Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Secrets Of Organic Rose Gardening

Roses are the queens of the garden. But it’s no secret these picky flowers can suffer from different pests and diseases. Fortunately, growing roses organically in your garden can be done. It just requires a little effort. Deciding to grow roses for business is an important decision. One has to be knowledgeable about all the facets in growing, maintaining and marketing roses.

The two most important things that get your roses off to a great start are to make sure they're in the... right growing conditions and to plant them properly. All roses grow best in full sun with moist, well-drained soil that's rich in organic matter. Make sure your roses get at least six hours of direct sun a day; if they get less light, the plants won't bloom as well and will be more susceptible to attack from pests and diseases. While some roses may tolerate shade a bit better than others, no roses prefer shady spots.

Make sure you water your roses well after you plant them. They are most susceptible to drying out the first few weeks in your garden. Lay a 2- to 3-inch-deep layer of mulch over the soil around your roses. This helps the soil hold moisture and prevents weeds from growing. It can also act as a barrier to prevent soilborne diseases from splashing up on the leaves as easily.

As you prune roses, keep in mind you want your plants to grow with an open center so air can flow freely through the plant -- and to keep your rose from looking like a crazy mess of branches. As you do this, cut out any dead branches, as well as small, weak canes. To deadhead means to cut off faded blooms -- this makes your roses look better, helps prevent disease issues, and can encourage more blooms. Cut faded rose flowers back to the nearest leaf.

If your garden is blessed with rich soil or you amend it with compost or other forms of organic matter regularly, you probably won't need to feed your plants. Feed roses with balanced organic fertilizers that release nutrients slowly. Read labels carefully. More is not better. Avoid over-feeding roses with nitrogen-rich fertilizers. This over-stimulates stem and leaf growth, which can attract aphids that feed on these parts.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Just let it rot! A composting guide.

Compost is simply decomposed organic material. The organic material can be plant material or animal matter. While composting may seem mysterious or complicated, it’s really a very simple and natural process that continuously occurs in nature, often without any assistance from mankind. If you’ve ever walked in the woods, you’ve experienced compost in its most natural setting. Both living plants and annual plants that die at the end of the season are consumed by animals of all sizes, from larger mammals, birds, and rodents to worms, insects, and microscopic organisms. The result of this natural cycle is compost, a combination of digested and undigested food that is left on the forest floor to create rich, usually soft, sweet-smelling soil.


Most yard wastes can be composted, including leaves, grass clippings, plant stalks, vines, weeds, twigs and branches. Compostable food wastes include fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, eggshells and nutshells. Other compostable materials are hair clippings, feathers, straw, livestock manure, bonemeal and bloodmeal.

Materials should NOT be composted if they promote disease, cause odors, attract pests, or create other nuisances. These include meat, fish, poultry, dairy products, foods containing animal fats, human/pet feces, weeds with developed seed heads, and plants infected with or highly susceptible to disease, such as roses and peonies.

Materials that should be composted only in limited amounts include wood ashes (a source of lime), sawdust (requires extra nitrogen), plants treated with herbicides or pesticides (the chemicals need time for thorough decomposition), and black and white newsprint (composts slowly, so it should comprise no more than 10% by weight of the total pile).


1. SHREDDED ORGANIC WASTES. Shredding, chopping or even bruising organic materials hastens decay. One way to shred leaves is to mow the lawn before raking, collecting the shredded leaves in the mower bag. It takes at least 34 cubic feet of shredded material to form a compost pile.

2. GOOD LOCATION. The compost pile should be located in a warm area and protected from overexposure to wind and too much direct sunlight. While heat and air facilitate composting, overexposure dries the materials. The location should not offend neighbors.

3. NITROGEN. Nitrogen accelerates composting. Good sources include fresh grass clippings, manure, bloodmeal and nitrogenous fertilizer. Lime should be used sparingly if at all. It enhances decomposition, but too much causes nitrogen loss, and it usually isn`t necessary unless the pile contains large amounts of pine and spruce needles or fruit wastes.

4. AIR. The compost pile and its enclosure should be well ventilated. Some decay will occur without oxygen, but the process is slow and causes odors.

5.WATER. Materials in the compost pile should be kept as moist as a squeezed sponge. Too little or too much water retards decomposition. Overwatering causes odors and loss of nutrients.


