Dicromantispa interrupta

Dicromantispa interrupta

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Ice and Iron

It has been colder here for longer than it has been since the 1980s, according to a wag I heard on the weather channel. A few days ago the water outside froze in the pipes and I didn’t have running water until 11am. Perversely, today I was able to do my morning shower and constitutionals, and then the water froze at 11am! Hunh?!?! It has remained below freezing or just above that for three weeks now. I dream up day adventures to go out on, and then return to my cozy home and read or write something instead. I worked on a proposal all day yesterday to plant quality hardwoods on a spoil island in order to reverse a trend toward becoming dominated by invasive exotic trees. Before that, I continued writing my masterpiece.

This morning I read an article at Science News on iron and phosphorus being the current limiting factors on phytoplankton photosynthesis in the Atlantic:

The article stated that wind-blown iron picked up from the Sahara is deposited largely in the North Atlantic where it unleashes phytoplankton growth and photosynthesis. The South Atlantic, on the other hand receives no such iron and so it does not have as much primary productivity as the North Atlantic. Then I remembered that a couple of years ago a hurricane occurred in the South Atlantic for the first time in history, and I wondered if the two phenomena were related. After all, denser phytoplankton should intercept more solar energy at the ocean surface and heat it up more than adjacent waters having less phytoplankton, and hurricanes are born of heated oceanic waters. Therefore, is it possible that Saharan iron aggravates hurricane formation in the North Atlantic?

Back to the cold - my garden has been planted according to a calendar made available by our local land grant university:

I began following their recommendations last summer, each month planting only the crops they recommended for my locale and planting them during the months they recommended. And the garden has been producing a steady stream of fresh organic veggies ever since. Lettuce harvests are waning but broccoli is being harvested almost weekly now, little-unharmed by the freezing weather.

Scallions are always there – just go get some whenever you want. Oregano, anisette and cilantro are almost-daily harvested and used in dinner. Cabbage appears to be a month away from harvesting. Sweet pea vines are about a foot long and are on hold until there is a little more warmth. Garlic, and yellow and red onions are coming along nicely. I planted the Brussels sprouts a couple of weeks ago, and boy are they hunkered down from the cold! Down but not out – they are still green and appear undamaged by the nightly nips. Yeah, broccoli and cabbage leaves look a teensy bit wilted, but they are not damaged. The point is that every time I follow the calendar’s advice, it works, and I bet your state's land grant university has a calendar for you. Fresh veggies in summer, autumn and bitter winter so far. It doesn’t get any better than that. Kudos to UF IFAS! I only regret that the garden is not larger. Oh, and there’s NO insect pests to worry about in the winter.

Come on-a my house, I’m a-gonna give you veggies…

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