Protecting the bees – A Brief Guide

There is a whopping 90 percent of the plants that rely on pollinators for the purpose of reproduction and fertilization. And of all the pollinators that exist in the world, Bees are in fact, the most important of all these pollinators. But these most important pollinators are in trouble, and these troublemakers are none other than we humans. As a result of widespread urbanization and deforestation, their natural habitats have been destroyed. Not only has the cutting of trees and plants destroyed habitats, but the modern plantation patterns have also changed and have impacted their habitats in a big way as well. The cultivation of mono-crops such as maize, soy, etc. have made our soils full of poisonous chemicals.

Since the pollinators play a very important role in the cultivation and spread of plant vegetation, it is important to protect these pollinators. There are several ways of protecting the Pollinators, which we will discuss in the next section.

Some Suggestions You Could Use

Pollinators are absolutely necessary for the cultivation and growth of winter squash crops – the honeybees are the most required and necessary among them. Since there had been a decrease in the quality of pollination, the overall yields and productions have decreased substantially. Of late, there has been a drastic decline in the population of honeybees. But thankfully, there are steps and measures to protect these pollinators. Listed below are a few suggestions and ways of protecting pollinators. These include:

1. Plant a mix of other herbs and flowers to attract pollinators

It is advised to plant a variety of herbs and flowers in and around the garden so that these flowers and herbs attract a lot of other types of pollinators. This is to ensure that the bees and other pollinating agents are attracted to these plants so that they are available in ample amounts.

2. Use pesticides judiciously

Make sure that the pesticides are used very sparingly and only when it is absolutely required. Using pesticides when bees and other pollinating agents are not so active ensures that they do not get harmed. And they keep coming to your gardens more often.

3. Maintain and keep the garden well-kept

Make sure that your garden is kept well and groomed well so that the flowers keep blooming throughout the garden, attracting more pollinators to your garden. It is a well-known fact that the bees get attracted to the flowers. So keep the flowers blooming and fill your garden with pollinators.

4. Plant various perennial plants

Ensure that you plant a combination of perennial plants such as shrubs, bushes, alliums, trees, alliums, herbs, flowers, etc. These types of plants flower throughout the year in all seasons, and that keeps the bees thronging your garden at all times in every season. So for all those buzzing bees in your garden, consider planting these plants in your gardens.

5. Do not use herbicides

Using herbicides will kill the herbs that are growing in your garden. Try to achieve a meadow look for your lawns by planting a wide range of flowering plants such as alfalfa along with the perennial clover plants.

 Provide bee houses in your yard
Provide bee houses in your yard

6. Provide bee houses in your yard

You can take this additional step to construct bee houses at various portions of your lawn. This could be on a tree just above the stretch where there are flowers in your lawn. Or you can decide to place them across the lawn. This would ensure that they stick around on your lawn. Providing them with a proper shelter also ensures the bees and other pollinators are protected from predators such as birds, reptiles, etc.

7. Arrange for safe feeders for the bees

During the drought season, if the bees and other pollinators do not get ample food, they will have to go to other places in search of food. So, make sure that you provide your bees with food that they are otherwise looking for outside. Provide them with sugar, water, and nectar as food, that they can have their food when they want. Arrange for a safe feeder and provide them with the food. This would ensure that the bees do not go anywhere and are right there in your lawns.

The Conclusion

Pollinators are undoubtedly the most important agents in the cultivation of many crops and plantations, and as such, there is a need to preserve these pollinators.

Using this brief guide, you sure can save and attract pollinators to your lawns and gardens and help in the preservation and protection of the environment. Try these suggestions today and watch your landscapes getting better and beautiful.

Northern Meteorological Seasons – Everything You Should Know

The classification of the calendar in four groups of three months based on the prevailing temperature conditions is said called Meteorological seasons. This is a more precise way of segmenting the year.

So what are these seasons, and why are these seasons important? In this piece, we will try finding some answers to those questions. According to meteorological studies, all the seasons start on the first day of all months that either includes a solstice or an equinox. Based on the above, the seasons are grouped as:

  • The Spring season starts from March 1st to May 31st.
  • The summer season starts from June 1st to August 31st.
  • The Fall or Autumn starts from September 1st to November 30th.
  • The Winter that runs from December 1st to February 28th or 29th.

Let’s have a closer look at these four seasons.

Spring Season (March 1st to May 31st)

After the dreadful and cold winter season, this is the most sought after time of the year. When the flowers start blooming, and the sun is out with its subtle brightness – this season truly marks the beginning of a beautiful Season. This is the season when the entire landscape comes back to life. The sunlight is strong, and the temperatures begin to rise slightly and the days start to get longer. The weather can change from sunny to dry to wet in a moment during this season. This season is truly the season that catches every romantics’ attention.

