Thursday, November 18, 2010

We Are Not Alone...

"The phenomenon reported is something real and not visionary or fictitious."
~General Nathan Twining

I just don't know. All this talk of aliens and stuff. I'm a believer that God created everything but I am also a firm believer that we cannot possibly ever discover everything that He created. I don't even think that's entirely necessary, and gee...we have to have something to always be on the quest for, right? We'd get bored if there wasn't.

My world is big and yet small, all at the same time. Heck, my garden alone is tiny in comparison to all there is in the world for me to discover, yet I'll never quite know or understand everything that goes on even in our little acre. Take something that's happening right this minute, for instance.

Let me back up a little bit...

A couple of weeks ago, I harvested some of the spinach that I planted early in September, or maybe it was late in August. I don't remember. But Romie told me it was good and since I never got to taste that first bit of it, and we were having some pretty nice fall weather, I decided to try planting another crop.

Looks good, doesn't it? Romie assured me it was.

I remember the winter of 2005-2006 and the spinach that never did die. We had green spinach that entire winter.  I'd just clear away the snow and there it was, crisp and fresh as ever. This time, I decided to order a frost cover from Gardener's Supply for extra protection and it came yesterday.

I took it out to the garden to cover the area where I planted the spinach, and that's when I saw "it."

The chain link fencing was laid over the planted area so the cats wouldn't dig in it.
Just what "it" was...well...that was up for debate and what better place to debate it than on Twitter. You can find out anything on Twitter. For real! Just type the question (in 140 characters or less) and let it fly. Someone will have the answer. It might not be the right one, but it sure will give you some food for thought.

So, I asked:

@ourlittleacre: WHAT on earth is this gel-like goop that formed over the rows of spinach seeds I planted?

And I immediately got responses:

@gardenfix: Hollandaise sauce?
@gabbygardener: creepy...
@MulchMaven: gel-like goop on spinach seeds? Sounds like a Wednesday post to me! ;-)
@CB4wildlife: my only thought is Praying Mantis. I watched one lay its eggs today, but that is more "foam like".  That is NOT praying mantis, that's for sure LOL
@marykir: do you use that water absorbing gel? I get stuff like that in my boxes when it rains a lot. Usually not so opaque though.


@gabbygardener: OK I am guessing, It may seed coat gel, with cooler weather is not breaking down and it is gathering at the soil surface.
@TheresaLoe: Perhaps a fungus?
@AboutInsects: Hmm. Looks to me like fruiting bodies of some kind of fungus, maybe a jelly fungus. What's it feel like? Quick to appear?

It feels like a gel, with a fair amount of body. It began appearing yesterday.

@gardenfix:  I think it might be slime mold. Fact sheet says it grows pretty quickly under moist conditions.
@AboutInsects: I'm assuming you didn't use any water retention gel beads, or potting soil with moisture control, right?


@bwisegardening: I'm thinking alien invasion...


@AboutInsects: This is kind of fun. Video from Scotland about trying to ID white jelly blobs on soil.
@gardenfix: You're not alone in being puzzled. See this -- it's just like yours:

Great minds think alike. (And use Google.)

@AboutInsects: Actually, look up "star jelly"

So, I did.

Star jelly (also called astromyxin, astral jelly, pwdr sêr, star rot, or star shot) is a gelatinous substance, which, according to folklore, is deposited on the earth during meteor showers. (Wikipedia)

@AboutInsects: Might try taking a sample to local extension office. May need a good microscope to confirm.

Somewhere around this point, the conversation started to deteriorate while at the same time making great progress, and the late night crew came to the conclusion that it was alien snot. Yep, sure looks like snot to me.

I was then urged to share this information with the rest of the internet. I mean, what if someone else has this in their garden and they need to know what it is, too? We've just saved them all that trouble of coming to the logical conclusion that highly trained tweeters took nearly an hour to figure out.

But @gardenfix, bless her heart, just wouldn't be satisfied and was still on the trail...

@gardenfix: Here's something that suggests it might be a jelly fungus:

...and @herbgardens and @nwheat chimed in with votes for slime mold and fungus.@gabbygardener stuck with her original theory of it being the natural seed coat congealing.

Alien snot got the most votes, so all day today, I was satisfied with the idea that I had alien snot in my garden. After all, we had some crop circles near here several years ago, so alien visits were nothing new. And surely it's organic, right? Perhaps it will be the perfect soil conditioner for the tough clay we have here. Maybe it's a super fertilizer and we'll have a bumper crop of spinach. In December. Or it could be that miracle ingredient that allows certain types of spinach to grow when there's snow! All thanks to aliens. Who knew?

But the story wasn't over. No sirree. I'd also posted a photo of it on my Our Little Acre Facebook page and it was there that my dreams of being visited by aliens and having them deposit precious bodily fluids on my garden like fairy dust were dashed.

My friend Joseph - Super Garden Brain College Student Joseph - shared some information:
@Joseph Tychonievich: Quoting from "The effect of excess moisture on the germination of Spinacia oleracea" by Walter Heydecker and P.I. Orphanos:

"...the fruit coat [of spinach] becomes mucilaginous within little more than an hour of contact with an excess of water"

It is actually pretty common for seeds to exude slime -- some basils, and almost all salvias do lots of it. It is variously theorized to prevent seeds from drying out, inhibit germination under excessively wet conditions, or keep things from eating the seeds.

Since the gel is in a line directly over where the seeds are planted, I would say this is exactly what is going on. @gabbygardener said this from the start. And while I find this to be very cool, although strange, I kind of liked it better when we believed it to be alien snot.

May the force be with us all.


Nutty Gnome said...

I preferred the alien snot theory!

Joseph said...

Sorry to ruin the alien snot theory... It still COULD be, I suppose. Maybe aliens just always blow their noses on wet seeds, and that's why scientists have had trouble coming to an agreement on what the seed snot is for.

barbara wise said...

I'm still.sticking to the alien story, but they are allergic to spinach

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Alien snot in the garden. Oh Kylee, you gave me my first guffaw of the day. Brilliant.

Theresa/LivingHomegrown said...

I am so, so disappointed to know that it is not, in fact, alien snot. Sniff...sniff...

Helen said...

Well whaddaya know! It's seed snot! Thanks, Joseph for straightening us out. I love a hunt, but now I won't have to hunt for that answer again.

Helen aka @gardenfix

Anonymous said...

I'm glad the mysterious substance has been identified Ms. Kylee! I think alien snot would look...well...much more alien than that anyway.

Excuse me while I go blow my nose!

Janet, The Queen of Seaford said...

You have to love the internet to allow answers to flow in. Pretty cool.

Stephanie from said...

How great to get some many responses - love Twitter!

Darla said...

You received some interesting responses here. Too funny!

panthercreekcottage said...

Another reason to tweet. And to read your great blog. Thanks for helping me ponder the amazing world of a tiny seed.

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