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05 Dec 2019

History Of Rosemary – Learn About Rosemary Herbal Uses


Cultivated for over 5,000 years, rosemary plant history is understandably steeped in legend, myth and folklore. Rosemary herbal uses run the gamut of medicinal remedies, culinary delights or even as a love charm. It’s really no wonder why its stimulating aroma and flavor has continued to enchant people for centuries.

History of Rosemary

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) has been used medicinally dating back to the ancient Greeks and Romans in 500 B.C. Dried sprigs of rosemary even showed up in Egyptian tombs from 3,000 B.C. Discorides, a contemporary of both Pliny the Elder and Galen, also wrote of rosemary in his opus De Materia Medica, the gold standard about the use and identification of medicinal herbs for 1,400 years.

Rosemary was cultivated by the Spanish in the 13th century where it became a popular condiment for salted meats from the 15th to 18th centuries. Actually, I suspect it was used less as a condiment and more to disguise the less than pleasant odor and flavor of rotting meat.

Its genus name, Rosmarinus, is derived from the Latin for “dew” (ros) and “belonging to the sea” (marinus) in reference to the warm Mediterranean region of its origin. The common name of rosemary is, of course, derived from the genus name but with a twist. Legend has it that the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus, as she fled from Egypt, sheltered next to a rosemary bush. She threw her blue cape onto the bush and the white flowers turned blue. Because of this, the herb has long been called “rose of Mary” even if the blooms look nothing like a rose but are rather more like the mint flowers to which rosemary is related.

Additional Rosemary Plant History

Rosemary is associated with remembrance. Its earliest use was probably by Greek students. They braided garlands of the aromatic herb into their hair, which is where rosemary’s other common name “herb of crowns” comes from. I do something like this whenever I trim my rosemary – stick the herb into my sweaty, messy hair. I can’t recall if it helps my memory, but it sure does improve upon my aroma.

Rosemary is also symbolic of fidelity or, to put more romantically, love. During the Middle Ages, a bride would wear rosemary in her headpiece and the groom and guests would wear a sprig as well. Really prosperous wedding goers might receive a rosemary branch gilt in gold. The newlyweds would plant rosemary on their wedding day in the hopes that it would be a good omen for their future.

It was said if a person tapped another with a sprig of rosemary with an open bloom, they would fall in love. Rosemary was also incorporated into doll’s clothes to attract lovers. From all of these folkloric traditions arose the concept that rosemary was a love charm.

Rosemary Herbal Uses

Rosemary’s medicinal history spans centuries and was probably first used for respiratory issues. During the 13th century, the Queen of Hungary apparently was paralyzed, but a concoction of rosemary and wine fixed her right up. For years thereafter, the concoction was used to cure baldness and dandruff as well as other skin ailments. Rosemary was placed under one’s pillow to prevent nightmares and was hung outside homes to thwart evil spirits. Of course, rosemary was also used between the sheets to repel moths.

By the 16th century, the marital rosemary planted with such hope by the aforementioned newlyweds was being yanked out by husbands. Due no doubt to an old common saying “where rosemary flourishes, the lady rules” that basically meant women, not men, ruled the home. We have three rosemary bushes, just saying.

In successive years, rosemary was used to treat the Plague, melancholy, gout, epilepsy, arthritis and many other ills. Today, the herb is still used by many as a tea to treat sore throats, head colds and to freshen bad breath. Rosemary is often used in cooking, but that isn’t the herbs only use. The aromatic essential oil derived from the plant is found in many toiletry products. In fact, a food preservative derived from the herb is used in cosmetics and plastic food packaging.

From love potions to plastic packaging, rosemary has come a long way. Who knows what uses we’ll find for the herb in the coming years. Maybe scientists will discover that rosemary oil is a new biofuel. Could happen.



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20 Nov 2019

Succulents You See Them Everywhere Indoors


All types of succulent plants, you see them everywhere. In dish gardens, terrariums, pots, planters, on patios, even in modern foundation plantings. 

Succulents are plants without frills, geared to modern living. Functional plants that can stand today’s rapid pace.

If you are too rushed to water them, they fall back on their own reserve supply. 

Learn more about Watering Succulents from the Bottom.

If your air-conditioned room is too dry, it reminds them of their native warm-temperate or semi-desert home. If the children swoosh by too close, the pieces often root where they fall.

There are hundreds of different succulents. 

From tiny button sizes, you can grow in 1” inch pots to trees too tall to fit into a conservatory. 

But, beware. Once you fall under the succulent spell, you may find yourself searching for rare varieties to add for your collection. 

Dedicated fanciers hunt for succulents in nursery catalogs native to South Africa, Madagascar, and Mexico.

Growing Succulents No Green Thumb Required

Growing succulents does not require you to have a green thumb. Plant them in any good potting soil. Although we recommend a soil mix for succulents

If you mix your own, use a sandy loam and add some clean, coarse sand, and coarse leafmold or peat moss. 

Strive for an open, porous compost through which water will drain freely. 

Heavy soils drown plants by holding too much water around the roots. If the succulent potting soil is damp, don’t water the plants right away. 

And when you do water during the first few weeks, give them only a little so the soil will dry out again quickly. Healthy new roots start best in soil that is almost dry.

