I’m only going to write a quick blog as I haven’t posted for awhile as I have been spending my time writing up my notes for college, here is a quick outline of some of the stuff we have been up to this week!
Training apple trees
We trained an Apple Tree by pruning the branches for shaping along a wire and tying the branches to the wire. Two support wires were attached to existing poles using straining devices.
Identifying which buds produce leaves and buds will enable you to tailor your pruning for optimum harvest.
• Fruit buds contain flowers that if pollinated will carry fruit. Growth buds will develop later on behind the developing fruit
• Wood or growth buds develop into a new shoot carrying carry leaves, but no flowers
Prune blackcurrants when dormant – from late autumn to late winter. Fruit forms on young wood, so when pruning aim to remove older wood, leaving the young shoots.
Maintaining Strawberry Plants
Runners were taken from established strawberry plants and some plants were potted into a peat based compost. It must be noted that the crowns from these plants need to be planted at the right depth.
Dead leaves were cleared from the established plants and the ground was mulched.
Air Content Soil
Soil is not a solid object, as examined in our Soil Texture experiment, soil is made up of different elements as well as Moisture and organic materials such as Humus. Air is an important element to this structure enabling living organisms to respire leaving carbon dioxide. Soil retains water within pores, however if all the pores were filled with water the soil would only be able to act anaerobically and the majority of plant roots, unless adapted, would rot.
Soils with large pores generally have good drainage (less water) and aeration, while soils with small pores generally have poor drainage and aeration.
Air within soil unlike atmospheric air is not exposed to currents and tends to be more humid with a higher level of carbon dioxide than oxygen.
Examining the levels of air within soil can give an indication of the suitability of the soil for propagation.
1. Prepare a can with holes made in the bottom
2. Weigh the Can
3. Invert the can and press into the area selected to extract soil
4. Weigh the Can and Soil
5. Immerse the Can and Soil in a bath of Water until all the air bubbles stop
6. Weigh the Can
7. The difference in Weight indicates the amount of air present. 1g of Water = 1cm3 of air.
Propagation Using The Blocking Technique
Blocking is a technique that requires the use of a growing medium which has the property that it can be pressed into a square which retains its shape and then can be used to plant seeds.
A press is used to make a series of blocks of varying size dependent on either it being used to plant seeds or to transplant seedlings into.
A small press can make 20 seed blocks rapidly these maximise space and does not need to use either plastic or expensive alternatives. Containers do not need to be sterilised or stored so space and material are maximised and other than the cost for the initial press, costs are limited. A tray containing 500 seeds can be germinated in a small area.
As an experiment we made 500 blocks and sowed a selection of seed. The blocks were then placed into the propagator
Measuring Evapotranspiration of Plants
Transpiration is a physiological process in plants, by which loss of water from stomatal openings takes place. Stoma are pores present in the foliage, stem, roots, and flowers. In most cases the number is higher on the under-side of leaves. They exchange gases and moisture, between plants and the environment.
The rate of evapotranspiration can be investigated by measuring the decrease in mass due to water loss, or by measuring the volume of water absorbed. This experiment was set up in order to measure the amount of water lost by leaves and the amount of water that was absorbed by sample plants.
We also measured the transpiration of water by a plant using a potometer which can be used to measure the volume of water absorbed.
Leaves of a Rhododendron were selected for the experiment. The surface area of the leaves were measured by tracing their silhouette onto squared paper of 50mm2 and the squares were then counted and divided by 4 to reach a cm2 result. One set of leaves was covered in a petrolium jelly another had just the top layer while another had the underside of the leaf and one set was left without. There was not much difference in the loss of mass between the totally covered or the under side leaves, showing that water is mostly lost through the stomata on the underside of the leaves.
There’s loads more sciency stuff from college as it has been pretty miserable outside, if you want any more info just ask, I didn’t put it all down as I wouldn’t want to be boring but I am finding it fascinating.
In my own neglected garden I have managed to plant my garlic and some onions in between the rain and gales and I have been harvesting loads of oriental salad from the polytunnel for the social centre.
We had out Word Processing exam today and I am hoping that went well and we have a few assignments to finish off before taking a break for the Christmas Holidays. Phew that is just about it for me as I have a few more things to finish off including some Christmas Presents for friends.
BTW We sampled a few of our Christmas tipples last night as we watched the kids decorate the tree, I highly recommend Quince Vodka and the Sloe Gin was a hit, so a Very Merry Christmas everyone 🙂