Red Spider Lily

Red Spider Lily

    The red spider lily, red magic lily, or equinox flower, is in the amaryllis family. It is originally from China, Korea, and Nepal. It flowers in late summer or autumn, often in response to heavy rainfall. The common name hurricane lily refers to this characteristic, as do other names, such as resurrection lily.

    It is a bulbous perennial. It normally flowers before the leaves appear, on stems 12–28 inches tall. The leaves are narrow parallel-sided with a paler central stripe. The flowers are arranged in umbels. Individual flowers are irregular, with narrow segments curving backwards, and long projecting stamens.

     Plants flower in late summer or early fall and leaves follow remaining through winter and disappearing in early summer. Flowers fade after a week from brilliant fluorescent red to a deep pink. Bulbs of are very poisonous and are used in Japan to surround rice paddies and houses to keep pests and mice away.  In Japan the red spider lily signals the arrival of fall.  Buddhists use it to celebrate the arrival of fall with a ceremony at the tomb of one of their ancestors. They are planted on graves to show tribute to the dead. People believe since the red spider lily is mostly associated with death, one should never give a bouquet of these flowers.

    They were associated with Japanese Christian martyrs in medieval times. These scarlet flowers usually bloom near cemeteries around the autumnal equinox and are described in Chinese and Japanese translations of the Lotus Sutra as ominous flowers that guide the dead into the next reincarnation. Legends say that when you see someone that you may never meet again, these flowers would bloom along the path. Japanese people often used the flowers in funerals, hence the name flower of the afterlife.

Gardening Myths

Gardening Myths

1. Paint pruning cuts – Latex, shellac, petroleum and asphalt compounds are some of the materials used for wound dressing to seal off the cut surfaces to prevent rot and other diseases. New research finds that wound dressings of this sort do not benefit trees and in most cases may be quite harmful.

When part of the stem is damaged, trees use self-healing mechanisms to form a scar at the site of the injury to keep out pathogens. Wound paints prevent the formation of scars and interfere with the natural healing mechanism. They can seal in water, spores, and microorganisms that cause decay. Bleeding cuts should never be dressed in any way.

Make the cut as clean using a sharp instrument. Clean the saw/pruning shears and make a slanting cut close to the collar of the branch. Leave it to the tree to do the rest. Do heavy pruning towards the late winter when trees are at minimum risk of infections.

2. Organic pesticides are safe – Organic compounds derived from plants and animals may be more biodegradable, but it is wrong to think they are all harmless to people or the environment. Some of the most poisonous substances are derived from plants and animals, examples being snake venom, ricin from the castor plant and botulinum produced by bacteria.

Several organic pesticides with varying amounts of toxicity are used in agriculture. Rotenone is a very potent pesticide, insecticide, and piscicide. Organic in origin, it has been found to be six times more toxic to humans and other animals than Sevin. Rotenone is banned in some countries but continues to be used liberally in others.

Nicotine, pyrethrum, and neem are other plant-derived pesticides. Nicotine has high toxicity for mammals, including humans; pyrethrum has immediate action on pests while being less toxic to mammals. Neem has slow action and disrupts the metabolic pathways of insects, but may be safe for other animals.

Bacterial toxins such as Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) toxin and Alpha Beta Protein are used to trigger defense mechanisms in crops to produce biochemicals that make them more resistant to potential pathogens. The safety of these toxins and the substances plants produce against them is under the scanner. So, organic pesticides should be chosen carefully for their merits rather than their ‘organic’ label. And, they should be used with the same caution that you reserve for chemical fertilizers.

3. Amend clayey soil with sand – Clay holds water; sand quickly drains. What happens is more compacted soil that defies tilling, let alone better drainage. Fine clay particles fill the spaces between the larger sand particles, giving a thick, mortar-like consistency when mixed with water.

To amend clayey soil, add plenty of compost and leaf mold to resist compaction. It gives the soil an airy structure that facilitates better drainage. Once amended, sand may have some additional benefit.

