The best plants for pollinators

July 12, 2021 by  
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If you want to beautify your yard while simultaneously doing your little part to save the world, consider planting a pollinator garden. Even a small outdoor space can make a difference to bees, butterflies and other important pollinators. Most types of flowering plants require pollination. While wind and water are responsible for pollinating some plants , and a few are even self-pollinating, the vast majority depend on little mobile creatures. The act of a bee or other critter transferring pollen from one flower to another of the same species produces fertile seeds. Related: Biking with Butterflies: an interview with adventurer Sara Dykman Here’s what you need to know to help your local ecosystem stay abundant in plant and pollinator life. Planning your pollinator garden Shrubs, annuals and flowering perennials provide the pollen and nectar required to turn an ordinary garden into a thriving pollinator garden. Even if you only have an apartment patio, you can create a pollinator garden with container plants. More space? Even better. In addition to selecting the right plants, provide a water source for your pollinators, make space for nesting sites and don’t use herbicides or pesticides that will kill off these vulnerable creatures. Native plants are best for keeping your local pollinators happy. Plus, they’re likely to require less water than ornamental, non-native plants. Attracting butterflies So, what should you plant? That depends on which pollinators you want to attract. If you want monarch butterflies to grace your yard, the answer is easy: milkweed. According to Georgia Clay of gardening giant Monrovia , “Milkweed might be best known as being the only source of food for monarch butterfly larvae, but it is also a great source of nectar for many other species of butterflies and bees. It’s important to grow a variety native to your area in order to support monarch butterflies in your region. Search milkweed varieties here to find a variety suited to your area.” Other plants that butterflies love include alyssum, calendula, cosmos, daylilies, hollyhock, lilac, lavender, marigold, nasturtium, snapdragon, verbena, zinnia and, unsurprisingly, butterfly bush. Enticing hummingbirds Hummingbirds are amazing little creatures and so fun to watch. As Birdwatchers Digest said, you can’t have too many good hummingbird plants in your garden. Hummingbirds like colorful flowers, so plan out a continuous blooming schedule. For example, choose hanging fuchsia baskets in the spring, salvia in summer and trumpet creepers that will bloom into fall. Adjust this to your local climate, of course. Hummingbirds dig petunias, bleeding hearts, zinnia, bee balm, columbine, lupine, salvia, cardinal flower and butterfly bush. Some of their favorites are the showy and fragrant flowering plants in the Agastache genus, also known as hummingbird mint. According to Clay, “Agastache is gorgeous planted in mass and will attract loads of bees and hummingbirds to the garden. They have a long bloom time and aromatic foliage, so deer tend not to munch.” Keeping bees happy Bees, especially honeybees, are the world’s most important pollinators. About one-third of the food that we eat relies on pollination, mostly by bees. This includes avocados, soybeans, cucumbers, cherries, melons and tons of other fruits and vegetables . Commercial crops like almonds and blueberries also rely on honeybee pollination. Bees even pollinate the alfalfa and clover that cattle eat, so they contribute to the meat and dairy industries, too. Bees do a lot for us. But what can we do for the bees? The Savvy Gardening website suggests providing a mix of bee-pleasing plants for the various bee species that visit your yard. Bumblebees need big landing pads and can pop open flowers to access hidden nectar. Ideal plants include snapdragons, lupines and hooded monkshood flowers. Bumblebees have long tongues that can reach down tubular flowers like salvias and phlox. Smaller bees need smaller flowers, so pick some plants with clusters of wee blooms, such as oregano and goldenrod. Flowers with a central disc wreathed with petals — such as sunflowers, black-eyed Susans and Shasta daisies — also feed tiny bees. To keep bees around, include some plants with hollow stems in your pollinator garden. Female bees make brood chambers in hollow plant stems or in holes in the ground. They also might choose to shelter inside the stems during winter . Coneflower, raspberry brambles, ironweed, goldenrod and ornamental grasses can serve this purpose. Of coneflower, also known as echinacea, Clay said, “There are many Echinacea varieties available on the market to suit any garden. Most all have an exceptionally long bloom period and provide bees with both nectar and pollen.” Less popular pollinators While most people delight in seeing the bright colors of butterflies and hummingbirds in the garden, some pollinators are less popular. Not everybody is so charmed by bats , although they are crucial pollinators in desert and tropical climates. And many people are downright unfriendly to flies and wasps. While wasps are much more minor pollinators, they do some incidental pollination as they move pollen grains between flowers. If you love figs, those are pollinated by wasps. Without flies, our peppers, mangoes, apples and cashews wouldn’t get pollinated. So try to appreciate these little guys, too, even if you’re not actively planting to attract them. Use this handy tool to learn which pollinator plants will do well in your area of the U.S. or Canada. Images via Adobe Stock Images

