WALNUT TREES





The walnut is an edible seed of any tree of the genus Juglans, best known of which is the Persian walnut - Juglans regia, although in North America you could argue that it is in fact the native Black Walnut.

All types of walnuts are quite hardy, and actually require a cold winter period in order to thrive. So anyone living in warmer climates won’t have much success with their own walnut trees.

Walnuts will start to produce nuts at around 10 years of age, give full production at 30 years and keep on producing for more than 50 years. Depending on the specific variety of the walnut tree, they can grow up to 100 feet in height.

The walnut nut

Walnuts are rounded, single-seeded stone fruits of the walnut tree. It is enclosed in a green, leathery, fleshy husk, but this husk is inedible. After harvest, the removal of the husk reveals the wrinkly walnut shell, which is in two halves. This shell is hard and encloses the kernel, which is also made up of two halves separated by a partition.

Walnut seeds are high density source of nutrients, particularly proteins and essential fatty acids. Like other tree nuts, walnuts must be processed and stored properly. Worryingly, poor storage makes walnuts susceptible to insect and fungal mould infestations; the latter produces aflatoxin - a potent carcinogen. Mould infested walnut seed batch should not be screened then consumed - the entire batch should be discarded.

The seed kernels - commonly available as shelled walnuts - are enclosed in a brown seed coat which contains antioxidants. The antioxidants protect the oil-rich seed from atmospheric oxygen so preventing rancidity.

As mentioned previously there are two major varieties of walnuts grown for its seeds — the English walnut and the Black walnut. The Black walnut is of high flavour  but due to its hard shell and poor hulling characteristics it is not grown commercially for nut production. The commercially produced walnut varieties are nearly all hybrids of the English walnut.

How to grow walnut trees

Locate your planting at least 60 feet from any sensitive plants or garden areas. Black walnut trees will do very well in a moist bottom area that is well drained, or on a moist hillside or upland site. They will tolerate occasional dry spells, and they accept any soil pH from moderately acidic to moderately alkaline.

If you are planting walnuts as garden trees, space the plantings about 60-70 feet apart so their crowns can develop a majestic spread as they mature. However, if you're planting black walnuts for their valuable wood, plant them about 30 feet apart so their trunks will grow long and straight.

Planting the seeds If you choose to start your walnut tree from a seed, you will want to either plant your seeds where you want your final tree, or transplant it while very small. Walnuts do not do well at all in containers because of deep tap roots and don’t handle transplanting.

 You can plant with or without the husk still on, though taking the husk off will help the plant germinate. Plant your nuts in the fall, and protect them from squirrels. They need a period of cold before they will sprout. It only needs to be about 3 inches under the soil. They should sprout in 4 to 5 months, or possibly not until the following year.

Gather the nuts as they fall from a tree in your area, and remove the husks. Place half a dozen nuts several inches apart in a cluster, four or five inches deep. If you have squirrels, lay a piece of hardware cloth over the planting spot and pin it to the ground with v-shaped wires. Lay a mulch of straw or leaves over the hardware cloth to reduce the freeze/thaw cycles. Mark the site so you can find it again. After autumn planting and a session of damp, cold weather, the walnut seeds will germinate in the spring. Remove the mulch and hardware cloth from the planting spot in late winter, and mark the spot clearly so you don't accidentally mow over it!

After the baby trees have grown for a few months, choose the best one and eliminate the others. caring for your walnut tree.

Caring for your walnut tree

Depending on the age and size of the tree, you may not be able to significantly treat diseases or insect infestations on a walnut tree. Webworms or tent caterpillars can be a problem if there are too many of them on your trees. They build large tents of webbing, that can house hundreds of hungry caterpillars. Cut any branches off with tents and dispose of them carefully.

Full size trees have very long and deep root systems, which usually can protect them from moisture problems on the surface. But after very prolonged periods of drought, your trees might need some watering. You can end up with “burned” walnuts come harvest time if you let your trees get too dry for too long. Walnut trees should be left to grow naturally without pruning.

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Based on an article from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walnut and http://treenotes.blogspot.co.uk/2007/10/how-to-grow-black-walnut-tree-from-seed.html and http://www.gardeningblog.net/how-to-grow/walnuts/
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ANCIENT OLYMPIC GAMES




The Ancient Olympic Games were a series of competitions held between representatives of several city-states and kingdoms in Ancient Greece. These games featured mainly athletic but also combat and chariot racing events.

The Olympics were of fundamental religious importance, featuring sporting events alongside ritual sacrifices honouring both Zeus - whose famous statue by Phidias stood in his temple at Olympia and Pelops, divine hero and mythical king of Olympia.

At the first one-day Olympic Games, the only event was a short sprint from one end of the stadium to the other.

Gradually more events were added to make four days of competitions. They included wrestling, boxing, long jump, throwing the javelin and discus, and chariot racing. In the pentathlon, there were five events: running, wrestling, javelin, discus and long jump. One of the toughest events was the race for hoplites, men wearing armour and carrying shields.