4. Don’t water the garden at mid-day – That doesn’t seem to be the case. Many gardeners find it beneficial to spray their plants when they look tired in the hot sun. If any burn spots develop on leaves after you water your garden, check your water for soluble salt concentration. When water droplets evaporate, caustic salts on the leaves may cause burn spots.

5. Plant trees in deep holes to give them stability – The advice to dig a deep hole at least twice the height of the root ball is often followed. Deep holes are not what give stability to trees, but wider ones. The planting hole should be twice the diameter of the root ball, if not more. This provides a large area of loose soil for the roots to spread out. A wider base anchors a top heavy tree better than a narrow one.

6. Fill the planting hole with compost and fertilizers – Planting time is not the best time to provide these. When you fill a planting hole with compost, you give the plant a relatively loose medium rich in nutrients that absorbs moisture well. The plant will restrict its roots to this area. This affects the stability of the plant. In dry spells, fast-draining compost dries up quicker. With few roots beyond this area, the plant suffers. High concentrations of fertilizers can burn the roots, especially new roots. Root burn is a common reason for new plants not thriving.

Keeping the new plant in position, backfill the planting hole with the same soil you dug up. Water well. Allow the plants to spread out its roots in search of nutrients first, and then apply compost and fertilizers around the plant, never too close to the stem. Some gardeners dig a shallow ditch around the plants for adding compost.

7. No more watering if you convert your garden to a xeriscape – It is a myth that drought-tolerant plants don’t need to be watered. Plants native to arid lands do need quite a bit of water in the first year. Lavender, Agastache, Salvias, Yarrow, Sage, Blue-eyed grass, Red hot poker plant, Armeria, Black-eyed Susan are all drought-resistant once established but not drought-proof. They need regular watering and an occasional drink in summer. Drought-tolerant plants is hate water logging. Plant them in well-draining soil.

Some plants like cacti and succulents store water and may be able to survive dry periods without much damage. Grasses that dry up in the summer heat may turn green again when rains come. But if you neglect thin-leaved flowering plants, they may not make it through the summer.

8. Plant two of each fruit tree – Some fruit trees need cross-pollination to bear fruit. Self-fertilization can take place if male and female parts are present in the same flower or in different flowers on the same tree. There are exceptions.

Not all trees self-pollinate. They are self-sterile. Some apples, plums, pears and sweet cherry need pollen from other trees for fertilization to take place. Honey bees are the main pollinators of fruit trees. That means you need more than one apple tree or sweet cherry in your own garden or in neighboring gardens for the bees to bring in the pollen.

Just getting two of the same type of tree may not work out here. They have to flower at the same time and be compatible in other ways too. Know which varieties are compatible or go for a self-pollinating variety like Granny Smith and Golden delicious. Persimmons have separate male and female trees and you have no guarantee that you will get a male and a female unless you get grafted trees.

9. Feed a plant to revive it – We often forget that plants can make their own food. Millions of acres of woods and meadows manage without our intervention.

Plants may use up certain minerals in the soil resulting in their gradual depletion. When the minerals are provided with fertilizers, the plants often respond with renewed vitality. But every plant can’t be revived with additional feeding. The first step is to find out the reason for the decline such as insect attacks, diseases, environmental stress, adverse weather, damage to roots and root girdling. Both inadequate water and excess water can be detrimental. Rule out probable causes before giving plants a dose of fertilizer. Excess fertilizers can kill a tree under stress.

10. Add sugar or baking soda to get sweet tomatoes – The tomato variety and the amount of sun exposure has bearing on the taste and flavor of tomatoes, but soil pH does not affect sweetness. If you want sweeter tomatoes go for specific varieties known for their sweet taste.

Research to Support Gardening in Schools Programs

Research to Support Gardening in Schools Programs


School gardening research studies that may help fuel your proposals.

