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Top Flower Valleys in the World – 2021

Last Updated: 27th October, 2020

Guest Post: Elaine M.

Top Flower Valleys in the World

Top Flower Valleys in The World That Will Make You Feel In Heaven

We have always believed that the world we live in is a piece of enchanting scenic beauty, and the beautiful flower valleys around the World will show you how true it is!

Imagine yourself in the middle of a sea of flowers, velvety-green meadows, dense forests, and gorgeous valleys; does it sound like the place you have always wanted to see? If so, then this list of spectacular Flower Valleys in the World is sure to sway you away.

Here are TOP recommendations for seeing wildflowers in all their glory, in all their different habitats. Just remember to look and not touch—picking flowers from national parks is illegal, after all.

1. Crested Butte Valley in Colorado

Wildflowers outside Crested Butte, Colorado

Crested Butte Valley in Colorado

The mountains and valleys around Crested Butte, officially honored as the “Wildflower Capital of Colorado,” are a jumble of color in late spring and summer as the blooms progress: blue columbines, red Indian paintbrushes, yellow sunflowers, purple delphiniums, and dark-blue lupines, among many others. Almost any trail in the nearby National Forest land will lead to magnificent wildflower views, including the route leading from Crested Butte to Gothic, eight miles north. And in early July, Crested Butte hosts a weeklong wildflower festival.

Crested Butte Valley in Colorado is covered with a fragrant and spectacular flower carpet during the spring season. The valley is immersed in the sea of flowers, they even grow in the backyards and gardens of the local residents. The natives believe that it’s one of the most beautiful places on earth, there’s no denying that it’s so majestic.

The beautiful Crested Butte Valley is home to 55 species of splendid flowers, including Indian Paintbrush, Sunflowers, Lupine, and Columbine. It also makes an amazing landscape for photo walks and overnight outings in the middle of wildflowers.

Where is Crested Butte Valley: Gunnison County, the United States

The best time to visit Crested Butte Valley: The end of June to July

2. Rose Valley in Bulgaria

Bulgaria Rose Valley

A divine fragrance in the air and meadows veiled by pink and red roses—that’s how it feels being in Rose Valley during the summer. Damask roses are cultivated in the region that lies between valleys near the Bulgarian town of Kazanlak since the 18th century.

Tourists who go to visit the valley end up buying damask rose essential oil, which is considered the best in the world. One can attend the rose festival in the valley that begins with the gathering of petals and ends with choosing the new Queens of Roses.

The significance of the rose in Bulgarian culture

For centuries, the Rose Valley has been a rose-growing area of great importance. The rose oil produced from the special variety Rosa Damascena was used for women’s beauty products and perfumes. Today, the rose is one of the symbols of Bulgaria and attracts visitors from all over the world, especially from Japan where the rose is also culturally important.

Where is Rose Valley: Bulgaria

The best time to visit Rose Valley: June to July

3. Tulips in BC’s Fraser Valley

About 100 km east of Vancouver is British Columbia’s Fraser Valley.

Tulip in Fraser Valley

Lovers of colourful tulips should head into the Fraser Valley. The Abbotsford Tulip Festival traces its history back to when a Dutch immigrant, 50 years ago, first planted gladiolas, then tulips, daffodils, and peonies. Today, every spring his granddaughter turns a four-hectare (10-acre) farm into colourful fields with more than 2.5 million tulips from 50 different varieties. This third-generation farm is one of two stops along the area’s aptly named Fraser Valley Tulip Trail.

Where is Fraser Valley Tulip Trail: Vancouver, Canada

The best time to visit Rose Valley: April – May

4. Yellowstone National Park in the United States

Yellowstone National Park Flower Valley

Yellowstone is seasonal. Plan Your Visit by learning about current conditions, seasons, road conditions, services, activities, and more.

People visit Yellowstone and discover an amazing variety of experiences and destinations. We hope you’ll have fun, make lifelong memories, and enjoy this special place.

Top Things To Know before Travelling to Yellowstone National Park

1. Be Patient and Flexible

Hundreds of thousands of people visit Yellowstone during the months of June, July, and August. It’s also a big place: traffic and road construction often make drive times longer than expected.

2. Cell service and bandwidth are limited.

Don’t be surprised if you can’t receive calls or texts, even in the few areas you have cell reception.

3. Digital guide to enhance your experience

Download the free NPS Yellowstone app (and offline content) before you arrive.

4. Plan ahead

Campgrounds and lodges fill early, so finding a place to sleep at the last minute is unlikely.

5. Drive responsibly

Observe posted speed limits and use pullouts to watch wildlife, take pictures, and let other cars pass.

6. Stay on boardwalks

Hot springs have injured more people than any other natural feature (including animals).

7. Bears inhabit the entire park

Bears are not just the backcountry, so learn how to travel safely in bear country.

8. Practice safe selfies

Never approach animals to take pictures and alway be aware of your surroundings.

9. Early (and late) birds avoid crowds and traffic.

Visit the park during nonpeak hours—before 9 am and after 3 pm. Check out the list of seasonal highlights.

