So ends another month... as I am in my final semester of classes I am sufficiently busy with the three courses I am taking... midterms, term projects... add in all of the grading I am doing for the course I teach, the writing I am doing for my dissertation, seminars I am attending, presentations I am making... AND I am also trying to maintain a personal life!! It has been busy, but I have enjoyed watching the leaves change colors from my office. I was really thrilled to be published in Mother Earth News, it has always been a dream of mine (Phipps Conservatory covered it as well!). Hopefully, this article helps ginseng conservation. I was also a 'Featured Fellow' in an interview for Phipps. It is always exciting talking to the wonderful people at Phipps Conservatory.
One of things I research is how areas with different histories can influence plant growth. Plants can grow differently at sites that used to be farms/surface mines/ etc. but are now forests. At my sites, which all have different histories, I study if seeds can grow/stay alive over time. At all of my sites in 2012, I took 25 ginseng seeds and mixed them in soil from the site. I then placed them in a 'seed cage.' A seed cage is just that... a cage that keeps my seeds in place! It is a 5 inch tall, 3 inch wide plastic tube section with a screen on the bottom, and a plastic screen you place on top. This allows water to move through the soil and tube, and the seeds are exposed to the physical conditions of the site. By using a seed cage, you can extract the seeds and study them years later! I put six seed cages at each of my sites, and each year, I count the number of seeds that sprouted from each seed cage. I then remove two seed cages from each site each year, so I can see how many of the seeds are still alive. Each year, at each site, I count the number of seeds that germinated, the number of seeds that are still alive, so I can track the population in this certain stage of being a seed, over time. There are a lot of seeds to keep track of each year: 2 seed cages* 12 sites *25 seeds in each cage= 576 seeds total!
Once I am back in the lab with the seed cages that have been removed from my sites, I sort out the seeds from the soil. I make up a solution that has a dye in it, and I cut the seeds in half and I stain the middle of one half of each seed. If they are living, the seed will be a certain color. I can use a dissecting microscope to look at the seeds up close so I can be as accurate as possible in determining if the seed is alive or not.
Jessica B. Turner's