Sunday, June 3, 2018

Blooming Night & Day


            Welcome back to another episode of Lost In The Farmer’s Market, where we take a look into varied topics regarding sustainability, horticulture and organic practices. In this episode we will be covering a few interesting topics including wild flowers and their role in attracting pollinators and a rare fungal disease that few agriculture text books or gardening books cover. It is an inevitable fact that you will encounter things in the field that you cannot readily find a reference for in your books and one of those things is the normal concept that flowers don’t always bloom during daylight hours. In the test gardens this year is an evening primrose (Oenothera biennis) that volunteered. The specimen pictured below is the size it is because it has benefited from fertilizer runoff from a nearby potted perennial. Despite this fact, the common evening primrose is a biennial as the second part of its botanical Latin name suggests.

This photo was taken at 11:00pm and back lit with a 500 lumen LED flashlight.


This photo was taken at about 8:00 am, note that the evening primrose's flowers are closing.


Since it is night-blooming but doesn’t have much of a scent, you have to wonder just what kind of pollinators it could possibly attract, despite this it has a nectar guide path which allows it to be pollenated by moths, some species of butterfly and some species of bees. Additionally, ants seem to play a role in pollination as they are attracted to its nectar and may actively protect the plant from pests. The down side of the plant is waiting for a bloom every other year and in it’s first year it does resemble a number of common weeds so accidentally pulling it up is a constant possibility. Despite this the bright yellow flowers are completely worth it and this can be part of an old-time cottage style garden bed much like Silverdollar plant (Lunaria biennis) Which is also a biennial. Before we go on to the next topic, I do have to mention the scientific meaning for the term biennial for any readers who are unfamiliar. A biennial is any plant with a life cycle that is such that it germinates and produces vegetative growth the first year and then in the second year produces flowers and seeds thus completing its life cycle. The two most famous biennials we see every day at the grocery store are Carrots and Parsley, but some forms of Radish are as well. 
Few allow a carrot to bloom, but this is what a carrot left to do so looks like.
The fortunate thing about biennials is often their flowers are quite impressive to behold and if that isn’t enough the foliage on the flowering stalks often looks entirely different then that on the rest of the plant. But this moves on to another encounter with an oddity that you will only see on rare occasions in the south when cold and wet weather combine to allow a certain species of fungus called exobasidum to attack the growing tips of several species of Sasanqua-type camellias. This fungus does rarely also attack Japonica and hybrid camellias as well.


The symptoms are pretty consistent as the effected growth is extra-fleshy and may be at times warped or gnarled and the waxy cuticle or protective outer layer of the leaf on the underside may come loose and fall off. Controlling this fungal infection is as simple as pruning the effected parts away and disposing of the clippings in the trash. Left to its own means, the effected parts will dry out and fall off on their own but this does run the risk of the fungus going deeper into the plant so control by pruning is recommended as the best alternative. It should be noted that in common context this ailment is called ‘Exobasidum Leaf Gall’, despite the fact no actual galls in the conventional sense are formed and this disease is not a product of an insect living in the camellia causing a gall-structure. Either way, what the references won’t tell you is the effected parts of the plant are edible, and they are in some parts of North Carolina deemed a rare delicacy. In case you are wondering yes, I’ve tried it, it does need salad dressing but in texture it’s roughly like mushrooms or several spinach leaves or Swiss chard leaves stacked. Since tea comes from Camellia sinensis it shouldn’t be a surprise that camellia leaves aren’t exactly bad for you, especially after a fungus has made them fleshy and soft.

They call it leaf gall, but it doesn't even look like galls.
Before we get into the advertisement part of this post here are some pictures from the field that you might enjoy.

 
'Fuyu' Japanese Persimmon with early fruit.
 My persimmon has failed to produce fruit for years, and here it is in another spring with the beginnings of fruit and perhaps I might get something. Honestly I'd like to try my hand at persimmon wine but  I loathe the idea of buying persimmons at the store so lets see what happens. For note it can take 3-5 years before a persimmon produces buds let alone fruit after it is planted so patience is critical.
This is how varieties are naturally made.
 This plant is a member of the mulberry family and all the differing leaves are coming from one plant. For some reason it has a chance mutation that is producing three different leaf forms on a single plant. This is how we get those cultivated varieties, we would take a cutting of the odd leaf form and grow it to see if it is stable, if it is then we would take even more cuttings to produce a production lot. That production lot would be cloned numerous times to create the first saleable plants.

