Wednesday

Mother Of Thousands

Kalanchoe daigremontiana syn. Bryophyllum daigremontianum also called Devil's Backbone, Mexican Hat Plant or Mother of Thousands is a succulent plant native to Madagascar. This plant is distinguished by its ability to propagate on the mother plant itself.

Plants reach up to 1 m (3 feet) tall with opposite, fleshy oblong-lanceolate "leaves" that reach 15-20 cm (6-8 inches) long and about 3.2 cm (1.25 inches) wide. These are medium green above and blotched
with purple underneath. The margins of these leaf-like organs have spoon-shaped bulbiliferous spurs that bear young plants. The plantlets form roots while on the plant. The "leaves" are actually short, determinate, leaf-like branches that can be termed phylloclades or cladodes.
Adult plants can also develop lateral root structures on its main stalk, as high up as 10-15 cm from the ground. The upper leaves of the plant tend to develop into disproportionately large structures, causing the main stalk to bend downwards and the lateral roots to take up root of their own, anchoring into the soil and eventually developing new primary stalks which establish themselves as independent plants.

Furthermore, Kalanchoe daigremontiana can go through a flowering season, where the main stalk elongates vertically upwards by as much as 30 cm, within a couple of days, developing an umbrella-like terminal inflorescence (a compound cyme) of small bell-shaped pink flowers. Flowering is, however, not an annual event and will occur sporadically if at all.

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Monday

Sugar Cane


We grow sugar cane, yes we do! In our small garden and it's very invasive and a lot of work to contain. There is not much else to say about it besides that it's a nice ornamental grass and great for cooking. Sugarcane is a giant, tropical, perennial grass that grows up to 12' high. Its stalk contains sweet juice from which sugar can be extracted.
Wrap it around a nice steak, use it with stir fry, stick it in hot or cold tea or give it to your kids to chew on.
It's imortant to use fresh stalks to make twizzle sticks. Cut sugar cane stalks into 6"-8" pieces, avoiding the nods and then lengthwise into 1/4" sticks, remove outer (hard) coat.


Here is one of my favorite grill recipes with sugar cane.

Rum Glazed Shrimp on Sugarcane

Ingredients
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 garlic clove, minced
24 jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined (about 1 1/2 pounds)
8 sugarcane swizzle sticks, each cut into 3 pieces
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup dark rum (or 2 tsp alcohol free "rum aroma", in the baking isle)
1/4 cup corn syrup
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Cooking spray

Preparation
Prepare grill to high heat.

Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Add shrimp; toss to coat. Cover and chill 15 minutes.
Cut swizzle sticks at a sharp angle. Thread 4 shrimp on each skewer.

Combine brown sugar and next 8 ingredients (brown sugar through pepper) in a saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes or until syrupy.

Place shrimp on grill rack coated with cooking spray. Grill 3 minutes on each side or until done, basting generously with glaze.

Yield
6 servings (serving size: 4 shrimp)

Nutritional Information

CALORIES 273(22% from fat); FAT 6.8g (sat 1.9g,mono 1.6g,poly 2.3g); PROTEIN 23.6g; CHOLESTEROL 177mg; CALCIUM 83mg; SODIUM 541mg; FIBER 0.2g; IRON 3.5mg; CARBOHYDRATE 23.3g


Steven Raichlen , Cooking Light, AUGUST 2003 Recipes adapted from Steven Raichlen's books How to Grill (Workman, 2001) and BBQ USA (Workman, 2003)

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Voodoo Lily

Also known as Amorphophallus konjac. I have managed to get some bulbs in a trade, so this bizzarre additions will be my newest challenge of all plants that I have had the pleasure to grow so far.
The images are borrowed from the Institut for Plant Biology Technical Univerity of Braunschweig, Germany and Botanical Garden Bonn, Germany

Amorphophallus. konjac, formerly known as A. rivieri is perhaps the hardiest species, taking winters in zone 6, according to some sources, though I can't confirm below zone 8. It is an intriguing plant even without the bloom, with its large
leaves and leopard-spotted stem. Same bad but short-lived odor as the other plants in this genus.

The Dictionary of Plant Names says that the Greek amorphos means deformed, and, well, you know what the rest of the name means. The Dictionary also says that the name refers to the shape of the tubers. Amorphophallus is a genus of 90-100 species of mostly warm-weather perennials, distinguished by extremely large "flowers".


One member of the genus, Amorphophallus titanum (or also Corpse Flower), has the largest inflorescence on any plant, and usually rates a newspaper article when it blooms in captivity. (No, I don't have one of those, yikes)
Because it takes a lot of energy to produce such a large inflorescence, Amorphophallus doesn't bloom until the tuber reaches a certain size, and then may take more than a year between blooms, or even foliage production. These plants have a long dormant period, usually not coming up until June, and dying back in September.
A "Voodoo Lily" that is hardy in zone 8 if planted a foot deep with good drainage. The flower may be 18" tall, and is quite colorful, with a spathe that is mottled on the outside and rich crimson/pink on the inside, with a cream-colored spadix. The foliage is also very striking, with attractively segmented leaves on a green-mottled petiole that should reach 3' or more in a shaded location with lots of compost. The flower stinks for a few hours shortly after opening, then stops. (Maybe it will keep the nonstop barking dogs of my neighbor in check?).

