Below, please find many of the articles published in The Bulletin, January/February 2012. A printed copy of The Bulletin is available at Club meetings.
Article #1 Venus Flytrap
Article #2 Noxious Invasive Weeds
Article #3 Corn Gluten
Article #4 Compact Herbs For Indoor Growing or Window Boxes
Article #5 Fertilizer Build Up in Soils
Article #6 Lonicera caerulea also known as Haskap
Article #7 Growing Strawberries Indoors
Article #8 Asimina triloba aka Paw Paw
Article #9 Safflower new discovery for 2 major health issues
Article #10 Bay Laurel Laurus nobilis
Article #11 Bing Cherries
Article #1 Venus Flytrap
Dionaea muscipula (Venus Flytrap) is a carnivorous plant that catches and digests animal prey, mostly insects and arachnids. Its trapping structure is formed by the terminal portion of each of the plant’s leaves and is triggered by tiny hairs on their surfaces. The requirement of redundant triggering in this mechanism serves as a safeguard against a waste of energy in trapping objects with no nutritional value.
Dionea is a monotypic genus (only one species), closely related to the waterwheel plant (Aldrovanda vesiculosa) and sundews (Drosera), all of which belong to the family Droseraceae.
The Venus Flytrap is a small plant whose structure can be described as a rosette of four to seven leaves, which arise from a short subterranean stem that is actually a bulb-like object. Each stem reaches a maximum size of about three to ten centimeters, depending on the time of the year; longer leaves with robust traps are usually formed after flowering.
Flytraps that have more than 7 leaves are colonies formed by rosettes that have divided beneath the ground.
The leaf blade is divided into two regions; a flat, heart-shaped photosynthesis capable petiole, and a pair of terminal lobes hinged at the midrib, forming the trap which is the true leaf. The upper surface of these lobes contains red anthocyanin pigments and its edges secrete mucilage. The lobes exhibit rapid plant movements, snapping shut when stimulated by prey. The trapping mechanism is tripped when prey contacts one of the three hair-like trichomes that are found on the upper surface of each of the lobes. The trapping mechanism is so specialized that it can distinguish between living prey and non-prey stimuli such as falling raindrops; two trigger hairs must be touched in succession within 20 seconds of each other or one hair touched twice in rapid succession, whereupon the lobes of the trap will snap shut in about .1 seconds. The edges of the lobes are fringed by stiff hair-like protrusions or cilia, which mesh together and prevent large prey from escaping.
Scientists are currently unsure about the evolutionary history of the Venus flytrap; however they have made hypotheses that the flytrap evolved from Drosera (Sundews).
When grown from seed, plants take around four to five years to reach maturity and will live for 20 to 30 years if cultivated in the right conditions.
Article #2 Noxious Invasive Weeds
Berteroa incana (Hoary Alyssum) is a plant in the mustard family, Brassicaceae. It grows from a deep taproot and is an annual, biennial or short-lived perennial herbaceous plant with alternate, simple gray-green leaves.
The foliage is rough with star shaped hairs. Young plants have a basal rosette of leaves that give rise to upright stems with simple, alternate leaves. The leaves are longer than wide. The flowers are white, numerous and arranged into racemes, though they appear to be clustered at the ends of the stems. The flowers have four petals that are deeply notched.
This invasive weed is starting to be an invader in alfalfa crops and grows from 1-2-1/2’ tall. This weed can be toxic to horses if it comprises 30% or more of their diet. As the seeds are prolific and rapidly spreads, especially if transported in hay crops, larger areas of BC are being populated.
Hand pulling or digging the weed can be very effective for small infestations but should be done before there are seed pods. Mowing is not a good control option as the plants tend to start growing flat along the ground.
Black Medic (Medicago lupulina)
Type: Broadleaf annual or short-lived perennial.
Size: 1-2 feet tall, 1 foot wide
Where it grows: Poor, dry soil in full sun
Appearance: Clover-type leaves and small, yellow flowers
Control: Mulch to prevent it in gardens; pull plants by hand or use a post-emergence herbicide. Discourage it by keeping soil well watered and amended with organic matter (such as compost)
Pulling: Most young weeds can be pulled from the soil. They will slide out most easily if you pull them when the soil is wet. Getting the root up is crucial, so think of the main stem as the root's handle, and grasp it as close to the soil line as you can. If you find that the weeds are breaking off at the crown as you pull, slip a kitchen fork, dandelion weeder, or similar tool under the weed, and pry and twist as you pull it up. Let pulled weeds bake in the sun for a day or so before composting them. If pulled weeds are holding mature seeds, compost them separately in a hot, moist pile before using this compost in the garden.