Enclosing the compost pile saves space and prevents litter. The enclosure should be collapsible or provide an entry large enough to permit the pile to be turned. It should measure at least 4'X4'X4' (a pile under 3 cubic feet generally does not decompose properly), but no taller than 6' (too much weight causes compaction and loss of oxygen). The enclosure can be built of wood, pallets, hay bales, cinder blocks, stakes and chicken wire, or snow fencing. Prefabricated compost bins are also available.


Aside from the basic requirements for decomposition and preventing odors and other nuisances, there is no set method for building a compost pile. One technique may be faster than another, but a variety of methods work well. Piles can be built in layers to ensure the proper proportion of carbon (e.g., leaves, woody materials) to nitrogen (grass, fertilizer), but the layers should be thoroughly intermixed after the pile is built.


Turning and mixing the pile with a pitchfork or shovel, or shifting it into another bin, provides the oxygen necessary for decomposition and compensates for excess moisture. A pile that is not mixed may take 34 times longer to decompose. Recommendations for mixing the pile vary from every 3 days to every 6 weeks. More frequent turning results in faster composting. Odors indicate that the pile is too damp or lacks oxygen, and that more frequent turning is necessary.

Occasional watering may be necessary to keep the pile damp, especially in dry weather. Covering the pile with black plastic reduces the need for watering; it also prevents rainwater from leaching out the nutrients.

A pile that is decomposing properly should generate temperatures of 140°-160°F at its center. The heat kills most weed seeds, insect eggs and diseases. The pile should be turned when the center begins to cool. Turning the pile maintains the temperature and ensures that all material is exposed to the center heat. When the compost is finished, the pile will no longer heat up.

Small amounts of fresh materials may be added but should be buried inside the pile to avoid pests and speed composting. It is better to add fresh materials to a new pile.


Finished compost is dark brown, crumbly, and has an earthy odor. Depending upon seasonal temperatures, a well-built, well-tended pile generally yields finished compost in 2 weeks to 4 months. An unattended pile made with unshredded material may take longer than a year to decompose.


Under normal environmental conditions, both the open (hot) pile control and the tumblers yielded rich, finished compost in about 10 weeks. The tumblers were certainly easier to use than turning an open pile with a pitchfork, but they did not appreciably increase the speed of production when compared to a properly managed open pile. Ease of turning is probably the main benefit tumblers offer, some are easier to turn than others.

Compost tumblers do have advantages in addition to ease of turning. By and large, they are clean, neat, unobtrusive, pest-resistant and odor-free. Because of this, tumblers often can be used in urban and suburban areas, where local laws or restrictive covenants may prohibit open compost piles.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Jatropha curcus: an unusual fuel source

There's a lot of interest in the inedible jatropha, but can this rough-and-tumble weed ever really take the place of Big Oil?

Perhaps its most unusual feature is its modular construction. The dry fruits and seeds will remain on the tree for some time, before falling to the ground, especially under dry conditions. Benefits include but are not limited to:

Oil as raw material: Oil has a very high Saponification value and is being extensively used for making soap in some countries. Also, the oil is used as an illuminant as it burns without emitting smoke.

Medicinal plant: The latex of Jatropha curcas (VanaErand or RatanJyot) contains an alkaloid known as “jatrophine” which is believed to have anti-cancerous properties.

Raw material for dye: The bark of Jatropha curcas (VanaErand or RatanJyot) yields a dark blue dye which is used for colouring cloth, fishing nets and lines.

Soil enrichment: Jatropha curcas (VanaErand or RatanJyot) oil cake is rich in nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium and can be used as organic manure.

Feed: Jatropha leaves are used as food for the tusser silkworm.

In addition to these benefits, scientists elsewhere are working in the extraction of usable pharmaceutical derivatives from Jatropha Curcas while others are attempting to grow non-toxic plants.

Preliminary research indicates Jatropha may display certain Anti-Tumor properties, Anti Malarial properties and research is advancing related to HIV/AID’s and immune system response enhancement. There are other levels of use that can be exploited. Direct fermentation of seed cake and pulp delivers an organic fertilizer that has a high potential for export to developed countries.

It is in the field of Bio Diesel fuel, however, that Jatropha’s properties are the most exciting. At same power output, Jatropha curcas oil specific consumption and efficiencies are higher than those of diesel fuel. Tests conducted show that out of these various vegetable oils including copra, palm, groundnut, cottonseed, rapeseed, soya and sunflower - the lowest exhaust gas emissions were obtained with copra and Jatropha Curcas crude oil.

