Tag Archives: Stuff You Missed in Botany

Stuff You Missed in Botany: Experiment With Organic Pest Control

Stuff You Missed in Botany: Experiment With Organic Pest Control

No, I’m not telling you what an experiment is as such. I’m telling you about a Botany experiment I’m going to be doing with my son, Jonathan.

Last week while searching for various and sundry things, I came across an interesting article about Myrosinase. This has sparked much curiosity, scientific probing,  and even a bit of the entrepreneur spirit around the Gunz household.

Myrosinase is an enzyme that is released when radish leaves are stressed. (It’s not only radish leaves, but most of the brassicas family, the largest quantity comes from rapeseed) The enzyme acts as a repellent to insects, and other foragers.

DNA of Myrosinase~it looks like confetti...so pretty and paisley!

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Stuff You Missed In Botany: Stem

Stuff You Missed In Botany: Stem

Let’s talk about plants, from the roots up.

Roots are the pipelines, the feeder roads if you will. Leaves are the factories. The flowers/fruits are the press agents and research and development department. And last, but not least, the stems are the superhighway that keeps everything connected.

Stem parts

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Stuff You Missed in Botany: Symbiosis

Stuff You Missed in Botany: Symbiosis

With all the talk of the Three Sisters planting, I couldn’t help but think that the appropriate Botany topic this week should be symbiosis.

From the Ancient Greek syn (together) biosis (life). As the German Mycologist Heinrich de Bary said, “the living together of two or more unlike organisms.”

For the purposes of a gardening blog, I’m going to focus on how different plants, growing together, help each other and fulfill the symbiotic relationship.

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Stuff You Missed in Botany: Mushrooms and Other Spore Bearing Fungi

Stuff You Missed in Botany: Mushrooms and Other Spore Bearing Fungi

It seems appropriate this week to talk about mushrooms and other spore type critters. On Wednesday I talked about the Mushroom Growing Kit we are doing this spring with Patrick, so it’s fresh on my mind.

Mushrooms are not plants. They are a fungus. The classification has to do with how they reproduce themselves. To be completely accurate, a mushroom is the spongy, fleshy, spore-bearing fruiting body of a fungus. Whether a mushroom is safely edible depends on the type of fungus the mushroom fruits from.

The mushroom has three parts, the stipe (or stem), the pileus (or cap) and the lamella (or gills). There are other fungi that produce spores to reproduce, they are often lumped in as mushrooms. These include Morel and Turkey Tail. Turkey Tail mushroom has been used in Chinese medicine for many years and now is being developed in Western medicine as a possible cure for several types of cancer, HIV, and Malaria.

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Stuff You Missed in Botany: Leaves

Stuff You Missed in Botany: Leaves

Leaves are such fun! We love to see them stretch themselves in our little peat pots in the early spring. We love to see them set themselves ablaze in the dog days of summer and the proclamation of fall. We take treks to behold the wonder that are leaves.

So, what are they? How can we help them be healthy in our gardens?

Leaves are the organs of photosynthesis, typically flattened and thin. Although some leaves have adapted to be quite unrecognizable as a leaf in the way we think of leaves. The leaves of conifers are those needles you pull out of your carpet for six months after Christmas. The leaves of succulents are fat and juicy, sometimes waxy or pokey. (Pokey is a technical term, don’t try this at home)

Leaves come in a gazillion shapes, sizes and colors. Like people. (Gazillion, another technical term) = )

Leaves in my garden are the indicators of health for my plants. If they’re perky, green and abundant, life is good. Proceed with gusto. If they’re droopy, sallow and sketchy, an intervention of some sort is necessary. Proceed with caution. If they are rotted, brown and chewed on, well, it may be time for a new hobby or at least some new plants. Proceed to the seed catalog or knitting store, whichever seems logical at the time.

Leaves perform the duties of changing the energy in sunlight chemically into a form of energy or food for the plant. Think of them as tiny little powerhouses. They arrange themselves in such a way that they get the most amount of sunlight they can without shading their brother and sister leaves. If you’re even half observant in your garden you’ll see leaves turn themselves towards the radiance of the sun. It’s amazing.

Cucumber stretching to the sun!

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Stuff You Missed in Botany: Scoville Scale

Stuff You Missed in Botany: Scoville Scale

Some like it hot and some sweat when the heat is on...”~Robert Palmer (via Duran Duran)

This pepper is hot. But what does that mean? Hot when it comes to the spiciness of a pepper is subjective, right? I mean, two serranos in a Thai stir-fry is approaching the right “heat” for my son, but has me running for the milk and an alternative meal. Subjective.

If only there were some way to quantify the spiciness of a pepper without relying on the conjecture of an individuals palate. Thank you Wilbur Scoville.

In 1912, Wilbur Scoville devised a method called the Scoville Organoleptic Test, giving us a scale that measures the capsaicinoid content of a substance. In other words, how “hot” something is depends on how much capsaicin is in it.

 

So, what’s not and what’s hot?

The scale is pretty straightforward. If a pepper has a lot of capsaicin, it’s hot. If it has less capsaicin, it’s mild. Here is a nicely colored picture available from http://hottestseeds.com

Scoville scale

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Stuff You Missed in Botany: Photosynthesis

Stuff You Missed in Botany: Photosynthesis

Photosynthesis: a biochemical reaction using a carbon molecule to produce an organic molecule, using sunlight as a catalyst

This is what you missed in Botany (or have forgotten from 7th grade science) explained three ways.

It’s a great idea to try to understand photosynthesis if you are a gardener. This can help you understand why plants react the way they do to our particular lighting conditions. This can also help us figure out where we want to plant things in order for them to be the most “photo” happy, thus giving us our desired result, a thriving plant.

Okay, so what is photosynthesis?

My four kids have all been home schooled for all of their academic careers. My two oldest kids are now in college. I have a son in 8th grade and a son in 1st grade. All four have taken, or in Patrick’s case, will take, Botany.

Ryan and Meghan were a breeze to teach. Ryan is a visual-spatial learner so I wrote everything out with charts and diagrams. Meghan is an audio learner so I spoke the lessons as well setting things to music whenever possible.

I’m saying all this to tell you that I learned I had to explain things different ways in order to get the same material across to four different people learning things four different ways. That’s how I’ll explain photosynthesis now. Three ways.

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Stuff You Missed in Botany: Germination

Stuff You Missed in Botany: Germination

One of my favorite Podcasts is Stuff You Missed History Class. I thought it might be enjoyable use this format to talk about stuff in Botany that will help gardeners.

With everyone getting their seed packets out, I think it’s a good time to talk about germination. Learning about seeds can help you increase your germination rates, helping you get more plants to yield each year. We all want that, right?

For the most part, a seed is very much like a chicken egg. They have a shell, or seed coat, an embryo that is a baby plant, and a food source, called cotyledons.

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