HOW TO GROW RASPBERRIES




When I was a child, for some strange reason I always looked down of the raspberry as being a bit of a paupers food. The were cheap, readily available and usually over-ripe, so you can understand why I would pass my nose at them in favour for something a little more exotic - like a banana or even some strawberries!

Luckily times have changed, and so it seems has the raspberry. After years of improvements in cultivation and selective breeding, modern varieties have managed to turn my head.

Large, flavoursome, and proper juicy with just a touch of tartness - I think that's a real word - modern raspberries are now a pleasurable, if sometimes expensive delicacy.

Of course, you can't beat the flavour of home grown raspberries. And to be fair, they are sooooo easy to grow, and soooooo expensive in the supermarkets, that if you do have space in the garden you would be foolish not to make the effort.

When to plant raspberries

Raspberries are planted any time between November and March, provided the soil is not frozen or waterlogged. They are normally sold as dormant canes.

Which raspberry varieties should I choose?

There are two types of raspberry plants:

Summer-fruiting raspberries - these will fruit between June and early August depending on specific varieties. For the earliest raspberries 'Glen Moy' is a good variety and for delicious flavour you can't beat 'Glen Fyne'!

Autumn-fruiting raspberries - these will fruit between August and October and are ideal for growing in containers on the patio as they don't need supporting. They are also great for beginner gardeners as the pruning is very simple. One of the most reliable varieties is 'Autumn Bliss' , although for something more unusual try growing yellow raspberries such as 'Allgold'.

Primocanes and Floricanes - What's the difference?

Don't let these terms confuse you. Primocane varieties produce flowers and fruit on stems grown in the same year. Most Autumn fruiting varieties are primocanes producing fruit in their first year of growth. Summer fruiting varieties are usually Floricane raspberries which have stems that grow for one year before bearing fruit and flowers. Because floricanes and primocanes produce crops on different aged stems, they require slightly different pruning techniques. Read on to find out how to prune raspberries.

Where to plant raspberries

Raspberries like fertile, well drained soil in a sunny spot. They will tolerate shading but you're unlikely to get as much fruit as raspberries growing in full sun. Summer-fruiting raspberries will need supporting by a fence, wall or other type of framework as they can grow to 1.5m tall. Autumn-fruiting raspberries are normally fine without a support.

Growing raspberries in the garden

Once you've chosen your site, simply break up the soil with a garden fork and dig in some organic matter such as compost (old or new), well rotted manure or recycled green waste. Create a framework of posts about 1.8m (6ft) high and stretch wires horizontally across them. Set the wires about 60cm (2ft) apart. If you have space for more than one row, make sure the rows are 1.8m (6ft) apart. For summer-fruiting raspberries, plant each cane about 40cm apart and for autumn-fruiting raspberries plant each cane about 60cm apart. When planting raspberries, place them at a depth of about 8cm (3in) and gently firm them in and water them well. Once planted, cut the canes to 25cm from the ground to encourage lots of basal shoots.

Growing raspberries in containers

Raspberries can successfully be grown in containers on the patio as long as the container is of a reasonable size about 60cm (24in) diameter. Fill your container with a soil based compost such as John Innes No. 3 as this will add stability to your container and won't dry out as quickly as multi-purpose compost .

Plant 6 raspberry canes around the edge of the container and gently firm them in and water them. As with all patio plants make sure the compost doesn't dry out and feed your raspberries regularly with a high potash fertiliser throughout the growing season to encourage lots of basal shoots.

Caring for your raspberries

Raspberries need feeding in the spring to maintain a good crop throughout the season. Mulch around the canes with well rotted manure (take care not to bury the canes) or apply a balanced fertiliser and then mulch with compost to help keep the roots moist in dry weather.

As well as feeding raspberries it's important to water them during dry weather for the best cropping. You will find that raspberries produce 'suckers' along their root system so new canes may pop up a fair distance from the main plant. Any that are more than 22cm (9in) from the main row should be dug up and pulled out (don't worry severing them won't harm the parent plant). When the plants start to set fruit it's advisable to cover them with netting to prevent the birds eating your delicious crop!

Pruning raspberries

Knowing when to prune raspberries may seem complicated but it is actually very simple! All you need is a good pair of secateurs, some gardening gloves to protect against thorns, and to be able to recognise whether your raspberries are autumn fruiting or summer fruiting.

Autumn fruiting raspberries

Autumn fruiting raspberries will fruit between August and October and are ideal for growing in containers on the patio as they don't need supporting. They are also great for beginner gardeners as the pruning is very simple.

One of the most reliable varieties is 'Autumn Bliss' , although for something more unusual try growing yellow raspberries such as 'Allgold'.

Summer fruiting raspberries

Summer fruiting raspberries will fruit between June and early August depending on specific varieties. For the earliest raspberries 'Glen Moy' is a good variety and for delicious flavour you can't beat 'Glen Fyne'.

