Defense Mechanisms Practiced by The Alpaca

The country of Peru is located in the merging point between eastern and western Europe and is home to innumerable varieties of plants and animals. The alpaca is one of the foremost among them. The alpacas were initially domesticated by the Moche people who reside in Peru and since then these animals have been preserved with a lot of care. The most important and valuable component derived form these alpacas are the alpaca fiber which are famous all over the world for their enriched quality and proficiency as warm clothing.

The alpacas are domestic animals which inhabit the Peruvian landscape especially the southern part of the country. It has been observes that these alpacas always travel together in groups and the entire herd grazes together. This is because, while these animals are extremely intelligent, great observers and mild in temperament, they are quite easy prey to other superior animals as well. Therefore for the sake of their own defense alpacas are always found grazing or moving around in groups. It is interesting to note that alpacas are not only weary of other animals and humans but also unfamiliar alpacas as well. They may only acknowledge their owner who may be allowed to stroke them around their necks. However, most alpacas do not like being touched around their abdomen or lower legs even if it is the owner.

In case an alpaca is aware of some unfamiliar predator observing them, he will instantly notify the entire herd about a foreign presence by making loud and sharp gasps and a shrill sound. This is to ensure that the rest of the herd is made aware of the impending threat. In order to ward off smaller animal, the alpacas usually spit or kick with their front feet. However, since their paws have soft hoofs, it is not quite effective in wounding the attacker. However they also possess sharp nails which are capable of resulting in deep cuts. Often when alpacas are noticed to stand with their tails and ears alerted, it is symbolic of the fact that they have become aware of a predator lurking nearby. The male alpacas often give out a shrill sound while defending themselves against an attacker and this is usually done to frighten the opponent. Previously, alpacas were killed for their meat and also for extracting the valuable alpaca fiber. However, at present the Peruvian government has adopted a policy to ensure that the killing of alpacas be touted as illegal.

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Facts About Coprolite Or Dinosaur Poop

Brontosaurus or brachiosaurus are the herbivorous dinosaurs which were as huge as a large house and they used to eat tons of plants each day to survive. However, not many people know that these dinosaurs also pooped as much as they ate! Dinosaur poop is referred to as coprolite. Other animals, which were relatively smaller than the dinosaurs, used the nutrients in the dinosaur poop.

As the plants need some manure, the poop of the dinosaur which was produced in tons on a daily basis, helped them to grow healthily. This enabled the forests in the dinosaur era to be fertile and green which, in turn, helped the dinosaur to get its food which became poop and then manure. It was like a never-ending cycle.

Researchers can say whether a dinosaur ate plant or meat by analyzing the fossil of the dinosaur poop. There is also a possibility to know what kind of plant or animal the dinosaurs consumed.

Sometimes arguments arise related to coprolite. Some of the coprolites, which were found in India, say that the dinosaurs lived on grass which the scientists say would have not existed at the time of the dinosaurs. This grass is said to be evolved 55 to 65 million years ago. These coprolites produce the evidence that gondwanatheres evolved with its teeth adaptable to eat the grass.

In 1998, a coprolite was found in Saskatchewan, Canada, which was 19 inches in length and around 6 inches in thickness. It is thought to be the largest fossil of coprolite till date. This coprolite is also said to have remains of bone and blood vessels, and it is the belief of the archeologists that it belongs to a T. Rex, which lived in North America some 60 million years ago. But to know which coprolite belongs to a particular dinosaur is nearly impossible.

However, fossils of dinosaur poop are quite important for paleontologists as they give them more information about the eating habits of dinosaurs.

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Ferns – How to Plant Bare Root Ferns

Ferns grow mostly in lightly shaded to fully shaded areas. They prefer moist, rich humus soil with a slightly acid pH (5.3 to 5.5 pH range). Sphagnum peat moss is good to add to the soil for holding moisture and will add some acid to the soil as it decomposes.

The hole should not only be large enough to hold the frond, but allowing at least an inch or two from the top of the frond to the top of the hole. The smaller ferns, such as Maidenhair, can be planted about 18 to 24 inches apart. Ostrich, Christmas and Royal Ferns grow larger and should be planted no closer than 24 inches apart.

