Monday, February 28, 2011

Review: Growing Tasty Tropical Plants in any home, anywhere

Growing Tasty Tropical Plants in any home, anywhere
by Laurelynn Martin and Byron Martin
Storey Publishing, 2010

For those of us living in cool, northern climates, the idea of growing tropical fruit at home for consumption has been a dream that few have dared pursue... until now.

Laurelynn and Byron Martin, third-generation greenhouse growers in Connecticut, have recently started supplying tropical plants to home gardeners who are growing them on decks, patios and in containers indoors all across North America.

"Growing Tasty Tropical Plants in any home, anywhere" documents their conviction that almost everyone can enjoy the taste of the tropics without leaving home, provided they have the proper cultivars.

"One of the keys to success with tropical container fruits is providing the right environment for the plants as they grow and mature," they explain. "Some types need a winter cool period, while others do best in warm conditions year-round. Some tropicals do well in partial sun, but many of them will produce fruit only when the grow in very bright conditions, such as a sunny windowsill, sunroom, or conservatory during the winter. If you don't have a sunroom or some large south-facing windows, then you'll need to explore using supplemental lighting for these plants."

The Martins profile 47 fruiting tropical plants in their text, from the well-known citrus fruits to the exotics like acerola, dwarf pomegranate and papaya and even chocolate, coffee, cinnamon, vanilla and sugarcane plants. An artist’s sketch and close up photograph of foliage, fruit and flower is included with each featured plant along with detailed instructions on cultivation, care and harvest.

"If you're brand new to container gardening, it's a good idea to start with plants that grow quickly and can tolerate a range ot temperatures," the Martins advise. These include coffee, fig, ‘Meyer’ lemon, naranjilla, orangeberry, tree tomato, and yerba mate plants.

This book invites readers to a gardening adventure rich with sunny flavors and exotic fragrances, growing fruits once forbidden beyond the tropics.

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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Review: The Startup Game

The Startup Game
Inside the Partnership between Venture Capitalists and Entrepreneurs
by William H. Draper and Eric Schmidt
Palgrave Macmillan, 2011

Co-authored by one of the best known and most respected venture
capitalists, William Draper, this book is an autobiographical account of
40 years of investing in entrepreneurs and their ideas.

Draper uses stories of risky investments, cagey CEOs and rancorous board
meetings to illustrate how he evaluates innovations and their innovators.
Object lessons drawn from his involvement with Skype, OpenTable, Hotmail,
Prolacta BioScience, Baidu, Selectica and dozens of other high-tech firms
make for fascinating reading.

Draper sums up much of his message in "The Top Ten Avoidable Mistakes of
Entrepreneurs" where he elaborates on the following preventable blunders:

* Creating overly optimistic projections about market size and
customer acquisitions.
* Underestimating timelines.
* Trying to do everything yourself.
* Failing to master the elevator pitch.
* Not downsizing when necessary.
* Being inflexible.
* Not developing a clear marketing plan.
* Building a board that consists only of friends.
* Not taking action in a recession.
* Not knowing the right way to approach venture capitalists.

Anyone expecting to meet with venture capitalists now or in the future
would be well advised to read this text carefully and take its lessons to

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