Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Heliotropism: 101

I can hardly believe it myself, but we received more rain...2 1/2 Kansas. Unheard of! Ted dutifully went out the day before and replanted several acres of sunflowers that had been drowned by the previous rain. If no good deed goes unpunished, these new seeds will be drowned, too, as they sit in the "bottom ground." We will wait and see. I remain positive...'cause that's just how I am. Little miss "glass half full." That's me!
Now, back to the sunflowers that are up and thriving...

I went out this morning early, just for the opportunity to tell you about heliotropism. (Not really, my mother in law called and woke my lazy buns up.) But, I'll say it's just because I'm an early riser *cough, cough* and I just really wanted to show something to you. See the leaning plants? Notice how, even at this young age, they all lean towards the sun? Sunflowers are sun worshipers! Or they could just be heliotropic. That simply means that they do, in fact, lean towards the sun. No matter the time of day. That's why these babies grow so darn fast. Maximum food making capabilities!
(If you are having trouble seeing them lean, click on the photo to enlarge it.)

They are interesting to watch. Although I've only ever heard of one person to actually come out and spend an entire day watching them turn with the sun. I'm not giving up any names, but I imagine it would be kind of like watching grass grow...or paint dry...or something.
OK, back to their heliotropic qualities. (Like how I use that word with reckless I'm some biology nerd or something. Wait, I do love biology, and I am kind of nerdy...never mind!) some point, after the sunflowers are fully grown and they have had all of the sun they can take, they stop following it. They fix themselves east and simply refuse to turn their heads anymore. Like a lover who has just realized that they have gotten all that they possibly can from the relationship. (OK, that's weird.) Perhaps I need some coffee.

Check out how big these babies are now! I told you they grew fast. They have doubled their size again. (Please forgive the weeds in the photo. The field is a muddy mess again and I had to take all of the pictures from the edge of the yard. You know of my fear of muddy flip-flops.)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

A Quick Update

Just wanted to mention that Ted replanted about 5 acres of "drowned out" sunflowers today. They won't bloom when the others do, but it might give you an opportunity to see some blooming if you miss the first (and somewhat bigger) batch. :)

Friday, July 17, 2009

Sunflowers and a Quiz

The sunflowers have had a few showers...something they normally don't get.
Quiz time: How has this moisture affected them?
Answer: Honestly, it's not been good! Some of the sunflowers have simply drowned. They are not plants that usually require much moisture. That's why they are such a great Kansas plant...they like it DRY!
No fear! We still have plenty, and if all goes well, the field will be beautiful.
The sunflowers are now about 4 inches tall.
They really shoot up in the heat and sun so that's what they need right now.

For 5 bonus points, can you name what kind of animal made this track in the soil?
We have tons of them around here. This picture illustrates how wet the soil has been.
Muddy, really!

This picture is a good illustration of how the seeds are planted in a kind of trough. Usually, this protects the young plant from the strong Kansas wind, and also serves to collect any moisture that they might get. (Should have planted the seeds on hills, this year.)

They're getting there. Ted guesstimates that they will be blooming early to mid September this year. That, of course, is subject to change.
Ted is going to put his money on September 12th.
We will see how close he gets. (I'm not betting anything!)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Hey! It's not all hay!

Almost everyone calls it "hay," but here on the Grinter farm, it is always "straw."
We have no livestock, and no need for hay. But, we do grow some wheat from time to time.
Luckily, for my children, this year was not a "wheat year."
If we plant wheat, then we (and I use the term "we" very loosely) usually put up a barn full of straw. We sell it to various people that need it for things like animal bedding and to companies that need it for landscaping. But it means a lot of hard work.
These pictures were taken last July, when we had some straw to put up.
This is after the wheat has been harvested, the "chaff" has been spit out of the backside of the combine, and then picked up by the baler that turns it into these nice little wire-tied "idiot blocks" (as farmer Ted calls them). This is Callie. She was 11 at the time, and was able to stack them 3 high in the barn! Did I leave out the part where it is 100 something degrees up in the barn, with no breeze? It's miserable work.

Heave ho, Callie-o!

Ted looks hot. He also looks sweaty. Poor baby! He brought this on himself.
The girls stay busy between stacking just keeping the barn floor clean. Straw is always falling out of the bales making the floor slick to walk on. We can't have that! Sweep and pitch, girls!

This is Sid, 14 at the time. It was her job to drive the truck with the loader through the field. The loader picks up the bales and then our hard working hired teenage boy crew stack the bales onto the truck. If you just mention "teen boy crew," Sid is suddenly very work oriented.

Speaking of hard working..this is farm-hand Bryson. He is our neighbor and a great kid to have around. He's 14 in this picture, but has always been at the ready (since he was itty bitty) to dive into any kind of hard farm work we could throw at him. We would take a dozen more of him...but they're hard to find.

I think he just likes to be miserable. But what would I know?

"Are you having fun yet, Bryson?"

Monday, July 13, 2009

Sunflowers and More

The sunflowers have had a couple of nice rains since I last posted on their progress. Rain in July in Kansas is a rarity! Truly something to be thankful for...and we are thankful!
Looking to the east, I'm starting to see more of a green cast to the field. More little plants in what is now quite damp soil. I didn't want to walk out too far for fear of having to hose off my flip flops. I hate it when I have to hose off my flip flops!
Looking down a row, it is actually quite easy to see the individual rows of sunflowers.
According to my trusty yard stick, the sunflowers are now about two inches tall. That doesn't seem like much, but they have actually doubled their size in less than 5 days! You can see all of the dirt that got splashed up onto the plants from the rain.
Since the sunflowers are still not much to look at, I decided I'd give you a quick tour of what is blooming in my yard at the moment:

Marigolds. A favorite since childhood because anyone can grow them,
and you just can't kill them! They thrive.

Victoria Blue Salvia. Another favorite because they sell these at "annual" prices, when in fact, they are mostly "perennial" in these parts. They will, more often than not, come back next year.

I planted Knockout Roses for the first time last year, and I'm so glad I did.
These babies bloom and bloom.

A day lily...I don't know the variety. I probably have a dozen different varieties in my yard and I can't tell you what any of them are. I just know that they're pretty.

If there is one flower that says "Kansas," other than a sunflower, it would be a Purple Cone Flower. They grow wild all over the countryside. They are prolific and spread like crazy. It is the roots that are dug up and ground to make the immune boosting herb Echinacea that people swear by. I just value them for the fact that Gold Finches love them as much as I do. I love seeing the tiny birds cling to the dry flower heads in the fall with their colorful yellow feathers making up for the drab brown of the dead flowers.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Sunflower Status part Deux

The sunflowers have been in the field now for a little over a week. Time to update their status. This is the field they are planted in. Doesn't look like much, does it?

But, if you look closely, you will see these:

Lots and lots of itty bitty sunflowers! These are the cotyledon leaves. (That's fancy speak for the first leaves to emerge.) They are not actually true leaves. They were present within the seed in the embryonic stage. The first true leaves are those minuscule "buds" emerging from the center of the plant. Have I bored you yet? Yes? OK, I'll move on...

Ted gets really excited to see this. I can't explain it (it must be a farmer thing) but when you can "row" a crop (that means to look down the planting path and see a row of plants emerging), it makes farmers a little giddy. Weird!

This is the field looking East.

This is the field looking west. Not much now...but it will be pretty snazzy soon. Did I mention that these are in my back yard this year? I'll keep you posted.