  • Gardens are places where the cycle of life and season’s come alive for kids.
  • Nothing about a garden is abstract.
  • Gardening with children is active learning.
  • The science concepts and skills students gain from a garden project are impressive.
  • The garden classroom is an environment where children learn about plants, food, and nutrition.
  • Enhances the core curriculum in math, language, health and science.
  • The science concepts and skills students gain from a garden improve reading, reading comprehension, spelling, and written expression.
  • Gardening encourages responsibility, patience, and cooperative behavior.
  • Kids are enthusiastic, interested, take initiative and develop a love for nature, plants and science.
  • Encourages environmental awareness and concern for the human impact.
  • Kids gain a greater understanding of life science concepts, life cycles.
  • Kids gain a clearer understanding of science processes, and improve problem solving skills, math skills, and language arts skills.
  • Student behavior improves when the garden is a learning context.
  • Kids exhibit a greater increase in social concerns (feeding the hungry).
  • Improves relationships with students and parents.
  • Kids who are behaviorally disturbed or learning impaired make great strides in a gardening program.
  • When children have an opportunity to create a garden, become ‘experts,’ and share their expertise with others, their skills and confidence soar.
  • Scores are significantly higher in students’ understanding of key life science concepts and science inquiry skills.
  • Scores are higher on attitude scales measuring “concern for the environment” and “confidence in ability to do science.”
  • Attitudes toward vegetables improves, and their preferences for fruit and vegetables.
  • Beyond offering rich language arts opportunities, the garden is a natural context for science inquiries, math problem solving, and developing social skills such as working together to puzzle out problems.
  • Kids become more expressive and better citizens.
  • Students understand the interdependence of life and overcome fears about nature.
  • Kids learn about conservation and recycling and develop skills they can use for the rest of their lives.
  • The garden develops deep roots for lifelong learners.
  • Gardening enhances the core curriculum.
  • Children learn to share, and work as a team.
  • The most significant student gains are in self-esteem and achievement in reading, reading comprehension, spelling, and written expression.
  • At the end kids will be more confident, more expressive, advanced academically and better citizens.
  • They learn about conservation and recycling and develop skills they can use for the rest of their lives.
  • The garden shows the children’s strength, ability, and love for the outdoors and nature. It develops deep roots for lifelong learners.
  • The curriculum is broad and the health benefits are great.
  • Freedom comes with self-control, caring, sharing, and kindness and these grow in a garden.
  • Gardens are a place where the cycle of life and season’s come alive for kids.
  • Gardens can bridge age gaps by bringing together family and community members who are generations apart.
  • Gardens are a place of spontaneous hands-on discovery that can’t occur sitting at a desk or reading a book.
  • Young children strengthen fine and gross motor skills and experience their own impact on their environment.
  • Children hone their observation skills and develop scientific understanding, as early as preschool years, as they watch plants change and grow.
  • Gardening is a way to learn and contributes to the vision for a healthier more active community.
  • The natural world is a teacher and gives us sustenance, strength, and inspiration.
  • Kids learn the consequences of one’s actions in a very direct way.
  • Gardening with kids gives them “a real-life connection to what they learn in the classroom and develops deep roots for lifelong learning.
  • Sound nutrition and physical activity are a critical part of children’s health and development.
  • Gardening programs improve communication skills, increase knowledge and understanding of each other, promote peace, and bring about healthy changes in kids lives, their community and the world.
  • Gardening with kids has a lifelong impact.
  • Learn about the uniqueness of the earth as a life supporting system.
  • Gain insight into how we use science and technology in our lives.
  • Give opportunity to take advantage of the teachable moment, address multiple intelligences and an emergent curriculum.
  • Gardens are significant for its ethnic heritage associations and its associations with community growth and identity.
  • Learn first hand how energy from the sun helps to grow the food we eat.
  • Spiritual renewal
  • Gives back beneficial and sustainable byproducts.
  • Teaches about climate zones.
  • Contributes toward a sustainable culture.
  • Plays an important role in creating an ecologically sustainable educational system within an ecologically sustainable environment.
  • Perfect place for service learning projects and teaches stewardship, grace and empowerment.
  • Contributes to the vision for a healthier more active community.
  • Caring for life helps children develop their knowledge and understanding of life and a reverence and respect for life. Children develop more nurturing attitudes.
  • Children are natural explorers and delight in and are inspired by the outdoors.
  • A more stimulating environment than the outdoors for the development of the mind, body, senses and the spirit doesn’t exist.
  • Gardens have the power to heal.
  • Helps build a movement of educational and environmental change that is rooted in love and respect for the interconnectedness of all of life.
  • Nurtures the child’s imagination and curiosity.
  • Enhances moral education and socialization skills.
  • Reduces stress and enhances mental health.
  • Encourages self-discovery and the sharing of individual perceptions.
  • Broadens one’s views and knowledge of nature, community, and themselves.
  • Helps children understand the value of our natural resources.
  • Develops a students understanding of natural systems in their community.
  • Foods give us a window on cultural understanding and appreciation.
  • Gardens are ideal vehicles for introducing the elements of multicultural education.
  • Contributes toward a sustainable culture.
  • Foster a greater awareness of and appreciation for how food is grown.
  • Impact on cultural literacy, and encourages the implementation of environmental initiatives.
  • Increases the opportunities for education and cultural exchange.
  • Opportunities for the child to discover abound.
  • Horticulture is a profession deeply rooted in community involvement and active based living.
  • Many disciplines can be taught in a garden: language, science, creative arts, history, math, nutrition, life skills, ecology, and conservation.

