20 Sep 2014

How to Grow and Care for Aloe Vera Plants

Aloe barbadensis

An Aloe Vera Plant in Bloom, Aloe barbadensis There are over 250 species of Aloes in the world, mostly native to Africa. They range in size from little one inch miniatures to massive plant colonies consisting of hundreds of 2 foot diameter plants.
Although most Aloes have some medicinal or commercial value, the most commonly known is the Aloe barbadensis... better known as the Aloe Vera.
All Aloes are semi tropical succulent plants, and may only be grown outdoors in areas where there is no chance of freezing (USDA zones 10-11). However, they make excellent house plants when they are given sufficient light. Container grown Aloe plants benefit from spending their summer outdoors. Older specimens may even bloom, producing a tall stock covered with bright colored coral flowers.
The nectar from Aloe flowers is a favorite food for hummingbirds!

Growing Requirements for Aloe Vera Plants

Because Aloe Vera plants are very succulent and consist of 95% water, they are extremely frost tender. If they are grown outdoors in warm climates, they should be planted in full sun, or light shade. The soil should be moderately fertile, and fast draining. Established plants will survive a drought quite well, but for the benefit of the plant, water should be provided.
Because of their popularity, Aloe vera plants are available at almost every garden shop or nursery. Unless you live in area with a very mild climate, it's best to leave your Aloe plant in the pot and place it near a window that gets a lot of sun.
You can move the pot outdoors during the summer months. Aloe Vera is a succulent, and as such, stores a large quantity of water within its leaves and root system. During the winter months, the plant will become somewhat dormant, and utilize very little moisture. During this period watering should be minimal. Allow the soil to become completely dry before giving the plant a cup or two of water.
During the summer months, the soil should be completely soaked, but then be allowed to dry again before re-watering. Aloes have a shallow, spreading root system so when it is time to repot choose a wide planter, rather than a deep one. Use a planter with a drainage hole, or provide a 1-2 inch layer of gravel in the bottom of the pot to ensure adequate drainage. Use a good commercial potting mix with extra perlite, granite grit, or coarse sand added. You may also use a packaged 'cacti mix' soil. Fertilize yearly, in the spring with half strength, bloom type fertilizer (10-40-10). Aloe Vera plants are propagated by removing the offsets which are produced around the base of mature plants, when they are a couple inches tall (or larger). They can also be grown from seed.

The Medicinal Properties of Aloe Vera

The medicinal properties of Aloe vera have been known and recorded since biblical times. It has been used for a variety of ailments, and as an ointment for burns, cuts, and rashes, as well as an ingredient in various beauty preparations.
The sap of the Aloe is a thick, mucilaginous gel. It is this gel which is used medicinally. The outer skin has essentially no value, but because it is commercially easier and less expensive to utilize the entire leaf, 'whole leaf' Aloe juice has been hyped as the 'best'. This is not the case.

Using Aloe Vera Gel

As to the claims of the medicinal properties of the Aloe plant, I can only speak from my personal experience. I have kept an Aloe plant around for years, primarily for burns.
In case of burns, an immediate application of fresh gel has relieved much of the pain, and prevented blistering for me, many times.
I also found it to be quite effective to relieve itching from stings, bites and various 'stinging' plants, such as poison ivy.
Aloe gel is also good for the same problems when they are encountered by your pets.
When you need to use it medicinally, just remove a lower leaf from the plant, slice it open, and apply the gel on the affected area.

How to Grow and Care for African Violets

African Violets were first collected from eastern Africa and Tasmania in the late nineteenth century. Their attractive, velvety foliage, compact growing habit and wide variety of long blooming flower colors have made the African Violet the most popular flowering house plant in the world.
There are twenty species and thousands of hybrid African Violets in cultivation today.
Unfortunately African Violets are only hardy in USDA zones 11-12 where they should be planted in moderately moist, rich, well draining soil in partial shade.

