the top four photos are purple valley, ollala, red pontiac, and all red potatoes grown from tubers i planted on the first of this month...they are well along and will be hardened off and planted in the gardens by, hopefully, the end of next month...if winter ever lets go...they are presenting some interesting technical problems brought on by the space limitations of my plant room...there is an entirely improvised response covered in the next post...the mashua is doing just fine and the leaf deployment is progressing...more slowly than i might wish perhaps...but part of gardening is learning patience...many lessons in microcosm...life.
there are twenty-nine potato plants up and running in various stages of maturity in the plant room...it is somewhat crowded...the tubers i planted at the beginning of this month are thriving and rooting robustly...so much so that their roots are growing out of the bottoms of the pots ( top photo )...i have no room left for larger pots under the lights...expansion is not an option...so, in what can only be termed true rube goldberg fashion i simply filled another 5" peat pot with a mixture of potting soil and seed starting mix and put one pot into another...more room for root growth until they can be hardened off and planted outside...the craigs snowwhite ( fourth photo ) should have begun setting tubers last month and it looks as if its season is drawing to a close...we'll look into tuber production after the die back is complete ( yes that is nietzsche )...the potato seedlings are still doing well although i am not entirely sure where this will lead...all but the one in the bottom picture have rather a vineish appearance...transplanting them outdoors and producing tubers seems a bit of wishful thinking...still, we aren't done yet.
some of the diversity in the appearance of the potato seedlings is beginning to disappear as they progress...it hasn't vanished though...the plants in the first three photos are fairly close in looks but the fourth photo shows there is still a fair amount of difference...the plant in the fifth photo most resembles a domesticated potato in my experience..the others are more "viney" are really more closely resemble the wild potatoes i grew last winter down to the new "vines" that are sprouting form a number of the plants like the one in the last photo...i have some doubts about any of these plants ever setting tubers..but given that it's three degrees fahrenheit outside and they are in a thoroughly unnatural environment they're doing fine.
the spuds growing from tubers down there are showing their own brand of diversity in leaf and stem structures... the first four photos from the top down are red pontiac, purple valley, early blue, and ollala each with different characteristics ( some of which is doubtlessly due to their different places on the timeline to maturity...but some stem from the fact that they are four different varieties as well )...some, like the craigs snowwhite, will be finished soon...others will run into april...still looking forward to a fair harvest of seed tuber for the gardens come spring...the bottom two photos are of the mashua plant that has sprung up...it is in the process of deploying leaves...as soon as those are out the nasturtium family traits will become obvious...more as that comes along.
it was 9 degrees fahrenheit and snowing when i woke up this morning so it seemed an auspicious day to begin the process of starting tomatoes for spring..my friend fern sent me a bunch of heirloom tomato seeds...among others ( thanks fern!! ) so i picked out the envelope of big rainbow tomato seeds ( because i liked the name...nothing researched or scientific about the choice )..i went downstairs and soaked some seed starting mix in water...added some vermiculite ( second and third photos ) mixed it and put it in peat pots...planted the seeds...and brought them upstairs into more natural light and a somewhat warmer climate to see what comes up...there are five more varieties of seed fern sent along so this isn't the last start by a long chalk...more if and when it comes up.
last november i harvested a couple of mashua tuber from plants i had planted in spring of 2014...i stored them in a paper bag until early january when they began to shrivel...in hope of salvaging them i planted them before they became dessicated and this evening i found that one of the nasturtium family plants had sprung to life...thoroughly watered ( mashua is a thirsty plant )i put the andean tuber in a place better situated under the lights...i have more tubers ordered but it is always a treat to establish a second generation ( for me, anyway )...geeked is a good adjective to apply here...these plants will be going solo in containers this coming season...more as they come along.
things in the plant room were getting complex enough with chitting tubers and finding room for new plant sunder the lights but things have taken yet another odd turn down there...while i was doing routine maintenance this morning i noticed new shoots in a couple of the pots but did not have time to investigate...i had a closer look this evening and it is odd...the potting soil i am using is allegedly sterile but i have some doubt...that shoot coming in with the potato plant in the first two photos looks remarkably like some sort of grass...it assuredly does not resemble the two leaves the potato seedlings deployed as they germinated...so am i dropping seeds around? i don't think so...so is the potting soil corrupted...i am inclined to that simply because this doesn't look like teosinte and it isn't the only intruder...on the back side of the table there's another stranger among the spuds...and it doesn't look like a potato seedling either...compare them with the fifth photo which is of an eleven day old potato seedling..the putative grass is completely alien to it and the intruder in the second pot has no epidermal hairs so prevalent in the potato seedling...so...what are they? let them grow for now and hope for some identification is the plan...for now...if the interfere with the spuds, out the go...more as this develops.
the potatoes from potato seed are coming along...the tallest have reached around four inches but they are still a diverse group...the plant in the fourth photo is far shorter than some of the others but has developed five leaves ( most of these plants have an odd number of leaves...but not all )...the bottom two are panoramas of what's going on under the lights...so far so good at thirty days in...more as they do whatever it is they are going to do.
the seed potato project still has thirty-one plants up and running and two more are developing flower buds...these are ollalas both in the same container so we may be able to help them along to fruit if the manage to blossom...who knows if the basement will actually provide conditions favorable to that? i do not...all i can do is watch and wait...the chitting spuds that i have planted this moth will go into the ground in april since they will not be done in time to help with seed potatoes for the gardens...in watching them develop i notice that the roots are radiating out from just under the sprout and on the top of the planted tuber...that explains why they wont set tubers below the depth they are planted at...the roots are developing at the top of the planting depth, not the bottom...also explains why "hilling" stimulates more tuber production since it allows more space for the shallow root system to develop...i'm learning...part of why i'm here...there are philosophical and political issues in play as well but i have covered them elsewhere in this blog...and the potatoes don't care.
it has been five or six months since most of the unplanted potato tubers in the basement have been harvested and, naturally, many of them have begun to sprout some interesting structures in anticipation of being planted...which leaves me in a bit of a quandary...if i plant them now they will be done in early june...which means they will need to be planted outdoors in april...an odd middle ground since they won't be finished in time to provide seed potatoes for the community garden as well as needing to be planted well before the offcial planting day...not exactly the idea behind a basement seed potato project...yet if they aren't planted well before planting day they will not survive..they may end up in my yard sometime in early april...all but the fourth photo are of ollala potatoes...that photo is of a purple valley...they are beginning to look impatient...the time to act ewll be soon.
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.