Pruning raspberries

Autumn fruiting raspberries are the simplest to prune. In late winter - so you are probably looking at February - prune all the canes to ground level before growth commences. The plants will then fruit on new growth.

Summer fruiting raspberries produce fruit on one year old canes. During the autumn, cut all canes down to soil level that produced fruit during the summer.

To help with pruning summer raspberries, it may be worth marking the fruiting canes during the summer so you can distinguish between these and the new season's canes - the new season's canes will be lush and green.

Aim to tie in 6-8 of the strongest new canes and remove the rest. The new canes should be spaced out about 4 inches apart on their support to allow each cane as much light and air as possible.

For more information click onto:
All about Blueberries
All about Rhubarb
Amazing Tree Facts
Blueberries
Blueberry Nutrition
Buy Kiwi Fruit Seed
Buy Melon Seed
Growing Strawberries from Seed
Growing Strawberries from Seed
How to Compost
How to Grow an Apple Tree from Seed
How to Grow Blackberries
How to Grow Blackcurrants
How to Grow Blueberries
How to grow Blueberries in Pots and Containers
How to grow a Cherry Tree from Seed
How to Grow Melons
How to Grow Peanuts
How to Germinate and Grow Watermelon Seed Indoors
How to Grow Kiwi from Seed
How to Grow Melon Plants from Seed Outdoors
How to Grow Melons in a Greenhouse
How to Grow a Pineapple from Seed
How to Grow Raspberries
How to Grow Strawberries
How to Grow Strawberries from Seed
HOW TO GROW THE STRAWBERRY TREE - Arbutus unedo
HOW TO GROW SHARON FRUIT - Diospyros kaki
How to Grow Strawberries in Pots and Containers
How to Grow Tayberries
How to Grow Mango from Seed
How to Grow Watermelon Plants from Seed Outdoors
How to Overwinter Strawberries
How to Plant and Grow Strawberries
How to Propagate Strawberries
How to Protect Fruit from Birds
How to Prune Raspberries
How to Prune Roses
How to Collect and Prepare Strawberry Seed for Propagation
How to Plant and Grow Blackcurrants
Is Ginger a Plant?
Growing Kiwi Fruit from Seed
Recipe for Rhubarb Crumble
Strawberries
Strawberry Jams
The Blueberry
The Peanut
What is a blueberry?
What is Composting?
What is Ginger?
What is Gingerbread?
What is a Kiwi fruit?
What is a Papple?
What is Persimmon?
What is a Yucca?
When to Pick Gooseberries
Where does Chocolate come from?
Where can you Grow Blueberries?
Why is Fresh Fruit so Good for You?


MARRAKESH: The Jemaa el fna






The Jemaa el-Fnaa or Djemaa el Fna, is undoubtably one of the most famous market squares Africa and is the centre of activity and trade for the city of Marrakesh, Morroco. The name roughly means 'the assembly of trespassers' and has been part of the UNESCO World Heritage site since 1985.

Historically this square was used for public executions and decapitations by the rulers to maintain their power by frightening the people.

Moroccan Fez danser
Jemaa el-Fnaa was renovated along with much of the Marrakech city, whose walls were extended by Abu Yaqub Yusuf and particularly by Yaqub al-Mansur in 1147-1158.

The surrounding mosque, palace, hospital, parade ground and gardens around the edges of the marketplace were also overhauled, and the Kasbah was fortified. Subsequently, with the fortunes of the city, Jemaa el-Fnaa saw periods of decline and also renewal.


The square attracted dwellers from the surrounding desert and mountains to trade here and stalls were set up on the square from early in its history.

The square also attracted tradesmen in foods, animal forage and domestic items, snake charmers, Berber women in long robes, camels and donkeys, dancing boys of the Chleuh Atlas tribe, and shrieking musicians with pipes, tambourines and African drums.

Me with one of the many snake charmers
Today the square attracts people from a diversity of social and ethnic backgrounds and tourists from all around the world. Be aware though that the Jemaa el-Fnaa also attracts pick pockets!

Walking around during the day and you will come across a heady mix of snake charmers, acrobats, magicians, mystics, musicians, monkey trainers, herb sellers, story-tellers, and dentists.

At night, the whole atmosphere changes with the opening of the food stalls and additional entertainment from fire eaters.

If, like me, you are obviously north European - tall, fair skinned and extremely attractive - you are going to be a very easy target for the wandering vendor. With that in mind I have some suggestions for you.

1. I suggest that you don't give money to beggar children as it will just proliferate the numbers of beggar children. 

2. Don't let strange woman hold your hand as they will immediately try drawing a henna pattern on it, refuse to let go, and then demand a ridiculous price for the privilege.

3. Don't give your camera to a local who says he will take a photo of you because he will want paying for it and won't give you back your camera until you do.