Growing Requirements of the African Violet

African violets need about fourteen hours of bright, indirect light each day for the best flowering.
It may be necessary to provide supplemental light for them by using a Gro-Light, especially during the winter months.
They should be planted in the smallest possible container because they need to be somewhat root bound to bloom.
Grow them in a rich soil mix containing 1 part potting soil, 1 part peat moss and 1 part perlite or coarse sand. If you prefer, there are also many specialty mix African Violet soils also available.
They should be fed monthly when in growth, but it must be with a fertilizer
formulated specifically for African Violets because they require a soil acidifier
and certain trace elements that aren't available with an all purpose food.
The A V food will take care of these specific needs.
The chlorine used in public water systems can be deadly to many houseplants.
This is especially true with African Violets.
Tiny the Garden Gnome
I always recommend that you fill your watering container, and let it sit for a minimum of 24 hours.
The chlorine will have dissipated by then, making it somewhat more safe for your plants.
The water will also be at room temperature, which is much less of a shock to the plant. When watering African Violets, take care to keep water off of the foliage, flowers and crown of the plant.
Bottom watering is the best method, but never leave your plants sitting in water for more than an hour or so.
This can quickly cause crown rot which is fatal.
African Violets like a great deal of humidity (40-60%) but not wet leaves and stems, so misting is not an option.
Setting the pots onto water splashed, pebble filled trays will often solve this problem, as will having an aquarium in the near proximity.
Spent flowers should be removed as soon as they begin to fade.
This will allow the plants energy to be used to produce new blossoms rather than seeds.
If you have a chance, try growing violets under fluorescent Gro-Lights.
The colors of both the flowers and foliage will become more intense and bright.
Repot your African Violet plants annually with fresh soil. It is best to only increase the pot size by an inch or so.
When you are working with African Violets use care not to touch the stems more than necessary,
because they are by far more succeptable to damage than either the leaves or roots.

Propagating African Violets

African Violets are easy to propagate by division or by using leaf cuttings.
Leaf cuttings can be struck during any season of the year,
but the winter months when the plant is less inclined to bloom seemed to work the best for me.
Prepare a cutting tray or pot by filling it with a loose mixture of peat moss and vermiculite.
Allow about 4 square inches of surface area for each cutting you intend to take.
Water the soil well to be sure that it is settled and moist.

Using a nail or small stick, make evenly spaced, slightly angled cutting holes (the same depth as the length of your stems)
Select a good healthy leaf and remove it (with stem) from the plant by reaching in as close to the crown of the plant as possible,
grasping the stem and gently twisting it until it pulls free.
With a sharp, sterile knife or razor blade, cut the stem at an slight angle (matching the angle of the leaf), 1-1 ½" from the leaf.
Insert your cutting into your rooting media deep enough that about ¼-½" of the base of the leaf is covered by the soil mix.
Gently press the soil around the cutting.Keep the rooting media evenly moist, but never soggy.
Place the tray in a warm (70°-75°), brightly lit area (not full sun).
The cuttings should begin to produce roots in about two weeks, you should have a new plantlet in about eight weeks!
Bottom heat and a grow light will speed up the process considerably.

Growing African Violets from Seed

Growing African Violets from seed is not as fast as growing them from leaf cuttings but it is a great way to add to your A V collection.
Seed packets will usually contain many different varieties and colors of flowers.
Do not cover the tiny African Violet seeds with soil because they require light for germination.
Sow the seeds on a bed of well draining, finely screened growing medium, then cover the tray with a pane of glass.
Maintain a temperature of 70°-75° within the growing medium.
Germination takes 20-25 days but can be sped up with the use of fluorescent lighting.
Blooming takes up to eight months.


The Strawberry tree is a gorgeous, small, evergreen tree that is noted for its unusual strawberry-like fruits. usually propagated from cuttings,  the Strawberry tree can be rather expensive to purchase but if you can get hold of ripened fruit then you have an excellent chance of growing your own stock of Strawberry trees from seed.

You should sow Strawberry tree seeds when they are fully ripe, usually in March. Use a good quality compost such as John Innes 'Seed and Cutting' or create your own using 2 part moss peat and 1 part lime-free horticultural sand. Sow the seeds in pans, or large modular trays, water in and then place inside a cold frame.

Once the seedlings have emerged, they can be pricked out, but be careful so as to reduce any damage to the root systems. Plant these on onto individual 3-4 inch pots using John Innes 'No 2', gently water in and place back into the cold frame for another year or so.

The young plants will be ready for transplanting into their final positions in May to March. They will require a sunny sheltered position away from cold northerly or easterly winds. They are happy in an ordinary well-drained, but moist soil, but they will perform best in alkaline soils.

While young plants will benefit from some winter protection, the Strawberry tree will become progressively hardy as it matures.

17 Aug 2014

What Do Dolphins Eat?

