Thursday, April 26, 2012

Not Much Of An Update

Hello all!
I apologize for my lack of a Thursday Lab Update. We really didn't do that much in lab besides clear out the mist house and start taking more plants home. Because it's getting so close to the end of the semester, we're not starting any new projects.

Also, a disclaimer right now: I probably won't be posting much, if at all, until my final exams are over around the 10th of May. Studying for those is keeping me very busy and all of my extra-curriculars are wrapping up as well so I have a few concerts to attend, sing in, usher, or be involved in otherwise, trumpet gatherings to go to and Kappa Kappa Psi events to participate in as well. I will, however, attempt to respond to comments in this time and may put up a picture or two once-in-a-while if I end up taking any on my walks around campus.

So I apologize for my absence from my blog for the next few weeks. I may surprise you with a post here and there, but just in case I don't, don't feel too disappointed. I promise I'll make up for it once I get back home and start planting my summer vegetable garden! :)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

My Resources

I hope everyone's weekend went well!
I haven't been posting much because I've been busy with end of the semester work and the spring music festival my university puts on every year. But checking back in today, I saw that my pageview counter hit 1,000! Thank you everyone for reading!
I've had a few questions about where to find some horticulture and gardening information, so this post will be a list of some sources I've found helpful and interesting.

1. First of all has to be all the blogs listed down the side of this page are excellent sources, covering a wide range of gardening and horticulture topics.

2. The books that my plant propagation class uses are Plant Propagation by Alan Toogood and Botany for Gardeners by Brian Capon. The first book is a great resource that holds care and propagation methods for many different kinds of plants. The second is more of a scientific guide, with information about the biology of plants.

3. The gardening section of the University of Minnesota Extension is a really helpful resource as well. It has topics for home gardening and commercial horticulture, as well as top gardening news and an A-Z plant guide that has facts about many different plants. You can also get help identifying weeds and bugs that might be harming your plants.

4. Like the Minnesota Extension, there are other universities that have great extensions. Two of my favorites are the Cornell Gardening Extension and the University of Illinois Extension.

5. Organic Gardening's site has lots of really good articles, how-to articles and gardening tips. The magazine itself is great as well. My mom has subscribed in the past and I've always enjoyed reading the issues.

6. The National Arboretum has a gardening tips page that has lots of helpful links.

7. This last link is one of my favorites. The Exploratorium presents the Science of Gardening: Art and Science in the Garden. Within three categories, Feed, Control and Bloom, there are links to interactives, articles, videos and photo essays.

Have fun exploring!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Thursday Lab Update

Since we're coming up on the end of the semester, we aren't really starting too many new projects in lab anymore. Today, however, we all tried our hand at approach grafting to make "Spudmatos", a combination of a potato and a tomato. The way this works is your shave off a piece of the outer layer of stem on both plants, line them up against each other, wrap with para-film and hope for the best. After you're sure the graft is successful, you cut off the top of the potato plant and the root system of the tomato plant and you get one plant, potato on the bottom, tomato on the top. And yes, this plant will grow both types of veggies. Just be warned that, since the plant has to spread nutrients around much more, you won't get as many tomatoes or potatoes as a normal plant of either of these will grow. This is mostly a project that results in a novelty plant that can grow both. That, and it's just fun to say you can actually get plants to do that.

 It's a bit hard to see with the blurriness of the picture, but here's what you wrap up in para-film. The stems need to be pushed together much more than this, leaving no space between. It was just hard to take a picture while pushing them together without my fingers getting in the way. 

 After it's wrapped in para-film, it's potted up in the hopes that the graft will take. The tomato will begin to wilt if the graft is unsuccessful. 

What the whole plant looks like.

The micro-greens took off like chia-pets and all but the basil were ready to go home. Living in a dorm, I don't have much use for micro-greens, but thankfully I have a friend who loves cooking and said he'd gladly take them off my hands. :)

Last week... 
...and this week! :)

I checked my hibiscus plants that have been rooting and found evidence of a little bit of root growth, but I think me pulling them up to examine them might've stressed them out a little bit. I probably should've just left them to root in peace for another week or so.
The grocery produce are still coming along nicely. I'm excited to take one or two of the kumquat trees home. I'll probably keep it as a small ornamental tree, seeing as the north isn't the best place to grow kumquats, but I'm hoping it survives until then.

The baby kumquat trees.

I also found a little coleus plant growing where it shouldn't be in a pot full of goldfish plants. Nearby was a coleus that had just dropped seeds, so I think we found the perpetrator. But it was a different variety than the green coleus I have, so I plucked it out and potted it up.
It's so cute!

The philodendron (which my TA says is a type of peperomia) is also doing really well now that I've taken it out of the mist-house and put it in real soil.

The new shoots are getting really big! :)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Spring Came Back!

