Re-wilding: Planting

—>Let me preface this by saying that I’m sorry that I didn’t take any pictures of the seeds or of them being planted; I feel like a fool for not doing so (in the interest of transparency, of course). Allow me to make it up by taking many more pictures as soon as the first shoots appear….

As I mentioned in the previous post, we planted the remainder of the wild seeds the other day with the beginning of Spring. These included: Turk’s cap mallow (Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondi), American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana), sunflower (Helianthus spp.), and mullein (Verbascum thapsis). Additionally I went ahead and planted the prickly pear seeds (Opuntia spp.) that we had, because why the hell not? In an earlier post I’d described how and why we had already planted the passionvine seeds.

The Turk’s cap mallow was planted in a ring around the outside of where we had planted the passionvine seeds. Turk’s cap does best in partial shade and the climbing passionvines, coupled with the crape myrtles they’re planted around, should provide adequate shade to make the mallows happy. That said, they would have been alright planted out in the open instead.

The beautyberries, being a, purportedly, easy plant to sprout, were simply interred along the fence-line, along with some left over mallow seeds.

The mullein and prickly pear I planted in an open area of the yard, more in an effort to keep track of them than in any real concern for their well-being. Mullein is an easy plant to grow, I hear. I have seen them more often than not in drier areas of Texas, but that could be coincidence. The plants which I collected these seeds from came from here in town, so I expect them to be fine. Opuntia, being cacti, does have prerequisites. However, I have seen plenty of medium to large stands growing in the well-watered yards of some of my neighbors, so who knows? At any rate, I never expected to have good luck with the seeds, as it is much easier and efficient to propagate cacti from cuttings instead.

As I outlined in the original manifesto for this project, we were embarking on this experiment not only in the interest of trying to prove a method of providing free supplemental nutrition for ourselves (and others), but showing that at the same time we’d be enhancing and restoring the natural habitat which we call home. To that end we have taken a rough census of the other animal species which share in our immediate area and as this project goes on, we will try and note any increases or additions to their populations. As of right now, our home-area is inhabitated by a pair of mockingbirds (Mimus polyglottos), a pair of cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis), around five or seven house sparrows (Passer domesticus), a flock of fifteen to thirty white-winged doves (Zenaida asiatica), a flock of perhaps thirty to sixty grackles (Quiscalus spp.), three wild cats (Felix domesticus), two wily dogs (Canis lupus domesticus), and three crafty humans (Homo sapiens). There are species of wasp (order Hymenoptera, sub. Apocrita), cranefly (family Tipulidae), field cricket (subfamily Gryllinae), fire ant (Solenopsis spp.), among others. Dead Short-tailed shrews (Blarina carolinensis) have been found, presumably executed by our Felix domesticus. Markedly absent are the common Texas toads (Anaxyrus speciosus) which are abundant in other areas of town. My guess is that North Bryan is drier and more open than the low wetlands of College Station, particularly around Wolf Pen creek, where we used to live. Perhaps, if these plants sprout and thrive, more cover will become available rendering the soil cooler and more damp thus allowing the toads a place as well.

Illustrating this positively-correlating relationship is the crux of our endeavor. We are dedicated to showing how people and their environment can be and are connected; that people can gain real, physical benefits from restoring their natural habitats. We can have a positive relationship with our environment, because we are inherently a part of it; all we have to do is remember that.

Advertisements

Spring!

wp_20150326_08_25_14_pro
The Dagda

This is about a week late but as many are now aware, Spring began in earnest just a handful of days ago. Like many peoples, we saw fit to celebrate this as a return of the Sun and resurrection of life.

WP_20150316_17_07_24_Pro

We hunted Easter-eggs and Luna is in love with her new bunny (not a real rabbit). It’s interesting the endurance of the symbols associated with Easter and Springtime: Easter-eggs, Easter bunny, even the name Easter. East and Easter share the same root and derive from Germanic associations with dawn. Eggs and rabbits are beautifully perfect symbols of fertility, of the continuation of life; of life “springing” anew each year

We also finished planting the wild seeds we’d saved for our re-wilding project, which you can read about here.

WP_20150323_22_27_49_Pro

Another activity we did was to just go be outside and to look for all the different signs of things changing. We found a plethora of wild flowers just beginning to shoot up, we picked wild onions, fresh lettuce and dandelions and we also found more bright, red, juicy eleagnus berries than we could carry. At the end, we brought all these things home with us and with the last of the doves, some acorn and  mesquite bread and a tiny bit of grape jam left over from last Summer, we had a feast to say goodbye to Winter and to say hello again to Spring.

Perhaps the most enduring tradition of this time of year is Hope. I have hope for the projects we want to finish this year, I have hope for us, but in general (and most of all) I have hope for the Future.

WP_20150322_13_40_12_Pro
Spring Moon

Re-wilding: passiflora incarnata

So we took the first steps the other day in our experiment with planting wild plants.

One species which we were looking forward to seeing in our yard is the passionvine (Passiflora incarnata). We had saved over one hundred of these seeds from the Summer before, but while continuing our research regarding the species we had chosen, we ran into a snag.

According to the literature, passionvine seeds do best when they are fresh. Drying them out to be saved can induce a period of dormancy which they may never wake from (kinda the sleeping beauty of plants). To my understanding, this may be due to a need for over-wintering, or “cold-stratification”. In my reading though, I came across several methods which are purported to be able to help rouse stored seeds from their dormancy.

Several of them seemed conflicting so in the end I split the seeds we had into different groups. Half of all of them would either be soaked or left dry, and then half again would either be scratched or “scarified” with simple sandpaper or left whole; all other, mystical cures were rejected. Because cold stratification plays such a part with these plants, and because half of the seeds were now wet, we decided to plant them immediately before they could dry back out. Each of these four groups were planted together across two separate locations and the location and positioning of each group has been noted for record keeping.

What does this mean in terms of our hypothesis; that wild plant species are more efficient and easier to propagate than domesticated ones? In trying to restore these seeds, we employed tools and methods which “in the wild” could be readily replicated. That said, in the future, it may be even more efficient to just plant the seeds when we first pick the fruit; you could, conceivably, just spit them out onto the ground….