Saturday, June 30, 2012

rhizobia slurry

a day off so what did i do? went to the garden...i mixed up a slurry of rhizobia bacteria to inoculate the cowpeas for nitrogen fixation...the package said that the product was "safe" also suggested that prolonged skin contact or inhalation was to be avoided and suggested ppe of latex gloves, safety glasses, and a dust mask...of course i ignored this and went ahead and mixed the powder with some distilled water and let the seeds soak as i drove to campus...i only planted five to begin with since i have maize growing and the potatoes haven't been harvested yet...i think i will limit the cowpeas this season since they tend to take over and vine exuberantly...the third photo is of some shattered gamgrass seed heads i picked up off the ground...there are a lot of seeds this season and the seventy odd proaxes in the fourth photo attest to i begin to understand why the grass is considered grows more slowly than say the chinese yams but it invests every bit as much energy into has a reputation for being relentless and may become a handful yet...the last photo is one of the jerusalem artichoke blooms...half a dozen or so up and running...i wonder what this bodes in terms of tuber production...mine always bloomed earlier than the conventional sunchoke wisdom allowed but that didn't stop tuber production...harvest will be a bit earlier this season since i expect a change of direction this autumn so we will know in early september what to expect next time we see an early bloom

photo appendix 6-30-2012

extra photos from today start with the brussels sprouts on top...then there's the improbable zea diploperennis that's thriving in the heat...the third photo is of some fungus growing in the shade of the eastern gamagrass...the fourth photo is an ancestor/domesticate portrait with hopi blue maize on the right and zea diploperennis on the left...rounding the photos out is the annual tesointe northern tepehuan

Thursday, June 28, 2012

still peculiar

the garden continues its accelerated pace this season as the jerusalem artichokes officially begin the process of setting their irregular and innumerable tubers by blooming what, in my experience, is a month early...falling into line with the improbable return of the zea diploperennis and the appearance of seed heads on the winter wheat in april...nine of the ten warmest years on record have occurred since the turn of the century and i can't help but wonder if this is some empirical evidence of climate change...the second photo is of some grasses...that's hopi blue zea mays on the right and a single zea diploperennis plant on the left...the third photo is of some northern tepehuan teosinte against a backdrop of intermediate wheat will grow i type this there is thunder in the air and a really disappointingly light rain that will pass quickly into is also bloody hot ( except for you coach...and possibly my youngest daughter ) this rain will do little tolift us out of a moderate drought on the palmer drought indices...that will take an all day can see in the last photo that the perennial garden project is a spot of green in a fairly parched university lawn...we'll see what the clinate brings throughout the season.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

transpiration II

although it has rained a bit this month all that has accomplished on the palmer drought indices is to bring the short-term and long-term drought projections into line as "moderate" ( as opposed to a moderate long -term and severe short term ) so the rain hasn't had much impact as evidenced by the water i'm using on my gardens...i hadn't been to campus since sunday...i skipped yesterday because it was fairly cool...but when i got to campus this evening i go a message that told me to come out more often for a while when i saw the curled leaves on the zea diploperennis ( top photo ) ...water passes through the plants and evaporates as part of the water cycle...when the plants begin to lose too much water the stomata close and the leaves begin to curl...the second photo is of the same leaves about twenty minutes or so after i began to its descendant maize, teosinte takes up water quickly and the stomata open causing the leaves to flatten out to their original is going to be hot according to the forecast with no chance of rain before the end of the week ( and i will believe that when i see it )so i will be doing daily visits to the garden to keep things well watered...dry or not the jerusalem artichokes are indeed about to burst into yellow blooms almost a ,month early ( third photo ) they still aren't more than three feet tall and their rush to bloom is odd to me...especially since th e far larger plants in my yard are in no seeming hurry to do anything of the even nascent buds back there and they are pushing five feet in height...none of them are water starved so i have to think its a sunlight issue...the plants in my back yard get some shatde and the ones on campus are in full sun all day... the fourth photo is of another zea diploperennis plant and the fifith is of hopi blue maize which is growing rapidly ( as it is in my backyard as well )...there are some brussels sprouts up on campus...which is the only place i have any...lots of peas, beans, kholrabi, turnips, potatoes, sweet potatoes, sunflowers, maize, garlic, squash, wheat,beets, herbs, and jerusalem artichokes...but no brussels sprouts...hope the ones on campus are productive.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

