Sunday, June 25, 2006

Moisture crystals

If you haven't used these before take heed. They expand!!!

I was told that I could use these under plants planted in dry areas. The crystals hold a lot of water. So I planted some climbing annuals in a place that gets some water but not enough for healthy growth. So I put my trowel into the soil, worked it a little, made a fairly small hole, dropped a couple of tablespoons of the dry crystals into the bottom of the hole, and planted the morning glory plug on top. A couple of weeks later I was working in the area and noticed some of the plants had been pushed out of the ground. I tried to push them back in but the soil had a peculiar resistance. Instead of becoming packed, it pushed back at me. I remembered the crystals and dug into the soil to find it full of cubes of about half an inch in diameter. So I removed most of them, distributed them in the surrounding soil and settled the plant back into place.

Now I wonder how it is that the moisture gets to the plants if the roots of the plant are not in contact with the moisture cube. We made one of those neck coolers with some cubes in it and the fabric on the outside is never wet. So if the cubes don't wick moisture to cotton how do they give up its moisture to the soil? You would think that the roots must make contact with the cube, mustn't they?

A couple of weeks ago I read (but did not retain) information regarding the way that roots absorb water from the soil. It was rather complicated. I have been searching for it but cannot find it. However I have found info regarding how to apply the crystals (mined were bulk packaged and came without instructions). One is supposed to mix them uniformly into the soil before planting and keep some of that soil to backfill around the plant, leaving the top 1 - 2" without any crystals. It is preferable to allow the crystals to absorb moisture before mixing with the soil and the proportions are about 1.5 tsp to 1 gallon of soil.

Looks like I did everything wrong!!

This isn't what I read earlier, but nonetheless it is an explanation of how plant roots absorb water (from Wikipedia):
"Osmotic pressure or turgor (also called turgor pressure) is the pressure produced by a solution in a space that is enclosed by a differentially permeable membrane.

When a biological cell is in a hypotonic environment (the cell interior contains a lower concentration of water than its exterior), water flows across the cell membrane into the cell, causing it to expand. The membrane (or, in plant cells, the cell wall) restricts the expansion, which causes an increase in pressure. The resulting pressure is called turgor. This pressure is what prevents more water from flowing into the cell, thus creating a pressure equilibrium between water flowing down the concentration gradient and the taut membrane pushing back. In this example, the equilibrium prevents the cell from ever becoming isotonic to its environment. Cells not adapted to hypotonic environments, with the flow of water into them but no strong membrane or cell wall, will burst. The osmotic pressure π of a dilute solution can be calculated using the formula


M is the molarity
R is the gas constant
T is the thermodynamic temperature (formerly called absolute temperature)

Note the similarity of the above formula to the ideal gas law, and also that osmotic pressure is not dependent on particle charge."
No wonder I didn't retain it the first time I read about it....

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Very Entertaining and Clever

I like to read the posts of my son's friends as I find it interesting to see what goes on in the minds of the early-twenties crowd (or at least some of them). This morning Nicholas had a link to this extremely clever and entertaining little movie: Grocery Store Wars.

One of the links along the bottom of the site lead me to this interesting bit of info:
The top ten most POP (Persistent Organic Pollutants) contaminated foods are butter, canteloupe, cucumbers, meatloaf, peanuts, pickles, popcorn, radishes, spinach and squash.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Yummy Pics of Roses in Zone 5 (not mine)

Previously I posted a link to a hilarious story known as Pappu's Misadventures with Alfalfa Tea. Well, Pappu has posted pictures of his/her roses in the Rose Gallery at GardenWeb, so I would say that the witches brew worked!

Hedge of Carefree Wonder

Line of roses is Champlain and on the arbour is Ramblin' Red

I have learned that Ramblin' Red was created by the same person that developed Knockout. This is significant because Knockout is totally resistant to blackspot by all accounts. While not a spectacular flower the display is good, the color is good, disease resistance is excellent and it blooms all the time. So if Ramblin' Red is as good, then this is significant for cold climate rose gardeners!!

As for Carefree Wonder, I bought one last summer. It is just about ready to bloom....

Thursday, June 08, 2006

My Tip of the Day

Instead of using chemicals or hand-digging weeds from between bricks, stepping stones or pavers, try pouring a bit of boiling water on them. Works great for anything with a bunch crown. Not sure about those that travel underground. Anyone try it on running weeds?

Thursday, June 01, 2006

My Alfalfa Tea Doesn't Stink

Twice I have made alfalfa tea. Both times it appeared to ferment as it produced to, with the foam on top. But when I did the nose test to be sure it was as ready (I assume stinky is ready), it just smelled like the alfalfa pellets did before water was added. So both times I let it sit longer, hoping to find out what all the fuss was about regarding the stench, but no stench was forthcoming. I even let the dregs sit for a couple of extra weeks and all they did was go moldy on top, but no stench.

So either I am too much of a farm girl and can easily tolerate these smells, or the alfalfa that other people use has something different in it. I checked the list on the bag and mine appears to be straight alfalfa, no other ingredients.

So I guess I am just lucky! Cause my roses are responding happily. There are lots of buds breaking at the bud union, just like is supposed to happen.