WHERE DO ELEPHANTS LIVE?



Most of us are familiar with African and Indian elephants, in fact the African and the Asian elephants diverged from a common ancestor some 7.6 million years ago.

There are actually three species of elephant in existance today - the Indian (or Asian) elephant the African Bush (or Savanna) elephant, and the African forest elephant.

However, these last two are usually just grouped together and known as the 'African elephant'.

The African Bush elephant is the largest of all elephant species and ranges over much of the savanna zone south of the Sahara. They usually live in grasslands, marshes and beside lakes.

The African Forest elephant inhabits the dense African rain forests of central and western Africa, although occasionally they roam the edges of forests, thus overlapping the savanna elephant home ranges and hybridizing.

The Asian elephant species is the only surviving member of the Asian elephant genus, in fact, the Asian elephant is the sister species to the woolly mammoth! However, the Asian elephants can be divided further into the following four subspecies.

1. The Sri Lankan elephant is found only on the island of Sri Lanka and is the largest sub-species of the Asian elephant.

2. The Indian elephant makes up the bulk of the Asian elephant population. The mainland Asian can be found in 11 Asian countries, from India to Indonesia and including western China. They prefer forested areas and transitional zones, between forests and grasslands, where greater food variety is available.

3. The Sumatran elephant is found only on the island of Sumatra, usually in forested regions and partially wooded habitats.

4. In 2003, a further subspecies was identified on Borneo. Named the Borneo pygmy elephant, it is smaller and tamer than any other Asian elephants. It also has relatively larger ears, longer tail and straighter tusks.

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COWBOYS AND LAWMEN: Who was Wyatt Earp?


Take a small step back into American history, and you will be inundated with colourful and heroic stories about the old Wild West. Names like Buffalo Bill, Billy the Kid and Doc Holliday are all part of our common global ancestry, but one mans name stands head and shoulders above them all - Wyatt Earp.

Known as the toughest and deadliest gunmen of his day, he is now considered a cultural icon, a man of law and order, and a mythic figure of an American West where social control and order were notably absent.

Wyatt Earp was born in Monmouth, Illinois, on March 19, 1848, to widower Nicholas Porter Earp and Virginia Ann Cooksey in Hartford, Kentucky on July 30, 1840. He was one of eight children; James Earp, Virgil Walter Earp, Elizabeth Earp, Morgan Seth Earp, Warren Baxter Earp, Virginia Ann Earp, and Adelia Douglas Earp.  From his father's first marriage, Wyatt also had an elder half-brother, Newton, and a half-sister Mariah Ann, who died at the age of ten months.

Wyatt was named after his father's commanding officer in the Mexican-American War, Captain Wyatt Berry Stapp, of the 2nd Company Illinois Mounted Volunteers.

Like his brothers, Wyatt Earp was a physically imposing figure for his day: 6 feet tall, when most men were only about 5 feet 6 inches. He weighed about 165 to 170 pounds. According to contempoary accounts he was broad shouldered, long-armed, and all muscle. He was a natural fighter and was very capable of using his fists instead of his weapon to control anyone resisting his authority. He was reputed to be an expert with a pistol, and it is said that he showed no fear to any man.

Wyatt is often viewed as the central character and hero of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, at least in part because out of all of his brothers, he was the only one never to have been wounded or killed!

In gunfight after gunfight, from Wichita to Dodge City, during Tombstone and the Earp Vendetta Ride, Wyatt was never even scratched by a bullet, although his clothing was shot through with bullet holes.

Gunfight at the OK Corral


The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral was a gunfight that took place at about 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday, October 26, 1881, in Tombstone, Cochise County, Arizona Territory, of the United States and which is generally regarded as the most famous gunfight in the history of the American Old West.

The gunfight - believed to have only lasted only about thirty seconds - was fought between the outlaw Cowboys Billy Clanton, Tom McLaury and his brother Frank McLaury, and the opposing lawmen Virgil Earp and his brothers Morgan and Wyatt Earp, aided by Doc Holliday acting as a temporary deputy of Virgil. Cowboys Ike Clanton and Billy Claiborne ran from the fight, unharmed, but Ike's brother Billy Clanton, along with both McLaurys, were killed. Lawmen Holliday, and Morgan and Virgil Earp were wounded. It was only Wyatt Earp came through the fight unharmed. The fight eventually came to represent a time in American history when the frontier was open range for outlaws opposed by law enforcement that was spread thin over vast territories, leaving some areas unprotected.

