Two and a half-months of arguing with the electric company, ten thousand dollars in garden and electric infrastructure, one 13 hour day recording 1040 temperature measurements…
The following graph? Literally priceless
Now… I need plants.
Now that my experimental warming gardens are up and running (albeit with no plants yet, turns out I wasn’t watering correctly/enough), I need a name. A clever acronym for them. In case you’ve forgotten, they look like this:
Oh, and I now have a tent/staging area:
Isn’t that thing awesome?
So far, here’s some of the terrible ideas I’ve come up with:
1) TERPs (as in Maryland Terps) – Thermal Experiment Research Plots
2) HEAT – Heated Experiments for Altered Temperatures (or something)
3) HOES – Heated Outdoor Experimental Station
4) HORSE – Heated Outdoor Research with Simulated Environments
5) HOGs – Heated Outdoor Gardens
6) SCATTER Plots – Simulated Changes in AmbienT Temperatures Experimental Research Plots
These are all pretty bad. My two favorites are TERPs and SCATTER Plots.
Last week, I finally got power running in my experiments. I took some pretty drastic steps, like redoing the soil in all of my plots, to try to successfully germinate seeds two months after I should’ve planted them. I planted roughly 90,000 evening primrose seeds (Oenothera biennis). In addition, I planted 2.5 grams of seed mix (15 native wildflower species) in each plot. I have no idea how many seeds this works out to, but a conservative estimate would be roughly 10,000 seeds per plot for a total of about 320,000 seeds. I’m hoping some make it. Unfortunately, last week also happened to be a major heat wave that was incredibly dry. Even though I watered my plots three times a day, morning, noon and night, I’m doubtful that anything survived. If it’s not one thing, its another.
To hedge my bets, I also planted 150 peat pots of seeds, each with 5 – 10 seeds, that I also water three times a day. I’m hoping the potting soil helps hold moisture in and improves germination.
If these survive, I’ll just plant the seeds and pots directly into the soil.
Also, last year I planted over 300 spicebush seeds and kept them in a cooler over the winter. I should’ve pulled them out in May, but I had no power in my plots so I couldn’t plant them. Now, I’ve pulled them out and I’m hoping they germinate as well.
If nothing germinates in my plots or my seed cups, then I’m totally screwed. So, fingers crossed!
I finally got power run to my experimental plots last week. Today, I had work to do. I poured 40 pounds of compost in every subplot to help with soil quality (for those of you keeping track, I have 64 subplots, which means I carried roughly 2500 pounds of dirt around the garden all morning). Of course, I couldn’t have done it without the help of the volunteer, Aaron.
Second, I hung my heaters over my plots and FINALLY turned them on. I have waited two and a half months for this moment. (Side note: All the crap BGE gave us about needing to run new lines, put in higher amperage lines, etc. was garbage. We waited 2.5 months for them to come turn the power off and, when we were done hooking up the new electrical meter, turn it back on). I’ll repeat: My heaters are up and running!
I half expected to plug the heaters in and have outlets trip left and right. They didn’t, and everything stayed on!
Even better, I went out to the garden last night to take some temperature measurements.
The good news is, I get exactly the heating effect I was looking for, and it covers the whole plot! I was worried about it not heating enough (but I still have some leeway to crank the wattage up if necessary) and heating just a strip in the middle of the plot, but my fears have, for the moment, been allayed. I’ll probably still turn it up all the way later (or, if things get crazy, to 11).
Tomorrow, I will plant more seeds since the last batch died and water them daily. I bought a pound of evening primrose seeds. For those of you who’ve never seen primrose seeds, they look almost exactly like Grape Nuts. A pound is about a cereal box worth of seeds, about 1.3 million. I’m only planting about 1300 in every subplot. If I get the 20% germination rate the company says I should, then I’ll have more germlings in each plot than I know what to do with (not really, I know exactly what to do with them: kill most, leave a few).