Thursday, June 25, 2009

Stone Zen

Since our neighbour Jerry is moving I begged him to share with me a stone he'd brought in when he decided to do a rock garden. His motivation evaporated and his rock "garden" ended up being a ring of rocks around a bit of gravel dotted with weeds, but never matter. I have had my eye on that piece of pink and grey speckled granite since the day he plopped it down.

Every Japanese "Zen" garden has at least three stones, a Buddha stone (which is upright), a horizontal stone, which is said to represent the earth, and a diagonal stone which represents humanity.

I have abandoned my cherished idea of a raked sand garden out front, primarily because keeping it free of the petals, catkins, berries, leaves and other debris which falls from the overhead trees would be a nightmare. But I kept the idea of including Zen stones, surrounded by moss.

I have my diagonal stone, one which Ian and I found on a hike and (bless him) he packed back to the truck for me. It's large and heavy, so that was a labour of love. It's been in the garden since we first moved here, looking more at home every day as the moss creeps up around it. I may fiddle a bit of moss into the cracks, though doing so will hasten its demise. One large slab of it already fell away with the freeze and thaw cycles of spring.

And at the end, in lieu of a Buddha stone, is a stone Buddha. While I am not one for many garden ornaments the Buddha isn't an ornament (is he?). He lifts his hand in a gesture of acceptance and mercy for all sentient life and extends an aura of calm. He sat on the earth last season. He now sits on a two-inch thick slab of white quartz brought by a friend.

The vertical or earth stone in many Zen gardens is boat shaped. I suppose you could extend the analogy to that of the earth as a ship or boat. I had not found a suitable stone boat, but sitting in Jerry's abandoned rock garden was the perfect one. Hence my begging.

He sort of grinned and said to take it if I liked it. I got Tony to lift and carry it to its new site, as I couldn't budge it. (Granite is heavy!) I replaced it with two smaller stones so there wouldn't be a gap in Jerry's ring, and skipped home happy as a clam.

So now we are all properly Zen-i-fied. I dug a hole for it, as much as I could, considering the tree roots, snugged it in between some plants and planted moss around the bottom. Within weeks it will look as though it has been there forever.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Loveliest Gift

I've spent time with couples and families who constantly quarrel and bicker, who say unkind things to each other. It's painful for me to even visit in a home like that, and I can only imagine the unhappiness in the hearts of those who live there.

Tony faced serious health challenges from the time Ian was a newborn, and because he was often unable to work for extended periods we never had a great deal of money when our boys were growing up. He was sometimes the stay-at-home parent while I worked outside the home, but this was in many ways a blessing, as it gave him an extraordinary amount of time to spend with his sons. He often expresses amazement at our boys' ability to turn their hand to almost anything, to repair anything, to build anything, to figure out anything, and he never stops to think that they learned these skills at his side, as he taught them to hold a hammer, use a saw, wire a plug, frame a wall or work on an engine.

They didn't have designer jeans or sneakers, but they apparently had what they needed to grow into well-rounded, productive adults, which was an incredibly gentle and patient father by their side. We are so proud of our sons, they are everything we ever hoped they would be and more. But they are that because their father poured his whole life into them.

We are not shy about telling them how much they are loved and appreciated and on Father's Day Zak wrote a lovely note to his Dad which meant more to him than any material gift could have.

He wrote in part, "I started thinking about the various gifts that you've given your family over the years and that I've probably never fully thought about or thanked you for.

Growing up, I remember you and Mammy having hard times but never being mean to each other, even when we were broke, sick and deeply stressed out. Despite all the trouble I made and got into, you were never mean to me either - and I know what a terrible handful I must have been. I didn't realize that this was anything out of the ordinary until I started to spend time with other families and understood that the love, gentleness and kindness that you showed each other, Ian and I, and the others in our life was extraordinary.

As I've grown older and am not so invulnerable, I further understand that you both made many hard choices while dealing with real challenges. These gifts of love, kindness, patience and gentleness are some of the most important things in my life.

Watching (and sometimes helping with) your projects taught me to be inventive, thrifty and determined. I now know that most things can be repurposed, most plans are guidelines rather than rules, and given time and enough 2x4s, I know that most things can be built. I also improved my vocabulary from being near you when the projects were in their more difficult stages. ;-)

I'm grateful for all of these things and much more. I'm so proud to have you as a father and hope one day to do as well with my own children."

