It was a beautiful day, and the sun was beating down on the garden. As one man worked his way across his property, though, something unusual caught his eye: some tiny eggs inside a hollow log. Then when he carefully picked them up, one of them wobbled and started to hatch.
The man in question is an enthusiastic imgur user, and it was on that site that he originally shared his story. Yes, going by the name of “maddabber,” he uploaded a series of photos that detailed the discovery that began right in his own garden.
It seems that January 3, 2017, started as a beautiful day in Oahu, Hawaii. The conditions were excellent for gardening, but the day was otherwise unremarkable – that was, until maddabber made his discovery.
Maddabber’s garden is decorated with hollow bamboo logs, and inside one of them the gardener spotted something. Indeed, the log contained a number of tiny white objects, which were hidden from the Hawaiian sun. And then he realized what they were: they were eggs.
Eventually, curiosity got the better of him, and he approached the log to have a look. Nestled inside were at least 12 eggs, some of which looked like they had already hatched. Unfortunately, though, there was no clue as to what had come out of them.
Still, whatever had laid the eggs had taken the precaution of sticking them to the log’s interior surface. No doubt hoping the eggs didn’t contain garden pests, maddabber managed to safely detach some of them, and the little objects were absolutely tiny.
In fact, each egg was roughly the size of a garden pea. While maddabber was examining the objects in his hand, though, something amazing happened. Yes, maddabber felt a stirring in one of the little eggs, and it started to move; it was hatching.
When he saw what was coming out of the egg, he couldn’t believe his eyes. The little baby crawling from the shell was green, vulnerable and adorable. Maddabber was witnessing the hatching of a newborn gecko, and it was small enough to rest on his fingertip.
And although maddabber didn’t state exactly what species it was, the creature’s identity as a gecko does explain the sticky eggs. Geckos that don’t lay leather-shelled eggs generally lay hard-shelled ones – and some species of gecko have a special technique of egg-gluing.
Before deploying this technique, gecko mothers find a nice, smooth surface safely away from predators that will hold their eggs. They then use their rear feet to put the eggs in place and allow the adhesive coating to do its work.
Amazingly, geckos have been known to stick their eggs to sheer surfaces like walls or even ceilings. As for how the geckos get up to these inaccessible places themselves, that’s another amazing thing about these lizards. The secret can be found in their feet.
You see, many geckos display the ability to cling to surfaces with their toes: they use the pads on their toes to act like the suction cups that you might use to stick things to windows and smooth-tiled surfaces. Although not all species can do this, approximately 60 percent are able to.
But geckos’ feet aren’t their only unusual attribute. Indeed, you can forget having a staring contest with these little creatures because they’d win every time. In fact, practically no geckos blink; some don’t even have eyelids. And even those that do still use their tongues to clean their eyes.
They don’t just use their tongues for grooming, either. No, they’re a deadly weapon against garden pests. In this way, maddabber was fortunate to find geckos in his garden because they’re insectivores: their tongues are used to catch animals like crickets, fruit flies and cockroaches.
Much like frogs and chameleons, geckos have powerful, muscular tongues that can stretch like elastic. So when a gecko spots an insect, the appendage whips out at lightning speed and reels its catch back in. It’s the last sensation many insects experience.
But it’s not just the speed and power of the attack that takes the prey by surprise; Geckos’ tongues have an adhesive tip that glues their victims in place. Yes, once the strike has been made, there’s no escape from a gecko’s waiting jaws.
Finally, one of the most unusual things about geckos is how their tails have evolved over time. To be specific, many geckos are able to shed their tails in what is called autotomy. However, the degree of control over autotomy varies from species to species.
In some types of gecko, the tail comes loose when a predator grabs it tight enough. For others, the appendage comes loose if the gecko feels threatened. In either case, though, the tail continues to move once it’s detached, acting as a decoy while the lizard escapes.
Not only does the shed tail regrow – often within weeks – but some species even possess scales with the same ability. The regenerative capabilities of lizards are so amazing that they have fascinated scientists for decades.
Yes, experts have been researching the ability of lizards to regenerate their limbs for years, with the hope that these findings can be applied in medicine. Yet while there has been some progress, unlocking the secret to regenerating limbs like a gecko currently remains a pipe dream – for now. So if you do discover some tiny gecko eggs in your garden, all you can do is envy them.
While finding gecko eggs would undoubtedly be pretty cool, it’s unlikely that they’ll do much to help your garden. If your plants are looking a little worse for wear, though, try this trick involving a different kind of egg. Some people have started burying hen’s eggs in their vegetable patches along with bananas. And when you see what this hack can do, you’ll probably be itching to give it a go.
Becoming a good gardener is a challenging prospect, and it requires dedication and skill. It should also be borne in mind that different plants need varying levels of attention and different conditions for successful growth. For a novice, then, being able to draw on the knowledge of those who are more experienced is invaluable. And, happily, one gardening blog is promoting an intriguing new method for gardeners old and new that might just be a total game changer. So, have you heard the one about the egg and the banana?
With food prices rising in most developed countries, producing your own fruit and vegetables is becoming ever more popular. As a matter of fact, according to broadcaster NBC, sales of seeds, rooted plants and fruit trees in the U.S. are all shooting up fast. Evidently, having the shortest possible produce journey from field to fork is all the rage.
Speaking to NBC News, Janet Bedell, of Venice, Florida, spoke of her new-found fondness for growing her own. She said, “Over the past year or two, when my boyfriend and I went shopping and started seeing how little we got out of the grocery store for how much, we figured we might as well give it a shot trying our own veggies and take some of the weight off our pockets.”
