Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Wild Cranberry Harvest

October is cranberry season! And in the dunes of Cape Cod, you can find wild cranberries growing in abundance. They grow in the swampy, boggy valleys between high dunes. And they're one of 2 crops native to the salty, sandy soils of New England (blueberries are the other one).

A 19th century ship captain was the first person to grow cranberries for his own use. Why would he want to do that? Because the berries are high in vitamin C, which prevents a disease called scurvy—something a lot of sailors used to get because they didn't have access to fresh fruits when they were out on long sea voyages. The ship captain grew cranberries, and brought them aboard his ship in barrels.

Most people buy cranberries at the supermarket that are harvested from giant commercial cranberry farmers. But we picked them wild in Provincetown, MA two weekends ago. There were so many of them we could hardly carry our full baskets out!

You can read more about wild cranberries in my article in Odyssey magazine:

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

City Science Kids Reporting from Provincetown, Cape Cod

Last weekend, we found this absolutely massive mushroom in the sand dunes of Provincetown, Cape Cod in Massachusetts, where we were picking wild cranberries (more about that later).

This mushroom looks like some kind of bolete (although we don't know for certain). Surprised that mushrooms can grow in the sand? So were we the first time we encountered them—last year, in fact, when we were picking wild cranberries in this same spot. It was our guess that some of the mushrooms we saw were fungal partners for the cranberry bushes. That is, mushrooms that help the cranberries to grow and in return, get sugars and other nutrients from the cranberry bushes.

There's so much scientists still don't know about mushrooms, even scientists who study them all the time. You can learn a little about mushrooms from this past episode of CSK. And from this article I wrote for the magazine Odyssey about mushrooms that glow. Check them out!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Summer is Over! Time to Think About...Your Garden?!?

With gardens in both city and country starting to die back for the oncoming winter, let's revisit this City Science Kids episode from the archive: A Garden Gets Ready for Winter.

What are you and your family doing to get your garden—and yourselves—ready for the cold months ahead?