10. Explore beyond our borders

The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem includes much more than the park. Plan your trip to take in the vibrant communities, public lands, and natural wonders throughout this area.

France. Lavender fields

Many fields of Provence in France are covered with a fragrant lavender carpet. The Valensole city is literally immersed in these gentle violet flowers: even the homes of local residents are decorated with lavender. Here you can buy natural cosmetics containing the lavender essential oil, soap, honey, bags of dried flowers.

Lavender blossoms from June to August, but it’s already in July that people start to mow it. Beware of wasps when you visit the lavender fields: they are attracted by the striking fragrance of the flowers. Is best to travel across the Provence region by car to see as many fields as possible, or by bike.

During the collection of lavender harvest there are festivals dedicated to this flower. Such holiday can be attended in Valensole: usually it’s on the third Sunday of July.

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Difference between 4×4 Auto, Lock, High and Low?

Guest Posted: By Dave C.

Last Updated: 28th October, 2020

Difference between 4×4 Auto,  Lock, High and Low?

What is the difference between 4wd Auto and 4wd Lock?

4WD Auto is like all wheel drive. It has a clutch design in the transfer case that allows slippage so that it won’t bind up on dry pavement. It is for use on mixed terrain such as partially snow covered roads, etc. 

4WD Lock is like a standard 4WD for slick surfaces only and has the front and rear locked together. When you engage 4WD LOCK, it engages/loc the front axle to the speed of the rear axle. That is all it is, that you engaged 4wheel drive. 

What is the difference between 4wd High and 4wd Low?

Without an Auto setting, 4WD High is what you’d use in any situation that’s low-traction but relatively high-speed—a dirt road or snowy paved road. 4WD Low is strictly for slow off-roading or places where torque multiplication would really help you out (like deep sand).

Is it bad to drive in 4×4 on the highway?

Or is driving in 4WD mode on a highway safe? The short answer is: Yes, it’s perfectly safe to drive in 4WD on the highway. But you still shouldn’t do that – unless you have to.

The 4WD Setup

In a 4-wheel drive, you have an additional rear axle. The power from the engine goes to both sets of wheels – front and rear. It’s as simple as that.

As a result, with a 4WD drivetrain, you have control over the rear wheels, as well as the front. If the front wheels lose their grip on the road for any reason, the vehicle can still accelerate or decelerate by controlling the rear wheels.

Traditionally – i.e. in the previous century – 4WD was a big deal. Few vehicles were 100% 4WD. If you went offroad with  4WD truck, you had to bring it to a full stop, literally get out, grab a lever and connect the rear axle to kick the vehicle into 4WD mode.  Then along came SUV’s and off-roading just for fun. People really preferred to stay inside their SUV or truck so new systems were developed with which you could engage your 4WD systems with the push of a button.

This history lesson seves a point: With an older vehicle, you still need to switch between 2WD and 4WD. With many newer trucks, 4WD is a fixed feature. Nothing to think about with those – your truck is 4WD and will be that always. With others, there’s only 2WD drivetrain available, so again, not much in the way of making a conscious choice on the part of the driver. 

Mount Cook New Zealand Insider Travel Tips

Last Updated: 28th October, 2020

Travel Alert: Temporary border measures in place due to Covid-19

Guest Posted: By Samantha Samuel.

Mount Cook New Zealand Insider Travel Tips

Mount Cook Insider Travel Tips in 2020

Aoraki/Mt. Cook is New Zealand’s tallest mountain topping out at at a whopping 3,724 meters (12,218 ft) located in the center of the South Island in Canterbury, one of my favorite regions. And trust me, she’s a beauty. With a bold, super iconic peak, there’s no mistaking Mt. Cook when you are within a hundred miles of it. It stands out above and beyond the surrounding Southern Alps.

Mount_Cook_New_Zealand

Mt. Cook village is a little town 12km from the base of the mountain, and it’s a tiny little town that I love to just hanging out in. Population – 250 on a good day. 2.5 hours from Wanaka, it’s a great weekend getaway or easy day trip

How hard is it to climb Mount Cook

Climbing Mount Cook is a serious undertaking. Do not underestimate the difficulty because of the relatively low summit elevation. There are no walk-up or non technical routes up the mountain. The standard route on the mountain, Linda Glacier, is signifcantly more difficult than Liberty Ridge on Mount Rainier. Do not attempt this climb without very good skills in glacier travel, creavase rescue, protective systems, steep snow climbing, and ice climbing.

Due to often unstable weather, figure on 6-7 days for a summit attempt.

climb of Aoraki Mount Cook takes at least three climbing days. To book a guide for less than 6 days is unrealistic as it allows no flexibility in case of bad weather, and reduces your chances considerably of a successful climb.

Check out this Amazing Video on YouTube

Accommodation in Mount Cook National Park

Mount Cook village is a tiny place for the amount of visitors it gets each summer. I won’t be surprised if in future they limit access to the road.

If you are camping you can stay at the Whitehorse Hill campground operated by the Department of Conservation. It is few kilometres away from the village and it’s a great starting point for many trails I have mentioned in this post. The campsite operates on a first come first serve basisThere is a self registration station and you will need cash. 

