Monday, June 17, 2013

Twist and crop

I've given the Columbus several days to start to look as if it was going to wrap around the twine I've set up crossing the garden. Days may not sound like a long time for most plants but then for hops that's several inches growth. Here's what the Columbus looked like this morning:

As you should be able to see, it's making no real effort to wind around the twine. I guess I could leave it to flail around for longer but it would probably end up finding the maple behind rather than the path laid out for it.

You'll also be able to see that there is a second shoot coming up behind it. I've decided, being a scientist at heart, that I'm going to conduct a small experiment. According to this source, hops grow with an intrinsic handedness. As I'm going to have to wind them around the twine myself, I may as well see if I can perceive any difference between shoots from the same plant growing in either a left or right handed helix:

The source above claims that hops are intrinsically left handed. In the pic above the furthest along shoot has been wound in a right handed helix, while the one behind it is in a left handed helix (I think). You can check for yourself here. We'll see over time if there is any perceptible difference between hops forced to grow against their better instincts.

This all reminds me of this article, talking (a little pedantically if you ask me) about popular depictions of DNA using the wrong handed helix. The picture they chose to use is of course not a great representation of DNA either though. I'll leave it to the molecular biologists amongst you to decide what's wrong with that picture. I guess this is just an example of the curse of the pedantically inclined (one I have fallen foul of on plenty of occasions): you can look a little foolish if you don't get everything right if you're going to point out how others have got it wrong. It's very possible though that the author was not responsible for choosing the image.

Just to be thorough, here's where the Willamette and Cascade are in comparison, growing in what I think are the as-advertised left-handed helices:

The Cascade is the nearer one and looking as if it too will need to be trained across the garden soon. They are both looking a little thin in comparison to the Columbus though. It's hard to tell at this point whether this is normal growth and the Columbus is just exceptional or if these two are struggling.

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