last wednesday's cold is gone...60+ degrees (fahrenheit) in the back yard micro-climate this morning...the snow that was covering the green manures in the future potato patch has receded and the winter rye, clover , and vetch seem unperturbed...there is still life there...the ramp bed ( fifth photo ) may look like nothing much is happening...but we know better...the single ramp i found up last week survived the snow ( didn't think it wouldn't ) and is still greening up...however, rummaging around the leaf litter mulch in the bed i came across a couple more victims of the frost heave resulting from the on again off again winter we are having here...i replanted them...don't wan them to dry out or be eaten...and covered them back up with mulch as there is more snow ( on again ) in the forecast for the middle of next week...and by next weekend, if the pattern holds, i'll be out looking for more ramps evicted from the bed by frost heave..i presume much of an sort of climatic stability is out the window...i also presume the garlic will chime in soon enough...then there's the community garden's season to dwell on...i wonder if there is any planning going on..besides unmulching the garlic...time will tell...won't it?
these two yacon plants have seen better days and with the recent explosion of the spud population i need the room under the lights...so it was harvest time...but not before i attempt to propagate some new plants...i already have three up and running form the rhizomes i planted in december so there will be plants...and there are pieces of tuber in the vegetable crisper...still...i need to try new things so the first process i tried ( there is another blog post to this...too much for just one ) was taking cuttings...i chose stems on two plants and cut the tops off just above a leaf node, making sure to take cuttings showing new growth, and planted them in peat pots in a mix of potting soil, compost, and vermiculite...there should be some time before ( if ) they take root and begin to grow so the peat pots should do as a home until they can be hardened off and transplanted outdoors after the last frost...this is a new procedure for me so we'll see if i did it correctly and established a new season of plants or if i will need to try again with cuttings from next season's plants.
the second method of yacon propagation i tried today was replanting the root crowns after harvest...having worked with asparagus this is a method i am more familiar with and more certain of results...the fist plant yielded a few tubers and had a clear rhizome that you can see in the second photo in the upper left where the two stems meet...i removed the tubers and cut back the old stems and replanted the whole crown in a mix of compost and potting soil...the second plant yielded some larger tubers and the rhizome on the crown of this one had already begun to green and produce leaves ( seventh photo )...so i planted it with the leaves exposed in a planter with the same soil mixture...i am pretty confident of these two coming along well to add to the three already up and running...so two plants yield tubers and, at least, five new plants...i am pleased with the results and am hoping the cuttings make it seven plants...i got a fair harvest of "ground apples" into the bargain...a fair saturday morning's work.
just about a day a go the sun was out...it was at least ten degrees warmer...the clover and vetch were coming back to life and turning up towards the sun...ramps were coming up in the beds under the locust trees, the mulch on the garlic bed was plainly visible, and spring, if not present, was sending clear signals that it would be making an appearance soon...it had been a dry winter pretty much with a marked snow drought...a day later it is at least ten degrees cooler and the clover, vetch, ramps, and garlic mulch are under around what seems to be about four inches of very wet snow...don't despair however...temperatures are set to rebound into the fifties (fahrenheit ) by the end of the week and winter will be off again and spring will...again...be on the verge...the climate suffers from volatility...can any parallels be drawn with the price of oil? perhaps not...with its burning is another matter.
i was puttering around in the basement, relaxing after work...and trying to rearrange plants for better light access when i stumbled on a box of potatoes i had put down there a couple of months ago...holy chit! they were making it known that they were more than ready to be planted...the early blue, ollala, and german butter ball ( third-fourth-fifth )were well sprouted...perhaps over sprouted...so into peat pots and the seventeen new plants were distributed as well as they could be temporarily...it will be time, i think, to harvest the yacon, propagate new plants from cuttings, eat the tubers, and redeploy the spuds into a more rational arrangement...now to keep them running until the can go outside...there may be early planting in the community garden...in the yard...at my daughters'...all over...season is well underway...ready or not.
finding a ramp trying to sprout yesterday perturbed me to the extent that i went back out n this afternoon and pulled back the leaf litter ( in the wild they grow in the forest so you need to have shade and leaf humus...i have both in quantity enough to deceive the plants ) mulch to get a better idea of what is going on out there...what i found was the same ramp i saw yesterday and another that had been ejected from the bed by frost heave ( the temperatures are fluctuating around here 60+F yesterday, 37F right now and dropping below freezing tonight so i replanted it...even though the soil is still frozen about four inches down...then i dragged a rake out of the tool shed and raked up a pile of leaf litter from the lawn ( actually ground cover...grass won't grow in that much shade..there's a lot of moss though...my neighbors, suburban lawn freaks that they are, probably question the shade, the moss, and my disdain for raking...truth is i have use for the leaves beyond letting the city compost them ) and covered the beds with another six to eight inches of leaves...that should be enough to fend off frost damage...ramps are early risers and cold hardy but i am inclined to think this one has seriously jumped the gun...we'll see soon enough.
it has been unseasonably warm here for nearing the end of february and any number of things seem to have gotten an early start...i finished my one errand this morning in unexpectedly easy fashion and i found myself with both time on my hands and a geographical proximity to the corn/soybean field out on county line road i have been watching for a number of years...so i went out to see what there was to see...what i found was there has already been plowing going on...this has never been a no til field in all they years i have observed it...strictly an industrial operation...even though the field has been plowed it has not completely obliterated the signs of erosion...i have written about the lack of precipitation this winter and my concerns over the possibility of drought this coming season...even so there is water standing in the field and the berm has failed in a number of places...and in the fourth photo it appears there had been a culvert installed to draw water away from the field and into the drainage ditches in the better drained field across the road...industrial agriculture isn't the only thing getting ready for spring...the clover (fifth photo ) and the winter vetch ( sixth) are both looking for sunlight and have popped up across the future potato patch...nitrogen production should begin again soon...the last photo is of a solitary ramp that has popped up in one of the ramp beds...i covered it back up with the leaf litter that has been a mulch there all winter..they are hardy early risers but this one is early...a mistake perhaps...then again it may know more than i do.
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.