Zygocactus

Years ago we used to call Schlumbergera spp. a “Zygocactus”.  The old name has been replaced by Schlumbergera spp.  by taxonomists trying to make sense out of several related genuses that were named incorrectly by botanists a long time ago.  Most people, of course, call these plants Christmas cactus.

There are many Christmas cactus varieties that have been bred to increase the flower size, to give different colors, and especially to flower coincident with a certain holiday.  There are now types of these that flower for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. 

This is an old variety of “Christmas cactus”.  The original plant is from the 1950s. 

This "Christmas Cactus" blooms sporadically all winterNotice the tiny roots at the joints. A vestigial air root from their epiphytic origins.

 These plants are bred from the epiphytic cacti that grow in South America.  Plant breeders have been growing them in pots of soil, so the air roots are not really used anymore.  However, if you grow these plants in a humid greenhouse, the rootlets coming out of the joints will develop and be functional. 

These plants grow in the wild up in trees in Brazil.  They flower in May in South America and are nicknamed May Flowers.  Flowering is induced by cool temperatures and daylength.  When you grow these plants in the house, flowering is sporadic all winter long because the daylength is interrupted by electric lights being turned on and off and the heated  night temperatures.

Perpetual Motion

Perpetual motion, or not.  Not really, but this stopper is unusual.  Here is a minute and 15 seconds you will never get back.

Funny Signs

Funny signs I have seen

Oh Really now?

Too bad I'm 52 I guess I can't go in

Hmmm

But I love to run while in the pool

Dear Handicapped People; deal with it

Max Force on Ants

If you get ants invading your house in the spring, you might try an ant bait.  The reason baits are good is that they take the product back to the nest thinking  it is food.  Then they eat it and feed it to everyone else, including the queen.  When she goes, the rest are not going to live long.  Most baits are either growth regulators or slow acting poisons.  They are impregnated into delicious tiny nuggets about the size of large sand grains.  These grains are scavenged by the workers looking for food to bring back to the colony.  The food is shared and in approximately a week, the colony dies out. 

This approach is pretty good since the colony is sometimes a little hard to find or destroy.  This way wandering worker ants can deliver the goods to the colony even if it is inaccessable to humans.  It is a pretty safe way to go since you use a little bottle cap full of bait crumbs and they are not all over your home.  A little goes a long way, too.  A bottle cap full is way too much; you just need a pinch or two.  If a cat or dog eats it, there is too little to hurt them.

The active ingredient in MaxForce is hydramethylnon, which you can read about on Wikipedia.  It is a slow acting stomach poison for ants.  It is low toxicity to mammals, although apparently fish are quite sensitive to it.  The Lethal dose to kill 50% of a population of dogs  is 2500 mg/kg or quite low toxicity.  Max Force is attractive to most all species of ants.

The other products out there to kill any colonies by bait method are growth regulators.  Insect growth regulators (IGR) disrupt the maturation of the insects into adults by not allowing the chitin of their exoskeletons to shed properly.  They never reach the reproducing stage and so die out.  Advance carpenter ant bait (http://kill-fireants.com/mcart/index.cgi?ID=300975347&PID=IT14&code=13) is available for carpenter ant infestations.  The smell of the bait is attractive to that species  and is especially good on them although other ants will take it too.

A Bad Day

Infamous likes to use glue boards in the home to catch pests.  They are non-toxic and work quite well for pests big and small.  Of course, the large pests will be seen licking their paws after escaping, but I find none of the pests I object to can escape.

Here are some photos of pests having a real bad day.

You know it is a real bad day when you get caught in a mousetrap that then throws you onto a glue board.

 

Basic white belleh mouse

Giant Conch

Giant Conch from the Florida Keys

Giant Pumpkin and a Cactus

Giant polka dot pumpkins at Fairchild Botanic garden, FLI wonder how this cactus will look on my blog?

Recipe for Maple Upside Down Gingerbread

  • 2 T.  Butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 2 medium apples peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1 1/2 flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup boiling water

Combine the first butter and syrup and pour into 9X9 cake pan.  Scatter raisins evenly over mixture, then arrange the apples slices on top.  Batter:  Combine molasses and sugar, beat in egg.  Sift flour with soda, spices and salt; add to molasses mixture. 

Combine second butter and boiling water.  Add to batter and beat well.  Pour over apples slices and bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes.  Invert onto serving plate.  Serves 9.

New Time stamp

I think I just corrected the time zone/ Daylight savings time problem.  Now all your comments will be stamped correctly, I think.

HaHa Google, Google This

The blog service has an automatic feed or something that tells Google keywords from each post.  I have no idea how it works but apparently it is easy to generate traffic on your blog by putting popular words in your post.  For example, last week I was reading one of those organic gardening rags from the home-brew store and just had to write a post about psuedoscience claims on fertilizer.  As we all know, the most bodacious claims are from companies trying to sell products to the increasing number of home marijuana growers.  Some of these people have never grown anything and are easy marks to those who puff their products claiming some super concoction will make more weed. 

Anyway, I wrote a little thing about the junk claims of fertilizers and used the word “marijuana” in the post.  Google must have set me up as a botanist who was writing about marijuana growing because I got an unbelievable number of hits.  So to speak.  So I think to get more readers from now on, I will just put the keywords in the post that Google will link to popular searches.   Take this Google:  Crack, crystal meth recipes, marijuana.  There.  That should get me about a thousand hits by tomorrow.  Heh-Heh.

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