Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Tomato Experiment Update

Remember me?
Yeah, not looking so good. Though there were roots, the tomatoes and long branch took too much energy to maintain. It died, no great surprise.
Experiment number two was also a bust. The rooted spikes with a little leaf on it died also. That was a surprise. A wise goat appraiser once told me that I needed to do things myself to gain a true understanding. He is right. If the experiment is not costly, experiencing it for yourself does indeed bring a level of understanding one can not gain through words alone.
With a little research under my belt I tried propagating tomatoes or cloning which is another word for it. I took a short stem off one of the tomato plants and placed it in very wet soil. Putting it in soil instead of just straight water is suppose to work better. Also I gently scraped the bottom sides of the stem as instructed. They said it wasn't imperative but helpful. The top leaves look a bit pale but you can see some new dark green ones appearing. Roots begin to sprout at a week old I've learned. The sprouting of roots is due to the fact that the chemical auxim is present in tomatoes and in some other plants. Cut flowers die because the stems do not have this chemical.

This cloning method is something that allows you to keep your tomatoes, peppers, and some other garden plants going on forever from just one parent plant. 

I am disappointed that my tomato seeds have not sprouted yet. I think I might need to put a heating pad under them. Our house can be pretty cool. In this first stage of experimenting I have indeed learned that in the winter; propagating or cloning, which ever word you like, is the way to go.  My tomato plants look pretty rough right now since I do not have them under grow lights. That is one of the experiments is to see if they can make it on the naturally available light. Winter solstice is past so things should be looking up for them. My herbs last year looked pretty rough during December and January but really kicked into gear after that.

Stay tuned I have another indoor plant experiment in the works and several more I'm going to start next week.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Hot Water Works LIke a Dream on Trees

The kiddos showing off the blankets their great-grandmother made them.

Not done with making Christmas presents and sending cards but at least we are back to getting some sleep. You will often find us crawling in bed with the kids at 8 or 8:30. This fall has left us in bad need of sleep. Kind of like Christmas Eve when we were awoke at 1:20 with a child wetting the bed. The same child that called us every day she was not here to inform us of how many days until Christmas.

Our oldest daughter who was sleeping with this grandchild then could not go back to sleep. I stayed up with her for a while after shooing all the other grandkids back to bed along with their mother. Then too tired to keep my eyes open, I went back to bed. At 4:30 a.m. my husband had to get up to go to work and it awoke one of the grandkids whom I then went off to sleep with, musical beds is a favorite past time around here. Then when most of the kids had awoken at 6:00, we began the 11/2 hours of opening gifts. We like to do it slowly. But no breakfast before presents because that is torture for kids and I am against such torture.

So now I am putting away Christmas decorations only because I have to get ready for school starting up next week and three birthdays parties. I rather regret de-decorating, as the kids call it. I am really enjoying the tree. It is so.... soft and green. I tried one of those tricks on Facebook and low and behold it WORKS! I buy my fresh trees the very beginning of December so I can get it right away in water instead of letting it continue to dry out. A fresh tree because they are a renewable resource and clean the air. Fresh because I can't stand the thought of putting a plastic tree in the landfill to take 50,000 years to decompose. I've imagined myself trying to explaining that to my Heavenly Father when we have the conversation about how I took care of HIS earth. Plus fresh helps support a farmer each year. I know, my brain goes where few men have often gone.
Love the backdrop for the tree!
 This year I figured I would try the Facebook trick because it just made sense beyond the lack of instructions.The tip was to boil water and then cool it for five minutes but the details were not in it. My Autism raised its ugly head as I wondered if they meant on a gas stove or an electric stove which an electric stove burner holds heat long after a gas does. They did not say take the pan off the burner so did they mean that? How hot your house is would make a difference also. Ours is rather cool. I know, I should have been a research specialist. In the land of confusion for lack of information, a land I know well, I just forged my own path because I could not bring myself to burn my poor tree. You can probably see now why we Autistic people shut down, overload of emotions and confusion because we process wa....y too much information. Keep it simple is not part of our network.
Changing my decorations to match the backdrop. Tree needs a twig star for next year.
So I changed the rules and went with hot tap water. The concept is that hot water opens the pores in the bottom of the tree. That is after you cut the bottom off of before putting in the water so you get past the sealed pores from dehydration. They did not mention that part in the instructions either. Cold water solidifies the sap and stops the tree from drawing up the water. That makes sense.

Nearly four weeks later and you can grip a branch on my tree and run your hand down the needles and rarely does one fall off. It is AWESOME!!! The tree sucked up water the whole time instead of the usual sucks up water for a couple weeks and then quits. I am definitely doing this with all my plants. Maybe not quite as hot a water but I am going to use warm water with my indoor garden I am starting. Surely roots like to be bathes in warm water instead of cold also.

