TURMERIC SPICE - A CURE FOR CANCER, DEMENTIA AND ARTHRITIS?




The chemical curcumin (an extract found in the bright yellow curry spice turmeric) has long been thought to have healing powers and is already being tested as a treatment for arthritis and even dementia. However, in recent laboratory tests it has also been shown to destroy gullet cancer cells. They breakthrough came about when it was discovered that the curcumin triggered lethal cell death signals in the cancerous cell calling them to digest themselves.

Tumeric root - image credit Thamizhpparithi Maari
Dr Sharon McKenna - from the Cork Cancer Research Centre - and her team found that curcumin started to kill cancer cells within 24 hours. She said,

‘...Scientists have known for a long time that natural compounds have the potential to treat faulty cells that have become cancerous and we suspected that curcumin might have therapeutic value...’

Cancer experts say the findings in the British Journal of Cancer could help doctors find new treatments. This was confirmed by Dr Lesley Walker - director of cancer information at Cancer Research UK – who had this to say on the matter,

‘...This is interesting research which opens up the possibility that natural chemicals found in turmeric could be developed into new treatments for oesophageal cancer. Rates of oesophageal cancer have gone up by more than a half since the 70s and this is thought to be linked to rising rates of obesity, alcohol intake and reflux disease so finding ways to prevent this disease is important too...’

Each year around 7,800 people are diagnosed with oesophageal cancer in the UK making it the sixth most common cause of cancer death. This accounts for almost 5% of all UK cancer deaths.

Thamizhpparithi Maari file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

WHY ARE TROPICAL RAINFORESTS SO IMPORTANT?




The rainforests are part of an ancient and complex eco-system that circles the equator and acts as one of the world’s most effective carbon sinks.

Unfortunately, they are being destroyed at a rate of 6 million hectares a year – an incredible number to comprehend but it works out to be the size of two football pitches every second!
.
Rainforests control the global climate and create much of the planets rainfall – something that is absolutely vital for the future of our global agricultural needs.

They also contain an astonishing array of bio-diversity that our modern and future medicines rely on, but we need to remember that they are also home to some of the poorest populations on earth.

If deforestation could be stopped in its tracks then it would give world leaders time to create low carbon economies on which all of our futures depend.

If the deforestation of the rainforests remains unchecked it will result in billions of environmental refugees, irregular and uncertain food production, a lack of fresh water and the increasing spread of disease.

In addition, climate change will occur faster with even more dramatic effect, and the environmental systems that we rely on for our drinking water, food, fuel, and medicines will become drastically threatened. To make things worse the natural environmental processes that we take for granted i.e. the purification of air and water, the de-toxification of soils and flood prevention will also be harmed.

To put it more clearly it will adversely affect every man, woman, and child on the entire planet.

WHAT IS ‘SLASH AND BURN’ FARMING AND HOW DOES IT AFFECT THE RAINFORESTS?




The term ‘Slash and Burn’ farming relates to an old agricultural practice that has historically been used throughout most of the world. It is a method which quickly creates open land through the cutting and burning of forests and woodlands to create fields for agriculture, or pasture for livestock.
This method also creates - what was otherwise a very poor soil - a soil that is rich in available plant nutrients, but this is only due to the introduction of the burned plant material back into the soil. Unfortunately - under normal cultivation – this newly released fertility quickly declines and the land is either abandoned or left for fallow to be burned again at a later time.

Today the term is mainly associated with the dramatic loss of tropical rain forests, but the ‘slash and burn’ technique is still used by between 200 and 500 million people worldwide

The biggest problem of using ‘slash and burn’ in tropical rainforests is the large scale erosion that usually occurs afterwards. Since there are few active roots in the ground or a protective tree canopy to act as temporary water storage, there is no longer anything left to prevent the surface run-off of water. Therefore, any small remaining amounts of nutrients are washed away causing the phenomenon known as ‘desertification’ - this is when no further growth of any type may arise for generations.

The world’s rainforests - and therefore the world at large - are already at risk from catastrophic climate change. In less than 50 years we have seen the destruction of over half of the worlds rainforest environment due to logging and ‘slash and burn’ farming. However the loss of the rainforest continues to progress at an alarming rate - equivalent to an area of two football fields every second!

What is often not realised is that rainforests benefit everyone, and not just the local populations of where they are found. Rainforests store water, regulate rainfall, and are home to over half the planets biodiversity, but more importantly they play a critical role in helping to limit the amount of fossil fuel emissions that build up in our atmosphere every year by absorbing CO2 as part of their normal photosynthetic process. The trouble is that when they are cut down and burned, not only are they then unable to absorb these emissions, they actually release yet more CO2 into the atmosphere. Currently, rainforest destruction accounts for 17% of global CO2 emissions which is more than the global transport sector releases.

It is these emissions of greenhouse gases that are causing global warming. In simple terms, if there were no rainforests to absorb CO2, the temperature of the earth would rise, and in turn so would global sea levels. That is the reality that the world is facing and why its effects should concern everybody.

WHY SHOULD WE PROTECT THE RAINFOREST?




The majority of readers to the 'Seeds of Eaden' website are from 1st World, industrialized nations. We live in stable economies, with the added cushion of imported food and energy when we need it. Whatever is left of our ancient forests (which to be fair isn't that much) is protected by law and being preserved for our future.

We recycle a good part of our waste and try not to leave our flat screen televisions on standby, so why should we be concerned about the systematic destruction of the world’s tropical rainforests? Apart from standing on a soap box and blaming everyone else, we can't really do that much to help because we don’t live in the appropriate countries and we have no voting rights – or can we?

