October in the Flower Garden – Preparing for WinterWritten by Sandra Dinkins-Wilson
A very busy time begins in garden as summer and autumn flowers fade. Although much depends upon weather, time is approaching quickly when we must put everything in order for winter. In my part of country, Halloween, at end of month, usually is heralded in with snow and cold temperatures.
The whole flower garden should be dug over, but it is most important not to injure hardy plants that will remain. Where there are a lot of these, it is safer to dig with a fork than a spade. A spade is much more likely to cut roots through if it comes across them. This, of course, presupposes you already have a flower bed with easily worked soil. Annual plants may all be pulled up and carted away to compost bin as they cease to flower.
Remember that many of our hardy perennial plants die down for winter. Their leaves and stems wither and die. But we must not conclude that plant is dead just cause tops die. The roots are very much alive and in spring beautiful fresh young growth will peep through soil. This is just a caution for newbie gardener.
Nature has all sorts of methods to enable her hardy plants to pass winter safely. Some, like hardy perennials, are simply going to sleep, in a manner of speaking. Some, like bulbous plants – snowdrops, and winter aconites, and others – are waking up, for these sleep during hot summer months. Some plants remain fresh and green winter and summer alike.
The Terrorist’s Favorite Weed/ Castor BeanWritten by Thomas Ogren
The Terrorist’s Favorite Weed/ Castor Bean
The Castor bean plant (Ricinus communis) with its large bold, highly colored leaves is native to tropical Africa. In cold climates it is an annual, growing quickly, setting many seeds, and dying off in winter. In mild winter areas it is a long-lived perennial, sometimes reaching small tree size. It has gone wild and naturalized in many places and is especially common in coastal areas. Each plant produces hundreds of bean-like seeds and these seeds can remain viable for more than a decade. Castor bean is a Euphorbia (Spurge) family member and like many Euphorbias it is poisonous, has highly caustic sap, and produces extremely allergenic pollen. Before World War Two castor bean was not common in US, grown mostly as an unusual foliage plant in a few gardens. But during war there was a need for castor oil and government encouraged farmers in Midwest to start growing large acreage of it as an oil seed crop. The first year it was grown not much happened but by end of second season huge numbers of people living near castor bean fields started getting hay fever and asthma. Castor bean pollen is an abundant and potent allergen. There is another more sinister use for castor bean. The mottled seeds of castor bean, which are about size and shape of large pinto beans, contain two powerful poisons, alkaloid ricinin and toxalbumin ricin. Ricin, a white protein powder is a remarkably deadly cytotoxin. The poison in seeds is so strong that eating a single seed can kill a child. Animals, horses in particular, that eat succulent leaves die from ricin poisoning. Ricin is even more toxic than strychnine and cyanides. Ricin also has ability to accumulate in body until a lethal dose is reached. Symptoms of ricin poisoning are stomachache, headache, fever, nausea and vomiting, bloody diarrhea, cold sweat, sleepiness, disorientation, shortage of breath, seizures, and death.
Terrorists have long been enamored of castor bean and ricin. Modern day mad scientists can extract ricin from castor bean seeds. Just how poisonous is ricin? Ricin is one of most poisonous naturally occurring substances known to man. As little as one milligram of ricin can kill an adult.