[edit] After Ian read this post he wrote,"That was a very nice letter that Zak wrote. People often marvel at my level of resourcefulness and mechanical ability... I usually explain it by saying my parents weren't afraid of doing anything, least of all learning or trying something new."


Saturday, June 20, 2009

An Orgy in the Garden!

The goings-on in the Community Garden are definitely x-rated, but the nice ladies who diligently water, weed and tend to their little plots are missing the entire thing!

Well girls, what do you think all that flowering and fruiting is about? And where do little seeds come from? Time to take these innocent gardeners behind the woodshed and share the facts of life with them. Hold on to your sunbonnets!

Flowers are the sexual organs of flowering plants. (blush) I don't know how anyone else feels but I worked hospital wards for years and for looks I think almost any flower beats the heck out of what we've got to work with!

There are two types of reproduction in plants: ASEXUAL and SEXUAL

Asexual reproduction (as practiced by mushrooms or plants which send out runners or suckers) requires only one parent. No mate is needed, all offspring are genetically identical to the parent and there is no diversity in the species. This is potentially dangerous because the entire species can be wiped out by a pathogenic, environmental or climatic disaster. If one is vulnerable, all are vulnerable since none of them will have any greater resistance than its clone.

But flowering plants use sexual reproduction and they have developed it into an art form. Flowers can be pistillate (female), staminate (male) or perfect (both male and female).

Sexual reproduction requires two parents, a male and a female, both of which contribute DNA. (Any mother will understand this perfectly well since all of a child's irritating traits come from their father's side of the family.) Sexual reproduction insures genetic diversity, which is needed for vigor. Each new offspring is genetically unique.

So peeping through the petals we see the Androecium - the male reproductive part of the flower. The individual units of androecium are called the stamens. Each stamen has a thread-like filament at its free end where a four-lobed anther is attached. The anther contains four pollen-sacs, one in each lobe. These pollen-sacs produce pollen which contains sperm cells. When the pollen is mature the anthers burst open and the pollen is released onto the surface.

The Gynoecium is the female part of the flower. The individual units are called the carpels or pistils. A flower may have any number of carpels each of which is made up of an ovary, a hollow tube called a style (think fallopian tube), and a stigma. The ovary contains many ovules each of which consists of an egg and associated cells. The stigma is a sticky structure that receives the pollen. The style is hollow and provides a passageway for the sperm to reach the eggs.

Transfer of pollen to the stigma is called pollination. When the pollen is transferred to the stigma of the same flower, it's called self-pollination. If the pollen grains are transferred to the stigma of another flower of the same species it's called cross-pollination. Cross pollination is helped along by wind, water, bees, birds, bats and other animals including people who stick their noses into one flower after another. That's the reason for the extravagant colours, the lush fragrances, the nectar, the wild shapes. It's all a part of the plants' strategy to attract some creature which will carry out its reproductive cycle.

When the strategy works and a grain of pollen reaches a stigma, the pollen grain immediately puts out a tube which grows down the style and enters the ovule where it bursts at the tip releasing a two-man sperm team. One sperm fuses with the egg and fertilizes it. This results in the formation of single cell with both parent's DNA - the zygote - which develops into the seedling. The other sperm fuses with a separate part of the egg and forms the endosperm, the plant equivalent of the placenta, which nourishes the zygote. The ovule then becomes the seed and the ovary changes into fruit. Think tomato - the ovule becomes seeds and the ovary gets sliced and eaten with your salad.

And the reason I was out in the garden with a paint brush this morning - no matter how small the blossom, a female squash blossom always has a micro-version of the squash it will eventually produce behind it. If there's no baby squash behind the blossom it's a male blossom. And unless that male blossom has a chance to get its pollen over onto the female blossom's pistils, her baby squash will wither and fall off. No sentimentality. Fertilized ovules get all the energy, because they carry the genetic material of that plant forward to next year. I was out making whoopee with the squash.

And that, ladies, is as why I am able to say there's an orgy going on in our gardens.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

She SAID It's a Competition!

We were looking at the first blossom on my zucchini plant when Judy said, "Your zucchini plant is way bigger than mine!"

I said something like, "There, there, it's not a competition."

And she replied, "It is if you don't have the biggest zucchini!"

I can see it now, steely-eyed judges assessing the size, shape and colour of our tomatoes, squash, beans, cabbages, peas, and peppers. (Not the flavour. Unless I get to be a judge.)

