In Western North Carolina our spring/summer transition is somewhat unpredictable, but it looks like next week is safe enough to begin some transfer of plants to the outdoor field. And not a moment too soon! Almost everything is ready to get out of the small germination chamber and into the big wide world. In fact some things are beginning to look pretty sad.

I’m very concerned about my moringa, and don’t actually know why I’ve had dramatic die off of seedlings. They were all looking very healthy and then they went very floppy. I think it was some sort of root rot. Perhaps too much water. I think some of them will make it, and luckily Yanna Fishman (board member) is having more success and can share some to fill in my row!

Moringa Seedlings looking sad.

In a similar way, the gandules, which germinated so quickly, are beginning to show signs of being stuck in a small pot for too long. I don’t want to pot up 72 plants just for a couple of weeks, so I’m doing my best to keep them happy in their current homes!

Gandules seedlings are looking a little sad with the small pots

Everything else is healthy, but getting big… Luckily we’ve already started prepping the field. Last Tuesday Maia and Tiffany came out to volunteer in the field and we got a lot done (landscaping fabric down, 31 oilseed okra varieties seeded, fencing for the Apios set, and short row tilling begun!). We’ll end up with about 70 25′ rows.

Forming some new rows at the experimental farmsite

The field transfer plan is to get the things that can handle a little of the cooler temperatures outside first. Things like Achira and Taro can do a pretty good job, and have actually overwintered in Union Mills, NC. The taro has already been hardening off in a shed with a south facing window, surviving some pretty cold night time lows. Here’s a picture of one of the achira plants getting a little too big for its boots (Achira at the back, Lerenes at the front)!

Lerenes and Achira aka Canna edulis

Getting an early head start on the oca isn’t actually a big advantage because they won’t start forming tubers until the day length drops to the short days of fall. These plants have been moved to the basement steps to slow them down a little, but they don’t seem to mind the cooler temperatures!

Oca tubers starting to sprawl

And the Ube, which took so long to begin sprouting, is now in take off mode. I have a white yam already a couple of feet long and these Ube have leapt up in just a few days!

Ube - true yam - Dioscorea alata

The bambara groundnut seedlings from the USDA are really looking good. I had great germination from 5 of the 6 varieties and am looking forward to see how they cope in the field. These are a heat loving plant, so it will be a few weeks before these go outside.

Bambara Groundnut

This is the second round of arrowroot plants. The first round is in the hardening off shed in their own pots. These ones are ready to go into their own pots. Arrowroot will be one of the earlier plants to go outside. We’ve harvested viable roots after freezing temperatures, so they’re fairly tough (a freeze would still kill the top growth!).

Arrowroot Plants

So it’s an exciting time, when everything is coming alive, but it’s also a nail biting time, waiting for the season to catch up with all the plants that are ready for it! I’m definitely looking forward to getting things in the ground, starting next week.