North, but still south... the fijords of Fuegia

North, but still south... the fijords of Fuegia
North, but still south... the fijords of Fuegia

Monday, August 20, 2012

Well, just a few tidbits, recent pictures since midwinter.  We're now closer to the end than the middle... and I can feel it.  Thinking about projects I wanted to do that I haven't started yet, or just barely anyway...

The chamber is looking good.  Disease is still taking the cucumbers but there's a new crop of seedlings so we'll see how they'll go.  The one Arbason tomato plant that started back in March has come into its own and is producing nice toms... not full size beefsteaks by any means, but not cherries either, and there are more good ones than ones lost to blossom end rot.  So I call that a success under the current regime.  New Gold Nugget cherry toms are growing well, hopefully we'll get some good fruits from them before we leave.  Can only hope that we get some more Chiquita cherry tomato seeds for next season-- they were the BOMB last winter.  Sweet, thick red flesh... y.u.m.

Other fun things, Paramo and Britney bell peppers-- fantastic.  But they're DeRuiter seeds, which has just been bought by Monsanto... so I'm not too psyched about getting more.  Sadly though b/c they're doing great in the chamber.  Stronger plants and thicker walled fruits than the Islander variety that had been the most successful kind previously.  Always pays to do a little 'experiementing'.

Ok so on to the pics.  Plants of course.  But what else?  We had a 'country fair' last weekend, with several booths (reading the runes, a theramin station, I put out my spinning wheel and loom, pop-up card making, and silly photos... then there was a pie eating contest and a chili cook off, then finally an auction with the proceeds going to the fellow who was recently medivaced to Christchurch for an appendectomy.  His medical care was covered but wages lost, and his wife back in the states just had a baby... so we're sure the money will be well received.

Did I say something about pictures?

Oh, we also had a 4th of July celebration with a barbeque in the "heavy shop"... which is our vehicle maintenace facility.  Pictures of this to follow too.  Promise.  Now I have to go watch a semi-final pool tournament match, and drink some home made ginger beer.  Then I'll be back.  If the internet is up.  Stay tuned. 

I also went camping.  For real.  It was -100F outside.  And I was inside of two sleeping bags, with four hot water bottles (ok, five).  And lying on top of two more sleeping bags.  And had 4" of insulating foam below that.  But I was outside the station, and inside the tent.  And my breath was frosting over everything.  In the morning (I stayed out from 10pm till 6am), everything was fully frosted over, had frost falling on my face all night from the inside of the sleeping bag that was covering my face... and my handwarmer packets weren't working but luckily one of my hot water bottles was still dang hot so I cozied my fingers up inside it's insulating cover (one of my grey 'elephant trunk' socks) to get them warm enough that I could function enough to get back to the station to have a real warm up before heading back out to bring in all the gear.  I actually dragged my sleeping bag(s) out of the tent to have that "under the stars" experience at the Pole... but it had clouded over so I got a few stars but mostly mist.  And no auroras either (which I was hoping for).  Got those the night before as I was setting up.  But by god I knew where I was, camping at the South Pole.  Pretty sweet.

OK... pictures.  After the game, I promise.   :)

I'm back.  Game won via a scratch which left an easy ball-in-hand eight-ball shot.  Too bad, so sad.

Right, pictures.  Voila:

"Plate of Noms" by Cynthia Chiang.  This is from the last Farmer's Market event: mango pepper salsa, quinoa tabbouleh with fresh parsley, bell peppers, and scallions, and fresh melon.  Yes, I said melon.  Keep reading.




This is more fresh melon.  Plus prosciutto.  Nothing but the best here at South Pole.  I think it was left over from the centennial schenanigans when the prime minister of Norway visited last summer.

Here is the melon.  Sun Jewel variety-- some asian type thing from Johnny's Seeds.  They're about 7 inches long, and taste like a cross between honeydew and cantaloupe.  Took ~75 days to mature, seed to fruit.  All these fruits were from one plant, which died as they all matured more or less together.