The unfortunate truth is that what happens over there does affect us over here and the world's rainforests are being lost at an unthinkable rate.

However, at least we know the reasons behind it. Destructive logging activity,  both legal and illegal, and the unsustainable ‘slash and burn’ clearance of the rainforest lands for farming; these are the two main activities that are at the very heart of this serious problem.

Why Should We Care?

What is often not realised is that rainforests benefit everyone, and not just the local populations of where they are found. Rainforests store water, regulate rainfall, and are home to over half the planets biodiversity, but more importantly they play a critical role in helping to limit the amount of fossil fuel emissions that build up in our atmosphere every year by absorbing CO2 as part of their normal photosynthetic process. The trouble is that when they are cut down and burned, not only are they then unable to absorb these emissions, they actually release yet more CO2 into the atmosphere. Currently, rainforest destruction accounts for 17% of global CO2 emissions which is more than the global transport sector releases.

It is these emissions of greenhouse gases that are causing global warming. In simple terms, if there were no rainforests to absorb CO2, the temperature of the earth would rise, and in turn so would global sea levels. That is the reality that the world is facing and why its effects should consern everybody.

Unfortunately the ‘Pandora’s Box’ of climate change has already been opened and we can already see its effects happening all around us. Of course, some of the signs are big while others are so small you probably haven’t noticed - the break-up of the ice shelves, unexpected weather patterns, a greater risk of flooding, or may you have just noticed that some of your garden plants are flowering a little earlier this year. It already appears to be too late to reverse these effects, but if we work together we might be able to stop them getting worse or maybe even just slow it down. It is down to the individual to decide what is more important – an easy life or a sustainable life for our children.

Action needs to be taken now and that doesn’t mean selling up and tying yourself to the first tree after stepping off the plane at Brazil airport. You can – at the very least - click onto the Prince’s Rainforest’s Project and sign up your name - it doesn’t cost anything and it will make you feel better. Do nothing and you will only reap what you sow.
.

HOW TO GROW PUMPKINS FROM SEED




As true fruits go, pumpkins can achieve monstrous sizes - so when it comes to growing them from seed you need to get the timing right so that they can make use of the warmest and sunniest part of the year.

Traditionally – in England anyway – pumpkins are sown during the third week in May and this is to make sure that the ground temperature is warm enough for germination.

This needs to be at least 60 degrees Celsius, in fact in Lincolnshire it’s believed that pumpkin growers test the soil by pulling down their trousers and sitting on the ground!

If you live in an area where the summers are neither long or warm enough, you will need to give your seeds a head start by germinating them under controlled conditions indoors i.e. plenty of additional light and soil temperatures of between 25 and 30 degrees Celsius.

To give you seeds the best start - although it is not strictly necessary – lightly file the edges of the seed with a nail file, apart from the pointed end.

Not only will this allow for a quicker and greater uptake of moisture into the seed more makes it easier for the leaves to emerge from the shell without damage.
.
Next the seeds can be soaked for several hours in warm water – not hot – as again this will speed up germination.

For the cautious grower, once you have removed the seeds from the water, remove any excess with a paper towel and then treat the seed with a fungicidal powder. This will help to reduce the incidence of fungal infections – especially if soil temperatures start to drop or if the young seedlings get overly wet.

SOWING PUMPKIN SEEDS INDOORS

.Start off with 6 inch pots with the bottom inch or so filled with a good quality seed mix such as John Innes ‘Seed and Potting’ compost. Take one seed and place it either on its side, or with the pointed end down, then fill the pot to within 1 inch of the top with more of the compost mix. Water thoroughly, and then move to a warm and sunny position such as south facing windowsill - preferably by a radiator, but not on a radiator. However if you have a heated propagator or germination mat – use that.

Once the new seedlings start to emerge – any time between 4 and 6 days - remove the basal heat, but keep them in a well lit area that receives as much direct sunlight as possible. If the seeds have not sprouted after ten days then consider that that batch has failed and you will need to make another sowing.

Your pumpkin seedlings will need to be watered every couple of days due to their high rate of growth but allow the surface to dry off before re-watering as this can tempt fungal infections. Also – after the first couple of days – you can commence feeding with a liquid fertiliser, but only at a half strength dose and only once a week.

Once the seedlings have been grown on for a couple of weeks they should be ready for transplanting outside so long as the threat of late frosts are over.

SOWING AND GROWING PUMPKINS OUTSIDE

The most important consideration with sowing pumpkin seeds outside is to make sure that the site receives as much direct sun as possible. Neither do you want a position that is particularly free draining soil as you pumpkins will require a lot of water in order to attain a decent size.

In addition, they will also require a large amount of soil nutrition and so it is well worth while digging in plenty of well-rotted farm manure a few weeks before planting.

If you are in an area that is prone to a lot of spring rain that you may also wish to mound up the soil where you will be sowing or planting your pumpkin seedlings so that they don’t become waterlogged at this early stage.

Mound sowing

Create a mound of soil three feet in diameter with a shallow trench surrounding it for collecting water. Plant four to five pumpkin seeds on each hill, spaced between six to eight inches apart. If you are intending planting more than one hill, make sure that each hill is at least 10 feet apart to give plants enough space to spread their tendrils. Once the seeds have germinated, remove all but the strongest seedling to continue on through to fruiting.

Row planting

This is similar to mound planting but instead you are creating an elevated row of soil with small, shallow trenches on either side to collect water. Plant 2 or 3 pumpkin seeds every 18 inches along the row. If you are planting multiple rows, each row should be at least 6 inches apart from its neighbour. Once the seeds have germinated, remove all but the strongest seedling in each grouping to continue through to fruiting.