Are we competitive? NAW.... But if I can believe the stories I've heard a couple of the neighbours down the way got into a "friendly" competition a few years back over who could grow the biggest, or best, or first ripe, tomato. This "friendliness" led to one of them contriving to somehow attach tomatoes bought at the nearby produce outlet to her tomato vines.

This chicanery was discovered and she went down in defeat but absolutely no shame. Gardeners are a bad lot. No telling what we will stoop to given motivation.

But not keeping score or anything, just reporting, Ruth has the biggest cabbage plant, which is as pretty as any flower! And she has loads of large delicious strawberries too. I got one pea-sized strawberry that tasted like medicine. I don't have any hope of being crowned strawberry queen.

I'm not sure who has the largest tomato plants. Mine are big but Ronnie's may be bigger. Judy has an enormous tomato plant, loaded with little tomatoes. However it was already about four feet tall when she bought it, so she may get disqualified on the "bought your win" technicality.

Our Groundskeeper "Cat", shown here with the Park's lipstick pink truck, improved my advantage yesterday when she trimmed the tree up front. She thinned out the lower branches so we get some morning sun. I know the plants in my vertical planter will appreciate it. Poor things are starved for sun.

Cat also brought an old rain-barrel which we recycled into a compost bin. Art from next door drilled several dozen 1/2" holes in the bottom and each side of it, and blessed it with several loads of freshly cut grass mixed with leaves. The thing is out there cooking like crazy. The two compost bins should eliminate the need to haul the grass clippings and leaves to the dump, and lots of people bring their kitchen scraps to toss in. We will have fantastic compost for the gardens next spring. Mine will be bigger and better than... oh... it's not a competition.... Oh sure.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

A Month Ago Today...

I transplanted my tomatoes. I grew the Brandwine and Starfire plants from seed. They were toughened up to withstand the cold nights by having been brought up in a cool environment. They were a bit smaller than I would have liked but they were very green and robust.

Four plants went into the big blue sub-irrigated planters Zak made for me while he was here. These are watered through a pipe sunk into the planter. Right now these plants are drinking about four gallons of water a day. It is very hot where they are sitting, very sunny and it has been extremely windy the past few days. They are doing their bit to clean the CO2 out of the air! I run my hands over the leaves just to catch their fragrance.

In both containers the BWs and Starfires are about three feet tall. They are very "bushy" and are absolutely loaded with buds, blossoms and tiny tomatoes, from the size of a pea to the size of the end of my thumb. They are growing so fast that the new branches and leaves seem to be uncoiling like fiddlehead ferns! Amazing progress in a single month. They are climbing over their wire cages, and I am going to have to find some additional way to support them soon. My brother just lost a big unstaked tomato to a wind storm, and I don't want that happening to these babies.

The lemon boy and yellow pear tomatoes I bought in town were a bit sickly looking compared to my home grown seedlings, but since my yellow tomatoes had not made it to the transplant stage they were the best I could lay hands on. They went into a large pot which I sat inside a larger pot which had no drainage holes. I sat the pot containing the tomato plants on a brick, to raise them out off the floor of the larger pot. These are in the community garden and don't get as much sun or heat as the Brandywine and Starfires, but they still are drinking a good two gallons of water a day.

The yellow pear and lemon boy are not quite as far along. They are about two and a half feet high and are beginning to bloom but so far no little tomatoes that I can spot.

The zucchini squash have numerous teeny squash plants forming behind buds. The watermelon vines have buds, the beans which came up are growing like crazy. The okra is still thinking about the philosophical implications of growth. It has not yet decided to actually grow. No onions have emerged, no carrots came up. A handful of radishes came up in the entire row, and all in a single bunch so that three-quarters of them will have to be pulled if we are to get any radishes.

If the two rows of okra weren't sitting there sulking about being too far north of the Mason-Dixon line I'd just dig up the bed and start again, except for the row of tomatoes at the very end. It's my year for tomatoes apparently. These plants were so small you could barely see them when I put them in, they are now 16" high and blooming like crazy.

Well, it's nice to do something right.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Things That Go Bump in the Night

Worse, things that go "munch" in the night! Since the two or three night raids on the gardens a couple of weeks back we haven't had any more trouble, although something upended and emptied a neighbour's recycling fountain a few nights ago, and the pump burned out.

