This is pretty awesome! We just saw a barn owl at the zoo: a delicate looking creation. But take a look at this video – it becomes scary when it is in the zone!
How does a barn owl spot its prey? The slow mo camera captures all the action of a strike, to show Sam and Si what a barn owl’s real weapons are. Stay right to the end for a bonus shot of Owly swallowing a mouse whole!
Original and stunning high definition slow motion footage of animals and their actions. Brought to you by our very own team members; animal nerd Sam, and camera geek Simon.
This inexpensive and creative small garden will even fit most apartment patios! Cool design by Old World Garden Farms:
A simple crate planter made from pallets and using a straw bale for a growing medium
So you have little space, little time, little money and you still want to garden. Or maybe you would like to add a great looking focal point to your existing garden or landscape to grow something unique. Even better, maybe you know of someone who still likes to garden but can’t get out or handle as much of the physical activity anymore.
Here is a great solution to all three! Create your own Pallet Straw Bale Crate Garden. It’s attractive, simple to build, and best of all, low or no cost to make.
To build on the cheap, you can create the straw bale frame using the slats from a single pallet
With a single pallet, (3) 2x4x8′s, a bale of straw, and a bag or two of soil and compost – you can create an instant garden space that can provide fresh vegetables or flowers all summer long.
You can purchase all the materials you need for under $15.00 – or build for virtually free using pallets and scrap lumber. We made a few single bale boxes last week for our garden – and will use them along our fence row to grow our cucumbers in. You can also double the measurements to make a double bale box and plant to your heart’s content.
The straw bale crates have a lot of built-in advantages! They are easy to maintain – with little weeding ever needed. The 2’ high design lends itself to less stooping and bending while tending, and the combination straw, compost and soil make for a great instant growing medium – without the hassle of digging up the earth.
The best part of all – at the end of the season – you can add all of the contents to the compost pile –or start a compost pile right in the pallet box to have fresh compost next year when you’re ready to grow again!
Here is how we made ours:
Start by assembling 2 rectangle frames from scrap wood or 2 x 4′s.
Next – attach the two rectangles with four of your slat boards in each corner
Next – screw in additional slat boards to create the crate “look”.
(1) Straw Bale
(4) 2 x 4 x 20”
(4) 2 x 4 x 44”
(1) Pallet – for vertical boards – be sure to use untreated pallets to be “food safe”
(1) bag of compost – substitute your own for free material
(1) bag of topsoil – substitute your own for free material
***The straw bales we use measure 20″ wide, 18″ high and a little less than 46″ long. Bales can vary in length – so be sure to measure your bale to adjust the length and width of frame boards. You can also reference our previous post’s on How To Disassemble A Pallet Quickly, and How To Make Your Own Compost for more info.
Building The Garden:
Assemble 2 rectangles from your 2×4’s – screwing or nailing together 2 of the 20” pieces and 2 of the 44” pieces. Once you have both rectangles together – use your pallet boards to attach vertically to connect the two rectangles to create your straw bale box.
We cut our pallet slat boards into 18″ lengths, (we got about 2 boards for each slat) and then screwed them into the inside of the two frames to form the crate. The spacing is up to you – we put about 4” between each board for ours – we wanted the look of an “old-time” crate.
Planting The “Garden”
Next -use a sharp knife, reciprocating saw or shovel to dig out a 6 to 8″ planting hole
Simply place your plant in the hole and cover with more soil.
We like to put a layer of compost or mulch over the top of the bale to complete the look.
Now it’s easy – place the bale down inside the frame – you may need to wiggle a little and cut a little off here and there to get it to fit depending on the size of the bale.
Simply use a sharp knife or blade to cut out your planting holes – we went about 8” deep and 5” around– filling them with a good mixture of garden soil and compost. Plant, cover up, water – and the garden is in! Depending on what you plant – you can fit in 5 to 6 tomato plants, or a combination of pepper and tomato plants per bale, etc. You can plant a little closer than traditional garden rows because of the raised beds. Only your imagination is the limit to what you want to grow!
