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Archives for October 29, 2016

Researchers reproduce evolutionary path with designer lignin

When scientists reported in 2014 that they had successfully engineered a poplar plant “designed for deconstruction,” the finding made international news. The highly degradable poplar, the first of its kind, could substantially reduce the energy use and cost of converting biomass to a number of products, including biofuels, pulp and paper.

Now, some of those same researchers are reporting a surprising new revelation. As University of Wisconsin–Madison biochemistry Professor John Ralph puts it, “Nature was already doing what we thought we’d laboriously taught her to do.”

To make the hybrid poplar, Ralph, Shawn Mansfield, Curtis Wilkerson, and other Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center researchers had incorporated an exotic gene conferring weak bonds into the plant’s lignin, the hard-to-process compound that gives plant cell walls their sturdiness but makes them difficult to process in an industrial setting. The resulting lignin, dubbed zip-lignin, readily breaks down under simple chemical conditions.

This new GLBRC-led study, published Oct. 14 in Science Advances, shows that those poplar trees and many other plants from all over the phylogenetic tree have actually evolved to naturally produce zip-lignin. In other words, not only can we potentially breed for degradability in plants, but humans may have been doing just that—selecting certain plants for easier processing—for thousands of years.

“We didn’t know the plants were making the native zip because we couldn’t detect it,” says Steve Karlen, a research scientist at UW–Madison and the paper’s lead author. “When we added the new gene we thought we were adding functionality, but we were actually increasing what was already there.”

Even though the team couldn’t at first detect native zip-lignin in poplar trees or in angelica, the Chinese herb from which the group had taken the gene, its absence did raise some questions. Ralph had long suspected that some plant somewhere was naturally creating zip-lignin. And Karlen wondered how angelica, or any plant for that matter, could be making the molecules that confer weak bonds in lignin but not incorporate them.

Using a method that Ralph’s group had developed decades ago, plus a new and highly sensitive mass spectrometer, Karlen sharpened his focus, finding a way to detect low levels of native zip-lignin in poplar trees. With the help of Philip Harris, a professor of biological sciences at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, Karlen began a full-scale phylogenic study, seeking to determine what other plants might contain native zip-lignin.

Karlen was soon elbow-deep in greenhouses, gardens and landscaping beds all over the UW–Madison campus. Examining the more than 60 plant samples brought back to the lab revealed that zip-lignin is found in an exceptionally diverse array of plants: in balsa, in birds of paradise, in all the grasses he sampled, and in about half of the hardwoods, to name just a few.

With collaborator Laura Bartley, an associate professor of microbiology and plant biology at the University of Oklahoma, Karlen also found zip-lignin in rice. Since an entirely different gene was responsible for making this lignin, the team determined that plants have independently evolved to make zip-lignin, essentially developing a common feature through entirely different means.

Although Karlen and his collaborators don’t yet know what the evolutionary advantage of native zip-lignin might be for plants, its widespread presence broadens the scope of their research and holds out the possibility of increasing, either through engineering or breeding, the degradability of a surprisingly vast array of plants.

“The fact that natural plants are already doing this means there are a lot more genes available for doing this than we knew about,” says Ralph. “And that means a much broader opportunity to learn from and take advantage of what these natural plants are already doing.”

 

 

Article source: http://biomassmagazine.com/articles/13850/researchers-reproduce-evolutionary-path-with-designer-lignin

Upcoming home and garden events around Sonoma County and beyond

SONOMA: Create your own indoor garden

Gardens can be any size, even small enough to fit on the top of a table.

Garden writer and former Press Democrat columnist Rosemary McCreary, author of “Table Top Gardens,” will show how to create miniature indoor gardens during the Nov. 3 meeting of the Valley of the Moon Garden Club.

McCreary, who also is a master gardener, will show examples of tabletop gardens that include intriguing combinations of plants, including grasses, succulents, orchids, bulbs and evergreens. These tiny landscapes can be grown under glass, in bowls and even in water.

