Posts Tagged With: the garden maiden

Do You Know the Muffin Man? New Mississippi Blueberry

Early last week I was out in the blueberry plots at one of the research stations collecting samples. I was instantly enamored, if not surprised, by the outstanding pink ambiance given off by a few large blueberry bushes.

Muffin Man blueberry

 

I was not out to collect from this selection, but I was drawn to it. This blueberry was without a doubt the most gorgeous in the entire field.

 

PINK! So much pink. Pink flowers, pink buds, pink calyx, warm pink hues on the stems, pink color on the new, emerging leaves. Perfect for Valentine’s Day. As you can well imagine, I meant to do this post last week on Valentine’s Day, but time got away from me.

 

As a horticulturist with a background in ornamentals first, I was impressed with the idea of what a wonderful edible hedge this would make in someone’s yard. Not to mention that at this time of year, when things are just beginning to get going in south Mississippi, it makes a grand ornamental entrance into the landscape.

 

This blueberry was recently released as ‘Muffin Man’ from the Southern Horticultural Research Laboratory in Poplarville, MS. You can read a bit about it on this USDA ARS page. Members of the American Society for Horticultural Science who subscribe to the Hort Science Journal can also read more about this blueberry in Volume 53 issue 10

To promote fruiting, you’ll need a pollinator, rabbiteye blueberry that also flowers early. In ornamental design, I would suggest planting a smaller, early flowering, rabbiteye blueberry behind the hedge, or flanking the ends, so that ‘Muffin Man’ in all its glory is not obstructed.

If you are looking for the perfect Valentine’s gift for next year inquire, then do as this little honey bee did, seek out, and find ‘Muffin Man’ to give to your sweetheart.

 

 

Congratulations to the team for traditional, old fashioned plant breeding!

What does this mean, traditional plant breeding? Select potted blueberry plants are brought into the greenhouse in winter and “crossing” begins by a biological science technician when flowers open. That is to say the pollen (collected from the anthers of the male part) of one desired flower is used to fertilize the stigma (the sticky end of the female reproductive part) of another desired blueberry flower.  This takes quick work to be sure that no insects happen to be pollinating the flowers in the greenhouse and the greenhouse is checked almost daily. Fertilized flowers are protected while the fertilized flowers develop blueberry fruit, and after fruit set and maturity, the fruit are collected, cut open, and the seed harvested and stored in refrigeration. In summer, seed are planted out in trays in the greenhouse. When seedlings reach several inches tall, they are transplanted into individual peat pots. Those little babies are nurtured in the greenhouse and the following spring/early summer, they are planted out into field plots (generally by this time they are 12-24″ tall). The young plants are closely monitored by the breeder over several years for a variety of desirable traits. (Just imagine that when two humans procreate, every baby the same two humans produce is different. Right? The same is true here.) Those that make the cut are transplanted out to long term fields for continued observations over several more years. The plants may be propagated and then planted at several sites to test their desired traits, growth, cultural habits, fruiting, qualities, etc.  Then if all has been successful, after many years since cross pollination in the greenhouse, that selection may be released for public use or plant patented. Technically, traditional plant breeding is genetically modifying plants (organisms). It is however, not genetically engineering plants-GE (basically something which could never occur naturally- a fish will never make love to a tomato). An unfortunate use of the term GMO, that is now commonplace and causes confusion.

Man, I must have had some good coffee this morning!!!! Oh, wait, I did. Three Peckered Billy Goat. I love Raven’s Brew Whole Bean Coffees. USDA Organic. Roasting facilities: Ketchikan, AK and Tumwater, WA.

Yours in Caffeine-Induced Writing & Gardening,

The Garden Maiden

All images and text copyright 2019 The Garden Maiden
@thegardenmaiden

 

 

 

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Categories: Fruit Crops, Research, What's Blooming | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Mississippi Blueberry Flower Season Has Begun

Mississippi blueberry flower season has begun. Bees are buzzing about the fields, pollinating white-ish bell-shaped flowers that dangle delicately. Even our native Vaccinium elliottii (Elliott’s blueberry) is flowering, making it one easy way to identify this edible native out from the roadsides and wooded areas along the road.

Last week I took these photographs in a couple of locations around south Mississippi. I will be collecting data on a lot of blueberry flowers later this week. The image above shows several stages at once, typical of blueberry.

Michigan State University (GO GREEN!) provides an excellent page with full color photos to assist in identifying the floral and leaf bud stages.

The image above shows all 7 stages of floral bud development: Dormant bud/no swelling, Bud with swelling, Bud with swelling and scales separating, Bud scales separate/individual flowers view-able, closed flower, open flower, and post-corolla drop. Tools such as official bud ratings for floral and leaf parts are things I use when compiling data for my supervisor’s potential plant patents and public releases for fruit crops.

Above images Stage 3 (bud swell with scales separating, tips of flowers just noticeable) and Stage 5 (individual flowers, but flower still closed). (might be more if you look closely) The University of Georgia also has a nice page with blueberry floral bud development images.