You will get some compression of the bale as the season progresses – the bale will slowly decompose, giving even more nutrients to the plants. Your plant and roots will thrive in the soil, compost and straw because the garden is off the ground – there will be very little weeds that develop, and should be easy with the added height to pick and maintain.
End of the Season :
If you have a compost bin already set up – you can certainly take the contents and throw them into the pile. The decomposed straw and soil mixture are great for a pile – adding a lot of carbon material. If not – use the crate box as a compost bin! Mix up the bale and contents right in the pallet box structure – and start adding some shredded fall leaves, coffee grounds, vegetable scraps , lawn clippings and more. By next spring – you will have enough compost made to use in the next bale for planting, with extra if you need it.
So how about trying a straw bale pallet crate garden this year! And if you have a neighbor or relative that loves garden but finds it difficult now – it’s a great gift to let them have their very own garden
Happy Gardening – Jim and Mary
Here are some good guidelines to think about before you keep using plastic to reheat any food in – from the WSJ:
When to Throw Out Microwaveable Plastic Containers
Lunch at your desk can be a downer, especially when it involves leftovers reheated in the office microwave. But are you putting more into your body than just lukewarm pad thai? Rolf Halden, the director for the Center for Environmental Security at the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University, stirs the pot.
“We don’t know if and how many people die from plastic exposure,” says Dr. Halden, “but we do know that in the developed world we suffer from a lot of diseases—breast cancer, obesity and early onset puberty—that are less prevalent in developing countries. These are a result of our lifestyle.” He adds: “From a public health perspective, we should consider heated plastic an unnecessary source of exposure to harmful elements and eliminate it.”
Two to Watch
Since plastic was first synthesized in the early 1900s, it has evolved into everything from lifesaving medical devices to a softening agent in hair conditioner. Plastic is ubiquitous but there are two chemicals in it to watch out for when it comes to what your body ingests.
Phthalates, the chemicals that make a PVC container flexible, “can migrate out of the plastic when it’s heated,” says Dr. Halden, who has done comprehensive studies on emerging contaminants and plastics for more than a decade. Phthalates can leach into food, resulting in hormone imbalances and birth defects—although no one knows at what level those effects are triggered, he says. Phthalates are present in measurable levels in the blood of nearly every person in the developed world, he adds.
Bisphenol A, or BPA, is a potentially worse offender. Once tested for possible use as an estrogen replacement, BPA was found to be of better use in the mass production of polycarbonate plastic. It’s used in everything from the lining of metal soup cans to receipt paper. The FDA banned the use of BPA in baby bottles in July 2012, because of its link to developmental delays.
While the recycling numbers at the bottom of plastic items “are not meant to provide health information or risks,” Dr. Halden says, they can sometimes provide clues to the chemicals in them. For example, No. 7, says Dr. Halden, means “there is a high likelihood” that Bisphenol A is in it. That reusable water bottle sitting on your desk? “Think of it as one big BPA vessel,” he says.
When to Toss It
The amount of chemicals leaching into food depends on the type of plastic that is put in the microwave, the time it is heated and the physical condition of the container, says Dr. Halden. Old, cracked containers and those that have been washed hundreds of times often give off more toxins when heated. Any deformities or discoloration are a sign it’s time for the recycling bin.
And reheating foods heavy in cream and butter in plastic is always a bad idea. “Fatty foods absorb more of these harmful chemicals when heated,” he says.
Another Way to Reheat
Rather than torturing yourself over what plastic is safe, use an inert container such as glass, ceramic or stainless steel, he suggests. Along with cold spots in food that could harbor bacteria, Dr. Halden points to another reason to avoid reheating in the microwave: taste. “Food tastes much better if it is prepared in a hot oven or on the stove, and not cold on the inside and too hot on the outside,” he says.
