I am looking for gardening experiments
October 21, 2007 10:10 AM   Subscribe

I am looking for gardening experiments

I like to watch plants (and any birds and insects that show up) outside in my garden as they go about their business uninterrupted, but sometimes I have the urge to prod Nature in the ribs just to see how she reacts. Can you suggest simple things to try? I don't think I want to replicate Mendel's pea experiments (I don't think I have the room, for one thing), but that's on the right track for what I'm after: basic hands-on botanical play. Are there interesting things to try in a small space of ground (zone 5 or so) filled with runner beans, sweet peas, sunflowers, clover, zinnias, marigolds, ivy, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, wild strawberries, basil, garlic, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, thyme, orb spiders, peacock butterflies, ladybirds, chickadees, magpies, and me?
posted by pracowity to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
 
Heritage seeds? Hydroponics? Wood-grown oyster mushrooms?
posted by Leon at 10:40 AM on October 21, 2007


Maybe a step removed, but you could plant your garden so that it attracts as much prey-and-predator activity as possible.
posted by rhizome at 10:43 AM on October 21, 2007


A fairly easy thing to do is to diversify bird-attractors - a hanging seed feeder, a suet feeder, grains scattered on the ground, and perhaps some pinecones coated with peanut butter. They'll attract different kinds of birds. You could also add some perches (trellises, twisty bits of wood, etc) that won't interfere with the plants below, but which will attract birds.

I have to say that I've gotten days of enjoyment from my fish/lily pond and the frogs, dragonflies, and birds it attracts (plus: 5-6 different varieties of goldfish produce a wild variety of babies). You could do this on a smaller scale with an outdoors water feature in a barrel or kettlepot with 1 lily and a small rush or aquatic plant and a fish or 2 (fish eat mosquitos and mosquito larvae). You'll need to bring the fish inside for the winter (the water isn't deep enough, typically, for them to be able to hibernate), but a nice water feature makes everything a little nicer.
posted by julen at 10:52 AM on October 21, 2007


What about building a herb spiral? It would be an interesting experiment in creating microclimates in your back yard, and it sounds like you may already have many good plant candidates growing.
posted by donnagirl at 11:45 AM on October 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


See here. Miracle fruit especially.
posted by Eringatang at 11:49 AM on October 21, 2007


Pruning/pinching experiments? I know you're not growing trees, but you could pinch tips of zinnias and sunflowers at different times in their growth to encourage branching, and see what sort of effects that has on the size and number of blooms. You could also try some basic seed hybridization with something small and fast- I grew some hybrid seeds of purple and red freesias one year- they ended up being an odd bronzy-orange color.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:56 AM on October 21, 2007


Grafting!
posted by amtho at 1:10 PM on October 21, 2007


There's a whole forum dedicated to garden experiments at Gardenweb.

My parents have spent the last few years cultivating a colony of orioles. They are migratory birds and only spend the summer, but they are fascinating little creatures. You put out orange halves and grape jelly to attract them. They seem to come back to the same place year after year. The males comes back first in the spring, scouting out the area. Since he's used to my parents feeding him, when he comes back he will sit on their arbor and loudly squawk until they break out the oranges. The female arrives a couple of weeks later and they will raise their young nearby. This year my parents had 2 pairs of orioles, which raised at least 8 baby birds between them.
posted by Ostara at 1:31 PM on October 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Water collection (rain barrel, etc) to help supplement watering source over the summer.
posted by greenskpr at 9:12 PM on October 22, 2007


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