160 sq/ft of reproduction

perennials are every bit as geared towards reproduction as annuals and today we're talking rootstock perennials...the intermediate wheat grass and gamagrass are still flowering ( first and second photos ) and they have been joined by the chinese yams ( third photo ) the asparagus has been flowering cyclically...seeming to be working its way from the northwest corner of the garden to the southeast ( i don't know if there's any significance in that or not...but it's what's happening ) so the fourth photo is of a plant to the south east and the fifth photo of asparagus "berries" is a plant towards the northwest...the major difference between annuals and tuberous plant/replant perennials and rootstock perennials is that in the former humans eat the reproductive organs ( seeds, tubers ) whereas in rootstock perennials we eat stored starches or stems and shoots...plants are weighted heavily towards reproduction ( like every other living thing ) and so the annuals and tuberous perennials produce far more food than the rootstock would take a lot more work to make a living off chinese yams than jerusalem artichokes or rootstock perennials aren't usually ( if ever ) staples...status or medicinal foods ( you can buy chines yam extract all over the place but it took me a couple of months to run down plants to purchase ) but not everyday support food...too much work spread over too much land area...and too difficult to take along if you're moving's also why rootstock perennials can be one is eating the "seeds" so they're free to grow...chinese yams for instance.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

backyard winter wheat

the winter wheat in the raised beds isn't done yet but the wheat in the half barrels i brought it in before it rains again...oddly the wheat here hasn't been touched by birds at all ( unlike the savaged campus wheat ) and i used no repellents of any even with the bird sanctuary some of my family are running in the jungle out there i have a complete harvest ( and the attendant hours of threshing and winnowing by threshing room or oxen here ) staring me in the face...the half barrels will be seeing more herbs planted and when the raised beds are harvested there will be some inoculated cowpeas going in to continue the "green manure" build up of fertility and organic matter in those beds...i'm not certain of the status of that project on campus...if things go the way they appear to be there will be a significant change in the perennial garden project that will pretty much end its use of annuals ( it is about perennials after all ) and plant/replant tubers...moving more towards rootstock perennials and permaculture...however that's dependent on all the variables aligning properly which may or may not always in a garden, nothing is certain.

photos 6-22-2012

photos form yesterday's campus trip...on top the aforementioned eastern gamamgrass...easily five feet tall and four feet across on the big one ( actually two ) and nearly that on the runt form last year...the improbable zea diploperennis...and the bottom tow are hopi blue maize and teosinte ( more zea diploperennis ) that were planted about the same time.

Friday, June 22, 2012

perhaps not a singularity...

...but a bit peculiar none the less...but then it's been a peculiar season so far anyway...the jerusalem artichoke plant that is topping out just over a meter in height in the top photo is the tallest of the bunch on campus...and yet some of the shorter ones are starting to bud and acting as if they are going to flower soon...the texts all say jerusalem artichokes flower in late august or early septemeber...which is fine, but in the last two seasons of growing them mine have begun flowering in july and carried on until early septemeber at which time the plants began to slowly die back...once again we're almost a month ahead of schedule ( remember the winter wheat ) oddly the jerusalem artichokes in my back yard are almost five feet tall and they are showing no inclination to what's up? more research and observation apparently...some of the sixty odd terminal spears on the proaxes of the eastern gamagrass have begun to mature...that's what's left of a shattered seed head in my hand and the first seeds for autumn planting here at home...they look like chunks of wood and are devilish hard to start...once they do you get clumps like those on campus which are huge this year and destined to get bigger ( on my watch anyway )...the season's cooking along and i have a few more photos of maize and teosinte form today that i plant to post later for anyone who's interested...i am curious to see what the sunchokes do and will be monitoring all the plants that i have going to compare behaviors and results...i have also received a message from the potato introduction station at sturgeon's bay wisconsin and i will have news about new potato landraces going into the gardens.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