I love these guys.  Easter egg radishes.  Different colors all in one packet.  This is how we grow them-- in individual rockwool cubes in the trays and with enough light they do just fine.

And this is them harvested.  Now all I need to do is carve little faces into them and we'd have a real sweet shot :)



Fun greenhouse tricks.  We've run out of seeds for our spicy globe basil which is the best grower we have-- doesn't succumb to "black leaf" and makes really nice globular plants with small leaves-- you can use the whole plant to blend up into pesto, or pick the small leaves or sprigs for basil lemonade, a favorite here this winter.  So with no seeds, I've started a cutting program to propagate this variety until we get our seed resupply order, hopefully with more globe basil seeds included.  Any member of the mint family will readily root if you put a cutting into water.  These start putting out roots within a week.  Then I just wrap some rockwool around the rooted stem, stick it into a tray, and off they go.  Sweet!

Sweet wee seedlings.  I love these shots.




These Tristan strawberries just keep chugging along.  This plant is grown from a runner-- I cut off the runner when it started to send out root nubs at the bottom of the node, then stuck it in moist vermiculite for several weeks until it had a healthy root mass, then stuck some rockwool around it for structure/protection, then stuck it in a tray and here it is.  Nice 1.5" fruit on that one.  Y.U.M.


Healthy home-made micro mix of greens: pac choi, mizuna, and kale.  Turned out nice.


I think this might be my favorite picture of the season so far.  Colors colors colors.  Healthy greenery.  Happiness.  And, the dang white balance of the camera is spot on for once!


Here's a "check-in" on our carrot project-- planted several varieties in a bin of vermiculite.  We thought it was a bust until we started digging and found these wee nubs.  They're still growing and the Kinbi variety is the winner... will get some good baby-type carrots in a week or so.  Exciting!!!  I tasted one of these wee things and believe it or not, it tasted like carrot.  Big flavor in a small crunchy (ok, one crunch) package.


This photo is cool for three reasons.  Well maybe four.  1) We have a Shrek Pet.  2) His hair is arugula sprouts, not chia sprouts.  Arugula does the same mucus thing that chia seeds do if you soak them for a day or two.  Who knew?  3)  That is corn growing behind Shrek.  4)  The corn came from germinated popcorn kernels that had been soaked-- part of the process for making popcorn here.  Our popcorn is so dried out that it doesn't have enough moisture in it to get hot/steam and pop the kernel.  So we have to soak our popcorn first.  And there were some kernels that apparently hadn't given up the ghost of their former productive lives yet, and sent out some nascent roots.  They were brought oh so carefully, with wonder and awe, to the greenhouse for safekeeping and nourishment.  And thus I encouraged them.  And now we have popcorn plants.  Wonders will never cease. 


Our bumper crop of Arbason tomatoes.  Yay!


And here's the chamber itself.  Front view.  Three systems.  Greens, herbs, peppers, amaranth, eggplant on left and right.  Tomatoes, cucumbers, melon, and taller such crops in the middle.  The hibiscus is now is a bucket out of the system-- wanted just 'new' plants in there, the hibiscus has been growing strong since LAST WINTER!  They're champs.  I"m starting some cuttings of them too-- they'll root eventually if you take a good strong branch and stick it in water-- but keep the water fresh not nasty algae-y (do as I say, not as I do...) 


Left side.  That wilted plant at front left is Tokyo Bekana, a highly adapted radish, and it's got root rot... I'll have to pull it tomorrow.  Forgot about it today.  Today was computer report and staff meeting day.  There's that globe basil in the middle of the upper rack, then kale and eggplant and cutting celery at the back.  Mizuna, chinese cabbage, lettuce, and nursery/herbs at back.


Middle system.  Cucumber seedlings.  C'mon sweeties!


Right system.  Calendula in foreground, then lettuce, then scallions (bunched onions), all the way back to the strawberries.  Pac choi and kale on top foreground, then chard and the pepper forest all the way to the back.  The amaranth is the big bush straining up the back wall.  Weed is right.  And the hayfever-producing pollen to prove it!


Happy pepper harvest.