Archive for July 11th, 2010

Gardens Can Flourish in July Despite Hot Temperatures, Water Rationing

Sunday, July 11th, 2010

New watering restrictions come just as July heat typically takes its toll on landscapes. However, prudent planning using drought-tolerant plants, watering schedules and soil preparation can mean gardeners can still enjoy beautiful landscapes despite sizzling summer days and newly enacted water rationing.

Plant Low Water-Use Vegetation: Native plants usually require little or no water once they are established. Plants that have survived for hundreds of years through droughts and downpours will mostly likely survive in just about any backyard landscape. Dozens of varieties of native plants are available for gardeners. Popular types include sages, big berry Manzanita, buckwheat, bush poppy, California Aster and California Mountain Lilac.

Reduce Your Grass Area: Lawns use more water than any other landscape feature. Consider replacing a portion of your grass with low-growing, drought tolerant ground cover. You will first need to remove the grass, till the soil and amend with compost. Perennial ground covers include ornamental grasses, Alyssum and Verbena.

Mulch Around Your Plants and Trees: A two-inch layer of mulch (semi-composted wood chips) will help retain moisture within the soil and moderate soil temperature during dry weather. Other benefits include less weed growth, less erosion (making it ideal for use on hillsides and slopes) and the addition of organic matter and nutrients to the soil as the mulch naturally decomposes.

Star Anise Herb

Sunday, July 11th, 2010

Hop is native to Europe and western Asia. It was used originally as a medicinal herb by the ancient Greeks and Romans. The first to use it in brewing beer were probably the people living in Mesopotamia between the Euphrates and Tigris rivers in olden days.

We learn about the first hop-fields in Europe from a deed of donation issued by the Frankish king Pepin III ‘the Short’ in the year 768 A.D. when hops began to be cultivated by monks in the monasteries, where beer was brewed. From that time on the cultivation of hops spread not only in Europe but also in North America, Australia and New Zealand as the consumption of beer grew throughout the world.

The relatively large flowers, growing from the leaf axils, are followed by a compound fruit (a follicle), fleshy at first, later becoming woody and forming an attractive star with anise-like fragrance (hence the common name star anise).

The ripe follicles burst on the ventral side to release the single seed contained in each. They are harvested when ripe and then dried. The seeds have a pungent, spicy flavour.’

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