February 6, 2014

Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grade Plant Project?

Would you water your plants with coffee? Is Miracle-Gro best? Will a little vinegar in water kill seedlings? What about bringing in some snow from outside?  These are questions being tested in a mid-winter 5th grade science fair project with some interesting results.  Cilantro and Nasturtium seeds were planted in cups using potting soil with low fertilizer in the mix. The cups were labeled so each plant was only watered with one of the following 6 liquids:Coffee, City Tap Water,  Miracle-Gro plant food,   Water with a small amt. of Vinegar,  Melted Snow,   Mint Tea

 What would you guess would be the first plant to sprout?  After one week, the Nasturtiums sprouted first from the coffee and the vinegar cups. So the plants watered with acidic liquids sprouted first. Would they also grow faster?  The Nasturtiums watered with coffee have stayed ahead of all the other plants, and on the 16th day are the tallest, at 16cm tall. 

 Very surprisingly, the plants watered with plant food have not even sprouted until finally on the 16th day, the cilantro is coming up. We thought maybe we forgot to even plant them. Why would the seeds watered with plant food be the last to grow? Except for the weird plant food cups, all the Nasturtiums have grown much faster than Cilantro, which must be just the way those plants grow.

So on the 16th day, here are the growth results so far: 
Comparing Nasturtiums only- 1st place is coffee, 2nd is city water, 3rd is melted snow, 4th is mint tea, 5th is vinegar water, and last place is plant food.
Comparing Cilantro only- 1st place is vinegar water, 2nd is melted snow, 3rd is coffee, 4th is mint tea, 5th is city water, and last place is plant food.

June 30, 2011

Crimson and Lucky Clover Over and Over

 Have you ever found a four-leaf-clover?  Well, I have found about 60 in the last 2 months. I'm finding them in 2 different locations which are not near each other. Perhaps I'd find them in other places too, but I haven't scoured the city yet. It began as a surprise as I walked my dog, then started to get a little weird.. Now I just expect to find them. I don't remember ever finding one before in my life, or even having any hopes of finding one. Now I think about them all the time and have a large collection pressed in my "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince".
According to the internet, you only will find a four-leaf-clover among 10,000 regular 3-leaved clover. But I can tell you it's not completely random. They grow in concentrated areas. The four leaved clusters are attached to plants with regular 3-leaved clusters, but nearby, there will soon be another 4-leaf.  Also, this has to be "White Clover"...not other clover look-alikes.
I started pressing them in a book, and didn't even pick every one I saw once it started getting rediculous.. But then I got this idea to make them into charms. Now I'm making these glass charms to give to special people.

April 3, 2011

Snowmelt Garbage Dog Treats

Now that the snow is almost gone in Minnesota, I'm finding a lot of things as I walk my dog. The sidewalk salt is bad for their feet, but I can't give the dog a warm paw wash every time we come inside. There's a whole winter's worth of garbage, lost items, rabbit droppings, decomposing squirrels, cigarettes and poop which has all melted out of the snow pile, and is now littering the muddy, moldy grass.  I even found this 1/2 onion on the boulevard, which fell into the snow sometime during the winter.  Onions are toxic to dogs. My dog will grab anything in his mouth, so I have to watch the ground carefully. It's ugly out there.

August 18, 2010

Don't Give Up.

A Ragged, Torn Monarch Butterfly in Minnesota fuels up on nectar before the big migration to Michoacan, Mexico.  

July 21, 2010

Pretty Garden Angels of Death

Datura and Brugmansia are both known as "Angel's Trumpet". These are tropical plants which have recently become popular here in Minnesota as a showy, fast growing garden annual. I've seen it in backyard gardens, but most disturbing is the increase in use of Datura in public and business plantings. For identification, I believe the Brugmansia flower hangs down, is often colored pink or peach, and grows as a woody shrub, getting 8 ft tall in warm climates. The Datura plant has pure white flowers which point up, and is a fast, low growing annual, flowering freely on new stems.
It's the Datura which I keep seeing in gardens around here.
Both of these plants are deadly hallucinogenics.
Datura, also known as Jimson Weed, Moon Flower, or Thorn Apple is native to Mexico and southern US.
Ingesting the plant has psychological effects lasting for days, and "people have been found wandering without knowing where they are or how they got there"... En Mexico, Brugmansia se llama 'Floripondio'. y Datura se llama 'Toloache'.

There's also a Moonflower Vine (Ipomoea alba) with large white flowers that open in the evening... That's not related to Angel's Trumpet, and is not as toxic. Ipomoea is the Morning Glory family. The small seeds are said to be toxic, and the plant is listed as harmful to cats & dogs. The very poisonous plants discussed above: Datura and Brugmansia, are not vines.
P.S. If you promise not to try anything stupid, here's an extensive article about the history of Datura and Brugmansia being used by native people in Central & South America: http://b-and-t-world-seeds.com/Datura.htm

Here's the link to the Poison Control Plant Guide: http://www.mnpoison.org/index.asp?pageID=116

June 4, 2010

From the Garden to the Greenroom...This Weekend in Minneapolis/ St. Paul

June hits, and that's it: Fast-Forward. Plants are going crazy, all the freaky larvae are slithering everywhere, I killed my first mosquito, and the local live music scene is in full bloom.