HOW TO OVER-WINTER FUCHSIA’S

Image credit - http://nyackbackyard.blogspot.co.uk/


Although the majority of Fuchsia species are found in South America, there have become such a perennial favourite with the English gardener that you can be forgiven for thinking that they are some kind of hybridised, native woodland plant. Of course they are not which is why most of the more colourful and ‘blousy’ cultivars around today have almost no hope of surviving the winters of our northern European climate.

While it is true that small, pot grown fuchsias are relatively inexpensive to buy it can still be worth over wintering them for the following year - especially as many of the best varieties are almost always in short supply. Of course if you are growing the large columnar and standard forms you would be foolish not to over winter them due to the high cost of replacing them in the spring.

There are a number of ways to winterize fuchsias but they all end up doing the same thing and that is to allow the plant into fall into a dormant condition. Whatever you decide to do the plant is going to have to come under cool protection and you will need to start preparations once you start to see seasonal leaf fall on the local deciduous plants – this will be around September. You will want to make sure that from this point on that all the fuchsias you want to protect have been lifted and potted on. Now these plants will be quite happy remain outside but you will want to slowly reduce their watering and lay off the fertiliser.
.
Now the actual timing for when fuchsias eventually come in will depend on the following three factors.

1. If they get hit by a surprise frost.
2. If they start to lose their leaves.
3. If you decide that it is too cold for them to stay outside any longer.

Once you have brought them in they will need to be cut back to ¼ of their original size and then have all remaining foliage or soft, green stem tissue removed. With regards to standard and columnar types, leave the central stems intact and cut back all other growth to ¼ of its original size.
.
To maintain their dormancy they will need to be moved into a cool position such as a garage, basement, unheated porch or conservatory. Wherever they go it is the temperature that is important - they need to be above freezing yet below 6 degrees Celsius - around 2-3 degrees Celsius is best. While they are dormant, light is not important and certainly do not apply any fertilisers. The compost should be kept moist at best but never wet or water logged otherwise you are likely to lose the plant to fungal rots. It is quite normal to have the soil around the edges of the container completely dry through the entire dormancy period – but pay attention to the centre of the root ball as some water – however little – will still need to be applied on a month to month basis.

Come March they can be moved to a warmer, brighter position, but one that is still under protection. Watering can be gradually increased as the plant revives and begins to produce new growth.

After a couple of more weeks the plants can be acclimatised by placing them into a bright position outside but not in direct sunlight. Once the threat of late frosts are over the fuchsias can one more be planted outside into their final positions.

HOW TO COLLECT AND PREPARE PUMPKIN SEEDS FOR GERMINATION





To begin with - if you get a choice - choose the largest, healthiest specimen that you can find, discarding anything that is showing signs of disease.
.
Image credit - Max Ronnersj√∂
When it comes to harvesting the pumpkin seeds you must wait until the fruit is ripe and ready for eating. To be on the safe side leave them indoors on a warm windowsill for day or two so that the seeds can develop further.
.
Once you are happy that the pumpkin is ready, cut it open, scoop the seeds out into a sieve and then rinse them under a running cold tap. This will wash off most of the fibrous, jelly like coating which covers them and helps to prevent germination while they are still in the fruit.
.
Once clear of the fibrous jelly, spread the seeds out onto a china plate to dry, then after a couple of days turn them over. Allow them to dry thoroughly - although this can a few weeks - but it is important to be sure because you do not want the seed rotting while they are in storage. Once properly dry, store in an air tight container and place in a cool dark place where they can remain viable for up to five years.

Max Ronnersj√∂ file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

HOW TO OVER-WINTER THE GLORY LILY – Gloriosa rothschildiana





.
Like so many exotics, the Glory Lily is not hardy when grown in a northern European climate, but don’t let that stop you from planting what is perhaps one of the most beautiful flowering plants that you can have in the garden. However, they are relatively expensive to buy and what you get for your money – root wise – is not going to grow into much in its first year. In fact, you are going to need to look at over-wintering you glory lily for at least a couple of seasons before you get anything of a decent enough size to look at.

Saving the tubers for over-wintering is very easy, but there is an element of cheating involved. The easiest way is to plant the tubers into pots first and then plant that pot into the soil. That way when it comes to lifting the tuberous root system – which is where next year’s plant will grow from – you know exactly where the tuber it is, you are not likely to lose it the borders once the foliage has died back and neither are you at risk from damaging it when you try and lift it.

You need to start preparing the Glory Lily for winterizing from about the end of September and this is done by withholding any further water.

You can either lift the pot and place it under cover, or you can protect the plant from rain using some kind of appropriate cover.

Whatever you decide to do you need to allow the compost or soil to dry out as this will encourage the foliage to die back. This is important as it allows nutrients to be drawn back into the root tuber which will be used for the following year’s growth.

Before the weather gets so cold that frosts are likely, bring the pot into a cool, dry position indoors where temperatures won’t get below 6 or 7 degrees Celsius. Light isn't important for over-wintering Glory Lily root tubers but good ventilation is.

During the early spring the root-ball can be potted on – but only if necessary – and watering can commence once more. Remember to only re-water the tuber once the compost has once again dried out. The new seasons growth should appear after about three weeks, and once the threat of frosts are over they can be planted – again in their pots - outside into their final position.

WARNING! Be careful when you are handling glory lily root tubers – especially if you have sensitive skin - as they are toxic.
.

HOW TO OVERWINTER GERANIUMS



People don’t seem to bother with overwintering geraniums anymore and this is probably down to two main reasons.

