Easy to be green: Mushrooms and science

All you gardeners, there is a very important date that you must add to your calendar, so you won’t forget. May the 4, which is a Saturday, is World Naked Gardening Day. All you dedicated gardeners, now is your chance to enjoy Mother Nature at her finest, hot sun on pale skin, cool breezes caressing your body and an open table for all mosquitos to enjoy.

If you are so daring to be a participant, I would like to give you some suggestions on what not to do. Now would not be the time to plant or prune your roses or to decide to plant the native prickly pear cactus. If you are members of a community garden, not a good idea. Mowing the lawn or using a weed whacker, asking for trouble. If you do decide to celebrate World Naked Gardening Day, wouldn’t it be more enjoyable to garden with someone else? I wonder, who actually does participate?

How many times have you scanned the trash tabloids while waiting in the checkout at the grocery store? Hopefully you take what you read and file under, who writes this trash? What would you think if you read that mushrooms can eat plastic grocery bags? You would think, whoever wrote this, must have eaten some of those “magic” mushrooms.

But it is true according to a 2012 study from Yale University; it was discovered that a mushroom from the Amazon actually lived off polyurethane. Further studies have found that common mushrooms of which some are edible have also broken down plastic as their food source. The edible mushrooms were eaten and the researchers said the plastic eating mushrooms’ taste was “sweet with the smell of anise or licorice.” To date, research has not yet said if these plastic eating mushrooms are safe to be consumed.

Apparently, if all goes as planned and the mushrooms actually are a super plastic trash eater, it is envisioned having mushroom plastic eating recycle centers or even home kits. Don’t you just love science and mushrooms!

It makes my head swell to know that there are people who actually take time and read my article. I received a call from a reader and she actually tried eating hosta. She liked it. My hosta hasn’t broken ground yet, but soon.

Unlike those of us who purchase plants from the greenhouse that are ready to go into the ground, there are those diehard individuals who actually plant seeds in the ground and wait for them to germinate. But when it comes to gardening, nothing is certain. There can always be failures, especially for the novice.

What can happen? There are several reasons for germination failure. It is especially important to watch the weather before you plan on sowing the seeds. It is not wise to get your seeds in the ground if there is a chance of severe storms in the forecast. Torrential rains can easily wash away the seeds. Don’t be fooled by a period of nice warm weather early in the season. Seeds that sprout too early can run the risk of being killed by a frost. Find out what the normal last frost date is in your area. Read the seed packet. It should tell you how long it takes for a seed to germinate. Let’s say May 15 is normally the last chance of frost. Your seed packet says it takes ten days for germination. You do the math.

Keep in mind that seeds are a food source for birds and squirrels, or birds that are searching for insects can easily dislodge a seed from the ground. Maybe the seeds could have been planted too deep or not deep enough. Your seed packet should tell you how deep to plant the seed.

I hate it when I run across articles that are bearer of bad news. For no apparent reason, apple trees are suddenly dying and the cause is unknown. This sudden death is called RAD, rapid apple decline, or SAD, sudden apple decline. Currently there is nothing in the arsenal of chemicals that prevents this disease.

In past articles I mentioned that gardening and actually getting into the dirt has many health benefits, both physically and mentally. The actual physical side of gardening produces foods that also have excellent health benefits.

Blood pressure sufferers, a common problem for many, can benefit from what you eat. Popeye may have found extra strength from eating spinach; your heart can also benefit from leafy greens such as spinach, kale and others greens. Add cabbage and broccoli to the mix, the benefits of natural nitrates in all these plants can help reduce blood pressure. Other important crops are peas, garlic, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, beets and berries. There is an old saying, you are what you eat.

There is nothing that says spring more than the sound of peepers in the early evening. Since spring time is the renewal of life, what you are hearing is the male peepers trying to lure a female. Love is in the air and the desire to reproduce is strong. Spring time is important because spring is normally a wet time of the year. Frogs and toads need water in which to lay their eggs. The eggs hatch into tadpoles that eventually turn to a toad or frog.

Did you know that toads and frogs actually hibernate over winter? Some bury themselves deep in the ground to avoid freezing, while others such as these spring peepers actually freeze. When the temperatures start to dip to the freezing point, they produce a form of antifreeze. Their hearts stops beating and will restart once warm weather wakes them up from their deep sleep.

Here is a little trick you can use if you are having problems with household fungus gnats. These gnats are drawn to the color yellow. Yellow sticky pads are available for this problem, but you can actually make your own “pads.” Take a yellow plastic cup, cover with Vaseline, and you will have your own gnat catcher.

Please feel free to ask me questions. Your questions give me material about which to write. Email me at qstocum@gmail.com or if you see me out and about, stop and talk to me. I thank everyone who has contacted me.

Remember, it is easy to be green. Happy gardening!

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Quentin Stocum,

Just Your Common Ordinary Gardener

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