Tuesday, January 31, 2017

supermarket spuds

contemplating dinner after work today i wandered into the pantry to see if there were any "store bought" spuds around...i found a bag of "green giant" brand..but they were all well chitted and turning a bit soft...so..instead of nuking a few i took some downstairs to plant them..i found a large container that had a couple of yacon rhizomes working away in it so i transplanted them to another container to percolate a bit more and, after i emptied about half the soil in the container, i planted them as deeply as i could with only the sprout ends showing...yes these are "improved" potatoes that come from a company called potandon products who maintain the breed their potato varieties through traditional methods...http://www.potandon.com/seed/sourcing...i am prepared to accept that these are "improved" but not gmo spuds or i would not have planted them...i have several potato plants already up and running downstairs including clones i grew from true seed and some third and fourth generation spuds i originally received from the usda potato introduction station so it will be of interest to compare tuber production at the end of the plants' cycles...they will be getting an organic treatment here...no fertilizers beyond compost and no herbicides or insecticides...we'll see how they stack up against wholly organic blues.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

relics of harvests past

after weather in the 60s ( fahreneheit ) last weekend it seems winter has returned to the south end of the inland sea...it is snowing...lightly and very lazily...there is no blizzard around...it has, however, dusted the field behind the big box stores and when my route for errands took me past there i stopped to have a look around to see how the clean up was coming along...up until today i was finding mostly cobs with only a few kernels still attached and very few full ears...today the partials ( if any still exist..i found none ) are covered by snow and not readily visible so i walked down the rows stepping on the husks that the combine left behind to see what i could find...what i found was quite a few full ears of corn that were missed...by the combine and by the critters that , one presumes, should be looking for sustenance at the end of january in the northern hemisphere...so why would this still be here..an old question and one i have asked before...there is no point to surmise about causes...they could be manifold and not especially visibly coupled...what i do see is full ears of uneaten dense yellow #2 that the fauna of the area seem to be ignoring...i don't blame them...i avoid it and its byproducts as much as i can... will keep looking...mostly out of idle curiosity but also with an eye to volunteer corn next bean season...i am hunting for suicide genes.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

nascent erosion III

top photo, last time out ( 14 january ) bottom three, today...it has warmed considerably for january and there has been rain...you can see the results.

microclimate II

life is replete with discrepancies and so it is with "official" and "unofficial" climate reporting...the official weather station which is about a mile from here maintains that since i put these rain gauges up there has been .54 inches of rain in the area...well..the rain gauges out back can't even agree about how much rain there was in the yard, much less the area...i put the gauge by the thermometer on the tree just to see how much rain was diverted from the immediate ground by the canopy of foliage...that gauge shows about .3 of an inch since tuesday...the one out at the east end of the yard on the tomato bed shows a shade over .7 of an inch...the one on the post towards the center of the yard shows .8 of an inch...and the one on the ramp bed on the north side of the house shows a shade over .8 of an inch...we could argue that the locust trees to the north of the tomato bed impacted that measurement...but the trees are bare...and an argument over the accuracy of $1.98 rain gauges compared tot he accuracy of "official" instruments could be made...but none of that really explains the disparity in measurements over a suburban back yard or why the gauge on the north side which is between my house and my neighbors would measure more rainfall than the others...accurate or not there is a disparity...there will be more rain this coming week and more readings...perhaps a pattern will develop..perhaps i am doing this just to keep busy during a slack gardening season...one thing i am certain of...this much rain, as opposed to snow, in january at the south end of lake michigan is not in line with the historical norms...it aint natural for the forecast to be nearly 60 degrees fahrenheit on the 21st.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

bee cocoon maintenance

dove into the vegetable crisper this morning to check on the bee cocoons and sure enough...mold! the pros said this could happen which is why the suggested checkups...so i mixed a tablespoon of bleach in a cup of water and put the moldy cocoons into soak a few minutes...while they were soaking i cleaned the container out with bleach water...sphagnum moss has anti-fungal properties so i decided to use it to replace the paper toweling i was using as a source of moisture in the container...i put some into soak in distilled water while i took the cocoon out of the bleach water, rinsed them thoroughly, and set them out to dry a bit in unbleached paper towels...put the moss in the bottom of the container...replaced the insert to keep the cocoons above the moss...and back to the crisper until next month...gardening is a year round sport.


around 2:30 this morning the second thunderstorm of the month rolled through ( unusual for here...unheard of for all i know at the moment...research in the offing ) and left behind a shade more than 3/4" of an inch of rain...i have been contemplating microclimates since i noticed that the instruments in my yard and those at the "official" weather station about a mile from here never seem to agree...this could be because of a disparity between their quality, however i am still interested in climate differences over a small area ( read my back yard )..so i invested in a few more rain gauges ( if i could find thermometers unaffected by direct sunlight i would spread some of those around as well...still looking ) and placed them around the yard...one on the tree next to the thermometer to see how much rain gets through the canopy...one by the tomato bed...and one by the ramp bed on the north side of the house...we will be looking into difference...or sameness if that's what we find.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

inefficient harvest...inefficient gleaning

i went out to get a new rain gauge today and my route took me by the field behind the big box stores...we have already covered the inefficient manner in which the combine harvested this field...no real need to indulge in that again...however there hasn't been anything like a snow cover on this field in going on three weeks...the precipitation of late has fallen as rain ( hence the new gauge ) or ice, not snow...so the leavings from the harvest are fully exposed and it did not take much walking in the field to find cobs with multiple kernels...some very nearly complete...it is obvious that there has been some gleaning going on by on variety of critter or another but finding this much grain in the middle of january has me wondering just how much of a nutritional void this stuff is...it is apparently high energy ( sugars ) and low protein and it is recommended that it be used as a "finishing diet" ( before slaughter to add weight...it also makes cattle acidotic...fed as a single diet long enough it would kill them )so...lots of starches and sugars ( high fructose corn syrup anyone? ) and little else...perhaps the clean up crew has more sense than to eat it.

support roots

top three, genetically modified dense yellow #2 support roots...bottom three, ancestral support roots in the back yard in the stand of teosinte.