Smell Like Dirt

In Spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” Margaret Atwood

Archive for February, 2008

Keep counting those birds!

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The Great Backyard Bird Count is over for this year, but that’s no reason to stop recording the birds you see in your backyard! There are a number of good sites for keeping track of the birds that visit your yard or birds you see when you are out birding away from home. Ebird is a site launched by Cornell and The Audubon Society. Once you sign up, it lets you enter birds you see in your backyard, or if you are a big birder and take lots of birding trips, you can document the birds you see anywhere in the western hemisphere. Its a great way to keep track of all the birds you’ve seen. But better than that, it allows Cornell and Audubon track bird populations, detect changes in migration and breeding habits and also monitor threatened species.

A second site is called Yardbirder and lets you keep a list of all the birds in your backyard and share that list with others. Have some birders in your extended family or friends across the country? Compare lists and see what’s going on in their yards during different times of the year.

So if you enjoyed the Great Backyard Bird Count, there’s no reason you can’t do it year round. Its fun and you’ll be helping scientists better understand what’s happening in the world of ornithology!

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Stop those Catalogs!!

If you’re like me, you get TONS of catalogs in the mail each week. And since you are on a environmentally-themed blog, I assume you are recycling those catalogs instead of tossing them into the trash. But have you ever wished you could stop those catalogs from coming in the first place? It drives me crazy when I think of the trees that are killed for the pages in the catalogs, the energy that’s used to print them and then the fuel that the post office uses to move them all over the country. If there was just some way to stop them. Well, now there is! A friend recently shared a new website that you can use to stop receiving catalogs. And the best thing is that you can pick and choose which ones to stop. Can’t bear to live without yourLL Bean? You don’t have to! This service is not like the “do not call” service for telemarketers that stops everything. You can select which ones you no longer wish to see. And its easy. I let my catalogs pile up for a few days and then when I have a few minutes, I go to www.catalogchoice.org. The first time you will need to join (its free!) and then it will ask you to enter the name of the catalog you wish to stop. Chances are, its already in their database, so you click on it, but if not, you can enter a new one. Then it will ask you to enter your name, exactly how it appears on the catalog (this is important), and your customer number if you have one–usually printed on the address label– and that’s it! They will notify the catalog company and you will be taken off their list. I figure its going to take me a few months to get all of the catalogs I receive stopped, but its worth it. I wonder if my mailman will notice?

Late Winter Pruning

If you haven’t already, now is the time to prune those bushes and shrubs that call for “late winter” pruning. Butterfly bushes, hollies, boxwoods, pompas grass, camelias— if you have any of these in your gardens, now is the time to give them a gentle pruning or whack them back drastically, whatever they need. But be careful you are not trimming anything that will be blooming soon. Azaleas, rhododendrons, gardenias and spirea, for example should be shaped AFTER they bloom this spring and summer. If you trim azaleas or rhodies now, you will be cutting off all of this years blooms, which they set last fall. Wait until after they bloom but before July 1 to shape them up (if you must….I like the natural form of both plants the best) Hydrangeas are an entirely different matter. Some species bloom on old wood and shouldn’t be trimmed now and some bloom on new wood and would benefit from a good pruning, so make sure you know which type you have and do some research before grabbing those loppers! And while you are in the yard trimming, look up and take a gander at your tree limbs before the leaves start reappearing. Now is a great time to take note of limbs that might have been damaged this winter or are already dead and schedule a professional to come out and remove them, if necessary. Its too early to start planting but the days are getting longer and there are plenty of signs that spring is just around the corner, so take this opportunity to get outside and putter in your garden!

Shuttle Launch

The Space Shuttle Atlantis launched from the Kennedy Space Center earlier this week with a payload for the International Space Station.   Depending on where you live, you may be able to see the space shuttle as it orbits the earth and docks with the ISS.  Click here for a list of viewing times and dates for the space shuttle and the space station.

Add Some Passion to Your Garden!

Passion Vine, or May Pops as its known in its native Southeast, is a vigorous climber with an exotic bloom that attracts hummingbirds and butterflies.  Since its such a fast grower, we use it to cover the east end of our porch in the summer to provide shade from the sun while allowing the breeze to sweep through the porch.  With a simple and CHEAP trellis system, it was an inexpensive way to get some relief from the heat and attract wildlife for some close viewing.  Hope you enjoy the video and maybe you’ll be inspired to get passion-ate!