going to seed

Greetings and salutations, everyone; yes, once again it is I, Chess the purebred border collie, filling in for the guy I live with, and hear to bring you the latest news from our garden, using the cleverest post titles imaginable. You may remember me from such other clever posts as “Slush Fun” and “Below Average”, among so many, many others.

Here I am in a highly uncharacteristic pose. This was taken looking into the sun, of course, but that scarcely detracts from its charm, don’t you think? Say you wanted a biscuit, and needed to know how to look utterly pathetic and sad, well, this is this place to learn how to do that. Wouldn’t you feel the need to give this poor creature a biscuit? Of course you would. cute1I got a biscuit, as you would expect. Thanks to the antibiotic, I am feeling totally excellent, by the way.

Mostly, the guy I live with has been obsessing about seeds. This post might be a tad didactic, which is why there are two cute pictures of me to make the whole thing worthwhile.

The cactus seeds he sowed on November 25th are coming up.cactus1These will be added to the few already in the house. cactus2I don’t know why he grows all these cactus from seed. He just does, I guess.

There are some agaves grown from seed, too. This is Agave toumeyana var. bella. This is one of the few agaves that people say are hardy here that is actually hardy, though not one hundred percent so. Some winters can damage it.agave1Agaves are really easy from seed, so this isn’t as big a deal as you might think. This, however, is a big deal. (For the guy I live with.) Some old tulip seed came in the mail.14120901This is pretty exciting, and he’ll be sowing this old tulip seed fairly soon. (This, of course, was originally from Jim and Jenny Archibald.)

The guy I live with even has a book on tulips.14120902Denver’s climate is very similar to that where many of the world’s tulips grow, and we both often wonder why there aren’t tulips here. Maybe there were at one time.

Also in the same package were some old seeds of oncocyclus iris. Yes, again. You might be able to see that this is forty-six-year-old seed. 14120903He says he’ll know within a month or so if the seed is viable. First it gets soaked in a solution of bleach and water. (The bleach is chlorine-free and says non-toxic, but the tap water has chlorine in it. The disinfecting process is for the outer coat of the seed, which can have bacteria on it.) The seeds are put in a coffee filter to make them easier to retrieve.14120904Then after about fifteen minutes, the filter is removed, and rinsed a lot, then the seeds are removed from the filter and put into one of those salt shakers he bought a while ago, and left to soak in water for a couple of days. The salt shaker makes it easier to shake out the water, so the water can be changed every day.

Then the seed is cut (we’ll show you that, later), and put into a damp filter, in a freezer bag, and left in the vegetable drawer for about a month. Here’s a picture. I know this looks like underwear, but it’s a coffee filter.14120905The bags go into a plastic box, but they’re wrapped with that towel to prevent them from freezing. That probably wouldn’t hurt, but the guy I live with likes preventing stuff.

Well, that’s the end of the didactic part of today’s post. I hope you enjoyed it. If you didn’t, here’s a picture of me, in a very casual pose, waiting to be helped up onto the ramp, to come inside. I can usually do that by myself, but, you know, not always.patio1


Until next time, then.




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10 Responses to going to seed

  1. petabunn says:

    Hi Chess you’ve got utterly pathetic and sad down pat haven’t you, and it works for a biscuit, I am so happy you are feeling totally excellent now as you used to. They are the cutest little cactus seedlings, much like you, cute that is, and they germinate so quickly. How long did it take for the agave seed to germinate? Can’t wait to see how the tulip and iris seed take and numbers that germinate. Yes I did enjoy todays post as usual and two pictures of you is always a bonus.

    • paridevita says:

      Thanks; I agree, I was extremely cute in those poses, which is why they were posted. Why not share something so delightful? (The world really does revolve around me, if you couldn’t tell by now.) The agave seed takes about a week or ten days to germinate. That’s all. It will be interesting to see if seed that old will germinate.