4. Haggle for everything, and if an item you are looking at is '..part of my personal collection..' or '..that one is an antique..'  then you know that you are about to be ripped off.

5. Keep your eyes peeled, not just for pickpockets, but for cyclists, pony and carts, and mental's on mopeds. Ignore them and you will get run over.


6. You are responsible for your own health and safety. In the week that was there, I saw one shop catch fire, one food stall catch fire, and part of the roof structure caved in during a rainstorm just 20 yards away from me. Don't get me started on the holes in the pavements!

The artist Richard Hamilton once said that about the Jemaa el-Fnaa:

 '...reeked of Berber particularism, of backward-looking, ill-educated countrymen, rather than the reformist, pan-Arab internationalism and command economy that were the imagined future...'

I don't know what he's going on about either.

For related articles click onto:
ATHENS: The Caryatids
ATHENS: The Parthenon
ATHENS: The Temple of Zeus
ATHENS: The Temple of Zeus
ATHENS: Tower of the Winds
ATHENS: The Tower of the Winds
ENGLAND: Where is Stonehenge?
EGYPT: What is a Mummy?
EGYPT: Where is the river Nile?
ENGLAND: Hever Castle
ENGLAND: Knole House - the Ghosts!
FRANCE: The Palais des Papes
GREEK HISTORY: Who was Archimedes?
How to get to Herculaneum from Sorrento
How to get to Pompeii from Sorrento?
How to get to Pompeii from Sorrento
How to get to Naples Archaeological Museum from Sorrento
How to get to Villa d'Este from Rome
ITALIAN HISTORY: Who was Christopher Columbus?
ITALIAN HISTORY: Who was Julius Caesar?
ITALY: What is Pompeii?
ITALY: Where is Pompei?
LONDON: Big Ben
LONDON: Buckingham Palace
LONDON: The Houses of Parliament
LONDON: Who was Guy Fawkes?
MARRAKECH: Marjorelle Gardens
MARRAKECH: The Jemaa el Fna
MARRAKECH: The Saadian Tombs
MOROCCO: The Jemaa el-Fnaa
MOROCCO: Marrakech
PARIS: The Arc de Triomphe
PARIS: Where is the Eiffel Tower?
PARIS: Where is the Louvre?
Rembrandts House
Rembrandt Museum
ROMAN BRITAIN: Who was Gnaeus Julius Agricola?
Roman England: The Kings Bath
Rome: Gladiator
Rome: The Coliseum
Rome: Gladiator Graveyard Discovered!
Rome: Gladiator School
Rome: How to get to Villa Adriana from Rome
Rome: How to get to Villa D'Este from Rome
Rome: How to make Roman Bread - panis
Rome: Julius Caesar
Rome: Opening Times for Villa D'Este
ROME: The Pantheon
Rome: Photographs of and around the Colosseum at Night
ROME: The Colosseum
Rome: The Pantheon
Rome: The Roman Colosseum
Rome: The Pyramid of Rome
Rome: Villa Adriana - Tivoli
ROME: Villa d'Este
Rome: What did Gladiators Eat?
Rome: What did the Romans Eat?
Rome: Who were the Ancient Gladiators?
ROMAN HISTORY: What did the Romans Eat?
SPAIN: Valencia
The Roman Colosseum
VALENCIA: The Lonja de la Seda
VALENCIA: La Lonja de la Seda
VALENCIA: The Turia River
What to do in Valencia
Where is the Nile?
Where is Pompei?
Where is Sorrento?
Where is Sorrento?
Where is the Source of the Nile?
Images care of http://vittlesvamp.typepad.com/my_weblog/2007/04/exotic-marrakec.html

VITAMIN A FOOD







Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin. It is also known as retinol because it produces pigments in the eye's retina. It is also important for healthy teeth, skeletal tissue, soft tissue, the skin, and mucous membranes. Vitamin A  also functions in a very different role, as an irreversibly oxidized form retinoic acid, which is an important hormone-like growth factor for epithelial and other cells.

In foods of animal origin, the major form of vitamin A is an ester, primarily retinyl palmitate, which is converted to an alcohol - known as retinol - in the small intestine. This retinol form functions as a storage form of the vitamin, and can be converted to and from its visually active aldehyde form, retinal.

The associated acid - retinoic acid, a metabolite which can be irreversibly synthesized from vitamin A, has only partial vitamin A activity, and does not function in the retina or some essential parts of the reproductive system.

All forms of vitamin A have a beta-ionone ring to which an isoprenoid chain is attached, called a 'retinyl group'. This structure is essential for vitamin activity.

The orange pigment of carrots - beta-carotene - can be represented as two connected retinyl groups, which are used in the body to contribute to vitamin A levels.

Alpha-carotene and gamma-carotene also have a single retinyl group which give them some vitamin activity. None of the other carotenes have vitamin activity. The carotenoid beta-cryptoxanthin possesses an ionone group and has vitamin activity in humans.

