April 6, 2010

An Interconnected Network

An article recently published in the April 2010 issue of Scientific American examines the relationships between truffles, their tree hosts, and animals (including us!). I found that this serves as yet another fascinating topic that connects the three St. Paul branch libraries and highlights the importance of each.

In brief, trees obtain vital nutrients and water from the networks of mycorrhiza, which are produced by truffles, between their roots. The fungus in turn receives sugars and nutrients that the tree obtains through photosynthesis. In order to propagate, however, the truffles must release their spores. Thus, a problem arises: how do truffles release their spores when they are underground? Over millions of years, truffles have developed aromatic compounds or colorations that attract certain species of animals or insects. Animals and insects of all sizes and on many continents sniff out their beloved truffles and either lay eggs near the truffle as a food source for their young or eat them. The flesh of the truffle is digested, but the spores pass through the animal safely and germinate when environmental conditions are right.

The Hidden Life of Truffles by James M. Trappe and Andrew W. Claridge
Scientific American, Vol 302, Issue 4, Apr 2010.

U of MN students and faculty: Find it here through one of the library's vendors!

~ Alli

Make a Mini Greenhouse from a CD Case

The Center for Ecoliteracy is a group that supports the efforts of sustainable living through education. They have a neat (free!) tutorial on how to make a mini greenhouse from a CD case. Check it out!

May 19, 2009

Botanical Art

Minnesota has a school for botanical art! It's called The Minnesota School for Botanical Art.

April 20, 2009

Tomato Tips from Burkard's Nursery in California

Hear tips from a seasoned gardener on how to keep tomato plants healthy in your own home garden - including how to avoid wilt, how not to plant, and reasons why you might want an heirloom tomato rather than the Best Boy hybrid. The segment can be streamed online from KPCC's Off-Ramp website: HERE
via KPCC's Off-Ramp radio program

April 17, 2009

Behold the Giant Pumpkin

Get the skinny on growing a giant pumpkin in this very fun video!
via Science Friday