Want To Grow Your Own Strawberries At Home? Follow This
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Want To Grow Your Own Strawberries At Home? Follow This

Chillies, beans and tomatoes on potted plants? Nothing new about that. A lot of urban gardeners in India grow these kitchen vegetables on their balconies or terraces — but how about strawberries? If you think they are too exotic or too tough to grow at home, think again! Incredibly easy to cultivate, strawberry plants have a compact and quick-growing habit. As such, they can be grown almost anywhere – in terracotta pots, plastic containers or hanging baskets. The vitamin C-rich fruit is also packed with flavonoids, anti-oxidants and phytonutrients that offer a wealth of health benefits. Furthermore, homegrown strawberries are organic, taste far better than store-bought ones and can save you some serious money by not having to pay supermarket prices — on an average, a box of strawberries in the market costs between 40-60 bucks, and the ones at the bottom are often small, pale and squished. Here’s a simple step-by-step guide that’ll help you successfully grow strawberries at home.

1. Decide where you’ll grow your strawberries

As mentioned earlier, strawberries can be grown in a container on your balcony, terrace or window box. If your horizontal space is limited, consider growing strawberries in a hanging basket or stacked planter —this will allow you to take advantage of vertical growing space. Do note that a sunny spot outside your home is the best place to grow strawberries, though you can get a slightly lower harvest with less than a half day of direct sunlight. Avoid windy sites which will prevent pollinating insects from reaching the flowers. Tip: For shadier spots, try planting Alpine strawberries (tougher to source but available in select online nurseries) which take more care and patience but produce fruit that is just as delicious.

2. Reuse and recycle while choosing containers

At the outset, you don’t need to invest in fancy containers or earthen pots. You can even make use of 2-litre plastic bottles, wooden crates and re-purposed buckets to grow strawberries. However, whether you choose a container made of clay, plastic, wood, or other material, make sure it has a soil depth of at least 12-14 inches to give the plants’ root systems space to grow. How many plants you can fit in will depend upon the width of the container, since you should space plants about 10-12 inches apart to allow them to spread horizontally. Tip: There are a number of distinct advantages to growing strawberries in tubs or buckets of any kind. Plants can be moved to track the sun (allowing them to enjoy more light than they might otherwise) or lifted off the ground to avoid the interest of slugs!

3. Get pot-grown plants or ‘runners’ of the right variety

Strawberry plants grow from ‘runners’ (stems with buds that develop into new plants) that can be purchased from nurseries. There are two main kinds of strawberries available: ‘June-bearing’ plants that will bear fruit in spring or early summer, and ‘Ever-bearing’ varieties that can be harvested from early summer right up until early autumn. While June-bearing varieties can take up to a year to establish, ever-bearing plants can give you fruit the very first year and may allow you to extend your harvest over a period of weeks or months. Do note that there are many varieties within each grouping of strawberries and your local nursery should be able to recommend some good ones for the climate in your area. Tip: It is best to buy the runners just before you intend to plant them into the ground or container. Leaving them for too long in their store-bought pots can cause them to become root-bound and unhealthy, preventing them from growing well when replanted.

4. Prepare a soil that will make your strawberries happy

Strawberries like rich, loamy soil that drains well. Start with what you have and add plenty of organic matter (such as compost, shredded bark or peat moss) as well as some sand or grit. Most potting soil mixes sold at nurseries will be sufficient. Ensure that the soil is free of weed roots and that the container has drainage holes in the bottom. Tip: If growing in a hanging basket, line the basket with sphagnum moss before putting soil to retain moisture for the plants. Sphagnum moss will also allow for the plant to grow out the sides of the pot, which looks nice.

