Thursday, June 14, 2007

Sibling Friendliness: Only If You're a Plant

Experiments at McMaster University have turned up evidence that plants are more friendly toward their siblings than toward unrelated plants. Fascinating stuff, but I'm not sure I agree with the comments in the article about implications for gardening. If growing near strangers causes plants to grow more root mass, is that a bad thing? I'm thinking a little bit of competition early on (maybe eased by thinning a bit later), might make all the plants more vigorous underground, so they would be better prepared to deal with drought.

You would think, after all these weeks trying to garden in sticky mud, I would quit worrying about drought.

Nope. I'm from Saskatchewan.

6 comments:

SimplyTim said...

Laura,

Potable water in the future may well become one of the most preciouss of our resources. In some parts of the world it is already an matter of life and death.

I did a google search: water cistern china and took a look at some of the entries.

You might want to take a look at:

http://web.mit.edu/ideas/www/past%20proposals/cistern.pdf

The file deleted the photos unfortunately but you may be able to track them down.

It has the potential for becoming a nice family business that could grow across time.

Tim

arcolaura said...

Thanks Tim - looks like a good idea. As I try to stay ahead of my Dad and his chain saw and wrecking bar, I keep wondering if I should have added a cistern to the renovation design. But something like that would be easy to add later. I don't know if it could keep the water from freezing in this climate (they say frost can go down eight feet here, under exposed pavement etc.), but maybe it could allow early spring water collection.

SimplyTim said...

Laura,

When I looked at the MIT pdf file, one of the selling points was that idea specifically of having the water not freeze.

Tim

arcolaura said...

Well, yeah, but at what extremes of temperature? My parents have a cistern surrounded on one side by a buried wall and on the other three sides with heated building, with a heavily insulated roof. That cistern doesn't freeze. But formerly, when the building was unheated on two of the three enclosed sides of the cistern, it sometimes did freeze, even with heat coming in from one side. I'm sure you could make this MIT idea work even in our climate if you sunk it deep enough into the ground and put a very thick roof on it, but at some point it becomes easier to incorporate the cistern into a building.

SimplyTim said...

Laura,

I was just responding to your thinking about drought, etc.

The MIT file, was only one of many that came up when I did a google search and I thought I'd forward it to you - not so much as the solution, but rather as a stimulant to further your thinking, should you wish.

Me, I'm still at the water barrel phase of the process.

Tim

arcolaura said...

Me too! And I do think that MIT idea could be very useful just to extend the rainwater collecting season back into the spring a bit. That's when I had a bit of trouble this year - too little runoff from snow, and not wanting to set my rain barrels up too early and have them freeze. Thanks again!