Being in a national park certainly has its drawbacks with regards to planning permission but thankfully, it means there aren’t loads of hotels ruining the views. With limited options though booking competition is tough. 

If you want to overnight directly in the village and camping isn’t your thing make sure you book your accommodation well in advance.  At least few months!

Best activities in Mount Cook

HELICOPTER FLIGHTS

Scenic helicopter flight is a prime choice for those wanting to see the mountains from above. They range in price depending on duration and amount of landings but will give you better views than you can get on any hike. If you were planning on taking a heliflight in New Zealand, Mount Cook is one of the best places for it! 

Our top pick is The Glaciers Helicopter Flight.

Mount Cook and the Glaciers Helicopter Flight

SKI PLANE TOUR

Ski Plane Tours are arguably even better than helicopter tours, as the ride tends to last longer. The downside is that planes are much less manoeuvrable and exciting. Saying that, there is a great combo deal allowing you to experience both!

MOUNT COOK MAP

Mount Cook Map

When is the best time to visit Mount Cook and Lake Pukaki

Because Mount Cook is so high, it often tends to “hide” in the clouds. So any day with little to no clouds or with high clouds (cirrus or altocumulus) would be perfect to visit Mount Cook and Lake Pukaki.

You can visit Mount Cook and Lake Pukaki in any season and see snow on the mountain.

However, in early spring, late autumn, and winter, the snow on Mount Cook tends to be lower down the mountain than at any other time of the year.

In winter however, you can get bonus views of a snow-covered Ben Ohau Range with Lake Pukaki in the foreground from Hayman Road, which lies west of Lake Pukaki.

Keep in mind, though, that because Mount Cook and Lake Pukaki are located at a higher elevation than, for example, Christchurch, the region can occasionally get snowed-in in winter.

Aoraki/Mt Cook, New Zealand, viewed from the shores of Lake Pukaki

Lake_Pukaki

Lake Pukaki Spillway Release

Lake Pukaki – Canterbury, New Zealand

Lake Pukaki - Canterbury, New Zealand

3 Aoraki Mt Cook Must-Dos (apart from Helicopter & Ski Plane Tours)

1. Walk The Hooker Valley Track

It’s stunning, it takes about three hours, and it’s free. That’s why the Hooker Valley Track tops our list of Aoraki Mt Cook must-dos! No matter what your budget is, you can enjoy this easy-going 3-hour return walk through the Hooker Valley toward the vibrant and glacial Hooker Lake. Soak up the views of several impressive glaciers and New Zealand’s highest mountain, Aoraki Mt Cook.

Location: Start the Hooker Valley Track from the White Horse Hill Campground car park at the end of the Hooker Valley Road, 2km from Mt Cook Village.

2. Heli-Hike On The Tasman Glacier

Explore the ice caves and walk on top of New Zealand’s longest glacier, the Tasman Glacier! Take a scenic helicopter flight with captivating glacier valley views and land straight onto the ice. Your guide will show you the unusual features of this ever-changing alpine environment, often including ice caves, stepping over deep crevasses and more.

3. Go Boating On The Tasman Lake

The Tasman Lake is where the Tasman Glacier terminates, releasing huge ice burgs into the lake. Get up-close to these ice giants on a boating tour of the Tasman Lake! Tours involve a drive and short walk to the lake where you’ll then board a small boat for a trip on the vibrant turquoise glacial lake which is ever-changing! In fact, the lake only formed in 1989 and has been expanding ever since. Kayak tours on the lake are also available on the lake. Be aware that lake activities are seasonal and are only available between early September and late May.

Location: Trips depart from Mt Cook Village in various pick-up locations.

How I got my Instagram to reach 500,000+ people a week

Guest Posted: Alex G.

Last Updated: 7th September, 2020

How I got my Instagram to reach 500,000+ people a week

Instagram quickly outgrew its first impression as a fun app for kids and has become a serious content marketing, selling, networking and audience building tool for individuals and brands. It’s one of the most popular social networking sites on the planet, with over 200 million active monthly members sharing 60 million images and 1.6 billion likes per day.

My journey is a lot different than most and I have been working on this project since 2012. While you can totally make a lot of money and make it pretty fast using the power social of media that IS NOT my goal. I am wanting to make this Long-Term if not my entire life’s mission. This page is about something I truly believe in and support. If you are looking to find a product or business to start simply because you want to make money then you are in for a real struggle. (Not to say you shouldn’t follow the money… This is just from my life experience and what I want, everyone’s on a different path)

So let’s jump straight into what helps me grow a Social Media Page. I want to focus on 3 topics that I believe are very important. There is no ultimate truth to growing your page or secret tricks. It will take lot’s of hard work, smart thinking and timing, A LOT of money in some cases (Not mine and I will explain), and sometimes pure luck. In fact I will go ahead and save you all some money and tell you to never buy a course that claims to get you X amount of followers per day. I will explain better ways to spend your money below (And it’s not on a course, I have nothing to sell)

Building Relationships

Creating unique engaging content

Fighting the algorithms

Building Relationships 

This is by far the most important factor not only on Social Media but Business and Life in my opinion. There seems to be too much of this Dog eat Dog mentality when there more than enough wealth to go around and no reason to fight. Instead of learning how I can stay one step ahead of all my competition I reached out and became friends with them. They already had hundreds of thousands of followers and money flowing so why would I want them against me? I was completely honest with everyone I reached out to. I sometimes even explained hey I am thinking about doing the exact same thing you are doing… How did you find success? You can’t be fake about your relationships and be reaching out with your self gain as the only goal. I would support these influencers when they post.. Get involved in the comments… Buy their product (If I actually support it). Some people it took years of messaging to finally get noticed. But 8 years later I now have a network throughout my entire niche of people showing nothing but love. Influencers charging $100+ for people to make a post will constantly be giving me free shoutouts because of all the support I showed.

