Saturday, March 31, 2012

Organic Scented Aphids for Sale!

No ... seriously, I am in business to sale Aphids to whoever wants them. Natural (duh!), Organic, Scented Aphids!!!

Apple Nutmeg Scented Aphid ;-)

You know ... if you can't beat them ... join them; and more than that, I am sure, once I'll start raising them … they'll die ... or ... I'll find a method to ... help them ... as I do with my bonsai (killing them with over-love ... or over-water) ... or my tomatoes (don't even ask about those, OK)

Out there, you know, … are crazy guys raising not only pelargoniums … but … lichens ... and … and … yeast … so why not aphids?

Growing … Aphids?! Yaaa, I know for sure that you are doing the same ... you just do not want to admit it.

They say ... if you build it, they will come, so here I am, announcing the entire World that we've decided to raise and sell Aphids. Why not ... these are special aphids, grown on scented pelargoniums, very healthy, no insecticides were ever touched my plants.

Coconut Scented Aphids ... great Pests and Pets.

Aphids are Great Pets, not only Great Pests ; smaller enough so they'll never bother you, green (as in Green, sustainable, whatever ... you know), playful … but lazy, multiplies like crazy (what pet can give you this great opportunity???) Forget about the "101 Dalmatians" ... you can have your own "Quintillion Aphids" in no time. You don't need to walk them, nor clean up the mess. No expensive bills to the Vet ... and definitely you don't need to declare them or acquire a special permit. Nope. Nothing. Nada.

Playful, lovely Scented Pelargoniums Aphids
Playful, lovely Scented Pelargoniums Aphids, face to face.

Just try harder NOT to have them ... and voila ... plenty of Aphids. Enemies ... not so many ... and the voracious but affectionately called Ladybugs, well ... call them ... Lazybugs … they never shown any big interest.

Aphids with babies
Happy Aphids Family Reunion: mother and kids.
What? You’ve got them too? Hmmm ... but ... but … are yours scented? See, that's the catch ... mine's are:

"Coconut Scented Aphids" (lavishly feasting on Pelargonium grossularioides), "Fruity Scented Aphids" (fed only on Pelargonium fragrans), "Apple Scented Aphids" (doing so great on Pelargonium odoratissimum) and even "Southern-wood Scented Aphids" (promising activity on Pelargonium abrotanifolium).

Sorry no Skeleton Rose (Pelargonium x radens), Lemon (Pelargonium citrossum, crispum, citronellum) or Peppermint (Pelargonium tomentosum) scented Aphids; no matter how hard I try … no success.

Also, if you ever consider, growing Aphids, don't try Ginkgo biloba, Bay laurel, Ficus, Blubbery, Boxwood, Coleus, Dracaena, Euonymus, Forsythia, Jasmine, Schefflera or Yew. For everything else ... there's an App for that ... I mean there's an Aphid for that. Many Aphid species are "monophagous" that means feeding on one only plant species.

I need better names for "my" Aphids … there are already “green apple aphids”, “rosy apple aphid”, “apple grain aphid” and “wooly apple aphids” … even "Strawberry root aphid" (Aphis forbesi) and "Strawberry aphid" (Chaetosiphon fragaefolii), "Green peach aphid" (Myzus persicae), "Pea aphid" (Acyrthosiphon pisum), "potato aphid" (Macrosiphum euphorbiae) and "melon/cotton aphid" (Aphis gossypii).

Didn't find your favorite Aphid yet? ... do not despair ... there are over 4,000 species of Aphids.

If you don't like aphids, you should consider fungus gnats ... but (always there is a but) these are not the same caliber. Yes they can eat your lovely plants roots, yes they'll come to you once you'll offer them some vinegar or the like, or even a small potato piece  ... BUT those are not scented, ... nor Green ... and ...

White-flies and spider-mites? Hmmm, I don’t think so … the first ones would fly around and sit underneath the lower leaves … and the other ones … way to small. Aphids … always goes on top, perfectly aligned,... always insight and … always showing you where new shoots or buds are coming.

In the experiments I've conducted, Aphids always climbed to the top of the container in five minutes or so. Perhaps they know where the apex dominating shoots appears. Try it by yourself. It's fun. Know your enemy ... I mean ... your friend.
I can even envision, kind of an anti-hourglass device. You know .... the old device of measuring time ... sand hourglasses where granules of sands falls down through an orifice ... think about something like that but with Aphids climbing it ;-)

"Aphids Hourglass" ... yet another innovative product from
Throw a leaf into the jar and in less than 5 minutes ... everyone starts sucking. You know ... they suck! Literally.

