Toronto is known as 'Maple Valley'?


By —— Bio and Archives--February 2, 2019

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Valentines Day is here again, encouraging amorous activities. Alice Murphy, writing in the Australian Daily Mail, says our sense of smell is heavily responsible for who we are magnetically drawn towards. According to science, she claims, there are the five most sensual scents, all plant-based: chocolate, rose, citrus (lemons, limes, oranges), mint (peppermint or spearmint), and lastly vanilla. Here’s hoping she or others are not allergic to any of these.


Diversion No. 1

Brit-based The Economist claims Toronto is known as ‘Maple Valley’? Perhaps the pundit couldn’t print what the rest of Canada calls the city. Okay, occasionally ‘Racoonville,’ even ‘T.O.’ But ‘Maple Valley’? Most Acer species don’t even flourish there. Certainly neither of those significant Canadians, the red and sugar maples. So let us remind The Economist what President Lyndon Johnson told Canadian-born economic wizard Kenneth Galbraith: “An economic speech is like pissing down your pant leg. It may feel nice and warm to you, but it don’t mean a goddam thing to anybody else.”

On the far side of the Moon, China’s Chang’e-4 lander is scheduled to carry out a unique experiment. Will potato and thale cress seeds sprout and photosynthesize in a sealed, climate-controlled environment in the low gravity on the lunar surface? Both have already succeeded on the International Space Station in lower gravity than that on Earth. But growing plants on the surface of the Moon will be essential to create something like a biosphere and feed crews, explained the journal Nature.

Diversion No. 2

As much as we love to do it, your plants not only notice your excessive touching but they actually hate it. Research has shown that stroking really does change plants in a multitude of ways—and researchers at La Trobe University, Melbourne have just discovered another response to our touching: changes to the mitochondria. Thigmomorphogenesis is a fancy word for plants response to touching. The research has been published in The Plant Journal. Past research has shown that frequent touching, moving, or bending will create shorter, stockier plants rather than tall, slender ones. And it also been shown that this response can actually cause a greater resistance to pests in some circumstances, reveals Jacinta Bowler in ScienceAlert.

A few years back, the fresh seed pods of the Rattail Radish were all the rage with foodies. The oriental vegetable adds zing to salads or snacking. In Germany, it is served alongside a stein in beer gardens. As easy to grow as that better known Radish, Raphanus sativus, commencing harvest a couple of month after sowing. But where to source the seed of R. caudatus? Check out Richters Herbs, Goodwood Ontario (http://www.richters.com )

Diversion No. 3

Cover crops grown in fields during winter may be warming temperatures in the northern United States and southern Canada, according to a new study by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research appearing in Geophysical Research Letters.

Even though Uncle Fred is dead, he can continue to maintain the lawn. Washington State is on the verge of legalizing human composting explains Science Alert. The “recomposition” of human remains, is a process which speeds up decomposition and turns remains into a nutrient-packed soil which could be returned to families, presumably to be spread in the garden. The process is said to be very similar to traditional composting. A bill is being sponsored in the state’s legislature could see Washington become the first state to legalize human composting. If the bill passes, it would take affect 1 May 2020. Grandmother’s rose bushes never looked better.

Diversion No. 4

An instrument to measure world forests in 3D was launched on a SpaceX rocket with other scientific equipment, as well as 40 mice for a study about ageing. The launch, originally schedule for 4 December, was delayed by a day to replace mouse food that had gone mouldy, revealed the journal Nature.

Ernest Hemingway once threatened, “If my Valentine you won’t be/I’ll hang myself on your Christmas tree.” You might be looking for something different but not as different as that. How about something in the horticultural line other than over-priced red roses? The familiar trailing Heartleaf Philodendron P. cordatum is a safe bet, famously reliable. Probably harder to locate are either Heartleaf Ivy Hedera helix scutifolia or Ceropegia woodii, variously known as Hearts Entangled or more simply as the Heart Vine. The problem is, of course, trying to find a local plant purveyor who had the foresight to lay in a modest offering of all or even one of these.

Mark These on Your Calendar for February

Who thinks these up? Who registers them? Ah well, a day without a smile . . .

Potato Lovers Month

National Cherry Month

National Grapefruit Month

2 Ground Hog Day

3 Feed the Birds Day

3 Bean Throwing Festival—Setsubun (Japan)

4 Stuffed Mushroom Day

5 National Weatherman’s Day

5 Chinese New Year: Year of the Pig; all wok, no play

6 Lame Duck Day

10 Umbrella Day

10 France cedes Canada to England at Treaty of Paris 1763

14 Valentines Day

18 National Drink Wine Day

23 Open That Bottle Night

23 St Milburga, abbess, protection of crops from birds

26 Tell a Fairy Tale Day

26 National Pistachio Day

28 Floral Design Day

28 National Tooth Fairy Day [also 22 August]

If you live near Toronto consider dropping in on 17 February, 2-3 pm to Richters Herbs, for a free seminar by Conrad and Aku Richter on ‘Herbs Out of Africa.’ It is a short drive northeast of the city, east of Goodwood on Highway 47


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Wes Porter -- Bio and Archives | Comments

Wes Porter is a horticultural consultant and writer based in Toronto. Wes has over 40 years of experience in both temperate and tropical horticulture from three continents.

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