Monday, June 30, 2008

Diantus Chinensis "Rainbow Pinks"

China pinks, can be an annual or biennial or short-lived perennial (hardy to Zone 7), though all the best varieties or series on the market today will flower as an annual - first year from seed. Originally from China, plants tend to be dwarf, 6 to 10 inches tall, but may reach 18 inches. They produce single (occasionally double), small, scentless flowers intermittently all summer. These carefree plants need little maintenance; deadheading is not required for them to continue to bloom.

How to grow:
Most Dianthus grow easily from seed. Plan to sow seeds 6 to 8 weeks before you want to plant them outdoors. Because Dianthus withstands some cold, you can set them out in the garden at or just before the average last frost date in your area. Sow the seeds in the germination mix. The seeds will germinate around 2 weeks. Keep the medium evenly moist, but not soggy. Water the bottom of the plant and let its root soak water. Feed fertilizer once every 2 weeks for better bloom. Prefer full sun and drought tolerant, It is a excellent bedding variety in the summer garden.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Chinese Celery

Chinese celery is one of the most commonly grown vegetables in China. The entire plant is used, either fresh or dried. Chinese celery is a smaller version of the celery in Western markets, but its flavor is quite a bit stronger.Chinese celery has long green stems with green shiny leaves with jagged margin. It prefers cool temperatures. Use the pencil-thin stalks and leaves in stews, stir-fry or salad. Considered indispensable for Chinese cooking, this celery has a stronger flavor than Western celery, so less is needed. It stays flavorful when dried.
  • Maturity: Approx. 50 days
  • Planting season: Spring or late summer
How to grow Chinese celery grows best in a cold climate, 60-75 F. Plants may need shading if grown in warm summer season. Seeds are very small and seed generation can be erratic. Several unique characteristics are observed for the seed germination - germinating best in cold condition (50-60 F) but poorly in higher temperature; germinating best with seeds uncovered and in the light. Soil should be kept moist during the seed germination and seedling growth stage.

Nutrition information
iron, potassium and vitamins A, B1, B2, C, and D,

Health benefit
Warm Chinese celery juice is traditionally used to cure jaundice and low fever. Used to treat high blood pressure, rheumatism, digestive problems, and scurvy
The Chinese and Vietnamese often use this unique vegetable to add aromatic flavor in stir-fry and soup

The Globe Artichoke (Cynara cardunculus)

The Globe Artichoke (Cynara cardunculus) is a perennial thistle originating in Southern Europe around the Mediterranean. It grows to 1.5-2 m tall, with arching, deeply lobed, silvery glaucous-green leaves 50–80 cm long. The flowers develop in a large head from an edible bud about 8–15 cm diameter with numerous triangular scales; the individual florets are purple. The edible portion of the buds consists primarily of the fleshy lower portions of the involucral bracts and the base, known as the "heart"; the mass of immature florets in the center of the bud is called the "choke." These are inedible in older larger flowers.

How to grow
If you have at least 100 frost-free days in your area you can grow them. The Artichoke is generally grown as a perennial, but can also be grown as an annual.
You can sow seeds about half an inch deep and about 60 inches apart directly about two weeks before the last frost for best results. Keep the soil moist. You can nip the artichoke from the stem when the buds are about the size of a baseball. Artichoke need a long growing season, and mild weather areas. Winter protection requires applying a thick layer of mulch in colder regions.

Days to Harvest: Approximately 90 to 100 days
Days to Germinate: 14-21

Euphoria Fruit (Longan)

Longan is known in Chinese as long yan gou. This fruit has three botanical names: Euphoria longan, Longan aril, and Arillus longan. All of them refer to dragon eye fruit, another common name for this fruit that grows on trees that reach heights of 35 feet or more. The tree is an evergreen, the fruit abundant, and it is light brown when ripe. Longans grow in bunches, as many as a dozen hanging down from a small central twig. They ripen in summer and they provide moderately juicy translucent flesh. There is one pit, dark brown in color, in each longan fruit.

How to grow
Longan is a subtropical tree well adapted to tropical climates with distinctive wet/dry periods and subtropical areas with a cool, nonfreezing fall/winter period. Longans are indigenous to lowland and middle elevations in southeast Asia and grow at elevations from sea level to 1500 feet. Longan is tolerant of dry soil conditions. The longan thrives best on a rich sandy loam and nearly as well on moderately acid, somewhat organic, sand. It also grows to a large size and bears heavily in oolitic limestone. In organic muck soils, blooming and fruiting are deficient.

The longan's range in Florida extends north to Tampa on the west coast and to Merritt Island on the east coast. Still, small trees suffer leaf-and twig-damage if the temperature falls to 31º or 30º F (-0.56º--l.11º C) and are killed at just a few degrees lower. Larger trees show leaf injury at 27º to 28º F (-2.78º--2.22º C), small branch injury at 25º to 26º F (-3-89º--3.33º C), large branch and trunk symptoms at 24º F (-4.44º C) and sometimes fail to recover. The longan is relatively free of pests and diseases

Season of bearing: The main bloom season for longans in south Florida is from February/March through April and the beginning of May. However, some cultivars will produce off-season blooms after the crop is harvested in late August and September. The off-season crop matures in the fall.