Creeping Charlie (Glechoma hederacea)
Type: Broadleaf perennial
Size: 4 inches tall, several feet wide
Where it grows: Shady lawn, landscape, or garden areas
Appearance: Groundcover with scalloped leaves and clusters of purple flowers in late spring. Creeping Charlie is a perennial, evergreen weed in the mint family. A native of Europe, it spreads by seeds and rhizomes. It prefers moist, shady areas, but can tolerate sun.
Control: Mulch garden areas in spring to prevent it; pull plants by hand or spray with a post-emergence herbicide in spring or fall.
While creeping charlie weed is considered a broadleaf weed, it is not affected by all broadleaf spectrum herbicides. The only weed killers that are successful at killing creeping charlie are weed killers that contain dicamba. Even dicamba is only successful if applied several times at the right time.
In order to kill it, you must apply dicamba based herbicide to your lawn in early fall when creeping charlie plant is growing most actively which will leave it weakened enough so that it will have a difficult time surviving the winter. You can also apply in the late spring to early summer, but late spring to early summer applications will stall rather than eradicate this pest in your lawn.
Also, only apply dicamba herbicide 3 days after mowing and do not mow for 3 days after applying it. This will allow the creeping charlie to grow more leaves, which will cause it to take in more herbicide and then will allow time for the herbicide to work through the plant’s system.
It may not surprise you to learn that this plant was imported from Europe as a medicinal plant. Creeping charlie's medici-nal qualities have been known since at least the days of ancient Greece and Rome. Galen, for instance, recommended creeping charlie for inflamed eyes, and English herbalist, John Gerard (1545-1607) recommended ground ivy for ringing in the ears, according to Botanical.com. The same source reports the medicinal properties of ground ivy as being "diuretic, astringent, tonic and gently stimulant. Useful in kidney diseases and for indigestion".
It wasn't only as a healing herb that perennial ground ivy was prized, it was also one of the principal herbs used by the early Saxons to clarify their beers, before hops had been introduced, the leaves being steeped in the hot liquor. Hence the names it has also borne; Alehoof and Tunhoof. It not only improved the flavour and keeping qualities of the beer, but rendered it clearer. Until the reign of Henry VIII it was in general use for this purpose.
This invasive weed is now found all across the country, except in the Rocky Mountain states. It spreads by rhizomes and seeds, and forms thick mats in the lawn.
Article #3 Corn Gluten
Powdered herbicides made from corn gluten keep crabgrass and other weed seeds from germinating and growing. They are typically spread on established lawns, but they also can be used in gardens where no seeds will be planted, such as in perennial beds. As the corn gluten degrades, it provides a small amount of nitrogen to the soil.
Crabgrass begins to germinate at about the time that azaleas, dogwoods, and forsythias bloom, so spread corn gluten at that time for best results. Application procedures vary with the particular product; be sure to read and follow the directions on the label. Do not use corn gluten in newly seeded lawns, or in garden beds where you plan to sow seeds.
Article #4 Compact Herbs for Indoor Growing or Window Boxes
HERBS … They look good, taste great and smell wonderful! Herbs make ordinary meals spectacular, sprinkled over an omelet, soup or salad, mixed in with basically any type of food. The added bonus – it is easy to grow indoors or outdoors.
Over the years many new variety of herbs have been introduced, some have been hybridized especially to grow indoors in small spaces. Listed below are some that should be given space on your windowsill.
Chives ‘Grolau’ (Allium schoenoprasum). It has quite a strong flavour and thick, dark green leaves. Developed for forcing and grows from 8 to 12 inches in height. Seeds germinate in 10 to 14 days.
Fernleaf Dill (Anethum graveolens). This is a dwarf form of dill, growing to 18 inches in height. This variety has extremely short internodes (distance between leaves) so you get a lot of beautiful leaves. This variety is easy to germinate from seed, taking 7 to 14 days.
Corsican Mint (Mentha requienii). This is a mint species native to Corsica, Sardinia, France and Italy. It grows to 4" in height. This is the main ingredient in making crème de menthe. Sturdy enough to plant in walk-ways where it also benefits from a drier habitat. Will mold if given too much water.
Greek Oregano (Origanum vulgare hirtum). This variety is especially well known for original Mediterranean cuisine, has superb flavour and white flowers (sometimes confused with another variety that has pink flowers). The white flowered variety has excellent flavour and can be grown in pots, reaching 8 to 12 inches in height. Germinates in 7 to 21 days from seed.
