Worms and Flowers

Pollen Under the Microscope

Posted in Scientific by Lzyjo on May 1, 2010

Who knew allergies could be beautiful?! Swiss photographer Martin Oeggerli took ultra-microscopic pictures using a device called a  scanning-electron microscope (SEM) these photos are stunningly and even frighteningly beautiful. I especially loved the uniqueness of the pollen from each different species.

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Forget-me-not pollen photo by Martin Oeggerli

Check it out on MSNBC, “Micropollen:The Beauty behind your allergy misery.

10 Days Later

Posted in Garden by Lzyjo on April 10, 2010

Springtime moves faster than any other season. One day the trees are grey and bare, the next the entire hillside is green and bright. It’s amazing what happens in just ten days.

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On April first I put the sweet potato in a jar. Ten days later there are three roots, one going all the way to the bottom of the jar and more a starting to grow sideways.  There are also two tiny purple nodes where the leaves will pop out.

Notice the bottle of sunblock on the table. It’s been hot here, in the 80s, and naturally I got my first sunburn of the season.

Back in third grade my class went on a farm trip for four or five days. One of the most memorable things (apart from getting really sick) was a grace we learned before meals in the dining hall. (I finally remembered the whole thing)

We Thank the for this food this food,
Glorious, Glorious Food
From the animals,
For the the vegetables,
That make it possible…..
(I think it was supposed to end here, but the class added)
to take a big dump.

(followed by the most incorrigible farting sounds imaginable.)

Our class INSISTED on using THAT grace for a LONG WHILE afterward, it was an instant class with the 9 and 10 year olds…..

Anywho!……I’m thankful for the cow poo around here so I put some around my rhubarb plant(1 year old) just a baby. Ten days later the leaves are huge.

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Grow, baby, grow! Grow, grow, grow!

So this week’s lesson is: if your have children never teach them a grace involving thankfulness for manure or anything related to poo.

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When changes have you noticed?

An Army of Sunflowers

Posted in Garden by Lzyjo on April 4, 2010

The infamous stop-motion animated skeleton scene from Jason and the Argonauts is unfolding in my garden. (You can see the original scene on YouTube Jason and the Argonauts Skeleton Scene.)
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Near the end of the story Jason kills the hydra guarding the golden fleece. Meanwhile the evil King Aeetes takes the teeth of the hydra, plants them, says a short prayer to Hecate, and the teeth emerge as an army of seven skeletons in a quite dramatic fashion, not unlike the thick clay crust in my garden.

Sweet Potato Slips

Posted in Garden, How To, Sweet Potato by Lzyjo on April 1, 2010

What the hay is a sweet potato slip? This question has been really bothering me and now I know they are rooted clippings from shoots that sprout from sweet potatoes. Silly me, Whenever I heard things like plant sweet potato slips, I assumed they were like seed potatoes, or something, even though I knew that Sweet Potatoes Ipomoae batatas are part of the morning glory family and grow underground from vines that spread along the surface. (Yams  also grown from vines, but are from a different family, Dioscoreaceae.)

Sweet potatoes come in a wide variety of colors from white and yellow and reds and purples. Dry and moist fleshed variates are both available.  In the Tropical Americas where sweet potatoes originated, dry fleshed white variates are preferred. Ethnic markets in the US  also offer the white-fleshed variates. The moist copper skin/orange flesh sweet potato is the most common one in the US and the one you will see in all the chain groceries.

Sweet potatoes have been ranked as one of the healthiest vegetables, they are full of vitamin and minerals and contain healthy complex carbs good for moderating the blood sugar because they are slow to digest and consequently very satisfying and filling.

One of the problems I had comprehending the definition of “sweet potato slips” is none of these articles ever said where you buy sweet potato slips. Do they come in Bags? Sets? Pieces? Now it makes sense. After Googling sweet potato plants I saw a bunch of pictures showing sweet potatoes leafing out in jars. All you need is a sweet potato root to make slips. The first challenge is getting your root to sprout. Sweet potatoes keep for a darned long time. How do I know this? Because I ate one yesterday purchased last fall and there’s still one hiding in the cupboard. Research shows that sweet potatoes sprout best a 95% humidity,

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I picked a nice wide mouth jar that fit the sweet potato securely and filled it with enough water so it’s barely touching the root. You will notice that one end of the sweet potato is pointier than the other. This is where the roots will start from. The blunter end is where the leaves will emerge. Now I need to wait. Once enough spouts emerge I will cut them and make sure they have their own roots. Hopefully I will get several plants from this root.This would also be a fun project to do with the kiddos. Oh, one more thing sweet potatoes need a long growing season 90-100 days to mature.

Resources:

WorldCrops Sweet Potato tons of good info about sweet potatoes from a worldwide perspective included several recipes.

The Walden Effect: Homesteading Year4 Good how to series “clipping sweet potato slips” with super step-by-step photos of the process.

Compost Guy Growing Sweet Potato Slips. Good photos and info for making multiple cuttings.

and if you happened to have a couple of sweet potatoes hanging around here are a few great variations for baked sweet potato fries. Care2 Sweet Potato Fries Three Ways.

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