Hatching Dragon eggs
This week: Hatching Dragon eggs; Listening in on wild life; Using statistics; Adding cover;
I happened to be in the Citrus orchard one morning this week, just at the right time as early sunshine caught the seed heads of the wild Fragrant Clematis in the border.
There are hundreds of different kinds of Clematis, with flowers of varying size and colour. However the Fragrant Clematis, Clematis flammula, is a local wild variety.
The white feathers attached to each seed helps the plant multiply. Once the seed is ripe, it detaches and under wind power seeks somewhere new to grow.
In the spring the plant is covered in flowers which give of the scent of almonds.
This year has been cooler and wetter that previous years. Climate breakdown means that different parts of the world experience different climatic changes.
Usually I start to harvest figs from my big old tree in July. However this year the first fruits have only just started to ripen this week.
The tree is covered in fruit, but many are still small, so it should be a long season for them.
Tuesday the 1st of August was “Yorkshire Day”, so I made sure that my County Flag was being flown between sunrise and sunset.
Although I don’t have a flag staff, I was able to improvise.
There is an old Yorkshire saying, that “You can take the man out of Yorkshire, but you can’t take Yorkshire out of the man.”
Hatching dragon eggs
Have you any Dragon eggs? Would you like some? Then please read on.
One of the most stunning and short lived flowers in my garden is the Dragon Arum Lily, Dracunculus Vulgaris. I added some photographs of the flowers which I took in the spring in an earlier blog.
They smell, no, more correctly they stink of rotting flesh. This attracts the flies which are their pollinators.
I also have Arum maculatum, “Lords and Ladies” growing wild and self seeding everywhere.
Both are native to the Mediterranean but have been exported around the world.
Traditionally in the Balkans, the leaves were used to wrap home made cheese to preserve it.
For the first time this year, my Dragon Arum has produced a seed head and boy are there a lot of seeds!
The seed head as the seeds ripen changes colour from green, through yellow and orange to brown when the seeds are ripe. They look like small eggs.
Looking on-line to see the best method of collecting the seeds, I was surprised that they are offered for sale at €5 for five seeds!
In the garden, Dragon Arum seeds should be sown in the autumn, lightly covered with soil that is rich in humus and free draining.
Each of the round berries has a seed inside and the on-line instructions suggest that using gloves, once the berries are dry, you break them open, remove the seed and plant them .
They can be grown outside across wide ranges of temperature from hardiness zones 7 to 10.
I am going to have a lot more seeds than I needs, even though I would like to increase the number of plants I have.
So if anyone would like a few free seeds to try, please let me know.
Listening in on wild life
Regular readers will know that from time to time I have posted a link to some birdsdong or sounds that I have recorded using my Sony ICD digital hand recorder and have uploaded to Soundcloud.
However I have found this frustrating because my little recorder is designed for voice recordings.
It has stereo microphones which are ideal for recording business meetings and for making voice notes. However even the small directional microphone does not pick up the rich sounds of my local nightingale singing to an acceptable degree.
I have tried to record birds like my local owls and have completely failed.
So when I saw a directional microphone with a parabolic receiver for sale, I though I would buy it and see if I can improve my recordings.
It was delivered on Friday.
Although some of our noisy and charismatic birds have already left for their winter homes, I still have a Scops owl which visits most nights.
But this Scops does not have the usual call, instead it sounds as though it has an extremely sore throat.
Scops usually have a call which sounds almost electronic, like the “pips” tone which was injected into the old VHF radios to tell you a channel was in use.
Not being particularly expensive, at under €25 , I was not expecting much, but I was pleasantly surprised by the build quality and ruggedness of the device. The only thing missing is a shoulder strap. But I can make one of those.
The device has a built in record function, but I bought a cable so I can connect it direct to my recorder.
The device works very well and the amplified sounds in the headphones are impressive. However I cannot get it to record to my device. All I get on when the recorder is connected is white noise.
I think there is an impedance miss-match between the two devices which I am going to have to try and solve.
Once I get it to record on my Sony, I think you will be impressed with the results.
I have spent more time this week while it has been very hot outside, working on analysing data from my weather station.
This isn’t just an interest in weather, it is also applying what I find to help me make planting decisions.
I also have a facebook group where I provide weather forecasts for the local area. Because these are locally focussed, they tend to be more accurate that the wide area forecasts available for other sources.
The “Cardinal temperatures” of a large number of commonly grown food crops is also of critical importance.
Cardinal temperatures are associated with the germination and growth of the plant. The cardinal temperature is the maximum, minimum and optimum temperature range for a plant to grow and crop successfully.
Ever since this discovery I have been using an excel spreadsheet to calculate the 11 day running average temperature, for every day of the year.
This week I graphed the results.
I had to go back and check the calculation formulae because the graph shows that 2023 has had consistently lower 11 days average temperatures when compared to an average of previous years.
There were no errors in my formulae. 2023 has been consistently cooler apart from early January.
I grow tomatoes, as does almost everyone here and fortunately because it is a world wide staple, vast amounts of research time have gone into the Cardinal temperatures for successful growth.
This is of course for just one variety.
However as climate breakdown alters the weather we all experience, having some knowledge of cardinal temperatures, together with your 11 day average should help people to grow crops more efficiently.
I am still looking for seeds of the Mexican Zapotec ruffled tomato, a variety which would be ideally suited to the weather conditions here in Dol.
I have a couple of jobs for my mini digger, so it has been under cover in the Top Orchard all summer.
This week I noticed that our strong UV, helped by my felines has started to shred the black plastic I have used to protect it from the elements.
The felines like climbing up the plastic, then they can see everything and everyone around them. But to get up, they use their claws on the plastic. This of course leaves a lot of tiny holes!
When combined with our scorching sun, the material has given way.
I bought a cover for it, for when it moves under cover for the winter, so I used that to cover the holes. The cover is slightly small though, so next time I am in Volat, I will buy some more black plastic.
All the felines have been warned! NCG