Spread out the roots and pot plants firmly. When using individual pots, small ones are best at the start. Later, as the plants grow, you can transfer them to larger containers.

Succulents Good For Decorations

Dish gardens of succulents make good decorations. For the best effect plant, many kinds close together in each dish. 

The bowls or dishes used for planting are usually glazed pottery without drainage holes, and excess water can escape only through evaporation. 

So never soak the soil. 

Give enough water to keep the plants plump but not enough to induce much top growth. Actually, the plants should be on the dry side most of the time.

Succulents enjoy the same light geraniums do. They want the sun, so don’t put them too far away from the window. Windowsills are perfect for cactus and succulents.

If you intend to succulents on tables where there is no direct light, keep them on the dry side – hardly water them at all – and they will keep in good condition.

Succulents To Consider For Your Collection

Here are some succulents you will want for your collection. You can see a number of them in full color throughout this article.

Agave striata (echinoides) – a dwarf century plant. Its many narrow stiff leaves have white threads on the margins. Young plants spring from the soil near the base. The tall, slender flower spike has inconspicuous flowers.

Aloe humilis – forms small, compact rosette clusters. Most aloes are from Africa and vary from small 3-inch rosettes to tall trees.

Aloe brevifolia – thick, blue-gray leaf rosettes covered with blunt prickles. Flowers are bright red on tall, slender spikes. Young plants grow around the base.

Aloe variegata – an old favorite called tiger or partridge breast aloe. The stiff, triangular, keeled leaves – pale green, blotched, and margined with white – grow in rosettes. In late winter, short spikes of slender, brilliant red bells appear.

Variegated Tiger Aloe with bloom stalk

Bryophyllum – also known as Kalanchoe. Produces many young plantlets at its leaf crenations.

Crassula argentea tricolor –  the sturdy, tricolored, jade plant. It will grow into a good-sized bush with a thick trunk, but small plants are more common.

Echeveria elegans  – commonly called Mexican snowball. It has thick, blue-white leaves in compact rosettes and spikes of fleshy pink bells. Grows in hot, dry places and is useful in dish gardens or carpet bedding outdoors.

Echeveria elegans growing in full sun in the landscape

Echeveria gibbiflora metallica  – a large rosette often a foot in diameter. Has bronzy-red leaves and a tall single stem that bears a spike of pale red flowers.

Echeveria pallida –  a Mexican plant with pale green leaves forming quite a large rosette. The flower spike is 2’ feet long with many bright red bells.

Echeveria setosa – commonly called Mexican firecracker. Leaves are covered with white hairs, and flowers, on short spikes, are bright red and yellow.

Echeveria sets the Mexican Firecracker with the fuzzy bristles on the leaves

Faucaria tigrina – called tiger jaws. This African succulent has thick green rosettes, each leaf white-flecked and rimmed with teeth.

Tiger's Jaw Faucaria succulent showing off it's yellow flower

Large, bright yellow flowers appear in autumn.

Gasteria verrucosa – a South African plant with thick leathery leaves, lying in one plane, covered with glossy white bosses, bears tall flower spikes with slender bright red bells.

Graptopetalum paraguayense – ghost plant. This handsome, long-lived species grows more beautiful with age. The stems of the mature plants tipped with their rosettes of thick, pink-white leaves, bend gracefully. The ghost plant thrives under adverse conditions.

Haworthia margaritifera – pearl haworthia. Handsome, and easily grown, it has a small rosette of thick, deep green leaves with many white bosses on the backs. Haworthia papillosa is larger and has larger bosses.

potted Haworthia zebra cactus (fasciata)
Potted Haworthia plants

Huernia pillansi – cockleburs, a member of the milkweed family, closely related to the starfish flowers.

Flowers of Huernia succulent planl

It belongs to a curious group of African plants called ‘dragon flowers’ because their blossoms are open mouthed. This is the only one that bears soft, hairlike prickles.

Kalanchoe marmorata – readily recognized as the pen wiper plant by its heavily mottled purple leaves. It forms a tall plant topped with a cluster of white flowers.

Kalanchoe synsepala – from Madagascar, has large obovate leaves of dark green. Flower spikes have thickly packed heads of pale pink blossoms. Produces stiff slender runners with young plants at the tips.

Kalanchoe tomentosa – panda plant. A fine plant from Madagascar. The leaves, densely covered with silvery wool, turn rich cocoa-brown at the leaf crenations.

Kalanchoe tomentosa - panda plant a well known variety

Pachyphytum oviferum –  thick, white-powdered ovate leaves that turn violet-pink during cold weather.

Details on Pachyphytum Compactum

Sansevieria – rugged plants that will do well under the most adverse conditions. There are many kinds, and the most popular is striped with yellow.

Sansevieria plants growing on a windowsill

Sedum rubrotinctum –  (S. guatemalense). This quick-growing species is very useful. Given poor soil and full sun, its leaves turn bright red; in richer soil and with more water, leaves turn bright, shiny green.

Close up of Sedum rubrotinctum - Jelly bean succulent

Sedum pachyphyllum – red tips. Has pretty yellow blossoms. If kept dry and in full sun, the leaves turn violet-rose tipped with red.