Blueberry inflorescence and floral development stages according to Spiers (1978). (A) Stage 1 – Inflorescence enclosed by bud scales (S). (B) Stage 2 – Inflorescence partially enclosed by bud scales, flowers covered by a large bract. (C) Stage 3 – Inflorescence with some bracts removed to show underlying developing flowers. (D) Stage 4 – Individual flowers expanded beyond bracts. (E) Stage 5 – Individual pre-anthetic flowers with elongate pedicels. (F) Stage 6 – Flowers at anthesis. (G) Stage 7 – Corolla dropped and beginning of fruit development. B = Bract; C = Corolla tube; F = Flower bud; K = Calyx tube; p = pedicel. Scale bars = 5 mm.

Here above is a source image with descriptions, as mentioned, from Spiers, 1978 (that’s Dr. James Spiers, who retired as Research Leader at the USDA ARS Horticultural Research Laboratory, Poplarville, MS)

In the photo above, there are several stages that can be viewed: early tight buds (greenish yellow), later pinkish buds (both at stage 5), full opened buds (stage 6) and even one post-corolla fall at stage 7 (the soon to be fruit).

Stage 2 seen above shows floral bud swelling with scales starting to separate.

 

Now that the plants are actively growing, go ahead and fertilize with an acid-loving plant fertilizer. I’ll probably hit mine at home in the next couple of weeks. If you are not a fan of eating blueberries, consider planting an native Elliott’s blueberry for all if its ornamental attributes (simply gorgeous at flowering in winter/spring and in the fall with green stems and red leaves) and let the wildlife enjoy the fruits of your labor.

 

Signing off from Mississippi (the Birthplace of Blues and BLUEBERRIES!…well, sort of…or maybe we just “do em right”)

The Garden Maiden

All images and text copyright 2019 The Garden Maiden
@thegardenmaiden

 

Categories: Fruit Crops, Research | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

There is a Fungus Among Us: Fungi in My Mississippi Garden

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One of my favorite pizzas to order just for myself is Fungus Amongus at Tiny Tim’s Pizza on the beautiful square in Fayetteville, Arkansas. GO HOGS! It was a staple during my undergraduate and graduate school years (especially after I met my husband to be), whenever I could afford to eat out. Now, when I make a visit to town and pop up to the square, I head into the West Mountain Brewing Company (connected to Tim’s), belly up to the bar, and order a fresh pint and my favorite pizza. On occasion old friends and UA Alumni stop in to visit and break bread together.  But I digress…

I love mushrooms. My husband does not. A few years ago I purchased some identification books on edible mushrooms to help me out. All That The Rain Promises and More by David Arora and Edible Wild Mushrooms of North America by David W. Fischer and Alan E. Bessette.  Beautiful books.  The problem is that I believe I mostly have NON-EDIBLE fungi in my yard. So those two books are not really the help I need.  Or are they? And well, to be honest, when it comes to harvesting wild and not 100% identified items from the yard to ingest, you don’t want to mess around. The other mushroom book that I have was given to me by someone (let’s be honest, it was my Mom, always thinking of me) who rescued it from the trash dumpster of the grade school in my home town. A nice hardback copy of The Mushroom Handbook by Louis C.D. Krieger, copyright 1967. It has a few color plates, but isn’t exactly laid out in a taxonomic key fashion.

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What I really need is a mushroom class with an expert where I can take notes and photos and become more confident. Then I can reap the rewards of eating what I find, but also being able to correctly identify even the non-edible fungi.

I have a relatively shady yard and garden. Throughout the year I am greeted with a wide array of fungi, or mushrooms of all sorts. I imagine that after dark my garden is filled with pixies and sprites dancing and having a delightful time.

With a few years having passed since my book purchases, I had supposed I would have identified nearly every fungi/mushroom growing on my one acre. I have failed. Therefore I am going to go ahead and start posting photos of what I find! Because either I will eventually get them identified, or someone who sees this will help me out. I still don’t think I would eat anything identified over the internet unless it was by an expert, someone with considerable experience. You know, I just don’t want to spend my mushroom-eating years DEAD. 😉

Photos taken Saturday August 18, 2018. (We had been receiving some rain, finally.) I attempted to take two images of each mushroom for identification, one with side view of caps and one with top view. In some photos I used a garden trowel or my hand for scale.

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Next:

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Next:

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Next: We have watched squirrels, harvest these and just go to town on them while sitting on our porch. I’m pretty sure it was this one anyway…. I took photos last August, but I’d have to go and dig into my hard drive to be certain. So to quote from one of my favorite movies, “Hey, Dr. Jones, No time for love”.

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Next:

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Next:

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Next:

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Next:

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Next:

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Next:

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Next:

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Next: (I think this is the same species as one of the first sets of images I included)

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Next: (huge! my hand and then my husband’s hand for scale)

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Next:

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Well, that’s it. All of the images here were just in my front yard. I didn’t even make it to the backyard before the next round of rain started.  My location is Mississippi Gulf Coast, about a half hour north of the beach zone, but closer to Louisiana. If that helps with identification.

I found a pretty cool site Saturday:  The Western Pennsylvania Mushroom Club. They had a nice page on species found in Mississippi. I think at least one set of the larger mushrooms are Bolete genus?

So while my husband does not like mushrooms, he does enjoy making pizza, even when I hand him sliced mushrooms for my half. Hopefully someday I will be able to harvest edible wild mushrooms for my own tasty pizza at home.

Your Shroomy Friend!

The Garden Maiden

 

All images and text copyright 2018 The Garden Maiden

Categories: Crazy Plant Things I See, Fungi/Mushrooms/Mycology, Observations from My Garden of Goods & Evils | Tags: , , , , ,
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