The worlds dolphin populations square measure created up from nearly forty species varied in size from one.2 m and forty for the Maui's dolphin, and up to nine.5 m  and ten tonnes for the Orcinus orca. they're found worldwide, principally within the shallower seas of the Davy Jones's locker. So clearly, with this a lot of variation inside the dolphin family, you'll expect constant variation in every species diet. So, whereas some dolphins eat fishes like herring, cod or mackerel, others species can opt to eat squids. Of course, the most important of all the dolphin species - the killer whales - will eat marine mammals like oceanls or sea lions and someday even turtles. Usually, the quantity of fish that they eat depends on the type of fish that they hunt. whereas mackerel or herring can contain lots of fatty oils in their bodies, squid won't have such a lot, therefore, to urge enough energy needed for his or her activities, dolphins can have to be compelled to eat lots additional squid than mackerel. On average, a dolphin with a weigh of two hundred to twenty five0 weight unit can eat between ten and 25 weight unit of fish a day.

As you'll be able to expect, numerous ways of feeding exist among and among species, some apparently exclusive to one population. Fish and squid ar the most food, however the false killer|dolphin} conjointly the} orca (the true killer whale) also take advantage of alternative marine mammals like seals. they need been famous to eat penguins and even ocean turtles!

One common feeding technique is social, wherever a pod squeezes a college of fish into atiny low volume, referred to as a bait ball. Individual members then move plowing through the ball, feeding on the shocked fish. Corralling is another technique wherever dolphins chase fish into shallow water to additional simply catch them. In South geographic region, the Atlantic bottlenose takes this more with "strand feeding", driving prey onto mud banks for straightforward access.

In some places, orcas come back to the beach to capture ocean lions. Some species conjointly hit fish with their tails, beautiful them and generally knock them out of the water.

31 Jul 2014

How to Grow Peanuts

However, peanuts do not look like most regular nuts - and there is a good reason for that. This is because peanuts are fairly unique in the nut world, as they grow underground and - unlike most other nut varieties - are not produced by large trees.
Peanuts are a native to South America and are believed to have first been cultivated as a farmed crop in the valleys of Peru. To be fair though, peanuts are not what we would consider to be a true nut, but are in fact legumes - the pea family. This then really does make it a pea nut!

What is a peanut?

The peanut is a small annual herbaceous plant that grows to 30-40 cm tall. It produces a typical peaflower flower which is usually yellow with reddish veining.

Weirdly, once pollinated the flower stalk will begin to bend until the fertilized ovary touches the ground. However, the stalk continues to grow and pushes the ovary underground! The ovary continues to develop into a legume pod which matures into what we commonly call a peanut. Each pod can be between 1-3 inches long and containing as many as 4 ‘seeds’.

How to grow peanuts:

While you can have some good success by planting peanuts bought at the grocery store -  raw ones, not roasted, you will do far better by purchasing proper seed peanuts from a good plant retailer. Purchased peanut seed should still be in their shells, but you will have to shell them immediately before planting or they may dry out to  a point where they will not germinate.

Given their long growing season, you may want to get your peanut plants started early indoors. Use paper or peat pots as can reduce root shock when it comes to transplanting. You will need pots that are 3-4 inches in diameter so if you cant find biodegradable pots at this size them use plastic instead.

Start your seeds 3 or 4 weeks before you expect your last frost date. Using a good quality compost such as John Innes 'Seed and Potting' , plant 2 or 3 seeds in each pot, and  covered them with 2 inches of compost soil. Keep them well watered, but don’t have the compost waterlogged as this will damage the juvenile root system.

Once the peanut seeds begin to germinate, remove the weakest leaving just one strong peanut plant per pot. Your peanuts or seedlings should be planted outside into their final position once there is no more threat of frost.

Planting peanuts outside:

Dig your soil down at least 6 inches to loose in it up for the growing peanut roots. You may need to add a little extra lime to the soil to balance the pH, but this should only be done once a soil test has confirmed that this is necessary.

As it grows, your peanut plant will produce runners, and each one will eventually grow a peanut at the end underground. These runners start out as the above-ground flowers. So once you see the plant’s flower starting to wilt and bend down, do not pick them off. That’s where the next generation of peanuts will be produced. Those downward growing stems are commonly known as “pegs”

When you see your plants starting to grow their pegs, lightly dig around the plants in order to loosen up the soil. The peg needs to grow down underground so you don’t want it blocked by stones or compacted soil.

Once your plant has set down its pegs, do not cultivate or weed to roughly around the plant or you could accidentally pull up or break off a runner. Mulching can help keep the weeds down, but do not add mulch until the pegs have moved down into the soil.

You will want to water your plants frequently, but avoid giving them too much water at once. Fertilizing is fine though not really necessary. Use a low-nitrogen formula or you will end up with very bushy plants and no peanuts. When the plants begin to flower, a treatment with a calcium-rich fertilizer can help with nut formation.

Growing peanuts in containers: 

Peanuts can be grown to harvest in containers, but you need to allow for extra surface space for the pegs to be put down by the plant. Your peanuts should be in pots no smaller than 20 inches across and at least a foot deep. You can only have one plant per pot.

