Secret Life of the Lima Bean


Ah, the secret life of plants and the bugs that surround them. We live in an incredible world with so many things going on around us that we know so little about. Consider the lima bean. Just one of many plants with the ability to conduct its own brand of chemical warfare.

When under attack by spider mites the lima bean emits a foul-tasting chemical that makes the mites spit “Ptooey!” and move on. Not only does this deter the mites already on the plant, but the neighboring beans pick up on the scent and start to whip up a batch of their own mite miffing magic, saving the entire patch.

Cheerful bee. Cartoon


When caterpillars invade, the lima bean switches tactics and puffs out a fragrant perfume to attract parasitic wasps. The wasps arrive on the scene and lay their eggs inside the caterpillars. When the eggs hatch the larvae eats the caterpillar from the inside out. Talk about fodder for a Hollywood Horror. The caterpillars die, as one might expect, and the lima bean lives for another day.

Lima Beans are an overlooked super food that have yet to achieve cult status.

Vector Illustration Of Beanstalk

If Jack’s mother had known then what we know now, she would have thought her son was a genius for trading in the family cow for a handful of beans. Granted, Jack’s beans were magic in more ways than just nutritionally. And yes, what followed was an unfortunate crime spree that no mother should have been too pleased about, but the beans…the beans are ridiculously good for you.

Lima beans are a better source of iron than red meat and contain just as much protein without the fat. They are also loaded with calcium, folate and magnesium, all of which contribute to healthy bones and ward off osteoporosis. They also contribute to cardiovascular health, digestive health and slow the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream making them a great choice for diabetics.

How much should you eat? A cup of day should keep the doctor away.

Lima Beans



Six Uses for Eggs in the Garden

If Easter has left you walking on eggshells and you don’t know what to do with all those leftover cartons of cackle berries and shells here are half a dozen uses for eggs in the garden!

4B Eggshell Pots

Use shells for starting seedlings in. They will appreciate the boost of calcium they receive from the shell. This is especially a good idea for those seedlings that don’t like being transplanted because they can’t stand having their roots disturbed. You can also easily write on the shell so you know what you’ve planted. Be sure to poke a hole in the bottom with a pin or a thumbtack so excess water can escape. When it is time to plant your seedling outside gently crack the bottom of the “egg pot” so roots can escape and plant the seedling shell and all. The transplants won’t even know what happened.


hands planting tomato seedling

2. Add crushed eggshells to the hole before planting your tomatoes. Tomatoes thrive on the extra calcium the shells provide. If you have a crazy amount of eggs here is a fantastic recipe for a  concoction your tomatoes will love.

  • 3.78 Litres (1 gallon) of sun warmed water (rainwater if you have it)
  • 30 ml (2 tbsp.) of Epsom salts
  • 2 banana peels
  • 2 dozen eggshells

Mix the above ingredients in a blender and feed to your tomatoes once a week.

Crushed egg shell on white background flushed left


3. Crush up eggshells and pile them about a centimeter (half inch) thick on the soil surface in a ring around susceptible plants to deter slugs and cutworms. These little critters have soft bodies that do not appreciate sharp edges.


4. Add crushed eggshells to your potted plants for a boost of calcium. Every time you water calcium will be washed down to the roots.


African violet, Saintpaulia flower on window sill

5. Put 125 ml (1/2 cup) of eggshells in a 1 litre (4 cup) mason jar with a lid. Use for watering your houseplants. African Violets are extremely appreciative of eggshell water rewarding your efforts with beautiful robust blooms. Top off the jar up to half a dozen times before adding new eggshells.


Composting examples.

6. Simply add eggshells to your compost to enrich that magic mixture!


What are the Provincial and Territorial Flowers of Canada?