And Bedell is by no means alone in planting her own vegetables. In a report by The National Gardening Association in 2014, the Texas-based body found that more than 42 million U.S. households had come to the same decision. Some people may grow their vegetables at home, while others are sharing community gardens. Either way, though, it means that more than one-third of all American domiciles are grow-your-own enthusiasts. And what’s more, the association has seen a sharp spike in the number of green-fingered wannabes since the worldwide economic crash of 2008.
Mike Metallo, the president and chief executive officer of the National Gardening Association, said, “[It] clearly shows that there truly is a food revolution taking place in America. We are seeing more people, particularly young people, actively engaged in growing their own food.”
Unfortunately for most of the masses, though, gardening is not as straightforward as simply planting seeds in the ground and just waiting for the magic to happen. And although enthusiasm and fertilizer can help, not all types of land can produce the same kinds of vegetables. In fact, each vegetable plant derives differing kinds and quantities of nutrients from the soil in which it grows.
With this in mind, New Jersey gardener Gary Pilarchik came up with a quirky but ingenious technique for growing tomatoes. Now resident in Maryland, Pilarchik has propagated a healthy presence online. As well as boasting various social media profiles, he writes The Rusted Vegetable Garden blog and has his own YouTube channel. And in May 2013, Pilarchik posted a video using a couple of unusual ingredients in his recipe for growing tomatoes. In the vid, he buried an entire banana and an egg underneath a tomato plant – and viewers of his subsequent weekly updates were astonished at the results.
The idea is that the banana and egg begin to rot and degrade in the soil underneath the tomato plant’s rootstock. The roots then reach into the decaying material and allow the plant to benefit from the rich store of nutrients. Getting the right nutrient mix is, then, crucial to the whole operation; and the decomposing banana and egg provide a rich source of potassium, phosphate, calcium, magnesium, sulfur and sodium. This fertile blend gives the tomato plant a huge boost and enables it to grow strong and tall.
Interestingly, Pilarchik took inspiration from Native American tradition for his banana-and-egg trick. In the same fashion, Native Americans would add foreign material when sowing their seeds. Believe it or not, First Nation people would in fact plant fish heads or even whole fish into the ground at the base of their crop. And this in turn would fertilize the soil – the same way the soft fruit and the egg did for Pilarchik.
Native Americans would also use their green-fingered nous when growing crops that they called the Three Sisters. In essence, this would mean planting three different varieties together: corn, squash and beans. Each of this trio of vegetable crops would offer symbiotic benefits to the other two, ensuring that all three thrived.
More specifically, the beans would provide nitrogen to the soil, enriching the corn and squash so that they could grow robustly. The corn provided a trellis on which the beans could climb. The squash, meanwhile, afforded cover for the other two plants as they were growing, and it helped to deter some pests.
It is not just the old ways that can make a difference, though. Indeed, the influx of new gardeners has led to fresh trends making an impact. One such idea is “attentive gardening” – an offshoot of the vogue for mindfulness meditation. Attentive gardening is a way of drawing the grower’s mind away from stress and allowing them to focus on the task in hand instead.
Now, although the banana-and-egg method has been used elsewhere by other gardeners, Pilarchik has a trove of different but similarly useful ideas on his YouTube channel. He has a very helpful video on how to use coffee grounds for growing crops, for instance. Yes, Pilarchik uses the grounds to give his plants a lift in much the same way as do the banana and egg.
In the video, Pilarchik says, “You can use them in compost piles… You can also mix it into your soil. You can go into [a coffee shop] and get it for free… with labels saying, ‘Grounds for your Garden.’ You can go there practically every day. People don’t tend to take them.”
Pilarchik continues, “The potassium and phosphorous are soluble; they are immediately ready to be used up by your plants… So as it rains, this will wash in. The nitrogen is not water-soluble; that is going to have to be broken down by soil life. And that’s okay.
Ultimately, this is another way of using a natural, low-cost substitute for fertilizer. In the main, shop-bought fertilizer is a man-made compound and contains ingredients such as sulfur and nitrogen. And for kitchen gardeners looking to eat their produce, the less spent on chemical additives the better.
A point that is often overlooked, though, is that it’s not man-made fertilizer that causes the most damage; it’s pesticides. Although bugs and insects have the potential to wreck a gardener’s best efforts, the use of pesticides usually does collateral damage. Thankfully, then, Pilarchik has a great natural tip for those trying to combat winged menaces and creepy-crawlies.
Pilarchik suggests using a vegetable product called neem oil to kill pests that destroy crops. Happily, this also allows the garden’s flora and fauna to thrive. The oil itself is derived from the fruits and seeds of the subtropical, evergreen neem tree. And you should make sure you get precisely the right sort of oil. As Pilarchik advises in another of his videos, “You have to be aware of what you’re buying when you buy neem oil. You want 100-per cent cold-pressed neem oil.”
Pilarchik goes on to say, “You want to spray the neem oil on your plants [as part of your gardening] routine. It’s going to vary [from] place to place, but every seven to 14 days, keep your green leafy plants… sprayed, and that will stop the damage from the [pests].”
Ultimately, there are other obstacles to those looking to get into gardening than just lack of know-how. Although there has been an uptick in the numbers of people getting their hands dirty, there is, for example, a sizable group who simply can’t afford to jump on the grow-your-own bandwagon. Members of the “Generation Rent” demographic tend not to own their homes, and research by the Horticultural Trades Association in the U.K. shows that they have little interest in rented plots. So, those lucky people who aren’t constrained by such limitations really should get growing.