"...all of us are dependent on civilization, which itself is dependent on the draw-down of even short-term renewable varieties of the earth's capital stock, such as soils and forests."_______________________________________ "some thirty percent of all surface water is being drawn to irrigate land to produce our food...corn typically needs about 24 inches of water, either precipiation or applied, during the growing season..." - wes jackson________________________________________________ "there is no such thing as a post-agricultural society" timothy weiskel __________________________________________________________ for the second evening in a row ( and for the foreseeable future ) i went out to campus to rained well saturday night but then the weather turned hot and windy...tailor made to exacerbate transpiration in both the maize and teosinte and impact the tubers ( potatoes and jerusalem artichokes )...the perennials are more deeply rooted and will suffer less but may yet need some irrigation...the drought may have been temporarily relieved but we are still down about 50% on precipitation over the last few months and rain is not a major part of the near-term i will be practicing human intervention to keep things green and growing...a second acorn squash has popped up ( top photo )...they both are inter-cropped with the asparagus and so will have natural trellises to vine the sunflowers, runner beans, and squash in my back yard...the next three photos are of members of the zea family...northern tepehuan teosinte, hopi blue maize, and zea diploperennis respectively...and the last photo is the perennial garden project at about 4:45 this evening...everything humans do seems to be extractive in some respect...try as i might to allow natural processes to run the garden i still have to poke my nose and and fiddle with the ecology ( if it's not too arrogant to call it that ) of the the present case adding an artificial source of water( namely a garden hose ) to short circuit dry weather...if everything works out this fall will see a significant change of direction in the gardens ( campus and home ) that may take some of the arrogance out of the "ecology" nomenclature...a move towards a more co-operative group of perennials requiring less of my help than the grasses seem to need ( maize is utterly dependent on humans to reproduce and corn is in a multitude of food products... a symbiosis if ever there was one )...until then i will be a fixture in the garden.

Sunday, June 17, 2012


it rained last night to the extent that there are were still afew flash flood watches and warning around earlier this while i was out running errands this morning i went by farmer brown's field and sure enough the industrial corn has perked up from last can see the thirty inch rows standing tall...the second photo is some industrial plants and the third one is some hopi blue i planted at the end of last month...the industrial plants are bigger and probably will remain so because of all the engineering ( as opposed to artificial selection...which is a sort of engineering...but on a much slower and less costly basis ) that allows them to grow so close together...the last two photos show that the corn wasn't the only thing that benefited by a break in the drought...dandelions and some other noxious weeds are taking hold and will continue to do so until atrazine time ( which is another bit of industrial corn engineering since the corn can process atrazine and the weeds can't...round-up ready, liberty link...monsanto...bayer...patented seed that needs chemotheraphy to grow ) competing with the industrial plants for what anhydrous ammonia they can scrounge.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

backyard stuff

the backyard season is moving along...the radishes are done and the turnips are just about finished...the winter wheat in the half barrels is done and ready to be harvested...i am a bit puzzled...i used bird tape on campus and the starlings savaged the crop...i just turned it loose here and...nothing...with all the habitat left in the half-cleared jungle you'd think it would be open season...but i get to thresh and winnow the whole crop instead...the hopi blue maize in the second photo isn't as tall as the engineered corn in farmer brown's field, but it is coming along...the snow peas are producing pods now that they've flowered and i have already harvested some for salads...the fourth photo is of the kohlrabi that's come up and will be done later this summer...the bottom photo is red nordland potatoes in the back with snow peas, turnips, sunflowers, and, perhaps, a stray squash...there ar e apple trees in there far so good...except for the brussels sprouts...and it's not just me...lots of complaints about the lack of those critters and some folks are having difficulties with sunflowers as one sage put it. "maybe it's just not a brussels sprouts year"...stuff like that happens...a passing "scattered thundershower" is giving my garden just a tease of rain right now ( after i have watered here and on campus )..a tease won't do it...for me or the industrial all day soaking rain is in order...maybe on the fourth. 6-16-2012 8:10 p.m. okay...the storms have organized themselves a bit and it looks ( on the national weather service web site radar )like we might get a bit of drought relief this evening...a bit before the fourth...and just about in time for farmer brown.