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Mk Neal

pollinator
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since Feb 02, 2019
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dog forest garden fish foraging urban cooking food preservation bike
Torn between wanting a bigger garden and loving the city life.
Chicago
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Recent posts by Mk Neal

Hi Dee, your seed bank sounds just like what some are trying to start here in my neighborhood, no budget and mostly concerned with sharing seeds broadly.  People are interested in developing local landraces. Where are you located?  How long has your seed bank been operating?
4 hours ago
Anita, I feel the same as you as far as my kids defaulting to youtube for their free time!  However, I do think that if we as parents et the example by choosing to spend our time outdoors on active and constructive activities, then the kids do pick this up.  It's like serving healthy dinners--the kids may still spend their pocket money on junk food but they are learning good habits for life.

One of the reasons I have chosen to live in cities during my adulthood is because of everything you noted in your time here in the U.S.  In the city neighborhoods that pre-date the postwar car culture, commercial and residential are more mixed and the built environment is on a human scale.  So my kids can and do walk to the store and to school, and to get them to the after school program at the city park, the after school teacher fetches all the kids by foot and they walk together to the park.  Now my older kid is a teenager, and if there is a place she wants to go, she will map out the best bike route on line.

The public schools here have gotten much healthier the past decade.  They have better quality food (thanks Michelle Obama!), and my kids' school even has vegetarian option everyday. They do outdoor recess except in bad weather. There is a rain garden in the front of the school and raised beds with vegetables in the back.  A volunteer group does a birding unit with the kids where they learn about our common local birds, then take a walking excursion to nearby park and tally the birds they see.
3 days ago
Mulberries grow very fast.  If the goal is to have a productive mulberry tree on your property in a couple years, you might want to look around that tree and see if there are smaller ones nearby that would be easier to successfully transplant.  Even though they will start out smaller, they will recover faster from the transplant than a larger tree.

4 days ago
I agree with others about not keeping sugary snacks/drinks around.  If you want pastry or candy as a special treat, fine but you have to make a special effort to get it/make it.

If you bake your own goodies, you can experiment with lowering the sugar; I personally think the sugar in muffins, sweet breads, and some baked desserts can be halved and it's still plenty sweet (however, reducing sugar can affect the moisture level so experiment).  One trick to making a dessert seem sweeter when using less sugar is to top it with a drizzle or a sprinkle of something sweet.  So for example, reduce the sweetner in a fruit pie by half, but sprinkle a teaspoon of cinnamon sugar on the top crust.
4 days ago
John, as a parent of two adolescents I think you are spot on about modern trends of structured time and supervision for kids. I am a lazy parent and my kids have not had so much structured time. I was very glad when they were ready to walk themselves to school, and when I could send them to corner store for toilet paper or whatever and not have to do everything myself.  

However, I also know many parents around here are very worried that their kids will be pressured into gangs or worried that police will mistake kids goofing around for real criminal behavior with dire consequences. So I am either privileged or naive, or a bit of both.

Maybe one factor to consider is how to make a community where everyone feels safe outside.  Mollie Tibbetts and Ahmaud Aubery were both excercising outdoors and targeted by killers. Not that jogging is a statistically unsafe activity, but many do not feel safe in the outdoors because of harassment or "stink-eye" that has a hint of violence.
5 days ago

Heather Sharpe wrote: I can't even imagine how unappealing it would be for folks in more urban areas to go outside somewhere that was relaxing and pleasant.



Actually, I would not be surprised if urban residents spend more time outside.  I've spent most of my adulthood in large cities, and like many city dwellers I walk, bike, or take transit (which requires walking and waiting outside) for my commute and many daily tasks. Many city office workers eat their lunch outside in parks in nice weather. And of course there is the time honored tradition of hanging out on street corners and in alleys...

I expect many of the Americans who spend the least time outdoors live in places where outdoors spaces are either purely recreational/decorative or else utilitarian and hostile; e.g. you have to drive past the crummy vacant strip mall and the manicured gated community to get to that park where you can ride your bike in a loop around the little lake and feed the ducks/dodge the geese.  You don't walk or bike *to* the park because the only way to do so is on the shoulder of dusty highway with cars flying by  10 mph above the speed limit.

5 days ago
Blueberries may turn blue before they are fully ripe, maybe wait a little longer and see if the flavor improves?  
5 days ago
I don't have a solution, but maybe an idea of what is causing the problem.  Our basement walls and floor are always just a bit damp in hot weather due to condensation from humidity in the hot air meeting the earth-cooled surface. This sort of moisture can make oil-based finishes feel tacky.
6 days ago
Pickles add a nice Umami oomph to vegetable soups.
1 week ago
I think the bushes will do much better in the ground than in a pot,  especially in hot w weather.   Better to plant them now.
1 week ago