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The best plants for pollinators

Arrowhead Bike Farm celebrates West Virginia biking community

July 1, 2021 by  
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When visiting Fayetteville,  West Virginia , I didn’t expect to deliberate over vegan menu options. I figured I’d be lucky to get a bag of peanuts or maybe a KIND bar. But at the  Arrowhead Bike Farm , I found vegan barbacoa tacos and more — a big outdoor space featuring picnic tables, a campground, goats, a pump track to practice your mountain biking skills and a community of outdoor adventurers. The bike farm started in 2015 with, appropriately enough, a bike shop and rental outlet, then quickly expanded. “I saw that the property was for sale and the proximity to the new (and at that time underutilized) Arrowhead Trails,” said founder/partner Rich Ireland. Once the team got through zoning requirements, they were able to add  camping  sites and the restaurant. “I always wanted to bring biergarten and biking culture like I enjoyed from my many trips abroad, especially to Bavaria.” Ireland lives an hour away in Charleston, the state capital, but likes to ride on the mountain biking trails around Fayetteville. Related: Adventuring in New River Gorge, the newest US national park Fayetteville, a town of about 2,800, is quite a cool spot, with antiquing, a historic theater, lots of restaurants and the new  Love Hope Center for the Arts . It’s even getting press as a  yoga  destination. Biking community Arrowhead Bike Farm is the place to go if you want to learn about local mountain biking trails. Its website has a  handy guide  to several trail networks, including the Arrowhead, New River Gorge, Fayetteville Park, Kanawha State Forest, Cranberry, Little Beaver State Park and Beckley YMCA trails. Options range from a 1-mile loop around City Park to the 31.5 mile New River Coal Country trail, which features a 3,086-foot ascent — and corresponding descent — and views of historical mines. Riders who want a little more guidance can book a tour with the  bike  farm. Experts also offer bike clinics. People are welcome to ride their own mountain bike on a tour or rent one from the farm. All tours conclude with a beverage of the rider’s choice. “Our bike programs are stellar, making us an incubator for future cyclists,” Ireland said. “Our customers are good mix of local  families , regional-repeat visitors and tourists. It’s a great venue for all to meet and get an idea of how friendly and warm we are here in West Virginia. We cater to the adventurer and families that have an adventurous spirit.” Customers are split between locals and visitors. Non-bikers are welcome, too. “With the proximity to nationally recognized whitewater and  rock  climbing we see more than just mountain bikers stopping by for post-adventure beers and food and camping,” said Pat Strader, part of the farm’s ownership group and owner of a Fayetteville-based marketing and advertising firm. The food and drink Since outdoor adventurers get hot and thirsty, Arrowhead’s Handle Bar + Kitchen offers a huge  beer  menu. The emphasis is on West Virginia brews, like a Devil Anse IPA from Greenbrier Valley Brewing Company in Maxwelton or a Green Tea Sour from Berkeley Springs. Biergarten aficionados will appreciate the different types of West Virginia-made bratwurst. And yes, you can get that vegan. Tacos are another menu highlight, whether that be fish, pork or the aforementioned vegan barbacoa. So what’s with all the  vegan  food in a West Virginia town with a population of 2,800? It started with the owners not wanting their few vegan friends and employees to feel left out during their annual pig roast. They put out a sign saying “vegan barbecue,” and strangers streamed in. The menu now includes three-bean salad, black bean hummus, rice and bean salad, big green salads and Asian hottie slaw — all vegan. Veg burritos and quesadillas are also available for vegetarians. Arrowhead Bike Farm goats Just beyond the biergarten and pump track live five adorable  goats . These are crowd favorites with kids and animal lovers of all ages. According to operations manager Adam Stephens, “Only one goat is left from the original adoptions. The brown one. Haygoat.” The other four — Mary, Grace, Trek and Willa — were born on the property. If you visit, be sure to say hello and give them a pet. New River Gorge National Park At the end of 2020, the nearby New River Gorge jumped from national  river  to national park status. Now the area around Fayetteville is seeing an influx of visitors who want to check out the US’ newest national park. At Arrowhead Bike Farm, the team is considering how the park will affect business. Ireland and Stephens predict business will increase by about 20%. Shrader doesn’t want to guess a number but is optimistic about the kind of visitors who will be attracted to the  national park . “I feel the designation further legitimizes the area as an adventure destination in addition to nudging people to the area that otherwise may not consider it in their planning.” Arrowhead will probably expand to meet demand, especially for more camping spots, parking spaces and rental options. The team looks forward to welcoming more visitors into this special space. “I believe it has given the  community  a place to gather and be accepted if you ride hard or not even at all,” said Stephens. “If you just like good vibes and a place to relax then come on out!” Images via Teresa Bergen / Inhabitat