1. Geraniums are not as expensive as they used to be so the financial need is not as strong, and
.
2. The old ways of traditional gardening practice aren’t being handed down through the generations as they once were.

Because Geraniums do not possess a storage organ such as a bulb or a tuberous root, they must be overwintered as soft, ‘green tissue’ that is either actively growing or semi-dormant. When preparing your plants you will need to choose the best quality stock so only select your healthiest looking specimens. Unfortunately, especially when they are grown outside, geraniums are at risk of infection from bacterial or viral diseases, and so discard anything that is showing signs of leaf spots, wilting, or have lesions on the stems

Although I remember my own grandfather wrapping up bare-root geraniums in old newspaper, I was too young to remember the details of his technique. However I have listed several ways below, all of which can be used to successfully care for your geraniums over-winter.

THE INDOORS METHOD

With all these methods timing is important, so don’t leave it too late and get caught out by an early frost otherwise your stock is likely to be only fit for the compost heap. You will need be looking at beginning preparation for over-wintering around October but keep an eye on the forecasts for overnight temperatures and don’t risk leaving them out if temperatures start to move towards 6 Degrees Celsius.
.
With this method, and you will need to have a little bit of space put aside for it, lift your geraniums with as much of their root undisturbed and attached, and pot them on into 6-8 inch diameter pots using any good free-draining, multipurpose compost – you may wish to add some additional horticultural grit or perlite to the mix for extra drainage. Cut each plant back to about 1/3 of its original height, then water in thoroughly.

Bring the geraniums under suitable protected covering such as a heated greenhouse or a cool bright room and treat as you would do a normal houseplant i.e. water weekly - but not too much - and feed ½ recommended fertiliser dose monthly. Initially, they will need to be kept in a well-lit location to help to establish them in their new pots but after 3 or 4 weeks they can be moved into a less well-lit position should you require the space. If you do so they will require even less water and fertiliser, in fact tries to keep them just on the dry side.

Leave them where they are until it is time to acclimatise them for outside planting come the spring, when you can begin to start watering and feeding as per normal. However, do not leave them outside permanently until the threat of frost is over.

THE ‘OUTDOORS’ METHOD

Again, lift your geraniums with as much of their root undisturbed and attached, and pot them on into 6-8 inch diameter pots using any good free-draining, multipurpose compost – once more, you may wish to add some additional horticultural grit or perlite to the mix for extra drainage.
Move them to the protection of a greenhouse or cool conservatory and treat as before until they have established in their pots.
.
Come November, reduce the watering until the compost it almost dry then prune back the plants back to remove all of the soft, green growth. Cover the prepared plants with a fleece to help maintain an even temperature during the day and help prevent frost damage over night. If temperatures start to dip below 4 degrees Celsius you may need to provide heat within the greenhouse (about 6-7 degrees) or bring the plants indoors until temperatures rise.

When kept in a greenhouse it is important to ventilate the greenhouse as often as the weather allows in order reducing the incidence of fungal rots. Inspect your plants weekly for fungal infection and remove and destroy any that showing the tell-tale signs. Leave them where they are until it is time to acclimatise them for outside planting come the spring, when you can begin to start watering and feeding as per normal. However, do not leave them outside permanently until the threat of frost is over.

THE ‘TRADITIONAL’ METHOD – or rather ‘a’ traditional method

Once again you will need to carefully lift your geraniums before the first winter frost, but this time you need to gently shake all the soil from the roots – trying to do so without damaging the roots. They will then need to be stored in a cool dark position such as a basement where the temperature will remain a steady 5-7 degrees Celsius. The plants can either be hung upside down. or as my granddad probably did, wrap them in newspaper and placed into an open crate.

Once a month the roots will need to be soaked in room-temperature water for about an hour or so. Allow them to dry and then apply the plants with a protective fungicidal dust. You will find that during the course of this ‘enforced hibernation’ most of the leaves will dry up and fall off, but this is perfectly normal.

Come the early spring the plants can be potted on into 6-8 inch diameter pots using any good free-draining, multipurpose compost, again you may wish to add some additional horticultural grit or perlite to the mix for extra drainage. Cut the plants back to about 1/3 of their original height, then water and fertilize as normal.

Move them to a protected, well-lit position to help them establish in their pots until the threat of late frosts are over. Now they can be put outside during the day, or under cool green house protection, for the next 2-3 weeks in order to acclimatise them, after which they can be planted into their final positions.

For related articles click onto the following links:
HOW DO YOU OVER-WINTER BEGONIA CORMS?
HOW TO OVERWINTER BANANA PLANTS
HOW TO OVERWINTER BRUGMANSIA
HOW TO OVERWINTER CANNA LILIES
HOW TO OVERWINTER GUNNERA MANICATA
HOW TO OVERWINTER LILY BULBS
RHS Pelagoniums

HOW TO OVER WINTER DAHLIA TUBERS



With milder winters becoming ever more common, there are now two schools of thought when it comes to over-wintering Dahlia tubers. The traditional method is to lift them and then store in a cool dry, frost free position, while the second and slightly more risky way is to leave them where they are but with the addition of extra insulation.

LIFTING AND STORING DAHLIA TUBERS

The practice of removing Dahlia tubers from the ground for over-wintering goes back to at least a couple of hundred years so you know that it is definitely going to work. The time to do this is always going to be dependent on the weather so come the autumn you will need to keep a close eye on your plants.
.
As soon as the first good frost hits, the leaves on the Dahlia will blacken and the plant will naturally begin to move into its dormancy stage. However you will want to leave it a week or so before further preparation commences so that the plant can adjust to the seasonal change and absorb nutrients and carbohydrates from the stems back into the tubers.

