Chinese-Style Barbecued Ribs
3 garlic cloves, crushed
¾ cup hoisin sauce
½ cup ketchup
¼ cup honey
¼ cup soy sauce
1/3 cup rice wine
¼ cup rice vinegar
1 tsp five-spice powder
2 baby back ribs about 4 lbs. total
Mix marinade ingredients together. Pour marinate over ribs and refrigerate at least 4 hours up to two days.  
Preheat oven to 300. Tightly seal ribs in 2 sheets of aluminum foil.  
Place ribs on baking pan and cook for 2 hours. Open foil packets and cook for another 30 min.

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The world's bees are in decline. Farmers, beekeepers and biologists have a name for the problem: the "beepocalypse". It started mysteriously in 2006 when hives began failing en masse across North America, and spread to Europe. Healthy-seeming bees would simply fly away and never come back, leaving behind combs full of honey and a dying, untended queen.  
We humans badly need bees. Biologists chalk up every third bite of food in the human diet to bee population, and in terms of the most popular and nutritious food crops the ratio is even higher; bees visit more than 75% of them.
Experts believe that multiple factors must be at play in the bee's plight. The main suspects are referred to as the four Ps: parasites, poor nutrition, pathogens and pesticides. The parasites include tiny Varroa mites that feed on bee's body fluids. Poor nutrition reflects a widespread loss of flowers in rural landscapes, because of the rise of industrial farming practices of the past 60 years; varied farms have given way to vast monocultures, such as corn and soybeans, only provide bee-sustaining flowers for a few weeks a year. The list of pathogens carried by bees includes fungal infections and wing-deforming viruses, many of which get moved around with international trade. Pesticides have gotten the most attention of the four Ps, with the hundreds of fungicides and herbicides on the market that can be sprayed on fields.  
Remedies for bee decline can be as simple as planting flowers and reducing pesticide use. With the right mix of flowers and nesting habitat, nearly any patch of ground can be turned into a bee garden. With the world's bees depending on us as much as we do on them, maybe it's time we slow down, smell the flowers and listen to the buzz.
Let the small act of planting flowers and keeping them free of pesticides be the driver of large scale change.
A spontaneous urban meadow can be created by stopping regular mowing of the lawn. An annual mowing in late summer or fall would maintain the composition of the meadow and keep woody plants from taking over.
Flowering trees, like this catalpa, are also important sources of pollen.    
For more information on why bees are disappearing  
Buyer Beware:
Screen Tree Workers Carefully
The story you are about to read is true. The names have been changed to protect the parties involved.  
The Andersons needed to have their trees trimmed, so they called Mr. Fixit Landscape and Tree Service, the same tree service they and their neighbors had used many times before. The outfit seemed competent and efficient, and the Anderson's found over the years that they could simply tell the tree service owner what they wanted, and he'd make the decisions on how to do it.
During the course of the Anderson's dealings with Mr. Fixit Landscape, no one had ever asked whether the company had insurance. Mr. Fixit Tree Service did good work, and the price was right. What more does a homeowner need to know?
On the day in question, however, things didn't go so well. Chuck Nelson, one of Mr. Fixit's workers, was using a pole saw when it came into contact with a high voltage line, killing him. Unsurprisingly, an investigation bore out that Mr. Fixit Landscape had cut a few corners, technicalities such as obtaining insurance and paying workers' compensation on its employees. Sadly, the late Mr. Nelson's family was left without a breadwinner, and no money would flow from workers' comp to compensate the survivors for their loss.
The Nelson's hired a personal injury lawyer. Their lawyer correctly identified the Anderson's and their homeowners' insurance policy as the only money available to the Nelson family. Thus, he put together a wrongful death action for the family that argued that under Minnesota workers' comp law, homeowners who hire uninsured contractors are deemed employers of the contractors. Therefore, the Nelson's legal theory went, the Anderson's - as de facto employers of Mr. Nelson - were liable to his family because he died while working under their employ.
Nationwide, annual deaths for the tree care industry were 40 deaths per 100,000 workers. To put that in perspective, the average for all industries is 4 deaths per 100,000 workers. Tree care workers have a fatal accident rate that is roughly 10 times the industry average. They are engaged in what is probably the single most high risk activity you can perform in the United States. Homeowners need to know that there is NO state licensing requirement that ensures tree workers have insurance in Minnesota. Anyone with a chain saw and truck can call themselves an arborist and work on trees.
Red Flags:
  • The Door Knocker. Never engage with a tree business that solicits door to door.
  • Pay in Cash. Never prepay or pay in cash for any service.
  • The Low Bidder. Low price is a poor gauge of a quality arborist. Often the better ones are more expensive because of more specialized equipment, more professional training, and insurance costs.
  • Ask for verification of personal and property liability insurance and worker's compensation.
  • Beware of tree workers who use scare tactics (ie, "this tree will fall on the house and kill you") to convince you to remove of a living tree to avoid risk. The decision to remove a living tree is yours, not the tree workers'.
A lesson here: In Minnesota - in fact, anywhere - a prudent homeowner will make sure the arborist or tree service contractor is insured and licensed, regardless of whether a license has anything to do with competence or skill. And service providers should volunteer proof of their credentials, not just because it looks professional, but because it reflects the kind of attention to detail that can avoid lawsuits.
For more information on hiring tree workers.

Thanks for reading.  
Happy Planting!    


Faith Appelquist

President & Founder


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