Gardening Meets Special Needs

“Over and over we’ve found that kids who have been labeled behaviorally disturbed, learning impaired, and so on, make great strides in our garden program. When they have an opportunity to create a garden, become ‘experts,’ and share their expertise with others (often in a role reversal), their skills and confidence soar.”

— Karen Williger, New Orleans, LA

“A season after initiating a therapeutic garden for adolescents, I was floored by their enthusiasm and ability to focus on tasks. It was also amazing to see how fast group cohesion, trust, and self-esteem grew.”

— Amy Stein, Yardley, PA

Get More From Your Groceries

Get More From Your Groceries



Get More From Your Groceries – We often waste parts of the plant that are packed with flavor and nutrition.

  • BANANA PEELS are packed with vitamin A, lutein, B vitamins, and antioxidants and have tons of soluble and insoluble fiber to slow digestion, boost fullness, and lower cholesterol. Skins from green bananas can be cooked as a bell pepper. Add to stir-fries, curries, and tomato sauce. Skins from ripe bananas can be eaten raw. Remove the stem and put a whole banana in your next smoothie.
  • BEET GREENS are more nutritious than the roots, with lots of calcium, phytonutrients, and betaine, supporting healthy blood circulation. Young beet greens are tasty raw. Older leaves are delicious steamed or sautéed.
  • CANTALOUPE SEEDS are a source of fat, protein, and minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. Put them in a smoothie, or roast them.
  • CARROT TOPS can be used instead of lettuce on your sandwich or blended into a smoothie. The greens have six times more vitamin C than carrots and are rich in vitamin K and magnesium.
  • CAULIFLOWER AND BROCCOLI STEMS are healthy and mineral-packed. Peal the tough exterior, shave it into ribbons, and cook into pasta or slice stalks into sticks and use for dipping. Use the huge leaves around the heads by cutting them into ribbons and serving them as a salad, dressed with warm vinaigrette.
  • CELERY LEAVES taste like the stalks but have more concentrated flavor, and more calcium and magnesium. Use how you’d use celery.
  • CHARD, COLLARD, AND KALE STEMS – Stems have as much nutrition as the leaves. They are rich in glutamine, an amino acid that boosts the immune system and helps muscle recovery after a workout.
  • CORN COBS have as much flavor as the kernels, and boiled for 10 minutes, the flavor is released. Use the corn stock for chowders or soups.
  • FENNEL STALKS, FRONDS AND FLOWERS – All of the plant is edible.  Chop stalks and add to soups or sauces; add whole to soup stocks; add to garlic, olive oil, and nuts for a pesto. Fronds are chopped raw as a garnish, or in salads. Try with fresh dill tossed with buttered spring potatoes. Flowers have a lovely licorice flavor. Snip fresh flowers and serve with fish, toss with pasta, and in salads, or dry the flowers and rub off the florets to make fennel pollen—a licorice-y spice for seasoning meats or tossing with pasta.
  • ORANGE RIND – More nutrients are in the peel and seeds than the fruit. Grind seeds to sprinkle on yogurt. Rub the pith on your teeth for a whitener. Steep in tea, or grind to powder and mix in spice rubs for meats. Air-dry slices of peel, or spread them on a lined baking sheet at 170 degrees for about 1 hour.
