Friday, December 27, 2013

Ah New Years, Out with the cold, in with the...ah crap!


Its plenty festive darnit! I'll have you know Napa cabbages have a wonderful radial display of bright green and delicious leaves! Fine...I'll start the darn article.




Happy New Year!

What too soon? Aw, We at LITFM were hoping to do a new year’s episode this year but again the calendar makers win! Well this is the last post of 2013, and with it as promised we publish the yearly test garden numbers. As some of you may have heard the end of the year is a period of renewal and validation at the test gardens as we seek to verify through the data recorded all year long that indeed we are on the right track. As such, let’s begin with the harvest amounts in order of month harvested.

January – 74.5 ounces
February – 144.6 ounces
March – 161.5 ounces
April – 125.5 ounces
May – 3.0 ounces (Remember the point it rained for about three weeks?)
June – 23.2 ounces

July – 53.15 ounces
August – 81.0 ounces (Black magic fertilizer invented and used)
September – 125.3 ounces
October – 55.66 ounces (First killing frosts were early)
November – 9.3 ounces
December – 8.0 ounces

The totals from the above monthly numbers indicated that on average productivity was stable, despite the weather slowing things down in some places. We had that weird three week rainy period in May that stopped growth and starting in October we’ve had exceptionally cold temperatures and early repeated frosts. Even so the six-month counts and year total below indicates the test gardens held up.

1st Quarter Harvest total: 532.3 ounces (33.26 lbs)
2nd Quarter Harvest total: 332.41 ounces (20.77 pounds)

Total harvest amount 864.71 ounces (54.04 pounds)

The yearly record for note in 2011 we harvested 111 pounds of produce; in 2012 it was 62.88 pounds. Considering that this year we had 54 pounds despite uncooperative weather and that it roughly matches last year’s harvest total which featured an oddly warm winter It draws question to the accuracy of the 2011 number. However depending on what 2014’s harvest weight results are the 2011 number will stand for now. That said, we still made about a pound of fresh produce per week and with the invention of the black magic formula, it is possible that 2014 may see an explosion in productivity.
With that said the top crop categories are next in this discussion, as the information was collected it revealed clearly which plants were performing the best and thus validates their return in the next growing year.

Top 5 crops (individual) for 2013
Mustard, Red Giant – 176.5 ounces
Cabbage Collards – 93.0 ounces
Collards, Georgia – 72.0 ounces
Tomato, Paul Robeson – 38.3 ounces
Lettuce, Romaine – 32.5 ounces

Top 5 crops (by group) for 2013
Cole Crops – 454.00 ounces
Tomatoes – 96.28 ounces
Salad Greens – 59.25 ounces
Peppers – 42.2 ounces
Figs – 30.9 ounces

I’m personally not surprised Red Giant Mustard ran the show in 2013, the inclusion of collards and cabbage-collards however came as a surprise. All three were planted in fall of 2012, and grown as a winter crop through the winter. The amazing part is that often these crops do little the year they are planted, but seem to spring to life in January or February and become a food powerhouse just before the heat of spring rolls in. Paul Robeson Tomatoes proved to be slow to produce, but once they did their tomatoes were large, flavorful and utterly fantastic. To the point it did so well I’ve got cuttings of this plant in rooting chambers in the hope of cloning the specific specimen. The myth that one can’t grow big tomatoes in the south is officially debunked. The fifth entry on the list was Romaine lettuce, a salad item I’d never bothered with before. I suppose it’s the Straight upright leaves that make romaine so well adapted to the climate. Maybe Romaine is uniquely adapted for southern climates or perhaps its form resists bug damage and reduces dirt accumulation between the leaves. I might add that were there a 6th place Bibb lettuce would have it uncontested.

The top crops in comparison were quite clear; the Cole crops ran the show, period. For note Cole crops includes Cabbage, Cabbage-collards, Collards, Kale, Mustard and Mustard Spinach. Tomatoes made a good snowing holding 2nd place and salad greens (Lettuce, Dandelion, Chicory, Amaranth, Malabar Spinach and, Radicchio.) held 3rd place. Not surprisingly Peppers held 4th place and Figs held 5th place.

Radicchio, my dear you are most certainly uber-festive....and soooooooo delicious! Wait where are you going *chases after radicchio waving a bottle of salad dressing* come back!