The gunfight was relatively unknown to the American public until 1931 when author Stuart Lake published what has since been determined to be a largely fictionalised biography, Wyatt Earp: Frontier Marshal, two years after Earp's death. Lake retold his story in a 1946 book that director John Ford developed into the movie My Darling Clementine. After the movie' Gunfight at the O.K. Corral' was released in 1957, the shootout came to be known by that name. Since then, the conflict has been portrayed with varying degrees of accuracy in numerous Western films and books.

Despite its name, the gunfight actually occurred in a narrow lot six doors west of the rear entrance to the O.K. Corral on Fremont Street, and also in the street. The two opposing parties were initially only about 6 feet (1.8 m) apart. About thirty shots were fired in thirty seconds. Ike Clanton filed murder charges against the Earps and Doc Holliday but they were eventually exonerated by a local judge after a 30-day preliminary hearing and then again by a local grand jury.

On December 28, 1881, Virgil Earp was maimed in an assassination attempt by the outlaw Cowboys, and on March 18, 1882, they assassinated Morgan Earp. This led to a series of further killings and retributions, with federal and county lawmen supporting different sides of the conflict, which became known as the Earp Vendetta Ride.

The gunfight in Tombstone lasted only 30 seconds, but it would end up defining Earp for the rest of his life. After Wyatt killed Frank Stilwell in Tucson, his movements received national press coverage and he became a known commodity in Western folklore.

The Tombstone Epitaph said of Wyatt, "bravery and determination were requisites, and in every instance proved himself the right man in the right place."

Setting the story straight!

It was actually Virgil Earp who held the legal authority in Tombstone the day of the shoot out. In fact, Virgil was both Tombstone City Marshall and Deputy U.S. Marshal. Furthermore, Virgil had considerably more experience than his broher Wyatt with both weapons and combat as a Union soldier in the Civil War, and in law enforcement as a sheriff, constable, and marshal.

As city marshal, it was Virgil who made the decision to disarm the Cowboys in Tombstone as Wyatt was only a temporary assistant marshal to his brother. But because Wyatt outlived Virgil and due to a creative biography written by Stuart Lake that made Wyatt famous, his name became well-known and the subject of many movies, TV shows, biographies and works of fiction.

Was Wyatt Earp truely the heroic gunfighter and lawman that history has portrayed him to be? Was Wyatt Earp actually taking the glory for his brother Virgils actions? Whatever the truth is, the facts are all but lost to us. However, the legend of Wyatt Earp appears to be one that will fascinate fans of the Wild West forever.

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Based on articles from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wyatt_Earp and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gunfight_at_the_O.K._Corral
Photo care of http://filmreviewsnsuch.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/wyatt-earp.html and http://www.kancoll.org/khq/1976/76_2_shillingberg.htm and

BUY OKRA SEED


If you are looking to buy okra seed, you are in luck. The 'Garden of Eaden' seed shop now has okra seed in stock as part of its standard range. Just click on the links to be directed to the new and improved seed shop.

Often referred to as lady's fingers, okra is popular vegetable in the south of India (where it is mostly used in dry curries) and the southern states of America (where it is used in a variety of recipes including gumbos). Relatively unknown in Northern Europe the okra is a long green pod with a ribbed and slightly fuzzy skin. The inside of an okra pod has a somewhat gooey texture and is full of edible, creamy seeds. When cooking, okra exudes a glutinous juice which thickens stews and braised dishes.


How to grow Okra from seed

Although the typical northern European climate is far cooler that the okra plant’s native habitat, you will find that they can still produce a viable crop outside. If you have the space, you can get an early start by sowing them indoors. This way you can make the most of the growing season otherwise okra seeds can be outside directly into prepared seed beds - but only when the threat of frosts have past. However you may still need to wait as Okra seed need warm weather to grow and should not be planted until outside temperatures are reliably around 18 degrees Celsius or the seeds may not germinate at all.


To make the most of an Okra crop you will need to try and mimic their natural habitat as much as possible and this means a well drained and sheltered position with plenty of sun. They will also require plenty of water over the growing period so mulch and fertilize the soil throughout the summer in order to maintain a good level of nutrients within the soil.


Sow Okra seeds 4 inches apart into rows that are at least two feet apart. Place each seed in to the ground at about ½ inch deep then gently water gently in.

Once the seeds have begun to germinate they can be thinned out to about a foot between plants, but remember to try and leave the strongest plants in place.

Harvest okra as the plant begins to produce the seed pods, these should be about three to four inches in length when ripe. Check your okra plants every other day for new fruit and harvest them quickly as this will encourage the plant to grow more pods.