In this season, you will find some trees blossoming and many low growing plants full of beautiful flowers. This is the time when all animals that had gone into their winter hibernation come out of their hideouts to enjoy the season. Many other animals and birds return home from their winter venues and start their breeding. Overall the weather is extremely pleasant, and there are glistening greenery and colorful blossoms and flowers all around.

Summer Season (June 1st to August 31st)

After the Spring follows the summers. Summer is the hottest time of the year when temperatures soar and can become uncomfortable. The temperatures may not drop much even after the sun goes down. The sky is clear, the sun is shining bright and hot, and it becomes difficult to stay out in the hot sun for long. This is, however, that time of the year when most of the game seasons are planned and played as the weather is clear. So, it is one of the high octane times of the year.

This is that time of the year when the trees are full of loads of leaves, and every plant is full of flowers. People spend most of their time outdoors enjoying the sunny days outside. You will see tourists flocking to many beach cities to catch some sunlight.

Fall or Autumn Season (September 1st to November 30th)

This is the season when the temperatures start falling again. You will see increased rainfall in some areas. This is the season when the trees start shedding their leaves. Many high altitude animals start growing fur as a preparation for the upcoming winter season, and many gain weight before they can get into a long winter season sleep called hibernation.

In this season, plants become less active and get dormant. This season witnesses some cultural harvest festivals, and in America, Thanksgiving is an important homecoming festival celebrated in this season.

Winter Season (December 1st to February 29th)

Here comes the season of chills. This is the coldest season characterized by short days and long cold nights. Trees lose their leaves and get inactive and dormant during the winter. Many animals enter a state of hibernation and start their deep sleep. Other animals move or migrate to warmer regions. People need to wear thick clothes to keep themselves warm. The winds are freezing and brings ice and snow or even cold rains at times.

This is that phase and time of the year when every creature – animal, plants, life takes a backseat. The landscape and the scenery go in a state of slumber, and many places get covered with snow or ice.

Conclusion

Knowing about these seasons is extremely important for many aspects of human lives. Knowing about the weather and its patterns beforehand helps in planning crops and their harvesting, horticulture, and garden planning, and to stay prepared for storms and bad weather or any eventualities.

So now that you are aware of these four weather seasons, you will now be able to plan things better based on the season. So next time when you plan a holiday or want to go to watch a game, you would know when to plan one.

Health And Beauty – Baking Soda for Healthy Teeth

Baking Soda (Sodium bicarbonate ) is one of the most commonly available and inexpensive things that can be used in almost every cleaning application. Whether, you want to clean the dishwasher, or clean your beds and mattresses or carpets for that matter, baking soda is a mild multipurpose chemical that can be used for most purposes.

But did you know that you can use baking soda to keep your teeth healthy as well?

Well, this may be news to you but brushing your teeth with baking soda works like magic for cleaning and whitening your teeth.

In this article, we will look at how this you can use baking soda:

Using Baking Soda For Cleaning Your Teeth

Using toothpaste clean your teeth and to prevent the formation of plaque and other germs on your teeth with regular brushing. However, there are other good choices which can be used to brush your teeth, such as  baking soda instead of toothpaste, or as an accompaniment to toothpaste.  you need to keep certain things in mind.

Baking soda is an excellent abrasive cleaner. This is the reason why it can work well with your teeth. But be sure not to use a stiff toothbrush with baking soda and also ensure that you do not scrub too hard. This can wear out your teeth and gums. You may also feel a slight burning feeling in your gums after brushing with baking soda. The texture of baking soda can feel gritty to some people, but I have never found this to be much of an issue if you use baking soda as an additive to you existing toothpaste. Simply add a light sprinkling to the top of your toothpaste.

Having said that, when used in the right proportions, baking soda can prove to be extremely beneficial. In fact, many kinds of toothpaste include baking soda as an ingredient during the manufacturing process. Most of the formulated toothpaste has fluoride as an essential component in the toothpaste that helps in the strengthening of teeth. For best results, first do normal brushing with a formulated toothpaste followed by brushing with some baking soda.

Since pure baking soda does not contain any fluoride traces or any other ingredients, the American Dental Association (ADA) has yet not approved baking soda to be used as a sole ingredient in toothpaste. However, the ADA does allow the use of baking soda as one of the ingredients in the toothpaste.

Using Baking Soda For For Whitening Your Teeth

Apart from cleaning, you can use baking soda for whitening your sad yellow teeth as well. If you have been worried about the yellow stains on your teeth, using baking soda can be one of the options you can try to get rid of your teeth stains.

The composition of baking soda makes it a perfect whitening agent. It is abrasive, and when rubbed against the surface of the teeth, they can remove all the stains by sanding off the yellow stains formed due to tea, coffee, smoking, etc. Make sure that you do not rub or brush your teeth excessively for that may damage the teeth enamel.

