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Lemon Chicken
 
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 ½ tsp kosher salt

1 ¼ tsp black pepper

½ cup olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons

1 lemon, thinly sliced

¼ cup white wine

3 garlic cloves, smashed

1 tablespoon herbes de Provence, or 3 tablespoons fresh herbs such as sage, rosemary and thyme.

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Transfer chicken to gallon sized freezer bag. Add ½ cup olive oil and remaining ingredients. Let marinate in the refrigerator for 1 to 8 hours.

In a skillet, heat remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Remove chicken from marinade, add to skillet and add marinade on top. Cook for 8 minutes per side until cooked through. Serve chicken topped with lemons and sauce.




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That's My Burl 
I'm not the only one who loves burls. Burl wood has been valued as an element in wood carvings and furniture for hundreds of years. Burls are so valued that they are sometimes the target of thieves. Ancient redwoods in National Parks in the western United States have recently been poached by thieves for their burls. Poachers often cut off the burls from the sides of the trunks using chainsaws, which exposes the tree to infection and disease, or fell the entire tree to steal burls higher up.
 
What makes burls so sought after is the way that the grain of the wood is generally twisted, contorted, and deformed, producing what's called "figure." Visualize a normal grain pattern as parallel strands of yarn. A burl would be a ball of yarn. It's as though the tree's cells went haywire and decided to tie themselves into a knot. In burl formation, the tree's growth hormones get disrupted when the metabolism of the tree is hijacked by some other organism - a virus, fungus or bacterium.  
 
The crown gall bacterium is responsible for many burls. That common bacterium carries within it a little extra DNA, called a plasmid, which infiltrates the tree's genetics. The plasmid prompts the tree to make special amino acids and growth regulators to produce the burl, which apparently is the preferred habitat for the bacterium.
 
Figuring out exactly what prompted the formation of a particular burl, however, isn't always easy. The bacterium that started the process can be long gone by the time the burl is of any size. Burls are occasionally associated with dormant buds, but even that does not explain why they get 'turned on' here and not there. Burls don't seem to do much harm to the tree or shorten its life. The interior wood, twisted and contorted though it is, still seems to do its job of transporting water and nutrients.  
 
With burls being so prized, you'd think someone would have figured how out to induce their formation and produce them commercially. Different methods of inoculating and wounding have been tried, but haven't panned out. It's one thing to know how gall plasmids work, but to induce that relationship between the bacterium and the tree and favor that over time, well, we don't know how to do that. Perhaps the beauty of burl wood is enhanced by the fact that it's something we can't mass produce on a whim, even with all the science at our command.
 

Burl on a cottonwood. This tree may look a bit like a plague victim, but I rather like its character - warts-and-all...
 
Burl on a beech tree. Photo credit: Paul Meakins 
 
Burl on an oak. Photo credit: Jeremy Barrell
 
No, it's not the Great Pumpkin, it a burl. Photo credit: Nick Harrison
 
Read more about burls and poaching in the Redwood Forest 
How to be a Plant Parent
Have you ever considered becoming a plan parent? It's much less work than parenting actual children or tending pets, plus you get the benefit of adding vibrancy to your home and the joy that comes with keeping your Dracaena fragrans alive. Here are some concepts to help you get started.  
 
Figure out what your plant will live in .
Once you acquire your new plant, wait at least a month before repotting it. This allows the plant to adjust to its new environment. In the meantime, research future homes for your plants. The clay pot is a popular choice, as it offers better insulation against changing temperatures. Plastic pots hold in more moisture and are lighter. Or put plastic pots inside clay pots. Whether you choose clay or plastic, just make sure it has drainage holes to keep the roots dry and your plant healthy.

Resist the urge to overwater.
To see if your plant needs water, stick a finger an inch or two into the soil to feel whether it's dry or very moist. Most houseplants prefer to be dry between waterings, so wait until the soil is on the dry side, then water accordingly. Think of your plants like a kitchen sponge; get soaking wet, then dry out. Be careful not to drown your plants.

Get the light just right.
While direct sunlight works best for cactuses, succulents and flowering plants, some plants can thrive off less sunlight. Try out different locations to see which works best for your plant and keep in mind this rule of thumb: If your plants' leaves are drooping, turning pale or yellow and your soil won't dry out enough, it might need a spot with more sunlight.

Prune your plant to keep it looking cute.
Pruning your houseplant is necessary to maintain its shape, keep it at a certain size and remove dead foliage. For a lot of houseplants you can just pull off the dead leaves, or invest in a nice pair of sharp pruning shears.  
 
   
 
For more information on house plants 101

Thanks for reading.  
Happy Planting!    

Faith

Faith Appelquist

President & Founder

 

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