the iu northwest community garden presents another wintery prospect on the last day of the month...haven't been able to get out here for a couple of weeks and was pleased to find everything fine..significant drifts around the beds...two and three feet deep...there is no sign of the strawberry bed in the bottom photo but it's there...i think...the only green i saw was the winter wheat poking up through the snow...not dormant yet and probably won't be if it has held out through all this winter...about forty-three days until tesointe seeds go in...winter is flying by.
the pgp presents a somewhat less drifted appearance, probably because it is more exposed than the community garden...the gamagrass is confused no more having withdrawn all the chlorophyll until it begins to "green" in a couple of months...short downtime this year( i think )...as far as i could see all the seed ears on the northern tepehuan teosinte have shattered...i will be looking closely for seedlings in spring...i believe the intermediate wheat grass has about run its course...stands are viable for five or six years and this will be that one's fifth...i am thinking it's time to grow some spuds outside hawthorn hall again and with all the seed potatoes that should be available in spring this seems like an auspicious year...a diversity of varieties just for fun.
two days ago that central early blue potato plant barely cleared the six inch photographic scale...today it is at least eight inches tall...the robust growth goes on in the basement...all the early blue plants are thriving...deploying more leaves and i have begun to "hill" them...they won't be setting tubers for another sixty days or so but i mean to produce as many as these plants will allow...five yema de huevos are up and they are developing true leaves as well...there are more in other containers as well as the two ollalas i planted two days ago...they will be up soon...spud city down there and more on the way...looking forward to a bumper crop this coming outdoor season.
the ollala potatoes had begun to sprout shortly after the early blue did and i knew it was a matter of time before they began to shrivel as well...that time has elapsed and so there are two new tubers in pots under the basement lights...a may fruition hopefully..in time for a second spud planting after the april opener...early blue continue with their robust growth...the plant in the second photo was just short of four inches tall three days ago...over six now and still reaching for the lights...it will be time to raise the fixture soon...the leaves continue to grow as well and are deploying rapidly...this is all good stuff...along with the yema de huevos there are three varieties of potatoes in various stages of development...the narino roja were the very last potatoes i harvested in late september and i wonder if they will hold out another few months ...it is getting late in the winter season to be starting another generation...then again a late crop of spuds wouldn't hurt either...more is sure to come.
"some five thousand morphologically distinct varieties have been identified out of more than thirteen thousand accessions held by the international potato center. over one hundred varieties may be found in a single valley, and a dozen or more distinct varieties are kept by a typical farming household." stephen b. brush. "farmers' bounty"_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________my home weather station tells me it is a crisp seven degrees below zero ( fahrenheit ) outside my windows but it is a uniform sixty-four degrees in my basement ( again fahrenheit )with a relative humidity steady at about fifty-two percent ( forty-nine upstairs )...i am only harboring only four varieties down there...yema de huevos, early blue, ollala, and narino roja...along with five solanum acaule plants...but for those varieties the basement is a refugium and a nursery as well as a learning center...i have grown potates and other tubers ( the relentless jerusalem artichokes leap to mind )but really wouldn't have considered any sort of indoor production if it hadn't become a necessity driven by the tubers' refusal to wait another four months for spring...the yema de huevos up and running actually represent a second generation of indoor tubers...another first for me...and they have taught me the utility of spare watering in a damp and fungus friendly environment...the early blue are showing the determination of dna as they reach for the grow lights and begin to deploy serious leaves to utilize the light...their growth in three weeks or so has been impressive and they are weaving a root system just beneath the surface ( which i discovered accidentally while i was beginning to "hill" them ) that reminds me of the near surface roots that zea diploperennis spreads every season ( and i have to wonder, heavily mulched though they are, whether those sub tropical grasses will survive this harsh a northern winter...i am not sanguine...but still hopeful..if not they provided three great seasons in an alien climate )...i am pleased and pensive about outcomes all around...new territory for me and i am feeling my way...it is much easier to read a plant in the garden than in a bushel basket in artificial light...from watering schedules to photo-periods i am collecting data...the question is can i make any sense of it? we'll see soon enough...more as it develops.
there has been growth under the lights in the past twenty-four hours...all the early blue potatoes are up and running and seemingly thriving in the basement...good news ( i hope ) for the spring potato patches in the now four gardens i am working in...there will be more data this year from various locations, all in lake county...it will be interesting to see if there are measurable variations...if we can provide similar enough environments...it is cold and there is more snow...sub-zero temperatures on the way..forty-eight days until teosinte seeds go in...take that winter.
there are five yema de huevos up in a bushel basket ( one in the top photo ) and there are still more to plant...we will see what this particular type does in a second indoor generation...well, i hope...it will add a somewhat exotic flavor to the traditional spud crop...the wild potatoes are still growing at an agonizingly slow pace...they are small but continue to produce new growth...whether there will be tubers by spring is another kettle of fish...i am all hopes and no certainty on this one..still i have added three new plants to the population...i know they will germinate and i am not above transplanting...more as it develops.
