Sunday, October 29, 2017

YouTube and my Lucky Bamboos

Most of us know how helpful YouTube tutorials can be; they teach us how to fix things, how to grow things, how to overcome technical problems with the computer/ the sewing machine, how to prevent and treat health issues  etc...From this point of view, we live in really blessed times.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of awful videos out there. The presenter talks too much or too little, is out of focus, bad diction, doesn't look confident; the rhytm is too slow and monotonous, or too swift, the video leaves us with more questions than answers.

Nevertheless, if you're interested in a topic, I suggest that you check all of the YouTube videos (old and new)  that deal with your topic of interest, as you never know what little gem of information is 'hidden' in this or that apparently boring/ poor quality tutorial.

I'm very fond of the well- known plant Lucky Bamboo. So far I've got about thirty- five pieces. It's a nice decorative plant, it requires minimal care, it can be grown in water (with some pebbles to stabilize it),it can be offered as a gift (especially that it is said to bring Luck), it can even be prepared and sold at a small profit (high profit - only if it's a special arrangement of stalks).

Most of the YouTube videos about this plant are of no great quality, and yet, I've learnt a lot from them. For instance, I've learnt that in order to keep the plant healthy you have to use distilled water (not tap water which contains chloride), direct sunlight will kill it (fluorescent light, I noticed, makes it grow more rapidly), it can be propagated both through stalk cuttings and through its leaves (it takes a month or so to get results), it can be made to grow into an interesting, spiral or exotic  (and quite pricey) arrangement (personally, I like it as an individual upright plant). 

I  heartily recommend it as a hobby, despite the fact that some claim its leaves have a certain amount of toxicity and should be kept away from cats (?!) and babies . I find this asian plant fascinating and tend to adopt the view that it purifies the air and creates a positive, energetic atmosphere in the room.

propagation from a 'dead plant' - well explained

Thursday, October 19, 2017


There's this high tower "Champion Motors" - 42 floors of offices, car showrooms, shopping spaces, and. its foot - little pools with tropic lotus plants. Whenever I happen to pass by this spot (located at the intersection of two major roads, on the border between two adjacent cities), I wonder about  the combination of skyscraper and lotus pools.

The lotus seems at first out of place; it's not a usual sight in urban Israel.  After a few minutes of contemplation, one gets captivated by these floating plants and is tempted to sit on the stone seat near one of the pools  to watch them closely.

The apparently static water,  the  slow motion of the leaves, and the color variety of the lotus flowers (pink, white, violet, blue, yellow) create a magic atmosphere. It gives the busy, commercial tower that dominates the pool area  a blessed serenity, and makes the lotus an integral part of the setting.

The spot is certainly a great attraction for the many children and parents of Bnei-Brak, the religious city to which  this area belongs. A family stroll in this part of the city, is both pleasant and educational.

When I  visited the spot a few days ago, it was the beginning of the sunset, also a bit breezy outside, and some of the lotus flowers seemed dormant. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the sight enormously and took some decent pictures too.

The lotus plant is considered sacred in Budhism, and it is, thriving  in Bnei-Brak, the very city of Judaism. This reminds me of a book  ("The Jew in the Lotus" by Rodger Kamenetz) published many years ago, about a dialogue between a group of rabbis and Dalai Lama, discussing the ideas and thoughts behind the two religions: budhism and judaism.

A dialogue - that's what it was - and  that's what we all need in this world : a dialogue between religions, cultures, man and environment, nature and technology. Without a dialogue the world won't survive; will become extinct.

Come to thnk of it, the water and the lotus are also having a sort of constant dialogue. 

Monday, October 9, 2017

Dactylopius Coccus


On the sidebar of my blog, there's a photo of a cactus prickle pear. It's one of my very favorite fruits. I like everything about it (including its derivates of juice and jelly, and even its thick, semi-thorny outer jacket),  except... its price at our local supermarket. Not cheap.

thorny outside, soft and sweet with many little seeds inside *

Anyhow, recently I've read some news about the prickle pear. The good news is that there are some new species of it that are going to be proclaimed the Superfood of the future years. Not really surprising; this soft, sweet  fruit is packed with lots of nutrients and health benefits. 

The bad news is that in the meantime it's getting damaged by an insect ,Dactylopius coccus, which lives on cacti; this bug could lead to massive extermination of the cacti bushes that produce the fruit. It's already happening in northern Ethiopia.

cactus shrub *

The Dactylopius is rather an economically important parasite. The dried bodies of its females were, and still are a source of the red dye used in the textile industry (especially in South America). In some cases, certain species of it can also help fighting pest infestations.

The conventional, manual measures taken against Dactylopius attack on cactus , are effective only in small - scale cultivations. In larger scale cultivations, alternative, biological warfare ( done by bio insecticides) is needed.

In Mexico, which is the largest producer of prickly pears in the world, they've been using for some time (quite successfully) certain bugs that attack the specific attacker of the cacti shrubs . As far as I know, Israel was authorised by the proper authority to import from Mexico, at least two of these  'attack the attacker ' bugs.

They say there are no winners in war. Hopefully, in this kind of war, the cacti bushes and their fruit will win the battle.There's too much at stake here. In various parts of the world , in  Africa and South America - the prickle pear is essential food and provides basic remedies to several local health issues.

* web images