Only male citizens were eligible to compete in the Olympic Games. The term "citizen" refers to a man who participated in local politics, voted and provided military service. Citizens were of Greek descent and had jobs or trades, slaves were not allowed to compete.

Some of the most skilled competitors had humble job titles: The first Olympi­c champion was Koroibos, a cook who won the stadion race in 776 B.C.
Winners were given a wreath of leaves, and a hero's welcome back home.

Winners might marry rich women, enjoy free meals, invitations to parties, and the best seats in the theatre.

The running track was much wider than a modern one. Twenty people could run at once.

Olympic gamesmanship?

Probably the pankration or all-in wrestling was the nastiest event. There were hardly any rules. Biting and poking people's eyes were officially banned, but some competitors did both!

While it does not seem very sporting to us, all-in wrestling was very popular. Boxing was tough too. The fighters wore leather gloves and a boxer was allowed to go on hitting his opponent even after he'd knocked him to the ground!

However, cheating was punished. Anyone caught cheating, trying to bribe an athlete for instance, had to pay for a bronze statue of Zeus, as a punishment.

The Olympic Games reached their peak in the 6th and 5th centuries BC, but then gradually declined in importance as the Romans gained power and influence in Greece.




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OLYMPIC FACTS




The Ancient Olympic Games were a series of competitions held between city-states and kingdoms in Ancient Greece. These games featured mainly athletic but also combat and chariot racing events.

The Olympics were of fundamental religious importance, featuring sporting events alongside ritual sacrifices honouring both Zeus - whose famous statue by Phidias stood in his temple at Olympia and Pelops, divine hero and mythical king of Olympia.

The Olympic Games reached their peak in the 6th and 5th centuries BC, but then gradually declined in importance as the Romans gained power and influence in Greece.

Olympic facts

1. No-one actually knows when the Olympic Games began. The earliest recorded event was at Olympia, Greece in 776 BC, but it was probably held even earlier.

2. From 776 BC onwards, it was held every four years, and the ancient Greeks calculated their calender in four year periods called 'Olympiads'.


3. The word "gymnasium" comes from the Greek root "gymnos" meaning nude. In fact, the literal meaning of "gymnasium" is "school for naked exercise." This makes more sense when you find out that athletes in the ancient Olympic Games would have participated in the nude!

4. The ancient Olympics ended in AD 393 when the Roman Emperor Theodosius banned the games because they were becoming too pagan.

5. The earliest games were held to honour Zeus and included a ceasefire in all wars in the region.

6. When the modern Olympics began in Athens in 1896, only 13 countries took part.

7. The five Olympic rings represent the five major regions of the world – Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceana, and every national flag in the world includes one of the five colors, which are (from left to right) blue, yellow, black, green, and red.


8. The last Olympic gold medals that were made entirely out of gold were awarded in 1912. Nowadays, each medal must be at least three millimeters thick and 60 millimeters in diameter. Also, the gold and silver Olympic medals must be made out of 92.5 percent silver, with the gold medal covered in six grams of gold.

9.  During the 1900 Olympic archery competition, live pigeons were used as targets.

10. Britain has always won at least one gold in every modern Olympics - however, one was the grand total of gold medals for the UK in 1904, 1952 and 1996 - embarrassing!

11. Because of World War I and World War II, there were no Olympic Games in 1916, 1940, or 1944.

12. During the ancient Olympic games, married woman were barred from watching the games. In fact the only only married woman allowed in was the Priestess of Demeter - a goddess of the harvest.


13. Women were first allowed to participate in 1900 at the second modern Olympic Games.

14. Three continents – Africa, South America, and Antarctica – have never hosted an Olympics.

15. The 'Berlin Olympics' held in 1936 were the first Olympic games ever to be broadcast on television. 









16. Olympian Oscar Swahn of Sweden is the oldest olympian to have participated in any of the olympic events so far. He was a shooter who participated at the 1920 Antwerp Games at the age of 72 years.

17. Baron Pierre De Coubertin of France is known as the father of the modern olympics.

18. The very first modern olympics were held in Athens, Greece 1896. 




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Based on an article by William Hartston published in the Daily Express 26/7/2012
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THE EAGLE OWL




The eagle owl is the largest and most powerful owl in Europe. It can grow to a height of about 27 inches and has a wingspan of 63–74 inches however the largest specimens can attain a wingspan of up to 79 in. It has a large beak and enormous talons but its most noticeable features are the striking orange eyes. It has prominent ear tufts, which are raised or lowered depending on its mood. The plumage is mostly mottled but with bolder streaks on the breast.

It has a huge habitat ranging from Europe and right across to Russia. Then south to Iran, Pakistan and across to China and Korea. Eagle Owls occupy a variety of habitats, from coniferous forests to warm deserts.

Rocky landscapes are often favoured, but having an adequate food supply and nesting sites  seem to be the most important prerequisites.

The eagle owl will eat almost anything that moves - from beetles to deer fawns. The major part of their diet consists of mammals, but surprisingly, birds of all species are also taken, including birds of prey and that means other owls. Their prey can also encompass snakes, lizards, frogs, fish, and crabs.

