Understanding Dandelions

History:

Dandelions are herbs and have been around for millions of years. The Chinese mention this herb in the early 7th century and the Arabian doctors did not get around to the Dandelions until the 10th century. The dandelion is classed as an herb and for centuries was part of herb gardens.

Soil Type:

Dandelions need sun and light soil to grow well, however they will grow in any type of soil partially recently disturbed soil. So, having deserted the herb garden you will find them everywhere and how they relish it.

How they spread:

After they flower, they produce a seed head that blows on the wind or even a slight breeze. It has been estimated that a seed will travel up to a hundred miles. How they worked that one out, I have no idea. What I do know is that last autumn we had sand on our cars here in Oxford that had blown over from North Africa, so anything is possible. Dandelions are a master of endurance and you may be dismayed of never getting rid of them. However, they are ways of controlling them.

Iron Resolve

Getting rid of Dandelions must be treated as warfare with its goal: total annihilation of the plant. You must approach the task with a harshness and iron will, ferociously obliterating the Dandelion in your garden

How To Control Dandelions:

If they are in your lawn, you may think to your self: I will mow them to death. However, what happens is the dandelion just grow shorter. Keeps it head down, in other words. It was Darwin himself who first noticed this. So mowing is a no goer.

If you are into spraying chemicals, “Roundup” is the best. However, do be aware that “Roundup” will kill any thing that it touches and that includes Oak trees. So when you use it make sure that they is no wind at all.

Pouring boiling water will kill dandelions. You must make sure that you have enough boiling water to soak the plant, root and all. You should see results of this within four hours. The leaves will start to go brown.

Make a mixture of Isopropyl alcohol, that is rubbing alcohol, which can be bought at your local pharmacies. Mix two tablespoons of alcohol with two pints of water: put it in a spray bottle and spray until the Dandelion is dripping wet. The best time of the day to do this is midday on a hot afternoon. The plant will show signs of withering within two hours.

I use a mixture of vinegar and water. The mixture is: two pints of vinegar with a dash of liquid soap and two tablespoons of lemon juice. I put this in a hand help spray bottle and spray dandelions when ever I see them. The plant will die, never to return. However, others will spring up else where in the garden.

Dandelion are very easy to dig out.

The main way of controlling Dandelions is to never let the flowers turn into seed heads.

It Is Not All Bad:

Like every plant, Dandelion does have many uses, none of which I have tried.

Apart from using the leaves in salad one of the more useful ones in my view is extracting rubber from the plant to make tires for motor cars. Yes, you read it right:

Dandelions contain rubber, however before you rush out to your garden you may want to know that British plants do not contain enough to make it worth while. It is the Dandelion grown in Russian that contain the rubber.The milky sap is found in the root of the plant.

Just an Aside:

You may be used to seeing Dandelions six to eight inches high: However Mr Daniels from Bothorpe, Norfolk, UK, grew one in a pot that was just over 7 feet tall… truly a nightmare size plant.

 

Tips To Deal With Cucumber Bitterness

Latin Name:
Cucumis Sativus, part of the gourd family. In the Middle Ages the plant was called the Cowcumber.

Many people will not eat or grow Cucumbers because they are bitter to the taste. This is true of older varieties and is caused by a bitter gene which is part of the make up of Cucumbers.

Almost all the research that has been devoted to the Cucumber has been in and aimed at trying to remove this bitterness. The result of this research has been a host of new varieties that do not contain this bitter gene, or very little of it.

If you are harvesting bitter Cucumbers, the most likely explanation is that you are growing them incorrectly.

On no account let your Cucumber become stressed (lack of water, for example), they tend to bitter up.

If you grow the right kind of Cucumber, and keep the plant free from anything that might check their growth then you will have perfectly nutritious cucumbers that are crisp, refreshing pick-me-ups on a hot summers day.

However, if you want to be on the safe side, there is a trick for removing bitterness. This bitterness is almost all concentrated in the leaves, stems and skin of the Cucumber. If you remove one inch of the cucumber’s stem end and peel the skin back to a thin layer of flesh directly beneath the skin.

I have also found that scoring cucumbers with a fork makes the difference between faintly bitter and palatable cucumbers. You can try this out yourself. Peel a Cucumber. Take two center section. Score one and leave the other alone. Cut a slice from each and taste. You will find that the slice that has been scored is less bitter.

All this is aimed at making the cucumber less bitter, however you may well like bitter ones, in which case grow old varieties.

In the main there are three types of cucumber: field or standard ones, which grow quite large with a bright green color; smaller pickling ones with a more yellowish tone to the skin; and greenhouse forced varieties, which are bred to grow fruit in somewhat lower temperatures like the UK. I find in a good summer here in Oxford I can grow all three. In cool summers the outside ones do not do so well.

You can sow cucumber seeds straight into the ground, however I prefer to start my off in seed-trays and them pot them on until they are big enough to be planted out in the open or glasshouse.

I could list varieties here, but the best is to see what your neighbors are growing or which plants are for sale in your local shop.

Cucumbers are very heavy feeders so grow them in enriched soil with well-rotted manure or compost. Watch out for the usual pest and deal with them.

The cucumber should be harvested frequently because otherwise they become large and seedy.

If your gardening space is limited, you can plant next to a wire fence or trellis and they will grow right up it.