Enclosed Reed Crow Call in stained Holly

Crow calls generate their sound by a reed vibrating between two surfaces when air is forced between them. These surfaces are on nibs which typically are exposed and sticking out from the call’s barrel. This exposure can leave them susceptible to damage, fouling and malfunction. Here is one of my exposed reed crow calls.
Hickory Crow Call - cherry nibs
I’ve been working on a call design which encloses the nibs and reed. One challenge encountered is that when typical nibs are enclosed, the reed tends to lock up under higher air flows. This lock up is minimized in exposed reed calls by allowing air to escape out the sides, between the nibs under heavy air loads. Enclosed reed calls have no path for air escape except through the call and over the reed, thereby are susceptible to quick pressure buildup and locking unless changes are made in the design of the reed/nib/air channel combination.
Here is my prototype call made from a piece of Holly that was cut a couple years ago near Andalusia, Alabama but cured off color from the white so highly desired. It still has the very nice working characteristics though. The nibs for this call are made from Chilean Cherry and ebonized black to contrast with the light wood.



I’ve shared pictures on a couple related forums, here and here. You can see the feedback received.

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Burpee Big Tetra Zinnia (Z. violacea)

In 2006 I purchased a packet of Ferry Morse Giant State Fair Zinnias to plant in the yard to attract butterflies.  They accomplished that task admirably and caught my interest by their diversity of colors.  I was particularly attracted to a salmon colored flower with a blue-violet color on the petals near the center.  I saved seed that fall from several of the flowers to grow again in following years. 

It was  2009 before I grew them again and was very pleased with the various colors revealed.  Even though the colors were superb, the flower form was rather boring actually.  About this same time I became interested in the potential and mechanics of hybridizing zinnias.  The Giant State Fair zinnias are tetraploid so the challenges  and opportunities are magnified.  Tetraploid genetics offer greater recombination possibilities, but because of this, also create complex challenges in developing true breeding strains. 

This year I wanted to find tetraploid zinnias with  flower forms different from the Giant State Fair descendents I’ve grown..  The only option I found was in the Burpee Big Tetra strain.  I planted a row along side the grow out of seed saved last year from the Giant State Fairs, hoping to have new sources of pollen.  I have not been disappointed.  I’ve created a gallery showing each of the flowers in the row.

It’s Zinnia time….

My side garden, which once was filled with Japanese Morning Glories this time of the year, is filled with zinnias. I was so impressed with the color variation in the tetraploid State Fair descendents grown last year, that I committed a significant part of my garden this year to grow more. My intent this year also is to search for other flower forms to add to my tetraploid gene pool. One row is dedicated to growing Burpee Big Tetras with this in mind. So far I am very pleased with the variety I’m seeing. Here are a few examples:

Colorful Indian Corn

Last fall I purchased several ears of colorful indian corn from the local big box store, thinking that I might grow some in the garden this year. I did not need much seed, so I selected one of the multicolored ears as source for this year’s crop. After shelling the kernels from the ear, on a whim, I separated out all the grey kernels for planting. This is what they looked like:

As is often the case, the photograph shows more color variation in the kernels than I initially noticed while separating them. Some look green, some show more yellow and others show some red tints. I planted five rows, each about fifteen feet long on March 28th. This creates a nice block to maximize pollination effectiveness. Virtually 100 pecent of the seed germinated into a nice stand. From early on I could see variation in the amount of pigmentation the plants showed. Some are all green while others have varying degrees of red coloring in the stalks, leaves and emerging tassles and ears. Here is a quick show of some of the variety in photos taken this afternoon:






Gerbera Daisy – Lollipop “Coconut”

I bought this Lollipop Gerbera Daisy last year off of the clearance rack for a few bucks. It was dry as a bone and didn’t look to have much life. Shade and water did wonders and it overwintered well. I took this picture tonight in very low light and I belive the flash and auto white correction on the camera made it a bit cleaner white than it is in reality. I have enjoyed the slight pink flush that shows on the flower as it matures. The plant stature is much larger than the standard Gerberas I’ve accumulated and I really like the double flower. Maybe I’ll have to use some of it’s pollen…..

Zinnias emerging

This year I have planted more zinnias than in previous years.  I saved seed from selected plants and will grow many of these out to reveal their qualities.  My plants last year were from seed I had saved many years prior  and were of the tetraploid variety “State Fair”.  I was surprised with the bi-color pattern to many of them and the wide variety of subtle colors revealed.  This year’s planting should expand upon that.

The seed I planted last year was originally from three individually saved flowers and planted in separate rows.  Seed from one of these lines germinated with several plants showing yellow cotelydons.  The zinnias emerging this year from that line are also showing this characteristic.  These young plants start out vigorously, but fail to develop true leaves due to their inability to carry out photosynthesis.  Here is what they look like:

Zinnia cotelydons of "State Fair" heritage