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Fred's photos from Wheaton Labs  RSS feed

 
gardener
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Today's photos are all of White Campion (Silene latifolia). This weed can be found growing in a wide range of habitats. Female and male flowers are found on separate plants. It tends to bloom in the evening and is pollinated by moths. This plant contains a bit of saponins, so it's foliage isn't that attractive to herbivores. Because of the saponins, the root has been simmered in hot water to use as a laundry detergent. When ripe the seed pod opens on the plant and looks like a tiny vase full of little dark grey bumpy seeds.



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The female flower with swollen calyx
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The male flower about to open
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Seed capsule
 
steward
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Uh, yeah - that male flower looks male.
 
steward
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guys... something tragic happened.. i left my bucket of huckleberries at my friends house in portland......... at least I got to eat a bunch of them and she said she would make a huckleberry cobbler in my honor.. anywhoo, thanks for taking us picking fred.
 
Julia Winter
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That is tragic!!

Quite the hostess gift, though.
 
Fred Tyler
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Cassie, that's too bad about the huckleberries. Guess you'll have to come back and pick more.

First photo is of Kinnikinnick (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi), one of several species called bearberry. The fruit is eaten by bears and birds and edible for humans, but mostly tasteless. The Algonquin name of kinnikinnick refers to it use as a smoking herb. This plant is favored as a low growing evergreen groundcover. The leaves have antimicrobial properties and have been used to treat some urinary tract complaints.

The second photo is a collection of kale stems and dried mushrooms i found in a box of spices. I guess i'm not the only one that thought that was a good place to store food.

The third photo is of the culprit. Sorry i don't have more than a head shot, but this one is fast! On first sight i thought this was a kind of squirrel (because of the somewhat bushy tail not visible in this photo). It is the Bushy-tailed Woodrat (Neotoma cinerea). With one of the walls on the wofati missing for reconstruction, it has been impossible to keep animals out. The woodrat is closely related to the other frequent occupant, the deer mouse. I found that one stash of dried mushrooms, but they usually keep their food is several places. I haven't found a midden full of shiny bits (and things we thought we misplaced), but i'm sure this packrat has one nearby. The newborns latch onto their mother's nipple with special teeth and she drags them around for a few weeks. When alarmed, the woodrat drums its hind feet making a clicking noise. Woodrats will often dry their food on rocks in the sun before storing it for winter. They are a important dispersal method for the spores of hypogeous mycorrhizal fungi (like truffles).
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Kinnikinnick (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi)
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Food stash of Bushy-tailed Woodrat (Neotoma cinerea)
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Bushy-tailed Woodrat (Neotoma cinerea)
 
Fred Tyler
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Apricots!!

Evan, Curtis and i went to rescue some apricots that were falling on the ground and rotting. Thanks to a tip from Paul we heard about a couple of trees where the owners didn't want the fruit and they were never sprayed. We picked mountains of apricots and there were still many left behind for another day. Besides eating what was probably too many delicious and juicy apricots, i made tons of jam. After two big batches of jam (37 half pints) i started giving apricots away and freezing some for later. The big red pot is one of the many goodies sent through the gapper love thread. Not sure who sent it, but it is much appreciated!
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tiny percentage of the apricots
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apricot puree - almost jam
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should last me a while
 
Julia Winter
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Wow, did you make that in the wofati? That's a lot of jam!

I turned the huckleberries we didn't eat into jam - it made a half pint plus a quarter pint (really tiny jar). I made it with xylitol, which is a sugar alcohol made from hardwood. It's what's in sugarless gum. They were selling a bag of it at Costco. It gelled up really firm. Very delicious!
 
pollinator
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Impressive effort. Those apricots look so lovely at any time but especially viewed from a southern hemisphere winter!
 
Fred Tyler
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Julia, yes, i made the jam at Allerton Abbey. I'm sorry, but making jam is enough work that i can't imagine making only 3/4 of a pint of any kind of jam. If i do it, i try and fill the canner so i don't have to do it as often.

Thanks Sue! I'm sure your fruit will look especially lovely five months from now when we are lacking.

The first picture is of False Solomon’s Seal (Maianthemum racemosum). It grows basically everywhere in North America in a variety of habitats. It has edible shoots in the spring that can be eaten like asparagus, though this should only be done where it is abundant. The berries when red and ripe are edible, but apparently only taste good on the west coast.

The second picture is Evan learning to drive a bulldozer. After we picked his dad up at the airport we stopped to visit James (past gapper) and check out his property. He has a cool 40 acres and we used his bulldozer to move a tiny amount of debris where he plans to put a pond.

The third photo is one of Egyptian walking onions i brought from Minnesota. It did well and has put on some bulbils. I will separate those and spread them around the Lab to multiply the number of plants.

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False Solomon’s Seal (Maianthemum racemosum)
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Evan dozering
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Egyptian walking onion bulbils
 
Fred Tyler
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The borage (Borago officinalis) i planted from seed has started to bloom. I'm taking this opportunity to compare it to comfrey which caused some confusion in an earlier post.

The first photo is the borage blooming (with tiny native pollinator).

The second photo borage's rather bumpy looking leaf with deeper veins, more bristles, a more irregular margin, and a more rounded tip.

The third photo is comfrey's much darker green (almost bluish) leaf with a more pointy tip. The comfrey is growing as a much taller plant.

The comfrey seems to be done blooming, but you can see it in this earlier post.

Borage is grown commercially for the oil extracted from its seed, which has high levels of healthy fatty acid GLA. The flowers are edible and make a nice treat. It is said to be a good companion plant for tomatoes, spinach, brassicas, legumes, and strawberries. Basically you should plant it all throughout your polyculture garden.
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Borage flower (Borago officinalis)
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Borage leaf (Borago officinalis)
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Comfery leaf (genus Symphytum)
 
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