Monday, November 27, 2023

Germinating persimmons, Security monitors, Garden seeds and Blister Beetles

One of my buddies asked me if I knew of any tips to get persimmon seeds to germinate. He had planted a boat-load of them and the germination was slow and erratic.

I went on and learned that EVERYBODY has a hard time germinating persimmon seeds. They tried all of the standard tricks like gibberellic acid and scarifying and hydrogen peroxide and force feeding them to possum and...

Nothing consistently showed any improvement over stratifying cool-and-damp for 70 days and then planting in very-warm potting soil. The seed-coats are waxy and shrug-off attempts to hasten their germination.

I suppose the bottom line is to move the seeds from the stratifying basket to the germinating heat-mat two-to-four months earlier than "normal" seeds. It seems likely that some seed-parents are more willing germinators that others. Alas, I do not know which seed-parents those might be.

A bigger window

We recently upgraded to a smart TV. That meant I had an extra 32" flat-screen monitor. I removed the tiny 18" monitor that we displayed our security video on and repurposed the old 32" dumb TV. It is mounted on a wall where if it were possible to place a window would have pretty much the same perspective as the security camera. That is intuitively pleasing.

Garden seeds

I am making a list and checking it twice...

Bodacious Sweet Corn
Merlin Beet
Aspabroc Broccoli
Bandit Leek
Deadon Cabbage
Green Forest Romaine Lettuce
Stuttgart Onions (from sets)
Diplomat Melon
Wilson Sweet Watermelon
Some kind of Japanese Cucumber
Neal Paymaster Field Corn
I have some seeds saved from my tomatoes, Stocky Red Roaster Sweet Peppers and Blauhilda pole beans. I also have seeds from Piggott Cowpea that I will grow again.
Easy Pick Gold II Zucchini
Winter Squash will probably be some kind of Curcubit moschata or mixta.

I could probably get by with just tomatoes, potatoes and green beans but that is not much fun.

This list is by no means complete

Blister Beetles

I first learned of Blister Beetles from Peter Carrington. He was teaching a class on Wilderness Survival and he informed us that if it was meat (i.e. it moved when it was alive) it was edible. Except for Blister Beetles.

Peter's super-power was that he could draw images that were more representative of the species than a photograph. He left out ubiquitous detail and subtly emphasized the unique features that identified the subject-at-hand. It is a gift.

Male Blister Beetles synthesize a toxin called cantharidin that is smeared over the eggs by the female Blister Beetle to poison predators. That toxin has been used as an aphrodisiac (called Spanish Fly) as it seems to accelerate serotonin re-uptake in the ganglia gaps between nerve cells. That is, it makes stimuli excruciatingly intense. As a toxin, it results in an excruciatingly painful death and is reputed to have been used by Count de Sades on a couple of local prostitutes.

Many species of Blister Beetles feed on grasshopper eggs in their larval stage and the flowers of plants like alfalfa, goldenrod, sunflowers and squash as adults.


  1. We've had blister beetles attack our garden the last two years. thousands of them, like locusts devouring everything in sight.

    1. Were the years previous to the attacks by the Blister Beetles particularly dry and favorable to grasshoppers?

      Populations of predators lag population jumps by the prey animals and BB larva feed on grasshopper eggs.

      Just a question of idle curiosity.

    2. I don't remember about the grasshoppers in the previous years, but we have had drouth to some degree the last few summers.

  2. Standout winter squash for us this year - in spite of total failure of weed control - were C.moschata varieties Seminole Pumpkin and South Anna (Seminole Pumpkin x Waltham butternut).


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