Aphids for use as food.
Food for your toad, salamander, frog, spider and the like. You need a suitable location, like an aquarium, and enough light to grow some plants ... younger the better. Harvest them and stored them into your fridge; I've kept a jar with Aphids for more than 8 hours at 3-4 degrees Celsius ... and survived and immediately start moving when bring back to room temperature. More test to follow.

Great potential for human consumption :-) Fancy restaurants all over the World included insects and other "novelties" into their menu. I am not aware about any studies regarding this matter, so don't rush yet to your garden to pick up freshly, softly, succulent Aphids for your steak or soups ... but again ... why not?

Aphids for scientific experiments. Aphids do a great job transmitting viruses to plants. Want your micro syringe to inoculate thousands of plants ... no problem ... Aphids to the rescue!

Raise them so you can test your new annihilation method? ... simple. In no time you'll have your own mega population to test against it. Cleverly market your ultimate Aphid killer substance and make billions ... but one thing is sure ... you'll never stop them. Nope ... not a chance. This guys are very tough, despite their softy body and laid-back appearance.
Adapted to "suck and pump" the juice from almost any plant in the world, doubled by a very clever reproduction cycle and with a 4 x 4 ... actually 6 x 6 traction capability ... even airborne ... we stand no chance against them. Yes, adult Aphids can occur in wingless or winged forms … that means … they can fly!. Mine are not flying (yet) … maybe because “winged adults are mainly produced for migration to other hosts, in response to crowding or poor host quality” as stated by Minnesota Department of Agriculture

Maybe someday, Aphids would do great in the perfume industry too  … no need to work so hard to extract essential oil from scented pelargoniums … why even bother, when you can have an entire army at your service … a clone army, you know, like in Star Wars … who’ll do the work for you. If ants figured this out and use aphids as "milk cows" ... why we cannot do that? Actually, Aphids suck plants' sap phloem and not the scented "oil" ...

Ant drinking honeydew from aphid
Ant drinking honeydew from aphid - (c) pbertner, Flickr

Maybe I shouldn't stop at this level ... just direct sell them ... I should consider expanding my vision and offer a franchise: Scented Aphid-Pets ... BTW, tomorrow is a big franchise expo in Vancouver; I don't feel I am ready yet, but I should go anyway.

Here you go ... "Scented Aphids Franchise ... another business opportunity from"

Aphid pondering on Geranium stem
Aphid pondering on Geranium stem.

Please let me know if you are interested to buy our "Friendly, Playful and Fragrant Aphids", or if you know somebody who is interested, write to me immediately. You can buy Scented Pelargonium seeds to raise your own Scented Aphids,  or if you like to donate, click the following button:

Meantime ... stop bugging the Aphids, OK? Embrace them instead and learn how to live with them. They’ll continue to exist on this planet long after we'll be gone.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Blossoms to the Spring

O Were My Love Yon Lilac Fair
By Robert Burns

purple Blossoms to the Spring
O were my love yon Lilac fair,
Wi' purple blossoms to the Spring,
And I, a bird to shelter there,
When wearied on my little wing!
How I wad mourn when it was torn
By Autumn wild, and Winter rude!
But I wad sing on wanton wing,
When youthfu' May its bloom renew'd.

Blossoms to the Spring
O gin my love were yon red rose,
That grows upon the castle wa';
And I myself a drap o' dew,
Into her bonie breast to fa'!
O there, beyond expression blest,
I'd feast on beauty a' the night;
Seal'd on her silk-saft faulds to rest,
Till fley'd awa by Phoebus' light!

Pink Blossoms to the Spring
One of the best-known poets of the eighteenth century, Robert Burns is known also as the "Bard of Ayshire". I like his romantic poems more than those about politics and patriotism. I discovered his opera after I've been welcomed by his statue when I walked first time through Stanley Park.

This poem has captured my attention when I've been wondering throughout 'Read book online' website and I featured it because it's really blooming with colors: purple, red, pink, lilac  on Vancouver's streets.

Purple flowers

Monday, March 19, 2012

Tussie-Mussie and Boutonniere

I start thinking again about Tussie-Mussie and Boutonnieres due the request of one of our friends to help them making the floral arrangements at their wedding.

Tussie-Mussie with Scented-leaved Pelargoniums and Bay-Laurel branches
Tussie-Mussie with Scented-leaved Pelargoniums and Bay-Laurel branches

Hystorically, a tussie-mussie  (known also as nosegay) is a small, exquisite cluster of  flowers that can be used for almost any occasion: to express  congratulations and birthday greetings or to decorate festive tables at celebration gatherings.

Boutonniere with rose-scented pelargonium flowers and bay-laurel leaves
Boutonniere with rose-scented pelargonium flowers
I have made bridal bouquets (Tussie-Mussie), assorted hand-held bouquets for maids and boutonnieres for few bridal showers and weddings. Of course, I've used all the time scented pelargoniums leaves and  flowers. I like to combine various scents and even to add small branches in bloom when making them.

