Are California Nutmeg Trees Edible?

With their evergreen foliage and conical growth habit, California nutmeg trees (Torreya californica) add year value to landscaping within U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 7 to 10. One of their most distinguishing features is that their large, seed-filled fruit, which form at irregular intervals every couple of decades. California nutmeg seeds are edible, although the tree must be positively identified prior to selecting the seeds to avoid accidental poisoning from similar-looking trees.

Tree Debate

California nutmeg trees occur naturally in the forest understory, where they gradually reach a rise of approximately 35 feet. They have an airy, conical growth habit with slightly drooping branches lined with glossy, evergreen foliage. Small, inconspicuous flowers appear annually in spring and early summer, though fruit production is quite erratic and unreliable. The immature fruit is pale green with a span of 1/2 around 1 1/2 inches and an ovoid shape reminiscent of the olive. Once ripe, the fruit splits open to reveal one large nut, or seed, inside, which is light brown in colour with a smooth hull.

Seed Harvest

Patience is a virtue when it comes to harvesting California nutmeg nuts since they take around 2 years to fully ripen. They’re ready for gathering when the fleshy outer layer begins to split, which can occur any time of year but is most likely to happen in autumn. The fruit could be gathered in the ground after it falls or straight from the tree, though fallen fruit may be of inferior quality because of mould growth or insect pests. Pick through the gathered fruit and discard any with obvious signs of damage or spoilage. The rest of the fruit must be husked before the outer hull split to extract the meaty, cream-colored kernel inside.

Common Uses

The California nutmeg tree returns seed kernels which are quite flexible in their usage, but they do require processing to reach their full potential. The kernels have a bitter, unpleasant flavor when raw because of their tannin content. The tannin can be eliminated by roasting or boiling, which are two common modes of preparation. Once the tannin is removed, the seeds taste like peanuts. Raw ingestion is also possible, though it’s less common due to the taste and astringent quality of the flesh. The kernels also have a high oil content and could be pressed to extract the oil to use in cooking or eating raw. Nutmeg spice does not come in the California nutmeg tree. The spice, nutmeg, comes in the nutmeg tree, Myristica fragrans, hardy in USDA zones 10 to 11.

Poisonous Imposters

California nutmeg shares many attributes with the yew tree (Taxus spp.) , by which it is distantly related. Yew is hardy in USDA zones 4 through 10, based on the species. The USDA zones of the Western yew (Taxus brevifolia), 4 through 10, also overlap with California nutmeg’s zones. It’s important to be aware of the differences between the 2 species prior to gathering nuts since all parts of the yew tree are lethal if ingested. Both have needle-like foliage, however, the foliage of California nutmegs is sharp while yew tree foliage is soft and elastic. Also, California nutmeg foliage emits a powerful camphor-like smell when crushed, whilst yew trees do not. Probably the clearest difference between both species is that the fruit. California nutmegs have larger fruit reminiscent of a green walnut or olive, whilst yew trees generate a small fruit with a fleshy, bright-red outer coating surrounding one black seed.

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Companion Plants for Yellow Squash

Squash is a crop that usually yields like nobody’s business as it’s planted in full sun and soil that is rich. Summer squash might be bush or vine style and is often planted four to five seeds per hill in hills 3 to 4 feet apart. Seed may be sown directly in the garden when soil temperature reaches at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit. This vegetable is susceptible to numerous insect pests. Companion planting — planting other crops to grow together with your squash — can help control pests.

Basics of Companion Planting

Gardens planted in cubes or rows, with one plant variety at each, are called monocultures. These cubes of crops tend to permit insect pests to hone in on their favourite varieties. Interplanting your favourite veggies with plants known to repel their ordinary insects or developing”trap” crops of plants that the insects also favor confuses the pests, making it more challenging to find and decimate any single vegetable assortment. Besides discouraging insects, companion planting may make nutrients more available from the soil and can help you use your garden area.

Companion Vegetable

Among the vegetable that is suggested companions for yellow summer squash are legumes such as peas and beans, which fix nitrogen into the soil that may feed the squash plants. Long, thin icicle-type radishes sown between seeds around the hill should be permitted to go to seed while legumes interplanted with squash may be harvested. The radish foliage and flowers deter cucumber beetles, which are pests of squash. Additionally, there are some veggies. Potatoes are said to stunt the growth of squash. Planting squash in the exact same soil that grew cucumbers or melons annually can lead insects because they share a number of the insect.

Companion Herbs

The wide crops of summer squash can be interplanted with different herbs. Borage (Borago officinalis), an annual that produces bright blue flowers and wide leaves that can be used like spinach, attracts bees to a squash plants — essential to pollinate the large yellow squash flowers if you would like fruit to form. Dill (Anethum graveolens) is an annual herb that can grow up to five feet tall and may be used for its flavorful leaves or its seeds. When planted near yellow squash, bugs are also deterred by it.

