Are Plants Ticklish?

True or False: Tickling your plants can help them grow

By: Lauren M. Liff for Dabah Landscape Designs

 

Almost everyone is ticklish, some people enjoy being tickled while others can’t stand it – but the truth is, that it does nothing but make us laugh. Did you know that you could tickle plants to help them grow? They won’t laugh uncontrollably right away, but their enjoyment is still just as noticeable over time. Many commercial greenhouses and nurseries tickle, stroke or repeatedly bend their plants – now, this might seem crazy at first but they are actually tapping into a natural phenomenon that impacts how plants grow. This practice of tickling and bending plants is known as thigmomorphogenesis.

Plants respond to a number of different stimuli – light, gravity, moisture levels and yes, even touch. Thigmomorphogenesis is a plants’ response to being touched. This natural process occurs when a plant is touched by any outside influence including rain, wind and passing animals. The growth rate and habit of a plant varies based on what touches it most often. For example, a tree growing in a very windy spot will change its growth habit to gain more mechanical strength. This tree will be short and have a strong thick trunk – it might also form a wind-swept shape. The tree grows this way in order to avoid being blown over in a storm.

Climbing vines are another perfect example: quite opposite to the wind-swept tree, vines will grow towards the objects that touch them. This is why vines climb up our houses, fences and mailboxes. By alternating the growth rate on each side of the stem, vines are able to traverse in almost any direction. For example: if you stroke a cucumber tendril on the same side over and over again, it will inevitably bend in the direction of the touch.

Now, you might be asking yourself why one would bother tickling a plant? Funny thing is, it can actually help your plants grow stronger! Seedlings that are grown inside tend to fall victim to etiolation. Etiolation means an excessively tall and spindly growth habit – or “leggy” as most people call it. This happens even more when they don’t get enough sunlight. When you touch, tickle or gently bend your seedlings, you are actually helping to stimulate growth. Placing a fan by your seedlings will also aid your seedlings in growing stronger – the blowing of the fan will mimic outdoor wind.

Obviously you want to provide your plants with the essentials. To ensure proper growth, always make sure to provide your seedlings and other plant material with adequate water and light. For seedlings grown indoors, you should avoid excessive nitrogen fertilizations to help prevent etiolation.  Tickling your plants, although it does sound quite silly, can prove to be an incredibly interesting experiment. With the proper care of your plants and seedlings plus some daily tickle time, you’ll end up with healthy, strong and very happy plants. Happy growing!

Using Soda In The Garden

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Share a Coke With Your...Garden?

By: Lauren M. Liff for Dabah Landscape Designs

         Coca Cola is one of, if not the most, popular carbonated beverage of our time. Most people enjoy Coke as a sugary carbonated soda but that is not all it could be used for! Coca Cola actually has a multitude of uses due to its sugar content and low pH level. It can be used as a cleaner for your spark plugs, car engine, toilets and tiles – it can clean up old coins and jewelry as well. It has also been used to relieve the pain associated with a jellyfish sting! With all of these different uses for this hallmark soda pop, could it possibly have any use in the Garden?

         Originally, Coca Cola was derived to cure a Confederate colonel of his ailing addiction to morphine that began after he was wounded during the Civil War. He was initially seeking an alternative pain reliever and his searching led to the invention of Coca Cola. Now, since Coke was originally being used as a health tonic, you might be asking, “what possible use could it have in our gardens?” It turns out that Coke can actually be used to kill slugs! Some gardeners use beer while others use poison, but Coca Cola will work just as well.

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         Slugs start devouring your garden in the spring before most other insects are even close to causing their own damage. The suspect is easily identified as slugs leave behind a trail of silvery slime wherever they go. They feed on the foliage of your plants; they chew ragged holes into the leaves and can sometimes devour an entire seedling. To use the Coca Cola method to control slugs in your garden, simply fill a low bowl or cup with Coca Cola and leave it in you garden overnight. Just like using beer, the slugs will be attracted to the sugar in the soda and lure them into the bowl. The slugs will then find their way into the sugary drink and suffer a death comparable to drowning in acid. This method works on wasps as well; the homemade wasp trap is similar to your slug trap, you could use a low bowl filled with the soda or even an open can or bottle of Coke will do. The wasps are also attracted to the sugar and travel into the container and drown. Coca Cola can also be sprayed on insects (such as cockroaches and ants) as a pesticide.

         If that wasn't enough, Coke can also be used in composting! Again, thanks to the high sugar content of the soda, it attracts the microorganisms that aid in jump-starting the break down process. The acids in the beverage also aid in the breaking down of compost. Pouring Coca Cola into the soil around your acid-loving plants is also said to reduce the pH level due to the acids in the beverage. So not only can you drink this enjoyable soda pop on a hot summer day, you can use it in your house, in your car and in your garden as well! With its nuisance pest control capabilities and its positive addition into your compost, your garden can enjoy this delightful drink as much as you do!

 

https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/garden-how-to/info/uses-for-coke-in-gardens.htm

Honey: The Confection With Life-Giving Qualities

How Honey Can Improve Your Health

By: Lauren M. Liff for Dabah Landscape Designs

When your child has a scraped knee, you wipe away their tears, clean the wound and apply Neosporin underneath the Band-Aid to sooth it and help with the healing process. Would you ever think to replace the Neosporin with all natural honey? Some people are aware of the benefits of honey but what most people don’t know is that honey does not only have healing properties, but it can also improve your overall health! There are a lot of sweeteners out there but honey is the only one that has life-giving qualities.

