When I was fifteen and a student in Baltimore, I fell in love with the early twentieth-century poet Mina Loy. I’d read a few of her crackling, avant-garde poems in an anthology, and was intrigued by her wit. She was little remembered …Read full guest blog post here »
Chocolate and Algae. Two words you don’t often see together. But Solazyme, a California algae-oil company, has figured out how to engineer microalgae so they produce an oil that mimics cocoa butter. This is terrific news for those of us who consider chocolate to be a major food group. Why? Global demand for cocoa beans has doubled in the last 30 years and supply hasn’t kept up. Chocolate is getting increasingly expensive. Algae-made cocoa butter may help keep us chocolate fanatics supplied without breaking the bank!
“A Garden of Marvel: How We Discovered that Flowers Have Sex, Leaves Eat Air, and Other Secrets of Plants” will be in book stores on February 25, 2014
Gently rubbing your plants’ leaves can stimulate them to resist disease, according to a new report. When scientists rubbed the leaves of a thale cress plant, the leaves produced biochemicals that made the plant more resistant to the fungus that causes grey mold. So, don’t bother talking to your plants: Pat them instead!
How does that work? The rubbing is a kind of mechanical stress, and the plant reacts as if it has been physically wounded. Although the leaf cells are not harmed, they respond even to a gentle touch as if they were. The leaves becomes more permeable, and molecules that contribute to an immune response to limit infection rise to the surface. You can read the full story at “Perception of soft mechanical stress in Arabidopsis…” in BMC Plant Biology, 2013.
Ruth Kassinger, author of Paradise Under Glass, and upcoming A Garden of Marvels, welcomes you to her new website that details information about her books, speaking events, and gardening blog called: Garden of Marvels.