5 tiny gardening ideas (so you can think big)

GMOs and the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers have caused many to reconsider the quality of food sold in conventional grocery stores. For those who’d rather be in control of where and how their food is grown, home gardening is an obvious alternative. If like me, you long to be a farmer but live in a small, urban rental property, producing food seems like a pipe dream. But living smaller doesn’t have to mean giving up the quest for self-sufficiency in the kitchen.

Read the full article here on Mother Nature Network, including a call out to Vertical Theory! 

Pasta Fagioli

½ large onion
5 large cloves garlic
1 15 oz can roasted tomatoes
2 cups vegetable broth
2 cups water
¼ pound (4 oz) shell pasta
14 oz can red kidney beans
14 oz can white beans
salt and pepper to taste

Mother Nature Network strikes gold again! The original recipe calls for almost twice as many tomatoes and white cannalini beans, but we made some adjustments. 15 oz of tomatoes seemed to be just plenty and Freddy’s was running low on its selection of beans, so I chose the smaller white beans instead. It was great how they just snuggled right into the shell pasta. I also chopped the onions as tiny as I could for dislike of onion chunks. I’m such a child. But AGGGHHHHH, the soup was so good. We paired it with some chicken breast and HALLELUJAH, even the twelve-year-olds liked it.

Next time, I want to try pureeing the tomatoes into a paste for a thicker soup (and because I personally don’t like the chunks) and maybe even wilt some baby spinach into it all. Healthy! And yummy. 

If you asked me to pick a single photograph that encapsulated everything that’s wrong with modern consumer society, this would be my choice.

The Citarum River in Indonesia is reputedly the world’s most polluted.  It’s almost beyond belief that 5 million people depend on the river for their water supply.

An ambitious $500m clean-up project is underway…..but you really have to question whether money and remedial actions are going to solve a problem like that.


Mother Nature Network had a 16 picture photo series on the most surreal landscapes on Earth. The photos are a mixed lot of natural and human made landscapes and each one is gorgeous. MNN presented the photos without much context, so I chose 3 to provide further detail.

The first photo is of the Grand Prismatic Spring, a natural wonder found in Yellowstone National Park. The 3rd largest hot spring in the world, the colors in the spring are due to the presence of different types of cyanobacteria living in and around the water of the spring. While the center of the spring is nearly sterile due to the temperature, different species of heat tolerant bacteria thrive closer to the edges of the spring. Studying “extremophile” bacteria can be extremely useful in researching the conditions where life can evolve. Cyanobacteria emit oxygen and have different colors depending on the temperature of where they are- this means they could serve as useful indicators of biological processes on other moons and planets. It is very likely that the first extraterrestrial life we encounter is lots of green slime instead of little green men.

The second image is the Leshan Giant Buddha, located in the Mount Emei Scenic Area in Sichuan, China. Mount Emei is a temple complex that houses many Buddhist shrines, including the Giant Buddha, which at 233 feet tall is the largest Buddha statue in the world. The site at Emei is considered holy as it is thought of as the place where Buddhism originally spread through China. To celebrate this, work began on the Giant Buddha in 713 and was not completed for nearly a century. With the sublime integration of the Giant Buddha statute with the neighboring jungle, it is not a surprise that this area has been named a UNESCO World Heritage site. 

The final picture I selected is nearly the complete opposite of the serene Giant Buddha. This image is of “The Door to Hell”, in Derweze, Turkmenistan. The Door to Hell was created in 1971 by Soviet scientists after an accident at the site prevented its further development for gas extraction. Thinking the best course of action was to burn off the gas, the Soviets lit a fire in the crater left by the accident. Instead of only burning for a few weeks, the 230 foot crater has been continually burning for over 40 years.

While the Door to Hell may seem like a unique landscape, there is an even longer burning fire closer to home in Pennsylvania. Thought to be the byproduct of a landfill burn gone terrible wrong, the Centralia fire began in 1962 after spreading to an underground coal seam. The out of control underground fire caused the entire town to be abandoned and eventually lead to the surrender of the town’s zip code. While it’s unclear how long the Derweze fire will burn for, the Centralia fire is estimated to have enough fuel to continue for another two and a half centuries. Despite being uninhabitable to humans, Centralia does live on as one of the main influences for the “Silent Hill” survival horror video games. 

Those are 3 of the 16 sites shown in the MNN article- I highly recommend that you check out the rest and explore the back stories of these amazing landscapes. 

Many people drink bottled water because they don’t like the taste of their local tap water, or because they question its safety.

This is like running around with a slow leak in your tire, topping it off every few days rather than taking it to be patched. Only the very affluent can afford to switch their water consumption to bottled sources. Once distanced from public systems, these consumers have little incentive to support bond issues and other methods of upgrading municipal water treatment.
How to Keep a Green, Vegan Kitchen

A “green & vegan” kitchen is something I’ve been striving for for quite along time &, with some mindful research, it’s easier than you think. What you will find shocking is how many animal products are hidden in everyday household items - think beyond food & drink…

Do you know which animal-derived, eco-unfriendly ingredients might be sneaking around in your kitchen cabinets? If the answer is “no,” don’t despair. You’re not alone! Most people are surprised to learn that there might be whey (that’s milk curd runoff) hiding in their paper towels, or that their hand soap is harboring tallow (that’s rendered fat), or that there’s lanolin (sheep’s wax) lurking in their upholstery polish.

Yikes! Want to clean out your kitchen, but don’t know where to start? Click here for an awesome article from Mother Nature Network that offers some helpful info, useful tips, & eco-friendly product suggestions for transforming your kitchen into a cruelty-free zone!

Mother Nature’s Pop Science Guide to Birds, from the Mother Nature Network. This is pretty dope. And there’s a crow! I love crows. God damn it I love an infographic! I want less reading and more infographing!

As you can see, this image says it’s “part 1” of Mother Nature’s Pop Science Guide to Birds. I know how people feel about sequels, but I’m pretty pumped for this one!