MLK Quote

MLK Quote

Nature's Inspiration Movie -- Nature's Inspiration Movie: The photographs in this short video are from award-winning photographer, Ken Jenkins, and they are breathtaking. However, this video is much more than beautiful photographs! Peggy Anderson has compiled beautiful quotations from the likes of Emerson, Thoreau, and many others that truly capture the beauty of nature and solitude. Absolute must watch for nature lovers.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Who Is Invading My Garden?

Someone is coming to my garden, and destroying the fence and bird-feeder poles. I live in one of those dark-brown (almost blackish) areas of the map (below). So, no wonder bears come to our garden though it is quite an urban area (population more than 10,000; NYC skyline can be seen from here on a bright day, and NYC is about 20-25 minutes, thus 20-25 miles, away). But previously they used to climb the garden fence, but now they are ripping them off as shown in the second picture.

What do you think? Done by bears? Or something else? Raccoons, coyotes, foxes, will not have that much strength to rip apart solid wooden fences like that, I think. If bears, then why are they not climbing the small fence which they used to do? Is it a baby bear who does not know? Or it is a mother bear with cubs and the cubs are breaking apart the fences?

I hung my bird-feeders on iron-poles. Now, these poles are really strong. We will not be able to bend them unless we are like superhuman. But note how they are completely bent and destroyed. So, that's again arousing my suspicion if it is a bear since these poles are not that tall (say 4 -- 5 feet). A bear can easily stand on its hind legs and eat from the feeders as shown in the picture below. This picture was taken during the summer of 2016.

I have to now think how to provide food for my feather friends. For the time being, I am giving them suet, and hanging the suet basket in our upper deck. Hopefully, a bear will not come there.

This is end of November. Bears should be hibernating now. So, I did some online search. Apparently bears in NJ DO NOT HIBERNATE; they GO INTO TORPOR!! Hibernation means metabolism rates slow down, the animal does not have to eat, drink or defecate, and it goes into deep slumber and thus not aware of its surroundings. Torpor means metabolism rate goes down; animals do not have to eat, drink or defecate (and even if it has to, it will do so in small amount), and it sleeps but very much aware of its surroundings. Thus, we might be trekking in wilderness, during winter, thinking there are no bears; but the bears are in torpor, become very much aware of our presence and thus move out of our way. Only Mother Bears who are going to give birth or who has little babies get into dens during winter. Otherwise, they sleep/torpor among tall grasses/bush/wild-areas/meadows/fallen trees, during winter, in NJ. Though it is the largest land mammal in NJ, but it is very much scared of humans, dogs and other loud, banging noises. Bear population is steadily increasing in NJ. It being one of the most densely populated states of the USA, bears and humans practically coexist side by side. Sadly, many of them are hunted down, during summer, to keep their population at a steady level. I absolutely hate this and so much against it. Are we going to hunt down humans because our population is rising? So, who gives us the right to do so to another species? I am hoping that with a Democratic Governor (for non-American visitors to my blog, Democrats are usually pro-animal/nature/climate/environment; Republicans are usually completely against all of those) elected in NJ, bear-hunting will be stopped.

I think this year bears have not even gone into torpor. With temperature in fifties during day time, whole nature is confused. Thus, I saw a Dandellion blooming today (seeing it for the first time a Dandellion blooming at the end of November). Climate Change is very real.

I'm joining in the memes hosted by Eileen,  Rambling WoodsSt Germain's meme.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Story of My Life in 2017 and Root Vegetables (Yacon)

When did I write last for this blog? I do not even remember. Was it in 2016? 2017 passed by so fast that I can almost tell what I did for each day as the last eleven months seemed like just the last eleven minutes. This was a crazy year for me. I had to apply for a promotion to Associate Professor, and which involved writing essays and letters, collecting documents, and acquiring reference letters. I got the promotion but could not enjoy it much as my father has developed dementia, it seems. He already had Parkinson. Now the disease is deteriorating to dementia. So, we are thinking of bringing him to live with us. Our house didn't have any full-bathroom in the first floor. Since he will not be able to climb stairs, so we have remodeled our house, built a full-bathroom and the remodeling is still going on. I had so many plans for the garden this year but nothing happened as we are spending our time, money and energy on remodeling our house. I also received a grant from the university for a research, and from August till November 13, I was busy with that as our work got accepted for presentation and publication. Thus, lots of work. And, we also did other things for which lots of paper work needed to be done. I will write about those later if they become successful. And on top of all these there are also teaching, mentoring, advising, committee work, family work and all sorts of other things. But slowly everything is winding down, and thus I found some time to go into the garden and pick up whatever the garden produced. I didn't do anything for the garden -- no weeding, no watering, no planting -- but my dear garden still produced. So, today I will talk about a kind of root vegetable that I grow -- Yacon.

I grow quite a few root vegetables -- potato, sweet potato, taro, yacon, ginger, turmeric, garlic and onion (though I am not sure if garlic and onion are considered root vegetables or not) along with beet, turnip and radish (which I grow them not all the time but now and then). Here are some sweet potato and taro that I harvested this year.

Yacon is a root vegetable much like potato or Jerusalem Artichoke. It is from the Andes (Peru). It is very crunchy and has a sweeter taste (the taste is a cross between pear, pineapple, Jerusalem Artichoke, Guava). The plant, can easily grow as tall as eight to ten feet, and produces sunflower like small flowers. The plant behaves very much like a Jerusalem Artichoke plant (I have talked about JA here ). However, Jerusalem Artichoke can survive snow and below freezing temperature. It in fact needs cold to become sweeter. Yacon will die as soon the temperature freezes. You then need to harvest it. Here is the picture of the dead plant that I harvested. It might not be clear in the picture but perhaps you can understand how tall it can grow:

There is a certain procedure in harvesting Yacon. Yacon is a perennial plant. It has a mother-crown and then all the storage tubers that grow from it. We can only eat the storage tubers (I am not sure if the mother crown is edible or not), and then need to plant the mother-crown for next year's harvest. The mother-crown looks reddish in color. The edible storage tubers are chrome/pale yellow/white in color as shown in the pictures below.

I harvest the tubers. Then, I take a pot, put some soil in it; put the mother-crown in it, and cover it up with soil. I leave the pot in basement. When spring comes, I put out the mother-crown in a raised bed in the garden. It initially grows slowly; then suddenly it starts growing fast with huge (like really huge) big leaves and a thick stalk. Nothing bothers this plant. All it needs is some sunshine. Online says that it needs lots of compost. I have not experienced that yet (may be my garden soil is rich?). The tubers are full of inulin, the compound that fights against diabetes. Thus, it can be eaten by people, unlike potato, suffering from diabetes. It can be eaten raw, or fried, boiled, or baked. The only drawback of this vegetable is that it does not last long, once harvested. So, you need to cook it very fast or it will rot within 2-3 days.

Here are some flowers of 2017:

I did not give anything to the garden this year; but she gave me in abundance.