World News

Gardening myths: Eggshells, soap sprays, talking to plants and marigolds

The coronavirus has kept us housebound for months. During that time, many of us figured out that having a garden is one answer to getting outside and away from the crowds, as well as a welcome break from the next binge-watch series.

Most importantly, we feel a strong desire to grow our own food crops and plant flowers to remind us that we are vital in the whole circle of life.

Now that your garden is planted and well on its way to producing fruit, vegetables, flowers and bliss, where are you finding answers for questions about growing care and remedies for issues that crop up (pun intended)? You know, questions about common summer plant issues like soft, brown spots on tomatoes, bugs munching on leaves, and whether talking to your plants will really help them grow better.

Are internet sites and the jillion YouTube videos worth your time? Shouldn’t we rely on science and testing?

Will adding eggshells around plants prevent blossom end rot on vegetables, mainly tomatoes?

Since the beginning of the chicken or the egg, gardeners have found uses for eggshells in the garden. From starting seeds, pest repellent, mulch, mixed in with bird seed, to the most widely known cure for blossom end rot on tomatoes and peppers, which is believed to be caused by a calcium deficiency in the soil.

Blossom End Rot (BER) looks like brown, mushy, sunken areas on fruit bottoms. It typically happens on the earliest ripening fruit. The theory is that adding crushed eggshells to the planting hole or sprinkled around the plant adds calcium to the soil, preventing or correcting BER. Oh, if it were only that easy.

It’s not that the soil calcium isn’t right there for the plant roots to take up; it’s a case of whether the roots can access it. Two conditions can prevent calcium uptake. There could be a nutrient imbalance (usually too much magnesium) that interferes with calcium uptake. Inconsistent (too much, too little) watering also causes blossom end rot.

The solution: Maintain appropriate watering practices (deep, every few days, not every day), especially during these hot days. Don’t forget the organic mulch, which helps maintain even moisture around the plant. And toss those crushed eggshells into the compost pile.

Source: Kansas State University Extension Service

Will homemade soap sprays deter or kill pest insects?

Insects are a given in any garden. The good news is so are beneficial insects that prey on the pests. Many gardeners mix their own soap spray to smother undesirable pests like aphids, spider mites and others.

So, yes, soap sprays work. But keep a couple of things in mind when making your own:

  • Correct dilution is key to avoid burning plants (some plants are more susceptible than others).
  • Keep the mixture to 2-3 percent dilution and test a small area of leaves to check for sensitivity prior to spraying the entire plant.
  • Avoid spraying in heat of the day (evening is best).
  • Be sure to identify the pest correctly prior to spraying. There may be some collateral damage to beneficial insects, so use care.
  • Over-the-counter soap sprays are less apt to cause plant injury because they have been formulated to minimize plant injury.

Source: Colorado State Extension Service. 

If I talk to my plants, will they grow better?

We are not alone in thinking a little bit of smooth-talking or a light hum might stimulate our plants enough to reward us with a brighter bloom or bigger pumpkin. (Can they tell us to stop if we’re too pitchy?)

If you answered “yes” or “maybe,” you are correct. Studies are not copious by scientific plant professionals, but so far results show promise and are close enough to start a dialogue with your garden plants.

In 2014 at Osmania University in Hyderabad, India, 30 rose bushes were exposed to Western classical and rock music, along with Indian classical music and Vedic chants (melodic speaking of Hindu hymns). One group was kept in silence. After 60 days, the roses subjected to Vedic chants showed longer shoot growth, and bigger and more flowers.

Maybe not so scholarly was the television series “Mythbusters,” whose hosts in 2009 grew garden peas in several greenhouses on a sunny rooftop, exposing them to all types of music genres and talk radio 24/7. One group remained in silence. After 30 days, the peas subjected to heavy metal music had the most vigorous growth and largest peapods. The silent greenhouse of peas sulked and lacked active growth. (The moral: Be mindful of your neighbors if you turn the volume to 11 when playing AC/DC out in the garden.)

Source: International Journal of Environmental Science and Development

Do marigolds planted around the garden repel bad insects? 

It’s hard to miss the almost neon-colored yellow and gold marigolds growing in gardens and containers everywhere.

They perk up landscapes and, as a bonus, they repel pest insects, right?

So if you answered, yes, that French marigolds (Tagetes spp.) reduce numbers of root-knot nematodes — destructive, microscopic roundworms that live underground and inside plant roots of many ornamental plants, fruits and crops — then you are correct.

