Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Science News

It's late November and not much is going on in my garden.  Instead I've been doing one of my other favorite things—reading.  I'll read just about anything someone puts in front of me but one of my favorites is the magazine ScienceNews.  http://www.sciencenews.org/   They do a terrific job of explaining science in friendly terms.  Below are some interesting tidbits.

(SN:7/18/09, pg 12)  The heat of chili peppers apparently protect them from  fungus, but they are more likely to be affected by drought and ants.

(SN Online: 2/13/09) The stress of plants being grown organically could explain the abundance of some micronutrients, ones that protect the plants and aid human health.

(SN Online: 8/25/09)  For those using pomegranate supplements instead of eating the real thing:  don't bother, most of them don't actually contain any of the plant material they claim.

(SN 1/16/10, pg 8)  Deception amongst the squash.  Squash are slight of hand advertisers thanks to a common virus.  When cucumber mosiac virus infects squash plants, the plant starts to smell more attractive to aphids.  Oh by the way, none of this is good news for the gardener!  Anyway the virus attracts the aphids, the aphids take a taste and go "UGH" and move on.  The aphids also pick up the virus and help spread it to other plants.

(SN 1/16/10 pg 8)  Worried about bed bugs, not sure whether you have them?  A low tech, low expense, way to find them has been devised by researchers.  The bugs apparently are attracted by carbon dioxide.  Take about a kilogram (sorry you'll have to figure out how much this is) and put it in a 1/3 gallon insulated jug (available in sporting goods stores).  Don't quite close the opening.  Stand the jug in a low dish and build a paper ramp up to the lip of the bowl.  Dust the bowl with a slight coat of talcum powder.  Leave the room, close the door and leave it alone for 11 hours.  The pesky bugs are attracted to the CO2, climb the ramp, fall into the bowl where the slick sides and talcum powder prevent them from escaping.  Some good news (?) is that modern bed bugs don't live as long without feeding.  Small consolation, but it will save you money by not hiring a pest inspector.

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