Saturday, February 25, 2012

backyard wheat

i planted this within days of the crop on campus and from the same batch of seeds in soil prepared pretty much the same way with the same batch of composted manure so i can't explain why the wheat in the backyard is so much bigger and thicker beyond the fact that the wheat out back is in a sheltered bed of two by twelves and the campus wheat it totally exposed...whatever the reason it will be a much bigger crop.

traditional bread

"in turkey we found that an important reason for selecting local wheat instead of modern, higher-yielding varieties was the quality of the local wheat for bread and the fact that no market was available to purchase wheat with the desired qualities( meng, taylor, and brush 1998). a similar situation exists in peru where local potatoes are preserved for home consumption and for gifts (brush 1992) "farmers' bounty: locating crop diversity in the modern world. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ so...monsanto's west bred brand of high-yielding, trans genetic spliced up wheat isn't a big seller in parts of the word because the bread it makes doesn't taste like grandma's...the locals prefer to preserve landraces specific to the area and eat bread made form the wheat their ancestors grew...not really surprising...people are fond of their habits and food culture is a deeply conservative thing...all bound up in ritual and status and tradition and in the types of plants best sustained by the local ecology...seems they prefer the old fashioned type of genetic engineering that comes from artificial selection for desirable the way the grain makes the bread taste...or the texture a specific potato takes on when it's freeze-dried at altitude or steamed...fine with me...i'm looking around this spring for some sump weed to grow as a seed crop next season ( 2013 i mean ) the domesticated strains have apparently died out...abandoned by the indigenous peoples of north america when the superior maize turned up...i still like the idea of growing native food crops and i will be experimenting with that when and where i can...speaking of where...i had a spare moment this morning and so i took a trip out to campus to check on things...the winter wheat there is doing okay...not the bumper crop out in my backyard, but it will serve he purpose i am growing it for which is mostly to be turned under in the spring to add nitrogen to the soil...although i will let some of it mature for seed for next autumn...all the mulching is intact and the wheat grass is still dormant and the gamma grass won't start greening up until sometime in april...mid-march will be here soon and the teosinte seeds will be going in along with some beets and turnips...just to keep things going until it's time to plant will all be here before you know it

Sunday, February 19, 2012

wild potatoes

it occurred to me that i had never seen a wild potato plant beyond photos of mature ones in books ( i have no faith in photos of plants i pull off the web many mislabeled is one of the reasons i started including photos in this least i know what i grew )and that i would not recognize a seedling if it bit i put some potting mix and mushroom mulch in a peat pot...added out the envelope of wild potato seeds ( tiny things ) from the potato introduction station in sturgeon bay wisconsin...placed two ( carefully ) in the newly combined soil...and put them downstairs under the grow light with the apple trees...i germinated the apple trees in a damp paper towel in a baggie and if i don't see some sort of substantive movement in the peat pot over the next few weeks i will try that method ( although how i will ever see those seeds against a damp paper towel as a backdrop eludes me )...since i plan on growing them for a morphological comparison with domesticated potatoes ( and maybe get some gene flow going...although how i would measure that eludes me as scientist...just an amateur ) i really do need to know what they look like when they sprout...inductive and empirical is the way to proceed i think...more as it comes along.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

denial is a human constant

i have absolutely no frame of reference for this winter and so i am having some difficulty with the chronology of the year so far...there was eight inches of snow on the ground here last weekend and today the winter wheat in the backyard is basking in what sunlight there is filtering through partly cloudy notoriously inaccurate thermometer says its thirty-four degrees fahrenheit and there are a few flurries falling so it's still winter...but it might as well be late march as mid was fifty degrees yesterday and promises to reach that high again in the coming week...every time i go out back i expect to see elephant garlic coming through the soil and when that happens the jerusalem artichokes won't be far behind...last spring was cold and it took much longer for things to get could be eighty degrees by the time my seed potatoes arrive...then again it may still be snowing and i said i have nothing in my experience to relate this territory and i have to wonder how much of a part i'm playing in it...the deniers say that climate is cyclical and that's what this is...that i can burn all the fossil fuel i want...that daniel yergin subscribes to this theory is not reassuring...i am forced to believe that we have entered the anthropocene era and that the consumerist culture that i am so bound up in is actually trying to do us all i grow perennials...i just transplanted this year's apple trees into larger peat pots...the roots ( those future carbon sinks...along with all the living, organic soil i can manage to sustain [ won't be so arrogant as to say create] in all the place i will be growing things this coming season...this one hundred and sixty square foot garden on campus has extended it reach well outside the academic domain) of the larger tree were coming out the bottom of the pot it started out in...those guys still have a couple of months under the grow light until i start to take them outside to harden them off so i thought it would be a god idea to give them more room...on the whole i am anxious for the new season to begin and anxious about what the results might be as well...i am going to have to be careful about making the call on when to unmulch the yams and asparagus...the planting schedule is going to take some deeper consideration as least for the spring planters.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