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05 Nov 2019

Learn About Upcycling Drawbacks And Benefits


Upcycling is kind of similar to recycling in that you are reusing an item. But with recycling, an item is often broken down in some way, making it less than it was before, whereas upcycling is just as the name suggests…taking an item “up” a notch and making it something more than it was before. While the benefits of living a sustainable lifestyle and repurposing our waste are being beaten into us, others see an awful lot of upcycling drawbacks. So, in order to provide the best information possible, we must include both sides – the pros and cons of garden upcycling.

Upcycling Pros – Reasons to Upcycle in the Garden

(Nikki’s viewpoint) I love to upcycle, especially in the garden. Why? Let me count the ways, as the benefits of garden upcycling are bountiful, and anyone can reap from these rewards.

Saves money and reduces waste. This should just be a given. It doesn’t cost much at all to improve upon something, but it will get costly having to haul it off to the landfill. Take my son’s old truck bed liner, for example. This large eyesore could have costed us some money hauling it off to the dump, but why spend money when you don’t have to? With some drainage holes and the addition of some beautiful plants, this became the foundation for a backyard tropical oasis instead. Same thing for those huge truck tires. Some paint, some plants and some ingenuity, and an attractive dinosaur garden was created. Simple things like this can greatly reduce waste in landfills and beyond.

Great chance to be creative. Upcycling in the garden also gives you the chance to let those creative juices flow. Don’t have a creative bone? Yes, you do. Everyone does. Don’t overthink it too much. You can make upcycling as simple or complex as your artistic abilities can handle. Got an old terra cotta container that’s cracked or broken and ready to be tossed? Give it new life and another purpose as part of a fairy garden. How about those wine bottles piling up? Sure, you could haul them to the recycling center, but why not turn them into unique edging or create a bottle tree with them instead? Anything goes – it’s your creation.

Visually pleasing conversation piece. Taking something used up, broken or downright ugly and sprucing it up into something beautiful and purposeful in the garden can be a visually appealing asset to the garden. It can also become an interesting conversation piece. I once took an old desk and refurbished it into a unique planter. Many people have commented on it as they pass by. I also have a teapot turned planter/wind chime combo – a gift my daughter-in-law made. Dresser drawers have found new life housing plants in the garden after a previous life storing clothes.

Preserves precious mementos. Another reason to upcycle in the garden is preserving memories, or maybe even history. I have old rain boots from my daughter and toys that once belonged to my son. They’re grown now, but these trinkets can be found amongst the plants in the garden, some even spilling out their own flora. Each time I’m out there, it brings me joy, as those fond memories of their childhood antics live on in a different way.

Cons of Garden Upcycling – Gardening Upcycling Drawbacks

(Amy’s viewpoint) I know that upcycling is supposed to result in turning our trash into something useful or even beautiful, but too often the results look pretty disastrous, pretty much like the rubbish they started off as. And that isn’t my only upcycling beef.

Upcycled items cannot always be recycled. Upcycling is touted as an extension of recycling. It is changing or customizing an item to reuse in a different way than what the item was intended for. Okay, that sounds pretty good, but the fact is that sometimes the objects that have been upcycled can no longer be recycled. For instance, if you upcycle toilet paper rolls and transform them into holiday napkin rings but in the process painted them with toxic paints and rolled them in glitter, are they still recyclable? I think not.

Most are not attractive and return to junkyard. Many of the dearths of projects for upcycling that can be found seem to be, well, pretty crappy, either designed for children or those without an iota of artistic talent or taste for that matter. Once you’ve created your upcycled masterpiece and realize it’s a piece of crap, what do you plan to do with it? How long are you going to hang onto it before it finds its way into the trash bin? The concern here is that upcycling becomes less of a green, sustainable activity and instead just a delay to the landfill.

There better ways to reduce waste. Really, when I think about it, the major upcycling negative is that it depends on our failure to reduce our use of things we now have to upcycle. For instance, is it really saving the planet by upcycling plastic bottles into feeders or planters? A better idea might be to quit drinking soda.

Acquiring more “junk” material is never ending. Also, it’s likely that the crafty upcycler will still buy new stuff, which is sort of a non-renewable idea. We often buy stuff just because we want it, not because we need it, which I guess perversely for the upcycling proponent just means more usable upcyclable material. In the end, I see upcycling as a rather twisted excuse.

Weighing the Garden Upcycling Negatives Against the Pros

You may agree with some of the upcycling negatives presented here but, overall, the benefits of garden upcycling seem to far outweigh any drawbacks. Sure, if you want to save the planet by minimizing your footprint, you can use less and be mindful about the things you purchase. If everyone gave a second thought before impulsively buying, there would be little need for activities like garden upcycling, let alone recycling. But that’s not realistic. There will always be “stuff,” much of which ends up in landfills or backyards taking up space and cluttering the environment. Recycling is great, but if you can put a creative spin to some of these items and find other uses for them in the garden, what’s wrong with that?



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21 Oct 2019

The Rare Mother In Law Tongue Flower


Snake plant (Sansevieria) is also known as mother-in-law’s tongue. 

Most people don’t realize this rugged, ubiquitous houseplant (Sansevieria trifasciata) can sometimes flower. 

This is a rare occasion and will never happen more often than once annually, usually in the springtime, and usually only with plants living outdoors year-round.