Broadleaf Thyme (Plectranthus amboinicus or Coleus amboinicus). This thyme is also known as Spanish thyme or Cuban oregano. The leaves are broad and fleshy, not anything like ordinary thyme. The flavour is a combination of thyme and oregano which makes it useful in many types of foods. This variety never goes dormant, reaches 10 to 12 inches in height. Look for plants at your local nursery as this variety cannot be seeded.
Vietnamese Coriander (Polygonum odoratum also known as Persicaria odorata) This is not a true coriander, but a great imitation as it regrows after cutting. You still get the great coriander flavour without having to reseed over and over again. This variety grows from 4 to 8 inches in height and should be propagated from cuttings.
Blue Boy Rosemary (Rosmarinus). This variety is more compact than its cousins, reaching 24 inches. It flowers freely and has great flavour. Must be purchased initially as a plant, then simply take cuttings to refresh your pots.
Dwarf Garden Sage (Salvia compacta). This variety has smaller leaves is a compact habit, growing only to 10 inches high. Has the same sage flavour as its counterparts. This variety also must be propagated from cuttings as seeds are not available.
Article #5 Fertilizer Build Up in Soils
In an article titled ‘Fertilizers, Removing The p in NPK’ written in the September/October issue of The Bulletin, I made mention of the fact that fertilizer companies were lowering and removing the Phosphorous in some fertilizers to stop run off water creating algae blooms in ponds and waterways.
Now I have heard that lime has also contributed to build ups in soil to the detriment of plants.
In an article titled, ‘Concerns Over Lime Treated Soil’ by Heidi Fisher, she states that lime build up in soil is causing a lot of problems for heritage plantings.
"It doesn't take much to alter soil pH to an irreparable degree. In more extreme cases where pH has drifted beyond a natural degree of more than 9.5, more thorough action is needed to provide a suitable substrate to support ornamental plantings. Removal and importation of quality topsoil is generally the recommendation. Unnaturally high alkalinity as a result of lime treatment can subject plantings to nutritional deficiencies that wear on plant health and appearance. More so of concern than pH alteration would be the compacted nature and cemented soil structure resulting from lime treatment. Impaired drainage could result in waterlogged conditions suffocating to roots and conducive to disease. Roots would not readily grow into this compacted soil."
It takes 3 years to show. What makes identifying the problem somewhat complex is the fact that it may take three full years to see the whole picture of total effects from any lime applied on a field. If too much is used, it is not normally noticeable in the first year. In fact, if some lime was really needed, but substantially less than was spread, improvements will be most evident in the first year. But by the third year, when problems from any excess will then be most evident, many growers have already forgotten the possible long-term effects of the limestone application, and tend to place the blame elsewhere (on weather, fertilizer, seed, and so on).
As a result of this, plants starve over many years and eventually die off.
When you take into consideration extremely large plantings done say 80 to 100 years ago, it would be almost impossible, financially, to replace soil to the depths that would be required.
What is even more impossible, is to replace these plantings as most are not available in the marketplace 100 years later.
Moral of the story … be careful of amounts you use. Follow the package directions and do not add more ‘just in case’. Remember that nitrogen leaches out of the soil but phosphorus and potassium do not so only replace what your plantings have used up.
How do you determine what has been used up? Soil testing. You may think that is expensive to do, but is it more expen-sive than digging out all existing soil in your flower beds and replacing it with new topsoil? Is it more expensive that replacing all your shrubs, trees and perennials because they will not recover from phosphorous, potassium or lime buildup that have stressed the plants so much there is nothing you can do to rejuvenate the plant and save it. Even taking cuttings from stressed plants doesn’t work because the cuttings will not root properly.
Article #6 Lonicera caerulea also known as Haskap
Last year I wrote a small paragraph about this new introduction to the small fruit world, but at the time plants were not available, well this year will change that. The plants will be available at most nurseries and in the next few years, once commercial plantings have matured, the fruit should be available in retail outlets.
Now, to give you some information about this new star. Lonicera caerulea, also known as Blue-berried Honeysuckle or Sweet-berry Honeysuckle, is a honeysuckle native throughout the cool temperate Northern Hemisphere. A co-operative in Saskatchewan has been hybridizing this variety for better production and berry size/flavour. They have called their fruit ‘Haskap’. The name ‘Haskap’ is an ancient Japanese name of the Ainu people. Another common name for this plant is ‘honeyberry’.
