Avocados

They're cholesterol free, sodium free, and contain just 5 grams of fat per serving, the majority of which is monounsaturated. An important phytochemical, Beta-sitosterol is found naturally in avocados that is associated with lowering serum cholesterol levels. Avocados are second only to oranges in their beta-sitosterol level. They contain Glutathione -- An antioxidant that protects cell DNA from free radicals, thus preventing certain cancers and aging. Avocados contain at least three times more glutathione than any other fruit. In addition to that they contain vitamins C, E, B6, foliate, magnesium, and potassium. Roots of the avocado can be traced around the world. In Peru, archaeologists reportedly found avocado seeds buried with mummies dating back to 750 B.C. Legend has it that the first avocado was eaten in Mexico by a Mayan princess around 291 B.C.

The avocado tree is native to the humid and semi humid tropics. It seems to do best at moderately warm temperatures (60 - 85F) and moderate humidity. It can tolerate temperatures, once established, to around 32 - 28F with minimal damage. Avocados can be grown on a wide range of soil types. The avocado is a shallow rooted tree (most of the feeder roots are in the top 6" of soil) which needs good aeration. They like the soil pH around 6 - 6.5. Avocado trees typically do not do well planted in lawns so try to plant your tree in a non-lawn area. It is critical to plant avocados in well-drained locations to minimize avocado root rot. Avocados should always be protected against strong winds. Avocados are sensitive to over-watering. However, care must be taken so that trees have adequate water. Avocado trees should be watered 1-2 times per week, depending on weather and soil conditions. If in doubt, check the soil moisture in the root zone to determine when to irrigate.

When planting avocados, grafted trees should always be used. The avocado root system is very sensitive and great care should be taken not to disturb the root system when transplanting. If the tree is root bound, however, loosen up the soil around the edges and clip the roots that are going in circles. Planting holes should be about twice as wide as the tree balls but no deeper than necessary. Avocado trees should be spaced from 20-30 feet apart. Heavy producing varieties require additional nitrogen, use a good slow release organic fertilizer. The young transplanted plants should be staked after planting to provide temporary wind protection until the tree begins to grow. Avocados require very little pruning. Pruning is generally done to shape the tree, lower the height of the tree for easier harvesting, and minimize wind damage to fruits. Annual pruning avoids removal of large branches and resulting growth setbacks. Include dieback of twigs, then death of larger branches and, eventually, death of the entire tree.  

How to Grow Your Own Avocado Tree 

1.Wash an avocado seed. Suspend it (broad end down) over a water-filled glass using three toothpicks. The water should cover about an inch of the seed.

2.Place the glass in a warm location, out of direct sunlight. A mature seed will crack as roots and stem sprout in about two to six weeks.

3.When a stem grows to six or seven inches, cut it back to about three inches.

4.When the roots are thick and the stem has leafed out again, plant it in a rich humus soil, leaving the seed half exposed. Use a terra cotta pot with a 10-1/2" diameter.

5.Water your avocado house plant generously, but let it dry out somewhat between waterings.

Proper Care And Feeding Of Your Avocado House Plant 

1.Be sure your avocado house plant is planted in rich humus soil with half the seed exposed.

2.Give it frequent, light waterings with occasional deep soakings. Generally, soil should be moist but not saturated.

3.The more sunlight your house plant gets, the better.

4.If the leaves turn yellow, this is an indication of over watering. Let your house plant dry out for a day or two.

5.If the leaves become brown and fry at the tips, too much salt has accumulated in the soil and leaching is required. Let water run freely into the pot and drain out for several minutes.

6.When the stem grows to 12 inches high, cut it back to 6 inches. This will encourage growth of new shoots.

7.Don't expect your house plant to bear fruit! Although this does occur occasionally, avocados usually require grafting.

Avocados do not "ripen" on the tree, that is, they do not get soft while on the tree. Once you pick an avocado, it takes about 7 to 10 days for it to soften when left at room temperature. You can speed the process up slightly by placing the avocado in a bag with some other ripe fruit  (like an apple) or slow the process down by keeping the fruit in the refrigerator.

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Leaf Cutting Bees

These bees (also called mason bees) are a little smaller and similar coloration of the common honeybee. They are darker though in color and have light yellow bands on their abdomen. They differ from the honeybee because they are not aggressive, are not social and do not normally sting. Adults live 2-3 months in hot weather and can lay 30-40 eggs. Females do all the work themselves. This includes finding and preparing the nests, and collecting the food necessary for the young larvae to overwinter in a cocoon (looks like a small cigar) that she builds out of leaves nectar and pollen. They build their nests in soft rotting wood and small canes that are easy to bore into. They don't eat the leaves of plants but do cut holes in them and sometimes cut them off to use in their egg cases. Usually the worst that can happen is that your plants, especially your roses will look unsightly. In rare instances some plants, if unhealthy, will die because of the damage. Some years leaf cutting bees can kill many mature plants. Roses and lilacs are the most likely candidates for leaf cutters but sometimes other ornamentals, especially in rural areas, can be chosen. I read an article about people who raise them so their alfalfa crops would have plenty of pollination. They even built shelters for them with pre-drilled holes.

Control

Control is not usually necessary as any type of bee is great for pollination in your garden but if your problem is severe you might consider using cheesecloth or another protective covering for the plants that are affected. Parasitic wasps and some ground beetles are natural predators. Keeping areas clean of rotting or soft wood may help keep the bees away from your tender plants.

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Here are some ideas to try to get rid of ants;

*Pour HOT WATER on the mounds. This is best if done in the a.m. as they are high in the mound at that time. 

*Folks have had success with Quaker Oats Instant Grits. Sprinkle some over the mounds, and they will eat it and it "blows up" inside them.

*Use cayenne pepper mixed with corn starch.

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Looking for fragrance in the garden? Try scented geraniums (Pelargonium)--The best scented plants! There are zillions of different varieties and scents to choose from. My favorites are;

Peppermint (P.Tomentosum)--It smells just like candy canes and it makes a good hanging plant. The leaves are fuzzy.

Apple (P. odoratissimum)--It smells like apple "Jolly Rancher" candy, and is also a good hanging plant.

Rose (P. Graveolens)--One of the largest, very susceptible to whiteflies. An old- fashioned rose fragrance.

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Herbs

(Lemon) Balm

grow in rich, moist soil in full sun or light shade. Readily self sows, or sow seeds in spring in the garden bed. Keep under plastic if your area can get frosts. Divide mature plants every 4-5 years to keep plants young and vigorous. Cut back in summer before flowering to encourage a further supply of young leaves. Also called melissa, sweet balm and lemon mint.

Peppermint

divide roots in autumn or spring and plant in moist fertile soil, cool in summer and with plenty of potash; cut back in summer to rejuvenate growth. Remake beds every 4-5 years, sooner if plants develop rust ;or cultivate as an annual by containing the roots and replanting divisions every spring.

*There are at least 18 species of mint and many more hybrids, most of them difficult to classify because of their variability and rediness to hybridize between each other. All are aromatic perennials, most containing menthol (essential mint oil) to some degree.

CAUTION:  handling mints may cause skin rashes and other allergic reactions; mint teas should not be drunk in large amounts over a long period.

Pennyroyal

sow in spring under plastic or divide plants in autumn or spring and plant in light free draining soil as edging or ground cover or in the joints of paving stones. Also called pudding grass.

 

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Brandie

“Confronted with the vision of a beautiful garden, we wee something beautiful about ourselves, as a part of nature.

 

 
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