Science and the mediterranean gardener

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David Bracey

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Science and the mediterranean gardener
« on: July 04, 2011, 09:33:53 AM »
The MGS Science Committee generally publishes their Newsletter in October of each year.  This year we are asking members to send us their contributions via the Forum.  We would be pleased to receive any technical or scientific paper or publication which is relevant to the mediterranean gardener. It can include information on  botany, plant physiology, new species, plant husbandry, soil conservation, pest and disease control, water conservation, fire control, etc etc.  The only thing we ask is that all articles are referenced so that we can quote them correctly.

To save time you can simply send the reference.  The inclusion of these articles in the Newsletter will rest with the Science Committee.
MGS member.

 I have gardened in sub-tropical Florida, maritime UK, continental Europe and the Mediterranean basin, France. Of the 4 I have found that the most difficult climate for gardening is the latter.

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JTh

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Re: Science and the mediterranean gardener
« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2011, 09:38:00 AM »
I don't know if this is of interest here, but for some unknown reasons I regularly receive newsletters from Koeltz Scientific Books. Their website http://www.koeltz.com/ shows an extensive list of botanical publications, old and new, including some very rare ones.
Retired veterinary surgeon by training with a PhD in parasitology,  but worked as a virologist since 1992.
Member of the MGS  since 2004. Gardening in Oslo and to a limited extent in Halkidiki, Greece.

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Alisdair

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Re: Science and the mediterranean gardener
« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2011, 09:42:08 AM »
Thanks for that, Jorun. I will eventually pull all the various mentions of useful websites (not plant suppliers) into a single topic, in the Miscellaneous section.
Alisdair Aird
Gardens in SE England (Sussex); also coastal Southern Greece, and (in a very small way) South West France; MGS member (and former president); vice chairman RHS Lily Group, past chairman Cyclamen Society

David Bracey

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Re: Science and the mediterranean gardener
« Reply #3 on: August 22, 2011, 10:05:19 AM »
Dear Jorun thanks for the information.  I will definitely add it to the Newsletter.

It was only by chance that I looked at my posting this morning.   Science and the mediterranean gardener do not go to-gether unfortunately and we will be ending our activities at the end of this year.

I have just finished browsing "Science and the Garden". This an easy and excellent reference book full of interesting details about soils, the function of the xylem, phloem and stomata, influence of day length
 and so forth.  There is even a piece about genetic modification of garden plants.  Heaven forbid.

The authors rely heavily on agricultural comparisons, however this is often not relevant to the gardener, especially the mediterranean gardener.  Also they like to suggest "successful strategies " for weed and pest control, soil management etc but leave it up to you to devise. Not easy as we all know.

Thanks again David   

MGS member.

 I have gardened in sub-tropical Florida, maritime UK, continental Europe and the Mediterranean basin, France. Of the 4 I have found that the most difficult climate for gardening is the latter.

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Rosie

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Re: Science and the mediterranean gardener
« Reply #4 on: September 02, 2011, 12:17:01 PM »
Hello David,
I beg to differ on one or two points in your last posting. I too am very disappointed with the response to the Science Ctte. and I very sorry to learn that you feel the time has come to end it's activities.  I feel that we gardeners have a lot to learn from botanists (surely botany is a science ?) taxonomists (ditto) and all that wonderful gang of plant kingdom professionals such as nurserymen etc. 

Is it too late to ask for a part of this forum to be dedicated to 'Science and the mediterranean gardener' and see how much interest there is ?

erm, I maybe displaying my deep ignorance here but .... surely 'genetic modification' of garden and other plants is a continuing and natural process - I seem to vaguely remember something called 'natural selection' and 'evolution' ........ is it the false creation of untested cultivars and varieties for specific purposes which can be harmful ?? Happy to be slapped down if necessary !!
thanks, Rosie

PS can I recommend the online herbarium of the  Linnean Society of London as a wonderful resource http://www.linnean.org   


David Bracey

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Re: Science and the mediterranean gardener
« Reply #5 on: September 02, 2011, 02:58:57 PM »
Dear Rosie thanks for the note.  The SC has been active for 5 years during which time we have tried to garner interest in science and the med gardener.  The initial response was encouraging and members volunteered to be on the look-out for suitable articles which we could publish. The SC completed a number of trials which we thought relevant and which we thought members would find interesting.  I think we had one, maybe two requests, for one or other of the final reports.