It is a deciduous globe shaped shrub growing to 1.5-2 m tall. The leaves are opposite, oval, 3-8 cm long and 1-3 cm broad, glau-cous green, with a slightly waxy texture. The flowers are yellowish-white, 12-16 mm long, with five equal lobes; they are produced in pairs on the shoots. The fruit is a blue berry about 1 cm in diameter.
There are nine varieites which have been treated as subspecies. They all begin with the same name Lonicera caerulea but with a variety name as well. They are:
- var. altaica from Northern Asia
- var. caerulea from Europe
- var. cauriana from Western North America
- var. dependens from Central Asia
- var. edulis from Eastern Asia & Russia
- var emphyllocalyx aka Haskap from Eastern Asia
- var. kamtschatica from Northeastern Asia
- var. pallasii from Northern Asia and Northeastern Europe
- var. villosa from Eastern North America
Russia has the longest history of collecting from the wild and breeding this crop and as their variety has the longest fruit, it has been used as breeding stock for almost all the new introductions. The University of Saskatchewan breeding program is also using var. emphyllocalyx and var. villosa as well as the Russian variety.
The fruit of blue-berried honeysuckle have been described as similar to raspberries, blueberries, black currants, or saskatoon berries. Bad ones can taste grassy or bitter (like tonic water). However, even the good ones will taste bad if eaten too early.
The skins simply disintegrate which has caused some ex-citement amongst ice cream and smoothie makers. The fruit also turns dairy products into a bright purple-red. It can make excellent wine, similar to grape or cherry wine. The wine will be a rich burgundy colour. Its juice has perhaps a 10 to 15x more concentrated color than cranberry juice.
This fruit can be substituted in almost any berry fruit recipe, especially blueberry recipes with some adjustment for sweetness as honeyberries are sweeter than blueberries.
The exciting fact for organic gardeners is that Honeyberries have no significant diseases or organisms identified that attack the fruit, other than birds ingesting them.
Plants should be buried to at least 4" above the stem showing in the pots. This allows the plants to branch out from below ground level. Use a transplant solution (5-15-5) when planting to allow the plant to establish and get a healthy root system quickly. Using a higher nitrogen fertilizer will make it put out too many leaves and branches before the root system is established and will be detrimental to the plant.
The bushes are compact so can be used for hedgerows and would be incredible for edible landscapes.
Lonicera caerulea prefer a range of between 5 and 8 in the pH scale and require high organic matter, well drained soil and lots of sunlight for optimum productivity. Their hardiness zone is 1, so will be perfect for most Canadian gardens.
Fruits start to ripen approximately two weeks before strawberries. New plants will start producing minimally in the 2nd year and full production with heavy crops can be expected in the 4th to 5th year.
Article #7 Growing Strawberries Indoors
Strawberries are the highlight of my summer. Every spring I know June is just around the corner and that means so are strawberries. Now, with the introduction of day neutral varieties, strawberry season has extended from June until frost. Using day neutral varieties, for the last two years I have harvested strawberries as late as the end of November from hanging baskets on my patio. So, is there a way to push the envelope even further? Of course! Grow strawberries indoors during the winter months, but only if it can be done without breaking my bank account.
I have spent the last two months researching ways I could do this reasonably. I found several articles that really helped so I have condensed and combined them. If you wish to read these articles in their entirety just go to the website addresses I have quoted at the bottom of this article.
First a few details you need to know in order to grow strawberries successfully during the off-season.
- Strawberries are members of the Rose family (Rosaceae, genus Fragaria) which also includes other fragrant and flavourful species such as apples, pears, plums and cherries. As strawberries are ‘aggregate fruit" and not really berries, they must be picked at full ripeness, as they cannot ripen once picked.
- Strawberries require at least six hours of light each day so to grow them indoors you need natural or artificial lighting for 6 hours.
- Strawberries are shallow rooted so you can grow them in any type of containers. The amount of space required depends on how many strawberries you wish to harvest, from an entire roomful to a windowsill full.
- My personal preference is a moss hanging basket full of day-neutral strawberry plants. The beauty of a moss basket is you can renew your plants by anchoring the runners to the outside of the basket allowing them to root. They can be moved to a light source easily. Also harvesting is done standing up rather than bending over, think about that!
- Strawberries prefer a slightly sandy soil with a pH between 5.6 and 6.3.
- Watering – strawberries require a moist medium but not too wet. Fertilize every 10 days with half strength fertilizer.