Of course not everyone has time to spend doing all of this. So how do you speed up the process? You have to provide value in order to get something of value back. And you should never be providing value expecting to receive something in return. So the simple solution is to pay influencers to work with you. Building relationships still applies and will be just as important. Even if you are paying someone to share your work you are still creating a relationship between Business and Influencer. And to add to that these people get hundreds of offer so even if you have the $$$ they still may have no interest in working you or your product due to the lack of a relationship. For the pages I do pay to post we still share a happy relationship and overtime I am ready for a paid post I have a huge list of people I have worked with and how to contact them directly. They already know me and what I am about so their is no hesitation or delay in getting a paid post.

I could write an entire book on examples of relationships I have built to further the growth of my page but to avoid rambling I will end it on this.. Be more conscious of every interaction you are having and understand each person you talk to knows something that we don’t. Approach new people as a way to learn new things and understand they can become a crucial role in your business later down the road. You never know… That person you were talking crap to could be Elon Musk lurking through reddit about to invest in your idea.. But you didn’t give him the time of day because you only see a person with no use to you.

Creating unique and engaging content

 This should be obvious but people seem to drop the ball on this one often… Including myself. Every time someone comes to your social media they are essential walking into your physical store, just the digital version. They will be making a decision based on what is surrounding them inside this virtual shop. Are you providing anything of value? If you are providing value why should they come to you and not the guy across the street? Maybe you are selling the exact product they need but your store is completely empty except for the item sitting on the shelf. But the guy across the street selling the exact same thing has a store filled with information about his product, complimentary drinks, he greets everyone with a smile that walks in and gets to know them. Both places might have a great product and the customer left feeling happy. But who is more likely to get the business next time? Or maybe there was never a reason to do business again, you needed the product this one time and you’re out. But you had such a great experience you now are shopping for other items. Or you love it so much you just wanted to stop by and say hi or bring a friend in looking for the thing.

Whenever you create something to post really think about what experience you are creating. Every restaurant is posting pictures of all their dishes and while they may be unique and amazing tasting, having a page filled with food pictures is not unique. Think outside the box no matter how crazy. This might not be a practical solution but imagine a page that held a monthly food fight and recorded the whole thing to post on social media.. I’d be way more inclined to check out their page to see what all that was about and probably stick around to see the next one.

Fighting the algorithm

Everyone probably already knows this but on Instagram at least, your post is going to only be shown to a portion of your followers and is determined within the first hour how well it will do most of the time. I find that my post get the most engagement when I limit it to 1 post per day. It doesn’t mean I get the most growth and sometimes 1-3 post with less engagement per post equals a higher total following. I honestly have no real secret to beating this algorithm other than you need to know and study your audience. By following the first step and building relationships you will learn what does and doesn’t work and learn what people really like and using step 2 you will have the correct content to gain their attention.

The algorithm likes to pay tricks on you by making a funny cat meme the most liked picture yet it provide no value to my following. So I would say the real solution is DON’T fight the algorithm. Many times I get caught chasing the most likes and follows while missing out on the entire purpose of the page and the reasons I got so many followers in the first place. You obviously want to use the right hashtags and get your page on the explore page so you can be discovered. But really be mindful of what you are posting and make sure it’s to serve your audience and not to combat the algorithms. This will naturally lead to you winning against it.

Something to also think about. If you are having a hard time getting ranked higher look into the influencers that are doing well and study their post.. Or just reach out to them and have them post your content for $$$ or something of value you can offer…

Conclusion

 I am not an expert on typing up case studies like this so I do apologize if I was rambling and didn’t dig deep enough as to how I grow my page. I am still learning myself and have a long way to go. The main takeaway of this post is that my page did not grow magically and I have put years of dedication into this and I also truly believe in myself and the value I am providing to others. I do not make 6 figures from social media at all but getting messages from people saying how much they appreciate what I am doing and how their lives are impacted is much more rewarding. And I suspect that as long as I stay on this path I will continue to grow and build my foundation stronger everyday. Remember even Rome fell.. You social media page can be taken away from you in a night but the relationships you built will be inside of everyones mind and follow them through their entire life.

Like I said at the top I don’t have course to sell or offer. I used to make at least 5k+ a month from social media but currently am not monetizing my instagram page just because I am not really for the drop shipping business model and want to invest into providing a quality product that isn’t just merch from china (Shopify stores make tons of money and still work so I do recommend it if you are trying to monetize.. I used to do this but I stopped..I am after something else).

