Saturday, October 29, 2011

campus 10-29-2011

went to campus again this morning to check on can see in the top photo that the asparagus is in full reproduction mode...three plants have produced seed and some are already on the ground...i am curious to see what will come of that in the spring...the winter wheat is filling in as more germinates...i started some in three inch peat pots in the house and although the green sprouts were only a quarter to three-eights of an inch tall the roots were already out the bottom of the pot...the next two photos were taken a day apart ( yesterday and today) and you can see that the plants are growing, but there's a lot more going on underground as the root systems race to establish themselves before dormancy...the stand that i leave up on campus will fill in rhyzomatically next spring...same for the crop at home...the bottom photo is of eastern gamagrass and zea diploperennis in the northwest indiana autumn...the next step is mulching the yams and asparagus...but the asparagus is till green ( it likes cool weather) so i will be putting that off until it dies back for the season.

home 10-29-2011

i have been neglectful of apple tree updates of late...i'm pleased to say all three are doing fine out in the back yard...still green...still growing...i have procured stakes and burlap so once they lose their leaves i will get some straw and bed them down for winter along with the one i planted in my daughter's back yard...they have quite a way to go before they bear fruit but my current focus is getting them through the winter...i moved the potted zea diploperennis indoors under the gro-light ( which looks very weird through the viewfinder of my camera...some sort of dissonant wavelength of light between the to of didn't come out in the photo but in the viewfinder it looks like waves of light emanating from the bulb like a waterfall...odd) both plants have new growth tillering out at the base so i am hopeful that i can pull them through downstairs...i may have to re-pot them though if they continue to grow...i have several hundred winter wheat plants up in two of the raised beds and in two of the half bed and one barrel will be grown as a crop...the rest will be organic matter to feed the worms and more plants next spring...more on the apple trees as i prepare then for their first winter.

Friday, October 28, 2011

forty-four teosinte ears

there's a freeze warning ( as opposed to a frost warning) in effect for these parts until 10:00 am tomorrow so i decided to bring in all the teosinte ears...forty-four in all...because they weren't going to get much farther along the road to maturity..i suspect that none of these seeds are viable ( not that that will stop me form planting some next march just to see ) and i really didn't expect to get this far in these northern i am pleased and a bit disappointed by turns..i have more seeds for northern tepehuan teosinte and for zea diploperennis so there will be more of each next year...and probably some maize as well to go along with the red nordlands and their "wild and weedy" ancestors...i am a bit concerned about the winter wheat, although it shrugged off the frost this morning and just kept cooking along...some of it is nearly four inches tall and i am sure the roots are deeper than's not afraid of cold weather but it needs to be a bit bigger before it goes dormant...i went out and bought cow manure, stakes, and burlap today...a couple of bales of straw and i will be ready to mulch the garden and put the apple trees to bed for winter...still a couple of weeks of work ahead outside...then it's back to the books and articles until never really stops,, but it keeps me occupied with something interesting and utilitarian...what more could you ask? only one thing, and that's just not possible...time to be content with what is.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

northern tepehuan teosinte ears

unlike maize the teosinte has produced a multiplicity of ears so i brought a few in today and took some photos...the rest i will leave on the plant, covering it with frost cloth until the weather turns to the point i must harvest...i am curious to see if the seeds become those hard little triangles on the ear of if the harden after harvest...since this is the first teosinte i have grown to maturity i have no idea...we'll find out together.

industrial harvest

i was out and about today and i replaced my malfunctioning camera, so i had a look at the field off county line road just to check up on the harvest...i tossed in a couple of photos from september just for the sake of comparison can see that the wall of dense yellow number two industrial feedstock has come along since the beginning of last month and is ready to come can also see that the weather really isn't co-operating very's wet again in northwest indiana and there's still a lot of corn in the field...water too, as you can see by the puddles collecting in the stubble ( and that stubble is all that will cover that field this winter...i saw some winter wheat or rye today...but that was in a field that has been fallow all summer and i'm willing to wager is being sown as a crop, not as cover)...the field of beans that was butted up against the corn is already harvested and you can see the amount of water that has run into the low areas...that's where most of the erosion of that field i saw last spring went looks as if it was plowed after harvest and the farmer may have sown a cover crop that hasn't germinated yet...we'll know in a week or two as i make an effort to get out there and see..if not i think i'll be taking pictures of erosion from water run-off sometime in march or april...i'd be interested in knowing what sort of chemical input residue is in that water and how much reaches deep river and, ultimately, lake george, the little calumet river and lake michigan.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