- Temperature has a major influence on strawberry physiology and can override day length as the control mechanism for flowering. If temperatures drop too low, vegetative growth is inhibited causing poor flower and fruit formation. Conversely if temperatures are too high, strawberry plants will wilt and stop producing flowers and fruit. Temperature also affects the flavour and sugar content.
If you don’t have a window with a southern exposure, you will need to invest in artificial lighting and you will be surprised at how reasonably this can be done. There are grow light bulbs now that can be put into any track lighting fixture, floor lamp or clip on fixture.
A Kelvin rating is based on "the rising sun" and a Sun-Blaster bulb with 6400 Kelvin is giving you a 2PM temperature. This means that it is ideal for the gardening enthusiast as it contains the perfect temperature and lighting spectrum to start your seedlings, initiate faster rooting time on cuttings, assist in supplying long-term lighting for mothering plants and valuable supplementary lighting for flowering plants. State-of-the-art electronic, compact fluorescent bulbs are the smallest sized full-spectrum, energy saving lights available. These 13 watt or 26 watt compact fluorescent bulbs fit into a variety of light fixtures such as table lamps, wall sconces and track lights. These bulbs are cost effective replacing your high-wattage, short-lived incandescent bulbs. Full spectrum compact fluorescent bulbs 6400 Kelvin, provide natural color comparable to sunlight, increases visual activity and reduces eye fatigue. These bulbs are excellent for indoor greenhouse applications, where the suns natural light is not available. Use 6400K for growth & 2700K for budding or flowering stages.
When planting strawberries, remember:
- If they are bare root plants, soak the roots in cold water for about ten minutes, keeping the roots moist while planting. Do not expose the roots to sunlight.
- Ensure the crown of the plant is well above your growing medium as the crown requires light and fresh air – the crown is where new leaves and flowers emerge from. If the crown is placed too low in the growing medium, the crown will rot causing the entire plant to die.
- Strawberries are not really berries or fruit in the "botanical" sense (i.e., the end result of a fertilized plant ovum). A strawberry is actually an "aggregate fruit" — the "real" fruit are the objects we think of as the "strawberry seed" (properly called "achenes") which are fruits in the same way that a raw sunflower seed with it's tough shell is a fruit. The "berry" is actually an "enlarged receptacle" and is not reproductive material. As a result, strawberries must be picked at full ripeness, as they cannot ripen once picked.
Pawpaws are reliably hardy in zone 5 and a native of North America, Asimina triloba is a member of a largely tropical plant family (the Annonaceae) that includes the soursop, sweetsop and the custard apple.
The pawpaw is native to the Eastern, Southern, and Midwestern United States and adjacent southernmost Ontario, Canada, from New York west to eastern Nebraska, and south to northern Florida and eastern Texas. The pawpaw is a patch-forming (clonal) understory tree found in well-drained, deep, fertile bottom-land and hilly upland habitat, with large, simple leaves and large fruits, the largest edible fruit indigenous to the United States.
Asimina triloba has numerous other often very local common names, at least historically, including: wild banana, prairie banana, Indiana banana, Hoosier banana, West Virginia banana, Kansas banana, Kentucky banana, Michigan banana, Missouri banana, the poor man’s banana, Ozark banana, and banango. The leaves of the species are simple, alternate and spirally arranged, entire, deciduous, obovate-lanceolate, 10-12 inches (25–30 cm) long, 4-5 inches (10–13 cm) broad, and wedge-shaped at the base, with an acute apex and an entire margin, with the midrib and primary veins prominent. The petioles are short and stout, with a prominent adaxial groove. Stipules are lacking. When bruised, the leaves have a disagreeable odor similar to a green bell pepper. In autumn the leaves are a rusty yellow, which make spotting pawpaw groves possible from a long distance.
Pawpaw flowers are perfect, about 1-2 inches (3–5 cm) across, rich red-purple or maroon when mature, with three sepals and six petals. The flowers are produced in early spring at the same time as or slightly before the new leaves appear, and have a faint yeasty smell. Pawpaw flowers are insect-pollinated, but fruit production is sometimes limited if few if any pollinators are attracted to the flower's faint, or sometimes nonexistent scent.
The disagreeable-smelling leaves, twigs, and bark of pawpaws contain natural insecticides known as acetogenins. Pawpaw leaves and twigs are seldom consumed by rabbits, deer, or goats, or by many insects. However, mules have been seen eating pawpaw leaves in Maryland.