According to a study by the British Ornithologists Union, the contentious European eagle owl has begun to breed in the wild in the United Kingdom. Bigger than all other British birds of prey - except for the golden and the white-tailed eagle - it is considered to be the largest owl in existence. Unfortunately this also means that it comes in at twice the size of our largest native owl species - the tawny owl and the barn owl.

Although records confirming the existence of Eagle Owls in the UK date back as far as 400 years they are believed to refer only to captive-bred escapes. Although a truly impressive creature, the fact remains that they are not native to this country even though they are wide spread across most of northern Europe. However some experts believe that that they had bred naturally in Britain before the "land bridge" between Britain and the continent disappeared about 9,000 years ago when sea levels rose after the end of the last ice age.


According to a review of the eagle owl's status for the British Birds journal, the first sign of their emergence came in 1993 when a nest was found in the Peak District.

With a 6ft wingspan, and a body length of nearly 2 ½ ft , the Eagle owl is quite capable of bring down prey as large as our native heron or even as big as roe deer. The problem is that as a top predator it has the opportunity and ability to eat from a wide range of prey. With many of our native species entering the endangered list, the question that is causing the greatest consern is what are these new predators likely to choose as their staple food source?

Mark Avery, director of conservation for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) had this to say on the matter.

'... The eagle owl was a very different case from species such as the red kite or the white-tailed eagle, which have been successfully reintroduced to areas where they had previously bred, but had been persecuted to extinction. It's not that the eagle owl hasn't bred here for decades, or even centuries – it hasn't bred here for many thousands of years, so reintroducing it is simply not part of our conservation thinking...'

"...One of the problems is that this bird is a top predator which can eat lots of things, and we do no know which parts of our native fauna it would pick on for its prey. So it would be better if people who own captive eagle owls did not let them escape, because we don't want any nasty surprises..."

Nobody knows if the current small group of eagle owls breeding in Britain are likely to maintain a self-sustaining population . Current thinking belives that it is unlikely unless the existing population is boosted with further escapes from captivity. Currently, the eagle owl is listed under the Wildlife and Countryside Act which prohibits the introduction into the wild of any animal which does not normally live or visit Britain. Any one caught doing so can face up to two years in jail and a £5,000 fine.

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WHAT IS A MANATEE?




The manatee is far from being attractive as sea creatures go, yet it is said by some to have inspired the mythical stories of mermaids amongst sailors. Tragically, the manatee is now one of the most endangered of aquatic animals.

The harmless and gentle manatee has been exploited by man for its meat and hide since the eighteenth century, but thankfully it is now listed as vulnerable by the World Conservation Union. While it has legal protection in most countries where it lives, this is not always enforced.

What do manatees eat?

The manatee is a herbivore which feeds solely on aquatic vegetation. It feeds and rests in short bouts throughout the day, directing vegetation into its mouth with its dextrous forelimbs or gathering it with its large, deeply split upper lip.

Because of the type of sea grass eaten by the manatee – combined with the fact that it often takes in large quantities of sand with each mouthful – the manatee’s teeth wear down very quickly. To compensate for this, the teeth are constantly replaced. New teeth are formed at the back of the mouth and move forward at the rate of 1mm a month to push out worn front teeth at regular intervals.

The manatee needs an immense amount of food in order to maintain its great weight of up to 680kg! To achieve this, it will eat between 8% and 15% of its own body weight each day.

The dense bulk of the manatee helps to keep it steady in the water as it feeds. It usually feeds submerged, but will occasionally rise above the water.

Manatee facts

1. The manatee was given its name by Spanish colonists in the West Indies from the words ‘mano’ meaning hand, and ‘tener’ meaning to hold.

2. As members of the Sirenian family – manatees and the related dugong – are the only, mammals that eat sea vegetation. This is why they are known as sea cows. 3.The intestines of a manatee are over 45m long!

4. The manatee’s mouth is extremely sensitive to touch. It uses it for searching for food, and communicating with other manatees. This form of bonding is called mouthing.

5. The Amazonian manatee is able to survive with out eating for up to six months during the dry season, when plants are scarce.

6. Nearly all mammals have seven neck vertebrae. The manatee has only six.

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Where do Snow Leopards Live?
Where do Tigers Live?
Where do Wolves Live?
Where do Zebras Live?
Where to find Red Squirrels?
Why are Pandas Endangered?
Why do Giraffes have Long Necks?
Why do Onions make you Cry?
Why do Leaves Change their Colour in the Autumn Fall
Why do Trees drop their Leaves in Autumn Fall
Why is the Sea Salty?
Why is the Sky Blue?
Wildlife
Wolf Facts
World's Largest Insect
Images care of http://www.cryptomundo.com/cryptozoo-news/pinky-manatee/ and http://honorsbiologyreviewgroup1.wikispaces.com/Manatee+Evolution and http://stephaniehenkel.hubpages.com/hub/Manatees-at-Blue-Spring-State-Park-Florida and http://www.bio.davidson.edu/people/midorcas/animalphysiology/websites/2003/Harshaw/page3.htm
Based on an article from MXM IMP BV/IMP LTD WILDLIFE FACTS