Here Is Some Tips on Hydrozoning Your Garden

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What is hydrozoning? “Hydro” meaning water, and zoning for the grouping of plants.

Different plants have different water requirements. Dividing the landscape into low-, medium- and high-water use zones prevents over-watering.

Simply put, Hydrozoning means placing plants with similar water needs together so they can be irrigated on the same schedule, without under-watering the thirsty plants or overwatering the more conservative water users.

For this to work effectively, we need to know the watering requirements of a plant we put in our gardens. Does the plant need regular watering or infrequent watering to survive?  The Sunset Western Garden book is an excellent resource for our climate. It list plants that grow in different conditions, including water requirements.

A good example is a rose (Rosa sp.) bush and a rosemary bush (Rosmarinus officinalis). The rose needs regular watering, the rosemary needs infrequent to almost no watering. By planting them adjacent to each other, you may be giving the rose enough water to thrive and give you beautiful flowers. But the same amount of water will be drowning the rosemary, depriving yourself of a delicious rosemary chicken dish you found online.

Likewise, giving the rosemary the infrequent watering it needs, will stress and eventually kill the rose.

In this case, the rose should be planted in a zone (or a planting bed, drift or border) with other plants that need the same amount of water; and the rosemary in a zone with other plants that need infrequent watering.

The nurseries usually have excellent tags that will tell you about the plant and its requirements. If not, don’t be afraid to ask or ask them if they have a copy of the Sunset Western Garden book handy. It’s really important to know your plant if you want them to thrive before you bring them home.

Hydrozoning can also be applied to the overall design of the garden. It can help with figuring out where the plant groupings are placed in the garden.

For example, in my backyard, I do a lot of hand watering. I like to see my plants up close so I can manage any potential pest or diseases early. By placing plants that need more watering closer to the house, I don’t have to travel so far every time I need to water.

I also grow a lot of edible plants. I harvest from these plants with some regularity. Vegetables, like salad greens, are right outside the kitchen door. Herbs that I use to flavor my cooking, and don’t need to be watered as often, are a few steps farther. The blueberry bed is even farther to the other side of the house because I don’t need to pick blueberries for every meal. The fruit trees are even farther around the corner.

The same concept also works in the front yard.

If you like to grow your own food but don’t have a lot of space, edible plants can be grown closer to the front door. I have an artichoke plant right outside my front window, next to a couple of asparagus plants. Edible perennials are perfect to grow in the front yard because they can be planted alongside ornamental plants with similar water needs.

Following the concept of hydrozoning, plants that don’t need a lot of water and a lot of attention – California Natives like California poppies (Ezscholzia californica), California lilac (Ceanothus sp), and manzanita (Arctostaphylos sp), rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) and lavender (Lavandula) can be planted together farther from the front door - closer to the street.

Hydrozoning also saves water because plants only get the water they need.

So, let’s greet the spring by stepping out the door and looking around the yard. See if there are plants that need to be moved and re-grouped before you make your trip to the nursery and bring home more plants.

~~  Tina Saravia - Master Gardener with the University of California Cooperative Extension office ~~

Americans Overwhelmingly Prefer Fake Maple Syrup! Why?

It’s peak sugaring season in much of the Northeast, when the country’s maple syrup producers tap their trees to collect the sap that flows freely this time of year. It takes about 40 gallons of maple sap—and nothing else—to make one gallon of real maple syrup. By contrast, the artificial stuff—think Aunt Jemima and Mrs. Butterworth’s—is mostly corn syrup.

Fake maple syrup resembles real maple syrup about as much as Velveeta resembles a good Camembert. But when I asked 1,000 Americans which they preferred on their pancakes, the artificial brands won out big time. Just over 25 percent of respondents to an online Google Consumer Survey panel said that real maple syrup was their pancake topper of choice. Seventy percent chose either Aunt Jemima, Mrs. Butterworth’s, Log Cabin or Hungry Jack, while another three percent chose something else.

Looming behind this preference, of course, is the specter of price. A gallon of Mrs. Butterworth’s will set you back just under 8 bucks at Wal-Mart. A gallon of the real stuff, on the other hand, typically retails for anywhere from $40 to $60. The labor-intensive process of collecting and boiling down all of that sap is the reason the price is so high.

The Gilmer Free Press

And this process only happens on a commercial scale in the Northeast. Vermont is the nation’s undisputed King of Maple Syrup, accounting for more than 40 percent of the total U.S. output of over 3 million gallons in 2014, according to the USDA. Seven of the top 10 maple-producing counties are in Vermont. While New England states have the highest production levels, there’s a surprisingly robust maple syrup industry in states like Ohio, Wisconsin and Michigan, too.