Cut the stems to about 6 inches from the ground and then using a fork carefully lift the dahlia so that when removed from the soil the tubers remains intact. You will probably need to circle the root system with the fork first to help loosen the soil before lifting. About 1ft from the stem should be suffice. 

Once lifted, gently place the tuber clump onto the ground, then carefully remove as much soil as you can without breaking or cracking the ‘necks’ of the individual tubers. Unfortunately, a tuber with a cracked or broken neck will tend to rot and will not produce new growth next season.
.
Remove any diseased or damaged tubers and trim off any fibrous roots to reduce the incidence of fungal infections, then wash the rest of the soil off with water and allow to dry – upside down - for a couple of days in a cool, frost-free environment.
.
Prepare a container such as a seed tray or shallow box with a covering of horticultural sand, peat or vermiculite at the bottom. Now place the tubers into the containers and cover them with slightly moistened horticultural sand, peat or vermiculite. The container can now be placed into storage in a frost-free position such as a garage or basement or anywhere that has an even winter temperature of around that 4 – 7 Degrees Celsius.

During this storage time you should be examining the tubers at least once a month, throwing away any which are showing signs of rotting. If the tubers appear to be drying out, then sprinkle the covering medium with a small amount of water. If they to be appear too wet then remove them from their container and allow to dry off on some old newspaper for a couple of days before placing back into storage.

Come the following spring - and just before the growing season - divide the tuberous roots into sections using a sharp blade making sure that each section has at least one prominent bud. Dust each cut section with a fungicidal powder and allow them to dry for a couple of days. That way the cut surfaces have a chance to callous over before planting.

These new root sections can be potted on in John Innes No.1 but unlike most other plants it is important NOT to water them in. Label them and place them back into a frost-free area moving them into a bright position. Do not move into direct sunlight until the foliage has a chance to harden off.

OVER-WINTER DAHLIA TUBERS IN THE GROUND

Recent trials have shown that it isn't always necessary to lift and store Dahlia tubers so long as the ground is suitably prepared before planting. However, wet and freezing winters may still kill Dahlia tubers when they left in the ground, so it can still be worth lifting a few plants for storage – just to be on the safe side.

The key to successfully over-winter Dahlia tubers in the ground is to make sure that they were planted into a free draining soil in the first place as this will reduce the tubers becoming waterlogged during this risky part of the year. Also, it is advisable to plant them deeper in the soil than would normally be the practice - about 8 inches or so deep is fine.

The tubers will require additional protection to avoid them from being damaged by hard ground frosts. This can be achieved by employing by simple mulch such as straw, peat or even more soil. However using a traditional ‘Clamp’ will be the most effective.

HOW TO MAKE A TRADITIONAL CLAMP

I know that these are not Dahlia tubers but it is a traditional clamp
Take some straw and cover over where the Dahlia tubers are under ground. Now position more straw - in a vertical fashion - so that it forms a raised mound above the tubers. When looking at it, the lengths of straw should now be sloping away from the top of the mound to the bottom of it so that it draws any water away from the center of the mound.

Next the straw mound is ‘earthed –up’ which is a bit like making a sand castle on the beach. You dig a moat around the outside and you throw the excavated soil on top of the straw mound. When you get to the top of the mound you will need to leave a little straw chimney. This allows the mound to ‘breath’ which helps to stop fungal rots from progressing inside. The last thing to do is to smooth over the soil sides so that if it does rain the water will run off down the sides rather than enter into the mound itself.
.
The 'clamp' can be removed once the threat of frost is over.

A WORD OF WARNING

Slugs are very partial to the taste of fresh Dahlia growth and so it is important to remember to put down something to keep them well away. If you forget, all of your hard work would have been wasted and all you will have to show is a healthy batch of new slugs ready to damage other susceptible plants as they grow through.

DAHLIA PESTS AND DISEASES
DAHLIA 'War of the Roses'
HOW TO PLANT AND GROW DAHLIAS
HOW TO PROPAGATE DAHLIAS
.

HOW TO OVER-WINTER ROSES




If you live in a northern European climate, autumn is the time to start preparing you roses for winter - even though many rose varieties will continue to bloom until October or even later.

Preparation would normally start at the end of the summer by no longer dead-heading or applying fertiliser, and allowing the rose hips to form. This will help to discourage new growth, and allow existing growth plenty of time to harden-off before winter.

With regards to watering, this can be allowed to taper off as the cold weather arrives, but never let roses dry out or become drought stressed as this can increase the chance of cold damage.

Although many roses, including most Shrub roses and Old Garden roses, will require little or no winter preparation or protection, this will not always be the case the further north you are. In fact in the very coldest regions where roses are grown you may need to give your roses an early winter prune to make it easier to apply you chosen winter protection.

The more tender varieties that are likely to require protection will include the Hybrid Tea and Grandiflora roses. In particularly cold regions they should at least have the graft union and roots protected from the changing winter temperatures. At the very least, a couple of layer of ‘frost-protection’ fleece will probably do, but of course more drastic measures may need to be taken depending on where you live. On established plants this can be achieved by mounding soil over the crown and lower stems to a height of 8-12 inches. However, don't scrape up soil from around the plant as not only will this will damage fibrous roots it will also expose them to the cold.

For added protection, consider piling straw or dry leaves around the base and the stems of roses. This ‘mulch’ can be kept in place with chicken wire - or something similar - and secured by small stakes. Come the following spring the mulch and soil mound can be gradually removed as the weather warms up.

If you would like to try and do without the palaver of protecting you roses from cold damage you could always try planting those varieties that display the best cold hardy tolerance. Below have been listed some of the best.

