Thursday Odds and Ends

It's time again for a few strange, useful and amusing tidbits:

Birds in the Bath - Some of you really enjoyed the hawk video from last week.  CBS News has released a new one, this time showing birds bathing.  Backyard birdbath antics always look so  enthusiastic.  Watching them in slow-motion is even more entertaining with sparkling water droplets careening off wing tips and busy birds looking downright enraptured. You can find the clip at: Watch a "Bird Bath" in Slow Motion   

Ladybugs at the mall - If you've ever been plagued by aphids (and who hasn't), or been curious about the effectiveness of introducing beneficial insects into your landscape, you'll love this: The Mall of American has been doing some hiring lately -- kinda. On Earth Day 2013, they released 72,000 ladybugs into the Bloomington, Minn. complex as permanent residents to patrol the over 400 trees and 30,000 live plants for aphids and other insect marauders. Ladybugs are natural predators for aphids.  I say -- eat up guys! Have at it. For more information about the project, visit: The International Business Times.

As a side note, all those trees and plants in the mall perform an important function. They're a natural indoor air filtration system that provides real benefits. A NASA study a few years ago discovered that many plants remove volatile organic compounds (VOCs) like formaldehyde from the air as a natural function of photosynthesis. This works at the Mall of America, and it can work at your house too.Don't leave all the plants in your garden this season. Adopt some houseplants. Some fun and easy to care for options are: spider plant, pothos, jade plant, snake plant and iron plant.  All will tolerate a variety of light conditions and will survive neglect (within reason).

The Dirtiest Produce - A new list of the most pesticide laden produce has been released by the Environmental Working Group. You've probably read about past lists. A growing concern is that the chemical residues in fresh produce aren't just clinging to the skins of fruits and vegetables to be rinsed or scrubbed away. They're inside the parts we eat -- down deep where they can't be removed. Of course, this is an excellent reason to grow your own produce or rely on local organic growers. Although the release of these lists always causes a temporary spike in concern, it pays to learn the facts and endorse safer agribusiness through your day to day buying habits. Here are some of the biggest offenders:

Nectarines (imported)
Grapes (imported)
Sweet bell peppers
Blueberries (domestic)

Do you love gardening? - Chaya Kurtz over at Networx has put together a lighthearted list of reasons to love gardening.  It's in the form of a slideshow with funny captions.  Some are right on target, while other are refreshingly goofy.  If you're in the middle of a coffee break, it's worth a few seconds of your time.  You'll find it here:  13 Reasons to Love Gardening 
The large weave and textural look of burlap.

Build it with burlap - Burlap is an all-natural jute fabric with lots of applications. This one may come in handy if you're planting seeds outdoors soon:  Use burlap as a row cover over shallow seed plantings.  It will keep the soil in place- - and warmer. It will also protect seeds from birds. Seedlings will poke right through it (burlap is loosely woven), and the fabric will deteriorate and become organic matter in the soil over the course of the season.  Think of it as classy mulch that actually stays where you put it. Tack it down with garden fabric pins (that look like huge hair pins), or use small stones.  A burlap treatment for your flowerbeds looks very structured and attractive, especially around a deck or patio. You can find burlap for around $3 a yard or so at craft outlets and variety stores like Walmart.

Photo1 - BirdBath_Wiki.jpg By NatJLN (20070610_bird-bath  Uploaded by Snowmanradio) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Photos 2 and 3 - Courtesy of


  1. Love the burlap idea!!!

  2. A simple burlap sack (sewn on three sides tied with raffia) makes a great pot cover for large deck or patio plants.


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