Legionnaires Disease Health Warning
New Zealand health authorities are warning gardeners to be aware that potting mix can cause a fatal disease called Legionnaires Disease if handled improperly.
The Legionnaires Disease warning comes after a coroner ruled that a Christchurch woman Margaret Valenski , who died on Boxing Day in 2011, was probably caused by Legionnaires Disease contracted after working with potting mix or compost. Canterbury medical officer of health Ramon Pink says “Enjoy your gardening by all means, but please make sure you avoid inhaling the dust from potting mix or compost as this can be dangerous.”
Legionnaires Disease is a type of pneumonia caused by bacteria. It is a potentially fatal, acute infectious respiratory process caused by any species of the aerobic bacteria belonging to the genus Legionella. It is not transmitted from one person to another person. The common transmission route for the disease is breathing in dust or water aerosols contaminated with the bacteria. Sources where temperatures allow the bacteria to thrive include cooling towers , hot-water tanks, and evaporative condensers of large air-conditioning systems, such as those commonly found in large office buildings and hotels.
The symptoms of Legionnaires Disease are a high fever, chills and a cough which may be dry or produce sputum. Some patients also have headache, muscle aches, tiredness, loss of appetite, loss of coordination (ataxia), and occasionally diarrhoea and vomiting. Impaired cognition and confusion and may also occur. So if you have these symptoms it’s best to go to see your doctor urgently.
In New Zealand in 2010 there were five related deaths and 136 hospitalisations caused by Legionnaires Disease related problems . There have been years where New Zealand has had seven or eight deaths. The death rates are normally higher if there has been no medical intervention.
The best ways to reduce the risk of infection with Legionnaires Disease for gardeners are to follow these steps when handling potting mix or compost:
- Wear a respiratory face mask covering your mouth and nose.
- Open potting bags gently using scissors rather than tearing them open, therefore increasing the air borne dust.
- Work in a well ventilated outside area.
- Dampen compost and soil with water to reduce air borne dust particles.
- Wear gloves and thoroughly was hands after handling potting mix or doing gardening.
So anyone who has the symptoms listed above should see a GP urgently and tell them if they have been handling potting mix or compost recently.
Trees communicate with each other.
Did you know that trees communicate with each other?
UBC Professor Suzanne Simard explains how trees are connected through their roots and can pass on nutrients to other plants of their species that need them. Watch this video for an explanation.
In New Zealand we need to defend our seed freedom from corporations that want to control our seeds for their profit at our expense. “At a time where mega corporations want to control our food, it is imperative that we stand together to protect our food, the planet and each other.” Vandana Shiva.
For more info go here –
The Rose of Jericho
Here’s an interesting time lapse video of the the Rose of Jericho.
The Rose of Jericho (Selaginella lepidophylla) is a species of moss that has adapted to the dessert environment. It has the amazing ability to ‘resurrect’ itself after periods of extreme dehydration lasting months or even years.
It just needs a few hours of exposure to moisture for the plant to sprout to life, unfurling from a small ball of dry leaves to an open green rosette.
This video is time- lapse taken by Videographer Sean Steininger after he exposed a number of plants to water.
The One Straw Revolution by Masanobu Fukuoka
The One Straw Revolution by Masanobu Fukuoka
Masanobu Fukuoka was a very influential Japanese organic farmer who experimented and created his own practices that inspired many other organic growers that have advanced his principals.
If you are interested in organic growing The One Straw Revolution by Masanobu Fukuoka is one of the foundation books of the modern organic movement and well worth reading.
How Trees Get Water To Their Top Leaves
Ever wondered how a tree can get water tens of metres up to it’s top leaves? Well here’s the answer!
“Trees create immense negative pressures of 10’s of atmospheres by evaporating water from nanoscale pores, sucking water up 100m in a state where it should be boiling but can’t, because the perfect xylem tubes contain no air bubbles, just so that most of it can evaporate in the process of absorbing a couple molecules of carbon dioxide. Now I didn’t mention the cohesion of water (that it sticks to itself well) but this is implicit in the description of negative pressure, strong surface tension etc”.
Time Lapse Red Rose Blooming
Time Lapse Red Rose Blooming. 1:33
This time lapse video emphasises the beauty and majesty of a blooming rose in a way that’s difficult to notice normally in a garden.
Amorphophallus titanum flowers in Auckland
An Amorphophallus titanum other wise known as the “corpse flower” has flowered for the first time ever in New Zealand, in the Auckland Winter garden. The giant flower smells like rotting flesh to attract insects for pollination. The Amorphophallus titanum has been growing in the Auckland Winter Garden for about seven years. It originates in the rainforests of Sumartra, where it’s inflorescence can reach over three metres in height. Also known as the titan arum because it has the largest unbranched inflorescence in the world. After the flower dies back, a single leaf will normally grow from the underground corm, that can reach the size of a small tree. The plant attracted a substantial number of visitors on a sunny Sunday afternoon, that made a queue that took about a half hours shuffle to see the flower.
Poisonous Castor Oil plant
The Castor Oil plant ( Ricinus communis ) can potentially kill an adult human after consuming just four to eight seeds. All parts of the plant are poisonous, but the seed have the highest concentration of poison. It contains some of the strongest toxins in the plant kingdom: the alkaloid ricinin as well as the toxalbumin ricin. These are more toxic than cyanide. It causes a painful death. Symptoms typically occur between 2-4 hours but can be delayed up to 36 hours. Symptoms include a burning sensation in the mouth, nausea, vomiting, stomach ache, diarrhea, headache, cold sweat, fever, disorientation, sleepiness, hypotension, tachycardia ( abnormally fast resting heart rate ), shortage of breath and seizures, followed by collapse and death. This is the plant that castor oil is made from. The toxins can be extracted through a complicated process, making commercially cold pressed castor oil safe to humans in normal doses, both internally and externally.
The castor oil plant is a fast growing perennial shrub that can reach around 12 metres tall. With glossy large palm-shaped leaves with 7-9 coarsely toothed segments, cluster-like blossoms and prickly fruits, that contain large oval, shiny, bean like poisonous seeds.
If you’ve got this plant in your garden I recommend removing it, by wearing rubber gloves, and chopping it down and digging out the roots, because as well as being poisonous it spreads to become a weed.
Poisonous Death Cap Mushrooms
Don’t eat mushrooms with white gills on the underside of the cap! It could be Amanita phalloides ” Death Cap mushroom.” I’ve been seeing them in gardens beds and on lawns recently in suburban Auckland gardens. It’s responsible for the majority of fatal mushroom poisonings worldwide. Eating just half of the cap is enough to kill a person. It’s best to not even touch this mushroom. The reason people eat it is because it looks alot like the edible field mushroom, which initially has pink gills that turn brown then dark brown as it ages. So if you’re not sure if it’s safe, then it’s not safe to eat wild mushrooms. If you’ve got children it’s a good idea to warn them not to touch wild mushrooms, because they are attractive to curious children, when they see a white cap popping up in the lawn or garden.