With all that covered we bring to you the precipitation numbers for the week. This week we did not have as much rain but there have been light night rains and the overall total is 0.45” give or take 0.01” for the additional night rain activity. The soil is moist and I doubt we are suffering drought, but the low temperatures have not been helpful. I’m hoping the weather will eventually stabilize somewhat, but even so you can expect I’ll keep manning the booth at the farmer’s market. From what I gather tomorrows forecast for the Market will be a high of about 60 no rain and a slight wind. The city/Farmer’s Market is located at 325 Franklin Street in downtown Fayetteville and runs from 9:00 am through 1:00 pm. You can stop by and get some good farm fresh foods and hit up the sustainable neighbors booth. This week we’ll have the following available at the booth.
Southward Skies: A northern guide to southern Gardening

This is the second edition of my book, which was published using data compiled from several years of test garden operations. It’s written to aid gardeners of all skill levels in successful garden methods that are targeted for the south east but had proven to be a valued resource for gardens across the weather coast. It’s certainly a good gift for that gardener you know or for yourself if you’d like to have a reliable field guide. The book costs $25.00 and we do take checks for this item, you can even have it signed. I forgot to mention that the book is also available online through amazon.com for $10.00 in electronic format!

Black Magic Fertilizer
That’s right you’ve heard about it in trials all summer. This specially formulated liquid fertilizer was made and tested at the test gardens using natural ingredients and no chemicals. The result explosive growth, great harvests and of course no environmental side effects! We’re making batches of this stuff to order, at $6.00 per gallon of fertilizer. You can either order it at the market and pick it up the next week or have it delivered to your home in the Fayetteville area for a delivery charge of an additional $2.00.

Fresh Cut Herbs
Bundles of Fresh Rosemary, short stem
Bagged Fresh Rosemary No stems

Plants
3x Spineless Prickly Pear
6x Morris-Heading Cabbage Collards
3x Georgia Collards
1x Stonehead Cabbage
2x Savoy Cabbage


That's right folks screw buying a dead tree or getting a plastic one! Who decorated a Pencil Cactus for Christmas? THIS GUY! Put that Douglas fir tree in your pipe and smoke it you modern lumberjacks!

Well this wraps up the last episode of 2013, with the arrival of 2014 you can expect new garden trials, more botanical mayhem. I thank you all for reading this blog and sticking with us please have a safe and happy new year and as always folks keep ‘em growing!

P.S.
Agricultural lime, good for pH adjustment, necessary for growing wheat, and surprisingly effective at hiding those pesky in-laws you got rid of.

Friday, December 20, 2013

So a Cactus, Succulent and an Epiphyte walk into a bar....


Merry Festivus!  for the *ahem* never mind…

Welcome back to another holiday episode of Lost in the Farmer’s Market, today we have some holiday delights but because of the upcoming holiday this episode is a tad condensed. Our next episode will cover the harvest records of the year and a little bit about 2014’s objectives. But that aside as you may well know the test gardens are a 365 sort of operation, and so something inside or outside is delighting and has to be covered here in the blog.

Cactus flowers are literally comparable to roses if not better then roses.
Now I hear a lot of folks say that they can’t get their (insert plant) to bloom but the most common is that they can’t get their Holiday cactus to bloom. Keep in mind I call (Easter or Christmas) them Holiday cactus not so much to satisfy cultural sensitivity, but more so to acknowledge that most of the cultures that grow these plants have some sort of holiday in the seasons when these plants tend to bloom. More so holiday cactus just sounds more festive. That said our specimen at the test gardens has both species of holiday cactus growing in one pot along with a similar relative. So let’s start by noting the differences between the three.


Crab/Claw/Thanksgiving Cactus– Schlumbergera truncata
This is the most commonly sold of the holiday cactus and one of the plants I dragged along with me when I packed up and left New Jersey. After a year or so of adapting it began to bloom every December about three years back. Originally the bloom was solid pink but it has changed to what you see in the picture, shimmering white with pink margins and pink throat. This plant becomes the center piece of the dinner table every December.


Christmas Cactus – Schlumergera russelliana

The specimen in this case is small, and very slow growing compared to its bigger cousin however the contrast in foliage is quite pronounced and I for one enjoy the color difference. Care requirements are identical, and I can’t say if or when this little guy will bloom it’s a few years old and I would guess not entirely big enough to do so.