The worms’ chewing causes plant roots to swell and form bulging growths on the roots, which result in plants wilting or dying. A Florida scientific study that showed using marigolds to repel root-knot nematodes (and some other pest nematodes) applies to plants in Colorado, too. Tagetes marigolds contain a compound that is toxic to pest root-knot nematodes.

The study found, however, that for marigolds to effectively repel nematode pests, they need to be planted very closely together in the same area where desirable plants will be planted, but several weeks earlier and tilled into the soil before the new plants go in. That’s not easy to do in our short growing season.

But don’t despair: Even if the method doesn’t work here, go ahead and plant marigolds for their ease of care and continuous bloom.

Source: University of Florida Extension Service.

Resources for gardening questions

Finding garden answers and advice on the internet is as easy as turning on your phone or laptop. Discerning credible, researched and science-based information is not difficult, either. In our own backyard, look to Colorado State University and surrounding land-grant based agricultural schools for information that works for our high desert to mountain environments. (Bonus: No ads are featured on the pages.)

Check the dates of the articles, as products change over the years and new research goes on all the time.

One of my favorite go-to resources is Linda Chalker Scott’s site on horticultural myths from Washington State University.

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World News

Coronavirus clouds US Independence Day events

The US is marking its Independence Day amid a surge in coronavirus cases, and many events have been cancelled.

Beaches have been closed in Florida and California, city parades cancelled and firework displays curtailed.

However, President Donald Trump will host a big party in Washington, with hundreds expected to pack the White House’s South Lawn.

The daily tally of coronavirus infections hit a new record on Friday – 52,300, Johns Hopkins University said.

The number is rising in 39 states, and at least five – Alabama, Alaska, Kansas, North Carolina and South Carolina – had single-day case records on Friday, the New York Times reports.

According to the Johns Hopkins research, nearly 130,000 people have died of Covid-19 in the US – by far the highest total – and the US has 2.8 million confirmed cases.

How is 4 July being marked in the US?

In Washington, the White House has invited hundreds of medics to the 4 July party – medics who have been treating Covid-19 patients – despite the safety concerns of the local mayor. The fight against the pandemic is a theme of what the White House calls its Independence Day “Salute to America”.

Thousands of people are expected to pack nearby streets to watch a military flypast and fireworks.

The US Department of the Interior plans to hand out 300,000 face masks to spectators who gather on the National Mall. They will also be urged to keep 6ft (1.8m) apart.

Joe Biden, the Democrat rival to Mr Trump in this year’s presidential election, tweeted that “this Fourth of July, one of the most patriotic things you can do is wear a mask”.

Firework displays are a traditional highlight of 4 July, but an estimated 80% of cities and towns have cancelled their shows.

New York City usually holds an hour-long extravaganza, but this year it was replaced by five-minute displays through the week, organised by Macy’s department store, with a final televised one on Saturday – all at undisclosed locations.

Major League Baseball cancelled its 2020 All-Star Game for the first time since World War Two.

Defying the health warnings, President Trump on Friday addressed a big crowd at Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, condemning the “angry mobs” who had toppled statues in anti-racism protests.

The site, with its giant mountain carvings of former US presidents, was chosen to strengthen his claim that US heritage is under attack.

Two of the presidents carved at Mount Rushmore – George Washington and Thomas Jefferson – were slave owners.

Mr Trump, gearing up for a tough re-election battle, accused protesters of waging “a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values and indoctrinate our children”.

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World News

Formula One: Leclerc admits Ferrari struggles 'crazy'

SPIELBERG, AUSTRIA (AFP) – Twelve months after claiming a dramatic pole position at the Red Bull Ring, Charles Leclerc on Saturday (July 4) struggled to secure seventh on the grid for Ferrari – and admitted it was “crazy”.

The Monegasque driver, whose brilliant first season with the team in 2019 led them to decide not to offer four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel a new contract for 2021, said Ferrari’s problems at the delayed season-opening Austrian Grand Prix were worse than expected.

Team boss Mattia Binotto had warned before flying to Austria that Ferrari had decided to re-design the SF1000 car with a package of aerodynamic upgrades to be introduced at the third race in Hungary later this month.

But both drivers were surprised how relatively uncompetitive they were – Leclerc squeezing through to take seventh on the grid while Vettel was 11th after missing the top-10 shootout.

“It’s not been an easy qualifying session, unfortunately, and that’s where we are at the moment,” said Leclerc.

“We have to stay positive, try and get out of these hard times and work as a team – and try and to cheer everyone up.”

Leclerc scraped through to Q3 in 10th before finishing seventh in Q3, trailing cars from Mercedes, Red Bull, McLaren and Racing Point When his engineer told him he was 10th, he responded immediately: “Crazy.” Vettel admitted he was shocked.