The interest at the top has been marginal at best with little recognition of the effort we have made. Indeed the excellent book "Science and the Garden" reviewed in TMG devoted only one paragraph to the critique.

One of the aims of the SC was to try to present evidence based data since gardening is full of anecdotal  information and what uncle Joe used to do.  Your comment below "is the creation of untested cultivars and varieties for specific purposes which can be harmful"", is a case in point. What evidence can you present that these untested cultivars are harmful?  Again it is anecdotal, I suspect.  By all means let`s have a discussion on GM and let`s use the Forum.  I`m sure Alisdair will be very happy.

Your turn.

Kind regards David
MGS member.

 I have gardened in sub-tropical Florida, maritime UK, continental Europe and the Mediterranean basin, France. Of the 4 I have found that the most difficult climate for gardening is the latter.

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Alisdair

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Re: Science and the mediterranean gardener
« Reply #6 on: September 23, 2011, 06:36:50 PM »
Excellent to talk about science and the mediterranean gardener on this forum - either continuing in this thread (which perhaps might be better moved to the Miscellaneous section), or when appropriate in other individual sections (eg the obvious place for a scientific view of using pathogenic fungi to control insect pests would be the Pests and Diseases section). I think that's better than putting science into some sort of quite separate ghetto.
Alisdair Aird
Gardens in SE England (Sussex); also coastal Southern Greece, and (in a very small way) South West France; MGS member (and former president); vice chairman RHS Lily Group, past chairman Cyclamen Society

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Alisdair

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Breeding plants for drought resistance
« Reply #7 on: April 02, 2012, 09:18:20 AM »
The UK's Food & Environment Research Agency is leading a five-year €3 million EC project aimed at breeding new drought-resistant pea crops. The project, called ABSTRESS, is researching the influence of particular genes on the relationship between drought stress and Fusarium infection, in the Mediterranean legume Medicago truncatula (widely used in genomic research). The idea is to identify the relevant "drought resistance" gene networks so that they can be incorporated in elite pea varieties, thus reducing their water requirements - by genetic modification where that is allowed, or by conventional breeding where it isn't.
For further information click here.
Alisdair Aird
Gardens in SE England (Sussex); also coastal Southern Greece, and (in a very small way) South West France; MGS member (and former president); vice chairman RHS Lily Group, past chairman Cyclamen Society

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ritamax

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Re: Science and the mediterranean gardener
« Reply #8 on: April 19, 2012, 05:08:25 PM »
I think it's more than important to combine science and gardening, as the information available is in fact often very inaccurate or wrong. I myself have nothing to do with science through my profession, so cannot be helpful. What I read recently was, that in Lausanne University they could prove, that bees die from a commonly used pesticide group called nicotinoides. You surely know this already.
Hobbygardener (MGS member) with a rooftop garden in Basel and a garden on heavy clay with sand 600m from seaside in Costa Blanca South (precipitation 300mm), learning to garden waterwise

David Bracey

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Re: Science and the mediterranean gardener
« Reply #9 on: April 19, 2012, 09:01:16 PM »
Ritamax, please could you send me the reference; I cannot find it.

The nicotinoides are a very successful group of insecticides.  They are extremely systemic which allows them to be used as seed dressings on various crops including sugarbeet, cotton, oil seedrape etc .  This method of application reduces their enviromental impact on non-target species for example.

However they have been linked for many years to the death of bee populations.  This has never satisfactorily, to my knowledge, been proven, however their is circumstantial evidence.  Much research work and research grants have been devoted to proving this group to be responsible for bee deaths.

At the moment I would say that the jury still out but the finger points to a bee decline virus, a microscopic mite which predates the bee and these insecticides causing population decline.  There is some evidence that bees feeding on flower nectar and pollen which contains the insecticide due to its systemicity leads to build up of toxic levels in the hive especially as it seems to be persistent.

I believe that bee colony decline also occurs in countries and regions where nicotinoides are not used.

I am seeking further infomation. david
MGS member.

 I have gardened in sub-tropical Florida, maritime UK, continental Europe and the Mediterranean basin, France. Of the 4 I have found that the most difficult climate for gardening is the latter.

