Friday, March 20, 2009

Mr. Repairman, Where Are You?

This is a gratuitous photograph having nothing to do with my post. Took a close-up photo of the most delicious pale apricot/green/pink parot tulips I spoiled myself with today and after a quick review decided that they were just too 'Judy Chicago' to include - hence these very PG 'Baby Bear' Sunflowers. Although the more I look at it them, the more mob-like they appear.

Still no repairman - but he did say he'd be here between 3:00 and 6:00 p.m. and it's just 3:58. Hope he doesn't expect to share my friday night martini.

I've been having some problems with some of my new seedlings -specifically the soilless mix - Berger. A top-notch brand, but find this package is mossing over within 10 days or so. Very weird. If the seedlings are able to get themselves up and sprouted and well above the pot level - all is well. (I am going to be using Coriander Delfino as a filler in all my pots.) If they're long to germinate, the germination is not great, the seedlings are deformed, don't seem to be able to break their little seed coat to escape, and when I tried to transplant some of these pathetic little specimens I find that the roots seem stunted. I've used Berger in the past to great success - the only thing I can think of is that the basement where the light table is - is now cooler by several degrees. When the kitchen was done - holes were left..... I've got some warmer germinators now started over a heating cable - will have to see if there is a difference. Anyone had a similar experience?

Yesterday was able to do a bit of catching up on some of my reading. Stumbled upon an article on weed competition in Horticulture Review and a review of a study by Emily Green-Tracewicz. There is a theory that plants can detect their competitors not only by reductions in light intensity (plants that shade them), but by perceiving differences in light quality. Plant tissue reflects a different quality of light than soil and this reflectance can change the quality of light that influences plant growth. The reflectance of weedy competitors reduces the amount of red light which is necessary for photosynthesis of crop plants.

Apparently crop plants perceive these light quality differences and shift into a shade avoidance mode making them leggy plants. The competing plant does not have to be shading the crop plant in order to be detected. The crop plant can detect weeds even when weeds are well below the crop canopy and the root systems of the weeds are in separate compartments (I thought this was very cool). In her study, the crop plants were developmentally delayed, which would have detrimental consequences for crop production.

Jen Llewellyn who wrote about this study then wondered if this could have a significance for ornamental plant propagation and production. She asks, "Are we underestimating weed control in our propagation and production systems? Could our juvenile ornamental crops be detecting (what we think are insignificant), low growing weed populations, and could they be negatively influencing the morphology, development and biomass allocation more than we know?"

Weeds, moss, it's all not good. Finished post in kitchen with nice repairman who moved to Canada in '74 from San Andreas in the Caribbean - almost everyone is from somewhere else. It's 5:11 and it's been confirmed that my oven did not complete its self clean cycle, it simply committed suicide. A new board will ordered on Monday from California and with any luck it will arrive in 5 to 8 days. In the mean time a supervisor may come and pull the oven apart again because the nice repair man didn't have a little piece of sturdy wire long enough to do a grabby thing with one of the floppy wires to see what's what. So, the ovens are back together and not working. So no fears, no temptation of brownies for a week. And, look at the clock, it's time for my friday night martini. May this be the start of an excellent weekend.


Cathy said...

Good luck with the seedlings, and hope all goes well for a nice weekend!

Peggy said...

Enjoy the martini! Repair men usually come in pairs to finish a job here too, I hope you can still cook that it is just the ovens that have committed hari kiri?!

Gail said...

Barbara, It is important to have a sense of humor while waiting for repairmen and a martini after they leave. I always had moldy seedlings and decided that my laundry room wasn't the best location to set up a nursery... Now it's all direct sowing! I hope yours do well and get past that awkward stage! Gail