You can use baking soda as an alternative toothpaste or powder at least once a day. Just sprinkle it on your toothpaste when you brush. Alternatively, you can brush your teeth with your usual toothpaste and then do a second round of brushing with baking powder alone. Choose the frequency based on the requirements.

When the patients want to achieve teeth whitening, they are looking forward to lightening the teeth shades. With the use of baking soda, though you will see results, they may not be comparable to results that you may get when using a professional preparation meant for the same. So, it is always advisable to opt for a professional product for quick and foolproof results.

Is Baking Soda a Good Option for cleaning Your teeth?

Baking Soda is truly an inexpensive, tried, and tested way of keeping your teeth healthy. You can just pick up that long unused box of baking soda from one of your kitchen shelves, sprinkle some on your toothpaste and try it out. Or you can use it along with your current toothpaste as a teeth whitening remedy.

And either way, it is going to be an option that is going to be worth it after all. Even if it did not make your teeth shiny white, it sure would not harm your teeth in any way.

Conclusion

Today, many kinds of toothpaste have baking soda as an ingredient in them, and many baking soda manufacturers are now making toothpaste too.

So, if you are not already using a toothpaste that contains baking soda, including baking soda as an ingredient in maintaining your oral health makes sense. Especially if you are not already using a toothpaste that contains baking soda, so head for the kitchen and try it out today. You may be pleasantly surprised by the results of adding baking soda to your dental care regiment.

Cooking – Is Sour Cream Yogurt?

bowl of sour cream and fresh vegetables
bowl of sour cream and fresh vegetables

No, it isn’t. Sour cream is an ingredient that was invented in Eastern and Central Europe that is made when dairy cream is mixed with bacteria that produce lactic acid. This creates a thick tart-like substance. It is used for dips, to thicken sauces, garnish soups and potatoes, and come up with a creamy frosting. Usually, it is used just when a meal is about to be ready.

On the other hand, yogurt is obtained when there is the fermentation of certain microorganisms found in milk. There are many types of yogurt including low-fat, no-fat, frozen, drinking, creamy, bio, and Greek yogurt.

How Does Sour Cream Differ from Yogurt?

Sour cream is different from yogurt in a few ways, such as how they are made. While sour cream is made up of cream while yogurt is made up of milk. Both sour cream and yogurt need bacteria to be created. However, the types of bacteria each one uses also differ.

Bacteria used to turn cream into sour cream: Streptococcus cremoris, Leuconostoc dextranicum, Streptococcus lactis, Leuconostoc citrovorum, and Streptococcus diacetilactis.

Bacteria used to turn milk into yogurt: Lactobacillus lactis, Lactobacillus bugaricus, Streptococcus thermophilus, and Lactobacillus helveticus.

Sour cream is used as a condiment while yogurt is used as normal food to be eaten.

Yogurt dates back to more ancient times than sour cream.

Pasteurization is enough when making yogurt, while re-pasteurization is required to make sour cream.

What Are Some Common Cooking Substitutes for Sour Cream?

As said before, sour cream has many uses in the kitchen such as serving as a condiment for cooked and baked foods. Given its high-fat content, taste, and dairy content, some people may decide to use cooking substitutes for sour cream such as:

  • Greek yogurt (lower in calories and fat than sour cream)
  • Cottage cheese (it has fewer calories and fat as well as more protein than sour cream)
  • Creme fraiche (similar to sour cream but it has a milder taste)
  • Buttermilk (it has a similar taste to sour cream, but it is liquid in nature so it can be used as dressings)

Cooking – Sour cream alternatives

Sour cream is one of the most amazing ingredients that can be used in many recipes. On certain occasions, a person will not prefer this ingredient like in the case of milk allergy or lactose intolerance. There are other reasons like the unavailability of sour cream. If you do not want to use sour cream, there are many best sour cream substitute alternatives.

Yogurt

Yogurt can be used as a substitute for sour cream in many recipes. There are only two issues which include taste and texture difference. Yogurt is not sour enough and not as thick as sour cream. Using the Greek yogurt and adding vinegar in the yogurt can resolve this issue.

Cream cheese

This is a really good alternative to the sour cream because it has a familiar taste. You just have to take the cream cheese and blend it in a way that it gets the consistency of sour cream. You have to be careful as you should keep the consistency constant.

Coconut milk

It has a good consistency and vegan people can also use it. The only exception is the taste. You have to add vinegar or lemon juice to get a similar taste. If you are allergic to milk, this can provide good plant-based fatty acids also.

Soy cream

People who are allergic to milk and want something with more protein content, they can use soy cream. There are certain Soy-based creams available in the market. You can use the same amount of soy cream in place of sour cream.

Buttermilk

There is no special advantage of using buttermilk instead of sour cream. It is only good because it is commonly available in Asia and it is natural. You can use this ingredient when sour cream is not available. You have to avoid the buttermilk also if you have a milk allergy.