Companion Flowers

Pretty, cheerful annual nasturtium (Nasturtium officinale) flowers both repel squash bugs and bring bees to pollinate summer squash. Marigolds (Tagetes spp.) Are another annual flower that benefits. The plants have.

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What Dried Plants Could Be Used for Outside Decor?

Dried plants produce excellent outdoor decorations. One advantage of decorating with dried flowers and leaf is they don’t need to be replaced as frequently as freshly cut flowers and ornamental grasses. You may dry plants in a number of different ways, such as letting them air heat, heat up them and preserving them with glycerin.

Evergreen Branches and Cones

Dried tree branches and pine cones from botanical trees are great for outdoor decorations because of their durability. Branches can be shaped into winter wreaths, and cones can decorate these wreaths or go into ornamental baskets with additional dried plants or fall squashes. To keep cones in great condition outside, horticulturists in the University of Florida recommend spraying them with hairspray or lacquer. It’s also valuable to spray any decorative baskets using shellac or paint to help preserve them outside.

Vines and Leaves

Use dried grapevines or dried hop vines to make fall wreaths or garlands. You may add extra leaves, grasses, fruits or other dried plants to include more color to a vine wreath. If you don’t develop grapevines yourself, craft shops commonly market the dried vines for fall craft projects.

Grasses and Herbs

Dried grasses, especially ornamental sprigs of wheat, make beautiful accents on a fall vine wreath. Dried grasses and herbs, like cattails, fennel and reeds, also look good in basket structures or large flower vases sitting beyond the door. A shellac spray helps preserve dried grasses and herbs for outdoor use. They’re highly flammable when dried, so keep them away from possible outdoor fire hazards, like grills, tiki torches and Christmas lights.

Fruits and Berries

Dried fruits or berries add shade to outdoor ornamental wreaths, garlands, swags or basket arrangements. You may dry fruits whole or in slices. Meanwhile, the University of Vermont recommends drying sliced fruit from the oven at 150 degrees Fahrenheit for at least six hours. American beautyberry and laland Firethorn both have vibrant berries for drying. Avoid using poisonous berries in dried structures near pets and kids, because the berries may fall away as they dry. Red chili peppers tied to a wire and hung by their stems make an appealing exterior decorations, which you may use for cooking after.


Dried flowers can be used to accent wreaths, or made in their own arrangements in vases or baskets. Hydrangea blooms make an attractive outdoor garland, and you may add dried fruit or spray paint to give them additional shade. Many flowers dry well if you just hang them upside down and let them air dry, such as roses, tansies, thistles and baby’s breath. To make them much more durable for outdoor usage, spray them with a transparent wood finish, like lacquer or shellac. Placing cut flowers in a solution of one part glycerin and two parts water will even preserve them and provide them a more supple feel than regular air-dried flowers. Oleander, holly and magnolia plants do especially well when preserved in glycerin.

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Five Different Varieties of Dwarf Apple Trees

Dwarf apple trees have many advantages over standard apple trees. You can develop them in tiny spaces and easily prune, spray and harvest them. Later planting, dwarf apple trees produce fruit much sooner, usually after three decades, than standard apple trees, which may take up to 10 years to make. Dwarf apple trees are created by grafting a apple variety to a dwarf rootstock. The complete size of a dwarf apple tree also depends partially on cultural states and pruning methods. To fruit nicely, apple trees need a frightening period, a period with temperatures of 45 degrees F or less. Many dwarf apple tree varieties possess a very low chill requirement, thriving and producing apples in warmer climates.

Arkansas Black Dwarf Variety

The Arkansas Black apple tree (Malus domestica Arkansas Black) is available as a dwarf or semi-dwarf tree. The dwarf tree will grow 6 to 9 feet tall and the semi-dwarf tree will reach 8 to 10 feet in maturity. Ten years after planting , these apple trees are regarded as mature. The Arkansas Black apple is flavorful and great for eating fresh, cooking or making juice. Trees have great disease resistance, especially against cedar apple rust disease. Arkansas Black dwarf varieties grow well in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 9. These trees cannot self-fertilize and have to be pollinated by the other neighboring apple tree variety.

Goldrush Dwarf Variety

The Goldrush apple tree (Malus domestica GoldRush) functions as a dwarf (6 to 9 ft) or semi-dwarf ( 9 to 12 ft) tree. Goldrush is easy to grow and produces a large apple harvest. The yellow-orangey apples are flavorful and sweet, especially after they are stored for a while. They are great eaten fresh or used in cooking. The Goldrush apple tree is disease-resistant, especially to scab and mildew. Goldrush is self-sterile, so it needs to be pollinated by another apple tree variety neighboring. All these trees grow well in USDA zones 5 through 9.