I do Social Media Marketing to pay the bills but have a hard time finding clients who really understand how social media works and the power it has, so I tend to focus on my pages instead. As much as I need the money I don’t want to sell out on my page and keep it true to why I started it. I went to huge debt starting my first business that worked really well at first but I learned the hard way you need to keep reinvesting your money back into the business. I wouldn’t want to be in any other position and I am only more confident that the experiences I learned were necessary in order to achieve true success.

Differences between an Electric Grass Mower and Gasoline Mower – 2021

Last Updated: 7th September, 2020

Electric Grass Mower versus Gasoline Mower

When the recoil starter on my old walk-behind gas lawn mower broke again this spring, I decided not to spend time and money repairing it, even though I had just changed the oil and replaced the spark plug and air filter. In fact, I decided the best way to avoid problems with the recoil starter in the future was to replace it with a mower that does not have a spark plug, motor oil, air filter, gas tank, or starter!

My new lawn mower is powered by a rechargeable lithium battery instead of gasoline. Running my lawn mower on electricity means I can avoid some of the hassles of maintaining a gas engine, such as:

  • Trips to the gas station to fill the gas can
     
  • Oil, air filter, and spark plug changes
     
  • Pulling the cord and adjusting the choke to get it to start

While there are clear potential benefits of switching to an electric lawn mower, can you also save money? Let’s look at the total cost of ownership for gas versus electric walk-behind mowers to see if switching to electric could save you money.

Gasoline vs. electric push mower

If you want to replace your gas push mower with an electric push mower, you have two options: a corded electric mower or a cordless electric mower.

Corded electric mowers

You can get a corded electric mower that plugs into an extension cord. Using this can be feasible if you have a small yard that is within reach of an extension cord. Corded electric mowers are the cheapest option for electric mowers in terms of initial cost, and you never need to worry about replacing batteries.

Cordless electric mowers

If you have a larger yard, or if you don’t want to mess around with an extension cord, you can get a cordless electric mower. These use rechargeable electric batteries — typically lithium batteries. If you have a larger yard, you may need more than one battery to mow the whole yard in one go. Rechargeable batteries typically have a life expectancy of around five years.

Initial cost

There’s a wide variety of push mowers available with different features and levels of capability. Depending on the model you choose, you can find a corded electric mower for about the same price or even less than some gas push mowers. By contrast, a cordless electric model can run $100 or more over the price of a similar gas model. For the purposes of comparison, I’ve chosen examples of machines with similar capability that could mow a typical medium-sized yard.

  • Poulan Pro 21-Inch Hi-Wheel Gas Push Mower: $235
  • Greenworks 12 Amp 20-Inch Corded Electric Push Mower: $179
  • Black & Decker 60V Max 20‑Inch Cordless Electric Push Mower: $315

Operating costs

The main cost to operate a push mower is fuel — either an average $2.30 per gallon for gas or around 11 cents per kilowatt hour for electricity to run a corded electric mower or to charge the battery. This works out to a fuel cost of about:

  • Gas push mower: $1.50 per half-acre
  • Corded electric push mower: $0.50 per half-acre
  • Cordless electric push mower: $0.10 per half-acre

Let’s say you mow your half-acre yard once per week for four months, or 16 times per year. The annual cost works out to:

  • Gas push mower: $24.00
  • Corded electric push mower: $8.00
  • Cordless electric push mower: $1.60

Now, let’s say you own your mower for 10 years. The total fuel cost over 10 years works out to be:

  • Gas push mower: $240.00
  • Corded electric push mower: $80.00
  • Cordless electric push mower: $16.00

Maintenance costs

Of course, batteries don’t last forever. Let’s assume you’ll need to replace your rechargeable battery after the first five years, once during the 10-year life of the mower, at a cost of $75.

A gas mower will need regular maintenance that electric mowers do not require. Let’s assume you change the oil once per year, and change the spark plug and air filter every other year for an average maintenance cost of $15 per year.

All of the lawn mowers will need to have the blade sharpened or replaced periodically, and let’s assume that costs $20 every other year, or $10 per year on average.

10-year total cost of ownership

Here is an estimate of the total cost of ownership of a push mower for 10 years.

Gas push mower: $725

$235 initial purchase + $240 gas + $150 engine maintenance + $100 blade sharpening/replacement = $725

Corded electric push mower: $359

$179 initial purchase + $80 electricity + $100 blade sharpening/replacement = $359

Cordless electric push mower: $506

$315 initial purchase + $16 electricity + $75 battery replacement + $100 blade sharpening/replacement = $506

With either a corded electric push mower or a cordless electric push mower, you will save a significant amount on gasoline and routine maintenance each year. There is a periodic cost to replace batteries as they wear out for cordless models, but the savings on gasoline and engine maintenance outweighs this expense over the life of the mower.

Depending on the model you choose and the size of your yard, a cordless electric push mower can save you money compared with a gas powered push mower. And a corded electric push mower will save you money over both of the other types of mowers.

