Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa)
If you are in Egypt and someone offers you hibiscus tea, that’s the plant you will be tasting. It’s a common drink in Egypt and surrounding countries and has been used and grown there for thousands of years.
The Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa) is a species of hibiscus native to the Old World tropics. It is an annual or perennial herb or woody-based subshrub, growing to 2–2.5 m tall. The leaves are deeply three- to five-lobed, 8–15 cm long, arranged alternately on the stems.The flowers are 8–10 cm in diameter, white to pale yellow with a dark red spot at the base of each petal, and have a stout fleshy calyx at the base, 1.5–2 cm wide, enlarging to 3–3.5 cm, fleshy and bright red as the fruit matures. It is an annual plant, and takes about six months to mature.
How to grow
Roselle is very sensitive to frost. grow best in tropical and subtropical climate.
Sow seed in fairly fertile sandy loam soil in nursery bed and transplanted when 3 to 4 inches. Require watering regularly to promote growth.
Begin harvesting the calyx as soon as the flower has wilted and the husk turns red and fleshy
This fresh Roselle is the main contents in preparing Roselle based products such as various types of drinks, puree, jam, Roselle vinegar, foods, garnishing, for bakery and medication preparation.
The red calyces of the plant are increasingly exported to America and Europe, where they are used as food colorings. Germany is the main importer. It can also be found in markets (as flowers or syrup) in some places such as France, where there are Senegalese immigrant communities. The green leaves are used like a spicy version of spinach. They give flavour to the Senegalese fish and rice dish thiéboudieune. In Africa, especially the Sahel, roselle is commonly used to make a sugary herbal tea that is commonly sold on the street. The dried flowers can be found in every market. In the Caribbean the drink is made from the fresh fruit, and it is considered an integral part of Christmas celebrations.
Roselle/Hibiscus apart from having natural color (red) and taste(light sour), the petal (calyx) rich with Vitamins, Citric Acid and Malic Acid,Vitamin A, Niacin and Calcium and no Caffeine.
Roselle calyces are harvested fresh to produce pro-health drink due to high contents of vitamin C and anthocyanins. have been used since ancient times as a boost to promote and maintain optimal health by locals. Made into a tea drink, it is known to exert a cooling action, helping with digestion and with elimination of internal dampness and heat.
Roselle is associated with traditional medicine and is reported to be used as treatment for several diseases such as hypertension and urinary tract infections.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
It is also called Star of Bethlehem, is a perennial herb which forms a rosette of narrow lanceolate leaves that are thick, pubescentes and coarsely pinnatilobed.
The plant contains a poisonous milky sap, an alkaloid, which can cause burns and irritation. The flowers are long and white, on a 2 cm pubescent pedicel in a shape of a star with bearded anthers. The fruit is a pubescent capsule divided in two cells with minute light brown seeds.
Hippobroma longiflora, a native of the West Indies, is a perennial herb with poisonous milky sap. They will reach 2 feet in containers and are very showy when in bloom.
Blooming Time: Summer-Fall. The white flowers are 3½ inches long and 2 inches across.
Culture: Hippobroma longiflora will grow in part shade to full shade with a rich, well-drained soil. In the greenhouse, we use a soil mix consisting of 2 parts peat moss to 1 part loam to 2 parts sand or perlite. During the growing season, the plant should be kept moist for optimum growth. Fertilize weekly with a balanced fertilizer diluted to ½ the strength recommended on the label. During the winter months, water less and do not fertilize. I recommend keeping the fruit from ripening because the plant can become very weedy in the greenhouse setting.
Propagation: Hippobroma longiflora are easily propagated from cutting or by seed. Seed germinate in 7-14 days at 65° F.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Tropical Color – Sun – 18"x24" – Zone 10 –
Other names: Flame flower, Jewels-of-opar, puchero
Family: Portulacaceae Origin: Brazil
Soft yellow-green, broad basal foliage with tiny pink flowers followed by ruby-orange seed pods. Strong, thin wiry stems make them an exceptional filler for any bouquet. These charming, heat-tolerant plants bloom all summer. A striking addition to any garden landscape. Perennial in Zones 9-10; best grown as an annual elsewhere. Ht. 24-30". Avg. 26,500 seeds/oz. Packet: 15 seeds. The chartreuse foliage has a soft appearance, giving this plant a delicate look. The individual flowers, on airy stalks, are small, but are nice massed together, especially with the red bead-like buds and fruits. A favorite with bees.
Sowing advice: Z. SOW FINELY & EVENLY. COVER THINLY WITH COMPOST OR GRIT. SOW IN GENTLE HEAT IN DAYLIGHT & KEEP MOIST. GROW ON INDIVIDUAL SEEDLINGS IN 3" POTS. PLANT OUT IN WELL-DRAINED SHELTERED POSITION OR IN A CONTAINER.
Noteworthy characteristics: This plant is excellent in mixed containers and window boxes. It self-seeds prolifically and will self-sow into any garden soil.
Care: Provide poor to moderately rich, well-drained soil in full sun or light shade.
Propagation: Divide in spring, or start seeds indoors 4-6 weeks before the last frost date.
Problems: Sometimes bothered by aphids.
Sunday, October 5, 2008
Scientific Name : Cucumis melo reticulatus
Cantaloupe is the most popular variety of melon of the cucumber family. It is a round melon with firm, orange, moderately-sweet flesh and a thin reticulated light-brown rind. This fruit has a refreshingly rich flavor and aroma and minimal number of calories. It has a soft and juicy texture with a sweet, musky aroma that emanates through the melon when it is ripe. Cantaloupes feature a hollow cavity that contains their seeds encased in a web of netting.
In Australia and New Zealand, it is called rockmelon due to the rock-like appearance of the skin of the fruit. It is called a spanspek or sweet melon in South Africa, where it is harvested during the summer months October through February.
How to grow
Cantaloupe and honeydew are warm-season crops that grow best at average air temperatures between 65 and 75 °F. It is best to plant when the soil temperature is at least 60 to 65 °F. These melons are very tender and should be planted after the last chance of frost.
Melons seeds can be planted directly in the garden or transplants can be grown to get an early start. Cantaloupes and honeydews need a lot of space. Plant the melons in rows 6 to 8 feet apart. Transplants or seed should be planted in the rows 18 to 24 inches apart. If starting from seed, plant the seed about ½ to ¾-inch deep. Water regularly to keep the soil moist and apply 5-10-10 fertilizer for better plant growth.
About 30 to 35 days are required from fruit pollination to harvest for most cantaloupe varieties. Most honeydew varieties take a little longer. When the stem separates completely, called “full slip,” the cantaloupe fruit has achieved its maximum sugar development and if not consumed or cooled soon thereafter, its quality will deteriorate.
The cantaloupe is ready to harvest when the stem easily separates from the fruit. To avoid over-ripening, harvest cantaloupes before they naturally separate from the vine. The best way to check maturity of cantaloupes is to place your thumb beside the stem and gently apply pressure to the side. If the stem separates easily, the cantaloupe is ripe
Excellent source of Vitamin A & C. Good source of potassium, vitamin B6, dietary fiber, folate.