Native Americans figured out that honey had to be important if a bear was willing to continuously get stung by bees to retrieve it. Once they had retrieved the honey for themselves they realized that it not only had a great taste but that it was healing their bee stings, scrapes and cuts as well – they used it for colds, to sooth sore throats and to keep animal skin dry overnight. It was given to children to help them fall asleep and women used it as a facemask. Honey was used for just about everything, but its true potential had yet to be discovered.

No one likes having scabs and scars, but did you know that the antibiotic creams you apply to your scrapes end up killing some of the tissue surrounding your cut leaving you with scars?  A clinical trial was done in Calabar, Nigeria where they used unprocessed honey to treat patients with wounds and external ulcers. During this study they found that, in 59 of the cases, honey was more effective than your average antibiotic creams and ointments – they even noticed that infected wounds treated with honey (as a topical application) became sterile within a week where as the regularly used applications applied to sterile wounds simply kept the wounds sterile until they were able to begin healing.  It was also discovered that honey removed dead tissue from persistent wounds – this allows some patients to avoid skin grafts and amputations.

Aside from helping clear up infections and healing wounds without scars – honey also reduces inflammation and soothes the pain of patients with deep wounds and even burns! Dr. Peter Molan (of the Honey Research Unit in New Zealand) said, “It is a very effective means of quickly rendering heavily infected wounds sterile, without the side effects of antibiotics, and it is even effective against antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria.”

As if those life-giving qualities weren’t enough, there’s so much more that honey can do! Certain honeys have shown to assist in the treatment of the Helicobacter pylori bacteria (H-Pylori as it’s more commonly known). Some have found that just a tablespoon of honey twice a day can help sooth the pain of stomach ulcers. Due to the fact that honey enzymes energize the digestive process, you can avoid indigestion! A daily intake of honey can also aid in fighting off fatigue as well as helping your body’s recuperative abilities. Beginning a daily regiment of local honey intake a month before pollen season can help to minimize the symptoms of pollen allergies and hay fever related symptoms – say goodbye to sniffling runny noses! Honey can also be used as a moisturizer to help improve your complexion and ease away those annoying wrinkles. Simply use it as a facemask: splash your face with warm water then apply a thin layer of honey to form the mask and when you’re done just wash it off with some cold water.

It’s remarkable that something that tastes so good has so many incredibly healing properties and can actually improve your overall health. Honey is full of beneficial nutrients such as: potassium, iron, magnesium, calcium and so many more! Honey simply makes everything easier; putting honey under a Band-Aid, for example, softens the skin and dampens the pain of the dreaded Band-Aid removal. Honey can heal your ailments both inside and out; there isn’t a single other sweetener around that can be placed in your kitchen as well as your first aid kit!

 

http://www.motherearthnews.com/natural-health/health-benefits-of-honey-zmaz99fmzraw

Lawn & Garden: Organic Weed Control

How to Control Weeds Using Items In The Kitchen

By: Lauren M. Liff for Dabah Landscape Designs

 

           Everyone is aware that there is a seemingly never-ending battle being waged all across the globe against weeds. Whether they are in your garden or in your lawn, you will do whatever you can to control them. Nowadays, homeowners and avid gardeners everywhere are looking for more ways to go green, including using organic methods to maintain their lawns and gardens. So why not kill two birds with one stone by using an organic mixture of household products to control those pesky lawn and garden weeds? That’s right, the salt and sugar hiding away in your kitchen cabinet can be used to control those pesky weeds while at the same time being organic, affordable and easily accessible!

           When a saltwater mixture is applied to a weed it dehydrates the plant by interfering with the internal water balance of the plant cells. Start with a fairly mild mixture with a 3:1 ratio of water to salt and stir until the salt is dissolved. If the target plant is stubborn, you can strengthen the mixture daily. You can also add dish soap and white vinegar to your solution as these items will help to enhance its effectiveness by lowering the surface tension of the water and allowing the salt mixture to get absorbed by the weed. When using this solution to tackle the weed epidemic, make sure to be careful not to splash or spill it on any surrounding plant materials – you can use a funnel to help direct your solution during application. In the event that it is spilt on wanted plant material, watering the vegetation will help lessen the mixtures effect by pushing it down below root level.

         Another household item that acts as an effective weed killer is sugar. All plant materials grow best in nitrogen rich soils – it is the nitrogen that promotes the green leafy growth and healthy uptake of other important nutrients. Sugar contains no nitrogen and therefore when it is applied to plants, it limits plant growth. It is especially effective on fast growing and invasive weeds in this regard. When using the sugar method in your garden, take a cup full (or a handful) of sugar and simply sprinkle it around the base of the target plant – for stubborn weeds you can recoat as needed. For lawn weeds, use granulated or powdered sugar and sprinkle it over your lawn (you can also use a molasses spray, 1 ¾ cups to 10 gallons of water). Make sure to evenly cover the lawn and water it in lightly. This method is most effective when applied in the spring before the weeds go to seed.

           Inorganic weed control methods can be harmful to plants, pollinators and the environment as a whole. State regulations everywhere are being updated regularly regarding what pesticides can and cannot be applied to lawns and garden beds – the chemicals wash off the properties and into the storm water runoff and thus ending up in surrounding bodies of water. When homeowners then turn to organic products, they find them to be too expensive. Have no fear, we do have the solution for you; the products you need to organically maintain your property are either already in your kitchen or easily found at your local supermarket!

 

https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/special/organic/using-salt-to-kill-weeds.htm

https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/special/organic/using-sugar-to-kill-weeds.htm