Smell Like Dirt

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

Archive for April, 2008

Backyard Babes!

Spring is when most small animals breed so that their babies are born (or hatched) when the weather is milder and food is abundant, and there is plenty of evidence right in our backyard!  The birds are busy feeding babies so we shot this video on the important of providing the 4th element of a wildlife habitat—Places to Raise Young.  Its not too late to put up some nesting boxes in your habitat.  Most songbirds will have 2-3 broods in one nesting season that they often switch nesting sites, so there’s still time!

Clean AND Green (and cheap)!

We love it when readers send us stuff! and Friend of SLD, and SLD Photographer, Marketing Manager, Publicist, Agent, and Chief Bottlewasher, Lauri Shubert, alerted us to a recent article in Good Housekeeping magazine. While she was sitting on the veranda, sipping mint juleps (editors note: this is a lie. With two boys in school and involved in multiple sports, a full time job and a husband running a business out of their home, Lauri NEVER sits down anywhere. If she has a minute of free time, I assure you she’s on her hands and knees in the garden) when she came across this article rating a variety of home cleaning products that are environmentally friendly. To her surprise, she found that not only did they rate the effectiveness of the products as very good, but in many cases the green products were less expensive than their toxic-chemical- laden cousins! Read the article for the details, but here’s a summary:

  • LAUNDRY: #1 Arm and Hammer Essentials 2x Concentrate ($3.49/50oz) but a close 2nd at half the price per load Purex Natural Elements ($7.00/100oz)
  • DISH DETERGENTS: Runaway winner Planet Ultra Dishwashing Liquid ($3.09/25oz)
  • ALL PURPOSE CLEANERS: Sun & Earth ($3.79/22oz) with a close and much cheaper second showing by Green Works All Natural Cleaner ($3.32/32 oz). Both of these were good grease cutters in the kitchen but for heavier jobs, count on Simple Green. Its concentrated so you can dilute it a lot or a little depending on the mess

The article says that most products that make the Green claim are biodegradable, phosphate and chlorine free, and get their ingredients from plants like coconut or palm (renewable resources) rather than petrochemicals like crude oil or natural gas (which are not renewable).  But always read the label and keep away from children and pets.  Just because it’s green doesn’t mean it’s not toxic.  Other green steps to take: try washable, reusable microfiber cloths rather than paper towels, spray cleaners on cloth rather than surfaces and you’ll use less and use the cold setting on your washer when possible.

So all of this gives us more proof that sometimes doing the right thing for the environment can also be the right thing for our wallets!

Feeling Blue? Get Outside!

A comment from Friend of SLD, Harry Schmeider, who writes a great blog on all things Bluebirds called Ambassador for the Bluebirds, reminded me of an article that another friend of SLD forwarded to us a few weeks ago.  Harry posted a comment on the hummingbird video post about relieving stress by smelling like dirt and Katie had sent this article to us from Discover Magazine written in 2007 which gives a scientific reason to what gardeners have known for a long time, that getting outside and getting dirty is good for your mood!  The article reports how researchers, studying treatments for allergies, injected patients with a soil bacterium called Mycobacterium vaccae and found that it activates a set of serotonin-releasing neurons in the brain—the same nerves targeted by anti-depressant drugs like Prozac!  As I said, gardeners could have saved them some time and money because we have known this for years, but its nice to have scientific proof.  And if you don’t have a garden, don’t worry about having to call your doctor to get a prescription, you can get the benefits from it by inhaling the bacterium during a walk in nature.  So, the next time you’re feeling a little blue, go outside and smell some dirt!

They’re baaackkkk!

Spring is here so the hummers can’t be far behind. This video shows some easy steps you can take to make sure the ruby throated hummingbirds choose your backyard as the place to raise their families. There’s nothing like having a bunch of energetic hummers zipping around the garden and fighting over feeders. We’ve added some great still photos from Lauri Shubert, Smell Like Dirt Official Photographer. And although we didn’t include it in this video, remember to provide a water source for the hummingbirds. We find that the mister is their favorite. We also added some clips at the end to show some of the challenges in filming videos in your own backyard! Enjoy and remember, mix your nectar with a 4:1 ratio. 4 cups water, 1 cup sugar.

Rain Barrels

Its raining in the southeast and when it does, we gets lots of hits from people looking for information on how to buy rain barrels  I decided to do a short post so that the information is easy to access.  If you live in the Charlotte NC metro area, there are two easy ways to order rain barrels in April.  In Charlotte, order your rain barrels through Mecklenburg Soil and Water Conservation District but hurry, deadline to order is April 7.  If you miss that deadline and live near Matthews, Habitat and Wildlife Keepers (HAWK) and the Town of Matthews have teamed up to sell the same rain barrels at the same price as the county.  Send an email to to order yours today, deadline April 15.  And if you don’t live close enough to the Charlotte area to take advantage of these sales, contact your local county extension office and ask where you can get a rain barrel .