Sunday, August 31, 2014

the garden is emptying

a trip out to campus on a holiday weekend shows me that there has been quite a bit of harvesting out in the garden ( and that's not an's what we want...the produce put to use out in the community...this is good news folks )...the cabbage ( first photo ) is all gone and the collards in the biology club bed ( second photo ) are pretty well picked over ( and out of the bed ) ...the cherry tomato plants are picked clean ( third photo ) and the bean/cucumber wall ( bottom photo ) is, for the first time i can recall, bereft of pods and cukes...there are still spuds out there nad there is still the jerusalem artichoke harvest to come 9 i was digging around a bit in that bed and it looks like the harvest will not disappoint...hope everyone turns out to like them ) there has been interest in the garden this season out in the community at large ( shannon has certainly expressed interest in working a bed next season as have a few others...still waiting on follow-up from a few other people )...the new site has created some interest and has obviously attracted harvesters...with some work we may be able to solidify a larger community in = garden longevity.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

the last potato harvest of 2014 ( for my yard anyway )

the yukon gold plant in the container was finished for the season so i popped the tubers out of the pot and took them in to clean up ( top two photos )...the volunteer russet has gone they way of the dodo as well so i took the spading fork to it and brought those in too ( third photo )...a small haul..not quite half a pound..but, as usual, the garden has another surprise ( actually a couple )...that fist one is recounted in the next post

plant/replant perennials ( and an exception )

when i dug up the russet potato plant that was a volunteer from last season i discovered it had volunteered again ( top photo ) so i cleaned out a container, drilled more drainage holes ( second photo )...tossed in some fresh soil and compost and planted it for the winter seed potato project ( third and fourth photos ) parker likes russets so we can get a fair amount of seed for her to plant in the community garden next spring...while i was out there i noticed the yema de huevos plant i put out to grow this summer was nowhere near dying back and had, in fact, produced three new plants...obviously the first plant had set tubers but why were they sprouting at the end of the season...well...i learn stuff every day in the garden ( universe in microcosm )and today is no exception...turns out that yema de huevos ( which are a direct ancestor of yukon golds....just saying ) are classified as solanum tuberosum group phureja...why? because they produce tubers that do not go dormant...they would not winter over outside and come up next spring because as soon as the tubers reach a critical size they sprout...this would explain why they were already well sprouted when the potato introduction station package containing them arrived at my door and why they refused to stop sprouting after last fall's harvest...they are grown in temperate regions o0f the andean climate gradient where year-round cultivation is possible...i am smarter today because i went out in the yard...imagine that.

vestigial II

everything i have read tells me that jerusalem artichoke seeds have a very low order of viability...i have faced that before, specifically with eastern gamagrass which also is a pain to seed tubers are the preferred and more reliable form of sunchoke propagation ( no kidding! plant a dozen and in a few years they take over if you let me on have to keep after the little devils )...i am stubborn however so i filled a couple of peat pots with compost ( top photo ) and i went out to the larger of the back yard stands to look for mature seed heads ( second photo ) i pulled off a dozen ( third photo ) and split the seeds between the two pots and watered we wait to see what happens...more if it comes up.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

just about the last of the back yard spuds

with the exception of a volunteer russet that sprang up in last year's potato patch and hasn't quite finished yet and two plants in containers, the 2014 potato crop is pretty much in...these ollalas and red pontiacs were out in the outer reaches and got as much shade as sun ( you can tell by the small size of most of them )...but they were done and so i dug...a bout two pounds worth which takes the harvest total to the vicinity of twenty-four pounds...not too shabby for a suburban yard with a plethora of trees...i see a lot of drops ( and some solanine ) in this batch...especially among the ollalas which will allow me to expand my planned propagation this, broader spectrum bulbs have arrived and i do believe a couple of fixtures will be next on the list of hardware...i have planted some spuds for this project already but i think i will be storing these away in an indirectly lit, cool basement until they start chitting and then go for a planting...we can do some harvest comparisons as they come in over the winter and we head into spring...gardening is an all weather, year round sport...more as these things come up.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

the maize of late august

the apache red in the top photo is beginning to "red" ( like hopi blue "blues" ) which i discovered when i found a critter gnawed plant down the bed i spotted another one i though the squirrels had been at...but no! the husk of a stunted and malformed ear had split open to reveal an ear about as done as it was going to get...a pineaplley sort of affair with kernels only on one side but, perhaps, the only mature ear that we will harvest this is safely residing on my desk at the moment and on close examination it resembles popcorn more than a flint corn...could it be that the dakota black crossed with the apache red? could be...corn is wind pollinated and they were in fairly close proximity...i will be letting the little one dry for now...all community members have visitation rights...let me know when you're up for it...the bottom photo is of a pod corn ear coming along well...will the critters assault it? don't know...plan to find out.