staggered planting/harvest

"the domesticated frijol gordo...of the sierra norte de puebla has been traditionally grown as a vine on maize plants in multiple cropping milpas of the nahua, who gather the late-ripening pods after the maize harvestat the end of the growing season. with an increased demand for for beans in the early growing season, precocious forms have been selected to provide green pods before the maize harvest."
mexican ethnobotany diversity. biodiversity and native america. paul e. minis and wayne j. elisens, eds. p.53

"the indians of this region practiced a series of gardening techniques, including staggered planting times, planting in evenly spaced holes, and interplanting different kinds of crops."
ethnohistory in the southeaster united states. biodiversity amnd native america.p.287

i have been doing some more reading about intercropping in milpas ( thanks for the book always seem to pick a winner ) and stagger plantings... i have received all the seeds i have ordered for next season and will receive seed potatoes from suppliers as their planting times arrive...i will be planting from the middle of next month through july ( outside the garlic, winter wheat, asparagus,chinese yams, and jerusalem artichokes i already have in the ground ) and i will be harvesting from june through november ( and beyond if you count digging tubers in the winter )...i will be intercropping maize, squash, sunflowers, potatoes, and beans ( along with an herb garden, some leeks, and onions ) the photo is of the scarlet runner bean i planted around the beginning of the year just so i would know one when i saw is a "precocious form" that starts in cool weather, stops producing in the heat of summer, and may begin producing again in the has thrown out a vine more than three feet long and i am running out of dowel rod in its current pot...i am pondering how to provide more vining room that i can move into the back yard when the weather breaks...should be an impressive vine by may even give the chinese yams and the cowpeas ( forgot to mention indispensable part of the nitrogen retention scheme and mainline nitrogen fixer) some competition for the longest vine ( it will not defeat the chinese yams for number of vines produced however...and the cowpeas are no slouches in vine length...more interesting data to collect )...we got about six inches of snow last night but it won't last long...i can smell the soil now.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

new apple trees

the apple trees are coming along pretty well...the scarlet runner bean had grown and has put out a vine that is approximately three feet long ( you can see it to the right in the second photo and wrapping itself around the dowel rods i put in the pot on the left in the two bottom photos )...all the organic and heirloom seeds for the spring garden have arrived ( more germination soon ) and i have potatoes that i bought and freebies from the usda coming...the winter wheat on campus and in the back yard is confused...and in a bit more than a month the spring planting of teosinte begins...and the unmulching of the hasn't been much of a winter really and as far as preparation for a new season goes time's just about up...can't wait.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

it's anything but dormant

just another photographic commentary on the weather...this wheat is so far from dormant that i think it's actually spreading and thickening...if the weather doesn't turn and kill it i should have a good harvest for the continuing "green manure" project.

i could dig some february tubers...

...which is something i don't believe i could have done last february fifth...but the weather has been so weirdly mild this winter that i was somewhat concerned that when i went out back to dig some up i might find them actually growing...they were not and i dug up a heaping bowlful to store in the refrigerator and the freezer to use in salads and casseroles and i cut some up and plan to fry them in peanut oil ( which i acquired specifically for this purpose to fend off further criticism over my inconsistency in decrying hfcs and yet using corn oil )...i have left the cache pit i lined to experiment with sub-freezing tuber retrieval untouched since there hasn't been enough freezing weather to warrant an attempt...the climate seems to be determined to thwart that particular facet of this seasons learning in the garden...trial and error seems to me to be a basis for cultural advancement and nobody gets it exactly right the first time...refinement as a first principle in anthropology...or pretty much anything else...i'm going to make brunch now...refine my frying technique.