Rosa ‘Maria Stern’
Rosa ‘Arctic Flame’
Rosa ‘Dr. Brownell’
Rosa ‘Senior Prom’

HOW TO GROW THE PYRETHRUM DAISY FROM SEED



The Pyrethrum daisy is one of those plants that is a true gardeners friend. Not only do they brighten up the garden and attract beneficial pollinating insects, their flowers also make one of the most powerful natural insecticides.

Growing these plants from seeds is relatively easy, but there are several things that need to be taken into consideration.

SOWING INDOORS

Pyrethrum seeds can be sown indoors any time from late winter to the middle of spring. Using a plug tray or normal seed tray, fill with a good quality seed mix such as John Innes ‘seed’ compost. Firm the compost down then give it gentle water making sure that the compost is moist, but not too wet.

Lightly sow the seed on the compost, then cover it with a thin layer of perlite or horticultural grit. Seal the tray in a polythene bag and leave in a warm sunny position such as a south facing windowsill. As soon as germination occurs - which usually takes 30-60 days - remove the bag to prevent the incidence of fungal rots.

When the seedlings are large enough to handle they can be transplanted into 3in pots. Once established they can be planted outside into their final position. They will do well in most ordinary soils but will prefer to be positioned in full sun.

Once the young plants have grown to about 6 inches tall the tops can be pinched out to promote lateral growth and to help prevent legginess.

SOWING OUTDOORS

When sowing pyrethrum seeds directly outside you will need to time it so that there is no longer a threat of late frosts. If a frost is forecast then appropriate protection will need to be given or a second sowing will probably need to be made.

To begin with, you should only sow pyrethrum seeds in areas that will receive the most amount of direct sunlight. This will be of particular importance if you are intending to harvest the flowers for insecticidal use because the plant will produce more of its natural insect repellent, the warmer it is in its final position.

Before sowing the ground will need to prepared into a suitable seed bed so dig it over to loosen the soil then rake the surface into a fine tilth. Place the seeds at least 3 to 4 inches apart then cover with a thin layer of soil approximately twice the depth of the size of the seed. Tamp the soil down firmly, then water in making sure the area is kept moist during the germination period.

Outside, pyrethrum seeds will usually germinate in about 7 to 10 days. These can either be left where they are or transplant to their final position when the seedlings are about 2 inches high.

Once the young plants have grown to about 6 inches tall the tops can be pinched out to promote lateral growth and to help prevent legginess.

HOW TO OVER-WINTER RARE AND SPECIES TULIPS


Image credit - http://dragonfliesandchickens.blogspot.co.uk/
CLICK HERE FOR THE NEW 'GARDEN OF EADEN’ WEBSITE AND SEED SHOP

This may seem an odd question because surely all garden tulips come up year after year anyway and without any help from the resident gardener. In fact if they were that 'precious' would they really be as popular as they are today?

Well most new, cultivated varieties require little assistance when it comes to over wintering, but the practice of lifting, and safely storing tulip bulbs has been going on for centuries and not for the reasons that you might think.

Tulipa agenensis sharonensis image credit - Gideon Pisanty
Tulips originate from the mountainous regions of north Africa and southern Europe and so it isn't the cold they have problems coping with, in fact the tulip family includes a number of specialised, true alpine varieties that absolutely thrive in cold conditions.

However, in order to survive the extended periods of sub-zero temperatures alpine tulips have evolved thick outer shells with a layer of fibrous insulation underneath - Tulipa wilsoniana is an excellent example of this. Don't forget that almost all tulips will need a period of cold dormancy otherwise they would be unable to initiate flowering come the spring.

The problem with over wintering tulips - and it is because of their mountain heritage - is that they are intolerant of wet soils while they are dormant. This isn't just a winter problem, catastrophic rots can occur over wet summers and autumns too once the foliage has died back.

The key to successful over-wintering is to provide a dry root environment and this should be addressed at the time of planting, so make sure the soil is either free draining or in a raised part of the garden. Quite simply you are mimicking their native habitat which is rocky, has little rainfall, and if there is any water in the soil it would still be unavailable to the plants roots as for a large proportion of the year because it would be frozen!

In the garden environment then it is well worth adding plenty of grit, perlite etc, to the soil so that if you are in an area prone to plenty of rainfall it will quickly drain away from the roots. In addition - and it is a little unsightly - you can also consider covering the areas where your bulbs are planted with raised protection in order to keep the rain off the soil, but remember you will also need to allow good air flow.This can be removed in the spring as soon as the new growth shows through.

Of course you can always go back to old school gardening practice and lift the bulbs once the foliage has died back, keeping them in a cool dry environment until re-planting just before the beginning of winter in November/December. Even now you can still have them with raised covers if rainfall is expected.

Gideon Pisanty file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

For related article click onto the following links:
TULIP HISTORY AND POPULAR VARIETIES

HOW TO COLLECT AND PREPARE HARDY PASSION FLOWER SEED FOR SOWING

Image credit - Mohansen11



Like most true species plants, the hardy passion flower will grow true from seed, and - rather helpfully - as their true ‘roots’ lie in the tropics the passion flower seed has no immediate dormancy requirements to contend with.
...
Unlike many other plants that are grown in a northern European environment there is in fact little preparation involved with germinating passion flower seed so long as you intend to sow immediately after collection.

Passiflora seed
To begin with, you will need to wait until the passion fruit itself is fully ripe which will be around October, but even then it is worth waiting a little while longer to allow the seed to mature and fully form inside.
.
First, remove the pithy outer rind of the fruit to expose the jelly-like mass of seeds inside. The seeds – which are actually black - will appear a deep red in colour as they are covered in a brightly coloured, sticky gel which sticks them together in a loosely formed, globular lump.
.
Take out the seed and wash off the sticky gel under a cold tap using a sieve. Remove as much of the gel as possible as this contains chemicals which can inhibit germination.