The big live catch trap has been sitting about six feet from the back end of our trailer for those couple of weeks, and hadn't caught anything. That changed at 11:45 last night when we heard a clang! and some very vigorous cage rattling.
We couldn't see what was in the trap from inside so we got the flashlight and went outside to have a look.

Here ya go... although this was taken this morning. I'd say a 10-12 pound raccoon. It snarled and growled and threatened and we decided to go in and leave it in peace. But the racket would have awakened any dead who happened to be nearby. So, with hopes that it (and we) might sleep if it had a full stomach I cut a half of a sweet potato into strips, opened a five ounce can of turkey and giblets cat food and took it outside. Though the coon threatened to do me serious injury I managed to poke the sweet potato strips inside and spoon the cat food through the wire onto the metal floor.

The cage had a 1/4 thick piece of plywood laid over the floor, about 12" x 20". We could hear the raccoon ripping this plywood apart as it growled. Eventually I heard munching and the scent of sweet potato drifted through the window. Things got a bit (but not a lot) quieter. We closed the window and turned on the fan to mask the noise, and at about 2:30 I finally went to sleep.

This morning when I went out at 7:00 the coon was sound asleep in her cage. She woke as I approached, but didn't growl at me. I took a couple of pictures and fed it more sweet potato and cat food. Also tried to give it water, as I imagine ripping up that much plywood would work up a powerful thirst.

Catherine arrived and covered the cage with an old sheet, and as the sun moved around, she moved the cage to a sheltered, shady position while we waited for the fellow to arrive to pick the coon up for relocation. He came, rebaited the trap, put down a new plywood floor and said we may catch this one's mate.

The one we caught is a female, and he said he could tell she'd had kits this year. While she may not have any surviving kits I hate the thought of little baby coons on their own too early. They might be weaned by now, but would be easy prey for the coyotes, eagles and hawks. Still there's no way you can allow a coon to roam a campground like this. It's too dangerous for tenters, and the pets people tie and leave while they go to the beach or town. Nature and man collide violently all the time, sadly. While the Mama coon will be relocated to a lake farther up in the mountains, all we can hope now is that the young ones will follow her scent here and be caught themselves, so they can be reunited.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Day and Days

Sat June 6 2:00 pm

We start with a picture of Ruth's peonies, which are gorgeous, as usual.

And an announcement! The lost are found. Those yellow crookneck squash seeds were (uh-oh) in the greenhouse, which has been closed up and probably 150 degrees several afternoons in a row. These seeds weren't too vigorous to begin with and now they may be completely dead. I planted six seeds in my squash container two weeks ago and so far, only two have emerged. Not promising.

But, ever an optimist where my garden is concerned, I took about a dozen seeds from the packet, put a teaspoonful of the "Red Earth" minerals in about 1/4 cup of warm water and put the seeds in that. If they are going to germinate they should swell up and look alive within about 72 hours. Let's see if they do. For curiosities sake I will put an equal number of seeds in plain water, and see if the "Red Earth has any effect on the germination.

I had planted my scarlet runner beans before I got the "Red Earth" but I top dressed the container and watered it in and I now have the biggest bean seedlings I have ever seen. I planted from this same packet, in the same place, last year, and these leaves are more than double the size of last year's. And, something I have never seen before, some of them are coming up with side branches already developed!

Anyway, I am hoping the Red Earth will kick these heat challenged crookneck squash seeds into life.

Sunday 7 June;

This afternoon I cut the bok choi and Chinese kale I'd planted early in the season, and pulled the spring onions I'd interplanted with them. The veggies had bolted, and though I loved the flowers I wanted to plant the squash in those pots. I was going to be all experimental and add Red Earth to the one pot, and not add it to the other pot. In the end I couldn't do it. I added it to both pots. (I want squash.)

Tuesday 9 June;

The watermelon vines are growing like mad. The tomatoes are growing like mad. But the strawberries have pretty much turned up their little toes and died. No idea why, except I planted them in the row along the western side of the 4 x 4 and the sun may heat the soil there beyond the capacity of the strawberry plants to handle.

Next door, Ruth the Mighty Gardener has a large, almost ripe, berry hanging as prettily as a jewel. Unfortunately her upside-down tomato, which was doing so well, was broken by the strong wind we a couple of nights ago. The poor stem was broken by the plant swinging back and forth in the wind. Lesson learned: Next year upside down tomatoes get stakes and some plastic mesh to stop the plant from moving in the wind.

