Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Acorns Part 2

Some of you may remember my post about David's acorns.  David collected hundreds of acorns, we did the float test with them to see which ones were viable, and then we packed them in Ziploc bags with wet wood chips that we normally use for chicken bedding, and they took up a whole shelf in the fridge.

A whole shelf, people.  My grocery trips since then have revolved completely around how much space we had...which wasn't much.

It was supposed to take a bit over a month for them to germinate, and so we began checking them about 2 weeks ago by just opening a bag or two and checking the ones on the top.  They all looked the same as how we left them, and I was beginning to worry that we'd have to scrap this project and break David's heart.

Then we started to see some broken shells.

The acorns were starting to break, showing a white root looking for some room.

I had talked with Knut's aunt who is a master gardener about David's project, and my worry about spending a lot on plastic pots, or finding ones that were deep enough for an oak tree taproot.  She recommended that I just get a couple packs of paper cups.  They're cheap, and they'll work at least for this stage of the project.  She also told me which nursery to get the soil we'd need, and I picked that up right away before they closed for the season.

The soil was basically frozen in the garage, and David and I together hauled it into the kitchen and picked at it to fill the cups.  By then all the kids wanted to be involved, and David started giving people jobs.  Silje was a huge help with a good attitude, but Elias was a bit whiney, and David tried to get him the most fun jobs that he could.  He wanted so badly for everyone to enjoy themselves, and I thought that was sweet.

We brought out all 4 bags, and some looked better than others.

Some had this white fuzz around the acorns and a bad smell.  Was it frost or mold or what?  I couldn't really tell but we threw those away.  I couldn't bare throwing out the whole bag when that happened, but we threw out big chunks of bags.

Actually, after we got rid of chunks, we went through one bag that seemed to have no issues whatsoever.  It was beautiful.  We dumped the whole bag into my salad spinner, and we started looking at each acorn one by one to see if the tip had cracked yet.  Through our research, people said the root didn't have to be protruding out in order to move to phase 2 of planting in soil, the acorn just needed to be cracked open so the root could get access to nutrients.

Silje ran out and got all of our gardening trays that we keep in the summer kitchen from when we buy plants at nurseries.  For about an hour, we had quite a crew working on filling up cups, picking at the cold soil in the bag, checking acorns, planting, setting in trays.  

Then the interest dwindled.  My kitchen was a mess with soil and wood chips all over the floor, and old, wet Ziplocs and cup bags were piled up.  It was a crazy mess.  I was so stressed out.

Silje had to get to piano lessons, and so we paused.  When we got back, David wanted to go play and come back to the acorns later.  I told him he could play, or work on acorns.  But we're not leaving this mess out all day for him to go back to as he pleased.  I told him maybe we could just finish the one really good bag, and work on the other bags on a different day.  He thought that was a good idea.

By then I was working on supper and couldn't help, the little kids had lost interest, and Silje was lost in a book.  David kept plugging away: sorting acorns, planting them, picking at some more soil.  He must have worked an additional 1 1/2 hours on his own in the kitchen.  

I took lots of pictures of them for him, as he wanted to have lots of pictures for his 4H presentation at the county fair next year.  

Like before, I thought that only 50 or less acorns would survive the float test, and hundreds ended up passing.  So we tried to germinate hundreds.  Of that, we went through the best bag, and got 126 germinated acorns planted.  (We put the ones that hadn't germinated back in the fridge to give them a bit more time.)  There were lots more germinated in other bags but we just ran out of time and needed our kitchen back for eating.

From what we're reading, oak trees like to grow where it's cold.  They like to germinate in the fridge around 40 degrees (F) and they like to grow in pots where it's nice and cool but not frozen.  I picked our front entry way for this purpose for a few reasons.  First, we have a really drafty window in there, so it will be nice and cool right there over winter.  Second, there's lots of sunlight there.  Third, it has a doorway, so I can put up a baby gate and keep the 2 little girls out of there.

So we set all the trays in the front entry way, and gave them a nice cold drink. 

This is about 1/4 of the acorns, people.  We still have 3 more bags to go through.  We might be able to fit about 150 more cups in this entryway, but not more.  Not to mention we use our front entryway a lot in the winter.  Just last night I had some friends over after the kids went to bed, and they walked in and nearly tripped over all the cups of acorns.  

I could say no.  I could say it's too much for the family to deal with.  It's just I normally say no.  That's my go-to answer.  This time I wanted to say yes.  This time I wanted one of my kids to dream up something big, and just do it without anyone saying it's too hard, or too messy, or for when they are older.

So we're growing hundreds of oak trees.  We've been talking a lot about oak trees.  David is learning so much.  I can't always say yes.  But this time I did.  There are moments I regret that, but those are completely overshadowed by those moments when I'm thinking, "this is so cool!"

I'm really, really hoping these little acorns make it to a Part 3.


Mom said...

That is so awesome. It's kind of like when I said yes to Jeremy's doves. I really wanted to say no, but I'm so glad I said yes. He still talks about them today.

Martha said...

What an awesome thing to do...you'll have a forest of oak trees! ♥ They would make nice gifts.

Katrina said...

Praying for your oak trees! Saying 'yes' was the right answer...but oh, so hard. So hard to do in the thick of it.

Amberley said...

Great job, Gretchen! These are the things they will remember. The sacrifice will be worth it! :) Can't wait to hear about the next installment of "The Acorns"!!

Cleo said...

Wow! They'll be quite a sight once they all start to sprout!

momof4 said...

I'm trying to figure out where I'll plant the one I want to buy from him! Keep it up! He may have to give a presentation at co-op sometime about his project.

Sonya said...

Ugh, somehow that comment decided I wasn't logged in.