Place the seed into a glass of water and discard any which float as these will not be viable.
.Now dry off the seeds using a paper towel and sow immediately for the highest rate of germination. If the seeds are not used for immediate sowing then they can be stored but under these conditions they will fall into a condition of dormancy that will then need to be broken.
.
Perhaps the best method to break this dormancy as well as improve overall germination at this point is to lightly sandpaper the seeds on either one or both sides using a fine sandpaper, then to soak them in tepid water for around 24 hours.

The seeds are now ready for sowing. Click here to find out How to Grow Hardy Passion Flowers from Seed

Mohansen11 file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
Passiflora seed file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

BUY PASSIFLORA INCARNATA SEEDS

HOW TO MAKE A LEAF MOULD COMPOST





When deciding on making your own leaf mould compost you can collect leaves from either your own garden or – with appropriate permission - public places.

If you are collecting leaves by the sides of main roads they may be affected by atmospheric pollution, so if this is your only access to fallen leaves try to collect them from quieter streets or side roads – it will be a little safer too. When given the choice, leaves are far easier to collect when the weather is dry and still.

If you are collect leaves from off the lawn, consider using a rotary mower. Not only will this shred the leaves – speeding up the process of decomposition – it will also add some grass clippings which will increase the nutrient value of the future leaf mould.

The best quality leaf mould is produced from the leaves of oak, beech or hornbeam trees, but most leaves from deciduous trees and shrubs can be composted - although some will rot down at a much faster rate than others. Oak, beech and hornbeam are the quickest to compost down, while leaves from sycamore and horse chestnut will take a little longer. Leaves from conifers and evergreen trees can take up to three years to rot down, and so are best shredded and added to a traditional compost heap instead.

While this natural process for decomposing fallen deciduous leaves is slow it can be speeded up by placing collected leaves into either plastic bags or specially-constructed wire bins. To accelerate the process it is useful to keep the leaves wet and out of the way from the drying effects of wind.

When using plastic bags for holding leaf mould, puncture several holes into the base and sides of the bag. This will help with drainage and allow air to flow through the bag, preventing the leaves from turning slimy. The traditional wire enclosure has a tendency to slow down the fungal decomposition process as without periodic maintenance it can allowing the contents to dry out and so it is advisable to line the wire enclosure with cardboard or some other similar material.

To create a good quality, usable leaf mould your collected leaves will need to be allowed to rot down for at least a year. After this period the leaves should have changed into a dark crumbly material, although at this stage the leaf mould compost will still recognisable as bits of leaves. However, if you leave it to continue rotting for a further year it would have composted further still into to a dark brown compost, which can be dug into the ground and used as a soil conditioner. This material contains high levels of humus which - when dug into the soil - will help it to retain moisture and enable it to hold onto nutrients.

Throughout the decomposition process you should periodically check that the leaves are kept damp and every now and then give the bag a good shake to open up the leaf mix to air.

WHAT IS A LEAF MOULD COMPOST?




The word ‘Compost’ is a general term that is used to describe many types of natural soil conditioners. And while this is perfectly acceptable, the way that leaf mould compost is formed differs so much from the ‘normal’ composting process that it should really have a little category all to itself.

The material produced by a traditional compost heap occurs through the bacterial breakdown of kitchen and garden waste, and it is here that leaf mould compost differs from the norm. Because leaves are generally too dry, too acidic, or low in nitrogen for effective bacterial decomposition to occur, they rely instead on the far slower composting effects of fungal activity.

Leaves alone can take one or two years to break down into the, rich humus material that many gardeners covet, but while this natural process is slow it can be speeded up by placing collected leaves into either plastic bags or specially-constructed wire bins.

To accelerate the fungal de-composition it is useful to keep the leaves wet and away from the drying effects of wind.

When using plastic bags for holding leaf mould, puncture several holes into the base and sides of the bag. This will help with drainage and allow air to flow through the bag, preventing the leaves from turning slimy. The traditional wire enclosure has a tendency to slow down the fungal decomposition process as without periodic maintenance it can allowing the contents to dry out and so it is advisable to line the wire enclosure with cardboard or some other similar material.

To create a good quality, usable leaf mould your collected leaves will need to be allowed to rot down for at least a year. After this period the leaves should have changed into a dark crumbly material, although at this stage the leaf mould compost will still recognisable as bits of leaves. However, if you leave it to continue rotting for a further year it would have composted further still into to a dark brown compost, which can be dug into the ground and used as a soil conditioner. This material contains high levels of humus which - when dug into the soil - will help it to retain moisture and enable it to hold onto nutrients.

Through out the decomposition process you should periodically check that the leaves are kept damp and every now and then give the bag a good shake to open up the leaf mix to air.
.

FRUIT AND VEGETABLE PLANTS FOR SOWING AND GROWING IN NOVEMBER





November can be a miserable time of year with persistent rain, cold winds and just a few sunny hours to brighten your day. However there should be times when the sun is out and the soil is dry and the crisp winter air draws you out into the garden, but other than the never ending job of tidying is there anything you can actually grow?

As you would expect the answer is - on the whole – no, but of course there are exceptions and those which can be grown in November are listed below.

