This photo was taken yesterday March 20.
It looks like my test of growing lettuce in Michigan during the winter in an unheated greenhouse was a success. However, the unbelievably mild winter skewed things so I can’t say it is a sure thing. Anyway, it looks like this
April we will have all the nice tasty lettuce we can eat–perhaps we will start at it in a few days.
Photo taken March 20, 2012
I have to admit, I was not a happy camper when I saw the daffodils starting to bloom. I have never seen anything like this–daffodils blooming before the astronomical spring starts! You see, while we grow lots and lots of vegetables of all kinds, we also grow fruit–primarily apples and peaches. While no fruit trees are blooming yet, the weather looks like it will stay very warm for a couple days and then cool off just a bit but still be above normal for perhaps a couple of weeks. Since our normal freeze date–which can damage fruit–is in early May, on the surface it looks real bad for fruit this year. I keep looking at Canada’s weather and, except for the extreme northwest part of that country, it has also been extremely warm–in many places even warmer (on a relative basis) than the US. Perhaps, just perhaps this means we won’t get our normal late April, early May freeze. We are praying that we don’t and still hoping for cooler weather the next few weeks to slow stuff down. Please pray with us. Remember, if there is a general freeze, fruit prices will sky rocket!
What We are Planning On Doing About the Likelihood of an Upcoming Damaging Frost/Freeze
First off pray, that it doesn’t happen…that is the most important. Also, my mother always said “You do your best and God does the rest!” So, I feel there is something we can do and we are now in the process of doing it. Interested on what it is? Keep visiting my blog and you will find out!
My book “Snowball Launchers, Giant Pumpkin Growers and other COOL CONTRAPTIONS” has a project on making my Sidewinder Thingamajig. What does the gizmo do? Well, briefly it detects shortwave infrared waves! Shortwave infrared waves are used by most remote control units (also referred to as “thingies”) One purpose of the Sidewinder Thingamajig is to check if the remote control is working. If it is and it is pointed at the thingamajig, a red LED will light. Why is it called Sidewinder Thingamajig? Well, the Sidewinder Rattler detects its prey by sensing the infrared radiation all warm blooded animals give off. One caveat in my projects name: the Sidewinder Rattler is more sensitive to long wave infrared radiation and not as sensitive to shorter wavelength, which is the type the Sidewinder Thingamajig is most sensitive to. Another device is also called a Sidewinder–it is the Sidewinder missile which is used to tract down and destroy jet airplanes. Jet engines produces lots of heat which produces lots of infrared radiation. The Sidewinder missile enters the exhaust pipe of the engine and blows the engine up. Flares are used as a defense measure to confuse the missile’s electronic systems. By the way, the Sidewinder Thingamajig might just make a great starting point for a Science Fair project!
The sun has exploded again! The huge flare is shooting out as I write this–I don’t know if it is headed this way since I don’t know yet which sunspot it came from. The other flares this past two weeks came from a sunspot that is moving away from us so if it is that one, the cme will miss us.
We have taken some of our apples out of our storage and now have them for sale. The prices of our Spies are $5 a half bushel, Empire and Red Delicious are $4 a half and our Jonathans $3 a half. We should have some Russet out for sale in a few days. I’ll let you know. Right now we will mostly be on self-serve and open from 10 to 5. If you plan on using a Bridge/EBT card please call us at 652-2368 to make arrangements before you come.
Important News Flash! Maple sap is running!
Believe it or not, today, March 1st, is the first day of spring! “What about March 20th?” you might ask. Well, that too is the first day of spring. To make things even more confusing, this year April 4 is also the first day of spring. The difference in dates mentioned is based on how you define spring. Meteorologically Spring begins on March 1 and ends on May 31, Astronomically Spring begins on March 20th and ends on June 19 and economically it begins on April 4th with the first game of Major League Baseball (Cardinals vs Marlins), which is played in Miami and ends on May 27, the Friday before the Memorial Day weekend.
Now we get to the weather next week. Its going to be unusually warm. Too warm I fear. Those who have been anxiously waiting for winter to really get started will have to wait longer–perhaps even to November or December. This is a good time for those meteorologists who have been first calling for a severe winter–they were sure of it–and then calling for a severely cold start to March, to be humbled. While I was calling for a rather mild winter, I am shocked by the lack of cold weather in February. I have never seen anything like it! While the start of March will perhaps be too warm (get trees out of dormancy too early) I would be surprised to see March average out warmer than normal–although that’s the way it now looks, and I am not too happy about that! What about normal weather! Where has it gone? If trees start to get too active next week, I will post about it!