Copies of her book, which offers instructions for 40 indoor garden designs, will be available for sale at the meeting. Nonmembers are welcome to attend for $5. Refreshments are served, and the meeting always includes a drawing for a plant.The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. with a meet and greet, followed by the formal meeting at 7 p.m. It is held at The Veterans Memorial Building, 126 First St. West.

WINDSOR: Holiday from garden

The fall and winter garden offers many surprising things that can be incorporated into holiday arrangements, wreaths and garlands. Master Gardener Sue Lovelace will lead a free workshop Nov. 5 at the Windsor Library describing how she collects and prepares plant material foraged from the landscape. She will focus on design ideas, tools and supplies, and will show slides of her many creations. 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., 9291 Old Redwood Highway. Sonomamastergardeners.org.

HEALDSBURG: Decorative arrangements

Artist Louesa Roebuck and designer Sarah Lonsdale, authors of the book “Foraged Floral,” will lead a Nov. 6 workshop on creating unusual arrangements from commonly available material from the landscape. The event is from 3-6 p.m. at Healdsburg Shed. Cost is $85 and includes a copy of the book, a reception and book signing.

Roebuck, who splits her time between the San Francisco Bay Area and L.A., is an artist and floral designer. She has created installations from foraged and gleaned materials for high-end clients like Vivienne Westwood, John Baldessari and Alice Waters. She also worked in the fashion industry and is a painter and textile artist.

Lonsdale is cofounder of Remodelista and is the author of “Japanese Style.” She spent a decade in Tokyo working in television and advertising and now lives in Napa Valley.

Shed is at 25 North St. For information, call 707-431-7433 or visit healdsburgshed.org.

VALLEJO: Model neighborhood on Mare Island

Blu Homes, which manufactures high-design prefabricated homes, has created a model home village next to their production facility on Mare Island.

The model neighborhood includes the Breezehouse and garage, a modern two- story Solaire home and the Lotus Mini accessory home.

The company arranged the model homes in a village setting so people can see and explore them in a natural setting, with landscaping and exterior features like xeriscaping, hardscaping and decking designs that let the outdoors in.

Blu Homes makes premium prefab homes with custom-quality features like high ceilings, walls of glass and luxury finishes.

The model home village is open to the public 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays at 1205 Club Drive. For information, call 866-887-7997 or visit bluhomes.com.

Article source: http://www.pressdemocrat.com/lifestyle/6206143-181/upcoming-home-and-garden-events

GARDENING: tips to help you pick your apples and store them for the winter

ONE of the great advantages of apples over other orchard fruits is that many of them can be stored for use after harvest, writes TOM ATTWOOD. However, storing apples needs a good pinch of dedication.

The time of ripening is a good indicator of the storage potential of an apple variety. Very early season apples generally do not keep. They should be eaten straight off the tree.

Mid-season apples usually keep for 2-3 weeks. The best way to keep them fresh is to put 5-10 of them in a polythene bag, make a few air-holes, and store them in a fridge.

Late-season apples usually keep the longest. Most can be stored in a cold place until Christmas, and a good number of varieties will keep well into the New Year.

There is no obvious rule of thumb for which varieties will store best, although you can sometimes assume that the later a variety ripens the longer it keeps – Fuji, Braeburn, Granny Smith being good examples. Traditional cooking apples also keep well, in the days before refrigeration this was an important quality in a cooking apple.

Some tips to help you pick your apples and store them for the winter:

Only choose varieties that are known to store well.

If you are picking with the intention of storing your apples, it is best to pick them slightly under-ripe

Remove any that are damaged, especially bruised apples.

If daytime temperatures are still warm, you will have to put the apples in a fridge. Once average temperatures fall to just above freezing you can move them to a frost free shed/garage. If storing apples in a fridge, put them in polythene bags, 5-10 to a bag, and make a few air-holes. This helps air circulation and counteracts the dry air found in a fridge.

Apples are best stored on trays in traditional wooden boxes, seed trays, or cardboard boxes – good air circulation, ventilation, and humidity is vital.

Check the apples regularly and remove any that are going off.

When using the apples, start with the larger ones (for any variety) as the smaller ones tend to keep longer.