It's summer, and it isn't only the bugs that are out.

 I encountered this critter while doing a bit of freelance landscape work for a client. As you can see that is a type of snake, and it is not engaging in a threat posture. I disturbed it and it did not get hostile. Now a lot of people I know kill snakes on sight regardless and that is a practice I do not agree with, in this example, the above snake is either a juvenile black racer or a form of rat snake both of which are non-venomous and pose no threat to pets or people. In both cases they eat varied forms of rodent and serve as population control. This snake upon me disturbing it hung out long enough for me to snap a few photos and then slithered back into the bushes.


For note this is where the advertising starts because it keeps the Test Garden’s supplied and running tests so you don’t have to. If you want to get some GMO-free, Organic vegetables, herbs and fruiting shrubs come on down to the Fayetteville City Market on 325 Maxwell Street in downtown Fayetteville between the Hours of 9:00 am and 1:00 pm on Saturdays. Barring bad weather, I’ll be there selling the following spring offerings while supplies last.

Late Spring Plant Sale: - All 3” Peat pot plants $2.00!

Plants Available Now:
Peppers, Sweet Banana - $2.00
Peppers, Giant Marconi - $2.00
Peppers, Red Peter - $2.00
Peppers, Furious Sunset - $2.00
Peppers, Tobasco - $2.00

Tomato, White Wonder - $2.00 <Low Acid Type>
Tomato, Carolina Golden - $2.00 <Low Acid Type>
Tomato, Radiator Charlie - $2.00
Tomato, Brandywine - $2.00
Tomato, Black Krim - $2.00
Tomato, Golden Jubilee - $2.00 <Low Acid Type>
Tomato, Glacier - $2.00
Tomato, Mountain Spring - $2.00
Tomato, Sungold - $2.00 <Low Acid Type>
Tomato, Sweet 100 - $2.00

Burnet, Salad - $3.00

Chives - $3.00

Lavender, English -(out of stock)

Oregano, Italian - $3.00

Rue -(out of stock)

Tansy -(out of stock)

Thyme, English -(out of stock)

Aloe Vera, Medicinal Aloe - $4.00 (Small)
Aloe Vera, Medicinal Aloe - $6.00 (Large)
Coneflower, Pow Wow Mix – $4.00
Milkweed, - $ 4.00
Agastache, Anise-Hyssop - $4.00
Cherimoya, Custard Apple - $4.00

Coming Soon:
Santolina (aka Lavender-Cotton)

If the market isn’t your thing or your schedule does not allow you to go there my premium exotic house plants can be purchased in attractive clay pots with unique embellishments at LeClair’s General Store. LeClair’s General Store is located on 1212 Fort Bragg Road in Fayetteville North Carolina.

This is their Facebook Page:

The Visit NC page’s Listing:

Most recent deliveries to Leclairs:
2x 7” rimless pot – Eve’s Needle Cactus, Opuntia subulata
1x 5” rimless pot – Jade Plant, Crassula ovata
2x 4” standard pot – Radiator Plant, Peperomia caperata ‘Ripple’
2x 4” standard pot – Aristocrat Aloe, Aloe aristata
2x 4” standard pot – Jade Frost Plant, Echeveria sp. ‘Jade Frost’
2x 4” standard pot – White Bunny Ear Cactus, Opuntia microdaisys
4x 3” standard pot – Miniature Jade Plant, Crassula ovata
4x 3” standard pot – Minature Variegated Jade plant, Crassula ovata ‘Carnival’
3x 3” standard pot – Green Carpet Sedum, Sedum sp. ‘Green Carpet’

These days I am generally at the store once a week, maintaining stock and/or delivering new materials (roughly every other week) so if you go to visit the store there is a fair chance I’ll be present to answer your questions. If not, you can always send me questions through this blog or visit the farmer’s market or pay attention to what Sustainable Neighbors is doing at the link below.