Overall maple syrup output has risen sharply since about 2008 (thanks, Obama!), climbing by more than 50 percent since then. In 2013, the national maple industry’s output was worth about $132 million. For perspective, the legal marijuana industry in Colorado sold $700 million worth of weed last year. And our 3.3 million annual syrup gallons are just a fraction of the 12 million churned out in Canada, mostly by Quebec’s powerful syrup cartel.

Interestingly, the inflation-adjusted price of a gallon of real maple syrup hasn’t really budged in the past 20 years, hovering right around $40 since 1992. So some producers are getting creative in their search for more revenue. The latest innovation is a push to sell “maple water,“ which is really the raw sap, straight from the tree. Producers are marketing it as a competitor to coconut water, touting its alleged health benefits, and selling it under brand names like DRINKmaple, Vertical and SEVA.

While it has yet to catch on in a major way, a quick look at the numbers tells you all you need to know about why producers are pushing it aggressively. Say you have 40 gallons of maple sap on hand. You can boil that down to syrup and sell it at retail for about $40. Or, you could package it up into 16-ounce cartons and sell them for $3 each, which multiplied by eight cartons per gallon times 40 total gallons would yield $960 in revenue.

~~  Christopher Ingraham ~~

Bon Appétit: Carrot Cake – A Classic Easter Dessert Recast as Breakfast

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Makes 4 large waffles

For the ginger-raisin syrup:

1 cup packed brown sugar
½ cup water
1/3 cup golden raisins
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon dry ground ginger

For the waffles:

2 eggs
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
¼ cup vegetable oil
8-ounce can crushed pineapple (not drained)
½ cup toasted, chopped walnuts
½ cup packed grated carrot
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Butter, optional


To make the syrup, in a small saucepan over medium-high, combine the brown sugar, water, raisins and both gingers. Bring to a simmer, stirring to combine, and heat until the sugar has dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to steep.

Heat a waffle iron to medium-high. Heat the oven to 250 F.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, brown sugar, oil, pineapple, walnuts, carrot, buttermilk and vanilla. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Gently stir the dry ingredients into the liquid ingredients just until combined.

Spray the waffle iron with cooking spray and add 2/3 cup of batter, or an appropriate amount for your waffle iron. Cook as directed for your waffle iron, or until golden brown. Keep warm on a baking sheet in the oven while you cook the remaining waffles. Serve with butter, if desired, and the warm syrup.

Medieval Potion Able to Kill Superbug MRSA

BIRMINGHAM, England—Researchers at the University of Nottingham have resurrected a 1,000-year-old remedy for eye infections to combat a modern superbug. It turns out a Medieval Anglo-Saxon potion is capable of killing the antibiotic-resistant bacterium known as MRSA.

The 10th century potion’s recipe—which includes two species of Allium (garlic and onion or leek), wine and oxgall (the stomach bile of cow)—is sourced from Bald’s Leechbook, thought to be one of Western civilization’s earliest known medical textbooks. An Old English leather-bound manuscript of the text was located in the British Library.

“We chose this recipe in Bald’s Leechbook because it contains ingredients such as garlic that are currently investigated by other researchers on their potential antibiotic effectiveness,“ Christina Lee, a professor at the School of English at the University of Nottingham, explained in a video published by the university.

“And so we looked at a recipe that is fairly straightforward,“ Lee, an Anglo-Saxon expert, aded. “It’s also a recipe where we are told it’s the ‘best of leechdoms’—how could you not test that? So we were curious.“

Lee recruited colleagues from Nottingham’s Center for Biomolecular Sciences to recreate the ancient potion. Four fresh batches of the potion—brewed in a brass vessel as mandated by the text—were tested on a common MRSA strain, Staphylococcus aureus, both in synthetic wounds and infected mice wounds.

While none of the ingredients alone proved effective, when combined as directed by Bald’s Leechbook, the potion killed the bacterium with remarkable success—eliminating 999 MRSA cells for every one survivor.

Scientists also found that diluted forms of the potion did not kill the bacterium, but did disrupt the ability of the cells to communicate with each other. Researchers believe interfering with bacteria’s quorum sensing, its cell-cell communication process, may be a key strategy for combating infection in the near future.

“We were genuinely astonished at the results of our experiments in the lab,“ Lee said. “We believe modern research into disease can benefit from past responses and knowledge, which is largely contained in non-scientific writings.“

“But the potential of these texts to contribute to addressing the challenges cannot be understood without the combined expertise of both the arts and science,“ she concluded.

A reproduction of the experiment at Texas Tech University produced similarly promising results.

“We know that MRSA infected wounds are exceptionally difficult to treat in people and in mouse models,“ said Texas Tech researcher, Dr. Kendra Rumbaugh. “We have not tested a single antibiotic or experimental therapeutic that is completely effective; however, this ‘ancient remedy’ performed as good if not better than the conventional antibiotics we used.“

The new research was presented this week at this year’s Society for General Microbiology Annual Conference, held in Birmingham, England.

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