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Topics - Ellendra

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I'm growing a variety of Shark Fin Squash this year, species C. ficifolia. Several sources say it's day-length sensitive, and that this far north it only blooms late in the season when it won't have time to ripen. Since the seller is in Michigan I assumed they had a variety that wasn't day-length sensitive. But, while my other squash varieties were covered in blooms, my shark fins had none.

On a whim, I decided to try an old orchardist's trick: stress the plant. With fruit trees that are old enough to flower but won't, you can get them to flower by beating them with a rolled-up newspaper. It sounds crazy, but the plant thinks it might be in danger and pushes to reproduce. It will flower the next spring.

I didn't have a rolled-up newspaper, so I tried a couple things. On some I snipped off the growing tips from some of the longer vines. (I had to do that anyway, they were encroaching on the walkways.) Others I stepped on the vines near the tips, not enough to destroy the stem but enough to leave a bruise. Some I did both, and others were left alone as a control.

That was 2 days ago. This is what greeted me this morning:

This was one of the plants that was both clipped and bruised. It's early enough that I'm still watching for results from the rest of the patch, and it remains to be seen if this plant will form fruit, but this was too special not to share.

I don't know if stressing the plant would work for other day-length sensitive plants, but would anyone else be willing to experiment and let us know?

I planted Silene capensis in my medicinal herbs garden a few years ago. I already had Silene latifolia growing wild, it's pretty much everywhere in this part of the country.

I'm now finding plants that look very much like S. capensis, growing quite a distance from my herbs garden. I'm trying to determine if they've been spreading, or if they're actually crossing with their wild relatives. So far I've only found one research paper on the subject, and it did not include S. capensis.

If I can't find anything, I might have to take samples and have them tested. I would love to learn that S. capensis is establishing itself outside my garden, but I don't know if a capensis x latifolia hybrid would have the same properties.

Anyone know where I might be able to find more research on the subject?

Cucurbits / Looking for seeds for a "cob melon"
« on: 2020-04-26, 09:56:51 AM »
A friend-of-a-friend recently contacted me for help in locating a rare melon type. I've never even heard of it before, and my searches haven't turned up much. The only possible source I've found is a small company in Canada that won't ship to the US, and I can't get their website to work.

Does anyone else know of a source for cob melons? Or even any information about them? So far all I have is a brief mention in an Amy Goldman book. I searched using some of its other names ("snap melon", "phut", "Cucumis melo momordica") and that got me a little more information, but the only source that came back was an Etsy seller in India.

Any ideas?

Seed Saving / Protection for "naked" ears of corn
« on: 2019-08-28, 01:11:05 AM »
My two favorite corn varieties (Magic Manna and Ruby-Gold Cascade) both have a problem with poor husk coverage. Some ears are fine, others have the ends sticking out. And others are completely husk-less. The ones with the end exposed tend to be bug-eaten and rotted, because rainwater gets in and is held there by the husks. The ones that are completely naked are the first to get eaten by rodents.

I'm selecting for better husk coverage, but this year I have a growing contract for Magic Manna, and I really need the income.

Is there an way to supplement the protection normally given by the husks? My area has had a ton of rain, so paper bags are out. They'd disintegrate within a week. I'm looking at the possibility of using old socks from the thrift store, but that's a LOT of socks, and they might soak up the rain and hold it there, making the rot worse. I have this crazy thought of gluing leaves in place of the husks, but I haven't tried it yet.

Any ideas?

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