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ritamax

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Re: Science and the mediterranean gardener
« Reply #10 on: April 19, 2012, 10:11:06 PM »
http://usnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/03/29/10921493-neonicotinoid-pesticides-tied-to-crashing-bee-populations-2-studies-find
http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/nature/new-pesticides-linked-to-bee-population-collapse-7601198.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colony_collapse_disorder
http://www.infiniteunknown.net/2011/01/26/study-pesticides-are-killing-honeybee-population-worldwide/
http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/news/Blogs/makingwaves/what-doesnt-kill-you-makes-you-stronger-not-f/blog/39926/
Sorry, David, that's all I found, some links to different studies, but not the Lausanne one. What I had read earlier (an article in German) was telling about a 1-year study in Lausanne University Botanical Garden on neonicotinoides and bees, that they had found out a connection with neonicotinoides and bees dying. There is a new petition in Switzerland based on this study, which demands a law to forbid those pesticides. Regards, Rita
Hobbygardener (MGS member) with a rooftop garden in Basel and a garden on heavy clay with sand 600m from seaside in Costa Blanca South (precipitation 300mm), learning to garden waterwise

Jill S

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Re: Science and the mediterranean gardener
« Reply #11 on: April 19, 2012, 11:10:15 PM »
David,
I saw these references and think they might be relevant to bee problems caused by the insecticide
In Science Magazine
Report A Common Pesticide Decreases Foraging Success and Survival in Honey Bees
          Science 20 April 2012: 348-350.Published online 29 March 2012
Report Neonicotinoid Pesticide Reduces Bumble Bee Colony Growth and Queen Production
          Science 20 April 2012: 351-352.Published online 29 March 2012
Member of RHS and MGS. Gardens in Surrey, UK and, whenever I get the chance, on Paros, Greece where the learning curve is not the only thing that's steep.

ezeiza

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Re: Science and the mediterranean gardener
« Reply #12 on: April 20, 2012, 02:13:42 AM »
Actually, the product involved is the wonder insecticide imidacloprid (Confidor). It will be interesting to see what mercenaries working for the big companies will have to say now. It has left us all speechless as the company's ads (once more) made us believe the product was not such a powerful biocide. And the source reported was mainly the corn syrup fed to bees as supplementary fodder during the winter months. The second source of bee poisoning was poisoned nectar.

David Bracey

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Re: Science and the mediterranean gardener
« Reply #13 on: April 20, 2012, 10:37:33 AM »
Jill thanks for the references .  I have read the abstracts.  The reports refer to Bumble bees in one case and to honey bees in another.  Both are laboratory experiments however it does appear that there may be a link to the decline in bee numbers..  Time will tell.

Ezeiza there is more than one insecticide involved.  "Gaucho" is the brand name for the seed dressing based on imidacloprid while "Confidor" is the foliar spray based on the same active ingredient.

I`m not sure what you call a "powerful biocide". Imidacloprid is systemic and traces are found in the nectar and pollen.  These are the food sources for many insects including " bees".  Using emotive words like poisoned nectar does not help solve the problem.  Let`s try to be rational. David
MGS member.

 I have gardened in sub-tropical Florida, maritime UK, continental Europe and the Mediterranean basin, France. Of the 4 I have found that the most difficult climate for gardening is the latter.

David Bracey

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Re: Science and the mediterranean gardener
« Reply #14 on: April 23, 2012, 08:13:45 AM »
The reputable magazine " The Economist" has reviewed the two papers published in Science and has summarized the the situation as follows.

"Many researchers believe the label " colony collapse disorder" CCD, covers a multitude of problems………but neonictinoides ………could be a common factor in weakening the (bee) colony without actually actually pushing it over the edge.  The killer blow would then be administered by something else: a mite infestation, or fungal infection or what ever else happened to turn up that a healthy hive would have shrugged off.

France, Germany and Slovenia have already restricted the use of neonicotenoids….it would help if realistic trials were conducted in the future , in conditions which mimic nature as closely as possible. But the growing evidence that insecticides damage bees in subtle ways means it would be money well spent."
MGS member.

 I have gardened in sub-tropical Florida, maritime UK, continental Europe and the Mediterranean basin, France. Of the 4 I have found that the most difficult climate for gardening is the latter.