Despite its potential, there are still problems that will have to be worked out before jatropha is a viable biofuel. One is that jatropha contains the toxin phorbol ester, and if its seeds are eaten, they can cause vomiting and even death. Jatropha also needs to be cultivated. Since it is a wild plant, its seeds do not ripen at the same time, so a field of jatropha cannot all be harvested at once.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Wearing Bling Bling Jewelry

Everyone has seen hip hop jewelry, which ranges from jumbo dookie rope chains to iced out diamond crosses and ridiculously bright watches. Now, with the availability of replica styles on the internet, you even see your friends wearing bling jewelry.

Hip hop jewelry is made with large amounts of precious metal like gold and platinum then laced with rare gemstones such as diamonds, rubies and sapphires. Because of this, it is very expensive, more so than most other types of jewelry. This makes it a status symbol because only a select few can afford to wear it.

Within hip hop, it is a symbol of success and hard work. Not many fans and stars come from rich backgrounds. Most of us have to work hard and ride out the hustle in hopes of a brighter future. Along the way, some hip hop jewelry is a reward as well as a constant reminder of how far we've come.

It is a fashion statement as well. Much like the clothes you wear and the shoes you buy, hip hop jewelry says a lot about you. With tons of designs to choose from, there is something that fits you style. Most bling exudes attitude. It screams out I am a unique individual and I don't care what you think. The bottom line is that is their preference and it reflects their unique personalities, anyone who objects probably can't afford to buy it anyway.

Luckily for us and many others, hip hop jewelry doesn't have to be expensive. It can be made with cheaper base metals like brass and sterling silver. The jewelry can be set with replica diamond stones instead of real diamonds. This makes it available to the masses and now you can buy hip hop jewelry without recklessly spending your hard earned dollars.

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Monday, December 10, 2007

African wooden carvings and their representations

African carvings are symbols of power and ritual in the life of the tribe. They are used for fertility, divination, status, rites of passage, music and many other functions. An African legend states that spirits of dead beings choose trees as a resting place, between the worlds. A wood carver or sculptor has only to scratch away the surface of the wood to reveal the spirit inhabiting the tree. In African culture wood carvers are given a special place in the community, and are well respected for their creativity. They have the ability to show to everyone the beauty and magic that lurk in a dead piece of fire wood.

When a person views African art, several themes seem to come up over and over again. These themes are representations of different things that are significant to African culture; and reveal the importance behind some of its most beautiful art.

Couples are most commonly shown as freestanding figures of relatively the same size and stature. They may be representative of ancestors, a married couple, twins, or community founders. This is representative of the importance placed on two as one. Most art of this type was developed for shrines or for positions of ceremonial honor. Sexual intimacy is rare in African carvings. This in that it is rare for men and women to display their affection publicly. The most common theme of the male and female couple is that of strength and honor; not love and intimacy.

The mother and child couple is often representative of mother earth and the people as her children. African women will generally have a very strong desire for children as well however. The strong desire that a woman has to bear children further shows the strong mother child relationship that is a vital part of African culture.

A male with a weapon or animal (commonly a horse) is commonly produced to show honor to departed ancestors. Animals are rarely sculpted for the purpose of showing the inward or outward beauty of the animal; but to give status to the person. Even today, many in Africa would consider the ownership of a horse to be of greater status than the ownership of an automobile. Showing a person with a horse would then be giving great honor to them. Sometimes people are shown with animals that are not really ridden; possibly even mythical. The purpose is to show the power given to one who rides such an animal; and the wealth that they must have. As women achieve significance through their children, men will often be honored in warfare. The one who goes into battle must have physical, emotional and spiritual energy to survive and to conquer. Thus the emphasis on weapons and the spoils of war in many African works.

A final common representation in African art is that of the stranger. In Africa, a stranger is someone from a different country or tribe. They would usually not be welcomed; and the more distorted the portrayal of the stranger, the greater the gap that is normally symbolized. Sometimes strangers; especially white foreigners; are given a form of respect based on their relatively great weaponry and other powers. Unfortunately, much of African art comes with no explanation of the meaning intended to be symbolized when it was created. When the meaning can be discerned, the deeper understanding gained and fuller appreciation of the cultural heritage can be obtained in a more meaningful and memorable way.

