Smell Like Dirt

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

Archive for Green Living

Save That Rain!

Rain Barrel

Here in the drought stricken Piedmont Area of North Carolina, its raining! And if you live in the Charlotte/Matthews, NC areas, you can order a rain barrel now for pickup at the Matthews Earth Day Festival on April 26 10a-2pm. 60 gallon rain barrels (like the one shown in the video) are $85 and the 80 gallons are $100. If you would like to order your rain barrel and start saving water, send an email to HAWKNCWF@gmail.com with your name, address, phone and indicating how many and what size rain barrels you want.   And then I’ll look forward to meeting you at the Earth Day Festival on April 26th.

Global Worming

I’ve got a dirty little secret! Actually a bunch of them. I have worms. I’m a huge fan of vermicomposting, or using worms to process my kitchen scraps. Its very easy to do and can be done cheaply as well. Its a great way for people who live in apartments or condos who can’t build a compost pile, to recycle their kitchen scraps. Done right, your vermicompost bin will not smell at all. There’s a great book by Mary Appelhof called Worms Eat My Garbage, and she has plans for a coffee table that opens up to a worm composter. Ok, I’m not that nuts, but its proof that you can do it indoors and your guests would never know. Worm poop, or castings, is a great organic fertilizer that helps the plants grow while keeping pests and diseases at bay. I hope you’ll watch the video and be inspired to start your own can-o-worms. Pls feel free to email me if you have any questions. smelllikedirt@gmail.com

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?

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!

Real Estate Boom

bbhouse.jpgWith all the talk about the real estate bubble bursting across the country, its definitely a buyers market right now.  And plenty of “buyers” will be visiting your backyard in the weeks to come.  February is when we start to see the birds staking their claims to the bird houses in our backyard.  The bluebirds will be among the first to check out the boxes in our backyard, so the first of February is when I make sure that I have cleaned out the houses well to welcome any pairs who may stop by.  There are disagreements among the experts about whether or not you should leave the old nests in the boxes, or clean them out, so I compromise by leaving in the old nests through the winter for insulation, but cleaning them out in February.  If you want the best shot at attracting a pair of bluebirds to your yard, start with a house specifically designed with bluebirds in mind.  There are many plans on line or you can visit your local bird store, like Backyard Wild in Matthews, to buy one.  All the books say to place your bluebird house so that it is facing an open area, preferably south or southeast.  Sometimes the birds have read the same books, but others have not.  The best way to ensure you will get a pair of bluebirds in your backyard is to offer them their favorite food, mealworms.  Although bluebirds will come to your traditional seed feeders, they are primarily insect eaters and can be easily trained to come when you whistle if you regularly offer them mealworms.   Start by picking a time of day that you consistently at home, for me, its in the morning.  Set up a worm feeding station.  It can be a dish on a deck rail, or a specifically designed feeding station that hooks onto the post where you have your bluebird house attached.  Every day, at roughly the same time, go outside and whistle, ring a bell or make another non-threatening noise and put your worms in the feeder.  Then go back inside and wait.  The first day or two, it make take a while for the birds to find it, but after that, they will learn that the time of day and the whistle or other noise you make means MEALWORMS! and they will be there waiting for you.  If you’re quiet and patient, you may even be able to stand near the feeder and watch them gobble up the worms.  Once you have the birds trained that there’s a reliable source of their favorite food in your backyard, they will most likely nest in the bluebird house you have provided for them, not matter what direction its facing.   And while you’re at it, don’t forget our other feathered friends.  Put up a variety of birdhouses. Different sizes with different size entry holes.  That will provide a place to raise young for a large variety of area songbirds and ensure your backyard is filled with beautiful birds all spring and summer.  A large variety of food will also attract a large variety of birds.  Add one final element of fresh water and you will be guaranteed a large demand for the birdhouse real estate in your yard!

Tree Seedling and Rain Barrel Sale January 26

The annual Mecklenburg County Tree Seedling and Rain Barrel Sale is just around the corner!  If you haven’t already ordered your rain barrel, make sure you do it by Monday, January 14th.  And when you are there picking up your Rain Barrel on the 26th, you can pick up a lot of great bushes and trees which are native to the Piedmont area of the Carolinas.  This sale is an hugely popular event and even though the doors don’t open until 9am, lines start forming around 8am.  There will be dogwoods, red maples, oaks, beauty berry, long leaf pine, button bushes and more on sale for $1-$5.  For a complete list and more information, click here.  Doors will remain open while supplies last, or noon, whichever comes first. If you miss out on the opportunity to get a rain barrel on the 26th, there will be other opportunities throughout 2008. For a list of the schedule, click here.

Repurposing your Christmas Tree

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!! The Three R’s of Green Living–and you can practice all three with one simple step.  Instead of putting your live Christmas Tree onto the curb for the county to pick up, consider using it to start a brush pile in your backyard.  Brush piles are a great way to provide food and shelter for the wildlife that visit your yard.  The decomposing wood will attract beetles and other bugs which will in turn feed birds and other wildlife.  The shelter from the elements and protection from predators will benefit all types of birds and other animals this winter and will turn into a “places to raise young” in the spring.   It will be its on little ecosystem!

Rain, Glorious Rain!!!

Over the last couple of days here in the drought ravaged Southeast, we have been experiencing a rare occurrence……RAIN! And fortunately, its the best kind of rain: a nice, gentle rain that is soaking into the ground versus a “gully washer” that runs off before the plants have a chance to take a drink. Its also a great reminder to install a rain barrel to keep some of the water for use later on when we are back in a dry spell. Mecklenburg County’s annual rain barrel sale will be January 26th, so I hope you will consider buying one for your garden. Deadline for ordering is January 14, 2008. And in case you haven’t seen our video and how to install a rain barrel, here it is again!

Bye Bye Birdie

We’ve all heard about the declining population of songbirds around the world, but here’s a great video by the CBC that does a wonderful job of explaining the impact of suburban sprawl, industrial farming and logging/clear cutting on our bird population. If you’re on this site, your probably already concerned about environmental issues, but I hope this video will inspire you to take your concern to the next level. Wildlife needs more advocates! If not you, then who?

Smell Like Dirt on NPR Website!

We were notified that the Rattlesnake Rescue Video was selected to be posted on NPR’s Talk of the Nation/Science Friday website!  For those of you who are fans of the show (Friday’s at 2pm EST on WFAE 90.7 in Charlotte), you know that they often request “science related” videos from listeners for their website.  We weren’t sure the Rattlesnake Video qualified as a science vid, but we submitted it anyway and were thrilled when we were contacted by the show’s producer for permission to post the video.  Of course, in this day and age, nothing is that easy, so we had to contact Loye and Sam, the stars of the video to see if they would be willing to sign a release allowing NPR to use their images and names on their site.  Neither one of them hesitated and we all sent our releases in promptly!  Not only is it totally cool to have our video posted on a national, dare I say “international” site, but more importantly, we are hoping that the exposure will educate others on how important snakes are to the eco-system and will make people think twice before they kill one. You may have already seen the original video (at right in VodPod), but check out the video on the SciFri website. Its been edited for length and also has a “never before seen” shot of the snake for a different vantage point that wasn’t included in the first video.