Does Anything Special Need To Be Done With The Flower Or Plant?

You’re sure to have seen Mother-in-Laws Tongue or Snake Plants in public settings and on your grandma’s windowsill. 

These plants multiply quickly and can withstand a great deal of neglect. 

Neglect is what can often spur the plant to bloom.

When these plants are left to their resources, with little water and plenty of light, they spread quickly and can very rapidly become root-bound. 

This is what often stimulates the plant to bloom.

The reason for this is neglect gives the plant the message it is going to die from drought. 

This motivates it to produce flowers (seeds) to spread and hopefully take root and thrive.

Favorite Snake Plant Varieties

What Does The Flower Look Like, And How Big Does It Get?

When it does bloom, the flowers grow along with tall flower spikes or stalks. 

These spikes grow as tall as 3’ feet high and are covered in small, honeysuckle-like greenish, cream, or white flowers. 

Does It Have A Fragrance?

The blossoms are richly fragrant at night and contain very sweet, sticky nectar, which appears as dew drops on the blossom stems. 

Blossoms close during the daytime and open after dark. 

How Long Do Snake Plants Flowers Last?

There is no information available regarding how long the blooms will last. When they do die back, be sure to prune the flower stalks off at the base to help the plant conserve energy and present a tidier appearance. 

Can The Flower Be Used In Flower Arrangements?

Although these flowers are showy, they are typically not sturdy enough to be used in flower arrangements. 

Enjoy them where they are. 

Does The Plant Die After Flowering? 

Sansevieria will not die after flowering. The blossoms transition into orange berries.

Here is a Snake Plant which surprised its keeper with blooms indoors. 

Here is Mother in Law tongue plant blooming abundantly outdoors in tropical India. 



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06 Oct 2019

5 Surprising Ways to Grow Potatoes


For years, I lived in an upstairs apartment with no garden. I wanted, no, I needed to be able to grow my own fresh veggies and herbs. While the space lacked a garden proper, it did have lots of exterior stairs that happened to be situated in full sun. So, as they say, ‘necessity is the mother of invention,’ and those stairs became my garden where I grew everything from tomatoes to potatoes. Yes, you heard me correctly, even potatoes. In fact, there are a number of surprising ways to grow potatoes and here are five of them.

1. Grow potatoes in containers. The traditional way to grow potatoes in the garden is by using the trench and hill method. This requires a good amount of garden space, but since I lacked that commodity, I thought what do potatoes really need? They need some depth…so why not container grow them in a fairly deep pot, but not one that is overwhelmingly huge – such as 5-gallon pickle bucket. Any large bucket will work, it just so happened that I worked in a restaurant at the time and it was free and readily available.

2. Grow potatoes in baskets or tires. Growing potatoes in a bucket is just one way to contain the plant. I have read of one person who grew potatoes in a laundry basket! They can be grown in vertically piled up old tires or even in a sheet of heavy black plastic that is rolled into a tube with holes cut along the sides. Old garbage cans also make great potato growing containers.

3. Grow potatoes in a bag. Potatoes can even be grown in sacks or grocery bags or grow bags. Just place the sprouted potatoes in amongst some nice light nutrient-rich soil. As the potatoes grow, continue to cover or hill them with more of the soil.

4. Grow potatoes in straw. Spuds can also be grown in straw, which eliminates digging them from the dirt. This method begets clean easily grown potatoes and the straw will just become mulch in the garden. The seed potatoes are planted on the soil’s surface and then covered with straw. As the plants grow, more straw is added to cover. A similar method can be employed with leaves too.

5. Grow potatoes vertically. The most amazing way to grow potatoes generates a double whammy – that is, you produce not only potatoes but tomatoes as well. Growing the TomTato is a great space saver. A TomTato is a grafting of the top of a cherry tomato to the bottom of a white potato plant. It is a single plant that produces two different crops and is a terrific space saver, as it can be grown vertically. Hands down the coolest idea I’ve seen for a while! You can also grow them vertically in a potato tower.



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21 Sep 2019

Streptocarpus – The Cape Primrose


A well-grown Streptocarpus (cape primrose) is a joy. The many hybrids provide pleasing colors and dashing combinations in shades of crimson, pink, blue, violet and white. 

Contrasting lines and blotches of vibrant colors radiate from the throats of the flowers to add interest. 

These fuzzy-leaved plants are related to Saintpaulias (African violets), Columneas and gloxinias – all of them members of the gesneriad family. 

The natural habitat of streptocarpus is principally in Africa and Madagascar. There they grow in cool, humid, wooded mountain ravines where sheltered humus provides moisture for the roots.

The word streptocarpus is not as puzzling as it looks. It is a combination of two Greek words, streptos (twisted) and karpus (seed pod). The twisted seed capsule, on most varieties, is longer than a toothpick and nearly as thin.

The First Streptocarpus Arrives

The first streptocarpus species collected was brought from the African estate of George Rex, and it bloomed in England’s Kew Gardens in 1826. 

This gloxinia-like little plant received a generous welcome and was soon named Streptocarpus rexii. It develops compact rosettes of fluted, dark green leaves. 