  • FRUIT SKINS – Ferment peach, plum, apple, or apricot skins and use the vinegar as a tonic with seltzer, as a marinade, or in salad dressing.
  • GINGER SKIN – Whenever you peel ginger root, save peels and steep in water to make tea, or add to olive oil to make ginger-tinged salad dressings.
  • HERB STEMS have the same flavors as the leaves, and can be added to salsas (cilantro) or pesto (parsley) or steeped in teas (mint).
  • LEEK GREENS – Add the tougher, dark greens to stock, or soups and stews to flavor. They thicken broth. Crispy fry them, or make pesto.
  • MUSHROOM STEMS – Some varieties are too fibrous to taste good when raw, but sautéed or boiled, they are tasty.
  • ONION SKINS – Great for vegetable stock and make a pungent tea, rich in antioxidants. Steep skins in boiling water a few minutes. The longer it steeps, the stronger the tea.
  • PINEAPPLE RIND AND CORE – Simmer the rind and core in water with a few spices (ginger, cinnamon sticks), and chill to make a refreshing tea.
  • RADISH LEAVES contain more vitamin C, calcium and protein than the radish. Toss leaves in a pesto, stir-fry, sauté, or add to a green smoothie.

Foods You Can Re-grow from Your Groceries
There are a number of fruits and vegetables that you can replant and grow. With grocery prices increasing, it’s time to get frugal in the kitchen and garden. We save money and reduce our carbon footprint. Try re-growing the following:

  • Green Onions – Put some with roots in a sunny spot in rich soil in a pot or in the garden and keep moist.  They re-grow quickly!
  • Carrots – Cut the tops off leaving an inch of root and plant in rich moist soil.
  • Celery – Rinse the base off and put it in a small bowl of warm water on a sunny windowsill. Change the water every couple of days, and spray the base with water where leaves are growing out. After a week transfer celery to soil and cover, except for leaf tips. Water generously.
  • Sweet Potatoes – Use a firm sweet potato that’s starting to sprout and place it in a jar of water. Allow a couple inches to be above water. Change water occasionally to prevent molding. Place the jar in a sunny spot. When sprouts are four to five inches long, pull them off and place them in water. When sprouts are rooted, plant in a hill of soil about 10 inches high. Keep watered while roots are being established. It will take several months of growing before the first frost to form tubers.
  • Leeks – same as onions
  • Bok Choy – Place the base face up in a small bowl of warm water. It may begin to regenerate quicker than your celery. In a few weeks, transfer it to soil.
  • Avocado – Wipe the pit off.  Push four toothpicks into the side of the pit and place pit over a glass of water with the toothpicks resting on the rim and the pit suspended over the center. Make sure pointy side is up and pit submerged about halfway. Change water every other day, and be sure pit is sitting in water. Keep on a sunny windowsill. Once the plant is about 7 or 8 inches tall, snip off the top few leaves to encourage more growth and plant in soil.
  • Ginger – Root should be plump with tight skin and have a few eye buds on it. If they’re a little green, it’s even better. Soak root in warm water overnight. Place root with the eye bud up and cover with 1 to 2 inches of soil; water well. Put ginger in a spot without much bright sunlight, but fairly warm. Spray to keep the soil moist. In several weeks shoots pop out of the soil. Harvest 3 to 4 months after growth begins.