Top with a good layer of mulch (shredded bark mulch, aged compost or aged manure mix) or a light layer of straw for added moisture and to keep the ground cool. Water as needed to keep the soil moist.

As the ground warms in late spring, the fronds will begin sprouting.

Which end of the tuber is up? Sometimes the tip is visible on the top portion and other times there will be root hairs extending from the bottom. If in doubt, the tuber can be planted in a sideways position.

Cutting the fall die back to the ground and applying a fresh layer of mulch will help to protect the fern tubers from popping out of the ground over winter freeze/thaw cycles as well as from squirrels or other critters digging them up for winter food.

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Plant Growth Factors – How to Make Plants Grow Healthy

Growing a beautiful and fruitful garden takes more than a green thumb. There are several plant growth factors that effect your garden, including the soil in your area and the climate of your region. You may even have different conditions than your neighbor, so it is important that when you want the best garden possible that you take into account all of the factors of your property.

Soil

The soil on your property is perhaps the one thing that can make or break a great garden. Before you plant anything, you can have your soil tested to make sure the pH balance is going to work for the garden you have planned. For example, herb gardens need a balanced pH that is between 6.0 and 7.0 on a pH tester. You can pick up a pH tester at your local gardening center, or you can have your soil tested for a small fee through your local health or water department.

Your soil can easily be adjusted, if necessary, using oyster shell lime for more acidic soil, or sulfur for less acidic soil. You can simply mix the recommended amount into your soil to promote plant growth.

Climate

Climate is one of the plant growth factors that can’t be controlled easily, and can change depending on the location of your property in a certain region. For example, living on a hillside can be cooler and windier than surrounding areas. The best way to prepare your garden for the climate of your property is to choose plants that grow well in your specific area.

Planning your garden according to your soil and climate will help you have a beautiful and productive garden. It may take a little time to find the right combination of plants, especially in extreme climates, but it is worth the effort to add a little beauty to your property.

Space for Plants

When you are planning your garden, you may want to determine which plants you are going to use, and then determine how much space you are going to need. Some plants, such as squash, need a larger space than other plants, such as tomatoes. If you are growing a combination of flowers, herbs, and vegetables or fruits, then you may need to consider grouping these plants and treating the soil according to each groups needs.

Space is one of the plant growth factors that is easily controlled by you. Each of your plants will need enough room for their root system to grow undisturbed, and you will need enough space between each plant to work in your garden. When you are planning your garden, taking the time to find out how much space each type of plant needs will help your garden become more productive.

Fertilizer

Lastly, you will want to use some kind of fertilizer in your garden. If you want an organic garden, then you can consider using manure to fertilize your garden, or you can use a commercially prepared fertilizer. Either way, fertilizer is one of the plant growth factors that can improve your chances of a bountiful garden.

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Onions Stink Because Of A Chemical Change From Alliin To Sulphide Compound

The onion family is a large and diverse one containing over 500 species. With such a large range of species the origins of the modern (or globe) onion are a bit blurred. It has not one but five possible wild plants it could have evolved from, all of which grow in the central Asian region.

It is thought that bulbs from the onion family have been utilised as a food source for millennia. In Palestinian Bronze Age settlements traces of onion remains were found along side fig and date stones dating back to 5000 BC! It would be pure conjecture to suggest these were cultivated onions. The archaeological and literary evidence suggests cultivation probably took place around two thousand years later in ancient Egypt. This happened alongside the cultivation of leeks and garlic and it is thought that the slaves who built the pyramids were fed radishes and onions.

“…It is thought that the slaves who built the pyramids were fed radishes and onions.”

It may come as no surprise that it was the Romans who introduced the onion family to Europe. The origins of its name are also Roman or at least Latin. The Late Latin name unio was used to describe a species of onion resembling a single white pearl. This was later formed the basis for the French, ‘Oignon’ and then later the English, ‘Onion’.