human intervention

"we are unlikely to achieve anything close to sustainability in any area unless we work for the broader goal of becoming native in the modern world, and that means becoming native to our places in a coherent community, that is, in turn, embedded in the ecological realities of the surrounding landscape."
wes jackson

it sounds to me like wes is saying that it's high time we ditched the consumerist utopia that capital has unleashed on us and get a grip on living within our ecological means...adapting ourselves to local abundances and shortfalls and learning to eat in season again...becoming cohesive and mutually supporting local communities...familiar with what can and cannot be accomplished...what the "landscape" will tolerate in the way of human intervention and what must be left alone if there is a chance to live within our ecological means...what the coach would call culture...humans used to have it in a diverse abundance until around five hundred years ago...when technology gave some pathologically avaricious people the means to destroy the culture of others and take what they found of value in the process...never realizing that what they destroyed was easily as valuable as what they took...we are probably all gong to pay a fairly steep price for those acts of wonton ignorance and the hubris they engendered...their heirs are still too blinded by their need for more to see we can't really exist outside a culture...its what we co-evolved with...made us human, no?

the teosinte ears are just a prop...part of my local ecology that has migrated to my backyard because technology transported the seeds to me.

Monday, October 24, 2011

winter wheat III

and after lunch i headed out to campus ( where i saw coach and had a pleasant chat) check on the is doing better which is cool but i'm still up against the timeframe for it to establish itself before real cold weather hits and it goes dormant...then we need snow to insulate it...a tenuous business but i'll assume biology knows what it's doing...i counted sixty plants up and running today...tomorrow it is supposed to be in the 70s temperature wise then a cool off...wheat is a cool weather crop so as long as a hard frost holds off ( for the wheat and the teosinte) we should be okay...the ears of teosinte seeds out back are starting to shatter even though they are a bright green color yet...i have planted and marked a couple just to winter them over outside and see if they germinate in the spring...the rest i will harvest and dry, planting them before the last frost next spring...i have more seeds form native seed search so, with luck, we will have a few more mature plants next season.

backyard harvest

i wanted to fry up some sunchokes to go with lunch today so this morning i went out in the back and dug up a stand of eight jerusalem artickoes...the weather was fine and it rained overnight so the ground was soft...those eight, tightly packed plants, which never got tremendously big because the were in half-shade from the locust trees all summer, yielded over sixty tubers...i have one more bed to dig up and so far i have replanted thirty tubers for next year ( plus the twelve or so on campus and any rouges i decide to keep next spring) and still have another bed to replant...they rhyzome barriers all seem do have done the job of containing the, hopefully all the rouges ( and there will be rouges) will be on my side of the property neighborhood reputation is weird enough already with out being responsible for an invasion of hardy, ineradicable plants.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

winter wheat II

i drove out to the campus (which is a ghost town today) to check up on the wheat...i have been a bit concerned ( and still am) but today was a bit of a relief as the plant population is finally starting to grow. the third and fourth photos are of some of the fifty sprouts i counted today...hopefully a few more days of moderate weather will allow them to become more established...they need a few more inches of growth before dormancy for any sizable portion to survive winter and do some rhyzomatic spreading...the top photo is the garden as it heads into the mulching season...that's coming up in a few weeks...the second photo is of the stand of zea diploperennis...still up and running despite the cool will hit a wall at the first hard frost...the bottom photo is of a northern tepehuan teosinte ear in my back yard...i have been covering that plant with frost cloth every night recently just to be safe...this is a race with freezing weather which cannot be that far off...i am curious to see what happens.

