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Monthly Archives: January 2018

Palm Trees

The palm family of trees has approximately 202 genera and 2,600 species. The palms are native to tropical and subtropical climates, and commonly known palms are date, coconut, and areca nut. Known to have existed around 80 million years ago, palms are among the oldest varieties of flowering plants.

The trunks of the palm have been used since ancient times to build catamarans or special boats. Dates are harvested from palms. Palms produce coir ropes, mats, and bags, and palm oil is extracted from palms, along with palm wine.

In the US, different species of palm are native to Florida, California, Hawaii, Southern Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, and Texas. In fact, South Carolina is popularly known as the Palmetto State after the palms that line the coast.

As with all other things, many species of palm are facing extinction and are under threat from urbanisation, natural disasters, hybridization, and a lack of knowledge amongst common folk. Destruction of natural habitats, forest clearing operations, mining, clearing of mangroves, and dumping of trash are all detrimental to the survival of palms. Like other plants, palms are also prone to destruction by nature and disease.

Ornamental palms are a luxury and can cost from fifty to several hundred dollars.

Saving Seeds

Saving seeds from your own flowers or vegetables is a wonderful way to fully experience the cycle of plant growth. It’s also much less expensive than buying seeds each spring, and seeds saved from your plants will be well suited to the peculiarities of your own garden’s growing conditions. Not only that, it’s also quite a simple process.

Save seeds only from vigorous, healthy plants. Some plant diseases may be harbored in the seed where it will then be passed on to the next generation of plants. So don’t save seeds from a plant that is obviously diseased or has struggled all season. Collect seeds from the plants that have the characteristics you desire, such as height, hardiness, early or late ripening, flavor or vigor.

It is not recommended to save seeds from hybrid plants. Hybrids are the result of crossing two genetically different parent plants, both of which have been severely inbred to concentrate the desirable characteristics. The first generation, referred to as an F1 hybrid, is superior to the parents. But succeeding generations of plants grown from seed saved from an F1 plant tend to randomly revert to the characteristics of the original inbred ancestor plants.

Plants that are not hybrids are referred to as open pollinated. Many seed catalogs will identify which of their seeds are hybrids or open pollinated. If you intend to save your own seed, always start with open pollinated seeds. Some of these may also be identified as heirloom seeds. These heirloom varieties have been passed down for generations, often saved within one family for many years before becoming available to the general public.

Cross pollination is another concern for the seed-saving gardener. Cross pollination often results in seeds which have a different genetic makeup than that of the parent plant. Pumpkins, squash and small gourds may cross pollinate with each other, resulting in seeds that will grow to produce rather picturesque fruit. Sweet corn will cross pollinate with field corn or popcorn, and your 6-inch marigolds will cross with your neighbor’s 18-inch pompon marigolds. However, crossing will only occur within a species. Cucumbers won’t cross with squash, and cosmos won’t cross with pansies.

To avoid cross pollination, keep two varieties of the same species separated by as much space as possible. Some species, such as corn, are wind-pollinated and the pollen can travel great distances. These plants must be pollinated by hand and kept isolated from other varieties of their species. This can be done with corn, for example, by tying a small paper bag over selected ears before the silk emerges, then once the silk has appeared it is hand pollinated with pollen from the same plant or its healthy neighbors.

Seeds should be collected on a dry, sunny day. Frost doesn’t hurt most seed as long as the seed remains dry. Vegetables such as cucumbers, peppers and tomatoes should be allowed to become slightly overripe before their seeds are collected. Flower seeds and vegetable seed such as lettuce should be collected after the seedheads have become dry, but don’t wait too long, as many will shatter, meaning they’ll be dropped from the seedpod or seedhead if they remain on the plant too long.

Cucumber, squash and tomato seeds need an additional step before they are ready for storage. First the seeds must be separated from the pulp, then dried. Scoop the seeds from these vegetables, pulp and all. Place the whole mess in a container of water and give it a good stir, then let it settle a bit. The pulp will rise to the top while the seeds will sink to the bottom. Carefully pour off the pulp, and repeat the process until most of the pulp has been poured off. Then strain out the seeds and set them on newspapers to dry.

Seeds should go into storage as dry as possible. Give all seed a post-harvest drying period of at least a week, just to be sure they’re dry. Spread them out on a paper plate or newspapers in a warm area out of the sun while they dry.