Vitamin A comes from two main types of foods:

Retinol - a yellow, fat-soluble substance. It is the form of vitamin A absorbed when eating animal food sources. Sources include cod liver oil, butter, margarine, liver, eggs, cheese and milk.

Carotenes - such as alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, gamma-carotene, and xanthophyl beta- cryptoxanthin.

Carotene is an orange photosynthetic pigment crucial for plant photosynthesis. The orange colours of carrots, sweet potatoes and cantaloupe melons come from its carotene content. Lower carotene concentrations are what give the yellowish colouration to butter and milk-fat. Some omnivores have yellow-coloured body fat, such as chickens and humans.

Good food sources of vitamin A include Apricots, Butter, Broccoli leaf, Cantaloupe, Carrots, Cheddar cheese, Cod liver oil, Collard greens, Eggs, Fortified cereals, Kale, Liver, Mangos, Milk, Papayas, Peaches, Peas, Pumpkin, Spinach, and Sweet potatoes.


Night blindness

Vitamin A deficiency is common in poor countries and extremely rare in developed nations. Sufferers of night blindness - people who cannot see well in dim light - are more likely to have a vitamin A deficiency.

Night blindness is one of the most common signs of vitamin a deficiency. According to the World Health Organization, night blindness among pregnant women in developing nations is worryingly high.

Furthermore, pregnant women with vitamin A deficiency are more likely to die during pregnancy and childbirth, and may have problems with lactation.

People with vitamin A deficiency can also develop xerophthalmia  - dry eyes, and even complete blindness.

Between 250,000 and 500,000 malnourished children worldwide lose their eyesight each year because they do not have enough vitamin A. Half of them die within twelve months of becoming blind. A child with not enough vitamin A has a higher risk of dying from some infectious diseases, such as measles.

Low vitamin A levels make children more susceptible to diarrhoea  slow bone development, and respiratory infections. Approximately one third of all children globally are thought to be affected by vitamin A deficiency - 670,000 of whom die within their first five years of life.

It is possible to have too much vitamin A, which can lead to anorexia, irritability, abdominal pain, weakness, drowsiness, headaches, hair loss, irritability, dry skin, insomnia, weight loss, bone fractures, diarrhoea and anaemia  However, intake would have to be extremely high.

For related articles click onto:
How to Harden Off Seedlings
What is an Epiphyte?
What is Frankincense?
What is a Seed?
What is Spam Meat?
What are Plant Nutrients?
What are Prunes?
What is Cork Made of?
What is Fibre?
What is a Papple?
What is Pricking out?
What is Seed Dormancy?
Why is the Sea Blue?
Why is the Sky Blue?
What is a Seed?
What is a Prune?
What is an F1 Hybrid?
What is Seed Dormancy?
What is Vitamin A?
What is Vitamin A Deficiency?
What is Vitamin B
What is Vitamin D?
What is Vitamin D deficiency?

Based on an article from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/219492.php and http://www.news-medical.net/health/What-is-Vitamin-A.aspx
Images care of http://metrobestmom.blogspot.co.uk/2012_05_01_archive.html and http://www.ifood.tv/blog/top-10-vitamin-a-rich-foods-for-children and http://www.united-academics.org/magazine/5083/a-natural-remedy-for-aging-eyes-vitamin-d/ and http://www.autoinsurancequotes.org/2012/09/8-safety-tips-for-aging-drivers/

VILLA D'ESTE




If you ever happen to find yourself in Rome for any more than a few days, and don't make the effort to see Villa D'Este then you may well end up kicking yourself. Why? Because Villa D'Este is a world class renaissance garden, and a UNESCO world heritage site to boot!

Cardinal Ippolito II d'Este,
Situated, and well sign-posted in the ancient town of Tivoli, it is only an hours train ride from the terminus station in Rome. From arriving at Tivoli station it is then only a 10-15 minutes walk to reach Villa D'este.

The villa itself is surrounded on three sides by a sixteenth-century courtyard, and sited on the former Benedictine cloister.

Unfortunately, walking through the villa itself - although large - is particularly sparse, and could definitely learn a few lessons from that darling of British institutions - the National Trust.

Be that as it may, this disappointment was of no consequence as the gardens are so fantastical that even a top end renaissance villa would struggle to compete.

The Villa d'Este was commissioned by Cardinal Ippolito II d'Este, son of Alfonso I d'Este and Lucrezia Borgia, and grandson of Pope Alexander VI.

From an early age it appeared that Ippolito was going to lead a charmed life. He became a bishop at the age of just two, arch-bishop at ten and made cardinal by the age of thirty.

Coming from such a powerful family it seemed that his destiny to become pope was assured.  However, he was defeated to this position by Julius III who effectively exiled d'Este by appointing him Governor of Tivoli, with the gift of the existing villa.