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Monster Caterpillar

Along with our Tomato harvest past fall came some strange critter, the Horn Worm. After collecting 2 whole plastic cups full for kids show and tell around the neighborhood, I came across this huge specimen. Worth Posting. Meaty Tomato's with meaty Protein.

Hosts: Primarily tomato but can also attack eggplant, pepper, and potato.

Description: The larval stage of this insect is a 3 1/2 to 4 inch long pale green caterpillar with 5 pairs of prolegs and a "horn" on the last segment. The two most common hornworms are the tobacco hornworm (7 diagonal white stripes and, most commonly, a red horn) and the tomato hornworm ("V" shaped markings with a horn that is often black). The adult of the tobacco Hornworm is the Sphinx moth. The Five-spotted Hawk Moth is the adult of the tomato hornworm. Both moths are stout-bodied, grayish-colored insects with a wing spread of 4 to 5 inches.

The larva is the damaging stage and feeds on the leaves and stems of the tomato plant leaving behind dark green or black droppings. Though initially quite small with a body about the same size as its horn, these insects pass through 4 or 5 larval stages to reach full size in about a month. The coloration of this larva causes it to blend in with its surroundings and is often difficult to see despite its large size. It eventually will burrow into the soil to pupate. There are two generations a year.

Recommendations: This insect is parasitized by a number of insects. One of the most common is a small braconid wasp. Larva that hatch from wasp eggs laid on the hornworm feed on the inside of the hornworm until the wasp is ready to pupate. The cocoons appear as white projections protruding from the hornworms body. If such projections are seen, leave the infected hornworms in the garden. The wasps will kill the hornworms when they emerge from the cocoons and will seek out other hornworms to parasitize. (Yuck)

Handpicking is an effective control in small gardens.

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Adenium (Desert Rose)

Desert Rose is one of my ultra favorite plants. Native to arid areas of Africa including Madagascar, Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda, it is related to the Plumeria.

Here are some images and notes about Adeniums. I have succeeded for the first time to grow them from seeds. The left image are my babies.
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Place the seeds flat on top of the soil, barely cover part and just sprinkle dry mix over the seeds until they are surrounded but a little can still be seen put on the humidity dome and place in a dark place at 70-80*. 90-95* may be a little hot. You should see germination starting in 3-5 days assuming the seeds are viable. Some will take longer. You can then remove them from the community tray with a spoon and transplant them into individual pots when the get about as big around as a pencil. There is many variations to this but moisture, warmth, BRIGHT light and viable seeds are absolutely necessary.


Origin: Arabia, Africa
Flowering: Twice yearly Spring/Autumn
Height: 3'
Width: 3'
Culture Information: Indoors

Temperature: Thrives at temperatures up to about 85°F but, can tolerate temperatures down to 54°F

Light: Direct sunlight to indirect sunlight, good light is a must for this plant all year round. Plants can be placed into a partially shaded area outdoors in summer.

Watering: Water similarly as with cactus, allow the plant to dry between waterings, often the base of the stem become soft when the plant requires watering. Increase watering when plants are in flower or actively growing. Decrease watering in winter. Leaf drop in a common sign of overwatering.

Humidity: Medium
Pests: Mealybugs and scale can be a pest to these plants occasionally.

Diseases: Root rot can occur when the plant is kept too cold or is overwatered

Propagation: Seeds, cutting should be allowed to dry for a few days before placing into a simple sand-peat mix.

Care & Tips: Leaf drop in winter in a normal for this plant. In the wild this plant may grow up to 9', but rarely exceeds 3' when grown indoors. Plant flowers twice yearly once in the warm seasons and once growing into the winter season.

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More Ginger


These rare gems I don't have either but I can dream, right? Also on my list to own!
The ginger family (Zingiberaceae) is made up of a large group of tropical herbs. Most gingers are native to the fields and rain forests of Indo-Malaysia. The family, ever changing, consists of about 45 genra and around 700 species. The edible gingers have forever been items of commerce. Some are grown for their roots and sold in International
markets. Others such as cardamom have been used as flavoring though out the world and in India for millennia. Turmeric is another which is used in curry powder and as a yellow dye. Trade of ginger was developed first in Indonesian and along the coasts of the Indian Ocean. Later, other cultures discovered them. Gourmets in the Mediterranean area became well acquainted with them. Even the early Greek and Roman writings have recorded the use of ginger as a spice. Today our international cuisine has a constant demand on this wonderful spice.



Although more popularly known as a spice the flower of gingers are one of the more
widely used tropical plants. Their bright red flowers can be seen during festival times in the South Pacific as colorful dresses. Shell gingers are also quite attractive and are well used in flower arrangements.

Many gingers have medicinal uses from helping asthma to relieving stomach aches. Others gingers are used as perfumes and some are thought to have a supernatural values in casing away evil spirits. Many cultures used the foamy flower heads of the variegated wild ginger for shampooing hair and
quenching thirst.

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