Tuesday, September 30, 2014

more ears

new silks continue to emerge and ears continue in irruption out back...the series of photos from top to bottom show different views of the ears' morphology from those still inside the stem ( top ) to the fully emerged ear with a seed just visible at the bottom of the ear...i count a total of nine ears this evening and, with the tillers on the large plant all flowering, i am hoping for more before the weather shuts the plants down...if there is time this weekend i will be beginning to test the viability of the teosinte seed i have to determine which to attempt to use in "naturalizing' seed this autumn and in an early spring planting...if any germinate there will be growth under the lights as well with the possibility ( although i won't hold my breath on this one...teosinte and indoors seem mutually exclusive to one another...this is not your mother's houseplant ) of a ( carefully ) managed indoor season...the aim is to produce more ears and some potted plants outdoors that can be "finished" indoors next autumn...we'll see what comes up.

yema de huevos

the only remaining yema de huevo potato plant outside in containers has died back and there was enough of a harvest that there will be another generation under the lights....these tubes do not have a dormant period, unlike the ollala and early blue i have in containers until the begin chitting...they will begin to sprout very soon and the will be planted far earlier than the others. probably beginning their growth outside before frost...that generation will be done early next year and there will be yet another planting downstairs before spring and outdoor growth again...they just refuse to stand still.

Monday, September 29, 2014

slowing a bit ( but not stopping )...

a few of the beds have robust stands of clover ( top photo ) already adding nitrogen to the soil so adding in another green manure like alfalfa would make little sense...so, after we pulled out the corn stalks and any pole beans that had died back we broadcast in some winter rye ( second photo ) to act a s a reservoir for the excess nitrogen...they will be up and running soon...the jerusalem artichokes are slowly dying back ( third photo ) but still setting tubers..we could harvest but i am inclined to wait until the plants die back completely...then we can harvest and replant some tubers...on the north side of the bed this time around...the bean wall is still blooming and producing ( fourth photo ) jimbo lane took some home saturday and parker took a few this evening...they will go on until the first killing frost...finally ellen's flowers are still blooming as well...the season is progressing like they always do...more later.

...and gearing up

some of the alfalfa in what was the three sisters' bed are developing their first true leaf nine days after planting ( top photo )...the winter rye we mixed in with it ( second photo ) is doing well too and we will add a bit more after the alfalfa is well established...the winter rye parker planted on the twentieth ( third photo ) is coming up and will be tillering and filling in soon...speaking of parker, there she is in the latest in a series of shameless selfies...she was more interested in photographing clouds so the gardener may have to find another way to recognize her help.

backyard teosinte

today's big ( for me anyway ) teosinte news is that the biggest plant ( top photo ) is irrupting in silks ( second photo ) so my population of ears is increasing...one of the smaller plants across the yard has two ears that have emerged from the stems ( bottom two photos )...i can feel the seeds in there and they should become visible soon as the husk thins...todays bad teosinte news i that native seed search is completely sold out of annual teosinte seed and there isn't much hope that the outdoor season will be long enough to allow these seeds to become viable...i do have a quantity of seed left over from fall 2012 and 2013 which will see me through another season, depending on how viable the seed is...i will be "naturalizing' some, planting some this coming march, and starting some indoors...first thing to do is to do a viability test with a hydrogen peroxide/paper towel germination...if they take, early plants under the lights...okay off to the community garden..more on that later.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

alfalfa and teosinte

every alfalfa plant ( top photo ) i looked at had two true leaves this morning..so twenty-one days in we are moving along nicely towards plants that can overwinter...this is good news for the community garden as well...the bottom four photos are of teosinte silks and the ears they are attached to...i count five ears now..all on the smaller mature plants...there's a bit more on that in the next post...five ears is far better than no ears, but it is along way from last year's bonanza of production by the "wild an weedy" ancestor...i am looking for seed...i have seed left from last year that should still be viable and there is even more left from the massive amount i purchased in 2012...that seed's viability is a question for me...although buffalobird woman does say that her people set aside a store of seed to ensure two consecutive planting in case one year's crop should fail...if the domesticate can retain viability for two years, why not the ancestor? we may be forced to find out if native seed search is having issues.

just teosinte

the top two photos are of the newest silks i have discovered and the barely discernible ear they are attached to...still hoping for more but my expectations are being muted by the lateness of the date..the third photo is of the largest northern tepehuam teosinte plant in the yard...pushing eight feet tall, it is developing a fourth flower ( fourth photo, fittingly )...it is a second generation plant that i started in the basement after i soaked seed from potted plants that i "finished" in the basement last autumn in hydrogen peroxide and started under the grow lights...i transplanted it to the yard last spring and it has done well and i am geeked to have accomplished this in the great lakes region, so far from teosinte's mexican homeland...the bottom photo is of a couple of tiers of support roots on that plant...maize comes by its support roots honest but its ancestor produces far more of them...row upon row if ti's a good season...just a bit of zea morphology that always grabs my attention no matter how many times i see it