Larvae of the zebra swallowtail (Eurytides marcellus), a butterfly, feed exclusively on young leaves of Asimina triloba and various other pawpaw (Asimina) species. Chemicals in the pawpaw leaves confer protection from predators throughout the butterfly's life, as trace amounts of acetogenins remain present, making them unpalatable to birds and other predators.
The bark of pawpaw trees contains other acetogenins, including asimin, asiminacin and asiminecin, which have been shown to be potent inhibitors of mitochondrial NADH:ubiquinone oxidoreductase, making A. triloba a promising source of pesticide and anti-tumour compounds.
In the United States, the species has a NatureServe national conservation rank of N5 (Very Common), but is considered a threatened species in New York, and an endangered species in New Jersey.
In Canada, where the species is found only in portions of southern Ontario, it has a NatureServe national conservation rank of N3 (Vulnerable), and a NatureServe subnational conservation rank of S3 (Vulnerable) in Ontario. The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources has given the species a general status of "Sensitive", and its populations there are monitored.
In areas in which deer populations are dense, pawpaws ap-pear to be becoming more abundant locally, since the deer avoid them but consume seedlings of most other woody plants
The earliest documented mention of pawpaws is in the 1541 report of the Spanish de Soto expedition, who found Native Americans cultivating it east of the Mississippi River. Chilled pawpaw fruit was a favorite dessert of George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson planted it at Monticello, his home in Virginia. The Lewis and Clark Expedition sometimes subsisted on pawpaws during their travels.
A unique tropical looking small tree of grace, function and form. Harvests of 25kg of sweet avocodo sized vitamin packed vanilla pudding/banana/strawberry/mango tasting fruits are great for eating out of hand, used in custards, pies and even wine. Grows to 10 meters tall with half the spread. Great for a small orchard. Why have people never heard of this amazing fruit? In one word - transport. The fruits are too soft to withstand shipping, and bruising the peel (which does not bruise the "custard" within) gives off a very strong odor of perfectly ripe pineapple which may be a bit intimidating in our bland supermarkets.
Besides its value as a fruit tree, and host to an interesting butterfly larva, the pawpaw is an attractive tree that matures at the height of lilacs, and is therefore well-suited for planting beneath electrical or telephone wires without fear of damage from falling branches. Big, healthy drooping leaves and gold fall colours add to the general interest.
Pollination Unusual, drooping reddish-brown flowers open before ex-pansion of the foliage in the spring. They are of little ornamental value. Pawpaws are protogynous, that is, the stigma (female part) ripens before the anthers (pollen-bearing), and is self-incompatible. Therefore, two tree are required in order for fruit to be produced. The natural pollinators (flies and beetles) are not particularly efficient, and hand-held pollination with a paint brush is important for good fruit set.
Article #9 Safflower new discovery for 2 major health issues
Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius L.) is a highly branched, herbaceous, thistle-like annual. It is commercially cultivated for vegetable oil extracted from the seeds. Plants are 30 to 150 cm tall with globular flower heads having yellow, orange or red flowers. Each branch will usually have from one to five flower heads containing 15 to 20 seeds per head. Safflower is native to arid environments having seasonal rain. It grows a deep taproot which enables it to thrive in such environments.
Traditionally, the crop was grown for its seeds, and used for colouring and flavouring foods, in medicines, and making red (carthamin) and yellow dyes, especially before cheaper aniline dyes became available. For the last fifty years or so, the plant has been cultivated mainly for the vegetable oil extracted from its seeds. In April 2007 it was reported that genetically modified saf-flower has been bred to create insulin. The pharmaceutical company SemBioSys Genetics is currently using transgenic safflower plants to produce human insulin as the global demand for the hormone grows. Safflower-derived human insulin is currently in the PI/II trials on human test subjects. Safflower oil is the main ingredient in the SafSlim product that has been featured on Dr. Oz’s show for reducing tummy fat without exercising or dieting. This product is made from non GMO safflower plants.
Phytosterols - According to MayoClinic.com, an excess amount of visceral fat, which is a type of fat that accumulates in the abdomen and between the spaces of the organs, may lead to health complications such as heart disease, type II diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, breast cancer and colorectal cancer. Safflower oil contains a compound known as phytosterols that may reduce the risk of certain cardiovascular diseases, such as coronary artery disease and heart attack. A study published in the June 2002 edition of "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" discovered that phytosterols significantly reduce the amount of cholesterols humans absorb, thereby controlling the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Safflower oil contains omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, otherwise known as PUFAs. Although PUFAs are similar to saturated fats in terms of caloric value, they impact the health quite differently as they contain heart-healthy properties essential for lowering cholesterol levels. Furthermore, PUFAs reduce insulin resistance, which is associated with belly fat.