Next week: creating a sumptuous container of spring flowering bulbs

‘Tom Putt’ growing in our garden

Article source: http://www.thewestmorlandgazette.co.uk/news/14831444.GARDENING__tips_to_help_you_pick_your_apples_and_store_them_for_the_winter/

Agromin Gardening Tips: Add to your garden, landscape

November is the ideal time to add to your landscape and garden. The weather is not too hot and not too cold, perfect for outdoor activity. November is also the start of the rainy season in southern California, and with any luck, rainy weather this month will help new plants take root, says Agromin, an Oxnard-based manufacturer of earth-friendly compost products made from organic material collected from more than 50 California cities. Residents can obtain Agromin soil products in bulk or in bags at Rainbow Environmental Services (gate seven) in Huntington Beach and in bulk at South Coast Supply in Huntington Beach and Los Alamitos.

Plant Pansies: Pansies add quick color to any flower garden. If planted in November, flowers can last through the winter and spring.

Avoid Overwatering: Plants and trees require less water in fall and winter as many become dormant. If the weather remains warm, however, watering is required. Let the weather be your guide. If your lawn sprinklers are on timers, prevent overwatering by installing a water sensor so sprinklers automatically shut off when it rains.

Plant Ornamental Cabbage And Kale: These hardy plants can easily tolerate cold temperatures. Leaves come in purple, red, creamy yellow and white. These colors will deepen as the weather cools. Add cabbage and kale as landscape accents or plant in containers. They prefer full or partial sun.

Divide Perennials: If your perennials are bearing smaller flowers and have dead spots at their base, it is time to divide them into smaller plants. Perennials that should be divided in fall are those that flower in spring and summer. First, moisten the soil around the perennials. Dig deep and remove the entire root clump. Cut apart the individual root clumps and immediately plant them at the same depth. Each divided clump needs leaves and a root ball. Cover the newly planted perennial with composted soil. Dividing and planting now will enable the roots to grow and establish during cooler months, giving them a good start to grow and flower in spring.

Plant Strawberries: Strawberries can be planted just about year round. Plant them now for a January harvest. Space plants one foot apart in rich, loose soil in full sun. Water as needed.

Plant Trees Now: Fall is the ideal time to plant trees. Our fall climate, with cool nights, mild days and moderate rainfall, gives trees a strong start that will serve them well when growing season begins in spring. Cooler weather is also a good time to transplant existing small trees and shrubs.

Scatter Wildflowers: Purchase packets of wildflowers from your local nursery and scatter them in your flower garden when rain is in the forecast. If the weather cooperates and some rain occurs regularly, you can continue to scatter wildflowers after each rain so their germination and flowering schedule is staggered in spring.
Water Seal New Wood Fencing: If you’ve added new wood fencing during the summer, make sure you have applied a water seal to protect the fence from wood rot after it rains.

For more gardening tips, go to www.agromin.com.

Article source: http://www.oc-breeze.com/2016/10/28/92142_agromin-gardening-tips-add-garden-landscape/

Real stunners: Alan Titchmarsh on growing tulips

Other personal favourites include the deep-red and yellow-edged ‘Gavota’, white and purple ‘Shirley’ and orange and purple ‘Princess Irene’.

There are few tulips that disappoint, and I’d settle for a bit of everything in my garden – starting off with the Greigii and Fosteriana tulips that are of modest height and which flower from early April, to the double late tulips that can still be giving their all in mid-May.

Most need to be dug up and stored once their foliage has died down, but if you want to take a gamble on your tulips coming up year after year without having to lift them, plant bulbs 8in or 9in deep. That way many will become permanent residents, cheering you up every spring.

Don’t miss Alan’s gardening column today and Tip Of The Day every weekday in the Daily Express. For more information on his gardening products, visit alantitchmarsh.com.