It takes about 50 days for an okra plant to reach maturity.

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based on an article by http://www.what-about-lavender.com/propagate_lavender.html and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lavender
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BUY LAVENDER SEED



If you are looking to buy lavender seed, you are in luck. The 'Seeds of Eaden' seed shop now has lavender seed in stock as part of its standard range. Just click on the links to be directed to the new and improved seed shop.

Lavender is without doubt one of the most popular of all hardy shrubs, and why not? Tolerant of drought, heat, poor soils and most pests and diseases, not only does will lavender flower its heart out, it is a fantastic source of nectar for pollinating insects!

However, you can't just plant lavender anywhere and they can easily be killed by too much kindness.

So, just how do you successfully plant lavender?

Lavender is a genus of 39 species of flowering plants that are native to Africa, the Mediterranean, South-West Asia, Arabia, Western Iran and South-East India. And this is important because knowing where lavender comes from will allow you to - at least in part - mimic the conditions that they have evolved to survive.

Lavenders flourish best in dry, well-drained, sandy or gravelly soils in full sun. All lavender species need little or no fertilizer and good air circulation. This is particularly important in areas of high humidity as root rot due to fungus infection can be a problem. Avoid organic mulches as this can trap moisture around the plants' bases, again encouraging root rot. Instead, use pea gravel, decomposed granite, or sand instead.

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ROSEMARY


Rosemary is one of those plants that not only smells good, it tastes good and looks good too. When I say taste, I mean as a flavoursome herb so don’t start chomping on a random stem and expect it to fill you with culinary delights – because it won’t!

Be that as it may, rosemary plants are fantastically popular and are often found in gardens as a specimen shrub or informal hedging.  Evergreen - and tolerant of most soils so long as the drainage is good, they will even put up with most of the weather that Britain can throw at it despite is warmer origins of the Mediterranean and Asia .

Its Latin name, Rosmarinus officinalis, means "dew of the sea" and while rosemary is most closely associated with Mediterranean cooking you don't need perfect sunshine, or a sea mist to grow it successfully. All you need to provide is a free draining, sunny spot. Poor soils are no obstacle and it will even survive periods of drought.

If you are growing it as a formal hedge then it can be clipped throughout the growing season, but be aware that if you do this you will be removing the flower buds and so it won't produce flowers for you.

If you are using it as a specimen plant then you can prune after flowering. Otherwise, August to September will be the best months.

How to propagate Rosemary from cuttings

The best time to take cuttings from Rosemary is when the new shoots begin to emerge. Mid to late June is normally the best time. Select a healthy looking plant with lots of new growth on it. If you can, take your cuttings early in the day. Using a sterilised sharp blade or secateurs, snip off non-flowering sections of new growth 10cm - 15cm long. To reduce moisture loss, remove most of the lower leaves so you have a clean length of stem and place them in a plastic bag. Seal it and keep it in a shaded spot to prevent wilting until you are ready to root the cuttings.

Using porous terracotta pots fill with a good quality cutting compost such as John Innes ‘Seed and Cutting’. However, I would recommend improving the drainage by mixing in horticultural grit or perlite at a ratio of 2:1 compost to drainage improver.

Once again, using a sharp sterilised knife, take 7.5cm (3in) cuttings from young shoots either just below a leaf joint or torn off at the stem. Remove the leaves from the lower half of the cutting in order to help reduce water loss.

At this point you can dip the stem ends in hormone rooting powder to speed up the rooting process, but this isn't really necessary. The rosemary cuttings can now be inserted around the edge of the pot – if the pot is big enough – leaving a 1 ½ inch gap between each cutting. Alternatively – if your pots are on the small side – plant the cuttings individually.

Water the cuttings from below and allow the compost to settle around their stems. Place pots in a cold frame in a sheltered, shaded area, indoors in a propagator or simply cover with a plastic bag to retain the moisture. Just make sure that the sides of the bag are not touching any of the plant material.

After a few weeks, gently invert pots and check for signs of root development. Mist over foliage and ensure the compost stays on the moist side. Once new growth begins to appear all covers can be removed. Allow the soil to dry out between watering but don’t allow the compost to stay dry for extended periods and do not allow the compost to become waterlogged.

Once the rosemary cuttings have a good root system, gently tease the cuttings apart and pot up individually into a loam-based compost, such as John Innes No. 2.

Keep plants watered and pot them on again as they get larger and the roots fill their container. They should be big enough to plant out in the following spring.

