Confessions of a Weather Channel Addict

My name is Bert and I’m a Weather Channel junkie.  It started innocently enough; sneaking an occasional peek at the local radar.  Then I found myself sticking around for the next Local on the 8’s just for the smooth jazz.  The progression from there was steady and predictable: Glued, trance-like, to the couch for re-runs of ‘Storm Stories’ and ‘When Weather Changed History’; setting my alarm 20 minutes early to catch ‘Wake up with Al’ so I could get my morning Stephanie Abrams fix.  My downward spiral was further enabled by  I knew I needed help when I found myself checking the local radar to see if it was raining instead of just looking out the window.
Admit it.  If you’re a gardener or work with gardeners, you’re probably hooked too.  Hard to imagine a Saturday or Sunday morning that doesn’t start with tuning in to TWC or clicking on  The local radar and weather warnings, of course, are indispensible.  We had a frost advisory in our area last night and I’m sure some folks will get an extra couple weeks out of their annuals if they paid attention and got them covered.

An often-overlooked feature on that I encourage gardeners and landscapers to use is the wind forecast.   If you go to your local hourly forecast and click on ‘details’, it provides an hour-by-hour forecast for local wind conditions.  This is a great way to plan any herbicide applications (e.g, Round-up or Weed-B-gone) you may be contemplating.  Doing a little planning and spraying when conditions are calm is one of the best ways to avoid off-target injury.

So clearly there are plenty of reasons to keep us hooked and tuning in, even if some aspects of TWC are getting just a little too predictable:

Studio anchor:  And now we go to Jim Cantore, who’s on the Outer Banks where Hurricane Holly is about to make landfall.  Jim, what’s the latest out there?

Cantore (braced against a gale but looking studly in his official Weather Channel raingear):  Well, just like the other 73 hurricanes I’ve been in, it’s raining.  And the wind is blowing really, really hard!

Cut back to studio anchor:  Thank you, Jim, for that insightful report.

The Weather Channel, live by it.


Fungal fun continues!

The comments on Friday’s puzzle have certainly been imaginative!  (Tribbles indeed!)  But this weekend nature cooperated to give me some more information.

My little fungus family expanded over the weekend.  As this photo shows, we definitely have a mushroom-type fungus:

Looking at a young member, you can see what look like stalked spores emerging from the gills:

And the edges of the mushroom curl upwards as the spore mass grows

until we end up with the black furry ball shown on Friday:

So the discussion continues:  What the heck is this?  Is it one species, or is there another species that’s emerging from the gills of the first?

Friday fungal fun

The answer to today’s puzzle will depend on YOU!  I have no idea what this is.  (I’m not a mycologist.  And did you know that fungi are more closely related to animals than to plants?)

Anyway.  I found this on our wood chip mulch today.  We always get interesting fungal fruiting bodies on wood chips – one year we even got morels.  But I’ve never seen this type before.

If you can’t tell, these are round and furry.  They really remind me of a mold.

Happy Days

Today is such a good day.  Really good.  Almost as good as my wedding day and the birth of my kids good.  Better than the Eagles won the Superbowl good (I’m a big Philadelphia Eagles football fan — Mike Vick and his transgressions aside of course).

Just for today I don’t care much about the arguments for or against organics, natives or even my favorite topic, pesticides.

What’s the news you ask?

Peanuts.  Hot Boiled Peanut.

If you follow this blog you may recall that Tom Michaels, a professor and bean breeder here at UMN, and I planted a few rows of peanuts last year in between rows of trees — the trees you see below are elms from a selection program we’re running here.  Between the rows you’ll notice some plants starting to turn yellow, those are peanuts.  The darker green plants between the rows of trees are canola.

Below is what a peanut plant looks like when you harvest it.  After the flowers are pollinated the plant sends the stalk on which the flower is growing into the soil where it forms a peanut.  When we harvested we saw anywhere from 0 to about 10 peanuts per plant.

We harvested a test batch of peanuts last night — probably a little over a pound.  They were a little immature, but they still tasted good fresh out of the ground.  Without any treatment fresh peanuts taste a lot like fresh peas — an unmistakable “legume” flavor.  For those of you love roasted peanuts, that familiar flavor is a result of the roasting process.

Boiled peanuts are a little different than roasted peanuts in that the pods are usually harvested a little bit immature, so our first harvest, yesterday, was actually right on time.  We’re planning on finishing harvest next week.

Anyway, once we got the peanuts out of the ground I drove them straight home, put them into a quart of water, added a quarter cup of salt, and put that mixture into a crock-pot on high heat for three hours and low heat for another eleven.  I tasted one after three and knew they would be good.  After the full 14 hours?  The best boiled peanuts I’ve ever had.

As my wife noted, these peanuts aren’t exactly the same as the one’s you get in
the South.  She was trying to be nice — but I got the impression that
they were just a little too different from what she’s used to for her to like them quite as much as
the ones we get when we visit South Carolina (which we visit yearly). The difference between these peanuts and the other boiled peanuts that I’ve had (and I’ve had a lot — from all over the South) is that these are a little bit sweeter.

For me — Best damn peanuts ever — Minnesota grown no less.  Who woulda’ thought?  Not me.  Can’t wait to boil a big batch next week!</d