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Arrowhead Bike Farm celebrates West Virginia biking community

Holiday cabin made of local materials enables the rewilding of a Devon farm

June 30, 2021 by  
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Holly Water cabin has been designed to help its owners diversify their farmland and increase local biodiversity via rewilding. The rustic structure is built from local materials, using natural building techniques. It feels both humble and luxurious, inviting occupants to connect with the landscape, local plants and animals. You may think of Dartmoor National Park in Devon, England as a wilderness area. Certainly, it boasts a sweeping moorland landscape and rugged granite outcrops. However, farming has been the main land use in Dartmoor for thousands of years. Today, over 90% of the land within the National Park boundary is used for farming. Much of this area is moorland, both open and enclosed, where livestock graze. Rewilding initiatives on some of the land seek to restore a more natural landscape and increase biodiversity. One such project is the Holly Water cabin. Related: Rent a minimalist tiny home on the edge of a lake in Austria The owners rent out Holly Water to holidaymakers and divert the profits into a rewilding project within the 4.5-acre field on which the cabin sits to bring diversity back to the land and welcome new wildlife. Clad in cedar sourced from a local mill, this tiny houses exterior has a large, pitched, corrugated roof with generous eaves. The Douglas fir frame is raised off the ground on pier foundations in order to minimize the need for concrete. It is highly insulated with jute, a plant-based insulation . A high specification membrane and envelope details provide longevity and increased energy efficiency. A charming, substantial bespoke oak kitchen runs along the back wall of the open-plan interior. At one end, a compact bathroom and cozy double bed are tucked into the gable elevation. Sliding doors open from the living space onto a sweeping larch veranda, where a copper bathtub adds to a show-stopping, sheltered outdoor space. Imagine how relaxed you’d be after bathing amongst the sights, sounds and smells of nature! The interior has been rendered in clay , a natural alternative to plaster that helps maintain a breathable building envelope to regulate humidity and temperature. The organic texture adds to the comfortable feel. As natural materials are used throughout, the cabin’s calming color palette harmonizes with the surrounding landscape. + Out of the Valley Images via Out of the Valley

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How Copenhagen handles bike jams

June 2, 2017 by  
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Bikes outnumbered cars in Denmark’s capital of Copenhagen for the first time in 2016 – a huge win for the environment . But all those bikes have led to two-wheel traffic jams that needed fixing. So the city has come up with an innovative solution: electronic information panels that help cyclists chose a clearer route. 265,700 bicycles enter Copenhagen daily, as opposed to 252,600 cars. So the city is planning to set up five electronic panels at strategic points, according to state broadcaster Danmarks Radio. Copenhagen has a 240-mile bike lane network. The five screens could help cyclists reroute to reduce bike congestion . The capital’s city hall is calling this move the first of its kind in the world. Related: Copenhagen now has more bikes than cars Head of Copenhagen’s technology and environment department Morten Kabell said, “There’s a need for improved accessibility for the growing number of cyclists who unfortunately in many places are now having to fight for space on the bike lane. We’re hoping with these new information boards to give cyclists the opportunity to choose the least congested route through the city.” The electronic panels will cost around $633,494. They’ll offer information on special events, roadwork, slow-moving traffic, and the distance to destinations. They’ll also highlight alternative routes. The screens aren’t the only way Copenhagen is looking to slash bike congestion. They’ll improve infrastructure by widening lanes already in place, improving intersection signaling, and constructing more bike-only bridges (the city currently has 17). They already have a route-planning app, ibikecph , which recently saw an update from the city on quieter, greener routes. 41 percent of people in Copenhagen bike to and from school or work. They racked up nearly 870,000 miles a day by bike in 2016. Over the past 20 years, bike traffic has increased by 68 percent in the capital. And if forecasts are correct, daily bike traffic across the city could increase by 25 percent by 2025. Via The Guardian Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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Turn any bike into an e-bike with UrbanX’s drop-in wheel

