Sinkhole swallows trees whole in Louisiana swamp

Written by charlie   
Saturday, 03 January 2015 14:50
A sinkhole created by a collapsed saltmine swallows trees whole in Louisiana swamp. Similar strange events have also happened in Lousiana, notably at Lake Peigneur in 1980 when a drilling accident collapsed a salt mine, sucking in 65 acres of land and draining a lake.

Happy New Year!

Written by charlie   
Thursday, 01 January 2015 00:00

Happy New Year!


"Be always at War with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each New Year find you, a better person." - Benjamin Franklin


Cranberries and Wetlands - Part I

Written by charlie   
Wednesday, 31 December 2014 00:00

The holidays - traditionally the peak season for cranberries, the cheery, red wetland fruit has just past.  Prior to the inspired invention of cranberry juice and dried cranberries, they were largely overlooked outside of Thanksgiving. Today it is a popular year around fruit, now only 20% of the cranberries are used during Thanksgiving.

The North American cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon) is a unique, perennial vine that shares some characteristics with its cousins, the blueberry and the ornamental rhododendron.  Snaking along the ground, the cranberry vine produces runners ranging in length from one to six feet. From these runners, vertical branches grow, and where the majority of the cranberries are found. Hardy but finicky about soil and water conditions, some vines on Cape Cod are more than 150 years old and are still bearing fruit!

The cranberry is naturally found in wetlands commonly referred to as  bogs, with acidic waters, generally in the 4.0 - 5.0 Ph range.  It bears mentioning that the Ph requirements for growing cranberries is unique, simply put, the most acidic environment an average vegetable plant can thrive in is the least acidic environment a cranberry plant will accept. Cranberry bogs also require sandy soil, fresh water and enough cold weather to force the plants into dormancy so they will produce a crop the following year.

The cranberry growth cycle is lengthy, spanning a total of 16 months starting from bud set through dormancy, flowering, fruiting, and finally, harvest.  The short harvest period stretches from late September to early November in any given year, and perfectly coincides with the Holiday season.

If there is an single image that symbolizes what many people know about cranberries - it is the acres of floating cranberries commonly seen on cranberry juice commercials, and its a popular misconception.  The fields are flooded only during the harvest, the bogs are mechanically thrashed, gently separating the berries from the stems and allowing the the berries to float to the surface for gathering and storage.

In storage, the cranberries are hardy fruits, resistant to rot after being picked and will remain edible for months if kept cool.  For this attribute alone, the berry was highly regarded by Native Americans and settlers, it was called a "bog berry" or ibimi, "bitter berry" by Native Americans, and is mentioned throughout early American  writings.

Due to the cranberries  popularity, production increased rapidly during the 1980s and 1990's; coinciding with a growing awareness of the importance of wetlands, and newly enacted laws to protect them.  In the next section, I'll review how cranberry farming has affected wetlands, and how the industry and laws has evolved during the past 50 years.


Check out this great  youtube video about cranberries in the meantime.

Last Updated on Friday, 02 January 2015 16:47

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