The sweet smell of perfume

People have used perfume, oils and unguents on their bodies for thousands of years in lesser or greater amounts dependant on fashion whims. The early Egyptians used perfumed balms as part of religious ceremonies and later as part of pre love making preparations. Myrrh and Frankincense were exuded gums from trees used to scent the atmosphere in rituals. Other plants such as rose and peppermint were steeped in oils until a perfumed unguent formed. The unguent was then rubbed into the skin. It's interesting to note that perfume has come full circle today as more and more of us seek out high quality aromatherapy perfumed oils to use in exactly the same way as our ancestors did.

Products that enhance the feel of skin and the smell of the body have been highly valued in every culture. Trade routes introduced spices to other parts of the world and a wider range of scents could be made. In the past people often mixed their own potions using home methods creating their own aromatherapy products. Many homes had a still room where essences were steeped out of flowers and herbs.

By the 1600s scents were applied to objects such as furniture, gloves and fans. In the Georgian Era non greasy eau de cologne was developed and it had many uses from bath essence to mouthwash. The late 19th century was the first real era of perfume as we know it when new scents were created because of advances in organic chemistry knowledge. Synthetic perfume products were used in place of certain hard to find or expensive ingredients. At the same time a similar chemical knowledge development happened in textile printing dyes.

Grasse in Provence, France became a centre for flower and herb growing for the perfume industry. The men who treated leathers in the same area found the smells so bad they perfumed themselves and the leathers. They were knowledgeable about making the botanical essences and were the early perfume noses. But it was only in the 20th century that scents and designer perfumes were really mass produced. Before that, the few trade names that existed were Coty and Yardley who made fairly light scents with familiar smells.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Psychic Reading

Since the beginning of recorded history, humans have looked for ways to understand, interpret and obtain a deeper meaning of events. Many of the tools used in modern psychic readings have their roots in Egyptian, Grecian and Roman civilizations. Over thousands of years gifted, natural born psychics and talented scholars have studied and learned to use these tools.

In modern times, the spiritualist movement in the late 1800's and contemporary "new age" movement have continued to evolve psychic practices. We use the term "psychic readings" broadly. That's because the psychic arts encompass a wide range of practices. There is no single right way to be psychic and there are many approaches to offering psychic readings. They can explore and discover which approach to psychic readings works for them.

Some say psychic readings are not about fortune telling, not about ominous predictions, guaranteed love spells, stereotyped gypsy women in turbans, or any of the psychic scary stuff that Hollywood sells. It was mentioned that psychic readings are about sharing intuitive gifts and offering insight. Maybe the readings can offer insights about relationships, recommendations for making a change in your life, provide relevant information that can make a difficult decision easier to make or increase awareness of influences that may be impacting our life.

Many of us may have experienced magical, fleeting moments of psychic awareness at one time or another. A sudden feeling that the telephone is going to ring, or knowledge of who is calling before you pick up the receiver. A certain sense that a loved one has been injured or is in trouble. Or perhaps walking into a new place, and yet knowing that sometime, somehow, you had been there before. Psychic impressions may come to us in the form of dreams, everyday hunches, synchronistic experiences that seem to defy logic, and even chance encounters or conversations with friends and strangers.

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Monday, April 16, 2007

Big Feet, Big Shoes

Do you have a problem finding good shoes because of the size of your feet? Thousands of women have hobbled through life in too tiny shoes, unaware, embarrassed and underserved by a shoe industry that largely failed to make stylish footwear big enough for their feet. The mainstream footwear industries are now waking up to a full footed demand for upper-end shoes sizes 11 and above.

At the same time, sales are booming at online niche outlets that only sell hip, larger shoes, challenging industry business models and prodding manufacturers to make more. Behind the boom is the ever expanding American foot, which is growing bigger than ever before. More than a third of American women today wear a size 9 or larger, triple the number who did 18 years ago.

Seventy percent of shoes are sold to the under 30 set, who’ve been disappointed trying to buy sizable strappy stilettos at the local mall. The internet has flooded frustrated yet fashion conscious full footers with new options proving that demand for chic, large styles exists. No one is entirely sure why feet are expanding, but they are. The average women’s shoe sold last year, a size 8.5, was nearly double the typical 4.5 sold in 1900, and a full size bigger than the average sold a generation ago.

