Cactus Food on Your Breakfast Table

Everybody knows that cactuses are prickly. However, the fact that they are also an important source of food is far less popular. Stems, fruits and seeds of cactus have been have been More »

Psychedelic Cactus Adventure

We are human beings and, as the Eden’s incident proves it, it’s typical for all of us to cherish a desire for something forbidden and adventurous within. How about growing a plant More »

Mountain cacti

Have you ever been to or have you ever seen the pictures of the Andes or the Cordilleras? These are the places of such cactus types as astrophytum, cleistocactus, echinopsis, lobivia, notocactus, More »

Did you know these prickly things?

We all got used to cactuses as original and beautiful houseplants. So when we hear the word “cactus” we usually think of those natty prickly green things in small pots on our More »

Taking care of saguaro cactus

When you hear the word “saguaro” you probably imagine a large, tree-sized cactus with a mighty ribbed stalk that grows in the Caribbee coastwise. I also once thought that all representatives of More »

Monthly Archives: October 2011

Top 10 Inhabitants of the Sonoran Desert

The Sonoran Desert is a special place. With the total area of 311,thousand square kilometers it goes over all the southwestern areas of the state of Arizona and southeastern areas of the state of California in north america, as well as the state of Sonora in Mexico. In such a way, the Sonoran Desert goes through 2 states – California plus Arizona – and 2 countries, Usa and Mexico.

Cacti of Sonoran Desert

This is really a very hot place to stay. The most important point to the weather conditions of the Sonoran Desert is the quantity of rainwater that drops. In fact, there’s much more rainfalls in the Sonoran Desert compared to any other desert. As soon as it does get rainwater, the desert becomes soaked, as well as the air is chilled. Each time there is no rain, the place is absolutely dried out and extremely hot.

Despite the severe conditions, the Sonoran desert hosts all sorts of vegetation and wildlife that enjoy the hot and dry environment and that have adapted over time to reside here. Many of them are unique and rare.

Planting Cactus: Essential Guidelines

Planting CactusThe essential guidelines for growing succulent plants, and cactus in particular, at home are quite easy. It is very important to keep cacti away from cold in winter. Additionally, you will need to supply as much lighting as you can in summer to make your prickly friends healthy. Although, several cactus types like partial shade.

Effective drainage is actually the most significant property of a soil mix made for cacti. The typical mix includes 1/2 of grit, for example fine sand or crushed stone, and also 1/2 of organic matter such as leaf mould, peat moss, or something similar to it. Nowadays you’ll find numerous bagged cactus mixes in local stores, to say nothing of online shops.

While deciding upon pots for planting your cactus, terracota, stone and concrete ones will probably be the best choice, as they don’t let the roots sink in water. Additionally ensure that your pot contains drainage holes. For any cactus having a circular shape, pick a pot which is 5 cm wider than the plant. If you’ve got a straight cactus, select a container with the width of 1/2 of the plant’s height.

Any time you plant a cactus, care and attention must come first for your and your plant’s sake. Cover your cactus with a piece of thick paper or cloth and put on thick safety gloves during the procedure.

When designing the pots for your cactuses stick to the exact same rules which you use for many other plants. Just combine various sizes, shampes and colors to your liking. A nice-to-look-at arrangement can be achieved if you have a single big box with numerous plants. Or perhaps place each cactus in its own pot and then group them as you think is perfect.

Close the drain hole with the help of a fragment of broken ceramic or perhaps a piece of steel screen. After that load the pot part way with soil mix and then put the cactus into the pot. Make use of a tea spoon to load up soil mix around the plant. When you are done planting, place in a top layer of tiny rocks in order to make a completed picture which additionally improves the foundation of the plant.

Purchase any sort of bag of stones you prefer or select crushed stone which improves the overall look of the cactus as well as the pot. Go ahead and include any kind of decorating things at this stage, just set your imagination free.

As soon as the cactus is actually in a growing phase, fertilize it approximately each and every month. Most succulents, and cacti in particular, require such nutrients as potassium, nitrogen, phosphorus, as well as trace elements. You should utilize any kind of total liquid plant food or a specific fertilizer intended for cactus plants.

Water your prickly friend on a regular basis throughout the growing period. Remember, watering is preferable to a sprinkle each day or two. Any time you notice that the soil is totally dried out, you need to water the cactus once again. The majority of cacti can grow without the need for water for months in chilly conditions or throughout their inactive period. Continue normal watering only when the growing period gets started.

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How to Take Care of Your First Cactus

First cactus careI suppose, nearly every person at least once in his or her life tried to grow a cactus at home. It is even possible that this attempt was successful, and the unusual plant still pleases an eye while standing on the windowsill. But more often the first experience is a complete failure, especially if you the plant was give to you as a present and you were completely unprepared for that. I would like to give some practical advice to those who wants to keep his “firstborn”.

To begin with, your cactus baby might be of Dutch, Chinese, or Iranian descent. Or it might simply come to you from your grandmother, what is, oddly enough, much more preferred in this situation – just because it grew up under our sun, in our soil and sucked in our water. But, wherever it comes from, it must be first properly transplanted. Chinese cactuses are often sold bare-root, what is not bad at all – you are not buying a pig in a poke, but have a good opportunity to pick up a healthy plant with strong roots.