This proved to be a ruthless tactic as Italian law stated that a governor could not leave his province. The situation was clear, from his hill top villa, Cardinal d'Este could see Rome, but could not physically go there.

For the remaining twenty years of his life, Cardinal d'Este, lived out his frustrated ambitions and dreams in Tivoli. He expressed his wealth and power in the only way that was left to him. If he wasn't able to get to Rome then he would bring the spendor of Rome to Tivoli.

The gardens at Villa d'Este

A cornucopia
From 1550 until his death in 1572, Cardinal d'Este created a palatial setting surrounded by a spectacular terraced garden in the late-Renaissance mannerist style.

 He took full advantage of the dramatic slope the grounds offered, but required substantial innovation in order to bring in a sufficient water supply, which was employed in cascades, water tanks, troughs and pools, water jets and fountains, giochi d'acqua.

The result is one of the series of great 17th century villas with water-play structures in the hills surrounding the Roman Campagna, such as the Villa Lante, the Villa Farnese at Caprarola and the Villas Aldobrandini and Torlonia in Frascati. Their garden planning and their water features were imitated in the next two centuries from Portugal to Poland.

Drawing inspiration - and many statues and much of the marble - from the nearby Villa Adriana, Cardinal d'Este revived Roman techniques of hydraulic engineering to supply water to a sequence of spectacular fountains. Its architectural elements and water features had an enormous influence on European landscape design.

Pirro Ligorio, who worked out in the villa's frescos, and  Tommaso Chiruchi of Bologna, - one of the most skilled hydraulic engineers of the sixteenth century were also commissioned to lay out the gardens for the villa.

They were assisted in the technical designs for the fountains by a Frenchman, Claude Venard, who was a manufacturer of hydraulic organs.


Little Rome
The garden plan is laid out on a central axis with subsidiary cross-axes, refreshed by some five hundred jets in fountains, pools and water troughs.

 The water is supplied by the Aniene river which is partly diverted through the town, a distance of a kilometer, and by the Rivellese spring, which supplies a cistern under the villa's courtyard.

The garden is now part of the Grandi Giardini Italiani.

The Villa's uppermost terrace ends in a balustraded balcony at the left end, with a sweeping view over the plain below. A symmetrical double flights of stairs flank the central axis and lead to the next garden terrace. The Grotto of Diana, richly decorated with frescoes and pebble mosaic to one side and the central Fontana del Bicchierone ("Fountain of the Great Cup") loosely attributed to Bernini, where water issues from a seemingly natural rock into a scrolling shell-like cup.

The Hundred fountains
To descend to the next level, there are stairs at either end — the elaborate fountain complex called the Rometta ("the little Rome") is at the far left — to view the full length of the Hundred Fountains on the next level, where the water jets fill the long rustic trough, and Pirro Ligorio's Fontana dell'Ovato ends the cross-vista.

You can walk behind the water through the rusticated arcade of the concave nymphaeum, which is peopled by marble nymphas by Giambattista della Porta.

Above the nymphaeum, the sculpture of Pegasus recalls to the visitor the fountain of Hippocrene on Parnassus, haunt of the Muses.

 Le Cento Fontane, is better known to us as The Hundred Fountains. This terrace is united to the next by the central Fountain of the Dragons, dominating the central perspective of the gardens, erected for a visit in 1572 of Pope Gregory XIII whose coat-of-arms features a dragon. Central stairs lead down a wooded slope to three rectangular fish ponds set on the cross-axis at the lowest point of the gardens, terminated at the right by the water organ and Fountain of Neptune.

Life after Cardinal Ippolito II d'Este

me.
Cardinal Alessandro d'Este repaired and extended the gardens from 1605.

In the eighteenth century the villa and its gardens passed to the House of Habsburg after Ercole III d'Este bequeathed it to his daughter Maria Beatrice. Sadly, both the villa and its gardens were neglected.

The hydraulics fell into disuse, and many of the sculptures commissioned by Ippolito d'Este were scattered to other sites.

Villa d'Este was purchased for the Italian State after World War I, restored, and refurnished with paintings from the storerooms of the Galleria Nazionale, Rome.

Visited by me in early 2012 - loved it.

For related articles click onto:
ATHENS: The Caryatids
ATHENS: The Parthenon
ATHENS: The Temple of Zeus
ATHENS: Tower of the Winds
FRANCE: The Versailles Gardens
How to get to Villa d'Este from Rome
ITALY: Rome Pictures
LONDON: Who was Guy Fawkes?
MOROCCO: Marrakech
Rembrandts House
Rembrandt Museum
Roman England: The Kings Bath
Rome: Gladiator
Rome: The Coliseum
Rome: Gladiator Graveyard Discovered!
Rome: Gladiator School
Rome: How to get to Villa Adriana from Rome
Rome: How to get to Villa D'Este from Rome
Rome: How to make Roman Bread - panis
Rome: Julius Caesar
Rome: Opening Times for Villa D'Este
ROME: The Pantheon
Rome: Photographs of and around the Colosseum at Night
ROME: The Pyramid of Cestius
ROME: The Colosseum
Rome: The Pantheon
Rome: The Roman Colosseum
Rome: The Pyramid of Rome
Rome: Villa Adriana - Tivoli
Rome: What did Gladiators Eat?
Rome: What did the Romans Eat?
ROME: What was a Gladiator?
Rome: Who were the Ancient Gladiators?
SPAIN: Valencia
VALENCIA: La Lonja de la Seda
VALENCIA: The Turia River
Villa d'Este
What to do in Valencia
Based on an article from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Villa_d%27Este

