Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Lessons - learning...

Times TWO!

First of all is a sad and BAD lesson.

Squirrels like immature persimmons. Yup. That's right. Freaking, Fracking, Stinking, I'm gonna run 'em over and then back up over 'em and then get my shot gun out.... OK I'm in a residential neighborhood so I'm not gonna get my gun out - but I might just sic my kid on them with his paint ball gun... with pellets in it. GRRRR..... Squirrel stew is sounding good about now. With new potatoes and carrots because I still have about 10 left from my potato haul and I still have carrots. LOL.

Onto better things. The second thing that I learned. First let me begin this by saying that while i've been gardening a long time- I've only grown certain things for most my life. Namely my grandmothers garden and she grew watermelon, bush beans, some tomatoes and left most of the other stuff to other local farmers where we would trade and barter.

 I have had a broccoli plant that I've been letting bloom and keeping trimmed for nigh on 8 months now. Over the winter I needed something to keep the pollinating bugs in the yard and happy. I chose this plant because it was consistently in bloom and required little to no extra care other than for me to go out weekly and collect the seed pods so that I didn't have 5,000 broccoli plants growing in this one tiny planter. Being the thinking ahead kind of person that I am I chose to put this particular plant under my peach tree. Smart, right? Bring the pollinators right where I'll want them in the spring. Teehee. I thought that was sheer genius. And, it was.  Somewhere around November we had the tail end of a tropical storm that knocked this (then) young broccoli plant down. It actually knocked it in between the slats of my planter and I could not right the plant without damaging it further. So, I determined that I would simply leave the plant there and see what happened. This is where my lesson comes in.

Like tomatoes and squash broccoli is capable of laying down additional sets of roots. Did you know this already? I most certainly did not! But, I do have some proof to show you. This picture shows you not the main roots, not the secondary, but these are the Tertiary and quaternary roots. OOOOoooo big words. Third and forth sets of roots. This particular plant continued to set off side shoots for the entire 8 months (if you ever wondered how long your broccoli plant will keep producing now you know) and as long as I didn't clip it in the first few days it would send it to flower. Now, IF as I did when it started to warm up and I no longer needed the flowers you then keep the flowering section trimmed off the plant it will not try to blot as fast. So by keeping it trimmed or letting it bolt you can control if you want to harvest from the beast or not. That is not to say that while the plant is in flower you cannot harvest from it - you just have to be vigilant. If you don't cut the floret in just a day or two it will be bolting already.

I'll stop talking- here is the picture -

Keep in mind that I yanked that sucker up. I had no intentions at the time of trying to save those roots or show anyone what it had done. You can see that the lower part of the stem had gone completely woody at that point and made a true root. The plant was easily 3' across and 5' tall - well it was 3' tall but only because it had fallen. The woody portion that you can see in the picture from one rooted section to the other is the length of my forearm... and I have very long arms. I'm 5'9" tall if that is any indication to you.
The actual root section was so large and so infiltrated with the peach tree that I had to leave it in the ground. That was the not so stellar thinking on my part. But, this learning curve really got me thinking  about how these plants survive in the wild and I can just see not only the pods burst open over and over spilling MILLIONS of seeds per plant, but the longevity of this plant due to it's ability to grow up, fall over re-root and gain strength each time. Amazing plant, and we as gardeners tend to think of it as a short term plant. Huh...
Gives ya more to think about.

'Till next time!


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