            This brings to a close the tenth LITFM post of the new year, stay tuned the next episode which should be posted roughly around the 6th of June.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

The Heat Is On!


            Welcome back to another episode of Lost In The Farmer’s Market, where we take a look into varied topics regarding sustainability, horticulture and organic practices. This will be the first of many episodes where I take a scientific look certain aspects of gardening which brings LITFM back to it’s literal roots as a scientific-oriented garden blog. This week I’m going to talk mainly about the study I did comparing two seed germination methods and one of the big myths of the season.  Now that myth I mentioned before is a pretty prevalent one, I’ve said in this blog that I have several allergies and part of the day of this episode was due to symptoms of said allergies manifesting much to my misery in a period where I had to spend considerable amounts of time outside. When others notice I’m having the usual trifecta of allergic side-effects I get an equally standard array of ‘you should do this’ kind of responses. For note I typically use a histamine blocker, and nothing else because I don’t want to become reliant on a medication in general for very good reason.

With that said aside from the patently ridiculous suggestions such as homeopathic remedies* I hear a lot of well-intentioned individuals saying I should eat more honey because it’s made of pollen. This suggestion is useless because the average honey bee can travel a normal distance of four miles but up to seven on average to forage for pollen and nectar. So of course, this means that I would literally have to have my own hives or I would have to buy so locally that I could not ensure a regular supply to dose my self with the potential pollen that’s causing my problems. This is assuming honey bees are even harvesting the specific pollen that is causing my woes because believe it or not honey bees have a list of preferred pollen and then there are things they simply wont touch with a ten-foot pole regardless. In short while the idea of dosing yourself with small amount of something you are allergic to in order to build up immunity over time is solid advice, using honey to counter allergies is not legitimate advice. But anyone is welcome to respond to this blog if they have scientific evidence to the contrary, but me and the gang I just joined below won’t hold our breath.


            So taking it back to the origin is where LITFM needed to be for a while as over the last two years less and less studies were being posted here in lieu of softer more palatable information that made this blog more socially homogenized. As of this post I will be discussing the first of our studies, which is a comparative analysis of a conventional seed germination method versus a non-conventional method using pepper seeds with a range of packing dates since peppers are already temperamental in the germination department.  Now what I did was I set up for three series of germinations two using the non-conventional method and one using the conventional method, the same number of seeds was used in each series and five different varieties were tested in each run. The non-conventional method consisted of twenty seeds of an individual pepper variety placed in a moistened paper towel which was then place din a one-gallon zip lock bag. All seeds received 24-hour bottom heat by way of a professional grade seedling germination mat producing 68-degree temperatures. All seedling trials were also conducted under growing lights set to mimic a 14-hour day period.  The conventional method used two growing trays with low height humidity domes and one-hundred peat pellets broken into groups of twenty so that the five varieties in the trial could be compared accurately. The conventional method seedling received the same light and heat as the non-conventional bagged seedlings. The first stage of the study began on February 12th with the first rows of seed being laced in their moistened towels and then being bagged. The first series was abandoned on March 26th. The second series of unconventional seeds were started on February 26th and were abandoned on April 9th. The third series of seedlings were started March 5th and were not abandoned because the germination rates were sufficient to be called a success.

Trial Series 1- Non-Conventional (25 seeds each)
Banana Pepper, Hungarian Black / Packed 2013 - 0.0% germination
Cayenne Type, Pascila Bajio / Packed 2013 – 0.0% germination
Aji Limon, Lemon Drop Pepper / Packed 2013 – 2.5% germination (saved seed)
Tobago Seasoning Pepper / Packed 2012 – 0.0% germination (saved seed)

Trial Series 2 – Non-Conventional (20 seeds each)
Bell Type, Carolina Wonder / Packed 2015 – 1.0% germination
Aji Limon, Lemon Drop Pepper / Packed 2013 – 3.0% germination (saved seed)
Cayenne Type, Pascila Bajio / Packed 2013 – 0.0% germination
Purple Cayenne Pepper / Packed 2014 – 2.0% germination
Tobago Seasoning Pepper / Packed 2015 – 0.0% germination (saved seed)