The symbolic meaning of some of the leaves / flowers used in those dainty arrangements has been inherited from old times.  There are dozens of floral dictionaries already published, but I mention just the meanings of my favorite plants: red geranium  flowers for health and protection, pink geranium flowers for grace, beauty and devotion, mauve geranium flowers for faithfulness, white geranium flowers for friendship and loyalty.

 Boutonniere with pink roses and scented pelargoniums leaves
Boutonniere with roses

The scents and shapes of the leaves also have kept their meanings over the years:  the rose-scented and lemon-rose scented crinkled leaves for true love and friendship;  balm or lemon-balm scented pelargoniums for sympathy,  pine-scented fern-leaved pelargoniums (filicifolium)   for sincerity , oak-leaved pelargoniums for true friendship, nutmeg-scented pelargonium (xFragrans)  for loyalty.
Of course, in my floral arrangements you may find not only pelargoniums  and geraniums. Talking through their meanings, I'm using also other plants like Bay Laurel leaves for victory,  baby's breath for innocence, roses for preference, friendship and true love, rosemary for remembrance, red basil for best wishes, marjoram for kindness and courtesy and myrtle for fidelity.

You can  let  your imagination and creativity to run when tie flower bouquet with rubber band and strips of fabrics assorted with the theme of the event. It is a delightful task  of playing with colors, textures, scents when arranging flowers and herbs together, until you have the type of  tussie-mussie you want.

Cherry Blossoms Haiku

Pink hours,
Cherry blossoms run-off and dance
Spilling on roads.

 Cherry Blossoms in March on Vancouver's streets

It seems a wonderful gift from Nature to find cherry blossoms in March!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Pelargonium Abrotanifolium, Southernwood-Leaved Geranium

Pelargonium Abrotanifolium  it is also known as Southernwood-Leaved Geranium due to its finely divided aromatic foliage similar with  Artemisia Abrotanum’s  foliage (plant named after the Goddess Artemis).

Southernwood-Leaved Geranium, Pelargonium Abrotanifolium foliage

Southernwood-Leaved Geranium, Pelargonium Abrotanifolium with colored edges 

The truth is that, indeed, not only the feathery look and the grey-green color of the leaves resemble the Southernwood’s foliage.

First time when I had smelled the Pelargonium Abrotanifolium leaves ("folium" is Latin for leaf ), I’ve remembered the strong camphor-woodsy like fragrance of the  "Pelin" (aka European Sage, Garden Sagebrush, Artemisia Abrotanum or Southernwood ) from my grandma’s garden. 

In my childhood, I've used  to wash my wounds with "Pelin and Musetel" (Southernwood and Chamomile) tea, which is a well-known old medicine remedy to reduce inflammation and the risk of supra-infection and to  promote healing in case of bleeding wounds.

Southernwood-Leaved Geranium, Pelargonium Abrotanifolium foliage with water-drops 

Pelargonium Abrotanifolium  is an upright bushy plant native to the rocky areas of South Africa. Started from seeds last year, planted initially in micro-soil blocks, the plants grow healthy in well-drained medium, a mix of  potting soil,  sand and  small rocks.

It is blooming throughout the year with white or pink flowers with dark purple markings on the upper two petals.

Pelargonium Abrotanifolium flowers

 The plant can reach 20″ (50 cm) tall in the wild or garden-beds, but it remains compact if is pruned regularly. The stem and branches became woody with age and the plant respond well to the leaf reduction if is potted in small pots.  The silvery-feathery look of the leaves alone makes an outstanding focal point in our garden. On top of it, the spicy fragrance of their foliage is worth nurturing the plant along.   

Southernwood-Leaved Geranium, Pelargonium Abrotanifolium leaf

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Seedy Saturday

Saturday, March 3, 2012 we were delighted to spend few hours in the beautiful Terra Nova Rural Park - Richmond.

Terra Nova Rural Park - Richmond, Seedy Saturday event

The "Red Barn", aka the main building from the Terra Nova Farm Centre,  hosted the 2012 edition of the Seedy Saturday, an interesting spring event sponsored by Vancouver Costal Health, The City of Richmond and Vancity.

Red Barn, Terra Nova Rural Park - Richmond, Seedy Saturday event


People bought seeds, gardening supplies, "grow your own mushrooms" kits, honey,  fruit trees (heritage apples and crabapples), and small seedlings of Currant, Grape,  LingonBerry, Huckleberry, Bluebbery and Cranberry.