One more crookneck squash seedling has emerged in the squash container out in the community garden. And one more okra seedling came up in the 4 x 4. Honestly, you know you are insane when you start counting emerging seeds.

Wednesday 10 June;

I can't resist sharing another picture of Ruth's spectacular 4 x 4. What is the difference between hers and mine - aside from the fact that mine is practically empty? A huge bag of sheep manure.

Guess what I'm adding to mine next year? My topsoil and container mix combo has set up like concrete, and so far the only plants that are flourishing are the tomatoes. I'm happy they're doing well, but I wish the okra would go ahead and get second leaves, and more of them would come up, and more of the other seeds I planted would come up. The marigolds and oregano I planted in my 4 x 4 are still alive (unlike my strawberry plants) but they couldn't be described as thriving. That's gardening for you. Every year there's a lesson or two.

On these hot days plants wilt in the afternoon sun, and containers need frequent watering. One nice thing about the community garden is that gardeners come at different times during the day to water, and most watch to make sure that no one's plants are suffering from a lack of water.

Someone should water Mrs. Oriole and cool off her temper. She has taken to attacking her reflection in the neighbour's window. She pecks and beats that pesky intruder until she is panting and exhausted. Her anxious but hen-pecked husband calls to her in his most appealing chuckle, and flies around her, trying to get her to come away, but she will not listen. Thankfully the reflection is only visible for a short time of each afternoon, or no housework would get done at the Oriole's.

The robins have tossed an empty egg-shell, like a little spot of sky, from their nest and into my flower-bed. You can see where the chick pecked its way out. The blackbird babies are out of the nest and are constantly pestering their parents for food. The adults get very anxious when Sal and I are out walking under the trees, but the babies already fly almost as well as the adults, and we are no threat.

What is really interesting is that another robin is feeding a baby which is now out of the nest and flying (or flapping) clumsily from branch to branch. It's understandable that they would get anxious when Sal and I come near, but the blackbirds leave their babies and come to join in protecting the young robin. They dive bomb Sal and scream curses and threats at him. He doesn't even notice he's so busy looking for a mouse hole. But to ease the birds' anxiety I make him leave the lawn and come back to his own house.

I don't recall reading that birds will leave their own young to mob a cat who is a "threat" to another bird's young, but animals do surprising things.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

The Mouse Said, "You can't reach me here."

A string of beautiful days, capped by a beautiful day.

So let's wrap up the few days since the last post.

The deck continues to be the number one construction triumph of the year, according to some. Like a teenager Sal is staying out all night and sleeping most of the day. Except when he's eating or mousing. Yes, that's right. Our roly-poly love cat encountered an unfortunate mouse on his walk a few mornings back.

The mouse was well on the other side of a chain link fence, so I thought there was no harm in allowing Sal (who was leashed) to enjoy watching the little thing frolic in the leaves. I think it said, "Nah, nah nah nah nah," just before Sal's paw shot through the fence and grabbed it.

He pulled it back through the fence, it squeaked, he jumped about a foot in the air, straight up, dropped the mouse and hightailed it in the opposite direction as far as leash would allow. I let the leash go and he ran 20 feet before the "zone of safety" between him and this inch long mouse was sufficient.

Meanwhile mouse kicked its little legs once and promptly went off to mouse heaven.

I had to drag the brave hunter back to see that the mouse was not a threat. He poked it a time or two with his paw, sniffed it, looked up at me and said, "Wohrrr?" Translated this means, "It doesn't want to play any more. I'm bored."


Catherine, the Park's landscaper, has been bringing me treasures as she moves and divides the Park's many perennials. I have been the lucky recipient of a cranesbill geranium, an astilbe, a ground cover which I think may be dichondera, an unnamed but lovely clumping grass, and six pots of amaryllis which needed a babysitter.

Out in the tier garden I planted more okra and some yellow patty pan squash. I'd like to plant some more crookneck squash but I have misplaced the seeds. If anyone knows where I hid them please drop me an e-mail. Only two of the six I planted about 10 days ago have come up, so I want more.

I moved my sage which was in a pot into the ground, where I hope it will be happier. And I need to transplant the basil and my rose into the ground as well. The basil doesn't like the pots and the rose will be winter-hardy if it's planted in the ground.