Gala Dwarf Variety

The Gala apple tree (Malus domestica Gala) grows 8 to 12 feet tall at maturity. The Gala apple is a frequent apple in supermarkets, but it’s a whole lot sweeter when newly selected. The orangey-red Gala apple is very good for eating fresh or making juice. The tree grows well in USDA zones 5 through 9. However, the tree needs to be sprayed, because it’s inferior pest and disease resistance, especially against scab. The Gala apple tree is partially self-fertile, meaning it can take fruit without pollination by another apple tree. However, pollination from another apple tree variety will likely enhance fruit-bearing.

Fuji Dwarf Variety

The Fuji apple tree (Malus domestica Fuji) can be implanted as a dwarf or semi-dwarf tree. The Fuji apple is an attractive yellow apple with a reddish-pink overlay. The apple has a mild, sweet flavor and is great when eaten fresh. The tree enjoys warm spaces and a very long season. It favors USDA zones 6 through 9, though under the right conditions, it may also be successful in zone 5. The tree contains average pest and disease resistance. It is self-sterile and needs to be pollinated by another apple tree variety.

Granny Smith Dwarf Variety

The Granny Smith apple tree (Malus domestica Granny Smith) attains a height of 8 to 12 feet at maturity. It grows well in USDA zones 6 through 9 and occasionally even in zone 5, though apple ripening may not occur. The Granny Smith apple tree originated in Australia, but now is a popular variety in the USA. The green apple is tart, great for eating fresh or in cooking, especially for baking apple pies. The tree contains average pest and disease resistance and is self-fertile. It does not have to be pollinated by the other tree variety, although fruiting may be raised by a harmonious nearby apple tree variety.

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The Best Plants for Aeroponics Systems

An aeroponic garden provides you with an innovative way to grow flowers and vegetables by employing an air mist environment without dirt. Aeroponic research led by NASA took off from the 1980s and has since demonstrated that aeroponic procedures work well with a huge array of plants. Lettuce and herbs are among the plants best suited to a house aeroponics system, which makes it feasible to grow plants inside year-round.

The Basics

In an aeroponics system, plant cuttings or seeds are suspended mid-air in a growing chamber, as a mist of nutrient-laden water is continuously sprayed on the roots of plants. Aeroponics systems are often used in a protected environment such as a greenhouse, in which environmental conditions like temperature and humidity can be controlled. Sunlight is the primary light source, with some supplemental lighting.


An aeroponics system minimizes water usage by 98 percent, fertilizer by 60 percent and pesticides by 100 percent, according to NASA. The deficiency of dirt provides maximum root aeration and maintains roots dry, reducing the risk for diseases. Seedlings may be healthier because they don’t stretch or wilt while roots are forming. Harvesting can also be easier, particularly for root crops, and because plants grow faster, crops can be planted and harvested from the system throughout the entire year.

Vine Plants

Rumors normally must be commenced in pots and then descend to the ground after four weeks. With an aeroponics system, tomato crops can be started from the growing chamber and transplanted just 10 days later. Instead of a couple of tomato harvest cycles each year grown the traditional manner, aeroponic growing may yield up to six tomato crops annually. Based on “The Telegraph,” at the Greenwich Village restaurant Bell Book & Candle in New York City, chef John Mooney successfully grows tomatoes, tomatillos, eggplant, strawberries and watermelons in a rooftop aeroponics system. He adds that the only plants that he can not develop aeroponically are fruit trees and vegetables that grow underground, like potatoes, beets and carrots.

Leafy Greens

Research at the Cornell University Cooperative Extension has found that aeroponics is the most efficient way of growing leafy greens. Greens may get contaminated with dirt pathogens and bacteria such as e.coli, but aeroponics greatly reduces these risks. Chef John Mooney has had success with several varieties of lettuce with his rooftop aeroponics system and adds that while it requires a gallon of water to grow a head of lettuce over four weeks, a tower aeroponics garden uses 1/10 of the water since the excess is continually cycling back into the system to be reused.


Aeroponics has been tested to develop cleaner, more constant herbs such as burdock at the University of Arizona’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. Growing such herbs aeroponically is much less labor intensive than conventional procedures, and leads to a greater density per square foot of greenhouse space than traditional greenhouse growing. Mints, skullcap, stinging nettles, ginger and yerba mansa have also already been successfully tested in aeroponics systems, resulting in earlier increase, higher yields and multiple harvests.

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