From the axils of these come six to eight-inch stems, each holding one or two tubular flowers of rich blue. Today, this species figures in the background of many outstanding hybrids, such as the Weismoors, and is still grown by collectors.

At least two species of streptocarpus, S. wendlandii and S. grandis, develop only one large leaf. It matures in a year or more when numerous flowering stems come from the base of the strong mid-vein of the leaf. 

These individual leaves may grow to two or three feet in length when the plant is given abundant moisture. 

I experienced this when growing S. wendlandii in a specially prepared border north of my house. 

Even the width of the leaf was 12” inches. Imagine the problem encountered at potting-up time before frost! 

I solved the dilemma by using a large pot and placing it on a table on the porch where the leaf could rest in its natural position. 

However, now I am growing S. wendlandii and S. grandis in four-inch pots and the leaf measures about 18” by eight inches, and they seem content in this size pot. 

S. grandis has a leaf of lighter green than that of S. wendlandii, and it is thinner. 

These streptocarpus are annuals – they bloom once, then die.

The Leafy Stem Cape Primrose Streptocarpus

Another streptocarpus group is composed of species with erect, leafy stems. 

The most familiar is Steptocarpus saxorum, seeds of which were brought to the United States from Tanganyika (present-day Tanzania) by L. J. Brass of Florida in 1950. 

It is easily grown and propagated. 

I’ve grow it in an east window and even in a south window during winter while the sun is far south. The sun brings out the dainty blue flowers, each held by its own wiry, three-inch, red-black stem. 

When these appear in profusion, they are suggestive of arms reaching out to wave blue flags all around the plant. 

Streptocarpus saxorum is a branching plant with a multitude of stems. The largest individual leaves are slightly less than an inch long, and about one-half inch wide. 

They are succulent and hairy. Stem cuttings root well in vermiculite, in a mixture of peat moss and sand, or in a combination of peat and perlite. 

Streptocarpus kirkii of this group has branched stems and heart-shaped leaves about 1 ½” inches in diameter. Each flower stem may hold as many as 25 or more light blue blossoms.

Propagation

Cape primrose may be propagated by seeds or cuttings just as easily as African violets. 

Also, the same soil African Violet soil mixture may be used. 

Good drainage is necessary, but the soil should never dry out or the leaf edges will turn brown. Streptocarpus resent air that is excessively hot and dry. 

In the window garden, it helps to set them on a surface of moist sand, peat moss or perlite.

S. rexii and the other hybrids may be grown at cooler temperatures than are usually provided for African violets and gloxinias – down to 50° degrees Fahrenheit at night. 

Give them plenty of sun in winter. 

The one-leaf species, S. wendlandii and S. grandis, have done well for me in a wide range of conditions, seeming to thrive best with a moist atmosphere, and a temperature range of 62° to 75° degrees Fahrenheit in the winter. 

S. saxorum needs warmth, some sunlight and high humidity.

I have found streptocarpus valuable in my outdoor garden during warm weather. 

The roots seem to appreciate the opportunity to meander deeply into moist leaf mold. Early morning and late afternoon sun promote compact growth and profuse flowering. 

Watering is done with a flared hose nozzle, and on extremely hot days the plants are cooled by the hose several times a day. 

During the summer, streptocarpus outdoors relish the dew, rain and cool night air. 

By Florence Knock





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06 Sep 2019

What Is Breadfruit: Where Does Breadfruit Come From


Sometimes we don’t give certain foods a culinary chance and the reason for our aversion can be unjustified. Breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis) is a classic example for me. How do you prepare your taste buds for something with a weird name like that? Is it fruit that tastes like bread? Smells like bread? Looks like bread? All of the above? And, at the time, I wasn’t sure an affirmative response to any of those questions was a good thing, so I lost my gumption to try it. But now, after researching and writing about the history of breadfruit, I am quite fascinated by it, so go ahead and serve me a slice! For starters, did you know that breadfruit is associated with a famous mutiny? It’s true! Read on to learn more!

What is Breadfruit?

Breadfruit trees are grown throughout the tropical regions of the world. A member of the mulberry family, breadfruit can grow upwards of 85 feet (26 m.) tall with each tree producing up to 200 large round, oval or oblong fruits per year. Each individual fruit has a skin texture that is smooth, bumpy or spiked and can weigh a hefty 12 pounds (5 kg.).

Breadfruit is ripe when it is firm with skin having a greenish-yellow cast and flesh that is soft and creamy white or yellow. Breadfruit is typically roasted, baked, fried or boiled before being consumed. While breadfruit is actually a fruit, it is regarded more as a vegetable from a culinary standpoint. The taste of breadfruit is somewhat hard to pin down depending on individual palates, how it’s prepared and even the ripeness of the fruit, but the texture and taste is most commonly likened to that of a potato, artichoke hearts or a grainy bread.

Breadfruit seems to have endless culinary possibilities given that it can be used as a substitute for potatoes in many recipes. And, some culinary creativity may be in order because some people feel that the taste of breadfruit is quite bland. The riper your breadfruit is, the sweeter it will be, as more of the starches will have converted to sugar, but it will never be as sweet as a mango or papaya, for instance. While the name of breadfruit probably alludes more to its taste than anything else, the case can be made that it resembles or smells like freshly baked bread in its roasted or sliced and fried forms.

