Experiment 11 - The return of magic beans!
Once upon a time, Garden Science visited San Francisco’s Chinatown and found some message-inscribed magic beans. Readers were successful in translating the secret of the beans, but their fairy tale took a sad turn when they ultimately failed to grow. This was a pretty substantial disappointment.
Fortunately, there’s a magical place called THE INTERNET where time machines, unicorns, and other objects of myth are only a couple of clicks away. Searches on this “internet” thing helped me find some beans that were supposedly giant and drew comparisons to those from Jack in the Beanstalk. They sounded so remarkable that I just had to order them. After all, there’s nothing but truth on the internet. Right? I hope so, because I traded my only cow to get these.
Joking aside, both the vendor and the product got great reviews and the beans arrived speedily and just as described. By happy coincidence, they appear to be of the exact same variety as the original Chinatown beans.
Long time readers may know that I am a pretty big fan of Dollar Tree. My nearest one currently has respectably sized plastic pots (see the large capacity measuring cup for size comparison), and I thought I’d try planting a magic bean in there to see what happened. I’m optimistic that I’ll get a good germination rate out of these, so for now I’m only planting one. The rest may get planted in time.
Sweet dreams, bean.
Dollar Tree also has hanging pots right now. They aren’t super deluxe or anything, but a buck still seems like a pretty good bargain for this. It’s only a matter of time before something gets planted here…
Experiment 3 - A good day to be a Christmas tree in a can
I just realized something! Even though I intended to and even thought I did, I have not given a single Experiment 3 update since December 30th. Yikes, definitely time to change that.
The last time I reported on the Christmas tree in a can situation there was a second one that had only just begun to emerge. Much like its partner, it jumped to a stable height right away and then promptly stopped growing. While the first tree is tall, thin, and bright green, the second tree is shorter and stockier with a darker green coloration.
Despite their lack of growth, the condition of the trees remained pretty stable since planting… up until today. Upon looking at them this evening I realized their situation had deteriorated.
The granular pellets the trees are growing out of have seemingly no friction. As soon as they dry out between waterings, the grains shift with the slightest bump and the trees go with them. The poor smaller tree was at almost a 90 degree angle when I discovered it today. This was unacceptable.
The trees are still finger-crushingly small but I figured they weren’t going to get any bigger while they remained in a substance with the physical and nutritive properties of fish gravel. I was expecting a difficult extraction, but the grains were so loose I was able to gently pull each of the trees from the pellets with minimal resistance.
It’ll take time to be sure, but the trees seem happy to have left the can. Merry late Christmas, trees!
Experiment 8 - Return of the instant garden
I am pleased to announce that Garden Science’s biggest and best experiment to date - the instant garden - will return this spring for its second season.
Wait… it gets better.
Garden Science gets THE WHOLE BOX this time! There is no lack of ideas (or seeds) to fill it with, either.
What’s in store this time around? There’s going to be a couple of second generation instant garden classics coming back for sure. I’ll also be planting the really old gourd seeds and crossing my fingers. Additionally, I’m looking into trading my cow in exchange for some more magic beans so that I can try a reboot of Experiment 11. That last part may or may not happen, but I’m hopeful.
Rotten to the core
A while back I wrote that the artichoke looked like it was going to overwinter. Things continued looking good over the next few weeks, and it even had a bunch of budding flowers on it.
I was fairly confident that the hardest part was over. It had made it to through the winter and survived several freezes/thaws… what could spring possibly throw at it that was worse than that?
Here’s some foreshadowing. As you can see in this photo that was intended to be solely of Quigley the garden gnome, the base of this plant looks bad. Really bad, actually. I noticed this, but since the artichoke seemed to be doing so well I barely thought anything of it.
…Fast forward a couple of weeks…
It didn’t happen on purpose and I wasn’t there to witness it, but recently the plant was hit lightly by a rogue gardening tool and the whole thing toppled over. The main stalk was completely rotted out. I have no idea how the thing was able to stand for so long, let alone how it was able to continue living and growing.
But all is not lost! New growth continues to spring up around the area where the main stalk fell and this indicates that the root system is alive and well. If we don’t have any more freezes this year, then we’re already off to a pretty good start for the season. This is about as big as the plant was when I bought it from the store last June.
Will the plant yield flowers this year?
Quigley is admirably optimistic.
