Archive for March, 2010

T Minus 1 Day Until 30 Days of Biking

Uploaded on March 24, 2010
by Individual_romance

Have you made the pledge?

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The Buckthorn invasion continues

You’ve heard of Buckthorn right? The beautiful, yet nasty shade tree that is often used as a hedge is quickly becoming the invasive plant scurge of Minnesota and in many cases it is already threatening our native ecosystem.

A bill that would allow cities to make Buckthorn removal mandatory has been put on hold.
Strib reports

A bill that would let cities require property owners to battle the invasive shrub has advanced in the House but stalled in the Senate. Among the concerns? That for one property owner in particular — the state — clearing the plant could consume more resources than are available.

The bill is sponsored by Rep. Paul Gardner, DFL-Shoreview, but is the inspiration of an 85-year-old North Oaks woman who has gamely battled buckthorn on her property and has channeled her considerable energy to getting it out of her wooded city.

“The injustice is even if you clear your property yourself, [your yard] still can be reseeded by people who have the buckthorn and have ignored it,” said Joan Brainard, noting that birds spread the seeds.

Gardner’s bill would have taken a larger swipe, by giving cities statutory authority to “adopt an ordinance to eradicate buckthorn on all public and private property within its geographic boundaries.”

Sadly, considering the State budget woes, it was probably a wise move to table the bill for now.
I can attest to the nastiness of trying to remove this plant. It grows along my fence lines and removal has been a growing issue for my since I bought the house 3 years ago, not only do the berry seeds have an incredible rate of turning into a tree, but the wood is notoriously hard and quickly dulls chainsaw blades.

Have you done battle with Buckthorn?

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Welcome to the new week


Photo Development-3 uploaded on March 20, 2010 by PhotoPatzer

Now get to work.

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Citypages Wine Tasting Tonight

More info.

We want street food!

There’s been a lot of griping over the last few years (myself included) about the lack of street food vendors in the Twin Cities and the obstacles the seemingly arbitrary regulations faced by someone looking to start a street food business. (think St.Paul’s rule on taco trucks having to change locations)

Sheila Regan of TC Daily Planet covers the recent bruhaha in Minneapolis with Street vendors coming to downtown Minneapolis?

Minneapolis’s Regulatory Services and Public Works Committee on March 22. After hearing testimony pro and con, the committee voted to forward to the City Council, without recommendation, an amended ordinance that would allow 25 street food vendors to set up their businesses in downtown Minneapolis. In the next two weeks, city staff will make changes to the proposed amendment related to issues brought up at the public hearing.

As you might expect T.C. food guru Andrew Zimmern has something to say and in his column titled Moron Awards he lets loose on local favorite Hell’s Kitchen.

Most ironically the article included a quote from Cynthia Gerdes of Hell’s Kitchen who opined that “I paid $33,000 in rent last month, and now I have to compete with someone who pays $400 a year for their food license?” What a bone headed idea that is. How is this any different than any other business? If you choose (and yes, it is a choice) to pay $33,000 in rent then you are crazy. Second, these types of complainers already compete with those paying less overhead and have been for as long as there have been restaurants. Third, a falafel cart selling 100 sandwiches at lunch helps businesses in the same way that restaurants on the same block help each other to grow business. Fourth, HK is getting into the mobile food game so its unfairly hypocritical, and fifth, based on my visit there last Sunday for brunch, the biggest problem HK has is not the burgeoning groundswell of support for mobile food carts. It’s their own food and service, which have gone downhill in a big way over the last year.

What a disaster of a meal…rude greeting, a 40-minute wait for food, missed items on our order, major service missteps, six out of seven cold plates of food, and inedible items (truly). And the most puzzling of all: Even if you think its kitschy to have your servers wear pajamas, the least you can do is insist they are clean, not pilled, stained, and wrinkled. What a turnoff.

Ouch.
I don’t care what universe you’re from, that’s gotta hurt.

What kind of street food would you like to eat?

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How Green Was My Garden: Let’s get it started in here

“Everyone who enjoys thinks that the principal thing to the tree is the fruit, but in point of fact the principal thing to it is the seed. — Herein lies the difference between them that create and them that enjoy.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

Seedstarting. Not too long ago it was only for hardcore gardeners with casual gardeners usually purchasing seedlings ready to plant from big garden centers.  But the rebirth of vegetable gardening, especially urban gardens, has caused a huge surge in seed sales & folks trying their hand at seedstarting. 

Locally Mother Earth Gardens has offered seminars on seedstarting for years but in the past two the free seminars have reached capacity for reservations as soon as they are announced.  Their beginning seminars are full of people who are just starting their gardens as well as those who have never started their garden from seed before.  The seminars were so successful the neighborhood garden store added an advanced seminar. 

Advanced Seedstarting Seminar from Mother Earth Garden

During the advanced seminar we shared stories about how long we’ve been gardening, the best gardening books, and most of the time was spent sharing each gardener’s tips for everything on fruit trees, pruning raspberries and of course pest control. 

Seedstarting is simple once you have the right tools.  The most common mistake is hoping that sunlight in Minnesota is sufficient for good germination & plant growth.  The spring sun locally is not good enough and must be supplemented with grow lights.  There are many more options this season than ever before for setting up the best light system for your seeds.  I purchased hanging lamps  and just use a wire rack shelf from Target for all the trays but if you would rather have a ready-made system there are many options available, though they tend to be a bit expensive. 

