Archive for ‘Gardening’

October 6, 2011

My Mango Has Even More Leaves

It’s about time for a Mango Plant update! My little guy, the inspiration behind finally starting this blog, is thriving. Once upon a time, I found the pit of a smoothie-bound mango growing and I just had to plant it. You can see what it looked like in August 2010 and April 2011 here.

Over the summer he has grown many more leaves. Notice how the new leaves are brown? I’ve done some preliminary research and found a few theories on why some new plant leaves have high concentrations of anthocyanins, the chemicals responsible for coloring in ornamental plants and autumn leaves. (Anthocyanins are a fun little pH indicator to boot. Boil up some cabbage and add various kitchen liquids or powders to the juice and you’ll see what I’m talking about.) Their presence in new leaves and eventual disappearance is debated by botanists and I’ve found some abstracts supporting different arguments. On my next trip up to the main New York Public Library building, I’ll pull the articles and share my findings. Until then, you can wonder along with me if you like.

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July 25, 2011

The First Harvest: A lone cucumber

This summer, I planted a few herbs in my apartment’s shared backyard along with a baby cucumber.  The sage, basil, and chives are doing quite well despite the short hours of direct sunlight.  The cucumber plant started out three inches tall with two small leaves and has grown at astronomical rates.  Some days I would even find a tiny tendril in the morning and within just a few hours it had stretched across to the stake and twirled around in tight little spirals.  Our plant is covered in flowers, but many of them are male.

I didn’t know that cucumbers were diclinous plants.  Diclinous plants produce two different types of flowers within the same plant, and in the case of the cucumber, a disproportionate number of males.  For every ten to twenty male flowers the cucumber plant makes, one female flower will grow.  Because our plant is not too large, it only has two female flowers so far.  We’ve got lots of pollen, but few pistils, ovaries, and eggs to turn that pollen into a juicy cucumber.

It’s taken a couple months, but finally one of the female flowers’ ovaries have swollen into a full-grown fruit. Because this is a Bush Pickle variety of cucumber, it’s shape is short and chubby.  I wasn’t sure if it was ready for picking since it was a little wimpy on the end, but I figured it was quite thick on top already.

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