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

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!

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