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas Season!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Saving Seed and Tomatoes in the House

I canned pumpkins this past week and now can put a mental check on that project. I'm drying a few seeds to try sprouting next year. As a back up plan I will make sure I also sprout some from someone who knows what they are doing, a seed company. Mine are from the largest pumpkins. The ones that developed before the Buttercup squash came on. Sugar Pie pumpkins and Buttercup squash get all kissy kissy I've heard though I have yet to see it. The books say they are from the same family and will cross.

That means I have to figure out a rotating plan to grow certain kinds of pumpkins and squash in rotating years so I can save seed or force abstinence upon a few. You know where you tie up the blossoms just before they make their maiden flight, I mean open up. Then plan an arrange marriage and pollinate them with the chosen groom whom is also tied up until the wedding. Then tie them both up again so they can't change their minds. I have been going to be a wedding planner for several summers now but it just has not gotten done. That is why I want to try the rotation plan. Maybe I just am not cut out to be a wedding planner. Desire keeps getting booted out the door when other people's problems push their way in. And I must admit, I have trepid thoughts though why killing off a few blossoms with my bumbling ways would be such a crime is beyond me.   

Saving seed is one of my top priorities this year so life had better get out of the way. I am right now attempting to sprout seeds I saved from my miniature tomato plants I grew last spring in the sun room. The tomatoes that grew to over 20 inches tall instead of staying the miniature 12 inches the catalogue promised me they would be. The one that the top was accidentally broke off did indeed make around 12 inches tall so that is the plan for these new ones, whack off the tops if they even hint of aspiring to greater heights because there is just too much plant for the number of tomatoes formed. Whacked looked so cute and had more tomatoes per plant formation than the others so I quickly quit feeling sorry for it.  

Most of the house tomato plants have been thrown out into the field but I have the three Goldilocks candidates remaining: too tall,  down to a stub, and the one plant which has one of its limbs just hanging on by a few plant strands. Yes the spring tomato plants were sorely neglected over the summer.

I had quit watering Stemmy, yes I gave him a name, (Or is it a her since there are babies but then there has to be a he too doesn't there?). Oh well, IT was going to be thrown out and then IT grew leaves on the stems. My brain whirled and Stemmy got a second chance at life yesterday. If IT does not blow it and creates a new productive plant from the stubby beginnings, then that will be a new discovery for me. To start tomato plants anew after cutting them down to just stubs makes sense that this would be a much faster way to grow a new plant. From seed takes forever to just grow a good root base. Stemmy has the root base established and should therefore take off more quickly. Will he or is it she grow into fruition?  Time will tell.

The plant with one of its branches that was just hanging on by a few plant strands just kept hanging in there, literally.  Weeks went by and still it hung on with no sign of wilting leaves except when I forgot to water it. Probably stayed alive I figure because I've learned that plants go into kind of a hibernation this time of year. Okay the winter gardening books did not use the word hibernation but plant's growth is almost stopped waiting for winter solstice to pass when they are suppose to take off once more. I noticed this with herbs growing in the window last year. Not enough hours of light. I severed the hanging limb and put it into a quart jar of water. Will it grow roots and take off. That is the question. Meanwhile the mother plant just got a trim.  

Tomato number three is too tall and when I replanted it putting in two paint sticks tied together for a stake I did an exaggerated S curve with it to keep it in line, pun intended. It now fits more upright on the shelf it must reside on rather than hanging over the edge.

The other phase of this experiment is to see how the plants do without a grow light. I want to see how economical I can go. They have not had a light since last spring.

My next experiment series began yesterday also. I have just planted a few seeds from the tomatoes of a previous harvest of these miniature tomatoes. The tomatoes that were wrinkled and old. You see I learned my lesson.

Late summer when I figured I had better collect seeds or call seed saving a wash for the year I had no or few old guys before the garden was saying goodbye--- hello cold. Then I discovered you want the really old wrinkled crowd to save seed from. U....t, Oh! Vegetables in their prime do not have good seeds as a rule. They are too small. See we old guys are the hope of the future. That meant only a few candidates made it to the learn how to process the seed stage. I did do some tomato and potato seed and learned more about fermentation to save seed. I am of course saving pumpkin seeds and one kind of pepper that put on the earliest so it had not crossed just like the pumpkin deal.

Not much but a start but a start never the less. "In all labor there is profit.", the saying goes and I learned that cucumbers have to be large, old, yellow, nearly dead guys from which viable seeds come from. I knew that great eating cucumbers have small seeds but it never really registered just how large, old, and nearly rotted they had to be before the seeds get large. Mine I tried to save from was on the path but had not arrived. I learned more about dried beans and  kept seed from the beans we eat green. One batch I dried on low in the dehydrator and one I let dry naturally. We shall see if the ones dried in the dehydrator will sprout. It was because of a matter of space that the experiment stemmed from. I learned that there can definitely be too many chickens in the garden. Maybe not my best gardening year but not a waste of time. My knowledge has increased and with learning do's and don'ts comes success.

