Backyard Nature Channel: Flying Ant vs. Spider

WARNING: This video depicts real nature at work (and is enhanced with spooky, suspense-filled sound effects). It is not appropriate for all audiences.

We captured this frightening video of nature at work on the front walkway at the Weekndr house. After careful observation (and the above video replay) we determined that this is a flying ant carrying an already-dead spider back to the ant nest.

Set to a suspense-filled soundtrack of forest sounds, dinosaur and frog calls, and a dramatic iMovie riff, the whole things is even more creepy than in real life.

Weeknd Project: How to Grow Grass From Seed

Here’s a play-by-play account of our experience installing a grass lawn from seed:

1. Ready the soil: I began by excavating my rocky front yard and installing a 18-in.-deep bed of screened top soil. If you already have good topsoil, look elsewhere for advice on how to prep it.

2. Test the soil: Take a soil sample to identify what additives the soil needs for good grass growth. I was too impatient to go through this effort but I’d recommend it in retrospect.

3. Wait for the weather to accommodate: Once the weather reached an average temperature of about 60 degrees and the 10-day forecast looked ripe, I took a three-hour vacation from work and got to work.

4. Fertilize the soil: Before sprinkling the seed, I spread and raked in some Scotts chemical fertilizer per the manufacturers directions on the bag. I wanted to use organic fertilizer but the saleswoman at Agway convinced me not to. According to her, organic fertilizers take a long time to activate (months? years?) and she said I needed something that would act immediately. I wanted immediate so I took her advice. 

5. Let the soil acclimate: Let the fertilizer mix in with the soil before applying the seed for best results. Everyone tells me too much fertilizer can burn the seeds and prevent them from growing. Again, too impatient for this step.

6. Spread the seed: Using a handheld seed spreader, I applied more than a half bag of fescue grass seed to the dirt. The seed mixture was recommended by my Agway sales associate, but there are tons of online sources for choosing the right seed. 

7. Water regularly: We’ve been watering every morning making sure that the soil is drenched but not puddled. On super hot days I’ll water again at night. Never water during the heat of the day.

8. Watch the grass grow: Our grass took about two weeks to start showing up but people have told me everything from three days to three weeks. It’s been about two and a half weeks since our grass seed went in and the lawn is showing promise. The grass is coming up thin but the once-dirt-brown plot now shimmers with shades of green. I’ll give it another month before I expect a soft place to lay in the sun.

Sod vs. Seed
About a week after planting the seed I made a day trip down to the tony town of Ridgefield, Conn., to visit great-grandma weekndr who was visiting and staying at a local inn there. I drove by a strip mall on the main drive, which was undergoing a lawn installation that very day.

On my way to the inn at 9:30 a.m. the shopping plaza featured a 3000-square-foot plot of graded top soil and was surrounded by a team of laborers and a few pallets of sod. On my way back home at 1:30 p.m. it was a fully installed green grassy lawn with no work crew in site. 

I know what envy is. Thanks to grass seed, I also know about patience, horticulture, frugality, and perseverance.

Home Remedy: Eat Raw Garlic to Cure a Sore Throat

photo: annilove on Flickr

garlic photo by annilove via Flickr

Eating raw garlic might just be a cure for the common cold.

A nasty cough and sore throat bug has run through the local kid circuit over the past two weeks and last night I identified the first sign that I was catching it. Already, everyone in the weekndr house had succumb to this seasonal bug. Except for me, and the future did not look bright.

When I got home from work my throat started to feel raw and scratchy. That’s when I remembered some advice my brother gave me a few years ago as a home remedy to head off a sore throat or common cold: eat raw garlic. And that’s just what I did.

I peeled two small sections from a clove and began to chew. And I mean chew.  The key to this home remedy is that you have to let the garlic juices thoroughly coat your mouth and throat, which won’t happen if you just pop the garlic bite in your mouth and swallow. Literally, you can feel the spicy garlic neutralizing offending bugs and the pain just goes away.  It causes a similar warming sensation when it hits your belly, but that goes away too.

When I woke up this morning no sore throat. No achy body. I can honestly say I avoided the common cold thanks to raw garlic.

The downside is no one wants to get near me. Not only does my breath smell but I’m practically sweating garlic. It’s a small price to pay for good health.