“Of course, yes, it’s a surprise,” Vettel said of his qualifying performance.

“We thought we had a little bit more in hand, but it looks like the others were probably running a bit more fuel and were a bit more conservative in practice.

“I was not so happy with the car – more over-steer on entry than I would have liked.

“But we’ll see. Tomorrow is a different picture. I think with the track getting a bit hotter, it was a bit more costly for us today.

“It’s a long race. I think in race trim we are always better. I think we will be there to make up some good ground and score some good points.”

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World News

Catalonia curbs movement of 200,000 people after new coronavirus outbreaks

LLEIDA (Reuters) – Police at roadblocks warned motorists they were entering a lockdown zone on Saturday as Spain’s northeastern region of Catalonia reimposed restrictions on more than 200,000 people following several new coronavirus outbreaks.

Residents in Segria, which includes the city of Lleida, will not be able to leave the area from 12 noon (1000 GMT) on Saturday, but they will not have to stay at home as was the case during Spain’s original lockdown.

As police stopped cars heading to Lleida, some drivers decided to turn around to avoid getting stuck inside the city.

“We’ve decided to confine Segria due to data that confirm too significant a growth in the number of COVID-19 infections,” Catalan regional president Quim Torra told a news conference.

Regional health ministry data showed there were 3,706 cases in the Lleida region on Friday, up from 3,551 the previous day.

Catalonia is one of the hardest-hit parts of Spain, with a total of 72,860 coronavirus cases, according to regional health ministry data released on Friday.

People in Lleida will be allowed to go to work outside the city, but from Tuesday workers entering or leaving the lockdown area will have to present a certificate from their employer.

Spain has registered 205,545 coronavirus cases and 28,385 deaths, making it one of Europe’s worst-affected countries.

After imposing a strict lockdown on March 14, the government has been gradually easing restrictions in a multi-phase plan since early May.

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World News

US aircraft carriers conduct military drills in South China Sea

Manoeuvres coincide with ones launched by Beijing near the Paracel Islands, which are claimed by both Vietnam and China.

Two US aircraft carriers conducted exercises in the disputed South China Sea on Saturday with China also carrying out manoeuvres that have been criticised by the Pentagon and neighbouring states.

The USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan were performed operations and exercises in the South China Sea “to support a free and open Indo-Pacific”, a US Navy statement said.

It did not say exactly where the exercises were being conducted in the South China Sea, which extends for 1,500 km (900 miles) and 90 percent of which is claimed by China despite the protests of its neighbours.

“The purpose is to show an unambiguous signal to our partners and allies that we are committed to regional security and stability,” Rear Admiral George M Wikoff was quoted as saying by the Wall Street Journal, which first reported the exercises.

China and the United States have accused each other of stoking tension in the strategic waterway at a time of strained relations over everything from coronavirus to trade to Hong Kong.

Oil and gas reserves

Wikoff, commander of the strike group led by the Ronald Reagan, said the exercises were not a response to those being conducted by China, which the Pentagon criticised this week as “counterproductive to efforts at easing tensions and maintaining stability”.

China dismissed the US criticism of its drills on Friday and suggested the United States was to blame for increasing tensions.

US carriers have long carried out exercises in the Western Pacific, including in the South China Sea. At one point recently, the United States had three aircraft carriers in the region.

China announced last week it had scheduled five days of drills starting July 1 near the Paracel Islands, which are claimed by both Vietnam and China.

Vietnam and the Philippines have also criticised the planned Chinese drills, warning they could create tension in the region and impact Beijing’s relationship with its neighbours.

The United States accuses China of trying to intimidate Asian neighbours who might want to exploit its extensive oil and gas reserves. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also lay claim to parts of the South China Sea, through which about $3 trillion of trade passes each year.

The US statement said the naval exercises gave commanders the flexibility and capabilities “that only the US Navy can command”.

In 2016, an international ruled that China has no legal basis for its claims to sovereignty over the South China Sea. The Permanent Court of Arbitration said China’s “nine-dash line” territorial claims, which cover most of the South China Sea, will not be recognised under international law.

Beijing rejected the ruling and has continued to build up islands under its control. 


South China Sea: The world’s next big war?

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World News

Marseille turns green with election of first woman mayor

MARSEILLE, France (Reuters) – Marseille became the latest French municipality to elect a green mayor on Saturday, in a wave that has swept the country since local elections at the end of last month.

