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If your fruit trees aren’t bearing fruit, then you may have problems with cross pollination. Some varieties won’t fruit unless they can be cross pollinated with another variety. Cross pollination occurs when bees carry the male gametes (pollen grains) to the female gametes (ovules) from one tree to another. But with some fruit varieties, male and female trees are required so nature can takes its course.

Other creatures also carry pollen, such as wasps, butterflies, hummingbirds and fruit bats. But bees are by far the most efficient. A study by the University of Bristol in 2015 showed that other carriers were not as successful as bees. So if you have male and female trees and still no fruit, it may be that you need bees in your orchard.

The trees that require cross pollination are apples, pears, cherries and plums. If you are planning to put in new trees, check with your neighbors to see what varieties they may be growing. You may not need to plant more than one variety of a fruit if cross pollination can occur from your neighbors’ trees.

Even then, it is not as simple as just planting two different varieties. Depending on the variety that is your first choice, you will need to choose another variety that cross pollinates successfully with yours.

For example, the Jonathan apple will cross pollinate with a Granny Smith, and these are actually two of the best apple varieties to plant, as you will have apples for eating and apples for cooking that are compatible with each other. If you want two varieties of eating apples, Gold Delicious will cross pollinate with Jonathan.

Cherries that are not self-fertile may require more than one variety for pollination. Other varieties, happily, are self-fertile and do not require cross pollination to bear fruit. These include the popular Celeste and Sweetheart. Before you plunge in and buy a young tree, check with your supplier whether your favorite variety is self-fertile or needs one or more different varieties for cross pollination.

The Japanese plum variety Satsuma is an excellent cross pollinator with other varieties such as Santa Rosa, Mariposa and the thrillingly named Ruby Blood. If you want to grow European plums, they won’t cross pollinate with the Japanese, but most European plums will cross pollinate with each other.

Pears require a lot of cross pollination to bear fruit. You will need two different trees at the least, and as they grow to around 40ft, you should choose dwarf varieties for a small garden. Cross pollination is an issue, as most insects are not attracted to pear blossom. So a good supply of bees is a priority if you want good fruit.

Just remember, a thriving orchard needs sunshine, good drainage, fresh air and bees – lots and lots of busy bees.

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How to Have an Herbal Bath at Home

There’s definitely nothing better than a relaxing or an uplifting bath at the end of a hard day. Water has the ability to cleanse, soothe and refresh, and you can enhance your experience by adding herbs, as well as herbal oils and salts in your bathing routine. With the addition of some scented candles and tasteful music, you can enjoy an inexpensive spa-like bath in the comfort and privacy of your own home.

Types of Herbal Baths

Depending on which herbs you use, an herbal bath can energize you, soothe and calm you down or relieve stiffness after a rigorous workout. Some baths are ideal for moisturizing your skin while others are just very fragrant and pleasing.

Sage, mugwort, strawberry leaves, chamomile and agrimony are great for stiff muscles and aching joints. If you want to have a tonic bath you can use a combination of alfalfa, comfrey, parsley and orange peel. For those of you who love rose petals, combine them with lavender and orange blossoms. For relieving tension and stress, try some soothing herbs like catnip, jasmine flowers, lemon balm, evening primrose flowers and valerian root. Other herbs such as plantain, lady’s mantle, dandelion leaves and alder are recommended for cleansing the skin. You can also try some particularly fragrant herbs like geranium, clove, jasmine flowers, patchouli, sandalwood or pennyroyal, according to your own preference.

Preparing Your Βath

Herbal baths are very easy to prepare. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different herbs and combinations to find what suits you best. One thing you need to be aware of is the temperature of the water. A cool bath will stimulate you whereas a warm one will relax your muscles. Very hot baths are not recommended because they dry the skin and dehydrate the body, so avoid temperatures over 104º F/40º C.

There are several different ways to enjoy an herbal bath. You can make an herb bag and hang it under the tap. You will need an organza gift bag with a drawstring, about 6 in. / 15 cm high. Add the herbs and essential oil of your choosing along with half a cup of oats. Oats are great for softening the water and your skin. You can also use the herb bag as a soothing compress while taking your bath.

If you don’t want care much for herb bags, there are other options that might appeal to you. Strong herbal infusions can be added directly into the bath water and they will give you the same results. Pour half a cup of boiling water over your dried herbs and let them steep for ten to twenty minutes. Alternatively, you can prepare a decoction by adding the herbs in cold water, then heating the mixture to a boil and pouring it into your bath.

Adding Bath Salts and Oils

Bath salts are great for giving your bath a healing boost. The trace minerals they contain can stimulate the body’s natural detoxification process. Each mineral possesses specific properties. For instance, sulfur helps with respiratory problems and colds, calcium and potassium may relieve the symptoms of arthritis and magnesium promotes heart health and strong bones. Salt is also said to draw moisture from the lower levels of the skin to the drier surface.

Herbal oils are great for skin moisturizing. Essential oils are very potent and you should always mix them with a base plant or nut oil. Almond and avocado are two great options. Add the oil after you have soaked in the water for about ten minutes. This will allow your body to absorb enough moisture before the oil traps it in the skin. If you are only interested in the fragrance, you can add a few drops of herbal oil directly into the water. Avoid spending more than twenty minutes in your herbal bath in total, because the process will be reversed and your skin will start to dry out.

Before you are ready to embark on your amazing herbal journey you must take some time to select your herbs and essential oils and make sure you store them properly. This way they will always be available to you whenever you need to relax or become energized with an herbal bath. You should always try to steal away some time for yourself. So, don’t miss out on a wonderful, affordable way to enjoy a spa-like experience in your own bathroom.

Sources:

Kowalchik Claire, and William H. Hylton, eds. Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs. Emmaus, Penssylvania: Rodale Press, 1987.

The Complete Illustrated Book of Herbs . Reader’s Digest, 2009.


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