The news over the last few weeks has been 99% bad. Take a break from it by catching up with what happened in the world of maple. While New York maple mourned the passing of a maple icon at the age of 105, Quebec set maple production records despite COVID-19, Northern Vermont launched a plastic tube and tap recycling program, and science astounded once again with the invention of an artificial tongue for taste-testing maple syrup. Quarantine has inspired at least one articulate young person to take up backyard sugar making, and sugar makers around the country like this one have been spreading some sweetness by donating maple syrup to folks on the front lines. In other pandemic news, a food craze emerges that’s close to our hearts: pancake cereal. And, speaking of food, check out these new maple-sweetened flavors of dairy-free ice cream if you get a chance. Or make your own maple-flavored treats with these recipes for spicy maple bacon, sinless salted caramel squares, chai baked pears, maple special falooda kulfi, maple fruit custard, chocolate avacado mousse or just plain trail mix.
The web is abuzz with helpful suggestions about how to plan a backyard vacation this year (backyard water park anyone?) including these articles on how to create a backyard you’ll love to spend time in, (also here) or “glowing-up” your backyard, creating a backyard vacation spot, making the backyard a destination for family fun and backyard pandemic staycationing (also here). Indeed, landscaping tips, and backyard activity lists abound (also here), as well as, of course, long waits for the things we buy to accomplish the above. There’s a whole lot of lower maintenance ideas, however. For example, backyard camping seems to be a particularly popular idea just about everywhere. People are pitching tents in Colorado, camping in the old backyard in Arkansas, and sleeping outside in Tennessee. Another take on pretending to be somewhere else: DIY backyard Italian staycationing. Ciao! Other super-cool ideas include: making a mud kitchen for the kids, DIY fairy gardening, getting the most out of your fire pit, buying beer by the keg,
You’ve heard of the widespread backyard lawn-and-gardening craze, of course, but have you heard about backyard farming, or backyard potato towers? How about pretending your gardening is actually doomsday prepping? Or are you interested in gardening with your kids? Starting your first compost pile? Foraging for wild food in your backyard? A gardener in Nebraska has set up a slow-moving backyard plant brawl, and gardeners around the world are helping to preserve Australia’s ancient Wollemi pine and caring for chemical-free lawns (make sure not to “P!”).
From gardens to the world’s favorite pollinators: DIY bee keeping is in the news, both the traditional domesticated and (modern?) wild kinds. (As are backyard chickens, of course.) In other backyard insect-related developments, you can join an international firefly-counting project or maybe a local bug-documenting challenge from the comfort of your own backyard these days.
Opportunities to learn about backyard critters go beyond bugs, of course! Alabama is launching an online backyard bio-blitz in June, and these homeowners are learning about the grey foxes and mountain lions that have taken up residence in their backyards. Yike!. There are many, many resources out there to support growing interest in backyard birding: birding with a college professor, birding for beginners, choosing a backyard bird feeder, backyard birding tips, and tales of backyard birding to name a few.