Monthly Archives: March 2015

Great Kapok Tree Book Review

The Great Kapok Tree by Lynne Cherry is a magnificent book with a timely message about saving the Amazon Rain Forest.  Children and adults will love and enjoy this book.  This quote is from the inner book jacket,  “With her lush paintings of the Amazon rain forest, Lynne Cherry has created a magical tale with a conservation message that speaks to both children and adults.”

The story presents the plight of the Amazon rain forest and its creatures in a unique way.  In a charming and poignant tale Lynne Cherry presents much educational information about the rain forest. A man is brought into the rain forest with the specific job to cut down a Kapok tree.

The Great Kapok Tree is a Very Large Tree.

The Kapok tree is a very large tree and after chopping for a while the man lays down to take a nap.  It is tiring work.  In the course of his nap all the inhabitants of the Kapok tree and the forest come to the man to present their case to save the tree.

It is very educational to see how many diverse and different lives would be affected by the loss of the tree including people’s lives.  In their pleas we learn a lot about the rain forest and how valuable it is.  When the man wakes up he continues to chop down the tree but then, inexplicably, stops, drops the ax and walks out of the forest.  All the animals and insects had presented their case very effectively and the man no longer wants to cut down the tree.

We get to meet all the creatures by way of the book’s amazing  illustrations.  Ms. Cherry went to the Amazon rain forest for research in order to paint the illustrations. Some of the same animals visiting the man during his nap actually came down and visited Ms. Cherry. She wanted to experience the rain forest firsthand so she went into the forest by jeep. She spent a few weeks taking pictures and drawing the animals she observed.

You can actually listen to the story and see the art work by clicking on the YouTube link below.  The story is charming, enjoyable, captivating and educational.  If you would like to purchase it for your home library you can click on the picture below or this link The Great Kapok Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rain Forest.

The Great Kapok Tree has several awards:

  • NSTA-CBC Outstanding Science Trade Book for Children
  • American Bookseller’s Association “Pick of the Lists”
  • International Reading Association Teacher’s Choice.

For more information on the Kapok tree you can click on this link.


Planting Sugar Snap Pea Tips

How to Grow PeasThis is a very timely post on planting Sugar Snap Pea tips.  In previous years I always planted my Sugar Snaps around March 15th.  With the winters being colder the last two years March 15th hasn’t worked out so well.  My harvests the last two years were very skimpy.  I think that the ground was just too cold and wet and the seeds didn’t germinate.  The last two years were very frustrating because I used to get a huge amount of sugar snap peas as you can see from the picture.

Helpful Sugar Snap Pea Planting Tips

So I am recommending this year wait another week or two.  I know the urge is strong to get started especially with our warmer days!  I am waiting until around March 23rd.  Then I am going to plant only one batch.  I am going to stagger my plantings over 3 weeks so they don’t mature all at once.  I also recommend looking for Super Sugar Snap by Burpee.  They mature at 64 days instead of 70 which gives you mature peas faster.  This is a plus for a plant that doesn’t like the hot weather.  I found my seeds at Wal-Mart or you can click on the banner on the right side of this post at the top of the page and order directly from Burpee.

Here are 2 links for more Planting Sugar Snap Pea tips:

Planting Sugar Snap Peas

How to Grow Peas

Tomato Root Broke Off

As I was transplanting some tomato seedlings one tomato root broke off.  Since I didn’t have so many plants I was disappointed that I had ruined such a healthy looking seedling.  So I decided to transplant it anyway!  Tomatoes are notorious for rooting very easily.  If you let a tomato plant stay on the ground instead of staking it, the stem will send out many roots along the stem where it is touching the soil.  So I wanted to experiment with planting it even though there was no root.

What Happened When the Tomato Root Broke Off

Tomato Root Broke OffSo I carefully watered the tomato plant without the root.  Within 1-2 weeks I noticed new leaves growing from the tomato plant.  So I knew that some roots had started growing.  Here is a picture of the tomato seedling looking very good.  This picture was taken after several weeks of growing.  I am sure the new roots are well established now.  So sometimes it pays to take a chance when a seedling is damaged.  I never would have tried this if I had grown lots of seedlings.  It is so hard to give up a seedling when you only have a few.

This will not happen with all seedlings.  It won’t work with peppers, cucumbers or squash.  Though squash vines will grow roots into the ground if they are touching the dirt.  Sometimes this helps with the squash vine borer.

How Squash Vines Will Root Into Dirt

One summer I kept covering all the vines from my zucchini plant with soil.  Then the vines will root wherever they are under the dirt.  If a vine borer attacks the plant near the original root then the rest of the zucchini vine can still live because it has created new roots along the way.  One summer I kept a zucchini plant growing all summer by covering the vines with dirt as they grew.

Time to Plant Your Own Tomato Seeds

By the way now is a great time to plant your own tomato seeds.  They are easy to grow.  Then you can choose whatever varieties you want.  You won’t be limited by what is selling in the local nursery.  Two that I highly recommend are Sungold Cherry Tomato Seeds and the Pink Brandywine Sudduths Strain Beefsteak Heirloom .  These are both truly delicious tomatoes not like the practically tasteless tomatoes from the supermarket. More information on broken tomato vines.