Saturday, September 1, 2012

Garden Trivia

     I was reading the Barkley Farms Newletter--a nursery near Paris, Illinois--recently and was intrigued by some of the garden trivia they printed.  I decided to do a little research on my own and came up with many additional interesting facts.  I've listed several below, but since I cut and pasted them from many different sources I am not including the website links.  You can find them by doing a search of "garden trivia" on Google if you're interested.

Onions are in the lily family.

Asparagus is also a member of the lily family.

Water going up a tree trunk moves at 150 feet per hour.

The first garden hoses were introduced around 400 BC.  They were made of ox gut.

A large elm tree can produce up to 6 million leaves per year. -The bark of a sequoia tree is as fireproof as asbestos. -The total length of roots and root hairs of a single rye plant can be 7,000 miles. The roots can grow 3 miles per day.

The first lawns appeared in the 1st century AD, promoted in Greece by Pliny the Younger

Only female mosquitoes bite and drink blood. Male mosquitoes do not bite, they are vegetarians and feed on the nectar of flowers.

Mosquito repellents don’t actually repel. The spray blocks the mosquito’s sensors so they don’t know you are there. -Have you heard the quote ‘Cool as a Cucumber’? The inside of a cucumber can be as much as 20 degrees cooler that the air temperature on a warm day.

The mathematician Salomon de Caus, invented the first greenhouse in 1619 as a movable wooden framed structure to shelter orange trees at Heidelberg Castle in Germany.

Bananas are considered the largest herb. They are related to the lily and orchid family. 

In just one teaspoon of soil, there are as many bacteria as there are people on the planet, somewhere in the neighborhood of five billion bacteria!

Native to India and in cultivation for at least 3,000 years, the cucumber is nutritionally inert. In fact, you'd have to eat over 120 of them to get the vitamin-A found in one carrot! But being 96 percent water, the cucumber is, if nothing else, cool. So cool in fact, that in the mid-1600's, it was thought that lying on a bed of cucumbers would cure a fever. Hence the expression, cool as a cucumber.

Within the world of plants capable of defending themselves, the willow has no rival. Not only does the willow, when under attack, produce defensive chemicals, but so do all the other willows nearby.

At first glance, you may not notice anything cool about a clump of pampas grass, but what's happening below ground is quite amazing. Incredibly, the total root mass, including the primary and feeder roots, that is produced by one clump of grass when placed end-to-end would stretch out more than 600 miles. Add to that the tiny root hairs, and you're talking more than 6,000 miles!

Bamboo also features some curiously strange characteristics. For one thing, it grows fast. In fact, one particular variety of bamboo can grow up to 40 inches in one day! Another thing about bamboo is that it's structurally as strong as steel.   Did you know that bamboo was used as the first commercial filament in light bulbs?
The eggplant is a member of the potato family, and is also known as a garden egg.

The biggest tomato on record weighed in at a hefty 7 pounds 12 ounces.  It was grown by  Gordon Graham of Oklahoma.

The Daisy got its name because the yellow center resembled the sun. It was commonly known as the "day's eye" and over time, was eventually called daisy.
One tree can remove 26 pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere annually, equaling 11,000 miles of car emissions. Landscape plants, such as shrubs and turf, remove smoke, dust, and other pollutants from the air. One study showed that 1 acre of trees has the ability to remove 13 tons of particles and gases annually.
The Saguaro Cactus, found in the Southwestern United States, doesn't grow branches until it is 75 years old.
A  spider dismantles her web, that means a bad storm is near.
Humming bird is the only bird known that can fly backwards. The average Humming bird weighs less than a penny. 

A  hummingbird will feed at over 1,500 flowers in an average day.
snail can sleep for 3 years.
dragonfly has a life span of 24 hours.
The petals of the orchid Tricoceros parviflorus imitates a certain female fly so perfectly that the male fly of the species will attempt to mate with it. In so doing, it pollinates the orchid.
The total length of roots and root hairs of a single rye plant is 7,000 miles. The roots grow over 3 miles per day in search of microorganisms.
There are prairie grasses in the Midwest whose roots are 10,000 miles long.
Chuko Liang, a Chinese general, in AD 231 invented the wheelbarrow for use by his troops in moving supplies through mucky soil. To that time carts had at least 2 wheels and were 2-person affairs. His had a large central wheel, flanked on either side by boxes to hold goods.

The tomato is the most popular garden plant.  Over 90% of all home gardeners cultivate tomatoes in their garden.  There are currently over 500 tomato varieties on the market.  As with many fruits and vegetables, tomatoes should be consumed fairly soon after picking, as their sugar content decreases in storage.
The cucumber was a favorite vegetable of ancient Egyptians.  They made a drink from the fruit called "cucumber water".   First a hole was cut in the end of a ripe cucumber.  A small stick was then inserted into the hole and used to breakup and stir the pulp.  The hole was then plugged, and the cucumber buried in the ground for a few days.  The fruit was then unearthed, with the inside pulp having turned into a fermented drink.  (We do not recommend this use for cucumbers today!)

Corn is one of the most widely grown crops in the USA.  Only about 10% of the corn grown ends up on the dinner table as a side dish, while over 50% of it is used for livestock feed.  The rest of the crop is used to make everything from syrup and starch to whiskey and oil.  Corn flakes were so popular in the early 1900's that there was over 40 companies producing this breakfast cereal in and around Battle Creek, Michigan.

During the War between the States, doctors in the Union army routinely used onion juice to clean gunshot wounds, and General Grant, deprived of it, sent a testy memo to the War Department : "I will not move my troops without onions!"

When potatoes were brought back to England, the English were not quite sure what to do with them.  Sir Walter Raleigh gave some potato plants to Queen Elizabeth I.  When it came time for Queen Elizabeth's cooks to prepare them, they tossed out the tubers and boiled the stems and leaves.  Everyone at the table became deathly ill and potatoes were banned from the royal kitchen.

What are the 10 most popular home grown vegetables in the USA and Canada?  According to  a survey, the top 10 are (in order of popularity): Tomatoes, Peppers, Cucumbers, Onions, Beans, Lettuce, Carrots, Sweet Corn, Radishes and Cabbage.  Tomatoes were grown in a little over 85% of all gardens with Cabbage being grown in only 30%.

Peppers can contain up to six times as much vitamin C as oranges!  The highest levels are found when the peppers are in their "green" stage.  Hot peppers contain less vitamin C than the milder bell peppers.

1 comment:

Lincy said...

Enjoyed reading the interesting facts you put up....