Environment & Outdoors

Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar/Flickr

Eat a banana.

Chop up the peel into smallish pieces.

Put the pieces in some warm water and let them sit for a couple of hours.

Congratulations!  You've just made an organic fertilizer for your house plants that Tom Kasper says they'll almost immediately find ... a-peel-ing.

Two weeks ago it was 80°.

A week ago, there was no snow.

Last Friday, Larry Weber was heralding the beginning of Aut-Win.

Eight days of aut-win?  Is this the shortest aut-win EVER?

Michigan Sea Grant/Great Lakes Phragmites Collaborative


You say "frag-MITE-eez," not "FRAG-mites."

But the most important thing to know about phragmites is that it's an invasive, non-native species, not to be confused with native phragmites.

The invasives came to America originally from central and eastern Europe, and they've been marching steadily - if slowly - across the continent from New England.

Now the Community Action Duluth Stream Corps, headed by Brandon Van Tassel, is tasked with getting rid of the plants, which are a perfect topic of conversation this close to Halloween.

NASA/Bob King

You might have to add your own sound effects, but tonight, the OSIRIS-REx will take a crack at obtaining a sample of at least 60 grams from the asteroid Bennu.

  And it has only 16 seconds in which to do it.

  Astro Bob writes:

The Lake Superior Harvest Festival was just another in the long line of anticipated - but cancelled - events this year.

But the Lake Superior Sustainable Farming Association, which hosts the event, hasn't been moping.

©Lisa Johnson

Aut-win, for those new to Backyard Almanac, is that time of year after Leaf Dropand before the first lasting snow.

Aut-win arrived on the heels of some hard rain and gusty winds Sunday into Monday when Leaf Dropofficially took place.

But fear not: Tamarack Timeis just getting started!

Zachary Beckman/Unsplash

Now it's in the hands of the Minnesota Supreme Court.

Yesterday, the court heard arguments from PolyMet and the Minnesota DNR on one side; and the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and a variety of other environmental protection groups on the other.

Brandon Knott

Dr. Brandon Knott and the other members of the international team working on a better way to recycle plastics are excited about their work.

For one thing, they're trying to solve a problem that everyone "gets," more or less.

Here's the deal: when you recycle plastics these days, it's done with machines that grind them up, melt them down, and make new stuff out of them.

Arne Vainio. Used with permission.

Clean up/clean out your garden at the end of the season or leave it?

Copyright Bryan French. Used with permission.

Right up there with ice out, freeze up, and first snow is LEAF DROP.

And Larry wants us to know it's a deliberate act on the part of trees.

Copyright Bob King. Used with permission.

Mars will be as close as it gets to the earth this week.

And it won't get this close again until 2035.

And Bob King says it's really something you should see with a teloscope.

You can read more about Mars on Bob's blog here, and he's promising to share tips for telescope buying in the next few weeks.

Copyright John P. Richardson. Used with permission.

It's been another record-setting week in the Northland ...

September came in only 1° cooler than normal this year, but we saw less than an inch of rain, compared with the four inches or so we usually get.

That means, so far this year, September and June are going down as some of the driest on record.

Milkweeds, on the other hand, need dry conditions to form pods that then split open so they can disperse their seeds.

And another record was broken yesterday at Hawk Ridge.  They made this announcement on their social media:

St. Louis River Alliance

For decades, the St. Louis River Alliance has been leading the charge to heal the badly polluted St. Louis River.

Spurred by the enthusiasm of more and more people drawn every year to the water to volunteer, recreate or just sit and watch the water flow by, the St. Louis River has continued its comeback story.

From cleaning up the pollution left by decades of dumping in the river, to fostering habitat for wild rice, sturgeons and piping plovers, people have been working hard to heal the St. Louis River.

Michel Bish/Flickr

Planning ahead for next year's fresh produce from your garden, and surveying the tidy rows of canned fruits, vegetables, salsas, pestos, jams and jellies can be one of the most satisfying ends to the summer.

©Russ Sprague. Used with permission.

  This episode originally aired May 19, 2020.

As the food supply chain experiences some breakage and as we're learning the fragility of some of these systems, some folks are looking at urban agriculture as a partial solution.

Doing something, even if you start small, to provide fresh food for your family is not only good for your physical and mental health, it's yummy, too.  Even if you don't have a Twinkie bush.