Canada’s Provincial and Territorial Official Flowers listed alphabetically first by Province and then by Territory. Includes the year the flower was officially adopted.


wild rose isolated

Alberta – The Wild Rose

Adopted in 1930





Dogwood (Cornus florida)



British Columbia – The Pacific Dogwood

Adopted in 1956




Spring flowers cutleaf anemone




Manitoba – Prairie Crocus

Adopted in 1906






Viola flowers



New Brunswick – Purple Violet

Adopted in 1936





Pitcher Plant


Newfoundland and Labrador – Pitcher Plant

Adopted in 1954








Nova Scotia – Mayflower Trailing Arbutus

Adopted in 1901






Trillium, Official Flower of Province of Ontario, Canada


Ontario – White Trillium

Adopted in 1937






lady slipper trio



Prince Edward Island – Pink Lady Slipper Cypripedium reginae

Adopted in 1947








Flower of Iris 7



Quebec – the Blue Flag (native Iris) replaced the white lily as the provincial flower in 1999








Wild lily (Lilium pensylvanicum) 8



Saskatchewan – Western Red Lily

Adopted in 1941










Northwest Territories – Mountain Avens

Adopted in 1957





Saxifrage flowers on the ground in the garden



Nunavut Territory – Purple Saxifraga

Adopted in 2000







Yukon Territory – Fireweed

Adopted in 1957







Colorful Canada map with provinces and capital cities

What was the First Vegetable to Sprout in Space?

The very first vegetable to ever sprout in space was the spud. That’s right, the lowly potato earned high flying status when Space Shuttle Columbia tested the production of seed potatoes aboard the shuttle in October 1995.

germinating potato

If you are interested in learning more about growing potatoes on space missions visit NASA’s post Space Spuds to the Rescue and learn about recent developments in  growing Quantum Tubers™


Biggest Tree in the World

Title for the biggest tree in the world goes to the cashew tree Anacardium occidentale.

Yup, the very same tree that gives us those scrumptious, expensive, calorie rich cashews.

The cashew tree has a unique growing habit somewhat similar to the Egyptian Walking Onion. As the branches grow they often become so weighty they bow down and touch the earth, sending down roots wherever they make contact.

In Natal, Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil, this growth habit has resulted is one cashew tree that has spread itself across 7,500 square meters or 80,729 square feet; the equivalent of almost two acres.

In other words, you can’t see the tree for the forest.

This grove consisting of a single tree produces 60,000 cashews every year.

Did you know cashew trees also produce cashew apples? Find out more about them here!

Cashew apple on the tree

Cashew Apples and Why You Probably Have Never Ate One

Cashews are remarkable for many reasons, one being that cashew trees produce an apple-type fruit from which the cashew extends.

Cashew apple on the tree

As you can see here, the cashew grows out of the bottom of the fruit, while the other end is attached to the tree.

These apples are not only sweet, juicy and delicious, they contain five times more Vitamin C than an orange. Cashew apples are commonly eaten fresh, cooked, distilled into vinegar or used to make jams and chutney, as well as potent alcoholic beverages.

Unfortunately the skin is so fragile it makes the fruit too costly and difficult to transport, which is why you probably have never seen one in your local grocery store.

Native to Brazil, but commonly grown in parts of India, Nigeria and Vietnam, the cashew apple is something you will have to travel for in order to experience. If the apple won’t come to you, you will have to go to the apple!

If this is something you are interested in doing you might want to go to Brazil where you can visit the largest cashew tree in the world.




Biggest Pumpkins Ever!

The biggest pumpkin for 2015 weighed in at 2230.5 pounds (1011.7 kilograms). It was grown by Ron Wallace of Rhode Island. To date it is the heaviest pumpkin ever produced in North America. Despite its impressive size it fell short by almost 100 pounds (45 kilograms) of the world record set in 2014 by Beni Meier of Germany.

Beni’s pumpkin weighed 2,323.7 pounds (1054 kilograms).


Trip 103

A picture of a giant pumpkin with its regular sized relatives in its shadow. As big as this pumpkin is it would be dwarfed by the current record holders.


During the height of the growing season these hulking behemoths can put on as much as 50 pounds (23 kilograms) per day! Kind of makes me feel better about the four pounds I put on over Christmas. Not sure why, but it does.

Growing giant pumpkins can become all consuming with many people dedicating their lives to seeing how big of a pumpkin they can produce. With records being shattered year after year there doesn’t seem to be any limit to how big they can grow.

Interested in producing a giant pumpkin? Here are a couple books to help you get growing…

growing giant pumpkin


giant pumpkin

A border made of vine plants and a squash