Effective Water Management for Indoor Plants

Guest Post: By Ana Symraina

Last Updated: 7th September, 2020

The Key to Plant Care

Water Management for Indoor Plants

The key to a long and healthy plant life is water management.  Indoor plant care is very manageable with the most basic of information.

The Intelligent Ice-cream STICK method is brilliant yet very simple and applies to all plants in all types of containers:

If in doubt as to whether your plant requires a watering, use an Ice-cream stick to test for moisture.  Just as you would use a toothpick to check to see if your muffins are done; insert an Ice-cream stick into the base of the plant stems.  Pull the stick out and either notice if any soil is clinging to the stick.  If soil clings to the stake, this is an indication there is moisture in the root zone.  Alternatively, feel the stick for moisture levels (dry, moist or wet).  Depending on the care for your particular plant, you can make a watering decision from there. To extend the life of your Ice-cream Stick, remove it from the plant and “keep it in a dry place between uses.

Light levels are the most relative factor associated with watering routines.  Plants do require varying water management in association with their unique characteristics but light levels are the most important factor.

As light levels increase and decrease; so should our watering routines.  The changing seasons require a little extra attention as this is when we need to retrain ourselves with our watering routines.  In general; plan to increase your watering in Spring then maintain this more frequent ‘summer routine’ until Fall when watering should be tapered off to a less frequent ‘winter routine’.

As a simple example for an average indoor plant; if you are watering once per week in Summer, your Winter watering will be reduced to once every 2 weeks.

General Plant Care guidelines for glass vases with pebbles, sand, bark or decorative granules:

  • Resist any temptation to fill the vase with water
  • Water sparingly according to the label directions
  • Little to no water should remain in the bottom of the vase following watering.

How to Care for your Coffea Arabica plant

Last Updated: 27th October, 2020

How to Care for your Coffea Arabica plant

Coffee or “coffea arabica” plants are a perfect addition to any home, adding to the elegance of your home.  They are generous growers that can continue to grow for many years, reaching up to 15 feet or more.    This plant has glossy dark green leaves that have ruffled edge.  The coffee tree is actually a variety of a tropical evergreen shrub.

Caring for your coffea houseplant

Coffea plants like filtered indirect bright sunlight, but they can also grow in less light as well.  Coffee plants are prone to whitefly, scale and mealy bugs. If you find these pests on your plants, spray a soapy mixture for 2 weeks.

After 3 or 4 years, this plant will begin to produce star-shaped white flowers that smell like jasmine.  These flowers are followed by green fruits that change to red then dark brown/black as they continue to ripen.  Inside the fruit, are two beans (or seeds) that can be roasted and ground up to make your morning cup of joe.

Watering your Coffee tree plant

When watering the coffea arabica plant, it is best to keep the soil moist but not soggy.  Use 1/3 of a cup of water, and pour near the base of the plant. Adjust your watering amounts as the months change.  One great thing about these plants is that the leaves are a big indication of when you need to water.  If it’s time, the leaves will become droopy.  See below for an example of the leaves drooping.   You can also mist your plant occasional with warm water and clean the leaves with a damp cloth.

Coffee_Plant_Needs_Water

Can this plant make coffee beans?

If you are patient, eventually this plant can produce coffee beans. Learn more about Coffee Facts here…

It typically takes 6 years for the plant to begin to produce fruit (or beans).  The coffee bean fruit appears in the summer.  Once the green shaped fruit turns to a dark brown, black color, it is ripe enough to pick.  Once you have harvested enough beans, you will then have to roast them.  There are many home type roasters out there, check out your local retailers or search on the Internet for your most convenient option.

Reviving a dying Coffee Plant

If you recently bought a new small Coffee Plant from the local nursery / store and it looks to be dying after a month or having brown tips at the edge of the leaves, then you can revive it easily by following simple steps…

A tropical indoor plant, coffee appreciates abundant levels of relative humidity. If the air in your home is too dry, your coffee plant may end up with brown leaf tips or edges. Boost humidity to keep new leaves healthy. 

Year 2021 – What Not to Do in Bahamas

5 Mistakes to avoid in Bahamas

Last Updated: 27th October, 2020

Year 2020 - Mistakes to Avoid in Bahamas

Due to Covid 19, Atlantis Paradise Island Resort is temporarily closed until further notice. https://www.atlantisbahamas.com/travel-updates

For sun deprived Canadians and Americans, the Bahamas offers an idyllic getaway with beautiful beaches, crystal clear water, and a slew of relaxing activities.

It’s no surprise, then, that this is one of the Caribbean’s most popular vacation destinations. However, just like any other country, there is a list of first-timer mistakes you should avoid while visiting. Here are five tips on how to stay safe and make the most of your time (and money) in the Bahamas. 

1. Wandering Alone at Night in the Bahamas

Like everywhere else in the world, it’s wise to take proper precautions while out at night. Be aware of your surroundings, particularly in Nassau, as the risk of crime increases after dark., however you are pretty safe at Atlantis Bahamas. Avoid walking alone after sunset, especially around poorly-lit and deserted locations, such as streets and beaches. Nightclubs and music venues provide a chance to experience local culture, though tourists should stick to heavily populated areas and walk in a group. 