March 20, 2017 by  
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Are you intrigued by electric bicycles but already own a regular bike? UrbanX created a drop-in wheel that can turn almost any old bicycle into a cool e-bike. The wheel only takes around one minute to install and boasts an impressive range of 30 miles on a single charge. The UrbanX bike wheel simplifies e-bikes: add their wheel and you’re good to go. The product adds an additional 15 pounds to a bike, which isn’t as heavy or clunky as some electric bikes can be. The company behind the product offers the wheel in six sizes; they say it will fit 99 percent of bikes. Their compact battery charges in an hour and a half. Related: Juicer electric bikes bridge dorky environmentalism and cool-guy style https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/934648866/urbanx-convert-any-bike-to-an-electric-bike-in-60/description The company offers a 240 watt motor and a 350 watt motor. The 240W motor’s top speed is 15 miles per hour (mph) while the 350W motor’s top speed is 20mph. Bikers can also pedal as normal; UrbanX includes a three level pedal assist system that can be switched via an app. UrbanX says their product “works smarter, not harder by using an algorithm to ensure 100 percent of motor output is utilized to power your ride.” They came up with their patent-pending Sinus Algorithm Controlling System to boost the battery and motor’s efficiency. UrbanX isn’t the first company to come out with such a product; GeoOrbital also recently unveiled a bike wheel that converts bicycles into e-bikes within 60 seconds. The look of the two wheels are quite different, and UrbanX’s 240W motor wheel is much less expensive than GeoOrbital’s wheel. To help bring their product to market, UrbanX also turned to crowdfunding . With over 30 days to go, they’ve raised more than double their initial goal of $50,000 on Kickstarter . The limited early bird prices for the tires start at $299. UrbanX ambitiously says they’ll be delivering the wheels this summer. Via TreeHugger Images via UrbanX Electric Wheel Facebook

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Turn any bike into an e-bike with UrbanX’s drop-in wheel

Why House Hunting By Bike Has Real Curb Appeal

August 5, 2016 by  
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I bought my first house during an incredibly hot real estate market. If we wanted something, we had to decide now because if we waited it would get snapped up quickly by someone else. I remember house hunting and walking inside my new home for the…

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Why House Hunting By Bike Has Real Curb Appeal

Paris opens first section of a 28-mile bicycle superhighway

July 6, 2016 by  
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Paris just inaugurated its very first all-bike superhighway . So far, the thoroughfare consists of a half-mile stretch of pavement that runs along the Bassin de l’Arsenal, but by 2020 it will be just one small part of a 28-mile bicycle highway network, called the Réseau express vélo (“REVe”) , planned across the city. Rather than simply placing bike lanes on already-busy streets, the city has opted to build dedicated bike paths free of motorized vehicles — a move that’s certainly sure to encourage those too timid to travel in urban traffic. As more people bike to work each day, the hope is that the city’s notorious air pollution will be lessened. In 2015, Paris officials voted to set aside €150 million ($164.5 million) to expand and improve the city’s biking infrastructure , including REVe. The city created new traffic regulations that are more friendly to cyclists, such as allowing them to turn at some intersections without waiting for green lights. The city also plans to build new bike stands, two-way bike lanes on one-way streets, and smart traffic lights that give priority to cyclists. When you look at the numbers, it’s not surprising that city officials sought to make biking more attractive to residents. A 2014 study showed that bikes made up only 5% of the city’s daily traffic, accounting for 225,000 trips. While that may seem like a high number, it barely registers compared to the 15.5 million daily car trips made within the city. These numbers are positively dismal when compared to other European cities like Copenhagen (where cyclists account for 55% of traffic) or Amsterdam (a close second at 43%). Related: France is Paying Commuters to Bike to Work! There is one factor that helps account for the disparity here: cyclists in Paris claim they simply don’t feel safe competing with motorized vehicles on the road. While most roads in the city have bike lanes, cyclists report being pushed out of them by other vehicles using them as lanes. The new bike highways solve this problem by eliminating shared bike lanes altogether — and the city hopes that cyclists will creep up to 15% of daily traffic by 2020. Via CityLab Images via Wikimedia Commons and The Mayor of Paris