5. Plant it right

Set plants into the soil, ensuring that each crown (where the leaves emerge) sits just above the surface and spaced 10-12 inches apart – this is closer than they would be in the ground and will make it easier to water them. Firm the plants in and water to settle the soil around the roots. Mulch after planting (with dry leaves) to reduce a loss of water due to evaporation and provide food for beneficial soil microbes. Runners can look quite severe with their minimal top growth and often less-than-plump roots. This is normal, so worry not! Tip: While potted strawberries can be planted any time of the year, it is best to plant them in spring.

6. Super simple maintenance

To encourage flowering, feed with all-natural homemade fertilizers ( a weekly handful dose of leftover filter coffee grounds can work wonders) and water regularly. However, don’t overdo the water — the shallow roots need water in hot weather but don’t like being soggy. Soon you’ll see tiny green strawberries, which shows that the fruit has ‘set’! Strawberries flower and fruit in the cool months, around October to February. It is important that you take good care of your plants during summer. Do note that strawberry plants continue to be productive for at least 2-3 years but will need to be replaced thereafter. To renovate June-bearing plants for next year, trim off their old leaves, making sure not to damage the centre stalk (crown) of the plant. Ever-bearers do not need this trimming. Tip: Tuck some straw under the fruits to keep them clean and dry, and to discourage slugs and snails. Wet fruit rots very easily.

7. Harvesting Happiness

When picking your strawberries, be sure to exercise patience and pick the fruits that look like the ones at the right end of the spectrum. Picking prematurely halts the development of the natural sugars, nutrients, and vitamins and will result in harder, tart or sour berries.
Pick strawberries when they are bright red all over, ideally during the warmest part of the day because this is when they are at their tastiest. Eat them as soon as possible or transform them into scrumptious preserves. Also, after fruiting, cut back the foliage to leave just the central, young leaves intact. Runners should be removed (unless you want to propagate new plants) to ensure plants bulk out again — the more runners a single mother plant has, the more resource/nutrition will drain off from the mother plant. Tip: Always pick so that the stem is left intact.
0 0 238 10 January, 2018 Alternative, Positive more
This Stray Dog Breaks Record for Airport Security !
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This Stray Dog Breaks Record for Airport Security !

Skipper is an 8-year-old beagle mix who works at the San Francisco International Airport – and apparently, he’s the best of the best. Skipper’s job is to locate any produce being carried in suitcases that could bring dangerous pests into the United States. Just before Thanksgiving, Skipper located a banana, thus marking his 20,000th seizure and shattering the previous record that had been set by another dog at 14,000 food seizures. There’s no question that this is what Skipper is meant to do, but it’s not what he was born doing. Before Skipper worked at the airport, he was a lonely stray who was found living on the streets of Michigan. After Skipper was rescued, he started to training to become a sniffer dog. Even though Skipper’s forever home isn’t the traditional kind, it’s still perfect for him because he’s happy, he’s healthy, and he’s silently helping to keep Americans safe every day.
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With Agro-Waste You Could Grow Your Own Mushrooms!
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With Agro-Waste You Could Grow Your Own Mushrooms!

Remember how Delhi had become a gas chamber right after Diwali? Part of the reason was the burning of agro by-products in Haryana and Punjab, as there isn’t a practical solution to dispose of agro waste. However, first-year students of MG Science college in Ahmedabad have found what seems to be an excellent alternative to this issue. Guided by their professor Mrugesh Shukla, they learnt how to grow mushrooms out of agro waste. After experimenting for the past one month, they organised a one-day seminar-cum-workshop and spread their knowledge to students of other colleges. The students produced compost and mushrooms through the degradation of waste, which was mostly sugarcane and wheat. Then they transferred it into a recyclable plastic bag. After two weeks the fertiliser was ready. In another 25 days, the mushrooms had grown. Here’s how they did it: 1. They took rice, wheat and sugarcane barn and chopped them into small pieces. 2. Then they added water to it. 3. The ingredients were then put into a recyclable plastic bag. This was left to ferment for two weeks. 4. When it turned into fertiliser, they provided water and air. 5. After two weeks, it had edible mushrooms growing out of it. “This is the right season to grow mushrooms as one doesn’t have to maintain temperature. While growing it, the bag must be kept away from direct sunlight. This is the easiest method, which farmers can quickly learn,” Krishna Pandya, one of the trainers, told DNA.
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Store Donates 35,000 Pounds of Food During A Refrigerator Malfunction
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Store Donates 35,000 Pounds of Food During A Refrigerator Malfunction

