Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Blue Mayhem Project: #AE

Quick reminder to my readers:
Edition #AD was completed and updated.
Feel free to start there first!

 Journal Entries

December 1
02:00 AM
: I admit it has been a while since i have written last; but very little has changed.

Frosted Mouse Ears
  • Plant A: is holding is leaves apart.  No sign of new growth
  • Plant B: sent out leaf #6 and then seemed to stop growing,

  • Plant A: Coloration hinting at white.   Open as far as it can, and flat.
  • Plant B: Leaf has distinct feathering for color,  it seems to be trying to produce light corrugation on its surface.  Leaf is bent but still healthy.  Would have expected this in some later year.
    • Both plants are leaning over planters edge.  No new growth as of yet.

  • No new growth,  Leaves have faded, but still firmly attached to rhizomes.

06:00 PM:  This evening I set up the test for the plate and napkin method of seed germinating (see below) to see how long it takes for a paper napkin to dry out.  A silly process but the timing needs to be understood.

December 3
11:00 AM
: Heat in bedroom increased just a little for personal comfort, this will help the plants too.  I have ordered the growing tray for the GroDan® cubes, and have researched their use just a little more to feel comfortable using them.   I may need to experiment further as GroDan® cubes can be used well into potting stage.

The napkin/plate test was started on Monday night. Water is being retained very well at this point.  My only concern about that is mold and mildew issues.

Liberty: Plant B's leaf seems to be straightening up just little, and it also looks a little bit wider!.   Other plants look much the same.

December 6
09:00 AM
: Have to accept the fact that Frosted Mouse Ears: Plant B is about to loose 3  leaves which will leave it with 2 remaining.

The GroDan® growing tray has arrived.  Will be ordering the LED lights by the 15th.  Eagerly waiting to sow the seed.

General Observations

October and November have passed quickly; and December has come to our doorsteps.  The time has come to plant the Blue Mammoth Hosta Seed - the center of this project will begin.  Early on for this project I thought might just do napkin and paper plant germination of seed but the more I thought about it I realized that i had a chance to do some experimentation of different growing methodologies that I have read about before I began this endeavor, and maybe try some other things along the way.  Before I discuss the possible methodologies let's look at what is generally known about germination cycle of Hosta seed.

Hosta seed come from the seed pods found on the scapes of the plants.  It has been suggested of me to take the scapes as late in the season as possible.  The seed found within the pod are paper thin and are fairly delicate.

The generally accepted germination period is about 3 weeks.  Seed can be grown in total darkness but need near 100% moisture. According to others if a seed is left to dry after it has set to germinate it ceases to grow during this period and dies.  Reports from other hosta seed growers suggest that there can be as low as 1/3 survival rates for the seed.

At the three week point the seed send up its first leaves that are referred to as cotyledon.  These leaves signal the need for light.  They can remain in a nutrient-less soil base until the seed has sent up its first THREE leaves after the cotyledons.  The transplanting occurs when these next leaves stand about 2 to 3 inches high.  Before this point they have a hard time fending off mold, mildew, and other competition to survive.  This first transplant carries them thought another 11 weeks until they are planted outdoors.  So the full germination period is about 14 weeks.  Remember that Blue Mammoths can get pretty big and the rhizome sets from Liberty have produced 6in tall leaves.  This suggests that there could be some pretty big seedlings.

Any plants that DO survive their germination will not grow 'true' to the parent plant.  This means that each individual seeding is an uniquely new species of hosta - and I do mean at the genetic level .  The unique visual characteristics of each seedling may not be seen until 7 to 8 years down the road when each is a full grown mature plant.  For the time being I will label them [plant source] Blue Mayhem #[serial number].

Note the scheduling here.  I will be sowed the seed the mid-December.  I give them three weeks for the cotyledon to show (end of December).  Move the seed to soil-less medium until the first three leaves have grown (probably late January to early February. and transplant for another 11 weeks (that beings us to about the first week in April).  IF we have a good late Winter the growing season CAN sometimes begin in April.  IF spring comes late I might be faced with a over flow of seedlings (aka: blue mayhem).  Also note that I am delineating two stages of seed growth.  1) Seed to Cotyledon' snd 2) Cotyledon to first set of leaves.

Keep in mind the goal for me is to grow 7 seedlings to replace the two Blue Mammoths that the seed came from IF THEY DO NOT survive their winter. outside.  IF the Blue Mammoths DO survive I will still be faced with a problem of 'blue mayhem'.

I have the germination cycle outlined.  So what options do I have for growing methodology?

There are three basic germination methodologies to be aware of.  These are pretty straight forward to understand so I will simply list them.
  • Napkin and Paper Plate
  • Grow Cube
  • the Direct Soil Process
A few moments ago I mentioned that hosta have a 1/3 germination rate.  I want to explore that problem.  In fact some hosta are said to be 'non-fertile'.  This means that the hosta will produce seed pods and seed, but the seed will not produce a new plant.  There are a hand-full of us in the Hosta community that suspect that ALL seed might be viable but they just need to be given the right conditions to grow.

Blue Mammoth seed is known to be viable and getting seedlings ought to be fairly easy.  This means that Blue Mammoth will be my base line for germination growth.  If you think back to the BM Edition #AA I suggested that this would be a TWO YEAR PROJECT; at the very least.

I plan to grow seed using the three basic growing methodologies above for both scapes of Blue Mammoth; but I plan to extend this experiment further with one set being given plain water until first planting; and a second set being given a 1/4 teaspoon of fertilizer per 1/2 gallon of water. up to the first planting.  In normal cultivation of hosta seed fertilizer is not introduced to the seedling UNTIL AFTER the transplanting to a nutrient based soil.  I might either kill hosta; or have accelerate seedling growth.

This means I will have 6 test groups in two sets,  Each test set will consist of seed from ONE seed pod each.  At this time I have ho idea how many seeds might be found in each pod.  This is another great chance for children and/or students to explore gardening if the process was simplified to one set of seeds in 6 sets.

  • PBK Blue Mammoths
    • Napkin and Paper Plate    Water    Fertilizer
    • Grow Cube                 Water    Fertilizer
    • the Direct Soil Process   Water    Fertilizer
  • TC Blue Mammoths
    • Napkin and Paper Plate    Water    Fertilizer
    • Grow Cube                 Water    Fertilizer
    • the Direct Soil Process   Water    Fertilizer

When working with grow cubes there are no nutrients in the cubes themselves so whatever nutrients the plant receives comes from what its given to them.  So what will happen in this experiment is that half of my seed will get fertilizer from day one of being sown, and the other half will only get water up to the three leaf stage of the germination process. 

There's one last point in this discussion you need to know, and it comes in the category of: 'What you see in the summer might become very important later'.  Last summer I watched a bee go from 'venusta', to Golden Tiara, to my Blue Mammoth when all three were in bloom.  This means that there just might be some interesting seedlings coming up.  This also means that when it comes time to remove/thin-out-plants because of space limitations It might become very hard to do.  Why?  It will be hard because some characteristics of new hybrids do not exhibit themselves until 7 to 8 years after they are established plants.   My space is limited to 36 seedlings; 18 from my Blue Mammoth and 18 from TC's Blue Mammoth.

But we're getting to far ahead of ourselves as nothing has been planted yet!  That's all for now folks.  Will see you on the next update when the actual seed planting is done and the information grows by 5 times - so start to brace yourselves for then!

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