I’ve continued to shoot timelapse video of the various veggies we grow in the garden. Here’s one more from last fall, of some sugar snap peas. They grew so fast I had to shoot twice a day! I was blown away by the origami-like way each pair of leaves unfolds as the vines grow, and the branching tendrils that whip out and grab on to whatever they can find. You might also notice some sudden changes in early September: we had a brutal heat wave that almost killed the plants. Some quick thinking and an old kid-sized umbrella saved them from total destruction. Not all of the plants survived, but the ones that made it produced crunchy pods as sweet as candy. Will definitely grow these again!
My dear friend Eric Rodenbeck has been experimenting with creating his own homemade inks and paints from natural materials. Some of the inks mysteriously change in texture, and even color, as they dry. After months of looking at Eric’s paintings, I was intensely curious to see how these changes would look as they were happening. So, of course, I had to shoot some timelapse footage.
The inks I used here are hibiscus + lemon (pale red), hibiscus + orange peel (magenta), carrot greens + alum (yellow), and a sprinkling of sea salt for texture. Time span: about 1 hour.
If you pay close attention, something really strange happens about 11 seconds in to the video, when I added some yellow ink: wherever the yellow mixes with the magenta, the mixture turns a deep bluish green! What is going on there?
It turns out that hibiscus gets its color from a type of pigment called an anthocyanin, whose structure and color are pH-sensitive. In an acidic environment, it’s red, but when exposed to an alkaline it turns blue. Since the yellow ink is alkaline, it turns the red hibiscus blue on contact, which then mixes with the ink’s yellow pigment, becoming a lovely vibrant green.
One minor success of our summer garden has been the pepper plants. They haven’t produced a lot of peppers, but the ones they’ve made have been crispy and super sweet. Apologies for the shaky camera – it was hard to keep a steady viewpoint with the phone poised on a head of fast-growing lettuce. (Memo to self: maybe use a monopod next time?)
This season I got a head start on the garden, and also started branching out with some interesting-sounding seed packets from local growers. One herb I absolutely love, but have only ever seen in Japanese food, is shiso leaf. I wanted to see if we could grow it here, and what else we could do with it besides roll it in sushi. So far it’s been a raging success: a ridiculous number of sprouts have come up, seemingly twice as many as the seeds I planted. The leaves are gorgeous and super aromatic. Really looking forward to seeing what we can make out of this later in the year!
Our new hand-built garden enclosure seems to be doing its job perfectly: we used wire mesh (or hardware cloth as the pros call it) with 1/2″ holes, too small for rats and mice to crawl through, but still plenty of room for the bees that have been happily pollinating our cucumber flowers.
Vegetable gardening and timelapse photography turn out to be an amazingly good match, because they both seem to make me pay attention to tiny details that would otherwise escape my notice. I never thought much about male and female flowers before, but on this gherkin plant it’s really obvious which ones are which: the males have pointy petals, and the females come equipped with a proto-fruit, ready for seed. Much less obvious is how they behave after pollination: some fruits grow, some shrivel up immediately, and others grow for a while, and then seem to give up halfway and start shrinking again. (I’ve read that this last case is what happens when there are some fertilized seeds, but not enough to fill the entire fruit.)
Here’s that big gherkin from the timelapse above. It was delicious.
I’m blown away by how fast the gherkin plant has grown. In just a few weeks’ time it exploded to ten times its original size, and it hasn’t stopped. On a hot day it can grow 2 inches taller. So far the tree rats have left it alone– our lettuce was not so lucky– but with fruit like this on the vine, I don’t know how long they’ll be able to resist it.
Some dear friends gifted us a garden starter kit with tons of herbs and vegetables to grow from seed. The gherkins are growing like crazy! Here’s a super rough timelapse of about two weeks of growth.
It’s a shame my generation has so badly overused the word “awesome”, because we no longer have a word for something as genuinely awe-inspiring as this. Watch it full-screen if you can.
The “How to Make a Baby” festival tour continues, starting this coming Saturday with the first annual Stop Motion Film Festival in Los Angeles. This is the first festival I’ve heard of that’s dedicated entirely to stop motion animation. It’s in a tiny venue (55 seats!) in Echo Park, so if you’re in LA and love the medium, be sure to get there early! Here’s the whole schedule for the next few months:
- August 28, 2010: Stop Motion Film Festival (Los Angeles, California)
- September 17-19, 2010: Route 66 International Film Festival (Springfield, Illinois)
- September 30, 2010: Chicago REEL Shorts Festival (Chicago, Illinois)
- October 7, 2010: Tacoma Film Festival (Tacoma, Washington)
As always, you can see the rest of the schedule on the festivals page.
The DFF was such an overwhelmingly fun experience, it got us completely hooked on the film festival buzz. So over the past month I’ve been submitting “How to Make a Baby” to various festivals, and we’re starting to hear back from some of them. One of them, the Santa Barbara Minute Film Festival, is right around the corner! It’s happening on Saturday, May 1st at 8pm at the Faulkner Gallery (40 East Anapamu Street) in Santa Barbara, California. I won’t be able to make it to the event in person, unfortunately, but if you happen to be in the area, stop by the screening and let me know how it goes!