Why Does the Onion Family Smell? All closely related plants to the onion, (Leeks, Shallots, Garlic, Chives etc) contain thioallyl compounds or alliins. When cut or crushed the alliin (an amino acid), within the garlic or onion is converted by an enzymatic reaction into allicin, this quickly breaks down into sulphide compounds. Sulphide compounds are aromatic and this is what gives all the plants in the onion family their distinctive smell. So to put it simply –

o The onion family stinks because of a chemical change from alliin to sulphide compounds and sulphur stinks.

Onion Family Health and Nutrition:

Garlic contains by far the highest concentration of alliins and it has been used medicinally for centuries and was used as an antiseptic since classical times. The Romans often used garlic and would drink a solution of around 5-10 bulbs boiled down in a small bucket of wine for a hangover cure.

It has also been found that alliins can prevent the growth of malignant cells. In other words they are an anti-carcinogen and can help prevent the growth of cancerous cells in animals. It has been documented that in areas of high garlic and onion consumption rates of stomach cancer are relatively low.

There is mounting evidence that all members of the onion family have a positive effect in lowering incidences of heart disease. Trials in the mid-nineties showed a drop in cholesterol levels of a test group when given garlic powder.

It would appear that onions play a much more important anti-carcinogen or cardioprotective role than a nutritional one (see below). However they do add a distinctive flavour, smell and texture to many meals and form the initial stage in many recipes.

Nutrition:

(All average size),Onion Raw,Onion Fried in Oil,Pickled Onion

Energy(Kcal) 54 66 4

Protein (g) 1.8 0.9 0.1

Carbohydrate (g) 11.9 5.9 0.7

Sodium (mg) 5 2 68

Calcium(mg) 38 19 3

Main Street Seeds offer traditional and organic onion seeds . View our full vegetable seed collection today.

Growing Onions:

I planted some onion sets in August to grow over winter; they should be ready by late spring/early summer. These are the first onions I have grown, as I have always been able buy them cheaply in bulk from a nearby Indian grocery shop. This year however there are only three of us in our house and I found the large bags to be a false economy. They would more often than not sprout or go off before I had a chance to eat them all.

In addition to my August sown onion sets I shall raise some from seed in January indoors to plant out in April and some from seed outdoors in March. They can also be planted out in sets in spring, which will be ready by late August/ early September.

The ground should be well prepared for growing onions. Clay soils should be worked into a fine tilth working in plenty of organic matter. It may be an idea to prepare the ground before using a green manure such as clover or phacelia. I have sown a patch of phacelia for this very reason, ideally this should be planted between March and September but if you put some down in early October it should grow a little before winter properly sets in.

Most seed packets will give you an idea of the depth of sowing and spacing. I always try and imagine what the plant will look like when mature and give it a little more room than that. So each onion will be planted about 2 ½ onion sizes from its neighbour. This seems to work with most crops but they can choke each other if too tightly spaced, as the roots need a certain amount of room to grow into.

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Aronia Planting Guide – Part I – Soil PH, Soil Needs, Weed Control, and Watering

Introduction

Aronia Plants Are Nature’s Super Healthy Creation

Aronia is a true Native American plant that is widely grown in Europe for fruit production. A native plant, developing in the North America ecosystem, Aronia bushes have adapted to grow in growing zones 3 to 7. It is a perennial, deciduous, self pollinating, self-supporting shrub.

There are many advantages to growing an aronia plant on your property. It is a very ornamental and resilient plant. It is adapted to the natural ecosystem; it is better able to withstand invasions from insects and diseases as well as the natural variations in the climate than non native plants. Native aronia plants require little care once established on your property. The flowers are self pollinating (apomictic), thus only one plant is needed to produce fruit. Full of antioxidants, Aronia produces one of the healthiest berries on the planet. The Viking and Nero varieties are heavy fruit producers and can be a major source of income for a small farm.

