Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Christmas already?

The Christmas Cactus has always been one of my favourite houseplants.

Easy to care for, this seasonal plant generously spashes forth fuchsia that for most of the year remains hidden within the flattened leaf-stems. Even the most neglected of the Christmas Cactus (like that of one of my coworkers, which hasn't seen a hint of daylight for about eight years) will survive.

Ours shown above is hosting at least a single flower, and in many cases two, on each stem. It's also the only seasonal plant my parents have that will dependably break forth in bloom, unlike the poinsettia disappointments they regularly receive as gifts during this time of year.

Theirs, however, doesn't bloom till closer to Christmas, or sometimes well into February, as the blooms are timed with the shortening days, and artificial light throws off their timing. If yours has this problem, either shade the plant well once the sun sets, or just put it closer to a window/further from artificial lights. If your buds fall off before blooming, you may be watering too much. I've read that you can reduce waterings to half of what you normally do during the winter months, though I've never had to do this.
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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Monster Aquatic Auction

The Vancouver Aquatic Hobbyist Club
is holding its
12Th Annual All Day Monster Aquatic Auction
Saturday November 14th, 2009
in the school gym of
St Pius X Catholic School
1150 Mount Seymour Road, North Vancouver
Registration from 8:30 am – 9:30 am
Auction Starts at 10:00 am Sharp!
Hundreds of items – quality fish raised by local breeders – quality plants grown by local growers – equipment new and used
– books and much more…
E.g.: Angelfish, Killifish, Rainbowfish, Cichlids, Live Bearers, Betta’s, Catfish and more
Door prizes given away and raffles held throughout the day
Food and drinks will be available onsite.
Your Questions answered by friendly experts
This auction is a fundraiser for Project PIABA with all club proceeds going save the Amazon rainforests!
No Entrance Fee - Everyone is Welcome!

For more information visit the VAHC website www.vahc.ca

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Enough mushrooms for a year

We missed the mushroom show this year at Van Dusen, so I made it up to D by bringing her to the Vancouver Mycological Society's show at Richmond Nature Park this afternoon.

When one thinks of toadstools, one often has the Amanita muscaria in mind.

Puff balls are one of those edible mushrooms that are easily identifyable, but as one of the Mycological Society showed me, the best way is to slice it lengthwise to ensure that you don't see any gills.

Got a few interesting facts from the volunteers:
  • the part of the mushroom you see is only the fruiting body. The mycelium (or root system) exists, for the most part, beneath the surface.
  • spores are generally the best way to identify mushrooms. Only with precise identification can one positively identify the edible ones. I've seen pollen grains under a microscope, but spores can be even smaller
  • I've often thought it odd that mushrooms kept in the fridge too long will themselves be invaded by other fungi. This is apparently quite common, and some fungi are made to taste even better because of it, such as the lobster mushroom.
  • Some mushrooms have evolved poisons, while others take the "if you can't beat them, join 'em" route. Truffles, for instance, emit an alluring odour to animals to encourage their dispersal (of the spores) to far off lands.
  • Even the mushroom experts agree that the safest way to enjoy mushrooms is from the supermarket.