I've read that Echinacea augustofolia needs many cold days and nights in order to germinate. Just putting them in the freezer won't do as they also need sunlight. Finding a bed where they will stay moist, cold and in the sun without being floated off in a storm or carried off by a bird or mouse is an interesting puzzle.
So, can you let me know, if you know, what we might have here? The top three photos seem to be the likeliest candidates. Your comments are appreciated.
Number Four doesn't have the central leaf distribution that the guidebook says echinacea should have, but still, do you know what it is?
There were several of these Number Fives, distributed as if they were meant to be there. I feel a sense of familiarity about them, but I still can't recall what type of plant they are. Do you know?
Alfalfa Experiment Number One was initially an attempt to grow new alfalfa seeds for making sprouts. The seed source was 15 year (more or less) old seed which was not working out well in the kitchen sprout department. Much of it germinated, but would rot before too long. It smelled rotten, you don't need to know more about that.
The gardener's experimenting spirit, which needs to be reigned in this year, thought that the plants might grow well in an alternate environment, like soil. There were a few unplanted patches in the garden which were immediately sprinkled with alfalfa seed. The plants came up and grew out quickly. So far I don't recall any flowers, much less seeds. (If they had flowers and seed heads, then I'd have to figure out how to harvest and process them.)
Since then, a couple of local gardeners have told me they had difficulty getting alfalfa to start up on their land. It's been going great guns here. This is a little close up of dense and happy alfalfa in my garden.
The gardener really does need to do more research BEFORE spontaneous action, and perhaps, someday she'll learn how, or at least might stop to think first. (Do you really believe that? Not sure that I do.)
Here's what the gardener knows now about alfalfa that she didn't last year:
1. Alfalfa spreads, real slowly, but very fully. Subtly it sneaks over the lines and looks as if its always been there, so bright and healthy that it makes one feel good just to gaze into its greenness.
2. Blister Beetles LOVE alfalfa. What's a blister beetle? You don't know? See, there's often a blessing which is yours of which you are not yet aware. This is excellent example for those in the "Count Your Blessings" School of Gardening. The Gardener didn't know about them until deep into the first Summer of Ozark gardening. A garden friend was visiting. He was new to the Organic Philosophy and had always used something like "Seven", so he'd never noticed the critter before. I innocently asked him what that new bug was. He didn't know, so I let it be. I saw it first on the potato leaves. Then there were more bugs. Many more, and then hardly any potato leaves. The bugs marched on to the tomatoes, the chard, and at last, to the place I couldn't get them out of, you guessed it - the Alfalfa.
There is no native Earth animal which preys upon the Blister Beetle (aka Potato Bug) and nothing likes to eat it either. Sadly, they are very poisonous to horses, which otherwise find alfalfa hay very tasty and good for them. I don't know how one can make alfalfa hay which does NOT contain the little critters. Well, not in my pasture land turned weed fields and garden. (This paragraph contains a clue to what may become Alfalfa Experiment #2. Stay tuned to find out.)
3. Yes, alfalfa roots do grow very deep. That was sort of clear to me before. Its part of what makes alfalfa a good crop to break through clay soil and bring deep minerals to the surface. Well, the minerals come into the plant, the plant goes into the compost or back into the top soil as green manure.
So how does one get rid of the alfalfa? Dig deeply. Oh. More shovel exercise.
Why would one want to get rid of the alfalfa? Oh, perhaps the land is needed. Perhaps it has grown beyond the space allotted to it, and the onions really do have to get planted.
This Spring the alfalfa is happily expanding beyond where it was planted. Below is the area which will be needed for the walkway beside this year's onion bed. It would be very hard to do a good shovel job removing it after the onions have been planted there, so its one more job that must be done while the onions languish in their temporary bed in the greenhouse. They could have been in the soil weeks ago, but that the gardener ... (Pick any excuse you like ... was writing blogs instead of gardening? Who knows?)
Dig those roots. Dig that soil.
Now that's a blessing I've been counting, with gratitude every single day.
(Most Ozark soil is just rocks and pebbles, this however, is a miracle.)
I would have liked, for soil development purposes, to leave the roots in the soil, allowing them to dispense their good nitrogen and feed the worms, etc.. However, I am aware that just cutting it at the stem would encourage it to grow back. Yes, it can be harvested like hay for many uses. But in this small space, I don't want to do that.
Now, what to do with all these uprooted plants? I do have an idea which might be Experiment #2. Perhaps you can tell me something helpful about this idea before I go to all the effort.
I gave away a huge bucketful of the roots and tops to our helper (who hadn't been able to start his own) to transplant in his garden. If that works for him, it will give me a hint if idea #2 will work.
Imagine that strong tap root placed into a gravel-like soil that has weed quality cactus growing on it. Would the alfalfa spread,taking over the light source and overpowering the root room of the cactus and kill it? Wouldn't that be cool?
Imagine this area of cactus and no garden plants attracting all the neighborhood blister beetles away from the garden! Wouldn't that be super cool?
Do you think it might work? Digging little holes to plant these roots in would be a big job. Oh, I still have some of those seeds left. Perhaps I could just plant the stuff out there instead of trying to transplant it! What a great idea!
If I hadn't been sharing this subject with you, that idea might not have come. Thanks so much for listening and sharing that idea with me, bending space and time to bring it to my consciousness. This insight shows me that there is a reason for writing and posting this garden journal. I have been wondering.
There are two other plots of alfalfa going strong inside the garden fence. The one by the onion patch is all removed. One of the others looks like this. It will be good fodder for the compost, or perhaps food for the chickens which the gardener might bring in to eat up the grasshoppers. But that's another story.
Thanks for visiting and sharing.
May all your experiments be Joyful!
