Godless in the garden


Godless in the garden

Discussing all aspect of gardening.

Location: Planet Earth
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Comment by Loam Gnome on November 13, 2018 at 10:31am

Joan, here's an article about parthenocarpy.  For the tropical grower, all of our seedless bananas and navel oranges are parthenocarpic.  The seedless grocery story grapes are also parthenocarpic.  For the home grower, seedless grapes are another example.  I think the seeded grapes have better flavor but some newer seedless ones come close.  I think the grocery store grapes are also treated with giberellic acid to produce much bigger seedless grapes than I get in my garden  Sweet but less flavor. 

Territorial Seeds claims to be the only seed company offering a full line of parthenocarpic tomato seeds.  this might be useful for you.  Here is what they say:  "Parthenocarpic tomato plants are able to set fruit at cooler temperatures, giving you ripe tomatoes often 10 days to 2 weeks earlier than other types, depending on your weather. The first tomatoes on these vines will also be seedless. Later fruit from flowers that are pollinated will contain some seeds."  There are also parthenocarpic cucumbers now.  Those do not require bees to set fruits.  Apparently, the parthenocarpic cucumbers become bitter and misshapen if they are pollinated by bees, so are grown in greenhouses.  Various seed companies sell seeds for parthenocarpic cucumbers - Johhny's Selected Seeds is one.  Jungs sells some parthenocarpic pepper seeds.  I did not do a comprehensive search - those are almost random links.

Randy, when you finish raking your leaves, I know where you can get more :-)  Unfortunately, about 2000 miles away from you!  My plan is to fill up the pickup truck with neighbor leaves today or tomorrow and haul for compost and mulch.  I still want to mulch the blackberry bed and a few more fruit tree surrounds.  The rest are for compost.

As an aside, I decided to look into the local Master Gardener program, with intent to join it.  I'm not very sociable, but it seems like a fit for me.  That would mean starting some classes next fall.  I will think about it some more and see what the future bears.  Life is unpredictable  but planning ahead is still a good thing.

Comment by Randall Smith on November 13, 2018 at 7:24am

Spent several hours raking and wheel-barrowing leaves to both my compost pile and garden (spread out to cover). I also used them to cover my strawberry plants. I'm not anywhere finished, either.

So far into November, it's been the coldest on record, so I've been burning lots of firewood also. I have my pecans sitting on the stove to dry out.

Comment by Joan Denoo on November 12, 2018 at 9:28pm

Loam, I forgot what parthenocarpic meant & had to look it up. 
from Greek parthenos virgin + karpos fruit.

Comment by Loam Gnome on November 12, 2018 at 8:35pm

Joan, some plants do fine with no insects.  I think tomatoes, peppers, beans are self pollinating.  They might need wind or movement to shake the flowers.  Cucurbits are easy to hand pollinate - cucumbers, squash, pumpkin, zucchini.  Sweetcorn is wind pollinated.  Most fruits benefit greatly fron insects although most figs are parthenocarpic, as are many persimmons.  

Comment by Joan Denoo on November 12, 2018 at 6:09pm

Pollinating in the greenhouse seems doable, are you able to do it in your garden, or do you count on natural processes for all the other things that you grow? Your orchard plan sounds workable and from what you show in your photos, you have everything you need. The quality of your fruits and vegetables provide a lovely table of food. 

A new member just joined who is vegan. That was Risa Rose who joined yesterday. I recommended your Food site to her.

Comment by Loam Gnome on November 12, 2018 at 5:26pm

Joan, thank you for the interesting information.

For some of my plants, I'm trying to get around the reduction of pollinators.  I hand pollinate squashes and pumpkins.  For some fruit trees, I graft multiple varieties onto the same trees, so the insects don't have to travel much at all.  Plus a little wind pollination might work in such a short distance.

Nature is changing.  We need to find ways to adapt.

Comment by Joan Denoo on November 12, 2018 at 5:22pm

Looking for a photo of oyamel fir forests in Mexico, I discovered this talented photographer of nature, Julio Valdez, Here is his picture of Abies religiosa (Sacred fir), USDA Zone: 8 (10 to 20 F / -6.7 to -12.2 C).


