JIM CONRAD'S
NATURALIST NEWSLETTER
Issued from Rancho Regenesis
in the woods near Ek Balam Ruins north of Valladolid in
Yucatán, MÉXICO

February 19, 2017

*****

RADISH PLANTS NOT PRODUCING RADISHES
Throughout my life I've produced many successful radish crops but here at the rancho two attempts this season have failed. Radish plants, RAPHANUS RAPHANISTRUM ssp. SATIVUS, were domesticated in temperate Europe, so down here I haven't even tried to grow them during our hotter months. My radish beds always have been sown in January and February, and the results were good.

But, take a look at the lower part of Radish plants in my current garden at http://www.backyardnature.net/n/17/170219rd.jpg

Instead of radishes, this season my plants have produced slightly thickened red stems. Only a few plants developed what could be called radishes, but even they are narrow and not well formed, as seen at http://www.backyardnature.net/n/17/170219re.jpg

From a variety of pages on the Internet I find the following reasons a Radish plant might not produce a radish:

Of the above reasons, the two that apply to my situation are "too much nitrogen" and "too hot." I worked a good bit of nitrogen-rich cow and burro manure into my radish beds. Also, this January and February in the Yucatan have been unseasonably warm, much warmer than during earlier seasons elsewhere when I've enjoyed good crops.

*****

GROWING CARROTS IN THE YUCATAN
In contrast to the Radishes, the Carrot plants, DAUCUS CAROTA ssp. SATIVUS, have exceeded my expectations. Carrot plants are cultivars of the species often called Queen Anne's Lace, or Wild Carrot. Since they're native to Europe and southwestern Asia, -- but appearing in abundance along roads in North America -- I thought that maybe our abnormally warm growing season also would hurt them. However, you can see how healthy the plants look as volunteer gardener Jea from Canada works on the beds at http://www.backyardnature.net/n/17/170219ct.jpg

Carrot seeds are so tiny that when they germinate they have little stored-up food in their endosperm to see them through periods of dryness and/or temperature extremes. Therefore, plastic was spread atop the soil to keep conditions in the soil from swinging between extremes during the critical germination period. Nearly every seed germinated. When the first green sprouts appeared, the plastic sheet was removed.

For their long taproots to develop into carrots, Carrot plants need deep, loose soil, which we don't have here. Therefore I gathered broken-up soil mixed with compost into ridges despite the fact that soil in mounds dries out faster than level soil, which is something we don't want here during the dry season. I just made sure that every day the hills were watered.

Our carrots still are small, but I'm eating them anyway, not only because they're so good but also I expect that at any time the mole-like pocket gophers called Tuzas by the Maya will discover the bounty, and overnight eat them all. You can see a sweet, beautiful carrot just pulled from the soil at http://www.backyardnature.net/n/17/170219cu.jpg

*****

MUNG BEAN PLANT PRODUCING MUNG BEANS
At http://www.backyardnature.net/mexnat/mungbean.htm we look at some Mung Bean plants I was growing earlier this month. They were planted because most of my life I've been sprouting Mung Beans for eating, but I'd never seen a Mung Bean plant. In early February the plant's legumes weren't yet producing mature beans, but now they are. You can see the straight, stiff, blackish, hairy legumes at http://www.backyardnature.net/n/17/170219mg.jpg

When the legumes are opened, little green Mung beans appear neatly lined up next to one another looking just like the beans bought in healthfood stores to germinate, as shown at http://www.backyardnature.net/n/17/170219mh.jpg

*****

HAIRY SENNA IN FRUIT
At http://www.backyardnature.net/mexnat/hirsuta.htm in our January 1st Newsletter we looked at the Hairy Senna growing wild here at the Rancho. That plant was in full flower but not fruiting. Now a couple of months more into the dry season the same plant bears no flowers but is bristling with legume-type fruits, as shown at http://www.backyardnature.net/n/17/170219sn.jpg

In that picture all the long, slender, slightly curving items along the plant's perifery are legume-type fruits bearing many tiny beans. The picture also explains one of the plant's many other common names, which is Sicklepod.

By the way, in the background you can see that as the dry season starts to bear down more and more deciduous trees are losing their leaves, imparting to the forest an open, airy feeling. On the average, now as the days grow longer and the Sun climbs ever higher in the sky, temperatures will increase until May, which normally is our hottest and driest, most physically challenging month. Then the rainy season will begin, we hope, and clouds will moderate the temperatures a little.

*****

SELF DISCIPLINE
For me, self discipline is a miraculous natural adaptation that grants the Earth's thinking creatures the possibility of living more enriched, meaningful lives as their species evolve toward ever higher levels of being.

I'm an expert on self discipline because back in the 1960s when I left the Kentucky farm for college I weighed about 340 pounds (154kgs) and was desperately unhappy and screwed up. At the point when I was facing an early death, self discipline got me through, and enabled my metamorphosis into whatever I am now approaching age 70.

Also I'm an expert because I've experienced enough failures of self discipline -- and the consequences -- to know that I'm lucky to have gotten this far without destroying myself. In the same way that former drunkards make the best lecturers on the ravages of alcoholism, I'm a good one to talk about self discipline.

At http://www.backyardnature.net/j/6/ the thinking tool we call "The Six Miracles of Nature" provides the context for conceiving of self discipline as natural and desirable. Here's how that works:

The Six Miracles picture the Universe as a creation evolving in a certain direction. That direction is toward ever greater diversity of parts that ever more intimately interrelate with one another in ever more sophisticated patterns. The most recent Miracle, the Sixth, is just flickering into existence at this moment during the evolution of human mentality. The Sixth enables thinking beings to refuse the dictates of our genetic and social programming, and do what we think and feel is better.

It is exactly this refusal to submit to predispositions imposed on us by our genes and society that constitutes the act of self discipline.

Our genes tell us to eat fatty, sweet foods, and to fixate on sex because that strategy worked for our distant ancestors on the African veld. Our society tells us to believe whatever political doctrine, religion or economic theory those around us believe. When something tells us that "this isn't right," it is miraculous self discipline that enables us to say no and to orient our lives toward higher meanings.

One indication that self discipline may be something the Creation "wants" us to exercise is that sometimes flashes of insight reveal higher meanings that require of us self discipline if we are to embrace them.

You can glimpse those higher meanings when you look into the starry sky at night trying to grasp the dimensions of things, and sense the tininess and vulnerability of our little Earth.

You can glimpse those higher meanings during pangs of love for a mate, a child, a home, neighborhood, a forest or the sea.

You can glimpse the meanings in certain music, in certain intellectual insights, and sometimes the meanings appear before us for no apparent reason at all.

Now, more than at any other time in human history, is the moment when self discipline is needed among us all, for the welfare of Life on Earth itself is at stake. With self disciplined thought we must gather information, judge what is true and what is false, and then do what we think is right.

*****

Best wishes to all Newsletter readers,

Jim

All previous Newsletters are archived at http://www.backyardnature.net/n/.