A pressing point which I missed in my last post is the concept of “dry water”. I have been to many different laboratories, but never have I seen a substance as strange and fascinating as dry water. Looking like something straight out of a NASA experiment (and it probably is), dry water is a clear jelly-like substance made of cellulose and water.
As well as being weird and fun to work with, it is used to slowly deliver water to the roots of a plant. This extra boost will help newly transplanted plants survive the harsh environment long enough to take solid root. If a plant can survive the extreme winds and animals searching for sustenance, then it will eventually live long enough to become independent.
After burying this next to the plant, we put up a protective fence and dirt barrier to catch rainwater in, water it some more…
And then your baby Joshua Tree is finally all set!
The concept of physical labor is something that easily gets lost in a college environment. And while initially I had my reservations about the sheer amount of work involved in taking tools, plants and water up and down rocky hills and then using them, this was quickly overshadowed after planting my first plant. This kind of work is very rewarding in the sense that it gives you a tangible feeling of success, something you can see and touch as a physical result of your efforts. This makes the work put in all the more worth it, and it just seems so much more real than any paper or online homework ever could.
In the end we succeeded in transplanting 200 plants between these 2 past days! By this point, I feel pretty much like a planting ninja.