Springing back to life
Winter is the most difficult time of year for Garden Science. There are fewer daylight hours, the schedule is generally crammed with lots of other things, and there aren’t very many plants to write about. The number of posts inevitably drops quite a bit as a result.
In addition, there have been a multitude of other things going on that have limited my time here. Most of them are great and/or awesome things, but it’s still unfortunate that the posts are so few and far between.
It’s all okay though, because spring is here! Much like this bleeding heart plant, I am hoping I’ll have the opportunity to spring back to life now that the weather has taken a turn for the better.
In the short term I plan to go through and answer my long-neglected bank of user comments and questions. I thank you for them and I read them all, and I will try to post answers to as many of them as I can in the next few days.
After that, I’ve got a marathon post I’m working on that I was hoping to finish in one day but kind of got away from me. Hopefully I can steadily make smaller posts until I get that one finished.
In the not-too-distant future it will be planting time of year again. At that point there should be a wealth of things to write about, and I can’t wait!
Really old gourd seeds
I’m pretty thrilled. I’ve been saving this particular oddity for a while and for some reason today just seemed like the right time to unveil it. Are you ready? Prepare to be amazed.
Presenting: A packet of really old dipper gourd seeds. No seriously, like… really old.
How old? Well, for some reason it was nearly impossible to photograph the seed packet because it exists in some kind of time-warped state where everything looks like it swam through a sepia filter on its way to the disco.
As you can see, the packet photo does a great job of visually explaining what a dipper gourd is. If you thought it was a squash, you were wrong - it is actually a device for transporting small numbers of apples.
On the back are some handy instructions for growing and drying dipper gourds. After drying, the gourds “… are ready to wax, stain, paint, shellac, wood-burn or carve.” All right, homegrown crafts!
By the way, Applewood Seed Co. appears to still be around and has a website you can visit if you’re interested.
Let’s talk some more about this packet. The copyright is 1977 which would explain the retro packaging. It says “Packed for ‘90” on it, too. Since seeds are usually packaged the year before the “packed for” date, that means these seeds have probably been around since 1989. That’s 24 years ago… almost a quarter of a century! Four or five different US presidents have held office since these seeds came into being.
Of course, the greatest thing about finding this packet was the discovery that there were actual seeds still inside. I’m far from an expert on how gourd seeds are supposed to look, but it seems to me like these have aged pretty gracefully. I don’t see any signs of rot, at least.
The thing that’s funny about all this is that I don’t remember ever growing gourds way back in the day. I have no clue where these came from or why they are still around. Whatever the reason, I’m glad they’ve survived so long. I’m definitely going to plant these once the weather gets a little warmer and I’m seriously considering making them into Garden Science’s newest official experiment.
Like lots of things that happen around here, I really have no idea if this has any chance of success and I want to warn everyone now that the experiment might not work. Even if it doesn’t, this was still a fun find. Is it planting time yet?
Back in December I posted that the artichoke was not only still alive, but that it was actually growing a bud. Several months and many more hard freezes later, it is somehow still kicking.
That’s right, it actually looks like the artichoke is going to overwinter.
I used “science” to enhance the previous photo. In this closeup, it becomes evident that not only did it manage to survive the harshest of the winter months, but the artichoke actually has 3+ new flower buds forming. Hooray!
We’re not out of the woods yet in terms of weather, but I am hopeful that the artichoke will really take off as soon as spring arrives. If this was part of an experiment I’d already be calling it a great success.
Holiday Goodies - Sprouter Kit (Part 2)
I’ll admit it… Part 1 of this series was a little dry. The sprouter kit is an excellent thing, but that post basically amounted to a bunch of pictures of water and plastic and there’s nothing all too interesting about that. Don’t worry though - this post will have actual sprouts in it.
It’s actually been a while since I took these pictures, but according to the dates on the photos it only took about 5 days to go from dry seeds to delicious sprouts.
For the sake of comparison, the above photo shows what the seeds looked like dry. After the events of post 1 took place, here’s what happened next:
While they were still growing we kept the tower stacked up and when they were done we harvested them and put them in the fridge… but not before making an awesome sandwich first. To those following along at home, I again recommend making sure you read the instructions in-depth and I advise being diligent about watering and emptying the water-catching tray.
Want your own sprouter kit? You can get one from Williams-Sonoma! I can confirm that it’s not only a fun thing to own, but it makes a great gift, too!