I’ve been perusing the textbook Modern Chemistry (2006 edition) again and I came across some interesting stuff that is related to the categories of topics I talk about on this blog. Most specifically the Farm News and Health stuff. When you make regular jams and jellies (not the fridge types) the table sugar, which is sucrose, you mix with the fruit and then heat breaks down into a mixture of equal parts of glucose (grape sugar) and fructose (fruit sugar). This new mixture then tastes sweeter than the table sugar you added! In other words, you can put less sugar than you thought and still have a nice and sweet jam or jelly to put on your toast in the morning. What happens is that the acid and heat combination breaks down sucrose into its two components — glucose and fructose. This is also probably the reason when you bake most fruit pies–say apple or peach — it seems sweeter than you thought it should. Personally I prefer a less sweet pie which means I tell my wife and daughters to go light on the sugar when baking fruit pies. Technically, this process is called hydrolysis.
Now I bet you are wondering what on earth does cloning have to do with anything here? Well, I also was reading the textbook’s chapter on DNA and RNA and I came to a section titled Cloning. The first sentence of the chapter goes “One meaning of the word cloning is the process of making an exact copy of an organism.” A good definition. Now comes the criticism. This criticism is based on the four author’s ignorance. This all reminds me of the saying about the definition of a specialist: “A true specialist is one who learns more and more about less and less until they know everything there is to know about nothing!”
The book’s section on cloning demonstrates this. Here are a couple of excerpts from this section that demonstrates this. “Cloning of plants may hold promise for increasing the yields of crops.” Also “By planting young (cocoa) trees that are clones of plants with desirable characteristics, farmers may be able to increase their cocoa producution.” Come on now! This sounds almost science fiction. But the problem is, is that people have been doing this for thousands of years! Some examples of plant clones: Red Pontiac potatoes, Delicious apple trees, most all garlic, Redhaven peach, Weeping Willow, Montmorency cherry, Concord Grape, Bartlett pear…actually I could name thousands of clones. We have one tree of the Court Pendu Platt apple. Apparently the first Court Pendu Platt apple was cloned by the Romans before Jesus’s birth. I also have some Calville Blanc D’Hiver apples which believed were first cloned in the 1500′s. By the way, Calville has more Vitamin C then an orange and it makes the very best fall pies. (Me thinks the od Gravenstein apple makes even better pies but it is an early fall apple in Michigan and doesn’t keep well.) You see, every named fruit tree is a clone (this cloning is done by grafting or budding) also every named potato is a clone. This is done by simply dropping the potato in the ground. As a general statement (which probably has some exceptions) I can state with moderate confidence, “All types of asexual reproduction results in a cloned organism.” Apparently, the four author’s of the textbook I refer to didn’t know this. By the way, despite this omission I really love the book and heartily recommend it. It is very well done!
Thank you to all who participated!
The first person to name the town and state of the farthest place north in the US where native pecan trees have been found growing wild will win 12 hardy pecan seed nuts. Also included will be instructions on how to raise your own hardy pecan trees from seed nuts. To win, simply be the first to comment on this post with the correct answer. Please leave your email address so I can contact you. Contest ends on March 1, 2012. You must reside in the United States to qualify for this contest. I will be the sole judge of the correct answer.
Buzzards Sighted! Is Spring About To descend on Newaygo County?
Since March 15, 1957, Hinckley Ohio residents have watched the sky hoping to be the first to spot the returning turkey vultures to “Buzzards Roost” within Cleveland Metroparks. The buzzards (actually Turkey Vultures) are said to have returned ever since and marks the true start of spring. Well, last Saturday most of the kids and myself were checking our electric fence since the voltage was way down which meant trouble. While we were way in the back, a quarter mile from the road, Catherine saw a vulture circling. (They are very graceful when flying high but really ugly when they swoop down.) Well anyway, when she told me this I was a bit mystified because I knew that the bird books which included Michigan within the natural range of the Turkey Vulture (some of the old books don’t include Newaygo County, but rather only include the southernmost counties in Michigan as their natural range) state that they are only found in summer in Michigan and you have to go south of the Ohio River to find them year around. Well I guess if you believe the books this is summer!