“Purple Harvest”

What could this be?                                          “This image perplexes me”
Bruised fingers perhaps?
A rare exotic disease?
No, today was my purple harvest day and it was a bumper year,
and this was the state of my fingers after picking the illustrious bounty.

I shook one of my amaranth seed heads and a few plack pearls fell into my hand…it was picking time.

I went down to Home Depot and picked up these two day laborers to
help me for a very reasonable price. Half an hour later we had a couple
of vessels filled with picked seed heads…now for the fun part…not.

Amaranth seeds are plentiful, each seed head has hundreds of tiny seeds buried deep in tiny little husks. On initial inspection it seems like you would be able to simply turn the seed head up side down and shake? Oh no, that would be way too easy. I have developed a unique shelling technique, but it is way to nerdy to get into detail here. This extracting process is labor and time intensive, it took myself (and my day laborers) a full morning to shell these containers.

This was how the tray looked after extracting the seed, a lot of color and a lot of empty husks.

Here is a close up of the shiny seeds looking remarkably like Hematite. I also developed an interesting technique for separating the empty husks from the seeds, this resembled a “panning” movement of the tray. I felt like a gold prospector. This scene on my porch must have looked totally mad, note to self:
I must invest in one of those old prospector hats for next year’s harvest, that, and a rock tumbler.

“I’ve got my good eye on you ESP, you little whippersnapper”.

 Here are the husks separated into a bucket

After taking a brief break, I walked back outside to catch one of the day laborers acting like Groucho Marx, messing around in the discarded seed head bucket. I had to let them go…ridiculous!

And the end result of all this labor?

A full bag of amaranth seeds, I would have sown these today if it wasn’t for all the wind we have been having.

Moving along…

The Post Oak tree is starting to show it’s winter structure again, it’s final leaves are falling fast. Still some decent color in the yard considering it is mid-december.

Talking of color:

My first cayenne peppers are now turning brilliant red.

“Sharing the stillness of the unimpassioned rock, they share also its endurance; and while the winds of departing spring scatter the white hawthorn blossoms like drifted snow, and summer dims on the parched meadow the dripping of its cowslip-gold — far above, among the mountains the silver lichen-spots rest, star-like, on the stone.
— John Ruskin

I’m a “Lichen” these miniature plants(Oh Dear) , I think that old prospector must have accidentally dropped some gold dust out of his pan on this one.

Looking like a hubble telescope topographical image, the colors on this lichen on one of my moss boulders is incredible. Lichens are important partners in nature’s ecosystem. They are an early colonizer that reestablishes life on rock and barren disturbed sites. Lichens play an important role in soil formation over much of the earth. As lichens colonize rocks, they trap dust, silt, and water. I believe this type of lichen is a Crustose lichen. I can’t believe I am identifying lichen!

Oh and I forgot to mention they have great names too, (snort) (adjusts glasses):
Powder-tipped antler lichen; black-eye lichen; bloody heart lichen; cowpie lichen; elf-ear lichen; five-o-clock shadow lichen; hairball lichen; naked kidney lichen; tattered rag lichen; and blackened toadskin lichen; rock pimples, earth wrinkles, angel’s hair, freckle pelts, fog fingers, dragon’s funnel, tar-jelly, and old man’s beard, and fuddy dunster to name but a few!
Okay so I made the last one up.
I have some bad news, my Donkey’s Ear has become infected!  Poor thing.  The good news is something has started to happen on the flowering front, though it is not what I was anticipating at all. I was expecting the blooms to pop open more like flowers instead of this slow alienesque emergence. This plant has done so many unusual things this year…
…from its unusual martian looking self-propagation technique, to the more recent hoisting up of this fine burgundy candelabra (right).

My Dwarf Miscanthus is now over half way through its transition from green to painted streaks of purple and brown. Ornamental grasses are a mainstay in my yard, they keep a winter garden looking full when most things have died back.

Other things witnessed this week:

Wizened yucca seed pods.

Pink Salvia fangs…the final flower of the year.

An agave spike pulling his spikey coat tightly around him in anticipation of colder weather to come.

And a really disturbing picture to end!
Ten points for guessing what this chap has landed on?

Looking for some good ideas to buy people for christmas?
Mr Cholmondley-Warner has some ideas:

Stay Tuned For:
“Bah HumBugs”

All material © 2008 for east_side_patch. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.


~ by eastsidepatch on December 13, 2008.

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