WHAT IS VITAMIN A DEFICIENCY?





Vitamin A deficiency is common in poor countries and extremely rare in developed nations. Sufferers of night blindness - people who cannot see well in dim light - are more likely to have a vitamin A deficiency.

Night blindness is one of the most common signs of vitamin a deficiency. According to the World Health Organization, night blindness among pregnant women in developing nations is worryingly high.

Furthermore, pregnant women with vitamin A deficiency are more likely to die during pregnancy and childbirth, and may have problems with lactation.

People with vitamin A deficiency can also develop xerophthalmia  - dry eyes, and even complete blindness.

Between 250,000 and 500,000 malnourished children worldwide lose their eyesight each year because they do not have enough vitamin A. Half of them die within twelve months of becoming blind. A child with not enough vitamin A has a higher risk of dying from some infectious diseases, such as measles.

Low vitamin A levels make children more susceptible to diarrhoea  slow bone development, and respiratory infections. Approximately one third of all children globally are thought to be affected by vitamin A deficiency - 670,000 of whom die within their first five years of life.

It is possible to have too much vitamin A, which can lead to anorexia, irritability, abdominal pain, weakness, drowsiness, headaches, hair loss, irritability, dry skin, insomnia, weight loss, bone fractures, diarrhoea and anaemia  However, intake would have to be extremely high.


What is Vitamin A

Put simply, vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin. It is also known as retinol because it produces pigments in the eye's retina. The eye needs a specific metabolite - retinal - a light-absorbing substance that is crucial for low-light vision.

Vitamin A is also important for healthy teeth, skeletal tissue, soft tissue, the skin, and mucous membranes.

It also functions in a very different role, as an irreversibly oxidized form retinoic acid, which is an important hormone-like growth factor for epithelial and other cells.

In foods of animal origin, the major form of vitamin A is an ester, primarily retinyl palmitate, which is converted to an alcohol - known as retinol - in the small intestine. This retinol form functions as a storage form of the vitamin, and can be converted to and from its visually active aldehyde form, retinal.

The associated acid - retinoic acid, a metabolite which can be irreversibly synthesized from vitamin A, has only partial vitamin A activity, and does not function in the retina or some essential parts of the reproductive system.

All forms of vitamin A have a beta-ionone ring to which an isoprenoid chain is attached, called a 'retinyl group'. This structure is essential for vitamin activity.

The orange pigment of carrots - beta-carotene - can be represented as two connected retinyl groups, which are used in the body to contribute to vitamin A levels.

Alpha-carotene and gamma-carotene also have a single retinyl group which give them some vitamin activity. None of the other carotenes have vitamin activity. The carotenoid beta-cryptoxanthin possesses an ionone group and has vitamin activity in humans.

Vitamin A comes from two main types of foods:

Retinol - a yellow, fat-soluble substance. It is the form of vitamin A absorbed when eating animal food sources. Sources include cod liver oil, butter, margarine, liver, eggs, cheese and milk.

Carotenes - such as alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, gamma-carotene, and xanthophyl beta- cryptoxanthin.

Carotene is an orange photosynthetic pigment crucial for plant photosynthesis. The orange colours of carrots, sweet potatoes and cantaloupe melons come from its carotene content. Lower carotene concentrations are what give the yellowish colouration to butter and milk-fat. Some omnivores have yellow-coloured body fat, such as chickens and humans.

Good food sources of vitamin A include Apricots, Butter, Broccoli leaf, Cantaloupe, Carrots, Cheddar cheese, Cod liver oil, Collard greens, Eggs, Fortified cereals, Kale, Liver, Mangos, Milk, Papayas, Peaches, Peas, Pumpkin, Spinach, and Sweet potatoes.

