October in the Flower Garden – Preparing for WinterWritten by Sandra Dinkins-Wilson
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Just as we should have made everything neat and trim for summer, so during next few weeks everything should be made neat and tidy for winter. All dead leaves, stems, etc., should be cleared away, and stakes taken up and stored except where plants still need them.
If our gardens were only made and planted in spring, our hardy plants will not need dividing. But if they have been around two or three seasons then probably some of them will be better divided. We divide clumps that have grown to a large size because if they throw up too many flowering stems, they will not be well nourished or produce a fine blossom and towards center plant will grow poorly.
We should remember that it is good for future welfare of a plant to replant it in a different spot from where it has been. If we do not need all pieces we can make of a divided plant, we should replant strong or outer portions.
Sandra is a lover of beautiful things including Flower Gardens. She has created a website for Flower Garden Lovers, and those that love them, with gardening tips, artwork and books on the subject.
The Terrorist’s Favorite Weed/ Castor BeanWritten by Thomas Ogren
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Assassination Georgi Markov was a Bulgarian journalist who had spoken out against Bulgarian government. While waiting for a bus near Waterloo Station in London, in 1978, Markov was murdered, stabbed in leg with a poisoned umbrella. A perforated metallic pellet stuck in his leg was found to contain deadly ricin toxin. More recently it has been widely reported that Thomas C. Leahy, known by his neighbors as “Mad Scientist,” was producing ricin in his Wisconsin basement. Leahy, a high school dropout and self-taught chemist, had also tried to grow anthrax. Ricin if inhaled or even touched can kill in a day or two. Luckily for us, Leahy is now serving seven years in state prison for shooting and wounding his 13-year-old stepson. Going Native Castor bean plant spreads quickly because it has many built-in advantages over native plants. A very robust grower, its leaves are poisonous even to predatory insects. Aphids that can safely feed on many other poisonous plants quickly die after sucking juice of castor bean leaves. But castor bean has one disadvantage. It is completely easy to recognize and can then be killed by chopping it down or spraying it with herbicides. I have long advocated eradication of castor bean because it causes so many allergies. It would be wise to realize too, that not only is castor bean pollen allergenic, but it is also poisonous pollen. Exactly what effects of breathing in poisonous pollen are we don’t know, but it cannot be good. Given deadly potential of this all too common weed for bio-terrorists, perhaps it is time we have our state and federal marijuana hunting exterminators, shift gears and change targets. They won’t have to look hard. In California Ricinus communis can be found growing lushly all along Highway 101.
Tom Ogren has held many different jobs, including horticulture teacher in Watts, community gardening organizer for Cooperative Extension, brakeman on the Santa Fe Railroad, dairy farmer, boxer, landscaper, nursery owner, and free lance writer.