On Earth Day, Help Environment by Composting

Earth Day, observed on April 22, is a great time to take action to help our environment. One single action—composting—can benefit the environment in multiple ways. Rebuild soil health   In order to grow abundant fruits, vegetables and flowers, your garden needs soil that is healthy enough to support those plants. Soil isn’t just “dirt.”  It is composed of minerals and contains water and air. Another important ingredient is organic matter such as compost. Adding compost to soil improves the soil structure. That benefits the living things in the soil, including earthworms and insects, as well as microbes such as mycorrhizae, a beneficial fungus that plants need in order to grow well. Prevent water pollution Compost can improve the physical characteristics of the soil, which helps the soil retain water. A large cause of water pollution is stormwater runoff—rain and snowmelt that does not soak into the ground. The runoff flows over land or impervious surfaces, such as paved streets, parking lots and building rooftops. Runoff can pick up and deposit harmful pollutants such as trash, chemicals, dirt and sediment into streams and lakes, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Adding compost to your soil helps reduce stormwater runoff because compost can hold five times its weight in water, according to the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. Compost also serves as a filter and a sponge. It degrades pollutants, improving water quality. Keep food scraps out of landfills Landfills can pollute the surrounding soil, air and water. About 146.1 million tons …

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Attract Birds to Your Feeder with Mealworms

Mealworms in your bird feeder make a handy snack for wild birds who need plenty of fuel for flying, breeding and just staying warm. A bird can require up to a whopping 10,000 calories a day, according to the National Wildlife Federation. That’s equivalent to a human consuming 155,000 calories a day! Birds don’t have time for empty calories; they need foods with high nutritional content. Mealworms are a great supplemental food for birds because they pack a good amount of protein and fat, which are important parts of their diet. Adults also feed these high-quality foods to their growing babies. You may think that mealworms are a treat just for bluebirds, but many other birds like them, too. Birds that you might be able to attract to your feeder with mealworms include: American Robin Blackbirds Cardinals Chickadees Finches Grackles Nuthatches Orioles Sparrows Tufted titmouse Warblers Wrens Woodpeckers   Mealworms aren’t worms; they’re more like caterpillars. Caterpillars are the larvae of butterflies and mealworms are the larvae of a species of darkling beetle. There are two ways to get mealworms: live or dried. Live Mealworms Birds prefer live mealworms over dried mealworms. Live mealworms require some care, but it’s easy. For the mealworms’ home, get a plastic container about the size of a shoebox. Punch very small air holes in the lid. For food, add some wheat bran, small slices of potato and orange rind. Make sure there is plenty of room between your mealworms and lid to discourage escapes. …

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