Saturday, September 27, 2014

autumn cover crop progress

the winter rye parker planted a week ago ( top two photos )is up and running so another bed is on the way to being situated for winter...on the other end of the row of beds a mix of alfalfa, winter rye, and new zealand white clover is coming in in what was the three sisters' bed...and in the middle several beds have lush stands of clover...so we are more than half way to having the garden winterized and preparing itself for spring...three more beds to go plus the areas that are still supporting producing plants like tomatoes and peppers...mid october should find us with a fully winterized garden and some time to reflect on what to plant and nurture next spring...there are ideas bouncing around and some meetings planed...more will become known as decisions are made...stay tuned.


as it stands now the arborvitae that the alpha kappa alpha sorority donated to0 the community garden is taller than anyone who helped plant it...we have kept it well watered and been as solicitous as we could be and it seems content in its new home...thanks again for the gift.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

rethinking cover crops

the new zealand white clover continues to bloom ( top photo ), and while i have come to the conclusion that it is unsuitable as a perennial green manure because of the room it takes up ( second photo ) i cannot find it in me to take out plants that are thriving and will winter over, serving as both green manure and a cover crop...so whichever beds they they inhabit are, in my mind, already prepared for winter...we will simply turn them under like any green manure a few weeks before planting...our workload just lightened a bit...there are peppers coming to fruition in the garden today ( third photo )...one presumes they won't last long...someone is bound to notice...the alfalfa ( fourth photo ) that parker and i planted saturday and which had germinated by tuesday is in leaf today...no true leaves yet but they are not far off...after they are well established we will add in a small amount of winter rye to help bind the soil and act as a reservoir...there is still enough time to take care of all that...i finally dragged something out of the truck to give some contrasting background to the asparagus plant's second spear...it is about a foot tall and nicely "ferned" to feed the roots...it is in the bed populated by dense new zealand white clover...mulching will be somewhat complicated...it will also be accomplished...more as the season winds down.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

twenty-four hours in

silks tell me that there are two nascent teosinte ears out in my back yard...my hope is for more but i will take any i get and be pleased to have them...i don't have any plants in pots this year so there will be no "finishing" in the basement...i do plan to plant seeds in pots outdoors and let them winter over as well as start seed in march...space is at a premium at the moment so there will be a lot of containerized teosinte in 2015 as well as some conventional in-ground plants dotted around the yard...some may go into the bed the alfalfa is gearing up to fix nitrogen in...the periphery of this bed has seen some good results in the past...virtually every plant in that small host of alfalfa plants has developed a true leaf...two more and we should be home free as far as wintering over goes...and we have an alfalfa yardstick to measure our progress in the community garden...more on this as it turns up.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

first day of autumn 2014

i went out to the garden after work today with the specific aim of watering the alfalfa and winter rye seeds parker and i had sown on staurday and my reasoning was sound..the alfalfa in my back yard had germinated quickly and has developed its first true leaf after only twelve days so i thought there might be movement in the garden and i was not disappointed...alfalfa is up in all three beds we sowed ( top three photos )and since it hasn't rained in any amount i am aware of since last weekend i thought they might need a bit of moisture...they seemed relieved at the prospect and displayed some green for the camera...there is a dearth of rain forecast for the end of this month so i am assuming i will be out there with watering wand in hand at least every other day until there is some rain...i aim to keep them moving so we don't lose the work...i can never seem to find an angle that highlights the progress the asparagus has made in the garden ( fourth photo )...i will have to remember to take along something to provide contrast...for now this is as good as it gets...green everywhere you look out there.

clover and two different kinds of pods

the new zealnd white clover is coming into bloom in more places around the beds ( top three photos )...which , at least technically, holds out the promise of seed...if the weather holds...i have expressed some doubts about the suitability of this perennial nitrogen setting legume for use in four by eight foot beds because of the size it has attained...in a more open space of wider rows i could see its usefulness as a perpetual green manure...but, like the cow peas i was using in the pgp, it is taking up too much space and i think a different approach is in order...the only remaining unharmed ear of maize is...you guessed it...pod corn ( bottom photo )...and a bean has turned to a seed pod on the vine that chose the maize as a trellis..coincidence or some sort of affinity? coincidence probably plays a greater role in human events than our meaning seeking species will allow ( let me plug the book "cosmos" by witold gombrowicz here )...but planned or not, there they are.