01/28/2023 purple cliffbrake fern spores

Mom gave me some native Great Plains fern spores recently and on Saturday, Paula and I sort of followed these online directions to start our attempt at germination.

The containers have all been run through the dishwasher at some point. Then I stirred up potting soil (“seed starting mix” chosen because someone gave me a bag of it and I wanted to use it up) with water to create the sloppy mud the above webpage describes.
Microwaving the sloppy soil to sterilize it, sort of.
We did reach temperatures higher than the instructions suggested for sterilization,but didn’t microwave for a long time. So I’m going to say “we’ll see” and move on.
While the soil cooled (Paula set it outside to help it along), I started trying to coax spores from the undersides of the fern leaves using the dissecting scope at 1x and very fine forceps. Turns out there’s a lot of stuff in the big brown spots. I didn’t do the 10% bleach wash suggested in the directions.
I suspect these round spots (circled in red) are the spores and the other little bits are debris from the brown sporangia.
I had to go but Paula kindly finished the process by dusting all the spore containing dust onto the very wet soil surface and sealing it up. It’s now sitting in the guest room with the baby peppers and patient basil. The light there is on and off 12 hrs a day.

01/16/2023 creating a special caliche/barrens habitat in containers

Visited home last weekend and Mom and Dad kindly let us take home some calcareous soil from an already disturbed area – the “lake”.
I had planned to shovel the soil but they kindly offered the much easier method of front-end loader. 🙂 We did scrape in a few small little bluestems and other plants that I have kept!
Since the soil was heavy, I carefully moved it into a bucket I could lift, and also searched for those little plants I mentioned got scraped in.
Paula and I put careful layers of soil and water to get it compact in the planters by the front door.
Paula smoothed them nicely and added water.
You can see the plants I found in the background, sitting on the porch. This is the final picture with a dusting of cactus/succulent/citrus potting soil on top.
Shackleton helped me sort the calcareous soil/barrens specialist seeds that Mom gave me.
Here are all the seeds in place with little markers! I also put one each little bluestem in the pot, a possible Oldplainsman in each, and a mystery round-leafed green plant. We’ll see what they become!
I did the two planters symmetrical but mirror images since they are on either side of the porch. Fingers crossed we get some sprouts in the spring!

01/18/2023 refried bean learning times and field violet transplants

It rained 0.31” in Norman in the night on 01/18. The night before I moved a bunch of seedlings of Viola bicolor, the wild annual field violets that volunteer in the yard. I want more of them as ground cover for early spring so I am moving many from existing locations in and near the raised beds. They seem to be doing well! When I’ve transplanted larger plants once they bloom, they don’t do nearly as well.
Paula prepared tepary beans for refrying. The pair of tiny ones at the bottom are wild type teparies.
Paula made a quesadilla with a layer of the refried tepary beans. Her diagnosis was that they worked fine and had a good taste, but that she should have added more lard and onions to make them less dry.

01/02/2023 Oklahoma selected tepary beans

I have decided to mix our tepary beans next year to cross pollinate and see what does best here with our spring rainy season. This photo shows the general mix with three randomly selected handfuls (the three pictures below). The remaining beans will be eaten! I started with 1:1:1:2:3 mix of blue-speckled, yellow, San Ignacio, Pinacate, and black tepary beans in 2022, planted in same-variety blocks along the south trellis, plus a very small amount of the surviving wild type tepary beans (planted Aaap, Santa Catalina, Sycamore Canyon, and Kitt Peak varieties intermixed so whatever survived best from those) from nativeseeds.org). For 2023 and later (ie this upcoming season), we will plant these together and see what happens.

12/2022 backlog of infrastructure and little babies

Yesterday, 12/31, I finally glued on the rain barrel cap holders that the Chef 3D printed for me! I used epoxy after cleaning both surfaces with ethanol.
Paula got solar powered outdoor lights for Christmas and has used them to make the path to the compost visible! Edit: thanks to Mom for inquiring if we can turn the lights out. Yes we can! It’s important not to pollute the dark with more light than we use at any given moment.
I am hoping these tiny seedlings are the annual bluets that sometimes grow in this part of the yard. Keeping an eye on them.
A tinier potential annual bluet seedling next to the comparatively large wild geraniums. These two pictures were 12/31/2022.
12/28/2022, the Ratibida columnifera rosettes survived the big cold!
Two Verbena halei rosettes also exist and made it!
Finally, and very thrilling, two potential Penstemon oklahomensis seedlings! They don’t appear to be hairy leaves like some other common seedling volunteers. Stay tuned.
Shackleton enjoyed a leashed walk in the same excellent 12/28 weather.
Jeanne kindly sent us some Salaginella riddellii- Riddell’s Spike-Moss. We put the biggest chunk in the rainbow garden (in green of course) on 12/25.
We put a smaller piece of the spike moss in the cactus planter.
12/25 was so nice we also moved some volunteers. This is the big root of a poke berry! We moved those along the back fence where another pokeberry lives. We also moved several ampelopsis from random spots in the yard to along the south fence trellis.
A blackjack oak acorn with a sprout on it! We planted this exciting find (12/24) into a pot on 12/25. Fingers crossed for a spring sprout.
Judy gave us an adorable toad house! I have placed it near the veggie beds. Please come eat our earwigs, toad friends.
12/24 checking the pot containing Sedum nutallii from Jeanne. The sedums seem to have made it along with Verbena rosettes (V. Halei??) and other intriguing volunteers.
Going somewhere! Wow!! Happy briar in the car.
On 12/24 we visited the lake at Lexington WMA. This seasonal creek was frozen solid! The lake was too. Briar wears her hunter orange.
After the deep freeze, only the top tips of the recently transplanted rosemary got frozen. They were pressed down by the sheets. But the sheets protected the rest of the plant!

12/21/2022 solstice chill

My Persian friends celebrate Yaldā today, a holiday for the longest, darkest night of the year. Appropriately, tonight the temperature is plunging from the 40s F into the teens and single digits and we won’t unfreeze until probably Sunday!

No insulating blanket of snow is forecast (maybe just a few light flurries), so I moved a bunch of leaves from the patio onto the herb bed to especially protect my oregano and chives, which had a very rough time last winter. I put extra greenhouse plastic over it.
The finished covering.
I tucked the extra plastic around our cactus planter with more leaves, and piled some leaves on the containers with native plant seedlings in them. I suspect they will be fine but containers are not as protected as they would naturally be on the ground.

12/14/2022 winter plantings

I ordered plants from a new to me nursery, Missouri Wildflowers Nursery.
Hmm box with ok smells?
Gram came running to see if he could have the box.
“Hello little brother “
The packing by this nursery was quite clever! Shredded paper mostly over the rosettes or dormant pots.
They also kindly marked the plants that were dormant. A few other species had low winter leaves (spiderwort) or rosettes (asters, pussytoes).
Even the dormant plants had happy roots!
The soil held together with roots but weren’t aggressively bound in.
Paula found a small cicada larva under the oak tree while planting!
We also uncovered an ancient Nylabone from Briar’s youth. She was unimpressed.

12/08/2022 surprises

One single aster flower is still blooming. It’s somewhat sheltered by the garage wall and kitchen wall.
In the cactus planter, I was pleased to find a rabbit’s tobacco seedling in near the juniper leaf.
Here I am pointing at it if you didn’t spot it in the previous picture.