Safflower seed oil is flavourless and coloruless, and nutritionally similar to sunflower oil. It is used mainly in cosmetics and as a cooking oil, in salad dressing, and for the production of margarine. It may also be taken as a nutritional supplement. INCI nomenclature is Carthamus tinctorius.
There are two types of safflower that produce different kinds of oil: one high in monounsaturated fatty acid (oleic acid) and the other high in polyunsaturated fatty acid (linoleic acid). Currently the predominant edible oil market is for the former, which is
lower in saturates than olive oil, for example. The latter is used in painting in the place of linseed oil, particularly with white, as it does not have the yellow tint which linseed oil possesses.
Safflower seed is also used quite commonly as an alternative to sunflower seed in birdfeeders, as squirrels do not like the taste of it. Editors Note: Local birds are not crazy about this seed either, other than pidgeons and turkeys, they love it.
Safflower flowers are occasionally used in cooking as a cheaper substitute for saffron, and are thus sometimes re-ferred to as "bastard saffron." Lana is a strain of Safflower that grows in the southwestern United States, most notably Arizona and New Mexico.
In colouring textiles, safflower's dried flowers are used as a natural textile dye. Natural dyes derived from plants are not widely used in industry but they are getting more important world wide because of naturality and fashion trends. The pigment in safflower is benzoquinone-based Carthamin, so it is one of the quinone-type natural dyes. It is a direct dye (CI Natural Red 26) and soluble. Yellow, mustard, khaki, olive green or even red colours can be obtained on textiles, but it is used mostly for yellow colours. All natural fibres, such as cotton, wool, etc. may be dyed with this plant since it may be classified as a direct dye.
Safflower concentrate is an ingredient of the carbonated soft drink Tizer and some types of Sunkist.
Dried Safflower flowers are used in Traditional Chinese medicine to alleviate pain, increase circulation, and reduce bruising. They are included in herbal remedies for menstrual pain and minor physical trauma.
Safflower is one of humanity's oldest crops. Chemical analysis of ancient Egyptian textiles dated to the Twelfth dynasty identified dyes made from safflower, and garlands made from safflowers were found in the tomb of the pharaoh Tutankhamun. John Chadwick reports that the Greek name for safflower occurs many times in Linear B tablets, distinguished into two kinds: a white safflower, which is measured, and red which is weighed. "The explanation is that there are two parts of the plant which can be used; the pale seeds and the red florets."
Safflower was also known as carthamine in the nineteenth century. It is a minor crop today, with about 600,000 tons being produced commercially in more than sixty countries worldwide. India, United States, and Mexico are the leading producers, with Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, China, Argentina and Australia accounting for most of the remainder.
Other names include Sallflower, Beni, Chimichanga, or Carthamus Tinctorius.
The safflower, an annual plant, is native to a climate with a long dry season and a limited rainy season. Its defenses are very poor against numerous fungal diseases in rainy conditions, after its seedling stage. This greatly restricts the areas in which it can be grown commercially around the globe. The plant is also very susceptible to frost injury.
Article #10 Bay Laurel Laurus nobilis
The bay laurel (Laurus nobilis) also known as sweet bay, bay tree, true laurel, Grecian laurel, laurel tree, or simply laurel, is an aromatic evergreen tree or large shrub with green, glossy leaves, native to the Mediterranean region. It is the source of the bay leaf used in cooking. Under the simpler name ‘laurel’, Laurus nobilis figures prominently in classical Greek, Roman and Biblical culture.
Other plants sometimes referred to as ‘bay’ are the California bay laurel (Umbellularia) and the West Indian Bay (Pimenta racemosa).
The laurel is unisexual, with male and female flowers on separate plants. Each flower is pale yellow-green, about 1 cm diameter and they are born in pairs beside a leaf. The leaves are 6-12 cm ong and 2-4 cm broad, with a characteristic finely serrated and wrinkled margin. The fruit is a small, shiny black berry about 1 cm long.
The most abundant essential oil found in laurel is cineole, also called eucalyptol. Both essential and fatty oils are present in the fruit. The fruit is pressed and water-extracted to obtain these products. The fruit contains up to 30% fatty oils and about 1% essential oils.
The plant is the source of several popular spices used in a wide variety of recipes, particularly among Mediterranean cuisines. Most commonly, the aromatic leaves are used, fresh or dried. For cooking purposes, whole bay leaves have a long shelf life of about one year, under normal temperature and humidity. Bay leaves are used almost exclusively as flavour agents during the food preparation stage; even when cooked, whole bay leaves can be sharp and abrasive enough to damage internal organs, so they are typically removed from dishes before serving, unless used as a simple garnish.
