Educate yourself on popular dog breeds of the world:
THE Miniature Pinscher, also known as "Minpin", is a toy breed of
dog. In its homeland, Germany, the dog is known as the "Zwergpinscher",
meaning Dwarf or Midge reared to hunt vermin, especially rats. The
Miniature Pinscher is known as the "King of the Toy Dogs".
Although appearing similar to the Doberman Pinscher, the Minipin is
not a "Miniature Doberman". This breed is much older and had appeared in
sculptures several centuries ago. The Miniature Pinscher was imported
into the U.S. in 1919.
The Minipin is normally about 25 to 30 centimeters at the withers. It
weights about 4 kilograms. The coat colours, according to most breed
standards, are red, stag-red, fawn, and black or chocolate with white
The coat should be short and smooth. The dog frequently has a docked
tail. It carries it ears either picked or half-dropped on a stylish
Members of the Minipin family generally share some personality
traits. They are by nature, not generally timid or calm. They possess an
energetic spirit and curious nature. They are normally quite stubborn
but can also be very sweet. Although small, a Minipin makes a great
Minipins have the habit of barking excessively. It is recommended to
owners to socialise their dogs before 3 months of age. The dog's
exuberant spirit and small size make it the ideal house or apartment
However, its energetic temperament, cat-like agility and curious
nature may not suit everyone. Young children should be taught to handle
the breed as they are quite fragile and could be injured if rough play
Grooming is easy as the short-haired coat requires little attention.
Care must be taken in cold weather because its coat does not provide
enough protection from the cold. Miniature Pinschers have the tendency
to overeat so it is necessary to keep a watch on their diet.
Keen and sporty, this lively small dog gives the impression that he
loves being outdoors in a garden or park. It has a quick reaction and
makes a useful household watchdog.
With Dr. Fazal Sultanbawa PhD, Director Research and Development CIC
Ornamental Mushrooms: To colour dark spaces
MUSHROOMS have traditionally been collected or grown for food.
However, there are no rules to say that they cannot be grown for
Why, you may ask, when we are blessed with such a range of plants for
diverse environments should we bring the lowly fungi into our living
space. Well, there are many reasons.
Firstly, some basics - mushrooms are fungi, more precisely the
fruiting bodies of these fungi, which bear the spores or reproductive
In this sense, a mushroom can be compared to flowers of a plant.
Fungi (usually) grow as thread-like filaments called mycelia, which are
usually not visible to the outside.
In the mushroom group of fungi, after some degree of growth and
development, these mycelia get together to produce the familiar
Mushrooms are often confused with plants, but the two differ in very
fundamental ways, which has a bearing on the way they are grown.
Plants need light to grow and can make the food they need through
photosynthesis; in contrast, fungi need to grow on some other plant or
animal, either dead (technically the saprophytes) or alive (the disease
Importantly, fungi do not need light to grow - therefore, mushrooms
will do very well in the dark spaces in our houses and gardens. While
they do come in all possible colours, the lighter colours would be
preferred as they would be more visible in a dark space.
Growing edible mushrooms has become a lucrative business for many
small enterprises and State institutions like the Department of
Agriculture, Industrial Development Board and others have actively
promoted the ventures.
The range of varieties available has progressed from the easy-to-grow
Oyster to more difficult ones like Abalone and Button, indicating the
increasing confidence of growers.
Growing mushrooms for ornamental purposes is not very different to
growing the edible kinds, in fact is easier because you don't have to
worry about contamination by other types of fungi.
The only difference is in the type of container used. Ornamental
kinds are more presentable if grown in attractive containers or bonsai
trays. Alternatively, they may be grown on old logs.
A variety of media can be used to grow mushrooms, ranging from straw,
sawdust, rice hulls, coir fibre etc.
The medium must be able to provide the growing mycelium with all its
nutritional requirements, which are not unlike those of a plant.
Media commonly used provide most of the nutrients, but some nutrients
like nitrogen are very low and therefore some supplementation may be
required. A little urea (1 teaspoon dissolved in half a litre of water
mixed with 1-2 kg of medium) is usually beneficial.
To get started, prepare the growing medium according to materials
available, in a suitable container. Then go around the garden or the
neighbourhood looking for mushrooms.
You can either pick the mushrooms and collect the spores (usually a
black powder) under the cap of the mushroom or dig up some soil under
the mushrooms, as it may have the fungus that produced the mushroom.
Mix the spores or the soil into the growing medium and keep it moist.
It will be faster if you can buy some spores (or 'spawn' as it is
sometimes called) from plant exhibitions or commercial growers.
However, it will be more fun if you can collect some mushrooms during
a walk in a park or a wooded patch.
Mushrooms should spring out fairly soon, depending on the normal
cycle of the particular fungus. The fruiting cycle can vary from a few
to many days.
After the mushrooms dry out, don't discard the whole thing - it will
grow back again. Just put it away in a storeroom, keep it moist and feed
it with some urea.
Be cautious about adding normal fertiliser, which contain copper,
zinc or manganese, as these can be toxic to fungi. When the mushrooms
reappear, bring it back into the hall, just like you would display your
favourite ornamental plant.
A word of caution - some mushrooms are poisonous and there is
insufficient information on local mushrooms to classify them as safe or
Therefore, avoid eating any mushroom collected from the wild. Also,
if you have little children, it may not be a good idea to grow unknown
or wild mushrooms in your house, as the brats may try to munch them,
especially if they are colourful!
In the next issue, we will look at ways of using natural logs and
making artificial logs to grow ornamental mushrooms.
Flower of the week
AMONG the long flowering species of petunias geraniums, begonia as in
Sri Lanka, gloxinias have made its appearance.
Gloxinias may have an exotic appearance but they are easy to grow in
pots and if grown in beds, semi-shade must be provided as the flowers
are more delicate than others in their species. They combine well with
Ferns and long stemmed foliage combine well with the white edged
hanging baskets. Avoid over-watering for a good display. The soil must
be damp but not wet or water retained. Gloxinias can be raised from stem
cuttings as well or even from lead cuttings.