It’s very important to keep the seed dry during storage. Store your dry seeds in tightly sealed jars, metal film containers, or old vitamin bottles. To save space, smaller quantities of several varieties of seeds can be stored in separate envelopes inside a jar. A cool, but never freezing, garage, closed-off spare room or cool basement can all be good places for storing seeds. Or simply keep your sealed jars of seeds in the refrigerator. Temperatures between 32 and 41 degrees Fahrenheit are ideal.

Be sure to label your jars and envelopes so when spring comes around again you’ll know which flower seeds and vegetable seeds you’re planting, and include the date the seeds were collected. Some seeds will remain viable for several years, but most will grow best if planted right away the following spring.

Tricks To Grow Shiitake Logs In Garden

Identifying the log

This is another important step that comprises the process of growing shiitake. For Shiitake Logs you have to identify the best and get them from hardwood trees that are freshly cut. While the specifications of logs can change, you can cut them into suitable sizes to achieve your target. There are different trees from which you can cut sections of logs for Shiitake Spawns but make sure that you consult a professional with adequate experience to know the things in entirety. Buying mushroom logs for sale is another idea on which you can rely to enhance the production. It is the quality of the log that can boost the growth of mushroom. Once you have finished the process of getting the Shiitake Mushroom Logs you will be able to grow mushrooms on them for a long time. Logs need to be left for some time to allow the fungicides to die before you move on to the next step.

Buying and stuffing the spawn

Next is the step to get shiitake mushroom spawn whether in the form of sawdust, plugs or thimbles. There are a lot of online portals selling spawns needed for shiitake mushrooms offering different strains and varied characteristics. For each log, you will need a certain number of spawns. After this, you will need to drill holes in the logs and the entire thing is to be done around the circumference of the log. You have to plug spawn in the holes. After filling the holes with spawns you have to cover them with good quality wax which is food grade such as beeswax to avoid contamination.

Keeping the logs

You have to stack the logs against something or lay them on the ground, preferably on a bed of straw. Ideally, the place in which the logs are placed must be shady. However, air circulation must be proper and if there is scanty rainfall in the area, you can keep the logs moist. As a matter of fact, this is the trickiest part of growing shiitake mushroom on the logs. You might have to go through a few steps of trial and error before getting it right.

Growth of mushroom

Finally, the shiitake mushrooms will grow on the logs within a period of six to twelve months. If you are lucky enough the production can continue until springtime. You can expect the growth for about three to four years until the cellulose of the log is consumed fully and prepare for commercial selling if you want.

Tropical Beauty

Hibiscus plants are popular in gardens and flower arrangements, since the plants produce astonishingly beautiful flowers on a tall stem. You can choose between wide range of different Hibiscus colours, including the popular red, pink, orange, violet, lavender, yellow and white variants. A Hibiscus flower can reach a size of 4-15 centimetres across and is equipped with five petals. Hibiscus leaves are toothed or lobed and have a deep green shade.

Hibiscus plants will require quite a lot of light, and a majority of the Hibiscus species origins from warm regions of the world. Most Hibiscus species will prefer to be planted where the temperature ranges from 60 to 90 degrees F during most parts of the day. These plants are tougher than many other tropical and subtropical species and will usually survive quite low temperatures as long as they are not prolonged. A cold night can for instance make the plant shed its leaves and buds, but it will survive and eventually begin to form new leaves and buds. You can keep a Hibiscus plant in areas where the temperatures drop below 50 degrees F, but these Hibiscuses will rarely flower. When it does flower, the blossoms will typically be very small and sometimes look a little weird. In a cold climate, you should not give your Hibiscus too much water since this will increase the risk of fungal infections. Temperatures below the freezing point should always be avoided.

If you take care of your Hibiscus, it will begin to produce buds. Hibiscus buds are typically big and tight. Unfortunately, Hibiscus buds are often attacked by worms and insects that can kill the entire bud. When the buds open up and begin to blossom, you can protect them from parasite attacks by regularly spraying them with water.

You can make the Hibiscus flowers last longer by providing them with water and protect them from severe heat. Heavy downpour can harm Hibiscus flowers. If the Hibiscus plant is exposed to temperatures above 95 degrees F, it can begin to drop its buds. This can sometimes be prevented by giving your Hibiscus plant a lot of water and creating some type of shade for it. The plant itself will have no problem surviving temperatures above 100 degrees F as long as it does not become dehydrated.