another useful post

Greetings and salutations, everyone; it is I, Chess the purebred border collie, here to provide you with the most helpful and informative posts possible. You may remember me from such excellent posts as “Before Dawn” and “A Day At The Opera”, among so many others.

Here I am in a characteristic pose. Not quite in focus, but extremely soft.

122003The weather changed late yesterday, and today was cold and dreary. I moped some, in the morning, after our walk, because there wasn’t anything to do, but in the afternoon the guy I live with suggested we take a nap, which we did, and that was excellent, even though we overslept my dinner time by twenty minutes.

Guess what the guy I live with did today? He put on goggles and rubber gloves and poured some bleach into one of the beakers. I didn’t get all bleached white, like I was sure I would, and the guy I live with didn’t splash bleach on his jeans, so things started out pretty well.

Then he poured water into the beaker, and poured half of the bleach water into the other beaker, then added water to both, and poured them into the salt shakers. Then he put seed into the salt shakers, labeled them, and let them sit for an hour. To sterilize the seed coat. Then–and see, this is where he didn’t think things through–he tried to pour the water out of the salt shakers and discovered the water had to be shaken out. Well, hence the name, shaker, right?

Then the salt shakers were rinsed out, and the seed was rinsed, one salt shaker at a time, and distilled water was added, and the seed was put back into the shakers.

122002It was seed of oncocyclus iris given to him by a gardening friend, and what the plan is here is that the water will be changed every day for about four days, until the seed plumps up and the seed coat has softened, and then he’ll remove the aril, or collar, on the seed, with a dental pick, exposing the endosperm, and then sow the seed in perlite in a plastic bag, with some fungicide like Bordeaux Mixture added. He thinks that removing the aril is a substitute for twenty years’ stratification, and expects the seed to germinate within a week, in or out of the refrigerator.

122001I know, this seems like an anticlimax, all this salt shaker talk and this is what he did, but he says life is like that.

Our afternoon walk was a chilly one. I had a good time anyway. You can see the path we go on, left to right, then over the culvert and up to the canal road, which is what we’re standing on right now to take the picture. You can also see the creek path curving off to the right, and the creek on the left.

122004Look how bleak the creek path looks. I’m over on the right, out of the picture, sniffing stuff.

122005And now look how it becomes all interesting and lively with me in the picture. The guy I live with says this is a metaphor.

122006Well, since I have the opportunity to make the post even more useful, look what the guy I live with got in the mail today.





The pumice is for repotting the indoor cacti here. The Turface is calcined clay and it looked an awful lot like kitty litter to me, but the guy I live with assured me we weren’t getting a cat. He said that the Forest Service protocol for germinating Shepherdia rotundifolia is to sow the seed in calcined clay, which gives a greater percentage of germination than sowing in other media. He already has the plant, but wants more.

So that was our day. Bleak, and with something that really threw me for a minute. But no, we’re not getting a cat. We’re getting more Shepherdia rotundifolia instead. I guess I’ll say goodbye now.


Until next time, then.

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10 Responses to another useful post

  1. petabunn says:

    I wish for some of your weather Chess, 42C here yesterday and again tomrrow and all the other days have been mid to high 30s and many more to come. It is just awful, even though I love to lie in the sun my mum doesn’t like it. We are moving next year to somewhere cooler, I know she won’t like that because she loathes the cold and I don’t know because I have only ever lived here in the heat. I am pleased to now have the shaker story. Aren’t seeds amazing, my mum used to grow tubestock a while back and was always awestruck by the different germination patterns of different species, she even contemplated doing a post grad degree, she was so bowled over, but alas not enough hours in the day. Such an interesting day for you Chess and you had a nap and a walk too, good to see your route and you enjoying it even f it was a bit bleak.
    Ps. cats aren’t all bad, my friend Chester is quite sick and we are not sure what is going to happen, he is only 12 or 13 so too young to go away yet.

    • paridevita says:

      It isn’t really hugely cold here, -7C, but 89 percent humidity, which makes it seems like -70C. It snowed a teeny bit last night and is supposed to be like this for a couple of days. The guy I live with says he’s already tired of winter and it’s not even winter yet. 42C is definitely hot and I wouldn’t like it. Though I do like to lie in the hot sun, but the guy I live with says I’ll cook my brain and become completely useless, so he makes me come inside. If the guy I live with gets germination on these seeds, he’ll try some of the desert ones he got, like Iris petrana. And if they turn out to be hardy, which isn’t an unreasonable idea (he says) because so many plants from much warmer areas are hardy here in dry soil, then we’ll never hear the end of it. Or they can be grown outside in pots, maybe plunged, like they do in the UK and elsewhere. He says you can just sow the seed outside, like in the frame he just built, and sometimes the irises come up the next spring. He got some from Archibalds about ten years ago and sowed them that way, and they came up, but mostly they take forever. He does have forever to wait, but doesn’t really want to do that. It’s kind of boring. We sincerely hope your kitty is okay. The guy I live with worries about me terribly, but, on the other hand, it’s the only thing he has to worry about. He often forgets this and thinks there are other things for him to worry about, but there aren’t.