Article source: http://www.express.co.uk/life-style/garden/725318/How-to-grow-tulips

Fall garden tips – Jody’s Jottings by Jody Isaackson …

Here are six fall gardening tips from Julie Weisenhorn, Director of the State Master Gardener Program at the University of Minnesota Extension. 1. Keep watering your plants in the fall as long as water drains freely. 2. Bury your bulbs at least 6 inches deep so that the squirrels don’t get them. 3. It’s too late to prune; wait until the plant is dormant and it can heal before spring pests become active again. If you prune now, it may trigger the plant into a growth spurt. 4. If your sugar maple didn’t change color this year, try watering it more next year. 5. When considering a new tree for your yard for next spring, consider a beech tree. 6. Plant evergreens at least 10 feet from the road as they do not stand up well against the winter spray of salt from vehicles and plows. Check out the MPR News website for more fall garden tips.

Article source: http://www.marshallindependent.com/page/blogs.detail/display/32263/Fall-garden-tips.html

Sharum’s Garden Center Tips: How to Plant a Tree

This week, Frank Sharum shows us how to properly plant new trees.

The first step is to check if your tree’s roots are circling around the soil it’s currently in, or if they are growing freely.

The second step is to place the tree in it’s new home in the ground, but make sure that the hole is not too deep. If the hole is too deep, the tree will be drowned by any water that goes into the hole. The tree’s roots should be 1-1.5 inches above the ground.

For more information on how to properly plant a tree, check out the video!

Segment Sponsored by: Sharum’s Garden Center

Article source: http://5newsonline.com/2016/10/29/sharums-garden-center-tips-how-to-plant-a-tree/

Deborah Trickett to present at Holliston Garden Club program

HOLLISTON — Container garden designer Deborah Trickett, owner of The Captured Garden, will present at the Holliston Garden Club’s traditional holiday program at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 4 at St. Mary’s Church Parish Hall, 8 Church St., Holliston. Hors d’oeuvres prepared by club members will precede the demonstration at 7 p.m.

The Massachusetts certified horticulturist and landscape professional creates unique containers by combining unusual plant material and creative design ideas. She has worked in the garden industry for over 30 years, starting with a greenhouse job at age 13. Trickett has spoken at the New England Spring Flower show and the Philadelphia International Flower Show, and teaches classes at the Arnold Arboretum in Boston. Her work has been featured in the Boston Globe, The American Gardener, Garden Gate and New England Home magazines as well as on the television show New England Dream Home.

Proceeds from the event will benefit the Holliston Garden Club’s civic projects, which include tree and flower plantings throughout the town, programs for children and seniors, and Arbor Day events. The club also provides scholarships and educational grants to benefit Holliston students. A raffle drawing of Trickett’s containers will follow the program.

Tickets for “Designing Container Gardens” cost $12 in advance; $15 at the door. Advance tickets may be purchased at the following Holliston locations: Coffee Haven, 76 Railroad St.; Arcadian Farm, 200 Norfolk St.; Outpost Farm, 216 Prentice St.; and Debra’s Flowers, 44 Central St.

Interested parties can also send a check with a self-addressed, stamped envelope to Holliston Garden Club, c/o L. Guertin, 485 Central St., Holliston, MA 01746.

For information, visit hollistongardenclub.org or call Susan Russo at 508-330-8688 or Lee Guertin at 508-429-5077.

Article source: http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/news/20161027/deborah-trickett-to-present-at-holliston-garden-club-program

Sonoma County home and garden events

SONOMA: Create your own indoor garden

Gardens can be any size, even small enough to fit on the top of a table.

Garden writer and former Press Democrat columnist Rosemary McCreary, author of “Table Top Gardens,” will show how to create miniature indoor gardens during the Nov. 3 meeting of the Valley of the Moon Garden Club.

McCreary, who also is a master gardener, will show examples of tabletop gardens that include intriguing combinations of plants, including grasses, succulents, orchids, bulbs and evergreens. These tiny landscapes can be grown under glass, in bowls and even in water.

Copies of her book, which offers instructions for 40 indoor garden designs, will be available for sale at the meeting. Nonmembers are welcome to attend for $5. Refreshments are served, and the meeting always includes a drawing for a plant.The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. with a meet and greet, followed by the formal meeting at 7 p.m. It is held at The Veterans Memorial Building, 126 First St. West.

