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.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

The Parable Of Invasiveness


            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 week’s episode was delayed by a few days for a few good reasons. First off, I had to research the topic a little and make sure that I was clear on it so that when I wrote this article you would have the best possible ideas. The second reason this post was delayed was because I needed to verify the details of the 7th Annual Sustainable Neighbors Garden Tour. Yes, you read that right, the tour is back for it’s seventh year and after the winter we had you can expect this tour to be a proper shot in the arm to get rid of that lingering cabin fever. The basic details are posted on the Sustainable neighbors site at Meetup.com but the short run down is that we have two confirmed locations and the tour will be on the 6th of May between 1:00 and 5:00pm. I do admit that we did delay the tour so that the host locations could recover from the winter’s ravages since normally it would have been in April but a combination of the weather and schedules prompted the change to a later May date. If you want to go to this event hit up the Sustainable Neighbors event page below:


Today’s actual topic is about something we all have heard of as gardeners but often have a hazy concept of. In the article before last we tackled the issue of what defines a ‘weed’ and in this post we will tackle what defines an ‘invasive species’. To be fair the word invasive is defined very clearly by the USDA and its definition in terms of an invasive plant can be found at the link below.


These days the term invasive is used frequently and often with little consideration of how broadly applied it can be. I have personally heard someone call dandelions (Taraxicum officinale) invasive when they simply are not because by USDA definition they meet none of the benchmarks of invasiveness. Likewise, I have heard the term applied to species that are actually native and simply are well-suited to an area such as plantains (Plantago major) when in fact these plants are native herbs that when they over-proliferate it’s usually because of an entirely different problem than invasiveness. The fact is that an invasive species is one that is not native and has a characteristic or characteristics that allow it to over-proliferate damaging the survival of native species. A good case in point is Heavenly Bamboo (Nandina domestica) which is not actually bamboo and is a perennial evergreen shrub belonging to the Barberry family (Berberidaceae). This means that Heavenly/Sacred Bamboo is related to other borderline OR outright invasive introduced species such as Oregon-Grape (Mahonia aquifolium) and Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii). The tell-tale trait of a member of the barberry family is that the flesh of the roots is almost always bright yellow. In the case of Heavenly Bamboo, if you don’t believe it can be invasive check out these pictures I took of an entire colony that had to be removed while I was at a landscaping job a week or so ago.

 
On the right is the cluster that makes up the shrub and on the concrete walkway is a three-foot long runner where this nandina tried to invade other areas.

This is a cluster of shoots that were mostly underground coming off a colony of Nandina, I pulled a few stems that had managed to get allt he way under the sidewalk too. Never before have I seen nandina this aggressive.


As you can see with the two images, the Heavenly bamboo was acting like actual bamboo and even to this day I am still finding fragments of the nandina colonies I removed. Now by comparison, the nandina on my property is displaying none of the traits pictured, through it is spreading by way of sowing seed. The invasive status can sometimes be a response to the environment, a genetic trait that goes from passive and dormant to active and dominant or it could be that someone just selected the wrong parent stock. This is why new varieties are often tested in field conditions for a few years before they are brought to market so that bad traits are discovered early and weeded out. However as is seen with brightly colored leaf variegation,  there is always that small chance that the older stronger pure green foliage genes may activate and suddenly your nice white-marbled Osmanthus is suddenly all-green and not so special anymore.

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. 



Plants Available Now:
Kale, Lacinato/Dinosaur – $3.00
Kale, Scarletbor - $3.00
Peppers, Sweet Banana - $3.00
Peppers, Tobasco - $3.00
Peppers, Red Peter - $3.00
Peppers, Giant Marconi - $3.00
Swiss Chard - $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
Fennel, Bronze - $3.00
Lemon Grass - $3.00
Lavender, English - $3.00
Oregano, Italian - $3.00
Parsley, Italian - $3.00
Rue - $3.00
Shiso, Red - $3.00
Tansy - $3.00
Thyme, English - $3.00

Mulberry, Dwarf (2 gal pot) - $15.00 (last one in stock)
Raspberry, Heritage (2 gal pot) - $15.00 (last one in stock)
Figs, (assorted) (1 Gallon pot) - $15.00 (last one in stock)


Coming Soon:
Santolina (aka Lavender-Cotton)
Hops, Zeus
Hops, Cascade

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:

These days I am generally at the store at least twice 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 eighth LITFM post of the new year, stay tuned the next episode which should be posted roughly around the 2nd of May assuming another one of PWC’s substations doesn’t explode again pitching all of Fayetteville into darkness….again.