The other key to good seedstarting is heat.  I keep my seeds in the utility room next to the water heater & furnace so it gets very warm in there. But there are many heat mats available as well to help you maintain that warmth. 

Humidity control is also important for good germination of your seeds, so making sure you have the plastic greenhouse lids on your trays until they are big enough for thinning out is key.  Different shapes available from large domes for bigger plants & short ones to greenhouse shaped units

Moisture is the final key to good seedstarting.  The plastic domes will help you maintain good water levels in your soil but you need to maintain tht with proper watering, not too wet (seedlings will rot & be suceptible to damp off) and not too dry.  Watering from above is okay as long as the spout on your watering can disperses the water without disturbing the soil.  Or you can water from below in the trays, just make sure you only water enough for the plugs to absorb & they aren’t sitting in standing water. 

Seeds at Mother Earth

The biggest advantage to seedstarting yourself is the increased selection of plants you can choose.  There are so many heirloom varieties and unique hybrids to choose from when using seeds that would never be available at your farmer’s market or garden store.  I usually purchase some seeds in stores in my neighborhood like Minnehaha Falls Nursery or Mother Earth & supplement those with ordering from garden catalogs.  The best part of February is pouring over my seed catalogs to choose what I will grow this year. 

 

This year I am adding some new lettuce varieties as well as a melon, interesting cabbage & brussels sprouts & filet beans to my garden, things that would only be affordable and even found through seed catalogs. 

Some good choices for organic seed catalogs include  Minnesota’s own Peter’s Seeds, TomatoFest, Botanical Interests, John Scheepers, Seeds of Change, and Seedsavers

It is a bit late for starting some veggies from seed, like onions & leeks, which I started in late February.  But in the right conditions you should be able to still get your seeds started on most all other vegetables now and early April.  The University of Minnesota Extension service has a great guide for a good seedstarting schedule. 

Because of our early warm weather you can get a jump start on direct sowing on things like peas, lettuce, radish, spinach and carrots.  You can just put those directly in your pots or raised beds, or in the ground if it is in a sunny location and has warmed up enough. It is best to wait just a bit longer on things like squash & beans because as we all know in Minnesota there is always a chance for more cold, including a hard frost or snow. 

So if you have never grown your plants from seeds, it is very easy & affordable with a few tricks & tips.  There will always be crop failures, it happens to nurseries too. But you can still be successful & have the great satisfaction of growing your own food from seed to table and have a fantastic variety of flowers too! So what are you growing from seed this year?

30 Day of Biking

With the tag line “We ride our bikes. every. friggin. day.” a new group of cyclists is born, 30 days of biking

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M9U-Rzd7Lqs[/youtube]

The only rule for 30 Days of Biking is that you bike every day for 30 days, then tweet about your adventures with the tag #30daysofbiking. Event starts on April 1 and ends on April 30! Several participants will be in the Ironman long-distance bike ride on April 25. There will be a party at month’s end (form yet to be determined) to celebrate this.

“Does around the block count?”

On Twitter, @ChaseThisBear asks, “Does around the block count [for #30daysofbiking]?” Our answer: Absolutely. You can bike as much or as little as you want; the key is to get out on your bike and go somewhere every day in April, whether to work or the store. 20 miles or one. And then document it on Twitter with #30daysofbiking.

Trust, though, that you won’t be able to stop at a block.

It’s spring people, how about putting some peddle in your your step and joining the clan?

I’d like to dedicate this song to my bikes.
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tzFoZ-I6O-4[/youtube]

Minnesota ranks 28th in penis size.

Last week Condomania made stats available from it’s database of penis sizes which it measured in length and girth. It listed the top twenty cities by population and penis size and ranked the states accordingly.

Minnesota shows up fair to middling at 28th while our neighbor Wisconsin aka “tiny” comes in at 31st.

Huffpost has the rankings

What’s been your experience?

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Hennepin County hearts spying on you

With the massive healthcare debate going on Hennepin County has decided to fly under the radar and approve a twice denied request for KingFish cell phone tracking equipment.

According to the Strib This time, Stanek lands KingFish phone tracker

After twice coming away with nothing, Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek received approval Tuesday to funding for a controversial tracking device that can pinpoint cell phone locations even when they’re not being used.

The equipment would be used by the sheriff’s investigations bureau, according to County Board documents. “The system acts as a mobile wireless phone tower and has the capability to find, track and/or deny mobile phone service,” the documents state.

The tracking device can receive information from all cell phones that are on, even if they are not being used.

I’m certain this will not be used in an intrusive and possibly illegal manner. Though, I wonder what Ol’ Smash-and-Grab Stanek has in mind?

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One step closer to booze

I wrote about when legislators banned alcohol at the newly built TCF Stadium and most agreed of-age college students should be allowed to drink beer at games. Now it appears the Mn Legislature is having a change of heart as A Senate panel OK’d a bill allowing limited alcohol sales in TCF Stadium.

A Senate panel gave quick approval Tuesday to a plan that would let the University of Minnesota sell alcohol in some areas of the year-old TCF Bank Stadium, reversing an all-or-nothing policy that resulted in a prohibition on sales throughout the stadium.

In reviving a debate at the Legislature, Sen. Sandra Pappas, DFL-St. Paul, said the university — at a time it was facing $36 million in legislative cuts — also was losing at least $1 million a year because it did not sell alcohol at the new facility. The proposal, which would go into effect this fall, will head to another Senate panel, but still faces an uphill fight at the state Capitol.

Good? Bad? Doomed to fail again?

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