Easter Cactus – Hatiora salicornoides ‘Drunkards Dream’

I don’t think I have to tell you all that this guy gets around! I sold small pots of this guy during the spring and summer, and it’s truly prolific, easily growing twice as fast as the other two cacti but requiring the same conditions. Though not yet in bloom (usually March-February) the flowers are bright yellow and before they open they resemble little Christmas lights. You can bet there will be more of these for sale next year.

With that said, I must point out, that the two common forms of holiday cactus are only named thus because in the industry they are often forced to bloom at certain times of the year which matches two specific holidays.  The act of ‘forcing’ which is also done with blubs such as paper whites is actually a manipulation of the plant’s normal biological processes. In the case of bulbs, typically the forcing is temperature based, they are kept cold to mimic winter for a set number of weeks and then warmed and exposed to some light to encourage sprouting. Plants such as Chrysanthemums, Holiday Cactus and Poinsettias are given or denied exposure to light to mimic the changing of the seasons which encourages blooming. The agri-business has worked out the exact number of hours needed to get a bloom at a desired time and the plants don’t know the difference.

For those of you who don’t like the scientific details and technicality skip the following paragraph, because I’m going to dive all up in the lurid details of cactus paternity and what not. First off none of the three plants I have spoken of are actually cactus. All of them are succulents and epiphytes. Now the rule is that all cacti are biologically succulents, but not all succulents are biologically cacti. The difference lay in the critical adaptations individual species have made to survive their environments. So here are a few things that are true cactus.

-Opuntia (Prickly pears)
-Mammilaria (Pincushin or Nipple Cactus)*
-Maihuenia (a primitive species of cactus, possibly prehistoric.)
-Pereskia (Lemon vine, Rose Cacti, Leaf Cacti)

The above are about all the plant taxonomy crowd can really agree on. It is and has been for some time a standing debate as to the precise definition of what a cactus is. To the point plants such as the Cardoon (artichoke relative) were once considered cactus. The origin of the word cactus comes from ancient Greek (Kaktos) and even the name Opuntia is also Greek, named for the nearby town where prickly pears were first identified. For our purposes, however we can agree that there are a lot of succulents out there. It’s clear that the plants store water in modified stems, leaves in a lot of species are absent or replaced by spines that perform some of the same functions. These plants cannot tolerate being constantly wet and get root rot readily in damp conditions. Some require poor sandy soil (opuntia, mammilaria) while others do best in soils that have a lot of organic matter mimicking their natural environments (all holiday cactus). With that said, I have to explain that epiphytes are plants that live on or in another plant. In the case of the easter cactus, it would likely be found growing in the crotch of a branch high up in a tree. I’ts succulent adaptation is that it stores what water it gets to counter the limits of its own soil space. The trailing habit of the Holiday cacti is both for getting more light but also so the stems can droop down over the edge of the branch and when conditions are right, the pads can snap loose and possibly sprout in some other place. In short it’s a means of asexual reproduction, which augments that the plant already produces beautiful flowers when mature. The flowers if pollenated produce brightly colored fruits and seeds. In short the entire plant is a lesson in adaptation and survival.


Ok those of you who ducked out of the biology lesson can return. Caring for a holiday cactus is relatively easy, first off use normal potting soil, you don’t need that cactus soil because you’re not growing true cacti. These epiphytes do best in light soil rich in organic matter, the soil also must drain well. Regular applications of liquid fertilizer during the summer months will produce the best growth; I might add growing these kinds of plant in clay pots seems to aid them in some way. It may be radiant heat or the air and water exchange granted by the porous clay of the pots. You can and should give these plants full sun during the summer and maintain reasonable summer moisture. Obviously Holiday cacti are frost sensitive so leaving them out beyond the end of September is not a good idea. Ideally a good sunny window where the cactus gets six or more hours of light will suffice for getting a good winter bloom. Now lastly, if the plant begins to drop pads (those are what the segments are called) it means your cactus may be stressed by something. Make sure you are not overwatering, that it’s getting the right amount of light and that you’re not fertilizing during the wrong time of year. As a final note on this topic, you can root dropped segments of a sick holiday cacti to clone a parent, but know that it will take a few years for the clones to bloom. This cloning process is often how one gets around a case of root rot before an entire plant is destroyed. In a way the holiday cactus are probably the most forgiving succulents known to agriculture.