While this grocery store could have simply trashed all of the food in their coolers during a refrigerator malfunction, they donated all 35,000 pounds of their perishable goodies to charity instead. The Trader Joe’s of Kalamazoo, Michigan experienced some technical difficulties in their cooling system on Wednesday. Most businesses in the food industry – if faced with the same dilemma – would simply call a mechanic and attempt to save the food before it all goes bad and ends up in the garbage. Trader Joe’s policy, however, requires their stores to donate all of their perishables to charity. The groceries from last week’s malfunction were donated to Kalamazoo Gospel Mission: a local shelter that serves over 600 meals to the city’s homeless every day. Though 95% of their food is donated, the ministry says that the Trader Joe’s donation is the single largest contribution that they have ever received. Greg Weaver, Director of Food Service at the mission said. “They called us and we were able to mobilize a team within an hour that consisted of staff and volunteers.” “They just really exemplified a culture of generosity and we’re just so thankful for them,” he added.
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Sarah Silverman Was Insulted By Him But She Pays For His Medical Treatment Instead
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Sarah Silverman Was Insulted By Him But She Pays For His Medical Treatment Instead

While Sarah Silverman is a comedian renowned for being unafraid of vulgarity, she recently showed her soft side to a Twitter user who insulted her over politics. Silverman originally tweeted that she was open to having a discussion with Donald Trump supporters about their differing political views on social media, should the opportunity arise; but despite her polite wording in the post, a Twitter user named Jeremy Jamrozy called Silverman a sexist slur. Instead of responding in kind, however, Silverman looked at the man’s other posts and saw that he was a man suffering from difficult circumstances.   She then wrote to Jamrozy saying: “I believe in you. I read ur timeline & I see what ur doing & your rage is thinly veiled pain. But u know that. I know this feeling. Ps My back f***ing sux too. See what happens when u choose love. I see it in you.” The two started discussing their problems until Jamrozy apologized to Silverman for his behavior. “Don’t give up on yourself,” the comedian responded. “Be brave enough to risk getting burned. It’s what happens when u fight for yourself. But it’s worth it. I promise.”   Silverman finished the heartwarming exchange by asking her 12.3 million Twitter followers if they knew of a doctor in the San Antonio area who could help Jamrozy with his back pain. Not only that, but she also told Jamrozy that she would pay for his medical treatment. “I was once a giving and nice person, but too many things destroyed that and I became bitter and hateful,” Jamrozy said. “Then Sarah showed me the way. Don’t get me wrong, I still got a long way to go, but it’s a start.”
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She gave her home to a homeless family living in a broken bus
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She gave her home to a homeless family living in a broken bus

Olivia, Eric, and their three daughters — an infant, toddler and 5-year-old — were living in a partially converted school bus. The family of five had been moving across the U.S. when they broke down in Greeley, Colorado. Broke and homeless, Olivia was certain this holiday season would be nonexistent for her kids. Meanwhile, Virginia Finch and her daughters were preparing Thanksgiving meals for the homeless. They heard about a family living behind the nearby gas station and went to deliver the food to them. It was Olivia and her brood. Finch and her daughters listened to their heartbreaking story. The second they got home, they began putting a plan in place for what they could do for the troubled family. With the cold season approaching, the Finch family could not bear to think of the babies suffering in the cold. “There’s no way I’m going to leave a baby with no crib for a bed on Christmas,” Finch thought to herself. That’s when she thought of the second house that her family was preparing to sell or rent. She returned to Olivia with a proposition, and at first, the struggling mom of three thought it was some kind of cruel joke: Finch asked the homeless family if they would like to live in the house.  
0 0 237 08 January, 2018 Alternative, Positive more
First Country To Make It Illegal To Pay Women Less Than Men
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First Country To Make It Illegal To Pay Women Less Than Men

