Mike Turner

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since Sep 23, 2009
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Upstate SC
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Recent posts by Mike Turner

It doesn’t need all of the pups, you propagate it by digging up and transplanting some of the pups.  Separate the pup from the mother plant when it gets about 2 feet tall and do all of your transplants early enough in the growing season so that they can get well established before any cold weather sets in in the fall.
2 months ago
Each pseudostem lasts for about two years before it either blooms and dies or it loses vigor and dies.  Meanwhile one or more suckers comes up next to each existing pseudostem and repeats the process.  Over time, the banana mat dies out in the center where the original transplant was started, forming a slowly expanding ring of pseudostems.
2 months ago
I have been growing and using bamboo on my farm since 1998 and have integrated it into my farm operations.  In the winter, after the livestock have eaten down the stockpiled hay in the pastures, I thin out the older canes and feed their leaves to the livestock.  The resultant defoliated canes are used for making fences, trellises, and find a multitude of other uses on the farm wherever a custom length pole is needed.  In the spring, the groves provide bamboo shoots for myself and the livestock, with the livestock controlling the spread on the running bamboos by eating all of the shoots coming up outside of the fenced bamboo groves.  The livestock is only excluded from the groves during the one month long shooting season. They have access to the grove’s shade for the rest of the year.  During the summer, the livestock appreciates the cool shade in the bamboo grove’s interior.  Bamboo is very effective at transpiration, so the entire grove acts like a giant swamp cooler providing temperatures inside the grove up to 7 degrees F below ambient shade temperature.  Given the choice between bamboo shade and tree shade, the livestock will almost always choose the bamboo shade.  The lightweight bamboo canes also have the advantage of not posing the injury threat of falling branches and trees that you get in the tree forest during a windstorm.

Birds also find the bamboo grove to be an attractive habitat since the thick evergreen foliage reduces their heat loss on cold nights, the slick canes are difficult for predators to climb, and the jiggling of the lightweight branches gives them plenty of warning of the predators’s approach.  I have many hundreds of birds, mostly grackles, blackbirds, and starlings, show up every evening to roost for the night in my bamboo groves and then leave in the morning, leaving the groves to the cardinals, sparrows, and other birds that frequent the groves during the day.  The birds leave behind a quantity of guano that fertilizes the grove and the surrounding pasture, so that once the grove reaches a large enough size to attract enough birds, then the grove becomes self-fertilizing.  Chickens are also highly attracted to bamboo, not surprising since their red jungle fowl ancestors are native to SE Asia where the local name for the jungle fowl is “bamboo fowl”.  

Running bamboos are the best plant for stopping and reversing erosion since their reticulated rhizome network is very effective at holding the soil in place and the thick tangle of canes acts as a sieve to collect debris from the floodwaters so it builds soil after every flood, plus the large amount of biomass that it generates both above and below ground builds up the topsoil.
2 months ago
Brazilian spinach (Alternanthera Sissoo) is an attractive, edible ground cover that is shade tolerant.

Okanawan spinach )Gynura bicolor) and longevity spinach (Gynura procumbens) are both vining ground covers.  

Small leaved spiderwort (Tradescantia fluminensis) is another edible ground cover that is available in green leaf and variegated forms.  It also has the common name “wandering Jew”, but that name is also used for a number of other similar looking plants, some of which are not edible.

Sweet potato leaves are edible and can be grown and harvested in situations where the leaves plant may not produce a usable sized tuber.
4 months ago
Definitely not Russian olive, the leaves look like it is one of the native hawthorn (Crataegus) species.  
6 months ago
Russian olive (Elaeagnus augustifolia)
6 months ago
The hardest part about harvesting sweet potatoes late in the season is providing them with the week or two of 80 to 90 degrees F temperatures that they need to cure before putting them into storage.  The curing process allows them to convert their milky sap into sugar to raise their sugar content and also to heal any damage incurred during harvest.  The most convenient locations to get these higher temperatures late in the year is either in a greenhouse, a cloche, a car parked in the sun or in an attic space that heats up during the day.
Okra is one of those heat loving plants that grows very little unless you get mostly sunny days with daytime highs over 28 C.
I cover vulnerable plants with frost cloth blankets when an overnight frost threatens.  Frost cloth is a white fibrous sheet that allows some sunlight to penetrate, but retards the loss of heat and is durable enough to be used as needed for many years.  Depending on its thickness, it can provide up to 8 degrees F of frost protection.  Unlike clear plastic sheets, it doesn’t overheat during a sunny day and can be left on for as long as long as frosty nights threaten.  Since mulch acts as an insulator, maintaining warmer temperatures below it, but colder temperatures above, before covering the plant with frost cloth, I will remove the mulch to expose the bare soil so that geothermal heat can pass unimpeded into the air space covered by the frost cloth.
7 months ago

Jay Angler wrote:

Mike Turner wrote:Looks a lot like globe artichoke or possibly cardoon.

So I'm not crazy - thanks Mike! I've *never* known them to self-seed, and it didn't exactly land on fertile ground.

I'm going to have a *really* close look at where it popped up. There was an old compost area to the south that got a lot of "interesting" stuff dumped into it by a lady who did gardening for others. It was disturbed last spring for reasons, and I'm wondering if there might have been either artichoke or cardoon seeds in there that got moved to a spot they could germinate. Some seeds can be dormant a very long time and still germinate when the plant decides the time is right - I just wouldn't have thought that October would qualify, although we had really weird weather for October this year!

Do you happen to know how to tell the difference between those two alternatives?

The two plants are very similar since the globe artichoke is just the domesticated form of the cardoon.  It would be difficult to distinguish between the two at the seedling stage, but globe artichoke is more commonly grown than cardoons, so your plant is most likely an artichoke.
7 months ago