Check it out definite color change!
Two weeks into the process and as you can see the ground cherry wine has an almost butter-like color. It’s not uncommon for batches of brew to change color in the process however this one went from yellow-orange to butter yellow which means it might wind up as a white sort of color when done. Time will tell the prickly pear wine was started in May and it’s first serve was October so there’s a lot of time between now and then in theory. But enough brewing shenanigans,  the weather this weekend is going to be beautiful with a high of 78 no chance of rain and a decent wind. This is in contrast to how the week started with cold and rain which goes with the precipitation for the week being 1.7”. That said it’s great Farmer’s market weather and I’ll be there, and if you want to stop by the farmers market is between 9:00 AM and 1:00 PM at 325 Franklin Street in downtown Fayetteville. But enough of that stuff onward to the market materials list.

Southward Skies: A northern guide to southern Gardening

This is the second edition of my book, which was published using data compiled from several years of test garden operations. It’s written to aid gardeners of all skill levels in successful garden methods that are targeted for the south east but had proven to be a valued resource for gardens across the weather coast. It’s certainly a good gift for that gardener you know or for yourself if you’d like to have a reliable field guide. The book costs $25.00 and we do take checks for this item, you can even have it signed. I forgot to mention that the book is also available online through amazon.com for $10.00 in electronic format!

Black Magic Fertilizer
That’s right you’ve heard about it in trials all summer. This specially formulated liquid fertilizer was made and tested at the test gardens using natural ingredients and no chemicals. The result explosive growth, great harvests and of course no environmental side effects! We’re making batches of this stuff to order, at $6.00 per gallon of fertilizer. You can either order it at the market and pick it up the next week or have it delivered to your home in the Fayetteville area for a delivery charge of an additional $2.00.

Fresh Cut Herbs
Bundles of Fresh Rosemary, short stem
Bundles of Fresh Rosemary, Long Stem
Bagged Fresh Rosemary No stems
Rosemary Holiday Wreaths.

Plants
4x Spineless Prickly Pear
6x Morris-Heading Cabbage Collards
3x Georgia Collards
1x Stonehead Cabbage
2x Savoy Cabbage

You all out there know the drill, the plant list signals the end of another episode of Lost in the farmer’s market. One more episode remains to be posted and Christmas is on Wednesday of this upcoming week. With that said Merry Christmas and thank you all for reading this blog and hitting up the booth at the Farmer’s Market. The next post will be the yearly numbers so stay tuned and as ways keep ‘em growing!

P.S.
They say it’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye. Personally I say the fun and games ends when the hooch runs out.


*Oh Myyy!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Decembers um....what have you!



Season’s Greetings,

Welcome to the second holiday episode of Lost in the Farmers Market or LITFM for short. Today we have a merry cavalcade of gardening delights, as noted last week the topic this week is the most festive plants that almost anyone can grow. That’s right just two weeks away from the big day of merriment we are talking Euphorbias, that plant species typified by the Poinsettias. Little did you all know it is a diverse and interesting family of which we have some interesting examples here at the test gardens kept as house plants. But Before I get into the topic of the day I must first talk about the weather and the precipitation report. This week as of Wednesday, we had 0.9” of rain spread across two days (Monday and Tuesday) and in between we had at least two frosting events. This is part of the major system that has caused a lot of trouble in the Midwest and Northwest. For our purposes it only gave rain which ensured a lot of crops were sufficiently toughened to handle the cold. We’re not out of the woods yet as far as cold is concerned as winter seems determined to make things difficult this year. Stay tuned for further precipitation information and remember one thing; just because its winter does not mean your cold seasonal crops are stopping their growth light fertilizer doses can go a long way to helping them establish stronger root systems.



Euphorbia pulcherrima - Poinsettia
Of course what is a discussion of the Euphorbia family without a brief overview of its most well-known member the Poinsettia. For those who haven’t studied this plant in any detail the history of the poinsettia is a bit tragic. The first culture to cultivate them was the Aztecs, but unfortunately when the Spanish Conquistadores showed up the destruction of the Aztec culture and recoded history was almost absolute. We still do not to this day know the Aztec name for the poinsettia, but we know it got its modern name from Robert Poinsett who recognized the plant and brought it back to Europe. That said poinsettias are photo-sensitive plants. That is much like chrysanthemums and Christmas/Easter Cactus they require certain lighting conditions to bloom. More so Poinsettias blooms aren’t what you think they are. The colored ‘petals’ are actually bracts or specially adapted leaves that simulate the effects of petals while still photosynthesizing. The little yellow things at the center of these ‘blooms’ are the actual flowers which are well…not so pretty. Most if not all euphorbias bloom this way and it’s a very specific biological adaptation.  As house plants it’s not hard to keep a poinsettia alive after the holidays, you just have to treat it as though it’s a regular house plant, and water enough keep the soil moist but not too much. Keep it in a bright but warm area for winter and then once the danger of frost is passed you can put it out as with the other temporary outdoor house plants.