WINDSOR: Holiday from garden

The fall and winter garden offers many surprising things that can be incorporated into holiday arrangements, wreaths and garlands. Master Gardener Sue Lovelace will lead a free workshop Nov. 5 at the Windsor Library describing how she collects and prepares plant material foraged from the landscape. She will focus on design ideas, tools and supplies, and will show slides of her many creations. 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., 9291 Old Redwood Highway. Sonomamastergardeners.org.

HEALDSBURG: Decorative arrangements

Artist Louesa Roebuck and designer Sarah Lonsdale, authors of the book “Foraged Floral,” will lead a Nov. 6 workshop on creating unusual arrangements from commonly available material from the landscape. The event is from 3-6 p.m. at Healdsburg Shed. Cost is $85 and includes a copy of the book, a reception and book signing.

Roebuck, who splits her time between the San Francisco Bay Area and L.A., is an artist and floral designer. She has created installations from foraged and gleaned materials for high-end clients like Vivienne Westwood, John Baldessari and Alice Waters. She also worked in the fashion industry and is a painter and textile artist.

Lonsdale is cofounder of Remodelista and is the author of “Japanese Style.” She spent a decade in Tokyo working in television and advertising and now lives in Napa Valley.

Shed is at 25 North St. For information, call 707-431-7433 or visit healdsburgshed.org.

VALLEJO: Model neighborhood on Mare Island

Blu Homes, which manufactures high-design prefabricated homes, has created a model home village next to their production facility on Mare Island.

The model neighborhood includes the Breezehouse and garage, a modern two- story Solaire home and the Lotus Mini accessory home.

The company arranged the model homes in a village setting so people can see and explore them in a natural setting, with landscaping and exterior features like xeriscaping, hardscaping and decking designs that let the outdoors in.

Blu Homes makes premium prefab homes with custom-quality features like high ceilings, walls of glass and luxury finishes.

The model home village is open to the public 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays at 1205 Club Drive. For information, call 866-887-7997 or visit bluhomes.com.

Article source: http://www.pressdemocrat.com/lifestyle/6206143-181/sonoma-county-home-and-garden

Free natural yard care workshops on fall yard design, Nov. 10 and 17

Story

Garden professionals will share their design tips and ideas for healthy, natural yards at two workshops that are scheduled for Nov. 10 and Nov. 17, and sponsored by the King County Stormwater Services Program.

The workshops will help you rethink your landscapes with design ideas, healthy soil, lawn care, natural pest control and maybe even a rain garden.

Workshops are set for Nov.  10 and 17 from 7-9 p.m., at Maple Hills Elementary School gym, 15644 204th Ave. S.E., Renton. Register at naturalyardcare.org and click “Workshops,” or call 206-686-6427 and provide your name, phone number and address.

The first workshop, “Beautiful landscapes start with good design and growing healthy soil,” features  Doug Rice, landscape architect, who will offer professional advice and resources in garden design. Lisa Taylor, formerly with Seattle Tilth, will discuss how to improve your yard’s soil – and grow attractive, robust plants – by mulching, composting and top dressing.

The second workshop features rain gardens, natural lawn care, and natural pest control, with Ladd Smith from In Harmony Sustainable Landscapes. Smith will discuss rain garden designs and natural ways to grow a beautiful, healthy lawn. Dan Corum will have the latest advice about the best products, methods and tools for controlling pests, learned during his years as “Dr. Doo” at Woodland Park Zoo.

Natural yard care workshops provide tips from the pros to help homeowners reduce pesticide and fertilizer use that can harm health and pollute stormwater. Natural yard care and rain gardens can also help slow and absorb rainfall that rush off changed landscapes and create flooding or other problems.

Workshops are sponsored by King County’s Stormwater Services, protecting clean and sustainable water resources in unicorporated King County.

Relevant links
www.naturalyardcare.org
www.naturalyardcare.org/local_workshops.aspx

Article source: http://www.kingcounty.gov/depts/dnrp/newsroom/newsreleases/2016/October/28-yard-care-workshops.aspx