Wednesday, February 1, 2017

2017 02 February First Edition

January went from Frigid Cold to Nearly Spring Warm.
February is expected to be mostly winter like.
And my need to write continues ... so here I go!

Links for this edition:
2017 Plant Basics
2016 - 2017 Transition Diagram 
2017 Gardening Diagrams
First I need to apologize for last months mis-posting of the third of the three links above.  I've since corrected that problem; but still needed to apologize here.
Although there are no changes on the link for this month, I am giving you the opportunity to get acquainted with this years garden diagrams in advance of the season.  Yes there's more than one this year!  As the months go by this link ought to be near the top of the page so that you can find to follow along with my descriptions below.

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

Last month I left you with a Hosta seed pod, a plastic bucket filled with either peat moss or standard potting soil, a little ammonia with water, snd a starting dates for a grow project.  In short your creating a terrarium for seed growing.  IF your working with kids you might want to show them other types of seeds that exist ... including a coconut seed that is NOT HUSKED!  This display will help prepare them for looking at hosta seed.  If you can't get seed varieties in your classroom go online and look at seeds from there.

Before you start. I've done ... more ... thinking about this project.  [Thinking is always dangerous with me.]  I've decided to take my version of this grow project one, very small, step further.  I'm doing this because of the number of seed found in hosta seed pods.  Imagine yourself being a hosta seed trying grow in a smallish bucket with many other seeds trying to grow around you.  You might feel a little crowded.  So rather than doing one bucket, I am going to prepare 4 buckets on the presumption I will find +40 seed in the pod, the presumption goes on to say all the seed will grow (which by the way is unlikely).  And if for some strange reason they all grow, I'll have another type of chaos on my hands!

Take your bucket, that the hosta seed will be in, and fill it with about four (4) inches of soil.  Gently pack the soil.  Then moisten the soil with 2 cups of water.  Add it in a circular manner to attempt to distribute it evenly.  The amount of water is intended to be enough to start a micro environment of water evaporation and falling over the next few weeks with in a gently sealed environment.  We'll come back to this in moment.

Use a paper napkin to gently spread the seed out on.  When you open the seed pod be VERY careful.  What you will find inside is a triangulated, central post with black, 'paper' thin, wavers attached to it.  Those "paper thin wavers" ARE the hosta seed themselves; and at first you might mistake them as excess seed chaff.  These black seeds will fall off.  Remember once you damage a seed - that's it, it's destroyed.  Once you get a feel for how many seed there are you can decide how many you'll want to plant.  In my buckets I plan to plant not more than 12 seeds in each.  Take a plastic spoon and make a small divot into the soil. put the seed in and very gently cover each. Consider this decision as the first 'thinning' out of the plants!

Place the lid on snugly but not tightly.  You need that exchange of air.  At this point there's something special about hosta seed that you can try if you have more than one bucket of hosta seed growing.  Hosta seed DO NOT NEED LIGHT to germinate!  Try placing one bucket in a sun lit window, and the other in a closet.  Every few days check the moisture of the soil.  You will need to keep it gently moist but not soggy.  If noticeable water drops develop on the side and lid of the container quickly wipe them off with toilet paper and reseal - this indicates to much water.  As the first three weeks go by, quickly add water as needed, and reseal the container.  A spray bottle works well.

When the first spikes are seen move the seeds to sun light or to grow lights.  Bright white florescent lights work well!

When the first leaves are seen loosen the lid even a little further to acclimate them to a 'normal' growing environment for about 1 or 2 days, and then entirely remove the lid after that.  DO NOT fertilize these seedlings until AFTER the third leaf has emerged and is fully open.

Next month I'll take this a little further, and then begin the actual narrative to this project.  Some last notes about the Kemps ice cream, one gallon, plastic buckets.  I sent a note into Kemps and they could not offer a date as to when they began using a one gallon plastic bucket.  I'm still trying to get permission to photograph them for the blog and this gardening exploration.

Winter's Very Strange This Year! 

Hosta enjoy cold winters; but this winter in St. Paul, Minnesota we're getting temperatures that are swinging above and below freezing this year.  This causes several conditions within the hosta environment to occur.

The first is referred to as: Freeze Out.  This is where the roots and fibers of the plant burst, and resulting in destroying the plant as a whole.  This can also stop short and become what is known as crown rot as well   With crown rot in the spring plants are less likely to come up as they need to fight rot.  Late last year I was told that some hosta can survive crown rot, but it's a fight.

The second condition of this causes plant cells which will would eventually produce the scapes and flowers later in spring to be under-developed or non-developed.  These structures within the hosta require 60 days of continuous below freezing conditions to have a favorable winter for the plants success over to the next year.  In this later case the plant itself is perfectly O.K., it's just that the cell system for the scape never receives the right conditions to prepare for the next season.

The following plants in my garden are suspect for being effected this winter:

  • The two Empress Wu's
  • The second year plant is suspect as that was so small.  It is possible that the rhizome system might actually very complex beneath the soil.
  • The first year plant, which was a replanting, had a spike ready to grow for this season when it was moved, and looks very promising.
  • First Blush (first season plant).
  • Itsy Bitsy Spider: This was a first season plant.  It is known as the smallest of the hosta. snd was also moved last year.  I moved it from the front to be back since the back is the wall of the building, and tends to be kept just a little warmer than the rest of the garden. The planting started with six (6) plants and was found to have four (4) plants by the time it was moved to the back.  Word has it that this is one of the harder hosta to grow; probably due to its size.   If these fail to come up in the spring Masquerade already wants to be moved into their place.
  • White Feather: This plant grew magnificently last year for a first year plant.  Hoping it continues this during the coming spring.
This does not mean other plants won't be effected.  They all have some chance of being effected by these temperature swings; we just do not know which ones until spring comes in somewhere between ... 60 to 90 days!  Those listed above will be the ones I will look at most carefully when plants spike at about 50°F / 10.00°C and 45 days after the garden is ice and snow free!

IF I trust the 90 day forecast there are suggestions that this warming trend will last for about a week and then return to freezing temperatures (a late Indian winter?).  The forecast also suggests a near 60 days of freezing.  If this becomes true than we might still pull off the freeze that the plants need.  Conversely with temperature reaching close to 45°F / 7.22°C it will be interesting to see what survives the re-freeze of winter when spring comes.

January 20: I'm considering this long range forecast again.  It is suggesting that these hosta probably will not get that 60 days for firm freezing they need to insure scapes and blooms.  The bees are going to have a hard summer ... at least from the Hosta it looks like.
January 30: Thawing brings the garden nearly uncovered.  Liberty is at high risk of freezing as it has a puddle of water directly over it which will freeze this evening.  What ice is left is over a line from #5 White Feather down to #20 Venusta.
Finally.  This is where the garden was left last fall:

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