Examine worms with children. Worms are important to compost soil.

Worms have 5 hearts, a brain with two tiny lobes and a long spinal chord. It is divided into segments, has no bones but moves using muscles and very tiny hairs that are on each segment. They breath through their skin and it needs to stay moist for them stay alive. A worm has no arms, legs or eyes.

Though worms don’t have eyes, they can sense light, especially at their anterior (front end). They move away from light and become paralyzed if exposed to light for too long (approximately one hour). If a worm’s skin dries out, it will die.There are approximately 2,700 different kinds of earthworms.

Worms live where there is food, moisture, oxygen and a favorable temperature. In one acre of land, there can be more than a million earthworms. The largest earthworm ever found was in South Africa and measured 22 feet from its nose to the tip of its tail.

Worms tunnel deeply in the soil and bring subsoil closer to the surface mixing it with the topsoil. Slime, a secretion of earthworms, contains nitrogen. Nitrogen is an important nutrient for plants.

Worms are cold-blooded animals and have the ability to replace or replicate lost segments. This ability varies greatly depending on the species of worm you have, the amount of damage to the worm and where it is cut. It may be easy for a worm to replace a lost tail, but may be very difficult or impossible to replace a lost head if things are not just right.

Baby worms are not born. They hatch from cocoons smaller than a grain of rice. Worms are hermaphrodites. Each worm has both male and female organs.

Worm Bucket

Bugs, Bites, and Bee Stings

Bed Bug Bites

Bug Bites and Bee Stings: Raise your hand if you have ever seen an insect? Let children talk and say what they have seen. Introduce insects using models and posters. Insects have 6 legs and an exoskeleton (shell on the outside). Raise your hand if you have ever been bitten or stung by an insect? Let them talk about things that stung or bit them. Spiders, ticks, fleas, mites and lice belong to a group of animals called arachnids and they have 8 legs.

Discuss insects & arachnids that bite or sting (ex. bee, hornet, wasp, bumble bee, ant (fire ant & red velvet ant) flea, bed bug, chigger, louse, tick, and gnat. Discuss how some bites make you itch and some animals can carry diseases. Ticks bite you, suck your blood, and are most frequent in May and June. Female mosquitoes suck your blood to lay eggs in water. Bed bugs bite and suck blood and make you itch. Baby chiggers make you itch. They digest your skin with their saliva, lap it up, and fall off in 3 days.

Bees nest in old trees or hives, collect nectar and pollen, sting and leave the stinger and poison sac that pumps poison into you until you remove it. Make sure you remove the stinger and sac. Wasps’ are reddish brown, sting and nests under porches and buildings. Hornets are black and white, sting and make football nests in trees. Fire ants make tall hill that may go 15 feet deep. They bite you and it blisters and can be serious if you are allergic. Yellow Jackets are yellow with black stripes, sting, and live underground or in stumps. Spiders such as the black widow and brown recluse (violin spider) hide in dark places and can bite you if disturbed and make you very sick. Many spiders and scorpions like woodpiles for homes.

Remedy for bites & stings: Put ice on it or a mixture of baking soda and water. Witch hazel helps to eliminate itching. If you were going for a walk in the woods, how would you dress? Always wear shoes and socks, long pants, long sleeve shirt, cap or scarf, insect repellent with less than 10% deet, no bright colors or perfume, cover food, take water and don’t drink soda from an open can. Yellow jackets like them! Don’t swat at them or run around because that makes them angry. Move quickly and quietly away.

MATERIALS: Models of the animals: ticks, mosquito, ants, brown recluse spider, black widow, honeybee, posters of insects and arachnids, samples of larva, cocoons, nests etc.

Bug Jokes List

ACTIVITIES: Let children examine models of insects and spiders, their metamorphosis, and the posters of insects and arachnids. Children sing and act out “This is a Song about Sammy” using insects such as bee, grasshopper, butterfly, and ant. Share bug Jokes. Let children watch power point program on insects and spiders showing examples of them and what the bites look like.