Poop-agation! and great inTENTions

So this morning I was walking up from watering the dead things in the duct-tape greenhouse -- well it is nearly Halloween -- and I saw a beautiful plump poop right in the middle of the path, obviously from something like a coyote or a bobcat. It wasn't from our dog as he doesn't eat vegetable matter and there was vegetable matter in it.

Why was I excited to find yon feces? Because I have had the thought that just maybe I could propagate with the help of mother nature. Instead of using sulphuric acid to mimic stomach juices and wear away the seed coats from seeds like arctostaphylos species, why not use seeds that have actually been through a gut and experienced the real thing?

Now I don't know if there are seeds in there, but I thought it was worth a go. I shovelled the pile into an old pot, to take it to the pool shed which is also the potting shed. And actually it isn't really a shed, just a covered area with one side open. I made a quick mix of half perlite and half peat moss, and half filled a seed tray. Spread the poop pieces about with a trowel and covered them over. Ha! I wonder..... ?

In other news, having said goodbye to the postmortem Holodiscus discolor cuttings, I cut another batch from down the road, a week ago. I took them with a bit of heel from the main stem, which I learned is a good idea from this marvellous web site: Paghat's Garden, a site with thousands of pages on temperate climate plants, not all natives but lots of natives including our friend Holodiscus discolor. The person who runs the site requests support - it seems to be a labor of love, and I do intend to make a donation for the useful info:

"Oceanspray is easily propagated by collecting seeds but they are very difficult to start from cuttings. If tried from cuttings, take half-ripe wood with heel, dab the heel in rooting hormone, & attempt to get them started under coldframes."

Fortunately I also have some seeds chilling in the fridge so I hope to get some started that way.
So - this time my strategy was to put them into two little tents, to keep the air inside nice and humid, and I put them (con permiso) on a plastic sheet on the floor of Mr Wood Rat's office, which is bare (unlike mine which is completely stuffed with - stuff.) They are under a south facing window so they get warmth and light but not direct sunlight.

I have seen pictures in books of such tents over pots, but my attempts to make a framework (to keep the plastic away from the cuttings) failed miserably in the past - then someone at the CNPS propagation group mentioned that old drip irrigation tubing (the squirmy narrow stuff) makes a good framework to keep the plastic away from the plants. So I took a seed tray and some twisty ties, and went to work. It turned out pretty good!

Won't win a prize for symmetry, but it is keeping the plastic aloft. And the plastic is now misty with moisture, which makes me happy - and one week later - the cuttings look happy too!

Wish them luck!

In yet other news I'm trying to propagate some bulbs: Triteleia laxa, Ithuriel's Spear, and Alium unifolium - not locally found specimens, but they are locally indigenous species, though I haven't seen them here personally.

Now, who the heck is Ithuriel? I wondered? - From an "infoplease" page I find this:

The spear of the the angel Ithuriel, the slightest touch of which exposed deceit. Hence, when Satan squatted like a toad “close to the ear of Eve,” Ithuriel only touched the creature with his spear, and it resumed the form of Satan.
Him [i.e. Satan], thus intent Ithuriel with his spear
Touched lightly; for no falsehood can endure
Touch of celestial temper, but returns
Of force to its own likeness.

Milton: Paradise Lost, iv 810-813.

Hm. I'm still none the wiser about how the lovely plant came to have this name! Who came up with it, I wonder?


Nell Jean said…
Some wild canine poop carries some nasty, nasty worms that can infect humans. I bet you already knew that. Do be careful.
Country Mouse said…
Well, I was very careful not to touch it, but I figured once it was "buried" I wouldn't have problems - now you've got me worried. Can you tell me more about what you know? I can't find much of anything by Googling.

I did act and write in a mood of blythe unconcern - caught up by an idea that blinded me to certain realities. Now I've checked the poop characteristics of different species - Google did help there. It could be raccoon poop, cylindrical with blunt ends. That can carry a rare but serious danger: Baylisascaris, an intestinal roundworm that makes a person sicker than you want to know. If you do want to know, a good article is here: http://www.raccoonworld.com/raccoonroundworm.html.
FYI: bobcat poop never contains vegetable matter, and coyote poop is pointy at the ends and full of hair.
Also I must hang my head as I confess that the trowel I used to move the poop - I then unthinkingly plunged into the planting mix. How fallible and full of error am I. I feel sorry for the airline pilots who were doing something else and overflew Minneapolis. That could so have been me. Anyway, I will scour out the planting mix bin. I'm not sure if I need to destroy or isolate the bulbs of Ithuriel's spear that I planted and the poop tray, if the possible eggs could last long away from a friendly intestine.

Well the sun getting ready to rise above the black mountains in a wonderful California red-orange glow, merging to a cerulean blue, and the morning star is twinkling. Ah me. Another lovely day to blunder through. Happy Halloween!
Nell Jean said…
CDC: 'Humans become accidentally infected when they ingest infective eggs from the environment; typically this occurs in young children playing in the dirt.'

Just be careful. I wouldn't disrupt anything, just wear gloves and wash hands as usual.

I agree that it looked like raccoon poop. I think raccoons are hateful.
Town Mouse said…
Ah, I think you'll be fine. Just wash your hands after you work in the garden. In my mind, tetanus is a much greater problem with gardeners -- when did you get your last shot?

Will be interesting what comes up (if anything does)!

BTW, Mr. Mouse, who was a Boy Scout, would advise you that it's scat, not poop.
Country Mouse said…
Thanks Nell Jean and Town Mouse. Yes, it's scat but that didn't make such a good word play. Well I'm off to play in the garden.
Country Mouse said…
And Ya, I'm up to date on tetanus. I carry a postit with the date of my last shot stuck on the back of my health insurance card. My doctor said that would be a good idea.
Christine said…
Well if that isn't dedication to the wonders of propagation, I just don't know what is! Good luck with the holodiscus, those cold frames are positively stylish!
Rosey Pollen said…
Maybe I should plant a choke cherry tree with the bear scat? Kidding. I will be interested to see what happens.
Like your prop. tents, great idea.
Town Mouse said…
This from baynatives.com:

More Triteleia trivia:
The common name comes from the spear of the angel Ithuriel (angel of justice) which has the power to reveal deception. When Satan disguised as a toad, whispered into Eve's ear, Ithuriel's spear touched him and revealed him as Satan. "The preacher needs now, if ever, the spear of Ithuriel, so delicate and fine as not to be seen, and yet so pointed and powerful as always to be felt, if he would pierce the rind of Leviathan." -James Challen, 'The Ministry'. In any case the unopened flower buds look a bit like spear heads.
You're a brave gardener, CM! So much information seems slanted at plants that the critters won't eat. This way you might find a way to do an inventory and garden of all the plants that are actually high on a creature's list of forage. Hopefully the meal didn't consist of the neighbor's agapanthus...