Sunday, December 9, 2012

Fig Clone and Popped Sorghum

One of the contaminated clones.

Good leaf growth on this tissue.

Good root development on this tissue sample.

In clean room getting ready for transfers.

Out of old medium and into new medium.

Two jars become four - good work.

Seal, label, and wait for another 8 weeks.

Let's hope at least one continues to grow of the four.

Sorghum crop from this year.

Ready for popping in the microwave.

Looks just like mini-popcorn.

Google this name and once again new info will fill your screen.

Common snack food in other places - why not here???

The spinach in the cold frames has sprouted unfortunately I did not get pictures today because it started to SNOW! However, we should have a nice crop come spring as three of the four frames have good germination; even the seed I planted in the old cotton bed close to the house has sprouted.  I should not complain we need the moisture to replenish our very dry ground.
Saturday I went back to Fox Valley Tech to check on the fig clones.  Three jars were contaminated as the pictures show and two jars showed good growth.  I went back to the clean room and transferred the tissue to new medium jars.  From two jars we got four new jars as one of the tissue cultures split in half.  One of the cultures had good root development as one of the pictures shows and the rest showed leaf growth.  This is tissue from our original Chicago Brown Turkey fig which has a great taste compared to the new one we got last spring -so hopefully we will get at least one clone to grow to full size.
Now about the sorghum crop from this season.  I harvested the seed heads, threshed it with a jug of sand as a roller and winnowed the chaff out on a breezy day.  We got a big jar and a small half pint of seed.  Experimenting with popping methods we have found the microwave is the most efficient.  We put a couple of tablespoons in a dish, cover and nuke it for two minutes or until we have as much popped as will pop.  It has a nutty flavor and for all the world looks like miniature popcorn.  On a recent visit to an Indian grocery store we found, as pictured, a large bag of the stuff already popped.  Seems that this is a snack food and they seem to have varieties that pop real well.  I will look into trying to get some of that for next season - seed that is.  For now we will continue to pop our crop and purchase some from the Indian grocery in Appleton when were are there.  My wife is allergic to corn and she was very fond of popcorn but it's off her food list - too tough on her system - the popped sorghum makes a great substitute without the nasty effects of a corn allergy. Try some if you can find it in a local ethnic market or some health food stores stock some of this too - one brand is called "Popghum". 
Happy Gardening

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Clone a Fig

Propagation/grafting class at FVTC

Practice for a cleft graft

And another success.

Figgy - our tissue source.

The one hour rinse.

The "clean room" procedures.

Tissue sectioning.

Tissue in growth medium.

Now the wait time...

Both fig trees wrapped in remay cloth.

The cold frame -hoop house- replacement.

The pop sorghum needed to be thrashed for use.

A busy fall has meant not a lot of time for the blog.  The garden is ditched for winter, the cold frames are planted.  When the hoop house came down I decided that four cold frames would be about the same amount of space that the hoop house covered and they would be much easier to manage and move.  The are all planted with spinach, lettuce, some mustard,  and radish.  Our cold spell has slowed the seed germination.  In the plans for spring are two more new frames - a winter garage project. I really think that for my small space these structures better suit the planting plans than a hoop house.  We will see.

The garlic was finally planted the same time as the cold frames but less of it.  I am really going to try for better space utilization than having a six foot square garlic patch and not be able to use it all before it goes bad in the winter.  Likewise, the tomato patch will get scaled down next season - no more 60-70 plants.  That's just too many to harvest and clean up later in the season.

I had occasion to teach twice at Fox Valley Tech College.  The beginning Horticulture class and a Propagation class where we worked on grafting and looked at mechanical grafting of herbaceous plants. We did some cleft grafting with apple.  The class was successful so now they can collect scion wood next February and then do some real grafting in May on their own trees.

After class I did some  tissue culture, with help from Roxanne, the teacher whose classes I get to speak with at Fox Valley.  The tissue came from the old fig tree that I gave them when she grew out of our space here.  I cut five samples from terminal buds from "Figgy" and then they had to be run under water for an hour.  After that the protocol entailed sterilization, rinsing, tissue cutting, and flasking on a growth medium  All in a sterile environment as you note in the pictures.  In about a month, I will go back down to Fox Valley, with hopes of have some success and sub-dividing to the next culture.  I really hope this works because the figs off of the new tree that I bought last spring are just not as flavorful as the ones from "Figgy".

Also our fig trees, Chicago and the Black, are all bundled up and hopefully happy in their new winter home in the garden shed.  Putting them in the crawlspace just has not worked.  They are heavy, the branches get broken as they are hauled into the space and they always seem to want to start growing in February a month before I ever turn the heat on in the greenhouse.  Once again we are in experiment mode - and I also hope this works or we might be fig-less next spring.

The pop sorghum crop was finally dry enough to thresh and then winnow.  I used a gallon jug full of sand for threshing and waited until we had a windy day and winnowed the seed from the chaff.  We got a nice amount almost a half gallon of seed.  Popping discovery came when the air popper would not do the job so we went to placing 2 TBS of seed in a Corning ware dish, covering, and blasting away.  Success - so the next time we cook some I will take some pictures of our popped seed.  Absolutely looks like miniature popcorn.
Happy Gardening

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Fall Clean Up

The squash harvest was excellent

This was the hoop house - gone for good.