thirty two days

a month ago the jerusalem artichokes were in full bloom and looking every bit the member of the sunflower family they the blooms are gone and the vigor of a month ago is fading as the plants' energy is absorbed in setting tubers..fall impinges ( top photo in each pair is from july twenty-sixth...the bottom photo is from today )...the cucumber/bean wall looks fundamentally the same...but the cucumbers are weary and the geraniums on the right hand side of the box aren't feeling so hot either...there are still lots of beans to harvest in there and the vines continue to bloom...and that will continue for some time yet...but the overall picture is one of increasing fatigue...i see fall green manures and cover crops sooner than later.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


i have been dead heading the jerusalem artichoke blooms in the community garden that have shed their petals because they can look a bit scraggly when they die back and we want to keep up back yard is not the university ( phew! ) so i have kept the dead heads around to have a look at what jerusalem artichoke seeds look like...the flowers in my stands are in various stages of the cycle ( top two photos ) and some are more mature than others...i pulled the heads off a couple that seemed ready to shatter ( third photo ) and took them inside to separate the seed from the chaff...sunchokes are members of the sunflower family but their seeds are nowhere near as big ( bottom photo )...when i plant jerusalem artichokes this coming autumn i will be planting tubers not seeds...i wonder if the seeds are vestigial of if you can propagate plants from them...are they true seed or vestiges of a predomesticate? you can grow wild potatoes from seeds but i have never ( yet ) encountered seeds form a potato bloom ( there are still potatoes blooming in a few gardens...perhaps it is time for a closer look )...i see yet another winter project coming into focus as i try to germinate and grow jerusalem artichokes from seed...i'm sitting out a semester ( i have been called classless before and will, no doubt , be called that again ) so i have some time to do some research along with pursuing my reading list ( i said i wasn't in school, not that i wasn't learning )...i have ordered broader spectrum bulbs for my basement light fixtures...i have new pots and the floor has been swept..i hear tell this coming winter is to be pretty much a replay of last year's cold and snow...i need something to keep me busy.


the ample summer rains do not seem to have had a negative impact on the grapes ( although it looks as if it may be a somewhat lighter harvest this year...but that is only judging by eyeballing the tree...we will have to wait until harvest for an official weight ) and the hard little green grapes have begun to soften and turn purple out here in the cascade...i am thinking in about a month i will be snaking a ten foot ladder into the brush under the tree and climbing to harvest as much as i can reach..harvest is matter what the subject.


recent rains have been fairly heavy ( with a total of 11.22 inches of rain in august...well above normal ) and some plants have fared better than others...the maize in the community garden laid down in a storm earlier this season without serious impact...i simply hilled it back upright and away it is genetically akin to teosinte which lays down all the time without sustaining any real damage..the pod corn in the top photo is also part of the zea family , and while it has been knocked down by the rains it is still fully functional and flowering with the intent of producing ears ( second photo )...there is water standing everywhere, including in the pots with extra drainage holes drilled in them ( bottom photo )...the ground is saturated and more rain is this anomalous or a new norm?

Sunday, August 24, 2014

a bit of zea morphology

the top photo is of a maize plant's emerging flower that i took on july tenth...the next two are northern tepehuan teosinte plants beginning to flower in my back yard ( and which have me geeked at the prospect of producing seed ears again this year...the second photo is of a flower on a teosinte plant grown from seed my plants produced last year...the only one to survive and prosper out of a batch of about a dozen that germinated...i'm geeked even if it doesn't produce...more so if it does )...the bottom photo is of an emergent pod corn flower on the south side of my house...the appearance of these will all change and the ones that closely resemble one another now may not end up so well matched...there will be more posts as the pod corn and teosinte mature...i already have multiple photos of maize flowers to act as a comparison with the other two zea varieties...they are all cousins...with all the similarities and differences cousins can evince...i'm up for a look.

autumn creeps into the garden...

there are still cucumbers coming along ( top photo 0 but they are developing among leaves that have died back...and the leaves on the cucumber plants themselves are looking rather tired ( second photo )...while the bean wall is dong okay ( see the next post )some individual vines have gone by the wayside...whether this is due to natural life cycle or squirrel damage is open to discussion...the lover leaves on the maize plants have been turning yellow and dying back for a few weeks now( in fact that is what the cucumber in the top photo is lying in )...not sure if we are going to leave them as a fall decoration or remove them to make way for fall planting...time for a palaver...

...but the season isn't over

there are peas up and running...and while the cucumbers are scaling back, the beans, which have dominated the wall from the start, are still producing like mad...cherry tomatoes continue to ripen in a few spots in the garden and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future...and there is still maize in the garden trying valiantly to produce whole ears...dna is tenacious stuff even when the reproductive function of a plant has been thoroughly hijacked by humans..there are still fall green manures to plant and there is fall planting to do ( garlic and jerusalem artichokes to name two )...lots going on yet...rally the season is year just slows a lot in winter.