Friday, October 28, 2011

What Is It?

This is a photo taken of the underside of a Victoria Water Lily crown. All of the Victoria Water Lilies have been removed from the pools at the Visitor Center Entrance. The center of the picture shows the hard, fleshy main stem of the plant. Secondary to that, is the white roots that supported the lily in the pot. The thick crowns were cut out while the water was still in the pools. We used a very sharp, high-tech pruning shears from the Japanese Garden. Several cuts were made to get through the heavy stem.

The top view of the cut crown shows 2 flower buds along with 2 folded, emerging pads. All of the bigger lily pads were cut off before the crowns were sliced off. Note all of the thorns. The stems, undersides of the pads, and the flower parts all have these spiny thorns. These lilies have great plant defense in the wild.

This last photo is a side view showing all of the old stems from the pads that were cut off. The most pads we had on one lily at a time this year was 15. Wind gusts of 10-15 mph can overturn the pads very easily, and this accounts for the majority of our damage.

You can look for the return of the Victoria Water Lilies to the Visitor Center pools, sometime in early June of 2012.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Harvesting in the Edible Garden

The Edible Garden has been closed to the public since Labor Day weekend, but the staff here at Como have been maintaining the remaining plants throughout the fall season. This is because all of the produce grown in the exhibit goes to the zookeepers here at Como, and is given as treats and enrichment to many of the animals here at the zoo. We have been harvesting plenty of tasty produce throughout the season. Some of the things we are still harvesting in the garden this time of year include: tomatoes, peppers, beans, kale, swiss chard, eggplant, squash, beets, parsnips, pumpkins, watermelon, and a variety of herbs. Here are some pictures of a few of our animals enjoying some of the harvest.

This is Nils, a De Brazza's Monkey enjoying some onions.

This is Markisa, one of our Orangutans eating an eggplant.

Here are some photos of the garden last week

Considering we've only had one or two light frosts in the Twin Cities, the garden is still looking great for this time of year! There are certain vegetables that can tolerate cooler temperatures than others. Broccoli, kale, mustard, onions, parsley, peas, and radishes which are all found in the garden, can withstand a pretty hard frost. Other more tender plants such as swiss chard, eggplant, melons, peppers, pumpkins, tomatoes, and squash can be damaged by a lighter frost. Inevitably our cold weather will be the demise of most of the plants in your vegetable garden but hopefully you (or the animals) have had a chance to enjoy the harvests while you can!