For related articles click onto:
How to Harden Off Seedlings
What is an Epiphyte?
What is Frankincense?
What is a Seed?
What is Spam Meat?
What are Plant Nutrients?
What are Prunes?
What is Cork Made of?
What is Fibre?
What is a Papple?
What is a Parterre?
What is Pricking out?
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Based on an article from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/219492.php and http://www.news-medical.net/health/What-is-Vitamin-A.aspx
Images care of http://metrobestmom.blogspot.co.uk/2012_05_01_archive.html and http://www.ifood.tv/blog/top-10-vitamin-a-rich-foods-for-children and http://www.united-academics.org/magazine/5083/a-natural-remedy-for-aging-eyes-vitamin-d/ and http://www.autoinsurancequotes.org/2012/09/8-safety-tips-for-aging-drivers/

HOW TO PRUNE RASPBERRIES



Knowing when to prune raspberries may seem complicated but it is actually very simple! All you need is a good pair of secateurs, some gardening gloves to protect against thorns, and to be able to recognise whether your raspberries are autumn fruiting or summer fruiting.

Autumn fruiting raspberries

Autumn fruiting raspberries will fruit between August and October and are ideal for growing in containers on the patio as they don't need supporting. They are also great for beginner gardeners as the pruning is very simple.

One of the most reliable varieties is 'Autumn Bliss' , although for something more unusual try growing yellow raspberries such as 'Allgold'.

Summer fruiting raspberries

Summer fruiting raspberries will fruit between June and early August depending on specific varieties. For the earliest raspberries 'Glen Moy' is a good variety and for delicious flavour you can't beat 'Glen Fyne'.

Pruning raspberries

Autumn fruiting raspberries are the simplest to prune. In late winter - so you are probably looking at February - prune all the canes to ground level before growth commences. The plants will then fruit on new growth.

Summer fruiting raspberries produce fruit on one year old canes. During the autumn, cut all canes down to soil level that produced fruit during the summer.

To help with pruning summer raspberries, it may be worth marking the fruiting canes during the summer so you can distinguish between these and the new season's canes - the new season's canes will be lush and green.

Aim to tie in 6-8 of the strongest new canes and remove the rest. The new canes should be spaced out about 4 inches apart on their support to allow each cane as much light and air as possible.

For more information click onto:
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How to Compost
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How to Grow Peanuts
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How to Grow Strawberries from Seed
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Why is Fresh Fruit so Good for You?
Based on an article from http://www.thompson-morgan.com/how-to-grow-raspberries
Images care of http://blog.plantpassion.co.uk/2011/07/pruning-summer-fruiting-raspberries.html

WHAT IS GRAPHENE?



Written by Alex Hudson and previously published by BBC News

Graphene has been touted as the "miracle material" of the 21st Century. Said to be the strongest material ever measured, an improvement upon and a replacement for silicon and the most conductive material known to man, its properties have sent the science world - and subsequently the media - into a spin.

So, put in to words that even I can understand, just what is graphene?

Graphene 101

1. Graphene is taken from graphite, which is made up of weakly bonded layers of carbon Graphene is composed of carbon atoms arranged in tightly bound hexagons just one atom thick

2. Three million sheets of graphene on top of each other would be 1mm thick The band structure of graphite was first theorised and calculated by PR Wallace in 1947, though for it to exist in the real world was thought impossible Due to the timing of this discovery, some conspiracy theorists have linked it to materials at the Roswell "crash site"

3. In 2004, teams including Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov demonstrated that single layers could be isolated, resulting in the award of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2010

4. It is a good thermal and electric conductor and can be used to develop semiconductor circuits and computer parts. Experiments have shown it to be incredibly strong.

The science of graphene

Mechanical engineering professor James Hone, of Columbia University, said this in a statement.

"Our research establishes graphene as the strongest material ever measured, some 200 times stronger than structural steel. It would take an elephant, balanced on a pencil, to break through a sheet of graphene the thickness of cling film."

And the way this material can be utilised is as surprising as its properties.

"Graphene does not just have one application, it is not even one material. It is a huge range of materials. A good comparison would be to how plastics are used." 

says Professor Andre Geim, the current co-holder of the Nobel Prize in physics for his work with the material at Manchester University.

Much has been made of graphene's potential. It can be used for anything from composite materials - like how carbon-fibre is used currently - to electronics. Since its properties were uncovered, more and more scientists have been keen to work on projects. About 200 companies and start-ups are now involved in research around graphene. In 2010, it was the subject of about 3,000 research papers.

And the benefits to both businesses and to the consumer are obvious - faster and cheaper devices which are thinner and flexible.

"You could theoretically roll up your iPhone and stick it behind your ear like a pencil,"

 Professor James Tour, of Rice University, told the Technology Review.

If graphene can be compared to the way plastic is used today, everything from crisp packets to clothing could be digitised once the technology is established. The future could see credit cards contain as much processing power as your current smartphone.

"It can open completely new applications in transparent electronics, in flexible electronics and electronics that are much faster than today."

says Jari Kinaret, professor of technology at Chalmers University in Sweden.

And beyond its digital applications, just one example of its use would be graphene powder added to tyres to make them stronger.

Unlimited speed

Samsung has been one of the biggest investors in research, in collaboration with South Korean Sungkyunkwan University. It has already demonstrated a 25-inch flexible touchscreen using graphene.