  2. Deborah S. Farrell says:

    I was glad to learn of the seed soaking and picking technique, but now I feel all portentless. Here in the Ohio valley, we’ll be hunkered down tomorrow against the predicted heavy rain and wind. It means the dogs I live with won’t be getting a walk. Nor will I. It will be a good day to look through seed catalogs and think about spring.

    • paridevita says:

      Well, I bet we could think of something else full of portent. Of course, if this seed soaking business is successful, the guy I live with will be completely insufferable. Years ago, my mommy got my grandpa Flurry and my uncle Pooka ponchos from Drs. Foster and Smith. I hear that my uncle Pooka, who had to go on his walks twice a day no matter what the weather, would walk by neighborhood dogs, very stiffly, with tail held high, as if to say “New poncho”. I tried to wear it once but getting wet is okay by me. We have spare towels just for that. I understand that looking through seed catalogs is always fun. “If seed catalogs come in the mail, can spring be far behind?”

      • Deborah S. Farrell says:

        We got out for a walk today during a lull in the rain, which was good because we didn’t get a walk yesterday and the dogs I live with went into their ‘crazy dog’ routine this morning, which they often do when they don’t get a walk. They run around the house, rough-housing and making lots of noise and bumping into things (like the Christmas tree), which I think is their way of telling me they really need to go for a walk and burn off some energy. So we did. And they settled down. It got up to 70 degrees F (21.111 C) and it smelled like earthworms from all the rain, which is still happening, and it’s thundering, so Daisy is in her hidey-hole/safe place at the back of my closet because she is scared of thunder. The other two dogs don’t react to it. How does Chess react to thunder? Does the seizure med. make for a calmer reaction?

      • paridevita says:

        We rarely have thunder at this time of year, even though it can thunder when it snows. Which is weird, but weird things happen here. I have a Thundershirt, and I have Rescue Remedy, but so far there hasn’t been any way to test the effects of goofballs on a purebred border collie who is absolutely terrified of thunder. It’s snowing here now, a little.

  3. Susan ITPH says:

    Sooo, why does the seed need to be sterilized first? And absolutely say yes to more S. rotundifolia. I still have no spot hot enough and dry enough for it that’s not already occupied by patches of Agave and cholla. Someday.

    • paridevita says:

      Sanitation has to be paramount when germination is forced; the endosperm is susceptible to fungus attacks, etc. Besides, everybody else does it. The protocol for S. rotundifolia is here There’s a PDF to download. 60 percent germination with a calcined clay substrate is pretty impressive. Normally, with simple vernalization, sowing the seed outdoors in pots now, only one or two seedlings emerge. About ten small plants have been produced that way here, over a period of twenty years. One largish plant from Agua Fria has survived ten years (hopefully, mentioning this won’t kill it), but three nicely grown plants from Great Basin Natives didn’t survive. The seedlings were either given away or they died. The key to success, as with manzanitas, seems to be to plant them late (November), without watering them, and then pretend they’re not in the garden.

  4. NOT anticlimatic for us, reading about the seed of oncocyclus iris and the torturing thereof. Fascinating the meticulous lengths people are led to for gaining their object of desire.
    Greedy, that’s what the person you live with is, already growing Shepherdia rotundifolia, but wanting more. Of course, I write this who has 140 roses of various growth habits crammed into a city lot.
    Today’s soft but characteristic pose, Chess, looks very much like my Dandy Dinmont, Petey, when he is relaxed although still keeping a wary eye. That metaphor your guy was telling you about, Chess, I think folks who live with dogs feel much of the time. And cats count too. Best wishes to Petabun’s Chester.

    • paridevita says:

      That’s partly what the new sand pile is for. People might say, “A sand pile, how ugly,” not knowing the treasures intended to be buried in it. (Hopefully they’ll not be buried permanently ….) There was a much larger S. rotundifolia here, but its roots were “horribly devoured by voles”, according to the guy I live with. That was before my time, and it was in the front yard, where my grampa Flurry, who loathed voles, couldn’t dispatch them.

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