Basics

Sun

– Aronia does best in full sun but will also grow in shade

Soil pH

Aronia plants do best in a slightly acidic soil with an optimum pH range of 6.1 to 6.5. They however will grow in acidic, neutral, or alkaline soil with a pH range from 5.3 to 7.8. Some report the optimum pH range is 6 to 7. A pH of 7 is neutral and higher is alkaline and lower is acidic. Blueberries in comparison require a well-drained soil with a pH of 4.5 to 5.2.

Soil needs and weed control

– Have a soil sample from your field analyzed by your county agent if there is any doubt about your soil conditions and amend soil as needed. Aronia will grow in many types of soil, Sandy, clay, loamy.

A well prepared soil before starting the plantation is a basic requirement and will have an impact on fruit production and the beginning of fruiting. For poor soil adding organic material such as manure is recommended before planting aronia plants.

The planting area must first be cleared from weeds. This will make the cultivation of the young plants easier in the first years because young aronia plants are sensitive to weeding to a high degree. Another alternative is to use landscaping cloth or layers of newspaper to control weed growth during the first 3 or 4 years of plant development. Consider using permeable landscape cloth to control weeds if too much labor is required to control weeds otherwise. Weeds are one of the major factors in reducing farm productivity. At blueberry Croft farm and nursery landscaping cloth is used to help control the weed problem. The landscaping cloth or news papers need to be covered with mulch to a depth of about 2 to 4 inches. Landscaping cloth prevents the growth of most weeds (although some grasses will grow through them) and they will allow normal water and oxygen exchange. Use a coarse-textured mulch material to cover the landscape fabric. At 4 to 5 years of age, aronia will have developed a good root system and several additional new canes because of its suckering nature making it strong enough to choke weeds out and you then only need to mow in the rows between the plants. It has a tap-root which helps it be somewhat drought tolerant once it is established.

Watering

When practical, especially when precipitation levels are low or availability of water is limited, you should use water-efficient drip irrigation or soaker hoses. Water plants once or twice a week to keep soil moist, not wet if there is not enough rain. Be ready to water during extended periods of hot sunny, windy, dry spells. To help roots develop allow soil to dry moderately several inches deep before irrigating.

The soil needs to be kept moist, particularly during the very first two years after the plant is planted. Use a thick mulch of leaves or other compost following planting to assist retaining moisture and suppress weeds. Aronia will take about 5 years to attain full productivity but should start producing some berries the third year.

– Keep them watered especially while the plants are first getting established. Newly planted aronia must have adequate soil moisture until their roots are established.

Lack of water for plants producing fruit is one of the most significant factors in reduced fruit yield and berry size. Aronia plants can tolerate over saturation more effectively than other plants.

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Harvesting Red Wiggler Worm Castings

So what good will it give you after harvesting red wiggler worm castings? Well, castings from red wiggler worms can be beneficial for a lot of things. Not only are you going to benefit from it, your plants and soil will do too.

Now when red worms are used for composting (also known as vermiculture technology), they’ll later on produce what we call, castings (also known as worm manure). These castings then turn into a quality-made earthy substance, which contains a lot of nutrients; given that red worms only feed off of organic wastes that typically contain nitrogen, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, potash, and magnesium. So as soon as this worm by-product is excreted, this can then be used as an organic fertilizer (or as a liquid fertilizer which can also be recognized as worm tea) for your plants, or as a soil conditioner.

So how are castings from worms exactly produced? It’s quite easy actually. Of course, you’ll need red worms for your composting project; and a worm bin for where to keep them in. You’ll be feeding and raising worms all at the same time, so you better keep all these maintained, and well taken cared for. So as soon as you’ve prepared a moist bedding for your worms (can be composed of peat moss and some coconut coir), you can then start placing in your worms. Now when your red worms are finally settled in, you can now feed them with some organic wastes. You can feed them selected kitchen scraps, some garden wastes, and some days old animal manure. And if you want your red worms to produce some good vermicast, then you’ll have to avoid feeding them meat, dairy, and oily stuff (these may attract unwanted pests and also lead to bad odor build-up). Needless to say, if you regularly monitor the worm bedding and food supply, and of course your red worms, then you’re likely to produce great results later on.