We've chosen seeds of Havanah Tobacco, renewed for its usage as "aphid killer", Quinoa and Salsify (named also Vegetable Oyster).
 salsify plant

Seeds Booth, Terra Nova Rural Park - Richmond, Seedy Saturday event
Stand at Terra Nova Rural Park - Richmond, Seedy Saturday event
Booth at Terra Nova Rural Park - Richmond, Seedy Saturday event


Also we had fun learning in an interactive workshop about urban permaculture. The kids were really excited to learn about how to make "seed bombs" - they couldn't wait to try out. 

Apples display at Terra Nova Rural Park - Richmond, Seedy Saturday event

After finished our tour around all the "Seedy" stands , we've let the crowd behind and spent a pleasant time wondering throughout Terra Nova Rural Park pathways which backing the Terra Nova Farm Centre.

Terra Nova Rural Park - Richmond, overview map
Overview map of Terra Nova Rural Park area

We've read long ago about the 2009 award achieved by The City of Richmond for Terra Nova Rural Park, an amazing 63-acre rural park protecting wildlife residing in the area, featuring boardwalks and a community garden, so, we just took this opportunity to visit it and to enjoy the signs of spring awaiting to be discovered.

 flower buds, amazing spring signs

Language of Flowers, 1942

I came across a beautiful 1942's presentation "Language of Flowers" done at Kew Gardens, London.  I was amazed by the shots of the flowers and by the diagram showing the make up of a flower. Did you ever wonder what happens when you press a flower? You can always find pressed flowers in my books like those featured in this clip.

This historic video-clip embedded is shared by "British Pathe" website, one of the oldest media company of the world, in their Cinemagazines collection (they have all rights for it) and I'm sure you'll like it, too.  

"Once in a golden hour 
I cast to earth a seeds. 
Up there came a flower, 
The people said, a weed."
from "The Flower" poem featured in clip.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Balsam Scented Pelargoniums

Pelargoniums with balsam-scented leaves add a little spice to our garden. Strongly balsam scented with pine, oak or mint notes, some varieties are really pungent being more appropriate as insect-repellent ;-). Glandular hairs cover the irregularly divided leaves which have a range of variation in shape: from deeply divided to pinnately lobed, some very sticky, other with dark purple-markings in direct sunlight.

 Various shapes of balsam scented pelargonium leaves
Various shapes of  Balsam Scented Pelargoniums leaves: Hispidum, Vitifolium, Papilionaceum, Quercifolium, Glutinosum and Royal Oak varieties

Native to South Africa, they are very resistant plants thriving through ravines, near streams, or on lower slopes of the lower mountains. They like a sandy soil mix and grow well in shade to semi-shade areas. Somehow specials, balsam scented pelargoniums really require water to encourage a healthy grow... so it is important to water them regularly.

Pelargonium Quercifolium, oak-shaped balsam-scented leaves
Pelargonium Quercifolium, oak-shaped balsam-scented leaves

First balm-scented pelargonium by our collection was "Fair Ellen", a  compact hybrid with deeply divided leaves who really do look like the leaves of the Oak tree.

Pelargonium Fair Ellen flowers and leaves
Pelargonium "Fair Ellen" flowers and leaves

Later on,  we've decided to enlarge our collection and we started some batches of  new varieties (from seeds ordered from South Africa) like: Quercifolium, Hispidum, Glutinosum, Royal Oak, Vitifolium, Papilionaceum and Panduriforme.  The plants were initially potted in small soil blocks (made with a special mold - left side in picture),  and have been moved into larger plastic pots after the third set of leaves have appeared.

Pelargonium seedlings potted in soil blocks
Pelargonium seedlings potted in soil blocks.

Last year, some of the plants were blooming, being covered for several weeks by large pink flowers with purplish-pink blotches (quercifolium, glutinosum and panduriforme) and in autumn made a lot of seeds.

Pelargonium Quercifolium flowers
Pelargonium Quercifolium  flowers

Some seeds have gone in various countries (sold through our eBay Store or Etsy Store ), others became seedlings, still waiting to warm-up to be moved outside definitively.

Balsam scented Pelargonium Fair Ellen flower, leaf and seed
Pelargonium "Fair Ellen" flower, leaf and seed

This Sunday, at the March's meeting of  "Canadian Geranium & Pelargonium Society" we took with us seedlings of  Glutinosum, Vitifolium and Papilionaceum, and we discussed about which method we've used to grow them from seeds and also about their growing habits, the shapes and scents of their leaves.

Pelargoniums presented at 2012 March Meeting of Canadian Geranium and Pelargonium Society

The balsam scented pelargoniums are very popular as ornamental plant in landscaping due to their vigorously growing habit as erect (1-5 feet height), branched shrubs spreading quickly  in rocky slopes. Some varieties have been used also as aromatic plants and medicinal plants since ancient times. 


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