Michele Rubirola, the first female leader of France’s second city, won the most votes from city councillors, ending almost a week of suspense after the June 28 poll which failed to give her green-left coalition an absolute majority.

Her election marked the end of a quarter century of conservative rule in Marseille, which joins Lyon, Bordeaux, Strasbourg and others in sending environmentalists to power.

Rubirola pledged to clean up the Mediterranean port city, which has suffered from pollution, municipal strikes and traffic congestion, but has also been ridden by gang violence, corruption and poverty.

“This is the end of clannishness, nepotism and cronyism,” she told supporters of her so-called “Marseille Spring” coalition.

President Emmanuel Macron’s La Republique En Marche party performed poorly in the June 28 local elections which saw a resurgence in support for left-leaning groups, particularly green candidates.

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World News

Car slams into two protesters on closed Seattle highway

Authorities said it was not immediately clear if the demonstrators, one who was critically wounded, had been targeted.

Two women have been struck by a fast-moving car with one critically injured after a driver sped through a protest-related closure on a freeway in Seattle.

A 24-year-old woman from Seattle suffered critical, life-threatening injuries and a 32-year-old woman from Bellingham, a city about 145km (90 miles) north, suffered serious wounds early Saturday, Washington State Patrol Captain Ron Mead said.

The driver, a 27-year-old man from Seattle, was taken into custody, Mead said. The man’s motive was not immediately clear although impairment was not considered a factor. 

It was also not clear where the driver entered the highway, which had been shut amid continuing protests in the city calling for racial justice. Such demonstrations have been common across the United States since the May 25 killing of George Floyd after a police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes. 

Mead said the unnamed man faced multiple felony charges and was suspected to have driven the wrong way on an exit ramp.

Captured on video

Police said protesters had been on the freeway for more than an hour before the car drove around the blockade at around 1:36am. 

Video posted on social media, taken from a nearby overpass, showed a white car travelling at high speed and navigating around two vehicles positioned across the lanes of the highway as a barrier. The vehicle careened into a small crowd of protesters, striking the two people who flew into the air.

This was a purposeful attack, plain and simple. Pray the driver is brought to justice. #seattleprotests

The pair landed on the ground several metres away. 

Twitter user Larry Subramanian, who captured a video of the incident, wrote in a post: “Please pray for the victims of this cowardly and senseless attack. They were peaceful protesters. This is terrible.”

Protesters had shut down the interstate highway for 19 days in a row, Mead said at a news conference on Saturday, adding the freeway is “simply not a safe place” for pedestrians. He said he hoped demonstrators would cease what he called “unlawful behaviour”.

“My hope is, as a result of this tragedy, protesters will reconsider their desire to be on the interstate because I cannot guarantee their safety – plain and simple,” Mead said.

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World News

Spain second wave: Catalonia puts 200,000 residents on lockdown amid coronavirus spike

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Authorities in Catalonia, which is located in northeast Spain, have restricted the movement of more than 200,000 residents following a surge in COVID-19 infections. The new outbreak centres on Spaniards living in Segria and the populated city of Lleida, with residents not allowed to leave the area.

Segria is situated to the west of Catalonia and covers an area of more than 800 square miles.

Around 210,000 people live in 38 municipalities across the Segrià region.

Catalan regional president Quim Torra said the lockdown was effective from midday on Saturday following a “significant” rise in cases, but confirmed residents would be allowed to venture outside their homes.

Regional health ministry data showed there were 3,706 cases in the Lleida region on Friday.

The figure represented a rise of more than 150 cases in the past 24 hours, with 3,551 people testing positive for the virus on the previous day.

In a press briefing, President Torra said: “We have decided to confine Segria due to data that confirms too significant a growth in the number of COVID-19 infections.”

He added: “We take a step back to protect ourselves and we will take all the decisions to stop the contagion.”

The new strict guidelines told residents who had left the area to return by 4pm.

The local lockdown has also restricted gatherings to just 10 people.

Following the fresh outbreak, a field hospital was set up outside LLeida’s Arnau de Vilanova hospital on Friday and has a capacity to treat up to 105 patients.

Spain has been one of the worst hit countries by the coronavirus pandemic with more than 200,000 confirmed cases over 28,000 deaths.

To date the Spanish health ministry has registered 205,545 coronavirus cases and 28,385 deaths.

Spain was one of the first European nations to go into a nationwide lockdown on March 14 and has been gradually eased since early May.

The new outbreak will raise concerns with some Britons after Spain was included in the list of countries passengers will be able to travel to and from.

The Department for Transport announced on Friday the UK has created an air bridge with 59 nations in order to allow passengers to travel freely without having to quarantine.