The pepper harvest from the EarthBox planters.

Black figs ready to eat.

Pop Sorghum ready for harvest.

Pop Sorghum eaten by the birds!

And this was supposed to be a Roma bean?

These are my favorite beans for next year.

Nice crop of apples this year even with the dry weather.

This is the red stemmed dandelion but its really chicory.

These yellow zinnias are a great bedding plant.

Pineapple sage is a fall bloomer.

Jelly melon - soon to be chicken food.

The end of the 2012 season for the main garden.

Waiting for the yard collection - most of this is not compost material.

Fall asters are cheery little guys.

The garden clean up was started today.  The squash have all been harvested and for now are in the garage.  They will be in the basement later this month for storage.  The garlic is dry and if I can find my bags I will hang it in the crawl space as the temperature is cooler than in the full basement and should allow for longer storage.  Onions were a flop this year so I don't have any of them to store.  I cut down all the tomato vines and sent them to the curb for pick up hopefully sometime this week.  I did the same with the beans, cucumber, and squash vines.  I started cutting all the sorghum but decided to put that off for a week.
The sorghum was kind of a success.  I harvested part of the crop a few weeks ago and lucky for us as the birds found it and ate all the rest of it so we have half of what we might have had for a harvest.  We experimented with air popping it and found that putting a serving in a wax paper bag and microwaving it was the best way to get it to pop.  I have maybe a quart or more of seed for popping so some small success with that.
The hoop house is gone.  It was an interesting experiment but not the best use of space in my small garden.  I intend to use my cold frames instead as I can get about the same amount of space use with them and they and can be moved much easier than the hoop house.  Plus, the plastic covering issue was not cost or time effective so no more hoop house in this garden.
The red stemmed dandelion (chicory) was really a great salad plant this year.  The plants are still producing fresh leaves and although they are bitter I find the taste agreeable and good in salads and other dishes.  I have not had them winter over so I will get and plant more next season for sure.
The fig trees have finished and we had a nice crop from both trees - the black figs do have the best flavor - but the brown turkey is easier to manage in this climate.  The jelly melons never did get ripe.  But I have a friend with chickens and they might like them.
I harvested the beans for next year and they are in a grocery bag for winter storage.  I only saved the "no name" old variety that I have had for a long time as the other trial bean varieties were not good.  The one so called Roma pole bean that very reluctantly set fruit, finally did, and the pods were small and not very good.  I let them mature and have some full sized pods to shell to see if they are better that way.  As a green pole bean they had poor flavor and tasted like one was eating soy beans instead of pole beans.  The other yellow Romano had poor flavor and we ate very few of them.  All the poles are clean and stacked on the top of the shed for winter.
The apples are slowly ripening and with so many different kinds on the grafted trees, I test each variety and pick only those that are ready.  My storage method is a set of Colman coolers in the garage.  Last year with the threat of a freeze, I picked everything and was unhappy when it did not get as cold as threatened.  This year I am going to let fruit stay on the trees as long as it takes for them to get ripe - ignoring the threat of freezing ( hopefully with good results).
Every fall is different.
Happy Gardening

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Short Break - Now Back To The Garden

2012 Tomato crop - good year

Great yellow Zinnia - Profusion Yellow - well named

We are waiting on this beauty.

Pop-sorghum will make a good crop.

Horned Jelly Melon.

Black Figs on this tree are excellent.

Peppers in the Earthboxes are good this year too.

Our own Kaboch squash - a new crop for us.

One of the lakes in Canada that I fished.

I have been on the road- out of the country - and just not around  - for some time so the garden has had to fend for itself; and it has.
We have had loads of great tomatoes this year.  The salad varieties have been in a bowl on the kitchen counter for weeks and I even took enough with me to Canada fishing to last the whole week.  The "Tomatoberry" and the "Sweet Treat" are winners along with "Sugary" of course.  the "Red Peach" and the "Yellow Peach" just as good as always - but way too tender to even travel in a gift bag so they are eat right from the vine.
The beans are done and so are the cucumbers.  The one reluctant pole bean finally is starting to produce and the pods have little flavor and mostly they look and taste like soy beans so raw they are not the best.  I am glad the seeds man already sent me a credit for them as they were a poor crop and will just be compost material.
The cantaloupes have been good and the jelly melon vines took over everything they grew on, but this year they have made fruits and I am waiting for them to get ripe - who knows when that will be.  We had our first watermelon and there are three more in the garden - it is difficult to let them alone because they are soo good and we really have eaten many store bought watermelons this season.
The "pop-sorghum" is maturing nicely and its seems to be bird safe so far, but it is not ripe yet either.  Later in the season we will see what happens.
Both the fig trees are finally producing and fresh tree ripened figs are so so good.  Everyone should have a potted tree. 
We are into the apple harvest and noticeably the size is not there this season and I will have to blame the hot June and July that was rainless when they were growing.  However, we did not suffer from a killing spring frost that some orchards had this year and that means they have sadly no fruit.
Cucumbers, peppers, melons, beans, tomatoes, garlic, apples, and squash - nice harvest so far this season. I would also note that my most favorite veggie this year again was the red stemmed dandelion greens (really an endive) - they have been wonderful - bitter and edible all season - another experiment that one should try if you like greens.
Happy Gardening