Euphorbia milli ‘Fireworks’ – ‘Fireworks’ Crown of thorns

Next in line is the Crown of thorns a Euphorbia that is named due to its blooms. The name Crown of Thorns is a biblical reference to the crown of thorns commonly seen upon the head of a crucified Christ. The flowers on crown of thorns are always at the tips of the plants, typically deep blood red and form a red crown like shape. So you have a plant with spines, and what looks like a bloody crown, pretty easy how someone got the idea to name it that. What you don’t know is that crown of thorns is one of the pet-resistant plants due to the large obvious thorns. You treat Crown of Thorns as if it were a cactus which means limited watering and bright light. It can go out for the summer and if enticed to bloom Hummingbirds and butterflies to approve of its copious nectar. While not a plant to put in the ground in our climate it is a good long term house plant. I might add that the variety pictures ‘Fireworks’ also features variegated leaves which in my outlook makes it even more attractive because something is going on all year round. What is not visible is that typically Crown of thorns will have a brown or gray-brown sort of skin on the stems. Fireworks has a red-orange colored stem that almost makes the stems look like they are made of some sort of wax. Sometimes the dimensions of a house plant must extend beyond a bloom and include foliate and texture.

Euphobia tirucali ‘Firesticks’ – ‘Fire sticks’ Pencil Cactus

Move over Scotch Broom and let Euphorbia take over! The pencil cactus is actually a succulent and a member of the Euphorbia family.  Unlike the others in this entry the Pencil cactus is virtually leafless and has a reedy appearance that to a certain degree mimics either grass or Mares tail (equisetum). In the home it’s a accent plant that fills the general role of an accent plant for a bright area that doesn’t need the dangling habits of something like a philodendron. Typically I’d use Pencil cactus in lieu of a Christmas tree and dangle a bit of holiday stuff on it such as miniature bulbs and such and the plant is generally a good sport about it being rigid enough to tolerate my festive shenanigans. I can assure you there will be a picture of this when it’s completed. As a house plant it asks for little though putting it out for the summer causes it to color up in all shades of red, orange and yellow thus earning the name ‘Fire Sticks’.


Euphorbia tithymaloides – Devils Backbone or Redbird Cactus

At one time this species of Euphorbia was called Pedilanthus tithymaloides but recent changes in plant families due to the use of genetic testing have found that the pedilanthus family is in fact genetically Euphorbia. That said the devils backbone is named for its unique colors and the zig-zag pattern of this plant’s stems. The old saying ‘Crooked as the Devil’s Backbone’ comes to mind as the probable origin of the plant’s name. If one considers the brilliant red flowers and the probability that in its native environment the stems and leaves took on a red color at the end of the summer and you have a entomology of a name. As a house plant this euphorbia requires occasional watering and bright sunlight and will tolerate some drafts but not freezing. You would treat this plant the same as any other euphorbia in that you water regularly starting in spring through mid-fall then lay off it watering only when the soil is dry from mid-fall through winter. It can go out for the summer and may benefit from full sun exposure if you can keep up with its watering needs. In India this plant is being researched as a source of petro chemicals to make a plant substitute for petroleum fuel. In addition it has been noted that Devil’s Backbone has promise in agriculture for its ability to tolerate toxic soils.


Euphorbia mammilaris variegata – Indian Corn Cob Plant

“Hey Now! Is that a Euphorbia or are you just happy to see me?”
“No it’s a euphorbia….now get off my lawn you pervert!”