The most amazing beaver experience
A beaver family working on their house on the Bow River in Calgary, Canada are perfectly in agreement with being filmed.
I was an Econ major in college, so this stuff fascinates me. If you like demographics AND infographics, check this out from DesignCo:
The Average Income For Every Neighborhood In America
Rich Blocks, Poor Blocks is an interactive map showing the average income for every neighborhood in America. Type in your address, press search, and there you have it: Your city, shaded by income, according to data from an annual survey conducted by the Census Bureau. The greenest blocks–Census blocks, that is, not city blocks–signify the richest areas, typically bringing in an average household income of $100,000 or more a year. The reddest blocks are the poorest, with annual income somewhere around $20,000. All the rest get some shade of red or green, depending where they fall.
The map was created by Christopher Persaud, a data reporter for a bank website, and on one level, it illustrates a wholly unsurprising trend: In general, inner cities are poorer than the suburbs that surround them. But zoom in a bit closer and things get more interesting. Each city, shaped and reshaped by countless forces over the decades, looks a bit different. This map won’t reveal those stories to you, but it will give you a sense of where they’ve left us today.
In Birmingham, where I currently live, a large Appalachian foothill has long served as a barrier between the poorer downtown areas and the rich suburbs found “over the mountain.” That separation can be seen here, though the mountain cannot. In bigger, more dynamic cities, the very rich and the very poor live as neighbors even without the geological curtain. Persaud points out that median income drops roughly $80,000 in the 10 blocks separating East 86th Street to East 96th Street in New York City.
These sorts of dramatic juxtapositions in wealth jump out right away. The map becomes a bit more difficult to read when you’re looking at areas where the disparity isn’t quite as drastic (which is supposed to be wealthier, pea green or puke green?) Still, the data on display here is fascinating on a number of levels, and poring over it in this form can be an unexpectedly eye-opening experience. You’d think that reducing so many lives in so many places to a handful of shades of green and red would be the most impersonal way to get the point across, but the satellite-eye of Google Maps offers us a new perspective on the matter. In real life, the bad part of town could be a half-mile away. Seen here, it’s right next door.
We love fruits and vegetables around here. But I despise having to throw away food that has gone bad! Ugggg! Here are some great tips from Organic Gardening:
12 Fruits and Vegetables That Last for Months
Do you routinely throw $5 bills away just for kicks? Probably not. And very few of us light candles with dollar bills, no matter how much we may have loved Scrooge McDuck.
But that’s basically what you’re doing whenever you go grocery shopping. According to a recent report from the Natural Resources Defense Council, 40 percent of the food that’s grown and sold in the United States is wasted—if we cut food waste by just a third, we could feed every hungry person in the country. That waste comes to the staggering cost of $2,275 per year, for a family of four. The biggest loss category? Fresh produce. Just 48 percent of what’s produced is eaten. The rest heads to landfills (or the compost pile).
Another report from the United Nations pointed the finger, in developed countries at least, squarely at grocery stores and consumers, in part because the former pushes “great bargains” that encourage the latter to buy more than they need.
The solution, though, isn’t cutting back on your fresh produce purchases. It’s getting smarter about how you shop. Rather than load up on bags and bags of spinach that will wilt before you get home, for instance, buy cabbage, which will keep in your fridge for months. Instead of buying grapes and kiwis and other delicate fruits that turn brown in days, buy apples, which will last for weeks.
We’ve compiled a list of the healthiest produce that lasts virtually forever, so you can cut down on waste and yet always have fresh veggies handy for a healthy dinner.
Apples need an optimal temperature of 30°F to 32°F—just 10 degrees warmer, and they’ll ripen twice as fast. If you want your apples to last for weeks, keep them in a plastic bag in your fruit crisper drawer, away from vegetables (the ethylene gas they emit will cause other vegetables to ripen faster).
Bonus tip: Eat the largest apples in your bag first; they’re usually the first to go bad.