This weekend in the Twin Cities offers so many cool activities, I'm traumatized that I won't be able to be in 10 places at once.

Tonight, Friday:
Serious rock show: Frances Gumm, The Tisdales , Easy Baby and The Crossing Guards at the Turf Club in St. Paul, MN...and a very cool, last-chance-for-a-while to see visual Artist, El Perdido.

Saturday, June 5:
The Saint Anthony Park Arts Festival in St. Paul:
http://www.stanthonyparkartsfestival.org/ Go early, and they have a PLANT SALE in the gas station parking lot, run by the neighborhood garden club. This plant sale is unique because it consists of mainly plants which the gardeners have divided from their yard, and potted up nicely for you. There are also some veggies grown from seed, and other random plants which have been acquired by various means.

Saturday Night:
Middle States, Al Grande, Garret McPhae and Jill Zimmerman at the St. Paul Eagles Club !

April 16, 2010

Chasing the Green Goblin

Saint Paul, Minnesota...
Emerald Ash Borer vs. Fraxinus.

I took these pictures of Ash trees located in a St. Paul city park. The EAB was only discovered for the first time in Minnesota in spring of 2009. This is a technique called girdling, to make "trap trees" for detection and survey of the Emerald Ash Borer. By cutting the bark so severely, the tree becomes stressed, thus attracting the beetles.
These cut trees will die within 2 years now, but in the meantime during their decline, they'll become more and more attractive to the beetles and serve as a way of monotoring the infestation.

From the City of St. Paul website:
"The Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) is an exotic beetle that was first discovered in Michigan in July 2002, probably having arrived on solid wood packing material shipped from its native Asia. Without any natural predators or controls in North America, it has spread into nearby states, Canada, and now into Minnesota, having killed millions of ash trees along the way.
Unfortunately, wherever it has been discovered, there has been no stopping its devastation, though millions of dollars have been spent on a variety of prevention methods. The economic impact on states, municipalities, property owners, nursery operators, and forest industries has been overwhelming. Minnesota’s estimated 930 million ash trees could be decimated in Saint Paul, the metro area and the entire state".

Click the following link to go to my 2009 post about the Emerald Ash Borer in St. Paul: http://rockandrollgardener.blogspot.com/2009/07/mean-green-machine.html

This site explains it well: http://www.emeraldashborer.info/files/Using_Girdled_Trap_Trees_Effectively_For_EAB_Detection_Delimination_&_Survey.pdf

April 12, 2010

Pansies are Dramatic

Pansies and violas withstand freezing temps. They bloom until they burn out in the summer heat. It's the only annual worth planting early spring in our zone. Have you looked closely?

April 6, 2010

Look the other way, kids. I want a non-commercial garden.

I went to the garden center to look at seeds. Here in Minnesota, they're just starting to put out the very earliest pansies and violas. Our official last day of frost is May 15, which seems crazy to wait that long before planting anything outdoors. It's almost a joke here because the cold fall comes along so fast, that we never have enough time to realize our garden dreams.

Anyway, I was trying to buy some staple seeds like cilantro, radish, spinach, and marigold. Guess what my 4 year-old found on the shelf ?...vegetable seeds marketed to children, using the "Veggie Tales" show, which I can't stand because it contains a religious agenda without mentioning that anywhere on the label. They try to trick my children into buying their religious videos using cute talking vegetables...now they're moving in on my garden. And I love how they encourage kids to plant pumpkins and watermelon...Does anybody realize how much room those plants take??

And What's up with this Cactus Kit "Learning Garden"?? ...Children will "learn" about pain as soon as they touch those prickly thorns. OR, they will learn about failure when the seeds don't grow at all (most likely). There's no way my kids are going to be fooling around with cacti.

What's wrong with learning about seeds and gardening without all the marketing BS ? Plain 'ol bean seeds are very fun to plant, with a high success rate.

March 16, 2010

Shamrocks and Lava Rocks

on a bed of pine needles. I took this photo in Hawaii.

February 3, 2010

Ringo Digs Minneapolis Music

At the Grammy Awards in L.A. on Jan. 31st, Ringo Starr was wearing a T-shirt from our local record store here in Minneapolis, The Electric Fetus. This store has been here practically forever, and was recently hit by a tornado last summer, but continues to be an important center for local music when many other record stores are now gone. The Electric Fetus has tons of records & CD's, hip must-have items, In-store live performances...and a super cool celebrity staff who know everyone in Minneapolis music.
Apparently, Ringo's nephew lives in Minnesota, and gave him the shirt. We're used to having well-known music names in this town.

photo by: Adriana M. Barraza