At least this is how I imagine the conversation might go with a sufficiently large Indian Corn Cob plant. This particular member of the Euphorbia family is an oddball for sure. Not only is it slow growing but it’s one of the Euphorbias that most resembles a true cactus and even has ‘spines’ to look the part. What you do not know is that the spines are actually modified leaves, and a close inspection will reveal that.  As far as the plants listed today go this is the most intolerant of being wet. It expressly requires periods of dryness between waterings and tends to get root rot at the drop of a hat however; once it gets growing it’s an easier alternative to a true cactus. I might add it has an odd coloration and texture that resembles some sort of albino Indian decorative corn. You can put it out for the summer but it has to come back in for the colder parts of fall and spring and cannot withstand our winters. Supposedly some can get this plant to bloom but I’ll believe it when I see it, and with that said we move on to one little foot note in the test gardens.

Not bad looking, it took three pounds of fruit or about a pound per pound of brew. The initial brewing container has it's liquids (mostly sugar-laced fruit juices). poured off into the container above and the fruit bits, contained in a nylon straining bag are squeezed of  most of their liquid. This creates a sort of fruit-pulp residue after all strained fluids are moved to the fermentation vessel (carboy) above. the residuals are re-hydrated somewhat with hot water and then are added to the worm bin. I call this mutual benefit, the worms get what amounts to compost-candy and well the rest of us get a lovely starting batch of what may be wine in a few weeks.
That’s right folks there is the batch of Ground Cherry Wine underway after the slightly fermented juices were moved to the primary brewing vessel. Despite the addition of green grapes and that the ground cherries were either orange or yellow it comes off an odd color at this stage. As the batch ages the color tends to change and darken. You can expect more information as this late winter-spring beverage continues fermenting. Now of course we move on to the topic of what’s happening at the market this week. As you may know I’ll be present and accounted for despite the poor forecast at the Fayetteville City/Farmer’s Market. The market is located at 325 Franklin Street and typically runs between the hours of 9:00 am and 1:00 pm. The Market is located in the front parking lot of the Fayetteville Transportation Museum. Of course what LITFM post would be complete without a list of what’s coming to market this week?


Southward Skies: A northern guide to southern Gardening

This is the second edition of my book, which was published using data compiled from several years of test garden operations. It’s written to aid gardeners of all skill levels in successful garden methods that are targeted for the south east but had proven to be a valued resource for gardens across the weather coast. It’s certainly a good gift for that gardener you know or for yourself if you’d like to have a reliable field guide. The book costs $25.00 and we do take checks for this item, you can even have it signed.

Black Magic Fertilizer
That’s right you’ve heard about it in trials all summer. This specially formulated liquid fertilizer was made and tested at the test gardens using natural ingredients and no chemicals. The result explosive growth, great harvests and of course no environmental side effects! We’re making batches of this stuff to order, at $6.00 per gallon of fertilizer. You can either order it at the market and pick it up the next week or have it delivered to your home in the Fayetteville area for a delivery charge of an additional $2.00.

Fresh Cut Herbs
Bundles of Fresh Rosemary, short stem
Bundles of Fresh Rosemary, Long Stem
Bagged Fresh Rosemary No stems
Bundles of Fresh Eucalyptus
Small Rosemary Wreath, fresh cut.

Plants
4x Spineless Prickly Pear
6x Morris-Heading Cabbage Collards
3x Georgia Collards
1x Stonehead Cabbage
2x Savoy Cabbage

This wraps up another edition of LITFM, there are two more episodes left in the month and as you may know we’re keeping it to festive topics for the month next week is the last of those topics because in our final update of 2013, we will be publishing the Sky test garden results. I admit that’s a little boring, a post about numbers but I’m sure some of you out there want to see the data.  So expect more house plants next week and as ways keep ‘em growing!

P.S.
While it is true that friends don’t let friends buy Christmas trees, Real friends help bury the bodies.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

December? Stop hiding out there I see you!



Happy Holidays and Seasons greetings!

Today’s episode marks the first of the four holiday episodes that LITFM does every year and today’s topic covers a sort of holiday success update. The other three episodes will cover holiday related garden stuff and the yearend wind down on the 28th will publish the SKYE test garden results of the year. But first I have to mention that as of this writing, we have had about 0.2” of precipitation this week, which comes on the heels of almost two inches last week. The warm weather is the result of a front which has brought a nice thaw and of course moisture. There is no doubt it will not remain but it is nice while it lasts it also gives a brief respite to shoe in whatever remaining plants you need to get in the garden or pot up. I took advantage of the weather as you can see below.