History of Breadfruit

So where does breadfruit come from? Breadfruit has been a staple crop in Oceania for more than 3,000 years. It originated in New Guinea and the Indo-Malay region. Islanders carried breadfruit on their early voyages throughout the Pacific Islands as they colonized the region, contributing to its spread.

The spread of breadfruit beyond the Oceanic region can be credited to Britain. In the late 1700’s, Britain was seeking a cheap high energy food source for the slaves in the British West Indies, particularly for those in Jamaica working the island’s sugar plantations. It was during this time, circa 1768, that Captain James Cook and botanist Sir Joseph Banks were in Tahiti as part of a three-year exploratory expedition. They discovered breadfruit there and recognized its potential for resolving Britain’s dilemma, as breadfruit was a low-maintenance, fast-growing tree which yielded prolific carb-heavy fruits.

An expedition, led by Lieutenant William Bligh on the HMS Bounty, was dispatched to Tahiti in 1787 to transport breadfruit trees to the West Indies. The mission failed due to the infamous “mutiny on the Bounty” en route to West Indies from Tahiti. The lieutenant and the loyal members of his crew were cast into a small boat and all 1,015 plant specimens were thrown overboard. Lieutenant Bligh, against all odds, used his keen navigational skills to return to England where he was later promoted to Captain and commandeered a successful second expedition on board the Providence to Tahiti in 1791, which successfully delivered breadfruit plants to the Caribbean at Kingstown, St. Vincent and several paces in Jamaica.

While the breadfruit trees thrived in their new West Indies locales, the West Indians did not really embrace breadfruit and only ate them when they had no other options, which defeated the intent Britain originally had for the plants. Forty years later, however, breadfruit gained widespread acceptance in the islands. Today breadfruit is grown in close to 90 countries including Africa, Australia, South America, South and Southeast Asia. In the United States, breadfruit is grown in South Florida and Hawaii.



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22 Aug 2019

Why Does My ZZ Plant Have Yellow Leaves? [LEARN WHY]


Zamioculcas zamiifolia or the ZZ plant is a remarkably easy-care plant similar to cacti, succulents, or orchids when it comes to care.

These plants like a light, airy, breathable growing medium and they cannot tolerate wet feet.

Unlike orchids, succulents, and cacti, the ZZ plants thrives in low light settings.

You’ll have very few problems with this plant, but yellowing leaves are a common symptom which will tell you when problems are present.

There are several reasons why the leaves of your ZZ plant may begin to turn yellow.

In this article, we review the causes of this common problem and share advice to help you avoid or treat it. Read on to learn more.


Overwatering

When you overwater ZZ plants, as with most plants, root rot may ensue.

When this happens, the roots can no longer uptake nourishment properly, and this causes yellow leaves.

To determine whether overwatering is the cause of your problem, simply check your soil.

If you poke your finger into the top inch of soil, and it is wet, overwatering is likely to be your problem.

To water your ZZ’s correctly, you should allow the top 1” inch of growth medium to dry completely.

Pour water through the soil just as you would with a cactus or succulent.

Don’t allow the plant to stand in water for any significant period.

Be sure to tip any excess water out of the plant’s drainage saucer.


Under-Watering

Even though drought-resistant ZZ plants don’t need a lot of water, they do need some!

If you have neglected your plant for an extremely long time and the soil has become completely dry, your plant will suffer and will let you know with yellow leaves.

Soil feeling dry to the touch and a pot feeling abnormally light when you lift it indicates a need for water.

Give your plants a good soaking, but don’t fertilize excessively dry soil.

If you want to provide fertilizer, wait until the next appropriate watering time and use a diluted (half strength) solution.


What Is The Right Amount Of Water for A ZZ Plant?

It’s not possible to recommend a precise schedule because every situation and the setting is different.

The amount you will need to water your plant depends a great deal on some factors including:

  • Air Circulation
  • Temperature
  • Container
  • Humidity
  • Light
  • Soil

The more light, heat, and air circulation your plant receives, the more water it will need.

Dimly lit, humid; still settings will require less water.

If the soil you are using is heavier than is ideal, your plant will need less moisture.

If you have an ideal, light, airy substrate for your plant, you’ll need to water a little more often.

Generally speaking, weekly watering during the plants growing season (spring, summer, and autumn) and twice-monthly watering during the winter should be all right.


Improper Nutrition Can Cause Yellowing Leaves

Zamioculcas is hardy and undemanding, but they do need a bit of fertilizer from time-to-time.

Choose a water-soluble, balanced houseplant fertilizer and mix it up at half strength.

Apply it no more than once a month.

Fertilizing a couple of times a year (once early in the spring and once around mid-summer) is an ideal schedule.

Yellowing leaves are sometimes caused by too much nutrition or too little.

If you have been fertilizing your plant excessively, give it a rest.

Give your plant a thorough watering allowing fresh, clean water to flow through the soil for several minutes to rinse out excessive fertilizer.

If it’s been a while since you’ve repotted your ZZ, starting over again with the fresh, new potting soil will also take care of problems caused by either under fertilizing or over-fertilizing.

More on Zamioculcas zamiifolia –> Is The ZZ Plant Poisonous?