I was trying to find an address for someone and discovered Google's "street views". This led me to look for a street view of the house I spent much of my childhood in. My parents bought it in 1949, and we lived there for quite a few years. I loved that house. It is now a little down-at-heels but not neglected. When we lived there the roof was red painted shingles, the shutters were red, the awnings striped red and white. The front yard was a green carpet of carefully tended grass, punctuated by Mother's flowers.

You entered into a small foyer. To the right is the living room, the the left, through an arched doorway was the dining room. The kitchen was large and square, with a gas, and a wood stove. In the odd-room arrangements found in house built in the late teens and early 20s, you entered one bedroom through the kitchen. The other bedroom was accessed through the living room. (That was my room). The bathroom was between the two bedrooms.

To the back was an enclosed screen porch where Mother's *miracle* new washing machine lived. This must have been purchased about 1952, and replaced the tub and wringer set-up. Down the steps and out into the back yard, which was huge. The house sat on a 100x 200 ft lot in those days. We had a shop for Dad, a set of clotheslines for hanging laundry, a chicken coop for my chickens and an enormous vegetable garden. The back of the lot ended in Willow Creek, which came up regularly every spring and flooded us. I remember being taken out in the middle of the night in a rowboat, which came right up to the front door. In those days the house was on stilts, with lattice around the perimeter. Willow Creek must have been tamed, because I see from the picture that the house has been dropped onto a foundation.

The elm in the yard was hardly more than a whip when Dad planted it. A tornado took the huge willow tree that grew about 10 feet from the dining room window.

I'm so glad to have this picture, as I had not a single photo of this house. Memories live in pictures.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

How Does Your Garden Grow?

The Community Garden is looking great! The 4 x 4 raised beds are in several stages from "planted three weeks ago" to "planted last weekend". But every garden has green growing things in it, and everyone seems to be enjoying tending their little plots and comparing notes. And, of course, quite a few people have planted tomatoes, herbs and veggies in their own sites.

As you may recall we are trying a number of techniques to increase our gardening room, from upside-down tomatoes, 4 x 4 raised beds, using a child's wading pool as a container bed for squash, an adapted version of the Japanese tomato ring, pots of every size, tiers for containers and even some in-ground gardening.

Sometimes you come across something that ought to be glaring obvious to any gardener, but isn't. Compare the two pictures; R's 4 x 4 24 hours before and 24 hours after application of ground volcanic lava.

There's a gentleman camping here now who is giving away bags of a product called "Supragrow" which is basically ground up red volcanic lava. He brought me a bag and said, "Tomatoes can grow two inches in 24 hours after an application of this stuff."

I was a bit skeptical but I had transplanted a row of four inch tall tomatoes into my 4 x 4 a couple of weeks ago, just because I couldn't bear to throw them away. Poor little things were purple as eggplants because of the cold nights they had endured. Though they had gradually turned from purple to green they hadn't really grown that much.

So I did as he suggested, adding four tablespoons of the ground mineral to a two litre bottle of water. I watered them at about 4:00 pm. When I went back at 6:00 pm to water everything else I was astounded to see that my little tomato plants had grown visibly in that two hours! By the next morning they had all grown two inches in height and put on a new cluster of leaves! They are still growing. I staked them this morning, something I didn't think I was going to have to do.

So yesterday I took five two-inch tall tomato plants I hadn't even been able to give away and transplanted them into the bed under the willow tree, adding the ground minerals to the soil around the hole and in the water I watered them in with. When I transplant anything I dig the hole, fill it with water, poke the plant in and push the soil up around the root ball. This is a technique I learned from a botanist in the 70s and I have not lost a plant to transplant shock since.

Results? One plant is six inches high today. Three are about four inches high and the fifth hasn't gotten much bigger but has a new set of leaves. Everything I "doctored" with the minerals grew faster than usual and developed a much more intense colour. I watered the Brussels sprouts with the mineral and water combo last night and not only did they grow a couple of inches, I can't believe how green they became, overnight. They looked fine before, but now they are the darkest, glossiest, healthiest-looking brassicas I have ever seen!

This is not a fertilizer. It does not contain nitrogen or potash. It contains a lot of iron, as well as calcium and potassium, other minerals and trace elements. Calcium and potassium are charged ions essential to the exchange of energy in biological systems.

So we add yet another experiment to our growing techniques. Several people have bags of the minerals now and are testing them. This is the kind of thing that makes growing things so exciting and so much fun. You just never know what you will learn, what is waiting around the corner!