Americans are, on average, an inch taller and 25 pounds heavier than they were in 1960, and extra weight, podiatrists say, puts pressure on feet, stretching ligaments and causing feet to spread. Americans are also living longer, and feet can expand with age as arches fall. In addition, children are growing faster, thanks to improved nutrition and health care, and they shun the hard leather loafers of their parents’ generation, wearing less restrictive athletic shoes that give their feet more room to grow.

The size hike could also reflect that for the first time, people are simply reporting their sizes accurately because they are finally finding shoes that fit. The new generation could avoid a lot of the damage that too tiny shoes can cause, preventing the corns, bunions and mallet toes that can deform feet in ways reminiscent of ancient Chinese foot binding. Some 80 percent of all foot ailments are in fact shoe-related and doctors estimate that American women spend more than $3 billion a year on surgical foot repair.

Still, the footwear industry has long balked at producing bigger shoes. Unsure that the oversize market would support their investment, manufacturers are hesitant to spend money to make large shoes and retailers worry that they won't able to unload them. Luckily there are many online retailers that cater to men and women that need larger shoes.

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

To Sew or Not to Sew

When you want to buy a cotton shirt, it is a lot easier and just as inexpensive to pick one up at the shop. However, when it comes to items like dresses, sewing can be more economical and the quality better. Many children's items are easily made from pants and tops to pajamas and bathrobes. If you are going to sew for yourself, you will have to take more care. You need to know which type of fabrics you like, the lines that flatter you, and the colors you look best in. You would think this knowledge would come naturally, but you can get very confused looking at all the different fabrics and colors when you are in the store.

Then you need to make sure you alter the pattern if you need adjustments for your size. Once you get a pattern that fits, you can use it over and over with variations that make it look different. When an item of clothing you own wears out, you can pull apart the seams and use the pieces as a pattern and make the item with new fabric. When you become skilled, you can turn men's suits into boy's suits, alter larger size clothing that you may find at a thrift store to fit you, or even sew for others.

The great thing about sewing today for the beginner is that fashions are very relaxed, and there are many very simple patterns. You don't have to fight with set in sleeves if you don't want to. Most of us do not need to make the stiff, heavily interfaced and lined suits of yesterday. We can get buy with casual clothes and a few dresses, or skirts and blouses.

Keep sewing costs down by buying patterns and notions secondhand. There always seems to be a wide selection at thrift stores. Summer clothes are very economical to make. You don't need much fabric, and it is lighter weight and more economical. The joy of patchwork and quilting is also being discovered by more and more home sewers especially the unique fabric combinations, the placement of the fabric pieces, and the finishing touches with quilting or embroidery.

If you've thought about sewing, now is a good time to give it a try. If you are very nervous, find someone who teaches classes out of their home, or take one at your community college. There are also many good books to help beginners. Find a friend who will help. Most people are more than willing to help others. Read more about some of the latest books dedicated to the art of needle and thread. There are a number of sewing magazines with full of inspiration and projects as well as stories for all skill levels.

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Email Marketing and Spam

Like it or not, email is still the best way to reach a mass online audience and even community sites and online services are willing to use it. The question that remains unanswered is whether these companies are providing an additional service or if they are overstepping the bounds with net users.

Spam email is no longer the mild irritant it once was. It’s clogging corporate networks and ISP mail servers and has become a real productivity drain, forcing corporate and consumer email users to spend a lot of time a day dealing with this deluge of junk. More and more legitimate email is not getting through to recipients due to Spam filtering taking place via ISPs or corporate networks.

Opt-in email campaign is one solution. If you do decide to use this campaign, make sure you buy opt-in email lists from legitimate top-tier broker or list managers who are well established, not “over-sending” messages to list subscribers and who are constantly refreshing their list quality by adding new subscribers. Critical questions to ask brokers include how many messages are sent to each list recipient per month, how are new subscribers added and what is the percentage of new members added per month, are they using “third party” lists to augment their own, are their lists “double opt in” and last but not least, what is their privacy policy and how strictly do they adhere to published industry standards.

Newsletter insert advertising is considered very effective. It is now possible to track when and if people clicked on a text link ad in a newsletter. With new technology which enables virtually any publisher to provide you with this information, enabling you to track your ROI for the media buy. Finally, the real beauty of newsletter text advertising is that it is very targeted and people want to receive the information so you can be confident your ad will at least be viewed by some finite number of prospects.

Email is something personal and most people see their email box as their personal space. I think when it comes to email, if you did not specifically sign up for a list, you will consider your privacy being violated.

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