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Life Science


Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences


Growing and Selling Fresh-Cut Herbs 2nd Edition by Sandie Shores (Ball Publishing) is divided into four parts. Part 1 contains information on business planning and conducting market research, successfully marketing one's herb business to different types of clients, and managing day-to-day business details. Shores includes profiles of some successful herb-growing businesses. Part 2 covers all aspects of using a greenhouse to grow herbs. Interior greenhouse designs are shown, and everyday operation and maintenance are explained. Part 3 explains the do's and don'ts of starting and growing herbs and controlling insect pests and diseases. Here, too, are data on harvesting, handling, and packaging herbs for sale. Part 4 offers detailed instructions on growing 26 specific herbs. Included are such popular herbs as basil, chives, cilantro, dill, marjoram, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, and thyme. The herbs' botanical names and heights are given, along with information on their uses, varieties, propagation, harvesting, and packaging.

The section on business basics starts with a thoughtful discourse on personal objectives and market research and continues with site selection and a thorough list of potential customers, from restaurants to distributors. The section on greenhouses for year-round growing includes practical discussion on materials and construction, interior layout, and systems design, so there's no need to purchase a separate greenhouse reference. Further discussion of growing methods focuses on sustainability, and pest-management suggestions include preventative awareness of life cycle and preferred environments. Handling and harvesting tips, uses, and specialized packaging advice are provided for 14 different herbs, inclusive of the wide selection found in the majority of markets today. Lesser-known herbs are touched on, as are edible flowers. A list of resources and support publications concludes the book.

The author takes the mystery out of this business, filling a near vacuum with this reference, but at the same time presents the potential hazards and attention required. One caveat: the black-and-white photos and sketches are generally useful, but one wishes for color pictures of the herbs themselves, given that part of the appeal of fresh herbs is the vibrant color and texture that promise romance to the nose and taste buds.

This definitive guide for those looking to start or expand their own herb business focuses entirely on fresh-cut herbs for the grower who supplies restaurants or supermarkets, vends at farmers markets, or sells from her own retail space. Discussed are the value of a business plan and how to find the right niche for the business. Whether selling to supermarkets, wholesalers, brokers, or caterers, growers will benefit from these business tips. Valuable advice is provided on financing; honoring local zoning laws; creating invoices and packing slips; managing employees; pricing and marketing; maintaining accounts; and increasing business. All aspects of building a greenhouse are addressed, from selecting a prime location and building a structure to the equipment needed to grow, including lights, thermostats, benches, and irrigation systems. Other topics include growing and nurturing plants from germination through harvest; assessing the needs of different herb crops and edible flowers; and harvesting and packaging the finished product.

Horticultural Reviews: Wild Apple and Fruit Trees of Central Asia by Jules Janick (Horticultural Reviews: Wiley) Horticultural Reviews presents state of the art reviews. Emphasis is on applied topics including the production of fruits, vegetables, nut crops, and ornamental plants of commercial importance. This volume deals with wild apple and fruit trees found in Central Asia.
Apple is the most ubiquitous and well‑adapted species of temperate fruit crops. It is grown in high latitude regions of the world where temperatures may reach‑40°C to high elevations in the tropics where two crops may be grown in a single year. Apples are the fourth most important world fruit crop following all citrus types, grapes, and bananas.

The apple, along with many of the important temperate fruit crops, belongs to the Rosaceae or rose family. Apple, pear, quince, medlar and a few other species have been classified into the subfamily, Pomoideae, the pome fruits, having fruits with two to five carpels enclosed in a fleshy covering. The genus Malus consists of about 27 wild species. Most of the species intercross and, since self‑incompatibility is common, seed obtained from a botanic garden are mostly interspecific or intercultivar hybrids. It is therefore difficult to be certain of the authenticity of some species names. Some taxon formerly listed as species are now classified as cultivated species because there is no record of their having wild origins.

The cultivated apple is likely the result of interspecific hybridization and at present, the binomial Malus xdomestica Borkh. has generally been accepted as the appropriate scientific name, replacing the previously common usage of M. pumila. Malus sieversii Lebed., a wild apple species native to Central Asia , has been recognized as a major progenitor of the domesticated apple, M. xdomestica. In ancient times, apple seeds and trees were likely dispersed from Central Asia , east to China and west to Europe , via trade caravan routes popularly referred to as the " Silk Road ". This flow of apple germplasm declined over the last few centuries as overland trade through the region decreased and ceased in the twentieth century as Central Asia was isolated for political reasons.

In the 1920s, Vavilov traveled through Central Asia and reported that large wild stands of M. sieversii existed in specific localities and suggested the region as a center of origin for the domesticated apple. Dzhangaliev, while confirming the contemporary existence of the wild apple forests, also noted that they were under pressure in some areas due to urbanization, agriculture, grazing, and wood harvesting. In the 1980s, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Plant Germplasm System recognized that M. sieversii was a critical species that lacked representation in its Malus collection at the Plant Genetic Resources Unit (PGRU) in Geneva, New York. The material was critical because present cultivars of the commercial apple had a narrow genetic base and most commercial production was based on very few cultivars. Malus sieversii could be a valuable genetic resource for the domesticated apple potentially containing more genetic diversity for important horticultural and environmentally adapted traits.

M. sieversii is diverse with the wild trees bearing a full range of forms, colors, and tastes. Recent collection trips to Central Asia (Section III) have verified that M. sieversii is very diverse and has all the qualities present in M. xdomestica. The east/west trade routes that eventually became the "Silk Road" passed through this region on the way to China to the east and to the Middle East, past the Black Sea, to the west. Travelers on foot, camels, and horses likely began dispersing this germplasm as long ago as Neolithic times with routes being well established by the Bronze Age. Ruminants such as deer native to the area and donkeys, mules, and horses used by humans along with humans themselves avidly ate these apples. No doubt the best were selected and this narrowed the genepool as it was dispersed. The seeds pass undamaged through alimentary canals. Thus seedlings would have been randomly established along the length of the trade routes and hybridization between previously isolated species then became possible.

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