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THE MONKEY PUZZLE TREE - Araucaria araucana


The monkey puzzle tree - also sometimes known as the monkey tail tree, is a native of  central and southern Chile, and western Argentina. It gained the common name of  'Monkey puzzle' as popular belief has it that it is the only tree that a monkey cannot climb. The monkey puzzle prefers well drained, slightly acidic, volcanic soil, but will actually tolerate almost any soil type provided it drains well. A fact that has enabled it to successfully transplant into many of the country estates of England.

Since the Victorian era, the monkey puzzle has become a popular - although expensive - garden tree. It is favoured for its unusual effect of the thick, 'reptilian' branches which grow out from the central trunk showing a highly symmetrical appearance. Another aspect to its popularity it that the monkey puzzles ability to thrive in temperate climates with abundant rainfall. Amazingly they can also tolerate temperatures down to about −20 °Celsius. It is far and away the hardiest member of its genus,  growing well in western Europe, the west coast of North America, New Zealand and south-eastern Australia. It is also tolerant of coastal salt spray, but it does draw the line at exposure to pollution.


The seeds of the monkey puzzle tree are edible - similar to large pine nuts, and are extensively harvested as an edible crop in Chile and Brazil. The tree has excellent potential to be a food crop of the future, but unfortunately it will not yield its seeds until it is around 30–40 years old. This length of time discourages investment in planting orchards, even though yields at maturity can be fantastic. Furthermore, once established, monkey puzzle trees can live as long as 1,000 year.

Once valued as timber for its long, straight trunk, its current rarity due to excessive logging mean its wood is now rarely used. The tree became protected by law in 1971, and is listed in the CITES Appendix I as an endangered species.

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BUY ONION SEED




If you are looking to buy onion seed, you are in luck. The 'Garden of Eaden' seed shop now has onion seed and mammoth exhibition seed in stock as part of its standard range. Just click on the links to be directed to the new and improved seed shop.

How to grow onions from seed

When growing main-crop onions from seed, the secret is in the preparation. If you look at how the most exhibitors grow their prize winning onions, it's always from seed so you are already on for a good start. To begin with you need a sunny site with good drainage but the key is to grow them in a permanent bed in order to build up the soil fertility. There is a down side to this however as you can also encourage the build up of diseases. With that in mind it's advisable to periodically rotate your onion bed with the rest of the vegetable garden.

If you can, start preparing your onion bed in the autumn by digging in plenty of well-rotted farm manure. This will give the ground a chance to settle over the winter period and allow frosts to break down the soil clods. If you soil is too acidic – below pH 5.5 – you will need to add lime to it according to manufactures recommendations. In general, onions prefer a pH of between 6 and 7.5.

It's possible to grow good onions on heavy soil, but you must improve the drainage first before planting. Add plenty of horticultural grit and bulky organic matter to the soil and then create a ridge of soil 4 inches high to further reduce soil moisture.

You can sow main-crop onion seeds as soon as your soil will allow which can be any time from late February, but you can steal a march here by picking a dry day a few weeks before sowing time and raking the soil to a fine tilth. Onions like a firm bed so tread over the area you have just raked. Try adding a general fertiliser like growmore for extra fertility, and for an even earlier crop you can sow onion seed under glass or cloches in January.

Choose a dry day to sow onion seed when the soil is moist but not too wet, then plant the seed very thinly into drills ½ inch deep. If you are planting more than one row then each row should be at least 9 inches apart. Carefully cover the onion seed with soil and gently water in. Germination should then take approximately 21 days to occur. Once the new seedlings have began to push through the soil, they can be thinned out to between 1 and 2 inches apart. After a couple more weeks these can be further thinned out to one plant to every 4-5 inches. Remember to clear away all of your discarded thinning so as not to attract onion fly.

You will need to keep a a particular eye on the newly sprouting onion shoots as these will often attract the attention of inquisitive birds – particularly pigeons and black birds - who will lift your juvenile crops straight out of the seed beds for nothing more than a little mischievous fun. If you don't have some kind of protection in place you can end up loosing almost an entire crop!

Onions are not very good at suppressing weed growth, and if regular weeding is neglected they will easily be out competed for nutrients resulting in your crop becoming stunted. Try to leave enough space between the rows to get your hoe in for weeding, but always hand-weed any weeds close to your onions as they can be easily damaged by garden tools.

To maintain a good year-round supply of onions, you can make a second planting during the late summer which should be ready to harvest from June. However, this second planting isn't recommended if you have heavy, poorly drained soils. In general, onions should be given as long a growing season as possible to reach their maximum size.

Your main crop onions should be ready for harvesting any time between August to September depending on both the weather and the individual variety. The onion bulb will be mature when the foliage turns yellow and begins to tip over, but you will need to leave them for another couple of weeks before lifting.

Choose a dry day and if the onions are fully ripe they will lift easily from the ground, any problems and you can carefully ease them out of the soil using a hand fork. They will now need to be dried and depending on the weather or the size of your onions this will take approximately 2-4 weeks for them to properly cure before they are ready for the kitchen. If any of your onions have developed thick 'necks' over the growing season, use these ones straight away as they will not store well and will be more prone to neck rot.

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Onion
Onion Soup
WHEN ARE ONIONS READY FOR HARVEST?

ONION SOUP



Most of us have come across that most watery excuse of a dish – French onion soup. However if you have onions to ‘burn’, and you are prepared to have one last go at an onion based dish then look no further than this superb recipe for English onion soup. In fact just calling it ‘a soup’ is somewhat of an injustice - it is more of a ‘3 course meal’ in a bowl!

To make the most of this recipe, use as many different varieties of onion as you can get your hands on - about 1kg in total. Further still, cook them on a very gentle heat so that they just ‘sweat’ in the pan - you'll be amazed at the range of flavours produced.
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Serves 8

INGREDIENTS

A knob of butter.
1 tablespoon of olive oil.
A handful of fresh sage leaves - keep 8 in reserve.
6 cloves of garlic.
5 red onions.
3 large white onions.
3 shallots.
300g of leeks.
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
2 litres of good-quality hot beef, chicken or vegetable stock.
8 slices of good-quality stale bread, 2cm thick.
200g freshly grated mature cheddar cheese.
A drizzle of Worcestershire sauce.

Chop and crush the garlic, then place it - along with the butter, olive oil, and sage - into a gently warmed, thick-bottomed non-stick pan. Give the ingredients a good stir, then finely chop the onions, shallots and leeks before adding those to the saucepan too.
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Season with salt and pepper, and cook slowly on a very low heat for about 50 minutes - periodically giving the mix a good stir so that nothing catches on the bottom of the pan. It is worth keeping a lid on the pan to keep the heat in but remove it for the last 20 minutes - by this point the onions should be soft and golden in colour.

As mentioned before, cooking the onions slowly is the key to obtaining the best flavour for this soup. Don't be tempted to use more heat to speed up the cooking process or you can risk loosing incredible sweetness and flavour.

Now add the stock, and bring the pan to the boil. Afterwards, turn the heat down and simmer for between 10 and 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven or grill to its maximum temperature

Toast the bread on each sides, and add seasoning - as per your taste - to the soup. Dispense the soup into individual heatproof serving bowls and then place the bowls onto a baking tray. Tear toasted bread over each bowl so that it fits it like a lid, then sprinkle grated mature cheddar cheese over the top with a drizzle of Worcestershire sauce.

Add the reserved sage leaves to a dash of olive oil and place one on top of each slice of bread. Put the baking tray into the preheated oven or under the grill to melt the cheese until it's bubbling and golden in colour. When the cheese is ready, very carefully lift out the tray and carry it to the table. English onion soup is served!
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WHY DO ELEPHANTS HAVE BIG EARS?


If you are a parent, then the question '...Why do elephants have big ears..? is likely to be one of many that your child or children will ask you. You will feel that you should know the answer, but as with many things in life - you will struggle to find a reasonable or even 'truthful' answer. Lying is usually the best coarse of action as this can avoid the embarrassing situation of appearing ignorant. But worry no more, as the answer to 'Why do elephants have big ears?' can be discovered below.

Why are elephants ears so big?

The primary reason behind the big ears is that they are there to help the elephant to stay cool. Unlike humans, elephants don't sweat, so they have a hard time getting rid of their excess heat. This is why it is vital that they keep themselves cool and prevent overheating.

Overheating is a big problem for large mammals and as the elephant is the worlds largest living land animal, it's ears have evolved to stop them from boiling to death.


The enormous ears of elephants act as cooling devices. This works because their large ears contain  an intricate web of large blood vessels that are situated just below the surface of the skin. As an elephant heats up, they pump hot blood into these specialised veins which allows the heat to escape into the air. Their gigantic ear flaps can measure up to 2 square metres and when the elephant flaps its ears, the blood temperature can drop by as much as 5 degrees Celsius!

The pattern these specialised blood vessels create in the ears are unique to each elephant and can be used to identify them, like human fingerprints.

Because of the high day time temperatures, hot Savannah-dwelling African elephants have evolved larger ears than their forest-dwelling Indian cousins.

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