Thankfully, today we had a high temperatures in the low 60s, so spring, despite it's brief disappearance, came back. Just in time for me to have finished up studying and taking my horticulture midterm too, so I can actually enjoy it.
As I was walking into my dorm today, I realized I've never taken pictures of one of my favorite trees on campus that happens to be right outside the door of my dorm. It's a HUGE apple tree that's covered in white blossoms right now and makes the whole courtyard smell wonderful.

I couldn't resist taking some up to my room. Not the most glamorous vase, but I'm a poor college student so this is about as good as it gets. 

 More coleus!

I also checked the coleus that I was rooting in vermiculite and found a good amount of roots. So I potted it up in some soil and hopefully it handles the move alright. :)
Happy Tuesday everyone!

Monday, April 16, 2012

This Is What Spring Should Look Like...

Growing up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula has gotten me used to wacky weather. But yesterday and today have pretty much taken the cake for my Minnesota experience thus far. Saturday was gorgeous and balmy, staying in the mid-70s all day. Yesterday started out cloudy and muggy, the temperature hovering right around 65 degrees. After dinner, just as my boyfriend and I were about to leave his aunt and uncle's where we had been eating, the sky turned the weird just-before-a-storm tan, then went REALLY dark. We watched in awe as a sheet of rain raced toward us, first consuming the backyards of the people across the street, then the road, then us. There was thunder and lightening and hail, all in all, quite a spectacle. Once we got back to campus and the storm blew over, the temperature began dropping lower and lower...and finally this morning as I was waiting for the bus, there were snowflakes flying.
Needless to say, the snow and cold, whipping winds have made me slightly depressed. I was so excited for spring with all the trees putting out great-smelling blooms, lilacs blooming and everything turning green.

So to combat the sadness of the cold, rainy day, here's what it SHOULD look like outside. I took these pictures the Friday before Easter and never posted them. Hopefully these sunny daffodils will brighten the gloomy day slightly.

Here's to hoping spring comes back soon!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Tangletown Gardens

 Today's plant adventure was a trip to Tangletown Gardens, just south of downtown Minneapolis. This place is a unique and fun garden, garden center and landscape center. It has the feel of a garden, but most of the things growing are for sale. Inside the shop they have smaller plants, books, glass jars for terrariums and seeds. Outside, they have trees of all shapes (from normal to downright bizarre), more garden plants, sculptures and water features.

Loved their logo.
 The first thing I saw when I walked in was this planter full of succulents and a cool spiky seashell ball. 

 A redbud tree hiding among the pots.

 I loved the color of the Japanese Maple.


 More succulents! I really want to get some of these this summer. 

 A really cool looking succulent called zebra plants.

 Probably my favorite pansies there. They look like they've been painted on. 

 The plum tree was blooming. 

 "First Blush"


 Royal Star Magnolia

 Elizabeth Magnolia

Black Tulip Magnolia

 Another awesome succulent container.

 Some really cute orchids.

 A really great idea for a hanging window container.

 An absolutely GIANT Jade plant. 

 Terrarium. :)

This little peperomia plant ended up coming home with me. I couldn't resist getting something! 

A fun fact for me is the owners are graduates of the horticulture program at my university. I hope I can be doing something half as cool as they are when I graduate.
I suggest you take a look at their website because there's lots of cool things to look at there as well. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Thursday Lab Update

Today in lab we grafted apple trees which was a really fun technique...until I sliced my finger open with a grafting blade. A bit (or a lot...) of blood, paper towels, a band-aid and 10 minutes of holding my hand above my head later, my teacher helped me finish up my tree. The bottom graft is a Honey Gold apple tree and the top graft is a Honey Crisp. So I should, eventually, have tree that grows both types of apples. Pretty cool, right?

I bled for these grafts so they better grow well. :P

The philodendron experiment wrapped up today so I potted some of them up and will take them home once the roots have gotten used to the new soil.


Our lab group is also growing some plants from grocery produce. We have little kumquat trees, celery, ginger and shallots grown from produce we just got from the local grocery store. 

 The kumquats we grew from seeds picked right out of the fruit itself. You have to make sure the seed looks greenish and fat. The shriveled, small seeds aren't viable and won't grow if you stick them in soil.

 Our shallot has been growing nicely.

 The ginger root is doing well too.

Here's the celery plant which we literally just broke off and stuck in the soil.

The other experiment we started today was microgreens. These are going to be really fun to watch because they'll grow really fast. We just scattered seeds on about an inch to 2 inches of soil, covered lightly with a bit more soil, watered and set in the mist house so they can be kept consistently moist. 

I planted basil, arugula, beets and curly cress.

 And here's a picture of the misthouse for those of you who've been wondering. 

We root things in our sandboxes and keep anything else (like the microgreens) that need to be moist constantly in here. Those low hanging pipes have mist nozzles sticking out every so often and turn on and off, sometimes giving a horticulture student a good spritz in the face when they're least expecting.