Monday, November 30, 2015


things are moving along in the plant room...the yacon seems happy and all three are evincing good new growth...i am wondering when the season will actually must sometime...the ollala potato in the fifth photo was surrounded by an aqua container ten days ago...this evening it has more than breached the top and can take in an expansive vista around the plant's container cohabitant is not far behind...the potato seed i planted on the fourteenth of june and which was well up and running on the twenty-fourth of that month ( seventh photo ) has ended its season and has produced two dangerously green and smallish tubers...they are inedible because the were obviously exposed to direct sunlight while they were outdoors but they should still be able to sprout into a second generation plant...they joined the other nine tubers i have harvested from plants grown from seed and will probably end up in the basement as plants soon enough...just getting started down there will be an interesting winter season with more spuds, teosinte. and, no doubt, some surprises

Sunday, November 29, 2015

tendrils, seeds, and rain

temperatures below freezing at night have not phased the winter is busy setting nitrogen in a future potato patch and it is all putting out tendrils to pull itself up to more sunlight...some have found an anchor's seed time and i am about done harvesting teosinte seed...i have culled a couple of hundred from ears on the plants and i have left nearly as meany to fall naturally to see if we find any in spring...either way there will be zea family grasses out there in spring ( but not zea mays ) has turned wet here of late...1.7" of rain since friday...the new rain gauge has had a workout...more on tap late tomorrow and into tuesday...a rain-soaked start to december.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

buttoned up

the garlic need to be mulched so i met parker! at the garden this morning to finish the official 2015 season...we used regular landscaping fabric and straw on the smaller garlic bed...spreading about six inches of straw on the plants and anchoring the fabric with landscaping pins as we went...this one took around twenty minutes of work...the asparagus was clearly done for the season so its turn was next...after we cut back the stems we marked the location of each plant with a marker...we will need to know next spring because for all its cold weather resistance asparagus is not a very strong plant so we will have to dig back the soil over the crowns until the first spears appear..then we will back fill the holes with compost to feed the plants which are heavy feeders...after we marked the plants we used the same mulching technique and materials as we did on the smaller garlic bed to mulch the plants for winter...the larger garlic bed was too wide to use the landscaping fabric on ( the rolls are only thirty-six inches wide and the bed is forty-eight ) so we used some row cover fabric instead...we spread the straw over the bed and once again fastened it down with landscaping pins...both varieties of fabric are strong...i have used them on the pgp and the community garden for all the years of my involvement without a failure...however as an added precaution we went back and added a second layer of fabric to each bed as insurance...parker! did her best american gothic pose ( while singing the "green acres" theme ) and then she snapped a rare photo of the gardener in the garden...i am usually alone out was nice to have her company and help so thanks parker! the garden is buttoned up for winter...someone has been pulling the plants that have died back out of the beds..which is okay...but whomever also left a bunch of jerusalem artichokes they had dug up laying on top of my bed...displeased is a tactful way to phrase my reaction...the tubers dehydrate rapidly in the air and some of those tubers ( which i packed up and took ) will have to be discarded...don't dabble in what you don't understand...i will be checking on the mulch to make sure it holds all winter and the garlic will be opened sometime in march...expect sporadic reports until then...the indoor season takes center stage.

one for kathy

g.w. beadle, and no doubt some of his acolytes, maintained that teosinte could be popped like popcorn...kathy and i tried this in, i believe, in late 2009 when we got our first tesointe seeds and had limited success...i have been hauling in teosinte seed this morning and i decided to try it with fresh seed...perhaps too fresh...i took twenty-two seeds and some hot vegetable oil to see what would happen..what happened mostly is the seeds turned a golden brown...however i did hear a single pop as i was frying them and when i had a look it turns out one seed case actually did are the seeds too fresh? the cases too soft and permeable to allow adequate pressure to build up inside the seed? don't know...and while i don't want to commit too much seed to this my thinking is that i will let the seeds i brought in today air dry for a week and choose some to try with again next weekend...if it works there will be dancing in the street..if not, the rest of the seed is going to be used to try to grow a second's all fun and games until someone loses an eye to flying seed cases..then it's time to settle down to business.

collecting teosinte seed

a quick post to point out something i discovered that is new to me ( no surprise that i am still learning things...i am better informed today than yesterday ) ...until now i had been harvesting seed from ears that had opened or were in the process of opening like the one in the top photo...these are finite in number out there and since i wanted to "naturalize" some seed to see if it would auto-germinate into another generation i turned to unopened ears to augment my seed stock...i began opening them this morning and was surprised to find a much higher proportion of dark seeds in the unopened my untrained ( or, perhaps, semi-trained autodidact ) eye this indicates a higher concentration of endosperm which means more viable seed come germination time...i have segregated the two batches of seed and when i begin germination tests in late march ( i will be putting any successful plants out in the yard so i will wait until i would normally plant seed outdoors [ which is on the agenda as well ] to germinate any with the hydrogen peroxide soak method ) it will be interesting to see which has the higher germination rate...still completely geeked by this plant...there may be a popping attempt soon as to the community garden to mulch garlic...more on that later a side note, i blame google for the doubled image here...i did not upload it twice was me the last time...i decline responsibility today.

Friday, November 27, 2015


earlier this autumn i collected some wild grape seeds ( second photo ) from the fence along the back of the parking lot where i's back by the swamp and the fence is covered in vines..i also collected some concord grape seeds when i harvested the grapes in the catalpa tree to make jelly in september ( top photo ) can tell the difference because the wild grape seeds are smaller and much darker than the concord...they need to be stratified, which is basically cold stored to mimic the real world ( we complicate everything copying nature with technology...i could probably succeed in germinating the wild seeds simply by planting them now and letting winter do the work...but i want to germinate the concord seeds and give plants a head start on, complexity it is ) i took a handful of sphagnum moss for each container ( i used sphagnum moss because wiser heads than mine tell me it has an anti-fungal property which will help prevent damage to the seeds ) and dampened it with distilled water...put the moss in the containers ( pre-marked for each type..smarter than i look sometimes ) and nestled the seeds in the moss, covering them with about a half in and making sure the seeds did i not touch the outside of the container...put the lids on and popped them in the very same vegetable crisper that will be chilling bee cocoons when their turn comes until the end of februaty or early march...that is when i will retrieve them and set up peat pots in the plant room to begin a process of growing more producing vines that will take a few years to complete...if it succeeds there may be some going into the community garden as well...if that is approved by the administration ( ellen )...there ill be more grape stories as the season gets underway in around ninety to one hundred days...until then spuds will surely dominate with the odd tesointe plant...i neglected to mention that the last photo is meant to indicate i did clean up my moss mess in the kitchen like a courteous gardener...i don't need any feedback about the state of the kitchen.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

a tramp around the yard

the sun is out today and the snow is in retreat...but there's still shade and still ice for the vetch to be at home in...those yellow peas have shown more resilience than i gave them credit for...but they are annuals and cannot withstand much more in the way of winter..their time will come soon enough...there are still many unshattered teosinte seeds in ears out there ( more on that in the next post )..however, when i went to check on the ramp seeds i found...nothing..well...i found the stump of the stem they were on...something has ingested them and the will be spread...just not in my yard...the good news is the root system and bulb weren't disturbed...and speaking of root systems the roots and support roots in the sixth photo were what was holding up the plant to my left in the bottom photo ...nothing like a well turned support root.