Now, worm castings also has a lot of benefits to it. This worm by-product, when used as an organic fertilizer, can help balance the pH of the soil. Not only that, it can also work as a soil conditioner; and can also help the soil with its water-retention capability. But other than that, it’s a resource that can be replenished; and is also safe to use. With this, you’ll no longer have to resort into using chemical fertilizers that can pose danger to many living things (humans, pets, plants, and of other beneficial microbes included in the bionetwork).

So you see, using and harvesting red wiggler worm castings (red worms are also known as eisenia fetida) can be financially rewarding, as you’ll no longer find the need to buy those chemical based products. It’s also neutral-smelling, and is very safe for the environment.

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The Measurement of Personality

One would come across many treatises on personality. ‘What is Personality’, ‘Personality Building’, ‘Magnetic Personality’, ‘Personality Cult’, ‘Personality Disorder’, are some of the well known captions. They prescribe and recommend many personality aids, improvement recipes and cures and correctives as if personality is a simple and common trait which can be acquired easily; or it is some thing objective which can be everybody’s property.

Personality is not such a common and cheap human property. In philosophic sense personality is systematized, integrated and disciplined self. There are three important aspects of human personality namely physical, mental and moral or ethical. A harmonious and conscious development of all the three, is the test of good or balanced personality.

Development, dedication and discipline are the three mansions of personal ethics. Development is growth, enfoldment of body, mind and expansion and enrichment of personality to utmost extent. It is positive as the gardener gives manure, sunshine and air to the plants. Dedication consists in the consecration of the disciplined and developed personality to some noble cause. Discipline is a negative quality; and it aims at the control of passions, impulses and appetites as a gardener prunes the plants.

We often hear the phrases, beautiful personality, attractive personality, impressive personality and imposing personality. These epithets refer to the physical aspect of the outward traits of personality. Actually personality is sum-total of various objective and subjective qualities displayed by a person. When all these qualities are assembled in one place, or one is blessed by the virtues like self-confidence, will power, power of concentration, power of discrimination, earnestness, integrity of character, pleasing manners and simple life habits, he has a great personality. No doubt attractive appearance and pleasing out-looks do have external beauty.

As we should not judge a book from its cover, so we must not judge a person from appearances which are often deceptive. It is said that each of us has a personality. A person is handsome if he is a male, beautiful if she is a female. According to dictionary meaning, personality is the integrated organization of all the psychological, intellectual, emotional and physical characteristics of an individual as they are presented to the other people. Ordinarily it stands for individuality, a distinctive or well-marked character. It is man’s most precious possession.

A person may be well built, muscular, tall, fair, deep- voiced, short, slim, a talker, or a light upper, a leader, a musician, a painter, an architect, a man of letters and so forth. There is no limit to various divisions, various dissections that a man as a subject of inquiry, can be classified. All these qualities and traits – external, inherent or acquired go to build up his personality or impart individuality.

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The Truth About Husqvarna Lawn Mowers

As a publisher-reviewer, I review many equipments, and now it’s the turn of lawn mowers.

Looking at lawn mowers from a buyer’s angle, I tried to list my expectations. Firstly, the mower should do what it’s meant to do, i.e., mow lawns efficiently. Next, it should fulfill the promise the seller makes to prospective buyers. And most importantly, the price should be reasonable and competitive.

Cutting a long story short, I zeroed in on a popular brand of lawn mowers – Husqvarna.

Do They Have Enough Models?

You need to make a basic choice between walk-behind and ride-on mowers. The size of your lawn and how frequently you mow it should help you decide which one you want. Some users may take factors, such as mulching ability, and side discharge, into account, before deciding.

Husqvarna offers walk-behind mowers in several variants: the push type, the self propelled type, electrical mowers, and battery operated mowers.

Ride-on mowers have more maneuverability and the driver has a good view of the front. These mowers come with a front mounted cutting deck and are best suited for bigger lawns with long grass. The bagging and collection facility prevents the cut grass and weeds from spreading into the lawn. Side ejection and rear ejection options are also available.

