It’s more than a little bit intimidating to be a part of the Garden Professors team, since I have no advanced degrees, and my undergraduate degree is in Mathematics, with no formal training in Botany, Horticulture or Plant Science at all.
I am, however, an avid and active hobby gardener; I read a lot; and I have a life-long love of learning and sharing what I’ve learned with others, which led to a nine-year stint as a county Extension Educator, implementing a county wide mosquito management program for West Nile, with additional responsibilities for pesticide education and consumer horticulture.
So, what I hope to do with my space here on the GP site, is share some of the other blogs that I read on a regular basis … ones I’ve learned to trust for either the expertise, or writing style, or some additional insight into plants or gardening, or issues that arise in gardening circles.
First up this week … Natures Poisons, a blog written by Dr. Justin Brower a forensic toxicologist – that’s someone who is employed CSI-like, to investigate possible crimes related to toxicology.
His blog isn’t directly related to his profession, however … as Dr. Brower explains:
I also like plants and gardening, and seeing how there are thousands of plant based poisons, there’s no shortage of material.
Some things I will write about:
•Nature’s Poisons – all types chemical and biological
•Interesting poisonings – recent and historical
•Old uses of Nature’s Poisons
So he’s a gardener, like me, and the rest of you folks who follow the GPs.
I like the blog, not only for the wit and wisdom, but also because it puts a realistic perspective around the idea of “natural” … something which we gardeners often mistakenly equate with benign.
Plants make chemicals to protect themselves from being eaten, and the science behind that, and our use, and avoidance of them, is fascinating.
To get you started exploring the blog, here’s one of my favorite posts there discussing Horseradish, or Armoracia rusticana
Not only do you learn a lot about glucosinolates, and other chemicals in horseradish, but also a peek into the mind of a scientist.
Back inside the warm confines of the house, I cut off the tops of the horseradish roots, rinse off the dirt under water, and scrub them clean with a wash rag.
The “typical” method of preparing horseradish is to grate or grind the horseradish with an equal amount of water, wait a few minutes for the allyl isothiocyanate to build up to the desired hotness, then quench the reaction with a tablespoon or two of vinegar. Throw in a pinch of salt, and you’re done.
You’re always cautioned to do this in a well ventilated area or outdoors.
But screw that.
One, it’s cold outside, and two, and most importantly, I’m a Scientist.
If you like the blog, you’ll likely also like this book by Amy Stewart … Wicked Plants.
2 thoughts on “Nature’s Poisons”
Hey Ray, thanks for the shout-out! It’s nice to know I have at least one fan, besides my Dad, of course. And congrats on your new gig with Garden Professors.
You’re welcome, Dr. Brower. Glad you were able to find this post. I hope your blog gets some well deserved additional traffic. Cheers!