The sticks in the pots are 14” sticks cut out of one of the crape myrtles on the property. I call those ‘dummy sticks’ because the only purpose they serve is to keep the plastic tarps I put over the plants from pushing the plants in posts down with their weight.  The chicken-wire covers are there to prevent the squirrels from digging up the freshly potted plants. That said a bevy of potting up occurred this week because of the warm temperatures and those black pots to the rear are the result of that each pot is about a three-gallon nursery pot planted up with some of the cold-season stuff I just could not get out sooner. That said here a few pictures of the new plants so you get what I mean.

This is a close up of Dinosaur Kale which demonstrates what makes it so unique against plain old kale.

This little guy is a Daikon Radish, the same one the squirrels ripped out of its original pot and left to die on the planting bench. It recovered indoors in a humidity chamber and has tripled in size and finally is now outside in a 3-gallon pot for growing on.
The plant above is a Napa-Type cabbage, which as some of you who hit up the booth early in fall might know is a easier to grow alternative to Bok Choi.
That said at the end of September I began preparing to keep several high-performing heirlooms alive by varied means If volunteer plant were present they were cleaned of their soil and gently moved to new pots with fresh soil (Siam basil and Mexico midget tomato) or cuttings were taken (paul robeson tomato, underground railroad tomato, Pesto Basil and Red Rubin basil). The first group is seen below with the successful results. the little square pot below the leaves of the Tomato contains a Genovese basil seedling that volunteered between the cracks of stonework and unlike the others was transplanted with it's native soil intact.

Left to Right: Siam Basil, Mexico Midget Tomato Both plants are from volunteer seedlings recovered back in October, both just got repotted. The genetic purity of the Tomato is at question as the parent was grown beside Reisotomate, Paul Robeson, Underground railroad and within thirty feet of at least five other varieties.




Below are two mason jars with tomato and basil cuttings in each. The dark foliage in the jar on the left is a Red Rubin heirloom basil cutting. Both jars were kept indoors, and in front of a bright window with no direct sunlight.

The above two mason jars have several cuttings of both Paul Robeson and Underground railroad Tomatoes for the express purpose of cloning the vigorous parents to get a head start on the tomato season next year.




Below is some of the results, you can see the tomatoes had begun forming roots at a stem node near the water's surface. In a few weeks these cuttings can be potted up and kept on the deck in preparation for next year shaving weeks of start up time of the tomato season. The fact that these cuttings are essentially clones of the original also factors out any foreign pollen altering the quality of the fruit that will be born by these plants later.

As you can see stem cuttings of tomatoes if kept at constant temperature and provided plain water with bright indirect light will root in water. This allows for the maintenance of genetic purity in keeping heirlooms intact without relying on potentially variable seed stock.
With that said I'll post an update when it's available of what these plants are like once potted and the same goes for the as yet un-potted basils. With any luck this is a good way to keep plant varieties GMO-proofed.

As you may know we are still holding down the fort at the Fayetteville City/Farmer’s market. Cold temperatures and other factors have done little to force me from manning the booth so you can come on down and see what we’ve got for sale. The market is on Saturday between the hours of 9:00am and 1:00 pm and is located at the Fayetteville Transportation Museum. The physical address of the museum is 325 Franklin Street in downtown Fayetteville. The forecast for Saturday does call for some rain, which means I won’t have much in the way of paperwork on the table however the following will definitely be available.

Southward Skies: A northern guide to southern Gardening

This is the second edition of my book, which was published using data compiled from several years of test garden operations. It’s written to aid gardeners of all skill levels in successful garden methods that are targeted for the south east but had proven to be a valued resource for gardens across the weather coast. It’s certainly a good gift for that gardener you know or for yourself if you’d like to have a reliable field guide. The book costs $25.00 and we do take checks for this item, you can even have it signed.

Fresh Cut Herbs
Bundles of Fresh Rosemary, short stem
Bundles of Fresh Rosemary, Long Stem
Bagged Fresh Rosemary No stems

Plants
4x Spineless Prickly Pear
6x Morris-Heading Cabbage Collards
3x Georgia Collards
1x Stonehead Cabbage
2x Savoy Cabbage

This concludes the first December Episode of Lost in the Farmer’s Market, Next week we will be tackling a Family of plants that are quite significant this time of year the Euphorbia family. That’s right we’re going to cover the assorted forms of the family that Poinsettias made famous! So check back next year and make sure you’re sitting down, the biology lesson is going to be off the charts.  As always, Keep ‘em Growing!