Ground bay leaves, however, can be ingested safely and are often used in soups and stocks, as well as being a common addition to a Bloody mary. Dried laurel berries and pressed leaf oil can both be used as robust spices, and even the wood can be burnt for strong smoke flavouring.
In massage therapy, the essential oil of bay laurel is reputed to alleviate arthritis and rheumatism, while in aromatherapy it is used to treat earaches and high blood pressure. A traditional folk remedy for rashes caused by poison ivy, poison oak and stinging nettle is a poultice soaked in boiled bay leaves.
The chemical compound lauroside B isolated from Laurus nobilis, is an inhibitor of human melanoma (skin cancer) cell proliferation at high concentrations.
The bay laurel can succeed in any kind of soil that is moder-ately fertile and well watered, though it tends to grow best in soils that retain moisture and are well drained. The bay laurel can also grow without problems in all types of dry soils but prefers exposure to full sunlight but can also grow well in sites with light shade. Bay laurel plants are fairly resistant to high winds, however the plants suffer if exposed to extreme maritime weather or cold dry winds for long periods of time.
Young bay laurel plants may need protection from the cold during severe winters and the plant is not fully hardy in all areas of temperate countries such as Britain. In a dormant state, bay laurel plants are reliably hardy to temperatures of about –5oC and can withstand occasional lows of up to –15oC (such low temperatures may lead to the defoliation of the tree but the tree usually recovers and brings forth new leaves late in the spring or by the summer.
Plant botanists call Laurus nobilis angustifolia, Syn. ‘Calicifolia’ a little hardier and possesses similar aromatic qualities.
Bay laurel trees are strongly resistant to all insect pests and plant diseases.
Propagation can be done in three basic ways, by layering, sowing seeds or by taking cuttings from individual plants.
The ideal time to sow the seeds is in the spring. Seeds are ideally sown in moist, but definitely not water saturated seed compost. When seeds are sown, the seeds must be placed on the surface of the coompost and lightly covered using dry compost (this stops the seed from rotting before it germinates). The seed tray must then be placed in the dark and kept ideally at about 21oC for germination to occur. Germination time is normally about three to four weeks but sometimes can take as long as three months to sprout.
Stem cuttings can be done late in the summer and even ear-ly in the fall. Propagating this plant from cuttings is rather hard and successful growth using cuttings is not easy to achieve. To get the best cuttings, cut ripe shoots in lengths of 9-15 cm, using a knife. The cutting must also include part of the main stem (a heel). Once the shoots have been cut to the desired length, they must be trimmed so only three or four leaves stay on the shoot. The cutting can then be planted in a small pot filled with potting compost. Date the cutting and keep it out of direct sunlight. A heat mat will increase the rooting process and a propagation dome will increase the humidity to encourage rooting.
Layering is the third way of propagating plants. Bend each stem down to the ground then use a penknife and make a small cut in the stem in the spot touching the soil. The cut region of the bent stem can then be covered with some soil and secured in the soil using stones or it can be held in place with landscape staples. The cut region of the stem will give off shoots in six to twelve months if the process has been correctly carried out. Bay laurel plants are ideally layered during the spring season.
Article #11 Bing Cherries
Bing is a cultivar of the wild or sweet cherry (Prunus avium) that originated in the Pacific Northwest, in what is now Milwaukie, Oregon, United States. The Bing remains a major cultivar in Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia. It is the most produced variety of sweet cherry in the United States.
History: The cultivar was created as a crossbred graft from the Republican cherry in 1875 by Oregon horticulturist Seth Lewelling and his Manchurian Chinese foreman Ah Bing, for whom the cultivar is named.
Ah Bing was reportedly born in China and immigrated to the U.S. in about 1855. He worked as a foreman in the Lewelling family fruit orchards in Milwaukie for about 35 years, super-vising other workers and caring for trees. He went back to China in 1889 for a visit. Due to the restrictions of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 he never returned to the United States.
Bing cherries are used almost exclusively for fresh market. Bings are large, dark and firm cherries that ship well, but will crack open if exposed to rain near harvest. A wet climate is required for the harvest of the bing cherry.
Health: Bing cherries are high in antioxidants. A study by the United States Department of Agriculture has shown that fresh Bing cherries may help sufferers of arthritis and gout. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns that these are yet unproven claims.