VEGETABLES

Broad Bean ‘Aquadulce Claudia’

As far as planting vegetables go there is plenty of choice so long as you only like Broad Bean ‘Aquadulce Claudia’. Traditionally sown by the third day of November, broad bean ‘Aquadulce Claudia’ is universally recognised as being the best for an autumn sowing. It establishes itself quickly and is able to produce a very early crop. In fact it actually needs the cold winter temperatures in order to perform so plant early in cool conditions and try not to sow any later than mid January as this will have a detrimental effect on both the quality and the quantity of the harvest.

.Soak your seeds in water for an hour or so before sowing in double rows, 2 inches deep with each individual row 9 inches apart from each other. Should you require further sets of double rows then leave a distance of between 18-24 inches before you start your next line. If you are short of space then consider staggering your plantings to make the best use of the area. Remember that spacing shouldn't be compromised as good airflow is essential for combating fungal disease.
.
‘Aquadulce Claudia’ is not a very tall variety but it can still suffer with stems breaking or falling over with the weight of the beans - they are especially at risk in strong winds. If you secure stakes on the outside of each rows and run wire or strong string along them, this will support the crop as it matures. Click here to learn more about How to Grow the Autumn Broad Bean 'Aquadulce Claudia'

FRUIT

Blackcurrants, redcurrants, white currants and gooseberries

The best time to plant currant bushes is during mid-November, just at the beginning of winter. However, they can be planted any time up until mid-March so long as the soil isn't water-logged or frozen.

On English soils the blackcurrant is relatively easy to grow although they will do best on a slightly acidic, heavy clay loam situated in a sunny, sheltered site away from strong winds and late frosts. Preparation is - as always - important so before planting, dig over your soil adding plenty of well rotted farmyard manure. On lighter soils you may also wish to add leaf mould or any other organic matter as this will help to reduce its free draining properties and typical leaching of nutrients.

Plants should be spaced about 6 ft apart, and dig a hole wide enough to take the roots without cramping them. Click here to leanr more about How to Plant and Grow Blackcurrants

Raspberries and Loganberries


October is the best month to plant raspberries and loganberries, although planting can be done any time up to March if the weather and soil conditions are correct.
.
Most soils are suitable for these berrying plants, but a little preparation will pay rewards, especially because they will remain in the same position for 10 to 12 years. Dig a row 1 ft deep by 3 ft wide, working in as much well rotted compost as possible. Where more than one row is being planted, allow 5 ft between rows in order to let the roots spread freely and give room for you to harvest the crop in summer.

Rhubarb


Rhubarb plants are available all year round at some garden centres, although by far the best time to plant rhubarb is late autumn to early winter - December is a good month. Tolerant of most soil conditions, rhubarb grows best in a neutral soil which has been dug to a depth of 2 ft or more.

Incorporate as much organic matter as possible during the digging because it must last the life of the plant - rhubarb will not tolerate soil disturbance once established. The site should be prepared about 4 weeks in advance of planting to give it time to settle.

Dig a hole a little bit wider than the plant. The depth should be such that the top of the plant is 1 inch below the soil surface (see the diagram on the left). Fill in around the plant with soil, gently firming it down to ensure no air pockets remain. Water well if the conditions are dry. Spread a mulch (garden compost or other well-rotted organic material) around the plants, but not directly above where the crown will emerge in a month or so.

Three plants should be enough to meet most needs - the spacing between plants should be about 2ft 6in apart.

HOW TO GROW AMARYLLIS FROM SEED




Growing you own Amaryllis plants from seeds is a relatively easy affair. Unfortunately, because of the size that the bulb needs to reach before they are mature enough to start flowering you will need to wait 2 or 3 years before you get to see the fruits of your labour. However, because they are so easy to hybridize you may well end up with something uniquely beautiful and make a name (as well as some money) for yourself in the world of amaryllis breeding.
To begin with, the flowers will need to be pollinated. You can either wait for nature to do its thing or you can take control and choose which parent plants have the characteristics you desire to progress to the next generation.

To pollinate Amaryllis flowers yourself you need to collect pollen from one parent plant and dust it onto the stigma of your other parent plant - a small artist's paint brush is ideal for this task.

Once the flower has been pollinated the seed pods should mature within 4 to 5 weeks afterwards. Pick the pods as soon as they turn yellow and start to split open. Remove the black, papery seeds from the pod and check them for viability. This is done by placing the seed between your thumb and finger, and checking for a pronounced "bump" in the middle of the otherwise flat seed. Any seeds that you can't feel the embryo in have failed and can be discarded. The viable seed should be planted as soon after you've collected them as possible into either pots or seed trays. For your compost use a free-draining compost mix such as cactus compost or a good quality seed compost with a handful of vermiculite, perlite or horticultural grit mixed in.

Gently firm the compost down, then sow a light covering of seeds. Next, cover the seeds with ¼ to ½ inch of perlite or horticultural grit etc. Alternately, add a layer of sharp sand to the compost surface before sowing the seed, then - using a blade of some description - cut a thin grove into the sand. Now place the seed –on its side with the bump below the surface – into the groove, then back fill the groove with sand so that the seed is supported in position and with the top of seed is exposed above the surface. Gently water the seed and place a clear cover over the top to maintain humidity. Keep the newly planted seeds in partial shade until they germinate. As soon as the new seedlings appear, remove the cover, then gradually increase the amount of light they receive until they are in full sun. At this point they can be fed with a half-strength liquid fertilizer solution every other week.

When the new bulbs reach about pea size they can be potted on into individual 4 inch plastic pots using the same potting mix as before.

Try Germinating Amaryllis Seeds Using the California Method

Place the seeds in a glass of water and keep it out of direct sunlight. If the seed is viable it should germinate right there in the glass. Wait until you have a quarter inch of root and then plant them in soil. With this method some seeds take weeks to over a month to germinate.