China FINALLY admits coronavirus failure as it announces crackdown [INSIGHT]
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Sadiq Khan squirms after his record as Mayor is savaged in on-air row [VIDEO]

The list features popular short-haul destinations such as Spain, France, Italy, Turkey, Greece and Cyprus.

As well as long-haul locations including Australia, Barbados, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand and Vietnam.

Notable absentees include China – where the coronavirus was first reported to the World Health Organisation in December 2019 and the US – which has the highest number of coronavirus cases and fatalities in the world.

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World News

Gabrielle Union's Cute Photo of Kaavia Shows Support for a Black-Owned Business

Gabrielle Union once again proved her cool mom status in the most socially-responsible way possible. The actress shared another photoshoot with her adorable toddler daughter, Kaavia, wearing a coordinating floral-printed crown and face mask as her socially distant summer outfit of the day. Even better: She tagged the company that makes these two accessories, Royal Jelly Harlem, to show support and introduce her followers to this black-owned business.

“Real queens wear masks. #YourActionsSaveLives Crown and mask courtesy of Black-owned company @royaljellynyc 🖤🖤✊🏾,” the mother of the 1-year-old captioned the post. Kaavia is wearing the brand’s Kids Mask in Burgundy Flowers and the Child Crown in the same pattern, which is reversible and features a wide vertical stripe print on the other side. This mask also is available in adult sizes in the color option shown here as well as other chic variations, including red seersucker, tic tac toe, and yellow toile patterns. Shop these beautiful masks below.



All of the company’s masks are made in New York City out of 100% cotton or linen. They’re double-lined with filters and color-contrasting linings. We couldn’t think of a more heart-warming way to welcome July 4th weekend and spread some mother-daughter support from the West to the East coast.

This photo is another proud moment that her daughter can one day look back on. Union has thoroughly documented her baby’s highlights, including her adorably failing the snack challenge and the duo’s twinning moment. We can’t wait to see what adventures the family will share next.

Before you go, see more moments that prove Gabrielle Union and Dwyane Wade are #parentinggoals. 

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World News

Sadiq Khan savaged by Shaun Bailey in furious rant over plot to cut police by £110m

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London Mayor Sadiq Khan admitted late last month he would have to make substantial cuts to funding due to the impact of coronavirus. Conservative Mayor candidate Shaun Bailey has created a petition to stop the police facing a cut in funding by £110m. Mr Bailey took to Twitter to inform the public of his petition and his frustration at Mr Khan’s plan to make cuts.

Mr Bailey captioned the video: “The Mayor has outlined plans to cut London’s police budget by £110m, that’s 1,692 officers.

“Just as we face a summer of crime, let’s protect the police, add your name to my petition and help make London safe.”

In the video, Mr Bailey said: “The Mayor is responsible for policing in London, it is his job to keep London safe.

“Sadiq Khan is proposing a £110 million cut in the police budget.

DON’T MISS: Sadiq Khan squirms after his record as Mayor is savaged in on-air row

“That is the equivalent of removing 1,700 officers from the streets of London.”

Mr Bailey reflected on the important role the police play in the capital and why he is against the cut.

He continued: “This plan comes at a time when London is facing unprecedented threats.

“Things like the Illegal raves in Maida vale and Brixton, a steep rise in knife crime and domestic violence.

“This is not the time to propose this cut.

“We are not asking the Mayor to do anything special, we are asking him to do his job.”

Mr Bailey encouraged people to sign a petition calling for an end to the plan to cut £110m from the police.

He closed by saying it was time to protect the police service.

The website set up by Shaun Bailey also criticises Mayor Khan for his plan to cut the police.

The one-page petition says: “The Mayor is in charge of London’s police, it is his job to keep us safe.

“Sadiq Khan is retreating from the streets just when police are warning him about a summer of crime.

“The Mayor doesn’t need to cut police funding, he needs to cut waste.

“Cut waste like the extra £30m he is spending on staff or the £527 million increase in City Hall office costs.

“Or waste like the 26 percent increase in his PR budget, or the £10m he spent on a training course to tell staff what colour their personalities are.

“Leadership is about decisions, it’s time the Mayor made better ones.”

Mr Khan announced his plan to cut police funding in late June and has faced a stern backlash.

The London Mayor said he expected to have to make cuts to the police funding due to a £493m shortfall due to the coronavirus crisis.

He said: “The scale of the challenge is far beyond anything that any local or regional authority could have prepared for.

“My first priority is to protect frontline emergency services, which is why we have outlined proportionately smaller savings for the police and fire brigade.”

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