  2. Dear totally excellent, utterly pathetic and sad, sweetly manipulative Chess, we did not see your kind in Tasmania, although we did see a small, cute, hardworking Queensland terrier sniffing out terrorists and contraband at the Hobart Airport. We had to work equally hard resisting the urge to cuddle him. During the Heritage Rose Conference, an iris-besotted guy talked on companion planting and hauled in pots and pots of blooming iris of three types. Noel Button is his name, and he lives in a good spot for growing iris. I’m sure his attention would be riveted to learn about the guy you live with’s efforts with 46-year-old oncocyclus iris seed. For myself, I find anything with just the right amount of detail not didactic at all, and today’s post has just the right amount of detail for me. Of course, the photo which portrays coffee filters resembling organic flannel diapers is particularly winsome.
    Our dogs were pleased to see us after we sprung them from their long stay in doggie jail, um, *spa kennel*, as were we to see them. Our routines have been resumed, which includes a check-in with our pal Chess. You sound, dear dog, as personable and bright as is your wont, and we are cheered to read you, Carry on!

    • paridevita says:

      Thanks; I bet they were glad to see you. It will be interesting to see if the seeds are viable; they’re like little tiny rocks. He says we might know in just a few days, if the seeds plump up in the salt shakers. The guy I live with says that seeds with an impervious seed coat are often viable for many years. Manzanita being a good example. Various members of the pea family too. Without going into detail, which the guy I live with likes to do, I’m now as regular as ever. Let’s put it that way. I have my soft Pottery Barn sheets, and get helped into bed each night, and have a humidifier for my nose, so things are pretty darn good right now.

  3. Ann Grant says:

    I know this is an indelicate question, but, er, um, how old are you? I’m asking as I live with a Queensland red heeler who is 14 & I want to make sure she is well taken care of. The guy I live with would say it is his dog, but I think we all live together. She would write you herself, but she is missing her left front leg & I think she is naturally a lefty. Sometimes she has a little trouble walking, but she trots great and I have to hustle to keep up. Btw, I’ve been collecting seeds of short grass prairie plants this summer so now I don’ t feel bad about cold treating them on my back porch. Any idea how long to stratify Iris missouriensis? Sorry, the italics thing escapes me.
    Do you need a real name or some clever plant moniker to respond? A picture of the dog? She is really cute. I’m not sure I’ve figured out the picture thing yet. OD

    • paridevita says:

      I’m 12 and 9 months. Not indelicate. According to the guy I live with, I still need to lose some weight, but look who’s talking. The guy I live with will send you an email message. You can send one to him, too. If you click on his gravatar, which is me looking cute, it takes you to a page where his email is displayed for all to see. He published his email on the About page, but then got a lot of requests to be a fertilizer salesman. (Some people might claim he already is one, but he imagined himself dressed like Elwood Blues, carrying a briefcase full of fertilizer samples……) Fertilizer isn’t really used in this garden; I take care of most of that.

  4. vivianswift says:

    Dear Chess, that is a thousand biscuit face.

  5. Hi Chess and TGYLW,
    Very interesting post, instructive rather than didactic, with some tantalizing pictures of seed packets. Almost gardening porn! And of course, the bookends of you Chess are delightful … as always.
    Where the hell did 46yo onco seed turn up from? A deceased estate? I have a friend who is raising plants from seed he collected 30 years ago in his youth. All that prodigious instruction distilled within only now given full flight.
    BTW just to follow up on Readingcaliforniagarden: Border Collies are usually working dogs in southern Australia, especially in Tasmania. My earliest memories of them were of mad-eyed bounders who staired down big stubborn wethers at sheep dog trials. They always had a look of total exuberance that comes from doing what you like best. Cheers from Marcus Down Under

    • paridevita says:

      Thanks; we regret to say that the seed is not viable. Several species were tested after being soaked, and there’s no hope. Some hope would have been nice, but none means less work. The Archibald seed is fairly old, but viable. The tulip seed is fairly exciting, as is the old Halda seed, and hopefully what people say about acantholimon seed is wrong, and the species collected in Iran will germinate. (Acantholimons self sow here.) Border collies are working dogs here, too. Unless they’re retired like me. My buddy Slipper and I (we were first cousins) had two family members who ran a sheep ranch (station, sorry) somewhere out in southeastern Colorado, in some vast emptiness. The shepherd was in his 90s and blind, but my relatives were able to do everything necessary. I still do some things, like Brie testing.

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