A cactus plant from Holland will quickly poke out of the pot with a lump of peat. After that it must be carefully cleaned starting from from the roots. The same thing must be done with a plant from Iran. But in case of “grandma’s cactus” you will probably have to work hard while trying to pick it out of a tin.

A healthy cactus plant usually has a plenty of roots. But if you see short and weak and pity rootlets or fail to find them at all while removing the plant from the pot, don’t be too much upset – this is not the end. Put the plant upright in a bright but not sunny place for 3-5 days. Don’t worry, it will do it only good.

But if the roots are all right, you can safely proceed to transplanting. In order not to overload you with all sorts of professional details about the proper soil for cacti, I will put it short – the substrate should be composed half of washed river sand and half of mountain foliated soil. Both components can be easily found in the mountain area. It is best to avoid clay pots – plastic ones are more suitable in our climate.

Don’t forget about the drainage. It could be a few potsherds, fragments of bricks, stones, or pieces of foam. When planting make sure that the roots of a cactus are not bend upwards. It’s better to cut them out, if they are already very high. Another important point: the substrate must not be above the root collar, a place where the roots actually begin. If the root collar looks ugly, or the cactus is unstable, you can put some stones around it. They will not only serve as decoration, but also won’t let water wash away the particles of soil and significantly reduce evaporation.

Well, we finally came to the stage, when the biggest mistake is often made. DON’T water the cactus right after you finished transplanting! Make a pause of 3 and more days in case of tiny seedlings and up to several months for large plants. 7-10 days will be perfect for a cactus with the size of a small apple. To make it easier for the plant in these waterless days, put it in a bright but not sunny place and slightly spray it with warm water from time to time. When the waterless period is over, start watering with a small amount of water gradually increasing the portion. Also make your prickly friend accustomed to the sun gradually preventing it from getting sun-burnt, otherwise the scars will stay forever.

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Cactus Food on Your Breakfast Table

Everybody knows that cactuses are prickly. However, the fact that they are also an important source of food is far less popular.

Cactus FoodStems, fruits and seeds of cactus have been have been traditionally used as food for centuries. They are eaten raw or precessed: baked, fried, boiled. People make jams, jellied and various sorts of beverages of cactus. The stems of certain cacti are perfect for making candied fruits. Fresh young shoots of Opuntia are often added to salads (without spines, or course). Hot dishes with cactuses taste particularly delicious.

Still many of us may think that cactus food is something that is pretty much exotic. But in fact, everyone can try cactuses, even those which we have on our windowsills. You should know that there are no poisonous cacti and all their parts (but for spines, of course) are eatable. Some cactus types contain drug substances and give you hallucinations, so you should be careful and don’t take in too much – however, in most cases it’s not possible since these cacti don’t usually taste very good. You should also bear in mind that home plants are more or less exposed to chemical treatment such as biocide and artificial fertilizers) and, therefore, you need to rinse the parts which you are going to try. Anyways, keep your small kids away from your prickly friends – they should not be treated to such meals.

So one can chew a piece of any cactus kept at home. But in most cases you will be disappointed – most of them will taste grassy. Fruits of most indoor cacti are simply too small or not fleshy. The only exception may be young large segments of prickly pear cactus with few spines.  However, you can always try berries that adorn many species of mamillaria (also known as nipple-cactus): they are juicy, sour, and have no aroma. Red juice of these berries is a good food dye. Many mamillaria fruits are tied without pollination, so it’s not a problem to grow them at home. With some effort it’s not very difficult to get a more visible “crop”. Having pollinated two flowers of different nipple-cacti you will soon get pear-shaped pink ribbed fruit with the size of a small plum. They are juicy, fleshy, and edible. As for their taste, they are just tasteless, but it’s worth experimanting.

You can get even more interesting result by cross-pollination hybrid varieties of crab-cacti (Epiphyllum). Don’t worry if you have just one blooming cactus. It’s not necessary to have both plants in your house for cross-pollination – ask neighbors, friends or colleges whether them have a “partner” for your prickly friend. Just pluck its flower – be careful not to damage it, as the excreting juice will make the pollen useless. The pollen can be also collected with a dry or slightly damp sponge or soft brush, so you don’t even need to pluck a flower. The collected pollen doesn’t lose its properties for several days if kept in the fridge.

The pollen is applied by drawing the flower’s anthers or brush with the pollen across the snout of the other flower. Cactus fruit is formed in the bottom of the flower tube. If all goes well, the base of the flower begins tto grow and thicken. In about a it produces a pink fruit with the shape of a plum and shiny skin. The ripe fruit is soft and easily detached from the stem. Cut it lengthwise and eat its flesh with seeds with a spoon. There are many enthusiastic descriptions of its taste and aroma, but it is better not to read them in advance in order not to be slightly disappointed afterwords.

However, the most spectacular fruit, which you can grow in home conditions is the berry of selenicereus (aka night queen flower). The main difficulty in obtaining it is to find two simultaneously blooming plants. As a reward, you will get a heavy orange-sized fruit densely covered with spines and smal hairs. This “berry” is really tasty and flavorous. Cut it into pieces and eat its flesh with a spoon. Bon apetit!

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