairs..hopes are high.
a chilly garden visit this morning...there was frost all over including on the gourd birdhouse mik stokely left for the garden...certainly the peas are shot after this so i collected what pods i could find...i am uncertain about the viability of the seed but we will let the pods dry and find out in the spring when we sow a seed bed for green manures and begin to turn that into a self-sustaining project...i believe we have more than enough seed for that in hand and will not need to purchase more and we should produce enough seed to plant harvested beds this coming season...the winter wheat seems to be enjoying the autumn temperatures...it is still robust and growing well...tillering to beat the band...there was frost on the strawberries too but they seem a long way from dormant...this weekend is too packed for any sort of major project but i was thinking next weekend for mulching...now i am not sure...we don't want to mulch too early... suppose we could do the garlic and leave the berries another week...we will have a look at them during the week sometime and make a call then...on the whole the garden is slowing...as it should...seeds for pole beans are on the way and if the restarted usda sends us our wild potato seeds the seed stock for the next season will be complete..rest up...read...discover new patterns and processes for sustainability..implement in the spring...there is a plan.
things have been a bit out of hand recently and i haven't made it to the pgp in a while...it's still there and i didn't find any surprises...the gamagrass is in full fall mode and the flowers on the teosinte have stalled at just about the same place they were on my last visit...the sub-tropical perennial grass is sheltering some beneficial lady bugs this morning...if i find some next week i may capture some and turn them loose in my basement on aphid patrol...some asparagus continues to flower at this late date while other plants have died back leaving mature "berries" to seed someone's bed...dying back is an autumn process and the chinese yams are in full swing, exposing a plethora of aerial bulbs and showing why they are classed as invasive ( a trait shared by many perennial simply because they come back every year and try to expand their range...invasive is an unfair assessment applied to plants considered useless...this, of course, an anthropogenic bias...plants aren't invasive or useless...just plants ) okay..enough rant...more on the pgp on mulching day
the potato storage project has been going on since early august when the yema de huevos were brought in ( more on them in the proceeding post ) and is going pretty well...with the inevitable issues cropping up...the potatoes came in in a variety of sizes and this is an issue for some...the small early blue in the top photo had badly dehydrated, softened, and shriveled...and so had to be discarded...a routine and thorough inspection of tubers is an important part of the traditional andean storage methodology for obvious reasons..softened potatoes on the verge of rotting aren't going to do the healthy tubers any good so they must be discarded...we also placed the smaller potatoes in separate boxes since they are more prone to going bad because they have less moisture to lose...the large early blue are solid and doing just fine...i brought in the last of the narino roja and they are all small( fourth photo )...a bit dis appointing since it lessens their chances of surviving storage until a replant....they hail from columbia and were out there all summer form late april until yesterday...they had just started dying back...a long season and i am wondering about day length issues since their native range is closer to he equator...these are certainly smaller than the tubers i planted...on the plus side they did set tubers and there is always hope they will survive...the ollala potatoes form spain are native to a lattitude much closer to northwest indiana than columbia and they did well and seem to be holding their own in the basement...april is sitll half a year away...the micro-climates that the andes provide through altitude ( odd that many vavilov centers are in mountainous regions? ) allow shorter storage times of around four months...there may be continuing issues as time passes and we may see some considerable attrition in our seed stock...hope has a significant role in all this but it strikes me that gardening and agriculture as a whole are hopeful projects rather than assured ones....more as this goes on.
the yema de huevos potatoes weren't going to stand for any of this storage business...they were going to grow...NOW!..( when they arrived at my house they were sprouting in the box they came in and they were planted that day )...so they were planted in containers and when the weather turned brought in under the lights...a third light has been added to allow better conditions all around for the basement population...all forty-six potato plants and their attendant green manures seem well, if crowded, and, if we can come up with a workable watering schedule, it looks like it could all pan out...it would ( if my assessment of the outdoor season holds for an artificial indoor one ) mean another generation of finished tubers in january which would lead to a replanting ( and a bit of consumption this time...they are ancestors of yukon gold potatoes and i am told they are quite good )and yet another generation done in time for april planting out doors...if it comes off i will be happy, if no-one else...the indoor tesointe is well and all the plants are aphid free as near as i can discern..still green ( unlike its outdoor relative in the fifth photo ), if not exhibiting new growth and all seventeen ears are intact...the drive for mature seeds and a second generation of teosinte completely produced in northwest indiana grinds on...stay tuned for a success/failure assessment as we move forward.
fall is fully established in the community garden and today was a good day for seeds...the broccoli seeds have arrived at maturity and are ready to harvest as well as a few yellow peas...the peas are especially pleasing since they help to close a nutrient cycle even tighter by allowing seed saving to replant next autumn...returning nutrients to the bed they came from...i collected some of each and while the peas were a snap the rachis on the broccoli seed pods were much more firmly attached than i expected and some of the pods shattered as i was collecting them...so i evaded the issue by snipping off an entire stem and bringing them home to overwinter until they are planted in the spring...i also put in some rosin weed ( silphium intregrifolium )which is a member of the sunflower family ( and so related to the jerusalem artichokes...which, incidentally, is where they were planted...sort of a family reunion ) and is native to both indiana and to lake county so they will fit nicely into the native species and climate project that is a bit of a sideline here and the seeds will need to spend the winter in the ground to break dormancy...things are winding down on the season...the fall planting is mostly done and the only major project left before winter is mulching the strawberries and garlic...i saw snowflakes this afternoon so that will need to be done soon...aiming for the first weekend in november...i have all the supplies except the straw...that shouldn't be a problem.
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.