While the Bahamian islands are generally considered safe for female travelers overall, it’s a good idea to dress modestly, as this is still a conservative country in many areas. This also means covering up when leaving beach areas during the day, especially since many spots away from the sand require a certain standard of dress. Women have also reported some incidents of verbal (mostly non-threatening) and sexual harassment while traveling around the Bahamas. Drink-spiking has also been reported here, so beware of friendly strangers who may want to buy you a drink, and never leave your beverage unattended. Pickpocketing, snatch-and-grab, and other petty crimes are also possible. As a result, heightened police presence and check points can be expected. Keep your valuables hidden, take only what you need with you for the day, and don’t leave your belongings unattended, even at the beach. Credit card fraud can also occur in the Bahamas, so keep an eye on your card at all times, and let your bank know when you are traveling, in case of suspicious transactions. 

2. Traveling During Hurricane Season in the Bahamas

This is a tough one because there can be some great prices, low crowds, and potentially fantastic weather in the off-season. That being said, June through November is the official hurricane season in the Bahamas, so you’ll likely want to avoid this time of year, if possible. If you’re going to take your chances and visit during the storm season, monitor local reports and check with your airline to ensure your travel plans won’t experience any delays. Travelers should also get insurance during these months to protect their trip investment. Travel insurance provides reimbursement for pre-paid, non-refundable expenses, if you need to cancel a trip for a covered reason, such as damage to your resort from a recent hurricane. 

3. Riding in Unmarked Taxis in the Bahamas

Whether you need to get to your hotel from the airport or want to explore Nassau, you should always avoid taxis that appear unlicensed. And while you’re at it, don’t hop in any licensed taxi without negotiating a fare first. Unlike other major cities around the world, most taxis in the Bahamas don’t use meters, which can make the payment process tricky. Instead of getting yourself into a sticky situation with your taxi driver, make sure to negotiate a rate upfront, especially when you’re out on the town drinking and enjoying the nightlife. Your best bet: Ask the front door staff at your hotel or resort, or the restaurant or club you’re visiting, to arrange a licensed taxi for you.

4. Expecting Punctuality on the Island

Like many Caribbean residents, Bahamians are extremely laid-back. This relaxed local lifestyle helps put tourists into the vacation spirit, but travelers expecting promptness and punctuality (New Yorkers, you know who you are) may be thrown off at first. Island time means restaurants are often slow to take orders and serve food, and guided tours and transportation options may depart later than the specified time. Rather than finding fault with this, embrace the slower pace (you are on vacation, after all) and simply book earlier transportation times or dinner reservations, if needed. 

While on the subject, Bahamians may not always be a reliable source for providing driving directions. Locals use buildings, coconut trees, and distinct colors as road markers. If you’re seeking precise directions, consult with your hotel staff to avoid having to use your phone and accruing expensive roaming fees. 

5. Transacting with Beach Vendors in the Bahamas

If you plan on frequenting the popular beaches, there’s a good chance you’ll encounter beach vendors selling everything from jet-ski rentals to water bottles and even illicit drugs. Before handing over cash, consider these precautions. In the Bahamas, water sports are not regulated, and some of the rental equipment might not be in proper working condition. Many of the vendors also don’t have the proper knowledge or training to come to your rescue if things go wrong out in the ocean. As of March 2019, the U.S. State Department travel advisory for the Bahamas stated that “activities involving commercial recreational watercraft, including water tours, are not consistently regulated. Watercraft are often not maintained, and many companies do not have safety certifications to operate in The Bahamas.”

Marijuana is illegal in many Caribbean countries, including the Bahamas. Illicit drugs, including cocaine and ecstasy, are also major no-nos, and can get you in serious trouble. If you are offered anything for sale or as a gift, it’s best to not accept it. You can be arrested for possession or trafficking of drugs, which can result in a fine, deportation, or potential jail time. That being said, Bahamians are friendly and enjoy interacting with tourists. If nothing else, say a polite “no thank you” and start conversing about something else. Locals respect visitors who are kind and humble, plus they consider joking and light teasing as a form of affection, so enjoy the humorous exchanges. 

Women’s Safety Tips in Bahamas

Women have reported verbal and sexual harassment while traveling around the Bahamas. Women travelers should reject rides from strangers, avoid hitchhiking or taxi drivers who appear unlicensed.

While the islands are considered safe for women travelers overall, it’s a good idea to dress modestly, as some Bahaman men may suspect you are looking for a partner.

Always take precautions while out at night to ensure your safety, such as taking a licensed taxi to a club or restaurant rather than walking, particularly in Nassau. Avoid walking in deserted or poorly lit areas and not walking alone. However, if you are staying at Atlantis, you are absolutely safe to roam around.

Household Plants Toxic to Cats and Dogs

Last Updated: 7th September, 2020

Household Plants Toxic to Cats and Dogs

10 Household Plants Toxic to Cats and Dogs

  • Do you know that more than 500 indoor/outdoor plants contain toxic substances that may harm cats and dogs.
  • If these plants are ingested, signs of poisoning can be mild to severe, sometimes even causing death.
  • Most houseplants have multiple names, so it is important to confirm that the houseplants you currently own or may purchase are not toxic to your pet.