Zamioculcas Zamiifolia Is A Shady Place Plant

Another cause of yellowing leaves is excessive light.

Zamioculcas like to be in partial shade or areas with moderate indirect sunlight.

If your plant is receiving more than four hours daily of direct sunlight, it’s too much.

This will cause sunburn and yellowing leaves.

If you believe excessive light is causing your plant’s problem, naturally you should relocate it to a setting providing gentler lighting.

Alternately, if relocating the plant is not possible, you may wish to put a sheer or lace curtain over the offending window to provide some shade.


Temperature Extremes Can Cause Yellowing Leaves On Zamioculcas

ZZ plants are winter hardy in USDA hardiness zones 9 through 10.

These plants can tolerate temperatures ranging from 50° – 90° degrees Fahrenheit (10° – 32° C), but wildly fluctuating temperatures will cause the plant to suffer and the leaves to yellow.

Ideally, you should keep your plant at comfortable room temperature during the day and don’t allow the temperature to drop below 50° degrees Fahrenheit (10° C) at night.


12 Steps To Treat A ZZ Plant With Yellow Leaves

  • Begin by removing the damaged plant from its pot. This is especially true if the problem has been caused by excessive water, but a repotting into fresh soil can benefit any ailing ZZ plant.
  • Carefully shake and brush the old soil away from the plant’s root ball and throw the old soil away. If your problem is caused by root rot, you don’t want to reuse soil infected with fungus.
  • Examine the plant’s roots under good lighting. If you find any soft, mushy areas clip them away with sharp, sterilized pruning shears. Dispose of this fungus-infected tissue properly. Don’t throw it in your compost, toss it in the trash.
  • Sterilize your shears and examine the leaves and stems of the plant. Clip off any yellowed foliage. If you find yellowed stems, clip them off at the point where the stem emerges from the tuber.
  • If you have found root rot is your problem, drench the tuber and the roots thoroughly with a solution of thiophanate – methyl, or other fungicidal treatment. No matter what sort of product you choose, be sure to follow packaging directions very carefully.
  • Have a brand-new container ready. The best containers for ZZ plants provide good air circulation to the roots and tubers. The best materials are terra-cotta or hypertufa pots. Even with these porous materials, the container you choose must also have ample drainage holes.
  • Use fresh, light, airy houseplant potting mix. A good mixture is half perlite and half succulent potting mix. Put a layer of pebbles or packaging peanuts on the bottom of the pot for extra drainage. Add a layer of your potting medium. Place the plant in the container and backfill around the roots and tuber with fresh growing medium.
  • Place the recovering plant in a setting where it will remain consistently warm with low, indirect lighting for about a week. During this time, do not water. Allow the plant to stay dry so the fungicide you have applied will have a chance to work.
  • When your plant has had a week to recover from its ordeal, place it in the best setting possible. Ideally, your ZeeZee plant will be happiest with consistent temperatures between 80° – 87° degrees Fahrenheit (27° – 30° C), bright indirect lighting, and good air circulation.
  • Begin a responsible and effective watering schedule by giving your recovering plant a complete watering. Remember not to water again until the top 1″ inch of soil is dry.
  • Your plant will not need fertilizer at this time because it is in fresh soil. Depending upon the time of year, you may not need to fertilize until early in the upcoming springtime. Remember not to fertilize any more frequently than once a month, and no less than two times yearly.
  • If you are able to give your ZZ plant a vacation outdoors in the spring and summer, do so. Your plants will thrive in a protected outdoor setting providing bright, indirect natural lighting and fresh air.





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07 Aug 2019

Asbestos In The Garden: What Should You Do


Could your beautiful garden be hiding a very deadly
hazardous material? Asbestos is a well-known hazardous material that was widely
used in building construction decades ago. If your home was built before the
late 1980s, when asbestos was banned, or is a newer home built on an old home
site, asbestos could have found its way into your soil. In addition, a good
percentage of old sheds and outbuildings may have been constructed with
asbestos; even if the shed or outbuilding has been removed, asbestos could
remain.

The most common use for asbestos was in the roof,
walls and around pipes as insulation, both in homes and outbuildings. However,
asbestos was also sometimes mixed in with cement, making it very hard to
detect. Likewise, some carpet underlayment that was manufactured and installed
before the 1970s was manufactured from bags that had previously transported raw
asbestos. If old carpeting or carpet underlay has been disposed of on your
property, that is another potential source of asbestos.

What You Should Do if You Have Found
Asbestos in Your Garden

If you suspect there may be asbestos in your garden, don’t panic. The first thing you should do if you think there is asbestos in your garden is to call a professional for an asbestos test. A professional can examine any potential asbestos, and if necessary, send it to a lab to confirm whether or not it really is asbestos. The results will provide you with the knowledge you need to take the next step.

Often, if the asbestos is in good shape and is not
likely to be disturbed, it can be left alone. However, asbestos is dangerous to
both human and animal health if it’s disturbed and the fibers are released into
the atmosphere, where they can be inhaled into the lungs. It can be nearly
impossible for the average person to differentiate between asbestos and
similar-looking materials.