"This species is native to the mountains of central and southern Mexico — Eje Volcánico Transversal, Sierra Madre del Sur; and western Guatemala. It grows at high elevations of 6,900 to 13,500 feet (2,100 – 4,100 m) above sea level in cloud forests with high rainfall, cool, humid summers and dry winters in most of its habitat with the exception of the state of Veracruz to the east where grows with precipitation all year long. Regular winter snowfalls occur on the highest populations.

The story of the Monarch butterfly gets more interesting as I follow its journey. 

Eje Volcánico Transversal,

Comment by Joan Denoo on November 12, 2018 at 4:11pm

Where do pollinators go in the winter? Bees, butterflies, and birds have interesting overwinter strategies. 

"honey bees form special clusters inside their hives to keep warm. Worker honey bees huddle around their queen and vibrate their wings and bodies in a “shivering” behavior in order to generate heat inside the hive. This behavior is amazingly carried out all winter and uses up a lot of the bees’ energy. In order to fuel this heated huddle, honey bees use their stored honey as a main source of food in order to stay energized and keep the queen and the hive at an optimal temperature throughout the winter!"

"Monarch butterflies migrate over 3000 miles and 5000 kilometres from Canada and the Northern United States all the way to the oyamel fir forests in Mexico."

"most hummingbirds in North America also migrate far distances in the winter, such as the rufous hummingbird which can migrate up to 4000 miles and over 6000 kilometres from Alaska all the way to Mexico."

My garden critters demonstrate the wonders of nature and the durability of little things. The more I know about them the more I respect them. 

A dead giant Ponderosa pine stands across the meadow from my room. Now, patches of snow cover the ground; in the summertime, I use that tree as a feeding place for bees and birds. Woodpeckers created holes, billions and billions of them, getting the worms that live there. A whole village of living things occupies that giant apartment house. The deer gather there, too, as well as the wild turkeys. Occasional wild ducks and geese walk through, too. I don't know why; there is no standing water on these 17 acres of sand dunes. Several lakes surround us, caused by glacial melt that left clay filling the low spots and sealing the water into "tubs."  

Comment by Loam Gnome on November 12, 2018 at 1:09pm

Randy, if it's a real hawthorne, then pears can be grafted onto it.  Pears are usually among the easiest fruits to graft. 

I tried grafting pears onto hawthornes, but it turned out those were cascara, not hawthorne.  So they didn't take.

Currently heating with the firewood I cut 2 years ago.  We have a semi-wild area that serves as a woodlot.  Several of those trees fall over every year, so I cut them up for firewood.  Then they sit in the open sided woodshed for one or two years to dry out.  These logs are 6 to 9 inches in diameter, so don't need splitting, just cutting into sections.  After they burn, I spread the ashes around trees and in the garden.

My soil is very acidic, and the main minerals lacking are calcium and magnesium.  Wood ashes are alkaline, and contain high amounts of calcium - 25% ..., as well as magnesium, potassium, and other minerals.  Wood ashes are mostly calcium carbonate, which is what my soil needs the most.  I apply a much lower amount compared to what the link recommends - I'd rather not overdo it.  The link says 5 pounds per 100 square feet per year.  I probably spread about 1 pound per 100 square feet, if that much.  Ed Hume recommends spreading ash around trees and shrubs.  I avoid around acid-loving plants, like chestnut trees, rhododendrons, azaleas, as well as where I will grow potatoes next season. Ed Hume recommends 1 gallon per square yard, or 1/4 to 1/2 inch on lawns and flower beds.  Again, I just apply a dusting.

Comment by Randall Smith on November 9, 2018 at 8:01am

Good stuff--thanks.

What I thought was a regular apple tree I started from seed from a store bought apple (can't remember the name), turned out to be a Hawthorne, spiny limbs with inedible fruits. It must have been a hybrid of some sort. Oh well. 


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