Does Steering Matter?

Front wheel steering guarantees good traction and braking; rear wheel steering offers good tracking when reversing uphill and also projects the rear section when turning. Husqvarna has an articulated steering option, with a bio-clip cutting desk that causes leaves to be turned to fine mulch.

How Much Power Do You Need?

Husqvarna’s Walk-Behind Mowers range from 4.5 HP to 5.5 HP, while Riding Mowers are 18 HP to 26 HP. Husqvarna’s YTH yard tractors feed on tall grass. This mower range comes with features like step-through fender design, hydrostatic transmission, cup holders, and decks to mulch, discharge or bag. And a Briggs & Stratton engine, to boot.

Do You Really Need An Auto Mower?

If you are lazy, the auto mower may actually make you lazier still, as it does everything for you. You don’t have to walk behind or ride a mower. All you have to do is make a boundary by pinning a wire to the ground. Then you put the auto mower in the middle and it mows.

If you think a tree on your lawn especially with roots above the ground might damage your auto mower, the manufacturer assures not to worry. The collision sensors, they say, not only stop it, but also help reverse the mower when it comes lightly in contact with objects. (I invite anyone with real experience to testify this)

The running cost is fairly low. Depending on the size of the lawn it may cost up to $25 per year for electricity. Also, it is emission-free and makes almost no noise.

What About Maintenance? Warranty? Accessories?

Northern Tool offers toll free tech support through its 50 outlets in 11 states. So, you have spares and service within easy reach, with a 2 – 3 years extendable warranty, for parts and labor. Also, you can choose from a wide range of accessories: lawn aerators, tail mowers, tow behind sprayers, tow behind lawn sweeps, manure spreaders and industrial tools trailer carts.

How about the Price?

They are the best value for money as far as I’ve seen: riding mowers cost from $2800 – 3600 and walk-behinds, $300 – 600. Of course, they also come with finance schemes.

How good are they really, taking all factors into account?

Popular Mechanics has rated Husqvarna the best mower of 2007.

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Organic Chicken – Benefits to Health and Environment

The beauty of living in the countryside offers the experience of eating organic chicken, but it is also available in the cities in small quantities. Organic chickens usually just roam around to find food. People raising these chickens use rice, corn or any food available to feed them. They simply call the chickens in some distinct way and the chickens come racing as if panicking for the food. They then throw the grains or any food and each chicken picks as many as it can. When the regular meal is over, the chickens roam around and search the ground for any available food which may be plants, insects, seeds, and if the area is coastal, small fish and live small shellfish.

Organic chickens have high beneficial fats that lower cholesterol, and higher amount of Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Vitamin A. Their eggs taste much much better than those from commercially-raised chickens which receive regular dose of antibiotics, vaccines and other medications. Though it takes longer cooking time for the meat of most native chickens, its taste is incomparable with 28-day broiler confined in overcrowded poultry houses where they also release their wastes.

Native organic chickens are much smaller in size and grow much slower. While it only takes 28 days for a broiler to be harvested, native chicken usually needs at least six months. That is why, native chickens cannot be grown on commercial basis. Since the supply cannot meet the demand requirements of the chicken meat eating population, no big poultry raiser is interested in venturing into this kind of poultry raising. Organic chicken vendors usually rely on groups of small farmers for their supply and could not at this point meet the growing demand of organic chicken consumers.

For organic chicken consumers, eating organic chicken does not only provide health benefits but also better ecosystem. Chickens raised in the open catch insects that may be harmful to the plants, scavenge crop residue and help in fertilizing the soil through its organic manure. By the way, farms using chicken dung as fertilizer do not necessarily produce organic crops. Chicken dung are bought from commercial poultry farms that use chemicals and medications which are proven to be harmful to the human body.

Since most suppliers of organic chicken are small farmers, organic chicken consumers also help build the rural economy and the income potential of small farmers. Consumers also indirectly contribute to the protection and conservation of the environment because growing organic chicken does not produce air pollution that is common in poultry farms. There are also no flies to spread germs and organisms that cause diseases to the people.

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