Nutrition & Benefit
Euphoria contains several vitamins and minerals, including iron, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium, and large amounts of vitamins A and C. A recent study on euphoria fruit also identified and quantified phenolic compounds in the fruit, such as gallic acid, corilagin, and ellagic acid, indicating that the fruit may have antioxidant, chemo-preventive, and liver protective properties.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Salad Lettuce (Lactuca sativa) - Lettuce Summer Green

Lettuce of this type does not form a head and the leaves may be serrated, deeply lobed or crinkled. Leaf lettuce color varies from light green to red, adding attractive color to the salad or dinner plate.

Lettuce grows best at cool temperatures, making spring and fall the major production seasons in New England. In northern parts of the area, lettuce can be grown through the middle of the summer, but escarole or endive can make a satisfactory substitute during warm weather.

Because lettuce is generally harvested on a once-over basis, uniformity at harvest is essential. Growers should purchase the best quality seed available to help ensure the uniformity of the crop. Precision seeding, with modern planters, and coated seed can enhance uniformity. Irrigation immediately after seeding also promotes uniform emergence.

Transplants are often used for lettuce production. They are started in the greenhouse in February or March, and hardened transplants are set out in April. Hardening of lettuce transplants is accomplished by withholding water and gradually reducing temperatures for 10 days before the planned transplant date. Harvest will be in about six weeks. Some growers are finding that the use of floating row covers over the bed in combination with early transplanting will provide an earlier lettuce crop for a specialty market.

Transplants can be used all season, from mid-April to August 1. Varieties that do well as transplants even in mid-summer and are very slow to bolt include Ermosa (Boston), Slobolt (green leaf), New Red Fire (red leaf), and Green Forest (Romaine). Starting transplants in the greenhouse always provides better germination under warmer conditions than in the field.

Celosia Cristata (Crested Cockcombs)

Celosia Cristata (Crested Cockcombs)

Celosias are one of the most eye-catching annuals to grow in the garden. These tender annuals come from tropical Asia and other warm countries. The plant bears brightly colored flowers that resemble a cock's comb in appearance. Celosia bloom in the summer and fall. These plants will grow from 1-3 feet high.

How to grow:

If planning to grow cockscomb outdoors from seed then it is best to sow them in a partially shaded or sunny area of the garden before the last frost of spring. Once sown then celosia seeds should be covered. They prefer soils that are moist with a pH of 6 to 7. If you plan to grow cockscomb seedlings indoors first then they should be prepared about 7 or 8 weeks before planting then out after the last frost of spring. They take around one to two weeks to germinate at a temperature of about 22 to 24C. The should be spaced from 30 to 45 cm apart depending upon the size of celosia species. To ensure good growth of cockscomb the soil should be kept moist, humid and a light feed given throughout the period of growth.

Uses : The flowers are acrid, astringent, styptic, depurative, utreine sadative, constipating, antibacterial, corrective of urinary pigments, febrifuge and alexeteric. They are useful in the conditions of kapha and pitta, leprosy, burning sensation, skin diseases, diarrhoea, dysentery, fever, headache, hemorrhoids, herpes, internal hemorrhage, leukorrhea, liver disorders, menorrhagia, ulcers, wounds. Juice of leaves is used in bilious sickness. They are also valued as a stimulant in pregnancy. The seed is hypotensive and ophthalmic. It is used in the treatment of bloodshot eyes, blurring of vision, cataracts and hypertension. The flower and seed is astringent, haemostatic, parasiticide and poultice. It is used in the treatment of bloody stool, haemorrhoid bleeding, uterine bleeding, leucorrhoea and diarrhoea.

Antirrhinum Majus "Snapdragon"

The half hardy perennial Antirrhinum flowers from late spring through to the late autumn. Snapdragon is a sub-shrub. It carries flowers that range in color from vibrant red and orange through to pale pastel. It is a perfect for cut flower and it very popular in floral arrangement.

It is a herbaceous perennial plant growing to 0.5-1 m tall, rarely up to 2 m. The leaves are spirally arranged, broadly lanceolate, 1-7 cm long and 2-2.5 cm broad. The flowers are produced on a tall spike, each flower is 3.5-4.5 cm long, with two 'lips' closing the corolla tube.

This seed pack contains color mixture of red, pink, yellow, orange, white and bi-color flowers.
The plant is ideal for Bedding, Cut Flower, Edging.

How to grow:
It is best to sow Antirrhinum on the soil surface under cold frames in the late summer. Ideally Snapdragon should be sowed indoors eight or nine weeks before planting out. If growing indoors, seeds should be allowed two to three weeks to germinate; they should then be grown at a temperature of around 13 degrees Celsius. They should then be planted outdoors in the autumn at a spacing of 30cm for larger species. They prosper in full sunlight, though they can also tolerate light shade if it is a necessity. The soil type is not that important but should not be too heavy; snapdragon prefers a richer soil of neutral pH with well-drained.

Snapdragon is easy to look after; ideally they should be pinched back at the five or six leaf stage to facilitate a bushy growth habit. Prior to flowering they require a couple of light feeds. It is important to deadhead plants following flowering to encourage further flowers.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Pic at Glaces

Chinese Old Cucumber (Yellow Cucumber)

It is also called Cucumis Sativus. Its young fruit is green and turns to a beautiful yellow-orangish brown when matured.

Widely used for soup making in Chinese households or restaurants; the yellow cucumbers' skin & soft flesh is cut into cubes and boiled.

The yellow cucumber is juicier, more district and milder in taste compare to other cucumbers.

Its flesh is creamy white whilst the seeds are surrounds by a thin gelatinous coating.

The yellow cucumbers are also widely used to make pickles.

Uses of yellow cucumbers:
It has been recognized in oriental medicine for thousand years that the extract of the plant has been used to induce abortions.