Eat This: The Best Applesauce You’ve Ever Had
Beets can last between 2 and 4 months in the refrigerator. First, cut off the greens if they’re still attached, and then store them in a perforated plastic bag in your vegetable crisper.
Dig Deeper: The Beauty of the Beets
Cabbage tastes best when it’s fresh, but it can last for up to 2 months wrapped in plastic in your fridge. Use it as a stand-in for lettuce or other delicate leafy greens in salads, since most salad greens wilt within days due to their high water content.
The key to making carrots last is keeping them dry, as they give off a lot of moisture, which causes them to rot more quickly. If you buy carrots in a plastic bag, place a paper towel in the bag to absorb any moisture and change it whenever it gets saturated. This can keep them fresh for a few weeks to a few months.
Web Extra: Purple Carrots?
A root vegetable available mostly at farmers’ markets, celeriac is the root of celery plants and has a mild celerylike flavor. Celeriac likes moisture, so store it wrapped in plastic on the bottom shelf of your refrigerator. Even after it’s cut, celeriac will keep for another week if wrapped well.
Learn More: 4 Extraordinary Root Vegetables
Garlic keeps longest when stored at 60º to 65ºF and moderate humidity. Unless you have an older, very dry home, your garlic should do fine in a dark kitchen cabinet. You can also store whole bulbs in the fridge in a paper bag (cut garlic will make all your other food taste like garlic), where the bulbs will last for months. Just be aware that once garlic has been in the cold, it will start sprouting within days after being brought to room temperature. So if you store it this way, keep it in the fridge till just before you’re ready to use it.
Go For It: Grow Your Own Garlic
Store onions in a dry area where the temperature stays between 30ºF and 50ºF, and they’ll keep for up to a year. If you don’t have a place like that, keeping them in mesh bags (like the kind used to package grocery-store onions) and storing them in a dark cabinet will let them last for up to a month, and perhaps longer.
Eat This: Caramelized Onion and Sweet Potato Soup
The ideal storage temperature for potatoes is 40ºF, which is on the warm end of most home refrigerators, and they don’t like light, which can cause them to turn green. Basements or cellars usually provide perfect potato-storage conditions that will keep them from rotting for between 2 and 4 months. Keep them away from onions and apples, wherever you store them, as both emit gases that speed up the ripening process.
Bonus tip: Sweet potatoes don’t last very long in storage, so eat those within a week of purchase.
Garden Geek: 7 Ways to Plant Potatoes
Winter radishes, like the daikon variety you might see at grocery stores, are much more pungent than the red varieties you get on spring salads, so don’t load up on too many if you’re looking for a healthy supply of fresh veggies. Store them as you would carrots, with their greens removed and in a plastic bag accompanied by a paper towel to absorb moisture. They’ll last for up to a month.
Learn More: The New Status of the Radish
Pumpkins, butternut squash, and other varieties of hearty winter squash will last between 2 and 6 months if kept in a dark cabinet. Keep all your squash in a single layer in your cabinet so air can circulate around them.
Rutabagas are great sources of vitamins A and C, potassium, and fiber, and the fact that they can last up to a month in your refrigerator makes them good candidates for stocking up. Store them as you would celeriac, wrapped in plastic on a low shelf in your fridge.
When all else fails, head to the frozen-foods aisle. Because they are frozen within hours of being picked, frozen vegetables can be even healthier than fresh versions of spinach, asparagus, peas, and other veggies that don’t last very long in storage. And you never have to worry about them going bad!
Wow! These pictures of snowflakes almost don’t look real! Exceptional! From DeMilked:
While splashing our way through piles of snow, we hardly ever consider how unique its components actually are. Thanks to Andrew Osokin’s macro photography we can take a glimpse at the miniscule snowflakes from up close. The Moscow-based photographer demonstrates incredible patience that has to be a prerequisite in order to capture such stunning shots of the objects, which might melt shortly after touching the ground.
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