Keep your plants well-watered but take care not to let the roots get waterlogged. It is important that your containers are well drained.

How to Use Comfrey as an Organic Fertilizer

For any grower who desires to grow their vegetation by using tight natural concepts, modern fertilisers can often be a bit of a staying point. However, help is at hand from the local Western natural herb Comfrey – otherwise known as ‘Knitbone’ as it was once used as a conventional solution to help cure brittle bone fragments.

Comfrey has a normally strong based and comprehensive main system which functions as a powerful accumulator by getting a variety of nutritional value from strong within the ground. These nutritional value normally acquire within its fast growing results in - up to 4-5 lbs per plant when cut. Because comfrey results in lack " floating " fibrous cells they can easily crack down coming back their nutritional value to the ground surface making them more easily accessible to designed vegetation. In addition there is little risk of nitrogen being ‘locked up’ during breaking down when comfrey is dug into the ground as the as well as to nitrogen rate of the results in is lower than that of a well-rotted wealthy compost. Comfrey is also full of blood potassium - an essential plant vitamin needed for plant, seeds and fruit development. In fact comfrey results in contain 2-3 times more blood potassium than most farmyard manures.

There are various ways in which comfrey can be used as a manure, the most common are as follows:

Comfrey can be used as a wealthy compost activator - Add comfrey to a wealthy compost pile to add nitrogen. Its rapid breaking down will also help to heat the wealthy compost pile. However, comfrey should not be added in big amounts as it will easily crack down into a black sludgy fluid that will need to be healthy with more " floating " fibrous, as well as wealthy content.

Comfrey fluid manure – This can be created by either decaying results in down in rain water for 4–5 weeks to generate a prepared to use 'comfrey tea’, or by putting dry results in under a weight in a package with an opening in the platform. When the results in break down, a dense black comfrey focus can be gathered. This must be watered down at a rate of 15:1 before use.

Comfrey as a compost or top putting on a costume – By implementing a 2 " wide part of comfrey results in around your preferred plant, it will gradually crack down and launch a variety of plant nutritional value. It is especially useful for plants that need extra blood potassium, such as fruiting vegetation, but there is also proof that it can improve spud plants too. Comfrey can be permitted wilt a little bit before application but however you use, avoid using blooming arises as these can take main.

Comfrey planting wealthy compost – This was initially designed to be used together with peat moss, but ecological attention has led to a leaf-mold based alternative being implemented instead. Two year old, well corroded foliage pattern should be used, as this perfectly takes up the nutrient-rich fluid launched as the comfrey decays. Using a black plastic material bag, different 3-4 inches wide levels of foliage pattern followed by 3-4 inches wide of sliced comfrey results in. Add a little dolomitic limestone to a little bit increase the pH level. Keep for between 2–5 months based on the season, but make sure that you check that it does not dry out or become too wet. The combination will be prepared when the comfrey results in have rotten and are no longer noticeable. This mix can be used as a muli-purpose planting wealthy compost, although it will be too wealthy for new plants.

16 Jul 2014

What Is The World's Most Poisonous Snake?

1. The most venomous snake on land:

The Most Venomous Snake toward land is that the 'fierce Snake', Otherwise referred to as The 'inland Taipan'. The unimaginable inland  Oxyuranus scutellatus Has the foremost nephrotoxic Venom Of Any Land Snake within the World. the utmost Yield Recorded For One Bite Is 110mg, Enough To Kill concerning a hundred Humans, Or 250,000 Mice! With associate degree Ld/50 Of zero.03mg/kg, it's ten Times As Venomous because the Crotalus scutulatus, And fifty Times over The Common elapid snake. luckily, The inland  Oxyuranus scutellatus Snake isn't significantly Aggressive And is never Encountered By Humans within the Wild. No Fatalities Have Ever Been Recorded, tho' It may probably Kill associate degree Adult Human inside forty five Minutes.

2. The Most Venomous Snake In The Water

This Carries 2 Titles, the primary Is That it's the foremost Venomous Snake within the Water, The Second Is That it's the foremost Venomous Snake within the World. it's referred to as The 'belcher's ocean Snake' And a couple of Milligrams is robust Enough To Kill one thousand People! fortuitously, but 1/4 Of Bites can Contain Venom, and that they ar comparatively Docile.
Fisherman ar sometimes The Victims of those Bites, As They Encounter The Species once they Pull Nets From The Ocean. The Belcher's serpent are often Found Throughout Waters Off South East Asia And Northern Australia.