A First Harvest of Bok Choy and Chinese Cabbage was caused by the unexpected bloom of the Bok Choy. At least, I believe that it is Bok Choy. Perhaps it is one of the smaller versions of Oriental Greens which one might expect to reach maturity so early in the season.
Soon to be sauteed greens, (with millet, garlic and tofu). Yum.
Also in the basket are parsley, oregano, onion leaves, chinese cabbage and chard. All these plants are waiting to get into the garden. These lucky volunteers are going straight into the kitchen.
In the greenhouse, the bok choy (AKA ?) was living in good soil in a two and half inch pot, along with its fellows, awaiting a seemingly good time to enter the outside garden. I thought they'd wait until after the freeze and at a time when I'd have the energy and tools to put up row covers as the first fabric bug screen of my life in the buggy Ozarks.
Here's a good reason (from last year) why I know that protection is necessary:
June 10. 2008 in the upper garden. Catepillars also are rampant, but invisible in this photo.
Do you have an idea what that Oriental Green might be? I have been unfair to those developing plants. Couldn't find a single closeup photo to show, whereas the lettuce has many. Thanks for sharing your ideas.
Home Made Seed Propagation Heater Experiment #1
On one of my over-packed seed starter trays, the tomatoes, even the older seeds (from 1999!) were opening and extending into the light. But the rest of the nightshades, peppers and eggplants had not moved a bit of starter mix. Memory recalled that heat is a factor in starting these delicate things. I know one can get a professional store-bought heat source. But then I have something to store for 11 months of the year. I'd rather figure something else out.
Research on-line found some good ideas. The following site has excellent data on the temperature that seeds like to wake up into: http://tomclothier.hort.net/
This next page gives some great ways to make one - if you want to have equipment to store for 11 months of the year: http://www.gardengrapevine.com/BottomHeater.html
All the information on the RIGHT way to do it, and why is here: http://davesgarden.com/guides/articles/view/556/
However, I'd like to do it now, today, without driving in to town, reconstructing something or waiting while it is delivered to the back woods from the internet distribution center. So, let's experiment!
In the RIGHT way they indicated that a heating pad wouldn't work because it can't get wet. Well, why not remove the tray to water it and dry the sides after watering?
Gather the ingredients first
Low flat heat is needed. Heating Pad! We have one with a digital control that goes off in 2 hours, and one with a dial which lasts as long as you put it there. That's the one.
Safe surface on which to place the heat - a rectangular roasting pan. Cheap metal, but its better than burning a wooden window sill.
Possible need to have air circulation to modulate temperature - a rack with tiny feet that came with the toaster oven.
The clear plastic canopy to hold in the heat.
Ready to Experiment!
Many different ways to try.
First with the heating pad directly under the flat, that was too hot!
Then, with the rack on top of the heating pad and the flat on that, hmm, seems to be just right! The soil is a bit not-cool to the touch and the tomato starts on the other side are getting no heat as the pad isn't as long as the flat.
We'll see if there's any green results from the seeds.
Here's how it looks:
And the rack which holds the flat away from the heating pad is show below:
On the inside, the tomatoes are all to one side, where the heat is not.
We'll see how it goes!
Please let me know if you have any thoughts, helpful ideas or suggestions!
(The shadow says that the gardener ate too much cheese and pasta this Winter.) Oh no, its just the late afternoon angle of the sun.
Below is the little rabbit sheltering under the steps, as seen through the green house window.
After my greenhouse chores, bringing fresh lettuce upstairs, I dropped some (literally) off for the bunny. When I got too close, he flinched, like a previously abused dog might from an unwanted advance. I didn't want to chase the bunny back out into the cold. But I wondered why not hole up in the shed (it has many open doors) and might be better shelter than where he was. Perhaps a less peaceful animal is making the shed their temporary headquarters? I'm not going in to check - at least not until this snow melts off, which may be a couple of days.
More Snow on a "Weed Stalk"
Do you know what this bug is?
Rather large, about 1 inch long (bigger?) It appeared trapped in the bottom of a pail in the greenhouse.
That's it for now. Exciting review/comparison of two fine-spray watering cans coming soon!
May all your plants grow ever more joyful!
The greenhouse spinach was cut down to the bone to remove aphids (aphids again!) I’m wanting to be in the kitchen preparing spinach and eggs, yum. But I’m glued to the screen of my computer, working on communications to people I’ve met on a gardener blog community. I’ve spoken to many people in the past who are devoured by “social networking” on the web. But this great place, www.blotanicals.com is more than social, it ties in to my strong focus on growing food.
See, the title indicates I’m going to tell you about the new sprouts that came up in the last two days and the cool tools that came by UPS, but no, I’m getting right to the blotanical focus, so just to proove I can, I’m signing off Blotanical and going to the kitchen, n o w.
Global Growing Inspiration and Information in a friendly sharing web environment is a reality in a network of garden bloggers called Blotanical.com
Its such a delight to connect with gardeners who love to grow from myriad perspectives, flowers, food, native biospheres and suburbs. All supporting and communing and reading each others’ blogs.
An example of how much I am enjoying this creative web family is what happened when I returned home from a long day trip to the nearest city. I left garden and greenhouse supplies in the car and brought inside the edible delights. In the hallway was a big box containing long awaited garden tools. The box label read “Haws.” Wow, my watering can and garden knife. And for the last 3 hours, the box is unopened!
I went right away to the computer, opened my mail. I was faved! (That means a reader on Blotanical wants to continue reading my posts. I feel very honored and excited.) Soon I was deeply involved with editing and publishing today’s blog. Then I remembered that there was an excellent snack which I’d brought from town. Blotanical is so delightful I forget to eat my goodies, that’s quite amazing.
All gardening friends are invited to check it out. Its a safe, well-lit place for the plant oriented people. Welcome!