While as a homeowner, you can legally remove small amounts of asbestos from your property, you must follow all the safety and health measures that apply to the disposal of asbestos. If you are uncomfortable doing this yourself and are unsure of the safety procedures, it’s recommended that you call for licensed asbestos removal professionals; for example, Asbestos Removal Adelaide. Also, if you plan to tear down an old shed, it is highly advisable to have professionals check the site for asbestos before anything is removed or disturbed.

Any sort of renovation or demolition project on your
property should have an asbestos inspection before proceeding. This is
absolutely true of any type of building built during or before the 1980s, when
the use of asbestos was finally banned. If necessary, contact a professional
asbestos removal Adelaide to perform both an asbestos test, and to remove any
asbestos found anywhere on your property.

Your garden should be the most beautiful and relaxing
place on your property. Don’t let lingering doubts about asbestos spoil your
enjoyment of your home and garden.



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23 Jul 2019

What Is The Best Bougainvillea Fertilizer?


The beautiful Bougainvillea plant is a genus of tropical plants, thorny, shrub-like perennial vines of the Nyctaginaceae family.

Beautiful in a hanging basket and some growers have formed them as a bonsai.

The plants are native to South America and are available in more than 300 varieties and a wide range of colors, such as:

  • White
  • Yellow
  • Lavender
  • Orange
  • Purple
  • Red
  • Shades of pink

But, there’s an interesting and a lesser-known fact about bougainvillea plants – what are often considered flowers are modified leaves called bracts.

Since the bracts are immensely showy and encircle the tiny, white-colored real flowers, almost hiding them, they are often mistaken for flowers.

The plants have two distinctive growth cycles; a period of vegetative green growth and a growing season or blooming period.

Bougainvillea blooms are not as heavy in South Florida during the summer months (June – August) because of the long days and excessive rainfall.

Although, somewhere like Texas where it’s mostly hot and dry they grow beautifully.

Bougainvilleas are heavy feeders and need to be fertilized regularly throughout the blooming season to ensure proper production of flowers.

They grow best in warm weather and need to be protected from frost and very cold weather.

The plants are known by different names in different parts of the world.

Some alternative names for bougainvillea are:

  • Buganvilla (Spain)
  • Pokok bunga kertas (Indonesia and Malaysia)
  • Bugambilia (Mexico, Cuba, Guatemala, and the Philippines)
  • Jahanamiya (Arab World)
  • Primavera (Brazil)

Best Bougainvillea Fertilizer

A growing bougainvillea plant needs phosphate and nitrogen plant food to flower, so make sure to use a fertilizer containing these elements to ensure proper blooming.

A small amount of iron (chelated) can help your bougainvillea plants maintain their beautiful and vibrant colors.

Do not use a generalized fertilizer for bougainvillea species.

To ensure abundant flowering plants and good overall health of plants, use a balanced, slow-release fertilizer containing nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (N-P-K) in equal ratios, such as 5-5-5 or 10-10-10, and don’t forget this when repotting.

If repotting make sure you dig up as much as the root ball as possible before moving.

It is critical to use a slow-release fertilizer on this houseplant because the excessive supply of nitrogen inhibits blooming and promotes new growth to be vegetative.

Following specialty plant food fertilizers are known to work best for bougainvillea plants:

  • NutriStar
  • BOUGAIN (6-8-10)
  • Dr. Earth Exotic Blend

Many plant experts and home gardeners also recommend using a hibiscus fertilizer, if a fertilizer specially formulated for bougainvilleas is not available.

Adding about a tablespoon of Epsom salt at the time of fertilization may also be beneficial.


When or How to Fertilize Bougainvillea

Feed your bougainvillea with a fertilizer containing nitrogen and phosphate, once a month, during the bloomer period i.e., from early spring to mid-summer.

For bougainvillea vines growing in the ground, use half a cup of granular fertilizer per 4’ feet of the plant height and lightly scratch it into the soil surface using a trowel or a hand cultivator.

Plant the water thoroughly after fertilizing, if potted make sure there are good drainage holes.

Use a half-strength, liquid plant fertilizer, and water-soluble fertilizer for plants growing in containers.

Dissolve one tablespoon of fertilizer in a gallon of water and water the soil mix.

Make sure to avoid too much water as Bougainvillea bloom and grow best when the soil is kept a little dry and too much watering will lead to root rot.

Bougainvillea care tip: Do not fertilize the species of this perennial flowering vine in fall and winter, if you live in a cool area, and reduce watering to a minimum too.

If you live in the northern states, it’s too cold to grow bougainvillea in the Fall unless they’re housed in warm greenhouses

Only resume feeding when the plant is returned to the outdoor, under full sun or direct sunlight, in the following spring.

Prune any suckers grown at the base of the plant or by pinching them off to encourage more growth at the top.

This is because the plants are not winter-hardy and become semi-dormant in cold weather.

Once the plant becomes established it’s drought-tolerant and they tend to bloom year-round.

USDA hardiness zone 10 – 11.


Fertilizing Young Bougainvillea

Apply a high-nitrogen fertilizer on young plants until they have grown well and become established.

Once they are well-established and have significant vegetative growth, switch to a high-potassium fertilizer to encourage blooming.

Important: Never feed your bougainvillea plants when their root system is dry. If the soil is too dry and it’s time for fertilization, water the plant and then wait for one day before feeding.





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