Cooking – Sour Cream Vs. Yogurt

Sour Cream Vs. Yogurt

There are many adults, even among cooks, who don’t know the difference between sour cream and yogurt. As such, we are here to clarify this common misconception.

There are quite a few dairy products that are white and sour, as such, it is not so strange that there is oftentimes quite a lot of confusion. And if we are completely honest, sour cream and yogurt can be hard to differentiate from the distance. However, taking a closer look, they do differ in texture, smell, taste, and, most importantly, in their behavior when used in cooking.

What is Sour Cream?

Sour cream is a fermented dairy cream. By introducing a specific type of bacterial culture to the dairy cream, the fermentation process is initiated. During the process, bacteria produce acid, flavor, and add thickness. The process is stopped by re-pasteurizing the cream and essentially killing the bacteria.

Bacteria used to turn cream into sour cream: Streptococcus cremoris, Leuconostoc dextranicum, Streptococcus lactis, Leuconostoc citrovorum, and Streptococcus diacetilactis.

What is Yogurt?

The yogurt-making process is very similar to the one described above; however, the initial ingredient is not dairy cream but milk and different type of bacteria are used. In addition, the types of bacteria used to make yogurt don’t require re-pasteurization.

Bacteria used to turn milk into yogurt: Lactobacillus lactis, Lactobacillus bugaricus, Streptococcus thermophilus, and Lactobacillus helveticus.

The Main Difference Between Sour Cream and Yogurt

Yogurt is very high in nutritional value compared to sour cream. It also contains way less fat and is as such a healthier choice. On average, there is about 10% of fat in yogurt and twice as much in sour cream.

Cold Dishes

As yogurt and sour cream are rather similar, they are interchangeable when applied in cold dishes or used as a garnish. Though, you should keep in mind that yogurt is normally tangier than sour cream.

Cooking

When the thermal process takes place, things are not that simple and yogurt and sour cream can’t be interchanged as freely as with cold dishes. Greek yogurt is still a good substitution, as long as you pay extra attention when simmering it.

Other Sour Cream Substitutions

Aside from Greek Yogurt, you can use buttermilk or soymilk and thicken them with softened butter to replace sour cream. Cottage cheese and cream cheese are other alternatives. Another interesting option is unsweetened evaporated milk with vinegar or lemon juice. There are also vegan sour cream alternatives available or can be made at home from scratch.

Turkey Cooking Times

So, what is the cooking time for a turkey? This is a common holiday cooking question.

General Rule For Cooking A Turkey

As a guide, cook your thawed turkey 20 minutes per pound, but the actual cooking time will differ depending on whether your turkey is stuffed and the actual oven cooking temperature. 

Note:

  • For food safety reasons: It is strongly recommended that stuffing on the side and cook the turkey unstuffed.
  • Plus, you can actually cook more stuffing if you have a large enough dish and sufficient ingredients, than the inside of a turkey would have the capacity to hold.

How long to cook a turkey

  • The times on the chart below are based on the turkey being placed a preheated ( 350o F / 175o C) oven with the roasting pan on the center rack.
  • Use an oven thermometer to ensure your oven is maintaining the proper temperature, once preheated.
  • When roasting a turkey, always cook your turkey to a safe temperature (165o F / 74o C), use a meat thermometer, and check the thermometer often.

Turkey cooking times reference chart

Turkey WeightUnstuffed Roasting TimeStuffed Roasting Time
10 to 18 pounds3 to 3-1/2 hours3-3/4 to 4-1/2 hours
18 to 22 pounds3-1/2 to 4 hours4-1/2 to 5 hours
22 to 24 pounds4 to 4-1/2 hours5 to 5-1/2 hours
24 to 29 pounds 4-1/2 to 5 hours5-1/2 to 6-1/4 hours

Turkey Roasting Tips

  • Start with a completely thawed turkey; for food safety reasons, plan ahead and use the refrigerator to thaw the turkey.
  • Always Preheat your oven
  • Basting is optional if you want a browner and more even browning of the skin.
  • Cook the turkey uncovered until the skin is lightly golden and then cover loosely with a foil tent.
  • remove the foil tent for the last 45 minutes of baking to finish browning the skin.
  • The only safe test for turkey doneness is the temperature of the meat, and the turkey is cooked when the thigh meat has reached an internal temperature of (165o F / 74o C).  To get an accurate internal reading, be sure that your meat thermometer is not touching the bone.
  • If you stuffed the turkey, the stuffing must reach the temperature of (165o F / 74o C), which can result in a drier and slightly overcooked turkey
  • When the turkey is cooked, remove the turkey from the oven and allow the turkey to rest for 20-30 minutes before carving. Resting the turkey allows the juices to redistribute throughout the turkey and makes for easier carving.