Wednesday, February 15, 2017

2017 02 February Second Edition

The First February Issue Felt Full,
So I am Started This Issue in Late January!

This months links:
2017 Plant Basics
2016 - 2017 Transition Diagram 
2017 Gardening Diagrams: Changes made on 2/17/17
Readers might want to note that the progressive graphic images are no longer available from this blog.  If you desire a progressive/animated set of images of my garden I encourage you to send me an e-mail, and I can figure out some means to share with you (and others) an animated sequence at the end of the season; some time in October or so.  This years cycle of images began in December of 2016.

So What is it About All This Color ...

Some of you may have been following this blog over the years and have figured out my color 'coding' of elements on these pages.  For those who might be new here, or are still a little confused; here is how the colors are generally used ...
  • Yellow is for Names of Hosta.  Sometimes I might write about the actual thing, and in those cases the word will not be in color.  Examples could be: Empress Wu (historical figure), Masquerade (a type of formal dance),  Liberty (the human social ideal), Dancing Queen (song written, and performed by international band Abba).
  • Green is for section, and subsection titles; both large and normal sizes.
  • Darker Green is for hyperlinks. (Googles text color palette does not permit exact matching of this color within general text writing, but if you look above you can see an example of it.)
  • Orange is for personal comments, or emphasis on particular points.
  • Light Blue is used for dates.
  • Highlighted paragraphs are asides and additional comments not directly related to the content, but aide with the explanation process.  Highlights can be seen in a variety of colors.
You might also note that I use the fonts:
  • Courier for tables
  • Helvetica for article titles, and
  • Times for general text.
IF you put the colors, and text rules together you have what is referred to professionally as a "Style Sheet".  Most published and electric publications have style sheets.  ... So that's what all this color, and text, is about; to aide you see my continuity of thought!

Classroom Projects From This Blog

Late in January I reorganized some the search labels on some of the blog pages here.  I knew I had several pages that permitted kids to look at gardening.  I also discovered, with some surprise, that they had been labeled several different ways.  To put things into order I went in to relabel them exactly the same: "Gardening with Kids".  So now if you do a search on this blog with that phrase you'll find there are seven 7 projects that I have assembled over the last four (4) years that parents/teachers, and kids can do together to explore basic agricultural theories with kids.

The Ice Cream Bucket, and The Hosta Seed
The Blue Mayhem Project
Part BC

One of the preparatory steps I took before I began to write this cycle of articles was to ask around about IF the Kemps ice cream containers might work for this project.  The response I received from one individual was something along the lines of: 'Just use a growing pot and put it in a "zip lock bag"'. While they did not directly answer the question ... they inferred an answered. Have any of you recently realized just now air tight some of those 'zip lock bags' can be?  Some of them could practically be life preservers on a boat (not suggesting that should be done) because of just how air tight they can be! With that in mind, these Kemps containers ought to work adequately for this project. Those lids appear to be not as air tight; so air exchange is assured and the young plants will not suffocate. The converse is that I may have to watch the moisture level a little more carefully.

There are persons within the industry who grow hosta seed in flats with plastic containers using saran wrap to cover them.  Others have said they have success just planting seed directly into the ground; while others have done hydroponic style grow projects with semi-sealed environments.  What I am describing in these articles is closer to the later scenario.

Now lets take several steps back: Why would I even choose the Kemps container to begin with?  It goes back to the fact that I'm disabled, more particularly my use of crutches.  If I am going to lift and carry something I have to do it with some degree of safety; and I also have to do it within my ability level.  The Kemps container has a handle.  IF that drops/falls there is a better chance that all I will need to do is to lean over and pick up a sealed bucket and keep going.  If for some reason the bucket shatters I'm not dealing with shattered pottery or glass or other types of sharp edges.  The process of cleaning up will be marginally easier as well [Take note: slugs on the loose in a residence can get more than just evil].

There's two last things to consider:
  1. The person who made the 'zip lock bag' comment also suggested that I may need to give this project one more month based on their experiences.  So rather than a two month project this might become a three month project.  My best judgement says that hosta grow based on what their surroundings are.  If these take 2 or 3 months that doesn't really matter because that is part of what this exploration is about.  As each seedling becomes its own new variety some may be slower than others to spike in these growing conditions and finally in the garden.
  2. A while back I wrote that I wouldn't know what these seedlings would look like other than being hosta like.  Well ... that's not exactly true.  When you plant seed from a solid colored hosta you ought to expect solid colored seedlings.   If you plant seed from variegated colored hosta, your more likely to get variegated seedlings - although not all coloration may be seen the first year.  If you plant seed from a hybridization of both types the variegation will probably be the dominate trait.  In any case there is an extremely slight case that a solid colored seed will produce a variegated seedling (guessing its like a 1:1000 or greater), and the reverse also can be true.
So with Blue Mammoth seed the seedlings ought to look like solid colored hosta seedlings.

The Blue Mayhem Project Narrative begins ... on the April 1 Edition

BE (Winthop MN) has again offered to help with seed handling due to my eyesight; and DW (Minneapolis, MN) is helping find an alternative to the Kemps buckets in the event photographic permissions is not received for those buckets.

We're About to Have Spring

Last season I discovered something wholly unexpected. What I found was that the outside corner hosta have the tendency to be the first to spike in the spring! In fact it was not just last spring but going back three years of documentation indicated that the trend was consistent! My guess for this is that the corners may be the first to thaw and then warm first in the spring.

This suggests that the following hosta (in my garden) ought to be seen first (see: 2016 - 2017 Transition Diagram for garden positions):
Plant 1: Itsy Bitsy Spider (moved there)
Plant 2: Gemstone (moved there)
Plant 17: Rainbow's End
Plant 20: 'venusta'
Let's quickly remember when hosta spike at 45ยบ North Latitude: The snow must be off the garden, AND temperatures must be sustained above 40°F / 4.44°C, AND both conditions must be maintained for about 45 days. While it is now February 1; and it would be convenient to say plants will be up in about 60 to 75 days.  But a lot can happen over that time as St. Paul, Minnesota has historically had some very severe winter weather, or some very spectacular spring weather, during this time.  Conversely for me, as an gardener, these 45 days of waiting after the snow melts is the hardest for me as nothing 'seems' to occur in the garden.  I always have to firmly remind myself that the 'real action' is taking place BELOW the surface where humans can not see.  The first spike that appears declares, at least to me, that the first day of the new growing season has begun.
February 6: Forecast for the 6, and 7 has temperatures touch above freezing again; and followed by snow after that.  As long as the ice doesn't return I'll be O.K.  It may not be warm enough to remove the last of the ice on top of the garden.
February 10: Temperatures again expected to reach near 40°F / 4.44°C this might actually finish the ice melt we had back in January to clear the entire garden ... during midwinter
February 13: The long range forecast suggests that the freezing temperatures at night will not leave us until mid-April; which seems a little late in the season.  But then again the short range forecast has 50°F / 10.00°C for Friday and Saturday this week.  One last very small sliver of snow left on the garden that might be gone by tomorrow night.
February 15: The forecast says not only do we have 50°F / 10.00°C coming but maybe even a 60°F / 15.56°C as well in the near future!  The very last sliver of Ice/Snow ought be off the garden tomorrow afternoon(?); and then I hold my breath and hope that those abrupt freezing temperatures do not return to the garden.

1 comment:

  1. I look forward to the next round of hosta experiments! It's nice that you explain for us, your readers, the thoughts that lead you to choose one approach over another. That makes this kind of description more interesting.