Friday, October 21, 2011


i went to campus this morning to see how things were doing after a couple of raw, rainy october days...things are about what i expected this close to the end of the season...everything is winding down like the intermediate wheat grass in the top photo...the seed heads are dry and shatter readily, so the plot is reseeding itself...the second photo is of a cluster of asparagus berries...those plants are at the end of their third season and are established enough that they are reproducing as well...i will wait until they thoroughly die back to mulch the beds and see if the berries produce new growth next spring...the stand of zea diploperennis is still up and running, but i fear their days are numbered...i will be mulching that bed to in hopes of renewed growth in the spring...i am not sanguine about the chances of a sub-tropical perennial wintering over, but i will try anyway...the winter wheat has nor been happy since last friday...i planted it a week later than i wanted simply because life got in the way of the garden...however the weather is supposed to moderate for the next four or five days and hopefully that will encourage them to germinate...i counted thirty plants up...a miniscule portion of the number of seeds i to be on the safe ( or ,possibly, hopeful) side i sowed more today both on campus and at home...the last photo is of the northern tepehuan teosinte and the chinese yams...the teosinte lost a limb in the wind and the yams are ready to be harvested...this season is about done..i have preordered seed potatoes and i have wild potato seeds as well as more teosinte seeds...i think next season on campus is covered...from the end of november to the beginning of march is time for reading (there are more books on the way)...more on that and the mulching and winter wheat as it comes up.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

winter wheat

i stopped off at campus after work on what can only be described as a raw, wet october day just to see what ( if anything) was up in the garden...the good news is there are some winter wheat plants up and running...they look a bit beaten down...but that will change...and they are not apparent in the profusion of numbers i had hoped for ( yet...haven't given up)...but it's a start...the seed is viable ( there's some up in the back yard too) and i can always put some more in on friday morning...and probably will since the idea is to create a cover crop and utilize the nitrogen the cowpeas fixed...more later as this develops and the weather improves a bit.

Friday, October 14, 2011

digging tubers

i spent from 6:55 am until 9:35 am on campus harvesting the jerusalem artichokes, taking out the cowpeas, and sowing winter wheat...i used a spading fork to pop the plant and roots out of the ground ( it's one of the photos...i gave up trying to unrandomize the way these upload long ago)...there are tubers growing out of the roots at the base but they also radiate out a fair distance from the parent plant so you need to root around some ( i found myself digging back from the garden underneath the university's lawn to retrieve tubers...there will be rouges come spring) the photo with my feet in it is of the haul form just one plant...sixty plus tubers of various sizes and even more various shapes...i replanted ten tubers ( last year i replanted eight and ended up with doubt the population will be larger next spring as well)...after i harvested the sunchokes i went around and picked all the cowpea pods i could find for next years nitrogen supply...that done i pulled them up by the roots and yanked the vines off the trellis and proceeded to turn what soil that hadn't been disturbed by the harvest over and aerated it with the cultivator ( i also ran into numerous earthworm as i dug the tubers...the batch of worms i put in in spring 2010 has seemingly thrived and reproduced...surviving even this spring's mole invasion)...then i broadcast hard red winter wheat seed on all the areas that didn't have jerusalem artichokes planted in them or that i wasn't going to have to mulch next month...the window for planting winter wheat is nearly closed ( although i did plant it on the 29th of october last year and had good crops on campus and at home) and i just finished turning the cowpeas in the old potato bed here at home under and planting wheat there as well...that be will be seed for next fall and i will continue as long as i can produce viable seed...more later at yam harvest and putting the garden to bed for winter as well as an update on the progress of the wheat.

digging tubers appendix

blogger seems to have doubled up on the appendix photos since you can only upload five...anyway the top photo is broadcast hard red winter wheat seed which is this year's cover crop...the second one is a bag of wheat seed...third up is the stand of zea diploperennis after i took out the jerusalem artichokes and the fourth one is a photo of no jerusalem artichokes after i replanted the bed...and last is the new look of the perennial garden project, which will last until yam harvest and the mulch for winter.