Thursday, July 19, 2012
Spent some time on the weekend, while DH was flying .. to relax in a decadent bout of reading. Time to relax and just explore the pages of my gardening books. There never seems to be the time to do this during the week so I look forward to these lovely indulgent weekends.
Now I hadn’t studied biology in school and I don’t know if this sort of thing is being taught nowadays, that is, the subject of the magic of the root system of plants. And in such a down to earth manner of explaining!
Peter Farb’s book is fascinating. First published in January, 1959…. this copy that I hold reverently is 50 years old! A real treasure. I picked this one up at a local library book sale. One of those magic moments, you know .. when you see a little inconspicuous book, pick it up and open it up and it’s one of those OMG moments.
Words pop out of the page. Worlds open and enchantment begins. You see, I have a very active imagination and can visualize what I am reading. Most of the time this is a good thing. And that is why I mostly read positive things and steer away from nasty things.
Anyway, Chapter 4 “The World of the Root” … describes the importance of tree roots How they pry and twist beneath the forest soil The strength of the system. More than half of the tree’s bulk is underground …busy growing, feeding ..busy roots that have enormous power that we do not see on the surface.
He describes how a healthy root system can “scarcely be destroyed” … chop down the forest giant and its roots sprout dozens of new saplings.
Tree roots grow best in adversity, when the soil is poor and water hard to come by. Experiments in laboratories have shown that “a rye plant , grown for only four months, developed an underground system of 7,000 miles of roots”!!
And he goes on to tell us that roots go back in the history of the soil about a third of a billion years .. plants have greatly modified their aerial parts, the stems and the leaves in the past 350 million years, but the root structure shows little change. He states that perhaps in the conservative environment of the soil, there has been little need for adaption.
Next, he describes 3 areas of the root system which bring forth the magic to me! These are:
This is at the very tip of the root, it fits like a thimble and takes the brunt of pushing through the soil. Constantly renewing itself, it bears the brunt of the movement through the soil.
The Zone of Elongation: Now I first heard of this in my recent Master Gardening course and the phrase pulled me like a magnet. Here I discover more about this zone. It sits directly behind the cap, seldom more than three-tenths of an inch long and this is where rapid cell division occurs .. it is the only part of the root that increases in length. In all roots. And finally:
Felty Root Hairs: Right behind the Zof E, is the only place where the roots feed! And these are followed by the corky brown roots, older sections, once they fed the sapling, now they are no longer taking in water but now act as pipelines connected to the tree. It has the same cork covering as the tree bark, but is much thinner.
This book references specialists for further studies and I am so very grateful for their work, enabling me to further understand the magic beneath my feet!
After reading about the root system, I found myself wandering around recently ploughed soil .. and saw root stems lying hither and thither. After much debate with myself, I finally decided to gather up some sections. Simply because I normally do not see tree roots in my normal day-to-day living. And these alder roots were lovely. So I quickly gathered some up and formed them into wreaths. To hang them in the trees in my yard .. to add to the natural beauty.
As I pulled some of the tips out of the ground, I could see the tenacious spreading of the root tips and smell the earthy smell of the mycorrhizal fungi as they clung to these areas. Just doing their job. Reminders for me as to the magnificence of nature.
I could go on and on about more information contained in this chapter, but, another time!
A few days ago, when I went to a beach up-island, I was fortunate enough to be there at a time in the morning when there were only a few others around. The morning was misty and a surreal fog was gently engulfing the water and shoreline.
It was one of those very rare moments of peaceful quiet in a beautiful surrounding and I felt honoured to be there at that time to enjoy this lovely gift. The only sound was that of a few gulls crying out and the sound of the water lapping against the rocks.
So I’m sharing a few pictures of my special time there in all that quiet beauty.
Now .. I must go outside to spread out recently acquired seaweed. Today is predicted to be hot and sunny and I need to dry out this crop as soon as possible!
On and on with this day!