Corn Plant

Corn Plant Toxic to Pets

Corn plant (also known as cornstalk plant, dracaena, dragon tree, and ribbon plant) is toxic to dogs and cats. Saponin is the toxic chemical compound in this plant. If this plant is ingested, vomiting (with or without blood), appetite loss, depression, and/or increased salivation can occur. Affected cats may also have dilated pupils.

Elephant Ear

Allocasia Toxic Plant

Elephant ear (also known as caladium, taro, pai, ape, cape, via, via sori, and malanga) contains a chemical similar to the one in dieffenbachia, so an animal’s toxic reaction to elephant ear is similar: oral irritation, increased salivation, difficulty swallowing, and vomiting.

Lilies

Calla Lily Toxic to Pets

Many plants of the lily family are considered toxic to cats, and some are considered toxic to dogs. Cats are the only animals in which the Easter and stargazer lilies are known to be toxic. Generally, a cat’s first toxic reaction to this plant includes vomiting, lethargy, and a lack of appetite, but severe kidney failure and even death can quickly follow if a cat is untreated. The peace lily (also known as Mauna Loa) is toxic to dogs and cats. Ingestion of the peace lily or calla lily can cause irritation of the tongue and lips, increased salivation, difficulty swallowing, and vomiting.

Asparagus Fern

Asparagus fern (also called emerald feather, emerald fern, sprengeri fern, plumosa fern, and lace fern) is toxic to dogs and cats. The toxic agent in this plant is sapogenin — a steroid found in a variety of plants. If a dog or cat ingests the berries of this plant, vomiting, diarrhea, and/or abdominal pain can occur. Allergic dermatitis (skin inflammation) can occur if an animal is repeatedly exposed to this plant.

Dieffenbachia

Dieffenbachia (commonly known as dumb cane, tropic snow, and exotica) is toxic to dogs and cats. Dieffenbachia contains a chemical that is a poisonous deterrent to animals. If this plant is ingested, oral irritation can occur, especially on the tongue and lips. This irritation can lead to increased salivation, difficulty swallowing, and vomiting.

Cyclamen

Cyclamen (also known as sowbread) is a pretty, flowering plant that is toxic to dogs and cats. If ingested, this plant can cause increased salivation, vomiting, and diarrhea. If an animal ingests a large amount of the plant’s tubers — which are found at the root, generally below the soil — heart rhythm abnormalities, seizures, and even death can occur.

Heartleaf Philodendron

Heartleaf philodendron (also known as horsehead philodendron, cordatum, fiddle-leaf, panda plant, split-leaf philodendron, fruit salad plant, red emerald, red princess, and saddle leaf) is a common, easy-to-grow houseplant that is toxic to dogs and cats. This philodendron contains a chemical that can irritate the mouth, tongue, and lips of animals. An affected pet may also experience increased salivation, vomiting, and difficulty swallowing.

Jade Plant

Jade plant (also known as baby jade, dwarf rubber plant, jade tree, Chinese rubber plant, Japanese rubber plant, and friendship tree) is toxic to cats and dogs. The toxic property in this plant is unknown, but ingestion of it can cause vomiting, depression, ataxia (incoordination), and bradycardia (slow heart rate; this is rare).

Aloe Plant

Aloe plant (also known as medicine plant and Barbados aloe) is a common succulent plant that is toxic to dogs and cats. Aloin is considered the toxic agent in this plant. This bitter, yellow substance is found in most aloe species and may cause vomiting and/or the urine to become reddish.

Satin Pothos

Satin pothos (also known as silk pothos) is toxic to dogs and cats. If ingested by a cat or dog, this plant may irritate the mouth, lips, and tongue. The pet may also experience an increase in salivation, vomiting, and/or difficulty swallowing.

Is it true that YouTube will Limit Ads For Creators Whose Videos Receive ‘Inappropriate Comments’?

Last Updated: 6th January, 2020

Youtube_Action_on_Inappropriate_Comments

YouTube will Limit Ads For Creators having ‘Inappropriate Comments’

As per SlashDot News,

In response to a mother’s inquiry into why her son’s gymnastics videos were deemed not advertiser friendly, YouTube said on Twitter it has “taken a number of actions to better protect the YouTube community from content that endangers minors.” The video-sharing website went on to say something very concerning for anyone who has ever uploaded a video to the site: “… even if your video is suitable for advertisers, inappropriate comments could result in your video receiving limited or no ads (yellow icon).” 

Essentially, what YouTube is saying is that if someone leaves a “incendiary or demeaning” comment, or one with “inappropriate language,” the video which features that comment could get demonetized and the content creator would not generate money from it. If you’ve ever read a comment thread on YouTube, it shouldn’t take long for you to realize how big of an issue this could become. According to YouTube’s “advertiser-friendly content guidelines,” the following content may not be suitable for most advertisers: “controversial issues and sensitive events,” “drugs and dangerous products or substances,” “harmful or dangerous acts,” “harmful or dangerous acts,” “hateful content,” “inappropriate language,” “inappropriate use of family entertainment characters,”