1 head cauliflower
2 garlic cloves
½ cup whole milk
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
½ cup feta or blue cheese, optional

Cut 1 head trimmed cauliflower into chunks. Put in a large pot with 2 cloves crushed garlic and ½ cup milk. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, until cauliflower is very tender, about 20 minutes.

Puree cauliflower and cooking liquid in batches in a food processor until smooth. Stir in salt and pepper. Fold in cheese if desired.

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What Should I Plant?
Not all plants are created equal in the eyes of wildlife. Some plants supply a diverse menu of nutritious insects, while others sit there like a plastic Lego offering up an empty plate to the hungry bird. As a gardener, you can play a direct role in sustaining wildlife.

According to ecologists, 3-5% of the U.S. remains undisturbed habitat for plant and animals. In other words we have taken 95-97% of all land. Forty one percent is agricultural, which means we have converted 55% to cities and suburbia. Now for the first time in history, gardening has taken on a role that transcends the needs of the gardener. Like it or not, gardeners have become important players in the management of our wildlife.

Our wildlife must find food, water and shelter in our suburban habitat. The degree to which the plants in our gardens succeed in this regard will determine the diversity and numbers of wildlife that survive in managed landscapes.

What feeds the bugs that are a necessary food source for birds? Native plants. Alien ornamentals are unsuited to the insects that evolved here. They are host to none or a minimum number of insect species.

Alien plants like lilac, forsythia and boxwood are avoided by native insects, while native plant species like cherry and joypye weed are a good food source for native insect species. Manicured flower beds and neat borders offer little interest to the hungry bird. The more informal and "wild" your garden, the more hospitable your table is considered.
Here is a short list of native shrubs and the number of caterpillars and butterflies they host. 
  • cherry - 456
  • blueberry- 288
  • serviceberry- 119
  • dogwood- 115
  • arrowwood viburnum- 97
  • witchhazel- 62
  • sumac- 54
  • ninebark- 40
  • winterberry- 34
  • bush homeysuckle-33
  • yew -5

The typical suburban landscape is a highly simplified community that provide neither food nor shelter for animals.

Aster are wonderful nectar source for butterflies. They also provide food for more than three dozen species of moths and butterflies.

Birds live on a variety of plant life, frogs, insects, berries, buds, fruits and seeds, The more variety provided, the greater number of birds you will attract. House Wren photo credit: Stephanie Town

A single bur oak can support up to 534 species of insects which feed many birds. Great Crested Flycatcher photo credit: Stephanie Town 

For more information on how you can sustain wildlife with native plants.
Do your Homework:
Screen Tree Workers Carefully
I think there is a misconception that all tree companies have passed some sort of government licensing exam, similar to the state exams required to become an electrician, plumber or hair stylist. Ideally such an exam tests for a certain level of competency so you can be assured of good work and expertise. In Minnesota, there is NO such requirement to be met before one can claim to be a professional arborist. It seems that if you can spell ARBORIST, you can call yourself ARBORIST. It's a completely unregulated profession. As a result, it's up to the consumer to check a contractor's insurance and credentials.
Some contractors will simply print "fully insured" on a business card and not actually have insurance. Without workers compensation and liability insurance, any tree worker who has an accident could sue you for the damages suffered in the line of work. It is a dangerous occupation. According to the American National Standards Institute, very few industries have a fatality rate above 30 per 100,000. Tree workers have an annual fatality rate that rarely dips below 30 per 100,000, and sometimes goes higher. The chances of a tree worker dying are better than police officers, who have an annual fatality rate of about 13.5 per 100,000.

An important credential is the voluntary designation of International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) Certified Arborist. Individuals who are ISA certified should be able to show you their certification number. ISA Certified Arborists are individuals who have achieved a level of knowledge in the art and science of tree care through experience and by passing a comprehensive examination. ISA Certified Arborists must also continue their education to maintain their certification.

Red flags:
  • The low-bidder. While competitive quotes are still a goal, quality work is far better than a bargain price for a job that could damage your property, trees, and financial well-being.
  • Ask every business to provide you with a certificate of insurance from their insurance company and you will be surprised at how many will not have any, or will only have general liability insurance and no more.
  • Verify the contact number for your company is connected to a physical address. If no address can be found, there will most likely be no way to find the company if something goes wrong.
  • Do they advertise or suggest topping trees? (If the answer is "yes," run).
  • Did they solicit door to door? (If the answer is "yes," run).
  • Do they require any payment in advance? (Do not do it. Do not pay anything until the job is finished!)
Before your tree faces someone wielding a chainsaw, make sure you are protected. After all, once that limb is cut off -whether belonging to the tree worker or the tree- it cannot be put back on.

For more information on accidents in the U.S. Tree Care Profession  

Thanks for reading.  
Happy Planting!    


Faith Appelquist

President & Founder


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