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Posts Tagged ‘plants’

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“A forest can feel like a place of great stillness and quiet. But if you dig a little deeper, there’s a hidden world beneath your feet as busy and complicated as a city at rush hour.

In this story, a dog introduces us to a strange creature that burrows beneath forests, building an underground network where deals are made and lives are saved (and lost) in a complex web of friendships, rivalries, and business relations. It’s a network that scientists are only just beginning to untangle and map, and it’s not only turning our understanding of forests upside down, it’s leading some researchers to rethink what it means to be intelligent. ”

Source: Radio lab and listen to the podcast here

Related article : Scientific America

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Bananas Are Berries?

By Greta Lorge

Oddballs of the produce stand, tomatoes and avocados are fruits, as most people know. Yet more often than not they’re found alongside vegetables in savory culinary preparations. Working on this issue of the magazine got me wondering what it is, exactly, that makes a fruit a fruit. It turns out that the plant world is full of strange cases of counterintuitive classification.

Botanists define a fruit as the portion of a flowering plant that develops from the ovary. It contains the seeds, protecting them and facilitating dispersal. (The definition of a vegetable is a little fuzzier: any edible part of a plant that isn’t a fruit.) Subcategories within the fruit family—citrus, berry, stonefruit or drupe (peaches, apricots), and pome (apples, pears)—are determined by which parts of the flower/ovary give rise to the skin, flesh and seeds.

Strawberries and raspberries aren’t really berries in the botanical sense. They are derived from a single flower with more than one ovary, making them an aggregate fruit. True berries are simple fruits stemming from one flower with one ovary and typically have several seeds. Tomatoes fall into this group, as do pomegranates, kiwis and—believe it or not—bananas. (Their seeds are so tiny it’s easy to forget they’re there.)

One might think that owing to their superficial similarities to stonefruits, avocados might be classified as drupes. But no, they’re actually considered a berry, too—with one, giant seed.

So, bananas are berries and raspberries aren’t. Who knew?

Source

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Tomato Beds

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“The past couple of springs I’ve written about new research  on controlling tomato viruses, from Texas A & M University, and tried their recommended methods. It didn’t control all of the virus problems, thanks to an unusually wet, cool and humid spring we had last season, but I still saw considerable improvements, and will continue with their methods this year.

The methods I use for helping to control tomato virus (often called, “the wilt.”) are as follows. First, I incorporate agricultural cornmeal into the soil early in the year and again just before planting. Whether your local feed store calls it agricultural. cornmeal, or simply ground corn feed, it’s the same thing. Texas A & M has demonstrated that pulverized corn, with some cobs and husks, it’s worked into the soil and causes the growth of beneficial bacteria which attack tomato virus in the soil. I apply 2 lbs. of cornmeal and 1 lb. of dry molasses (which studies show helps the cornmeal work better) per 12 feet of tomato row, poured on top then mixed into the soil…”

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Plant Deficiency Guide

Plant Deficiency Guide

Localfoodconnect.org.au writes…

“Identifying plant deficiencies

A useful graphic and article from the Grow Real Food website.

Another useful table and short article (pdf) on the same subject.”

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Interesting theory.

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Milkwood writes…

“Choosing the right plant for the right spot, working with its behaviours and getting it to cooperate with others can be a little difficult at times.  Before you go getting yourself a little too lost in the world of plants (actually that sounds pretty darn good) take a look at these five plant databases…”

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ecopreneurist.com writes…

A low-tech water filter system made from a branch of a tree can filter up to four liters of water per day, removing up to 99% of E. coli bacteria and producing fresh, uncontaminated, drinking water.

A team at MIT used a small piece of sapwood, which contains xylem tissue that transports sap inside the tree, to build an effective water filter that could make a big difference in places where contaminated water is the norm. By using this type of filter, rural communities may be able to solve some of their water issues in a low-cost and efficient manner.

“Today’s filtration membranes have nanoscale pores that are not something you can manufacture in a garage very easily. The idea here is that we don’t need to fabricate a membrane, because it’s easily available. You can just take a piece of wood and make a filter out of it.” – Rohit Karnik, associate professor of mechanical engineering at MIT…

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Mother earth news writes…

The following information is summarized from the introduction of The Root Development of Vegetable Cropswhich is available for free on the Holistic Agriculture Library website.

If you’re as much of a plant nerd as we are, prepare to get absorbed. John E. Weaver, an American botanist, prairie ecologist and Professor at the University of Nebraska, completed a massive project in the year ofOnion Maturing 1927. With the help of his team of assistants, Weaver meticulously illustrated the root development of 34 popular vegetable crops (see the illustration of mature onion roots, right). In the massive undertaking that was partly botanical and partly archeological, Weaver and his team dug trenches approximately 5 feet deep to study the plant’s root systems from the side. The five-foot-deep trench created a big enough expanse onto which the scientists could slowly chisel with hand picks and ice picks to uncover and carefully examine the vegetable’s complicated root systems.

This painstaking work required much patience and expertise. The plants were studied and illustrated at multiple stages of growth in order to best represent general, long-term root habits. Every plant studied was grown in sets of at least three. This was done so that an excavation performed at two weeks of growth would not affect the results of an excavation performed after six weeks or two months. Every set of fragile roots was left undisturbed until it was time to dig.

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Mother Earth News writes…

“Using these inexpensive low tunnels or “quick hoops,” you can protect plants throughout winter for a fraction of the cost of building a greenhouse.”

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