all of the early blue tubers i planted twelve days ago are up and running and the stems have begun to develop leaves of shades of blue and green...eventually the blue will fade to a uniform solanum green and, if things go well, there will be flourishing plants with colorful blooms under the lights...about seventy days of plant growth before the roots start to set tubers...i planted the spuds fairly deep in the baskets leaving room to "hill" the potatoes as they grow to stimulate tuber growth...no potatoes will grow lower than the depth the parent tuber was planted so literally the only way to go is up...that puts us at nearly the first day of spring before the tubers start to set and another thirty days get us to about easter..still...potatoes should go in in april and even may isn't too late ( in fact the yukon golds will wait for may because they are a bit more cold sensitive )...there are five yema de huevos up down there too...a second indoor generation...those should be done by april as well so the potato storage project has morphed into the local seed potato production project..either way they are still in the basement...more as it develops.
plants may be dormant but the hawthorn tree is alive...cardinals and jays eating the berries and a host of others at the feeder and suet...the hawthorn in a natural gathering place and the bottom photo is part of the reason why...even daisy the garden cat, half-feral killer that she is won't go in that tree.
not a lot of plant life up and running out in the jungle today...the weather is uncooperative and another "polar vortex" is immanent...well...everything deserves a break now and then...the teosinte is still out of place in the snow and there are still unshattered seed ears which i will be harvesting...the wild cherry tree succumbed to old age some years ago but the trunk remains mostly because the woodpeckers find it inviting ( more on bird life in the post below )...the beds are quiet and the grandfatherly grape vine is asleep as well ( although i foresee a few posts on that particular plant and its elm tree habitat as spring unfolds into summer )winter has asserted itself again and as the snow falls it is difficult to imagine that mid-march and teosinte planting are only fifty-two days away...winter only seems long if you let it.
the attempt at germinating northern tepehuan teosinte seeds in peat pellets i initiated nineteen days ago is, i fear, an unvarnished failure...no sign of a sprout yet...so i have taken another tack in a second effort and reverted to an older technique derived from earlier forays into gardening...i picked out six teosinte seeds form the indoor plants and six seeds from last seasons store bought stock to act as a control ( and to see if they were still viable...i have a new batch of seeds bought for this year but if these are still workable it increases my chances of multiple ears in the autumn )...i soaked them , using separate containers, in a three percent solution of hydrogen peroxide again ( the photos of that facet of this, for reasons i will never understand, refused to upload...so ...no photo )...while they were soaking i labeled two baggies with appropriate information and then thoroughly moistened some unbleached, brown paper towels...i put the soaked seeds in the paper towel which i then put in the baggies...they are off to dark place and we wait to see what happens...if the store bought seeds germinate and the indoor ones don't then it is a sign the indoor project failed ( and last year's seeds are still viable )...if both germinate then the peat pellet technique was the culprit...and if none germinate i hope this year's seeds are good...more as it comes up.
some of the yema de huevos have sprouts an inch or so long so it was time to plant...i took the baskets procured a few weeks ago, layered the bottom with natural charcoal ( not kingsford briquets...it has to be "natural" charcoal...no chemical additives to help it burn ) to absorb excess moisture..put in a layer of compost on top of that ans then planted the tubers in regular potting soil...as they grow i will be hilling them with compost to feed the roots and stimulate tuber production...i installed a new broad spectrum bulb in a fixture and wheeled the cart under the light...there are more to plant so space will be at a premium under the lights...more on this as it progresses...ninety days would put harvest at april eighteenth...in plenty of time for outdoor spring planting...more on this a sit progresses.
only a couple of the yeme da huevos i planted on december twenty-eighth are up and running...the one in the top photo has greened up nicely...if the balance fail to crop up i have space for the rest...we'll see...tubers are tricky...four early blue are up and there look to be more as movement continues in those containers...once again the aim is april planting outdoors and a third generation of "government" potatoes that can be eaten as well as saved for seed...i am curious to sample a blue potato...things are progressing but only slowly...gardening teaches patience and coping with failures and disappointments as well...none of these hoped for results are written in stone...the plant room is at a steady temperature (64 degrees fahrenheit ) and at about fifty-seven percent humidity...i still worry about fungi...they attacked some of the first generation of yema de huevos and probably are still lurking...the watering schedule is the key...i went from once a week to every ten days...the plants put on on december twenty-eighth have been watered once...the moisture in the compost and potting soil is whats watering the early blues so far...that is showing signs of drying but not enough to warrant more water...did i say patience? add restraint to hat list too.
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.