Petunias = Petun = French Trader Word for Tobacco

(Google Images.)

This month is Lawn and Garden Month.  One flower you will find in abundance at a fairly low price at Home Depot, Lowe’s, or Wal-mart is the petunia.

Here’s an interesting fact about petunias.  They are in the same family Solanaceae as tobacco, gooseberries, tomatoes, chili peppers, and even deadly nightshade.

Petun, in fact, is an old French word borrowed from French explorers in the Americas.  It means tobacco.  Petun was a regularly traded item between French explorers and Native Americans.

Along with marigolds and geraniums, petunias are a fairly hardy annual plant that most beginner gardeners can work with.  Petunias also spread out and some varieties cascade over the tops of garden containers.  They are perfect for hanging baskets.

According to the Old Farmers’ Almanac online, petunias grow through Spring, Summer, and Fall.  They come in mostly 5 shades:  red, pink, yellow, purple, and white.  Petunias should be planted in full sun to achieve more flowerings.

The great thing about petunias is that they only require water once a week except in dry extreme heat.  If you plant them in containers, expect to water more.  Pinch back or deadhead the wilted ones and more should grow in their place throughout the season.

Petunias are fairly resistant but you do need to protect them from mold, rot, leaf spots, and insects like caterpillars.

How Much Do You Know About Trees?

National Arbor Day was a few days ago.

Test your knowledge about trees with this short trivia quiz based on information provided by the North Carolina State University Coop Extension website,

1.  How many varieties of trees are there estimated to be in the world?

A.  23,000     B.  10,000      C.  16,000     D.  1,000

2.  A tree can absorb how many pounds of carbon dioxide a year?

A.  20    B.  30     C.  14    D.  48

3.  Tree parts are added to which of the following products?

A.  ice cream     B.  chewing gum     C.  coffee      D.  all of the above

4.  Each year, the average person uses how much tree wood and paper?  Enough for a tree this tall  _________.

A.  1,000 ft     B.  100 ft      C.  10 ft     D.  10,000 ft

5.  True or False.  Trees are the largest living organism on the planet.

6.  How old can a live oak live to be?

A.  84 years     B.  50 years    C.  100 years    D.  500 years

7.  True or False.  A tree is a natural battery.

8.  95% of a tree is composed of these 6 elements:  carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus, and ___________.

A.  iodine     B.  magnesium     C.  chromium     D.  sulfur

9.  True or False.  If a birdhouse is hung on a tree, it moves up the tree as the tree grows.

10.  True or False.  The age of the tree is determined by growth rings inside the tree.

11.  True or False.  The pattern of growth for a typical tree is root growth in Spring, foilage growth in Summer, and trunk growth in Fall/Winter.

12.  True or False.  Tree roots are deep in the soil.

Answers:  1-A, 2-D, 3-D, 4-B, 5-True.  Coastal Redwoods can reach 360 ft tall.  6-D, 7-True.  They are batteries because they trap sun energy and convert it.  8-D, 9-False.  The birdhouse stays where it was placed.  10-True.  Also, the spacing in between growth rings can tell the history of the tree, such as environmental conditions that affect it -fire, drought, cold, etc.  11-False.  Foilage in the Spring, trunk in the Summer, roots in the Fall/Winter.  12- False.  The roots are only in the top 12 inches of the soil.

Labor Related News: Henry Ford, Scientific Management, & the Haymarket Affair

Henry Ford passed away in April, 1947.  He is credited with using management theories and observation to create more efficient production methods and thereby develop a cheaper automobile, “one available for the masses.”  The Ford Motor Company was established by Henry Ford and Alexander Malcomson in 1903.  Ford hired management consultant, Frederick Winslow Taylor, to help create the assembly line.

Frederick Winslow Taylor (Google Images.)

Taylor was a business theorist, a mechanical engineer, and a major influencer of the Progressive Era.  Ford used Taylor’s observations to do the following improvements:

1.  Keep large parts stationary and bring small parts to them.

2.  Make laborers stationary and move the body of the car through workstations.

3.  Recalibrate tooling methods.

model T
Model T line (Google Images.)

By 1914, Ford had used these improvements to bring the Model T production time down from approximately 12 hours to just 93 minutes and he successfully captured 50% of the auto market (according to The Saylor Foundation at

In other labor news, International Workers Day is coming up. It is the first day of May. International Workers Day commemorates the Haymarket Affair in Chicago on May 4, 1886.

This was a protest for worker rights and the establishment of the 8 hour limit on the work day.  A bomb was thrown at the event resulting in the deaths of 7 police officers and 4 civilians with many more wounded.

It would be 52 more years before the passage of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 which established minimum wage, overtime pay, and youth employment requirements.  This affected both full and part-time workers in the public as well as private sector.

To read more about U.S. labor laws and their protections, go to the Department of Labor site: