Thursday, June 7, 2007

Chicks, potatoes, ginger, baby taro experiment

The chicks have definitely graduated on to (or possibly beyond) the toddler stage. I am still amazed at how much they eat (and the amount of byproduct produced from that activity...). The feed conversion ratio (FCR is a ratio of how many pounds of feed to produce a pound of animal) for chickens is about 2. If I kept all the birds I have now, then to raise all these birds to 1 pound each would end up using 46 pounds of feed. Which would cost about $20. The thing is, I'm into the bird thing for the eggs, and I don't need two dozen eggs a day. We're working on giving most of the chicks away, and hopefully will end up with 8 hens.

I went to Japan about six weeks ago. The morning that I left I was running around crazy trying to take care of stuff, and came across five potatoes sitting in a food basket. Figuring they'd be a problem, I took them outside and buried them, just to see what would happen. When I got home they had grown into two foot tall potato plants, go figure. I'd never intended to start growing potatoes there, it was just an experiment, and last night I decided to dig them up and see what there was to see.

In the five minutes it took me to do the deed, I collected about 2.5 pounds of baby red potatoes. Sweet! That five minutes included digging a deeper hole and re-planting the potato plant. Potatoes, if I understood correctly, will grow potatoes along the stem if the stem is covered with dirt. So maybe more will grow.

I don't know how long the sweet plants will last. IIRC, I may have read that you grow the potato plant until it dies, then dig up the potatoes. The problem is, that's most likely mainland information that won't apply here. It's like the information for growing sweet potatoes. The info is usually oriented to the mainland, where you plant the slips, then wait for the plant to die. Well, the plant dies because Fall/Winter weather is too cold, and it's a tropical/semi-tropical plant. Here the vines will live for some time period that I have not even tested for. If you wait for the plant to die, you'll be waiting a really, REALLY long time.

Then there's the time I planted kale, and ended up eating kale off those plants for two years.

I transplanted some Thai ginger (kalanga?) into pots last night. I'd tried growing them in a tire on the edge of "the jungle," but they just weren't doing very well. Too many other things over there trying to take over, maybe not enough water and care. Anyway, I put them in potting soil, we'll see how that works. My friend Doug had planted some in big container ( I got the impression it was maybe a 10 gallon container), and after six months or so there was something like 40 pounds of ginger root in the pot. Nice.

Also, my Japanese ginger is sprouting. That's growing in the cinder-soil+ that I have in my raised beds.

When I was harvesting taro last week I ended up with about 20 of these little taro nodules that had been attached to the corm, and basically were sprouting into their own little plants. As an experiment I planted those in pots last night, just to see if they'll grow. Taro is a very nice looking plant, so I'd like to have some more growing in the front yard, get a little privacy going on.

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