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.

01/24/2023 unauthorized entry

I was putting some books on my desk shelf this evening when in my peripheral vision I noticed more purple plant growing light visible than should be. I keep a towel over it to protect our eyes.
I examined the gap in the cover more closely and realized Shackleton was curled up contentedly on the heating pad, which is set to a cozy 85 degrees F. There’s even a bit of dust (spilled potting soil).
Shackleton napping peacefully with the last unsprouted pepper pot, bathed in a purple glow.
Busted, buddy. The nice thing about this tray is that I can slide it out to check on seedlings AND clever cats.
He did a big back arching stretch of casual innocence.
Shackleton emerges from his vacation tray, complete with unnecessary UV exposure. 🙄
Paula moved Shacks back to his actual cat heating pad on the couch. I put a bunch of empty pots in the tray with the one seedling pot and put more up in front of the towel-curtain, as well as a series of inconvenient containers. Hopefully this will persuade Shacks to stick to his heated bed or at least clogging up our amplifier with his hair.

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.

01/17/2023 first peppers up!

Shackleton and Tuqu are eager to assist in examination of seedlings.
Tuqu the tortie cat sticks her whole head in a  recycled yogurt container used as a pot, while Shackleton the gray and white very puffy but still short haired cat looks on.
Three varieties of peppers have sprouted! This kind of help is why they (the plants, not the cats) are going immediately to the cat free guest room.
The Chimayó seedling has extremely fuzzy roots! Maybe because there was humidity trapped by the yogurt container lids? I have removed the lids now so they can get air flow to prevent damping off.

01/09/2023 indoor lights for basil and seedlings

I got tired of competing with cats for limited shelf space with still-insufficient sunlight. So I got a plant growing light from online! I’m hoping it will perk up the sad basils which have been spending too much time in the garage and are a pain for us to tote in and out of the garage and house for sunny afternoons. This is safely away from cats in the guest room. Once the peppers and other seedlings are up, they will also get this good strong light.

01/08/2023 pepper seeds

Experimenting with deep pots and shallow soil. These are yogurt containers. Since peppers and ground cherries can grow roots from the stem, as the plants grow I plant to add more soil. This hopefully reducing the number of repotting events that need to occur.

01/02/2023 pots and pets outdoors

After last year’s failed veggie seedlings due to root rot and damping off fungus, I drilled 4-5 big holes in all the pots.
I am hoping to start a lot in the yogurt containers and build up the soil around the stems, reducing the amount of repotting for the plants that can root from the stem like peppers and tomatoes and their relatives.
Briar was bored while we did the annual pruning of the dwarf fruit trees.
Shackleton got a leash walk all around the backyard (he’s exploring the prairie here) AND the front yard. Wow!

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.