Contrary to the weather forecast, we got hit by frost.
At first I wondered what I was looking at: one of the Dahlias looked a bit frost-bitten on one side of the plant. Then I noticed the Oca and the Ullucos: like boiled spinach.
The Ullucos are goners: they didn’t tuberize in time. No worries, I’ve got others that were more protected, that are getting ready to tuberize. I’ll have to put them under cover so that they can finish.
The Ocas have small tubers. They too were late to tuberize, thanks to a conspiracy of things gone wrong this year, including and especially bad weather. I’ll discount them for being small.A lot of things were unseasonably late to bloom, and a lot of things, like a gigantic hybrid Hibiscus, or the Mandevillea vine that climbs up my porch, never made it.
Mashua, aka Tropaeolum tuberosum, usually blooms late like this, which is unfortunate. Also late to tuberize; it’s day-length sensitive, as is common among Andean tropicals. There is a day-neutral cultivar called “Ken Aslet” but I don’t have it anymore, and another, non-day-neutral cultivar replaced it in the trade up here under the same (mistaken) name. Will my Mashua blossoms make it? Well, at the rate they’re going they might actually open, but they’re much too late to have hope of doing much.
Mashua is related to the annual bedding “Nasturtium”, Tropeaolum majus. Most of them seem to be perennials, and they seem to get more common further south. They’re an unusual bunch in many ways. Many of them are quite coldhardy, coming from alpine elevations, and they tend to be quite showy. I’ll post pix in the spring if everything turns out OK.
Great, as I type this, a windstorm is blowing in.
Anyway, at least it’s turning windy and humid, which implies no more frost for a while. I’ll head down to the farm to rescue more potatoes, see if anything can be salvaged of the tomatoes, and plant some more wheat. This time of year Tom and I are in a constant state of frantic rush.
Tom, however, is heading a different direction: you can catch him at Project Grow in Portland.Here’s one last picture: it’s the last flower spike of a seedling of Hedychium densiflorum ‘Assam Orange’. Its ancestor was collected by Captain Kingdon Ward in 1938 in what was then called Assam, India in the eastern Himalaya. It apparently ranges up to a fairly high altitude as despite the subtropical latitude it’s one of the most cold-hardy Hedychiums. One of these days I should cross it to the other hardy one, H. spicatum, to see if I can raise something that’s ironclad hardy (well, for a Hedychium). The name, “Hedychium”, is Greek for “fragrant snow”. Good name for these mountain-loving (mostly) Gingers. Most people never notice the scent; some of them including this one are only fragrant at night. Smells like Orange blossom if my memory serves me correctly. I’ll check it tonight to see if I was right.
Uses? Maybe. H. spicatum is the source of Abir, which is useless to me because I don’t smoke (abir is an aromatic sold in central Asia to add to a hookah). Seems to me these beautiful, fragrant plants from the Ginger family could be useful for something–probably to utilize one of their aromas.
Notice that I’ve got some things that are purely ornamental. They’re artifacts from my (Rob’s) days of what one of my friends calls my decadent German Burgher background (read that with a Russian accent). I get seed from some of these–sometimes in copious amounts. Now I want to keep our focus squarely on edible plants (Arthur Lee Jacobson, the author, keeps referring to my pets as “bimbos”), but maybe if I have spare time I’ll collect some of my seeds of ornamentals and spin it as a micro side-business. Maybe it can help us raise money for much-needed infrastructure.
Besides, as vices go, ornamental plants are soulful.
If, of thy mortal goods, thou art bereft,
And from thy slender store two loaves alone to thee are left,
Sell one & from the dole,
Buy Hyacinths to feed thy soul.
–verse from the Rubaiyat of Omar Kayam
(except he wrote it in Persian)