Trial Series 3 - Conventional (20 seeds each)
Bhut Jolokia, Ghost Pepper / Packed 2015 – 100% germination
Cayenne Type, Pascila Bajio / Packed 2013 – 0.0% germination
Bhut Jolokia, Black Naga / Packed 2017 – 95% germination (saved seed)
Pepperoncini Peppers / Packed 2015 – 55% germination (seed packet unopened until trial)
Aji Limon, Lemon Drop Pepper / Packed 2014 – 80% germination (saved seed)

            The numbers above indicate that fairly uniformly the traditional sowing of seed in cell trays or peat pellets tens to have a noticeably better result when quality pepper seed is involved. For note I included the Pascila Bajio in all three-trial series and it failed to germinate regardless of method so I have to chalk it up to expired or bad seed stock. Ironically her Aji limon or lemon drop peppers in all three trials germinated all three times but germinated the most under conventional growing conditions. the rest of the seeds demonstrated an interesting variety of successes and failures but overall, the conventional method using humidity domes/trays and peat pellets has produce more viable seedlings than the moist paper towel method. This of course means that I may repeat the experiment using seeds with a packing date no later than 2018 to see if the disparity holds up. In the meanwhile, since its very late spring it’s warm enough to direct sow things in the garden so the end of the trial means the end of needing to use humidity domes for seedlings anyway.

For note this is where the advertising starts because it keeps the Test Garden’s supplied and running tests so you don’t have to. If you want to get some GMO-free, Organic vegetables, herbs and fruiting shrubs come on down to the Fayetteville City Market on 325 Maxwell Street in downtown Fayetteville between he Hours of 9:00 am and 1:00 pm on Saturdays. Barring bad weather, I’ll be there selling the following spring offerings while supplies last.

Plants Available Now:
Peppers, Sweet Banana - $3.00
Peppers, Giant Marconi - $3.00
Peppers, Red Peter - $3.00
Peppers, Furious Sunset - $3.00
Peppers, Tobasco - $3.00
Peppers, Ghost - $3.00

Tomato, White Wonder - $3.00
Tomato, Carolina Golden - $3.00
Tomato, Radiator Charlie - $3.00
Tomato, Brandywine - $3.00
Tomato, Black Krim - $3.00
Tomato, Golden Jubilee - $3.00
Tomato, Glacier - $3.00
Tomato, Mountain Spring - $3.00
Tomato, Sungold - $3.00
Tomato, Sweet 100 - $3.00

Basil, Genovese - $3.00
Basil, Thai - $3.00
Burnet, Salad - $3.00
Chives - $3.00
Lemon Grass - $3.00
Lavender, English - $3.00
Oregano, Italian - $3.00
Parsley, Italian - $3.00
Rue - $3.00
Tansy - $3.00
Thyme, English - $3.00

Raspberry, Heritage (2 gal pot) - $15.00
Hops, Zeus, 6” pot – $10.00

Coming Soon:
Santolina (aka Lavender-Cotton)
Coneflower, Pow Wow Mix
Milkweed

If the market isn’t your thing or your schedule does not allow you to go there my premium exotic house plants can be purchased in attractive clay pots with unique embellishments at LeClair’s General Store. LeClair’s General Store is located on 1212 Fort Bragg Road in Fayetteville North Carolina.

This is their Facebook Page:

The Visit NC page’s Listing:

Most recent deliveries to Leclairs:
4x 5” rimless pot – Jade Plant, Crassula ovata
3x 5” rimless pot – Lemon Bean Bush, Senecio barbetonicus
2x 4” standard pot – Jade Vine, Senecio macroglossus ‘variegatus’
2x 4” standard pot – Bunny Cactus, Opuntia microdasys

These days I am generally at the store once a week, maintaining stock and/or delivering new materials so if you go to visit the store there is a fair chance I’ll be present to answer your questions. If not, you can always send me questions through this blog or visit the farmer’s market or pay attention to what Sustainable Neighbors is doing at the link below.


            This brings to a close the ninth LITFM post of the new year, stay tuned the next episode which should be posted roughly around the 23rd of May.