The Glory Has Departed
Norma Boeckler, Artist-in-Residence
Bethany Lutheran Worship on
Thursday, March 26, 2015
Nothing is quite so satisfying as having a powerful rain finish off a day or two of planting roses, raspberry canes, seeds, and tomato plants.
Some gardeners use inorganic fertilizers before it rains, but this article warns about washing a lot of pollution into the water table. In Midland, before a rain, I used Rabbit-Gro on the lawn, a product of Wormhaven.1. We had quite a few rabbits. Their hard pellets are easy to spread and dissolve in the rain, adding long-lasting nutrition and bacteria to the soil.
Inorganic fertilizers do not stay in the soil but move down into the water table. That supports the industry since everyone needs more. Massive farms have also added to pollution by having too much organic fertilizer for the ground to absorb.
Rain and lightning bring down usable nitrogen compounds for the plants to use, and the chlorine free water increases the growth of all soil creatures.
Seeds and plants are thirsty for water, so hours of rain are ideal to hydrate the plants and germinate the seeds.
The straw bale garden is showing signs of life, so I was pleased to have it soaked in nitrogen-rich rain. The websites and books tell me to add nitrogen to straw bales. Obeying the Maynard G. Krebs and Scrooge Prime Directives, I fertilize with rain, easily furnished in this area. No work and no cost!
Last year's roses are bursting with life, leaves sprouting on every cane, newly pruned. The new roses are just settling in. I water them heavily in the soil because I consider pre-soaking to be foolish and a waste of time. Pre-soaking produces those pale little leaves that may even appear in a new shipment. However, the only leaves that matter are the green ones created by the roots taking hold, growing root hairs, and sending nutrition into the plant.
Class - listen up. Almost everything in the garden happens at the root hairs, which consist of miles and miles of cells receiving usable chemicals from the fungi and giving up carbon to those marvels of decomposition. If we enhance the health of the soil by feeding its creatures, the soil will feed the plants.
Specialized epidermal cells on roots, known as root hairs, are extremely important to the uptake of nutrients. Root hairs dramatically increase the surface area of the root that is exposed to soil. Root hairs form because epidermal cells along the outer surface of a root have the ability to change from their normal shape and placement on the surface of a root into an extension of the root that grows out into the soil. Each root hair is a single cell, and these cells can grow to amazing lengths of up to 1500 microns (0.06 inch) and can be as thick as 15 microns (0.0006 inch).
Only a small zone located just below a growing root tip contains meristematic cells coded to become root hair cells. These cells live only from a few days to a couple of weeks, depending on the plant and conditions. Root hairs are constantly being replaced as the growing tip moves into new territory. Still, an astonishing number of these cells can grow at one time. Some plants produce tens of thousands of them in an area no bigger than an inch or two around. For example, studies have shown that a single rye plant can have miles of root hairs growing in 2 cubic feet (0.06 cubic meters) of soil.
Lowenfels, Jeff; Lowenfels, Jeff (2013-05-07). Teaming with Nutrients: The Organic Gardener’s Guide to Optimizing Plant Nutrition (Kindle Locations 1306-1316). Timber Press. Kindle Edition.
Eyes of the Roots
Root hairs act as the eyes of a plant root. Calcium, one of the essential plant nutrients, moves into the root hair through the plasmalemma. The presence of calcium is necessary to complete the process that causes root hair cells to grow downward. As long as there is calcium coming into the root hair from the soil, the root hair cell elongates in the same direction. When an obstacle, say a small rock, is encountered, then that surface of the root hair cell can no longer take up calcium. Elongation in that direction stops, but it starts in another area of the cell where calcium does come through the membrane. Once the obstacle has been passed by the root hair, it reorients itself and travels in the original direction. Consider that this goes on all over those miles of hairs. Calcium shortages have obvious consequences here.
Lowenfels, Jeff; Lowenfels, Jeff (2013-05-07). Teaming with Nutrients: The Organic Gardener’s Guide to Optimizing Plant Nutrition (Kindle Locations 1318-1324). Timber Press. Kindle Edition.
Sassy canceled her afternoon walk yesterday, when the rain started. so she wants her morning walk now.