A new law making it illegal to pay men more than women has taken effect in Iceland. The legislation, which came into force on Monday, the first day of 2018, means that Iceland is the first country in the world to legalise equal pay between men and women. Under the new rules, companies and government agencies employing at least 25 people will have to obtain government certification of their equal-pay policies. Those that fail to prove pay parity will face fines. "The legislation is basically a mechanism that companies and organisations ... evaluate every job that's being done, and then they get a certification after they confirm the process if they are paying men and women equally," said Dagny Osk Aradottir Pind, a board member of the Icelandic Women's Rights Association. "It's a mechanism to ensure women and men are being paid equally," she told Al Jazeera. "We have had legislation saying that pay should be equal for men and women for decades now but we still have a pay gap." {articleGUID} Iceland, an island country in the North Atlantic Ocean that is home to approximately 323,000 people has a strong economy, based around tourism and fisheries. For the past nine years, it has been ranked by the World Economic Forum (WEF) as the world's most gender-equal country. The Global Gender Gap report uses markers such as economic opportunity, political empowerment and health and survival, to gage the state of gender equality in a country. Since the reports began in 2006, Iceland has closed around 10 percent of its total gender gap, making it one of the fastest-improving countries in the world. The new legislation was supported by Iceland's centre-right government, as well as the opposition, in a parliament where nearly 50 percent of all members are women. "I think that now people are starting to realise that this is a systematic problem that we have to tackle with new methods," said Aradottir Pind. "Women have been talking about this for decades and I really feel that we have managed to raise awareness and we have managed to get to the point that people realise that the legislation we have had in place is not working and we need to do something more," she added. The Icelandic government plans to completely eradicate the wage gap by 2020.

Gender inequality worldwide

According to the latest WEF report, the top five best performers in the global gender gap are Iceland, Norway, Finland, Rwanda and Sweden. Yemen, on the other hand, is currently the lowest-ranked of the 144 countries measured in the report. The war-torn country has been low-performing in terms of economic participation and opportunity for several years. Fifty-two countries fell below the global average in 2017, including China, Liberia and the United Arab Emirates, while 60 saw their overall gender gap decrease. Hungary was the only European country to be ranked lower than the global average, having scored poorly on political empowerment.
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Sustainable Fashion ! These Fabrics Made From Banana, Pineapples, and Jute
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Sustainable Fashion ! These Fabrics Made From Banana, Pineapples, and Jute

