Sunday, December 27, 2015

Progress on Aronia planting

Back in 2014, my aronia seeds were just germinating into tiny seedlings in trays. Since then, they have been transplanted into larger cells, and then planted into the ground.

Aronia melanocarpa seedling growing
Here is one seedling planted outside in May of 2015. I mulched the plants with woodchips and scattered some cow manure around to fertilize them. This one seems to be happy so far! 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Cucurbita Foetidissima Seedlings

 Cucurbita foetidissima, also known as buffalo gourd, is a plant that I have been dieing to grow. It is closely related to cultivated squash and pumpkins that we regularly eat, but contains bitter cucurbitacins that are somewhat toxic and taste awful. The plants also produce a large perennial taproot that is supposedly quite winter hardy. It is a really cool plant that deserves way more attention from plant breeders.

Cucurbita Foetidissima seedling
Seed germinates and pokes through soil after 1-2 weeks

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Update on Seed Grown Walking Onions

The walking onions that I grew from seeds are still growing on, and have started to mature a bit more. So far, the bases look like normal green onions, but the parental walking onions look the same at this point too. Hopefully they form more of a bulb soon. The rest of this post is just a quick update on the flowers. 

Walking onion flower
This split plant has two perfect flower stalks, one developing, and one odd one

Monday, June 16, 2014

My First Look at Terra Preta

Terra preta is a type of very fertile soil formed from human incorporation of charcoal into the soil. It is specifically referring to soil found in select regions of the Amazon Basin. I have done a little bit of reading on the subject to find out what makes the soil so great and how I can make some for myself. It turns out, making terra preta is not all that difficult provided you have plenty of wood or plant biomass to pyrolyze. But that takes time and makes plenty of smoke even with dry wood. With all this rain, I have to wait a bit until I have some nice bone-dry wood to experiment with. After thinking that I had to wait to make some, I remembered something: the old sugar shack/ pile of bricks and metal area in the woods. After digging a shovel into the soil, it looks like I found myself some New York style terra preta.

Terra preta
Terra preta soil looks and feels nice!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Starting Seeds for a Future Orchard

Over winter, many gardeners find themselves bored with little gardening to do. It is that mentality that makes the winter seem dreadfully long here. In order to pass the time, I often found myself looking through plant catalogs and gardening books envying the selection of fruit trees and berry shrubs that are available. Browsing these I thought, "I need an orchard!"

Winter is a bitch
Winter can be unkind to gardeners

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Cardoon That Could

One of the struggles of gardening far in the north is that there is winter. Winter can really suck sometimes, especially when you want to grow plants that are marginally hardy. One of the plants that I really have wanted to grow is the cardoon plant. Growing cardoons in zone 5 and even zone 6, can be a difficult thing to do. This is the surprising story of how I managed to overwinter cardoons in zone 5-6ish NY.

The surviving cardoon in late May 2014

Friday, May 30, 2014

Seed Grown Walking Onions

For the past few years, I have been growing topset onions (also known as Egyptian onions, walking onions, tree onions, and more). The plants normally produce many marble sized onions instead of flowers. These bulbils are really easy to grow, as they often have roots forming before they even hit the ground. I was curious as to what would happen when the plants were grown from seed instead of the bulbils. I had no idea what would happen, or if the seeds were even fertile.

walking onion bulbils
Last years bulbils on walking onions