I have several times grown, or shall we say attempted to grow lettuce in the house. This past spring I grew a miniature type of Tom Thumb and it was a great success. I was able to cut several times before the quality waned. I have another planting started yesterday. This time I put in a few other kinds also. Part of doing it right is getting the right kind of seeds for the situation. It just happens that this particular seed is good for winter gardening, something I will talk about more later. Now I am in the pondering and research stage.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Sad News!

       As you can guess I have been hitting the internet trying to figure out how to take care of baby bunnies. What I have learned is a bit too late. We lost our sweet Charlene last night. She was the last of the ten kits born. We hoped she had a chance since she had made it three weeks but alas, she did not eat so well yesterday and I began to worry. Stomach problems and milk ingested into the lungs plagues you when you fostered baby bunnies.

She had just gotten to be really fun. The last couple days Charlene would bang on her metal door to the cat carrier she slept in to be let out to play.  She was so.... tiny but she could really scoot across the room. She had just started to groom herself. I was thinking yea, I won't have to bathe her so often but I'm sure that would not help with the stinky toots. Oh she was a tooter. Yesterday she started this cute thing with her tongue wiping all around her mouth to make sure she had eaten the very last drop of goat milk. 

Last night we had gathered the kids around us and were teaching them about the symbols of Christmas, red is for the blood Jesus spilt, green for eternal life, and how the Christmas tree's needles point heavenward just as our thought should always be raised. As I read a Christmas story and we talked, we paused now and then to giggle at Charlene's antics as she scampered and raise up on her back legs to check us out, occasionally falling over because she is only three weeks old and that is a pretty tough stunt. It was a special night.

This morning our six year old grand daughter rushed into the living room near the fire to check out Charlene's cage and found her dead. Oh how the tears flowed.

Doubts creep in and for a few moments I'm questioning if it is all worth it. Pet owners deal with death so seldom. We in the livestock world know death well. This year it came when we had baby chicks, it came when our sweet Jujubee broke her hip and had to be put down, it came many times with the rabbit babies and each time it tugs at my heart. I must say you get better at being able to say goodbye but easy----- NEVER. Today as I write the tears are welling. I'm telling myself if only I knew better. Then I think of the doctors especially of olden times as they sat by time after time with so few tools at their disposal and watched patients die. I am so... thankful for the Internet and those that have gone before me to pave the way.  

My skills are being sharpened with each little one I foster no matter what member of the animal kingdom they may hail from. I feel sorry for the ones like Charlene that I bumble along with and I want to tell her I'm so sorry. I really tried! It should make me feel better that pinkies have a zero percent survival rate. It doesn't. I'm determined that little ones can survive if I just keep intelligently trying.

A broken rabbit, a sibling, that passed right before Charlene died of fluid in the lungs. I held the tiny head so I would not snap the neck and used centrifugal force to expel the liquid, then blew into her mouth with a puff of air to make sure the lungs were inflated, and did chest compressions. After quite a bit of effort she began to breathe on her own, her heart having started up again, her lungs clear enough to breathe. She lived two more days and infection must of over come her.  

I have now successfully resuscitated a bunny, a foal, lambs, kid goats, and piglets. I don't feel so smart. Some lived on to adults but others it was just a short visit before they left and most of the time I feel like I'm stumbling in the dark. There is a feeling you get whether or not you will be successful when you resuscitate and you know when to quit or keep trying. Some I'm sure is experience but I believe that the Holy Ghost prompts those who are willing to be guided.  If the Lord knows when a sparrow falls, he indeed is mindful of sweet Charlene and all those we wrap in our arms and try to save.

I have on order two sizes of squirrel nipples. Yes, they make nipples to save squirrels with. It is to help keep the little ones from so easily ingesting liquid into the lungs. Bunnies are the toughest animal I have ever syringe fed and definitely anything I've bottle fed. I quickly discovered that little pinky rabbit's mouths are too small for a kitten nipple so I used a diabetic's syringe and then a small eye dropper. The eye dropper worked best.

 I learned from my studies that probiotic is critical. Keeping the gut in balance is a tuff thing to do on baby rabbits. The Squirrels And More site has four probiotics in a combination that is to help. I will order it next spring as it has expiration dates and will just sit until them. They also recommend it for the mothers. I will also save colostrum from Belle, our girl is to kid sometime soon. I wish I would have kept the date the buck got out last summer on the calendar. I guess baby bunnies need colostrum for the first ten days and you can substitute goat colostrum. Other animals I've raised it is only critical to get a decent doze into them within the first few hours or so. Baby bunnies need it for ten days. I think I will freeze it is an ice cube tray so I can thaw a little at a time.

The best substitute for rabbit milk is fresh goat milk. No surprising there as goat milk is the best for just about everything. Many add cream to the goat milk but our girls are producing more cream than milk right now in their cycle so we are okay in that department. I'm hoping we don't have to raise any baby bunnies next spring but the two does we will use have never kindled before so that isn't likely going to be the case. Meanwhile I'll keep forming a plan and bucking up the courage to do it all over again.