Banana, pineapple, bamboo, jute, aloe vera, flax, hemp, beetroot, pomegranate, teak, sewali flowers… No, this article is not about agricultural products or botanical names of plants. It is about fashion, fabric, colours and style! Today, more and more people are consciously making efforts to veer away from environmental unfriendly clothes. Till a few years ago, there was a lot of talk about eco-friendly fashion. Now, this trend has a broader vision—sustainable fashion. Designers today not only use fabric and dyes made out from the plants and fruits mentioned above but also try to make their work more sustainable and reduce their carbon footprint, by opting to work with local weavers and artisans.In this way, they also help in generating employment in their surroundings, thereby sustaining them and their craft. Leaders like Sonia Gandhi, Smriti Irani, Michelle Obama and celebrities like Emma Watson, Michael Fassbender, Gwyneth Paltrow, Vidya Balan, and Priyanka Chopra, have also helped in popularising sustainable fashion, by wearing organic clothes. “We need celebrities to show off these clothes and also talk about them because we hope that this will get the masses to emulate them,” emphasises Premal Badiani, an Indian designer based in the US. “I decided to work with sustainable fashion to put together a collection which I would be proud of. We all have the power to be influencers and make choices that are environmentally, socially and ethically conscious,” declares the designer who mostly used fabric made from plant pulp in her collection that was showcased at the New York Fashion Week in 2017. The creation of sustainable fabrics is an intensive process which begins by looking at the conditions under which the plant has grown. It must be ensured that they have been grown without the use of chemicals, and minimum water and power have been consumed to maintain the fertility of the soil. Later, the transportation of raw material to the weavers should also be monitored—they should not travel a long distance—so that minimum carbon emission takes place. Once the fabric is woven, it is transported to the designers. Many designers have begun to travel to different states, work with weavers and artisans there, and bring the desired fabric back to their workplaces. Vaishali Shahdangule is a Mumbai-based designer, who travels to the villages of West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh to source Jamdhani and Chanderi fabric, and Anita Dongre works with weavers and artisan of Kutch to get Bandhani silk and cotton. Several other prominent and upcoming names in the fashion industry are striving to popularise sustainable fashion. Guwahati-based designer Nandini Baruva presented her collection ‘Bhumisattva’ at the Lakme Fashion Week last year, and all of her work was centred around sustainable fashion.Nandini used fabric made from banana, pineapple (pina fabric) and Eri silk. Her collection even had accessories like bags and footwear that had been made from natural sources.
She says, “Plant-based yarns have to be appropriately treated. They all have a unique texture, colour and sheen, but to get the right flow for the garment, we blend these yarns with others like cotton or silk since, in their pure form, most of these yarns are sometimes stiff and fragile.” An interesting fact to note here is that except for Eri and Muga silks (both extracted from silkworms without killing them), no other plant-based yarn can be woven to produce saris, because of their limited length and width. So, they are used to create Indo-Western silhouettes.
The sustainable method of producing plant-based yarns is not new to India or the world. “Banana fabric was used to adorn deities and gods in the olden days and was used as a replacement for zari in weaving motifs in a sari, as it had gold-like appearance because of its natural colour. However, over the years, this fibre, along with other natural resource fibres, lost out because of the complex and labour intensive production methods adopted in mass production” explains Siddhant Beliwal who designed garments using banana fabric for his Bachelor’s degree final project. Currently pursuing his Masters in International Fashion Marketing and Management, from Heriot-Watt University, Siddhant is planning to work in future with lotus fibre, alpaca wools, spider silk and vicuna fibre. He admits that in India, sustainable fashion is just gaining popularity. But lately, consumption patterns have changed among influencers, which is making the masses also aware of such clothes. Companies like the Raymond Group and Grasim have also started producing organic or sustainable clothes. In fact, Grasim has been manufacturing viscose staple fibre (VFS) for many years. The Raymond group recently launched a branded Khadi label—Khadi by Raymond—under a partnership with KVIC and will promote the fabric globally.
As all the designers opine that it might take a couple of decades to make these clothes popular among the masses as, at present, they are clubbed under high-end apparel because their production cost is much higher than fibres produced by using the power loom. However, to look on the positive side, at least a start has been made. The media is writing about it, interest has been generated, and international fashion brands like Hermes, Gucci, Louis Vuitton (to name a few) have unveiled separate collections featuring sustainable clothes. Our planet is suffering, and a lot of it is because of the way we create stuff. It is this dynamic of “trendy through necessity” that makes sustainable fashion such an exciting area right now.
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How would you repay a good waiter ? This man did the unexpected !
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How would you repay a good waiter ? This man did the unexpected !

