Smell Like Dirt

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

Archive for water conservation

Spud-O-Matic Update!

Ok, I’ll admit it.  I’ve been horrible about keeping everyone updated on the potatoes.  But here’s the good, the bad and the ugly.  First, I will say that we enjoyed wonderful organically grown Red Pontiac and Yukon Gold potatoes.  BUT, not as many as we could have enjoyed if I had not made a couple of mistakes.  Mistake #1:  Grow only one kind of potato per bin.  The varieties grew at different rates and when one would be 6″ above the leaves and therefore time to add more leaves or compost, the other was only 2-3 inches tall so I had to bury them too deep and think I killed a few of them.   Also, in July, I had to relocate my potato bin because a local TV station wanted to come and shoot a piece on composting, and I had to move the bin to make room for the cameraman to get a good shot.   And if you remember from the video, I used chicken wire instead of hardware cloth so the pile didn’t move very well.  And the last issue wasn’t really a mistake:  At some point, a volunteer Butternut Squash started growing and at first I didn’t know what it was and my curiousity dictated that I had to let it grow, and then when I realized what it was, I decided I wanted some BN squash as badly as I wanted potatoes, so I just stopped adding leaves about half way up the bin and let everything grow.  After the vines bloomed and started turning yellow, I dug up the potaotes and we ate them with dinner that evening adn they were wonderful.   Then I let the BN squash continue and we got 5-6 off of that vine (I had two more volunteer vines in the garden area, so it was a good year for BNS, especially since I did not plant any).  But don’t let any of this discourage you from using this method to grow potatoes in your garden.  I have seen this work with my very own eyes at Renfrow’s Hardware in Matthews.   And David says to start bins at separate times so you have a succession of crops throughout the summer.  He recommends (for our Zone 7B) March 15, April 15 and May 15.   But, I don’t think I have the attention span to grow vegetables.  Plants have to be able to take care of themselves in my garden because I’m too easily distracted by everything else that’s going on out there.  But, I wanted to grow something to eat and I did….just not as many potatoes as I thought…..but a banner crop of rogue Butternut Squashes!

spudomatic results

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 HAWKncwf@gmail.com 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 .

Need another reason to save water?

This video is not a “Smell Like Dirt” production, but its definitely worth watching. I expect the sales of rain barrels to spike!

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.

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.

The Santa Fe River

Last October, we spent a week in North Florida kayaking the Ichetucknee River filming the amazing wildlife there (see video at right).  And while we were there, we took a day and kayaked about 10 miles of the Santa Fe River.  The Santa Fe is longer and wider than the Itch so you see some different wildlife, most notably, alligators!  We only saw two on this trip.  The Santa Fe has a unique characteristic in that it disappears at the O’Leno State Park and flows underground about three miles before it re-emerges.  We launched downstream of the River Rise Park where it comes back above ground. Although O’leno is something you should visit at least once, we did not visit there this trip. The area where the river flows underground looks like a large pond and is filled with all the trash that ignorant litterbugs throw into the river, which is sad to see.  There were about a dozen springs along the stretch that we kayaked.  It started out as a cool fall day, but warmed up during the trip which took about 6 hours (lots of wildlife viewing slowed us down!).  I hope you will enjoy this video of our adventures.  Special thanks to Lauri Shubert, our best kayaking buddy, for the still photographs used in this vid.  She does an amazing job of getting great stills of the flora and fauna on our trips.

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.

Rattlesnake Rescue Article

My hometown newspaper, The Lake City Reporter, ran a great article on the snake rescue.  Todd Wilson, Editor, spoke with Loye Barnard, one of the rescuers and an avid conservationist in North Florida, and wrote a great piece on how everything—plants and animals—has a purpose in nature.  We were delighted that Todd mentioned Smell Like Dirt and I hope if anyone from Lake City visits this site, they will post a comment.  If you haven’t seen the the Rattlesnake Rescue Video, check it out on the VodPod listing on this blog. And for you Lake Citians, there is also a great video of the Ichetucknee River in case you haven’t visited it recently. Hopefully you will be inspired to go kayaking!