"Samsung has its own roadmap where they believe there will be a dozen products on the commercial market using graphene in the next five years." 

says Prof Geim.

But companies like IBM and Nokia have also been involved in research. IBM has created a 150 gigahertz (GHz) transistor - the quickest comparable silicon device runs at about 40 GHz.

"In terms of the speed of the transistor, we currently see no intrinsic limits into how fast it can go,"

 says Dr Yu-ming Lin, of IBM.

"We've already found a number of problems that have to be resolved but I don't think it's limited by the intrinsic properties of graphene."

In Europe, research about the material is a frontrunner to receive a 1 billion euro investment from the European Commission over the next 10 years.

Despite this frenzy of progress, investment and press attention, many researchers are cautious. Some are certain that graphene will not do everything that has been thought up for the material.

What has been reported as "potential" seems to be - at the moment - just that, with few real-world examples of it working to replace other materials.

Dr Phaedon Avouris of IBM had this to say:

"We feel that it's rather difficult to imagine graphene as a replacement to silicon.The material itself does not have a band gap, an essential property meaning that graphene cannot stop conducting and be 'switched off', making it unusable in this way. The applications of graphene and the application of silicon are in different domains."

And even the most revered academics think that a replacement to silicon is a long way off.

The problem that scientists face is that these "miracle" properties have only ever been demonstrated on a tiny scale.

"The kind of strengths that people quote may not even apply to microscopic samples. So, while it may be true that on a local level it has this strength much stronger than steel, we have to be careful about these claims. We recognise the limitations of graphene and are trying to do things that do not bend the rules of physics. We are not setting out to replace silicon as the goal but we are trying to find unique applications that can take advantage of its properties."

 says Dr Lin.

With the seemingly unstoppable march of progress in this field, especially as it is less than 10 years old, swift advances could be just around the corner.

Yet with all this money and market demand, scientists are cautious about how quickly all this potential can be turned into reality.

"We would be the happiest people in the world if we could replace silicon. But the main thing is to be truthful and not exaggerate because we actually have to deliver."

says Dr Avouris.

For related articles click onto:
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What is Graphene?
What is the Difference between Neon light and Fluorescent Light? 
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Based on an article from http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/click_online/9491789.stm
Images care of http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-21014297 and http://retirefund.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/graphene-and-graphite-have-caught.html and http://news.softpedia.com/newsImage/Graphene-Boosts-Ultracapacitor-Energy-Density-2.jpg/ and http://gtresearchnews.gatech.edu/graphene-electronics-doping/ and http://gtresearchnews.gatech.edu/graphene-quartets/

WHAT IS TOMACCO?




It is fairly easy to work out from its name, but if you need clarification, 'Tomacco' is a fictitious hybrid between the tomato plant - Solanum lycopersicum and the tobacco plant - Nicotiana tabacum. However, you may be surprised to find that there is actually there is a pinch of truth to the Tomacco!

The tomacco plant was originally screen in a 1999 episode of The Simpsons titled "E-I-E-I-Do!".

The method used to create the tomacco in the episode is fictional. In the episode, the tomacco was accidentally created by Homer Simpson when he planted and fertilized his tomato and tobacco fields with plutonium. The result is a tomato that apparently has a dried, brown tobacco center, and, although being described as tasting terrible by many characters, is also immediately and powerfully addictive.

The creation is promptly labeled "tomacco" by Homer and sold in large quantities to unsuspecting passersby. A cigarette company, Laramie Tobacco Co., seeing the opportunity to legally sell their products to children, offers to buy the rights to market tomacco, but Homer demands one thousand times as much money as they wish to pay him, and the company withdraws. Eventually, all of the tomacco plants are eaten by farm animals — except for the one remaining plant, which later goes down in an explosive helicopter crash with the cigarette company's lawyers.

The process of making tomacco was first revealed in a 1959 Scientific American article, which stated that nicotine could be found in the tomato plant after grafting. Due to the academic and industrial importance of this breakthrough process, this article was reprinted in a 1968 Scientific American compilation.

A Simpsons fan, Rob Baur of Lake Oswego, Oregon, was inspired by the episode. Remembering the article in a textbook, Baur cultivated a tomacco in 2003 by grafting together tobacco and tomato plants. The plant produced fruit that looked like a normal tomato, but Baur suspected that it contained a lethal amount of nicotine and thus would be inedible. Testing later proved that the leaves of the plant contained some nicotine.

Both plants are members of the same family, Solanaceae or nightshade. The tomacco plant bore tomaccoes until it died after 18 months, spending one winter indoors. Baur was featured on the "E-I-E-I-(Annoyed Grunt)" audio commentary in the Simpsons Season 11 DVD box set discussing the plant and resulting fame.

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Based on an article from http://simpsons.wikia.com/wiki/Tomacco
Images care ofhttp://www.snpp.com/news/tomacco.html