While most of us may appreciate a restaurant worker’s exceptional service, Edward Pollard went out of his way to repay his waiter for his consistent kindness. Pollard frequently pops into a local eatery for lunch during his work weed – and every time he does, he requests a specific server because of the man’s wonderful service. “This gentleman takes such pride in his work. He is always extremely polite and conversational,” Pollard wrote on Facebook. “The kind of person who instantly can put a smile on your face.” Pollard also always saw this man on his way home from working a shift; and instead of getting into a car and driving home, Pollard would watch the waiter walk to and from the bus stop. “I have seen him walking in the blazing summer heat and I have seen him walking in the harsh cold winter,” Pollard explained. “No matter his circumstances, when I see him at work, he is always upbeat and a joy to be around.” This inspiring outlook on life spurred Pollard to do something kind for his waiter. Instead of just leaving a hefty tip on his meal earlier this week, Pollard surprised the man with a car. After Pollard made sure that the automobile was parked outside of the restaurant, he told the waiter: “See that car right there? That’s your car!” Overwhelmed with emotion, the waiter hugged Pollard and began crying over his amazing generosity.  
0 0 288 06 January, 2018 Alternative, Positive more
Study shows that living near gym may make you slimmer
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Study shows that living near gym may make you slimmer

Living far away from fast food outlets also appeared to help people maintain a lower weight and trimmer waist.
 Globally, more than 1.9 billion adults are overweight or obese, according to the World Health Organization. (Photo: Pixabay)
People who live close to gyms, pools and playing fields weigh less and have smaller waistlines than their counterparts residing farther away from exercise facilities, a UK study suggests. Living far away from fast food outlets also appeared to help people maintain a lower weight and trimmer waist, although this connection wasn’t as strong as the proximity of gyms, researchers report in the Lancet Public Health. “It is likely that communities without the neighborhood resources needed to encourage a healthy lifestyle put their residents at a higher risk of obesity,” said senior study author Steven Cummins of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. “This could be improved by restricting the number of new fast food outlets in a neighborhood and how close they can be to people’s homes, incentivizing operators of physical activity facilities to open in residential areas with few facilities, or funding local authorities to provide such facilities,” Cummins said by email. Globally, more than 1.9 billion adults are overweight or obese, according to the World Health Organization. The condition contributes to a variety of common medical problems including heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers. For the study, researchers examined data on weight, waist measurements and body fat for more than 400,000 men and women ranging in age from 40 to 70. The study used data collected between 2006 and 2010 that included demographic characteristics like household income, as well as what types of eating and exercising options were available near people’s home addresses. To determine exercise opportunities, researchers looked for indoor and outdoor facilities for sports and leisure activities such as gyms, swimming pools and playing fields. They didn’t consider public parks or cycling and walking paths. On average, people had just one exercise facility within 1 kilometer (0.62 miles) of home. And almost one-third of participants had no options this close to where they lived, the study found. People typically had to travel just 1.1 kilometers (0.68 miles) to reach a fast food outlet. Nearly one in five people had a fast food restaurant within a half-kilometer (0.31 miles) of home. Better access to exercise options translated into a healthier weight. Compared to people who had no facilities near home, people who had at least six places to work out weighed less, had a 1.22 centimeter (0.47 inch) slimmer waistline, and had a body fat percentage that was 0.81 percent lower on average. At the same time, people who lived at least 2 kilometers (1.24 miles) from a fast food outlet had a waistline 0.26 centimeters (0.10 inches) smaller than individuals who lived less than a half-kilometer away, the study also found. One limitation of the study is that not all fast food restaurants may have been included in the database, the authors note. The study also didn’t account for the proximity of healthy dining establishments near home, or the type of food and workout options close to where people worked. The study was not a controlled experiment designed to prove whether or how neighborhood characteristics like the availability of gyms or greasy spoons might impact obesity rates. It’s hard to rule out the possibility that healthier people may choose to live near the amenities they need to stay healthy, said Pablo Monsivais, author of an accompanying editorial and a nutrition and exercise researcher at Washington State University in Spokane. But the study still suggests that where we live matters, Monsivais said by email. “Individually, each of us makes choices that affect whether we maintain a healthy weight or put on pounds, but these choices are shaped by the environments we inhabit,” Monsivais added. “This study looked at just a few features of the environment, but research shows that things like green space, walkability, noise, air quality and the availability of healthy food choices all seem to matter for our health and body weight.”
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