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Paris opens first section of a 28-mile bicycle superhighway

KP Cykler has created the ultimate bike for urban commuting

June 24, 2016 by  
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A human on a bicycle is still the most energy efficient way for a man to travel, even more efficient than a salmon in the sea or a condor in the sky. But this efficiency can be brought to a stop by as little as a piece of glass on the road. That’s why KP Cykler created the  Perfect Urban Bicycle on Kickstarter . Their bicycle battles punctures and maintenance while boasting vintage looks coupled with the top materials and an innovative gearing system. Based in Denmark, the cycling capital of the world, KP Cykler knows how frustrating it can be to get a puncture at a time when you cannot afford one. To avoid flat tires, they add a special layer of protection for the inner tubes in the form of puncture resistant tape as standard. Together with skinny racing tires, The Perfect Urban Bike is fast, and puncture free. To keep the bicycle looking clean, KP Cykler has used a Kick Shift hub on the bicycle. This technology was first used in 1960s and lets you shift between 2 gears by simply pedaling backwards or ‘kicking’ back on the pedals. Today the technology is making a comeback as advancements make the modern version durable and a delight to use. Not only does it look good, but because there are no shifters, nor cables, so is there no maintenance – no cables to rust inside the housing, no derailleurs to adjust. The bicycle also has a lugged steel frame, looking like something the famous Eddy Merckx would have ridden. Steel is arguably the longest lasting from the 3 modern frame materials (steel, aluminum, carbon fiber), and more flexible, absorbing bumps in the road and giving it a nice overall feel on the urban roads. Another well thought-of material in use is leather. Compared to synthetic materials, it progresses in time, fitting itself to the rider and only getting more comfortable with time. As KP Cykler uses the absolute cycling royalty – Brooks of England as their seat supplier, it might even rise in price after a few decades. If you are looking for the perfect urban bicycle for this summer then look no further. KP Cykler has really put together a beautiful Perfect Urban Bike – which will likely last you a lifetime. It is available on Kickstarter for a very reasonable $1045 , and they will even engrave your name on the bike. + + KP Cykler on Kickstarter

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KP Cykler has created the ultimate bike for urban commuting

Design for discomfort: new products could force people to stop being so lazy

March 25, 2015 by  
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Imagine an elevator that stops one floor before the one you selected, and then tells you to get out and take the stairs the rest of the way. Can you envision a lamp that only turns on when you slide your smartphone into it, thus preventing you from texting obsessively? Both are very real examples of items created by modern designers who are trying to counteract the modern culture of convenience. In an era where most people choose driving over biking, or watching TV instead of walking, designers such as  Matthias Laschke are designing subtle interventions against laziness and comfort-seeking. Read the rest of Design for discomfort: new products could force people to stop being so lazy Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: active lifestyle , biking , choose biking over driving , Design for discomfort , healthy lifestyle , human blobs , inconvenience , inconvenient design , Matthias Laschke , pleasurable troublemakers , smartphone lamp , subtle inconvenience , tough choices , uncomfortability , uncomfortable designs , unhealthy lifestyle , walking , wobbly chair , wobbly stool

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World’s top zoo organization linked to dolphin killings in Japan

March 25, 2015 by  
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Dolphin hunting in Taiji, Japan became public knowledge upon release of the documentary  The Cove . Although the dolphin hunting reportedly ended after the release of the 2009 film, new information has surfaced that led the world’s top zoo organization, the  World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA), to be accused of having a link to the killings. In Swiss court, WAZA defends the actions that effectively sanctioned one of their member organizations,  Japan Association of Zoos and Aquariums (JAZA), to hunt and slaughter dolphins en masse as part of a “dolphin management protocol.” The court proceedings will hopefully determine the level of involvement WAZA had in the killings and who holds the ultimate responsibility for the inhumane slaughter. Via The Guardian Image via Shutterstock Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: 2009 dolphin killing , dolphin hunting , dolphin killings , dolphin slaughter , japan association of zoos and aquariums , japan dolphin captures , jaza , The Cove , waza , world association of zoos and aquariums

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