Smell Like Dirt

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

Last Composting/Wildlife Gardening Class until the Fall

COMPOST

I’m teaching my last composting and wildlife gardening class until Sept 09 this Saturday, May 9 at the Charlotte Nature Museum (1658 Sterling Rd, Charlotte, NC – (704) 372-6261). This class is sponsored by Mecklenburg County and attendees get a wire compost bin and a book about composting and sustainable gardening practices. Its an interactive class style and I use a lot of pics and short video clips that I take for Smell Like Dirt in my presentation. We’ll discuss using worms for composting kitchen scraps too!

If you want to attend, you must call the Nature Museum directly to register. I hope you will join us! Click here for more information

Pheno-What?

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You probably know about The Feederwatch Program at Cornell, right? Its a program that allows birders of all skills levels—beginners, experts and everyone in between–become Citizen Scientists by recording their bird sightings around the country to help scientists track population levels, spread of diseases, etc. As a birder, its a great tool for tracking when migrations will start or end so you know when should you visit a certain area of the country for peak birdwatching or what birds you are likely to see when you go to another state, etc. As a Gardener, I would love to have a site where I could go and research, for example, when should I plan my trip to Georgia to see the most azaleas in bloom. Or when is the average “peak” date for the Rhododendrons blooming in the mountains of the Carolinas. Well, Happy Birthday to Me! now there is such a site. The USA National Phenology Network is dedicated to, well, Phenology which (according to the site) “is the study of recurring plant and animal life cycle events, such as leafing and flowering of plants, maturation of agricultural crops, emergence of insects, and migration of birds.”
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And they are asking for us to help them by reporting when the Dogwoods are blooming our gardens or when you picked your first tomato, basic “gardening journal” stuff that you’ve been doing for years. And if you’ve kept your journals, you can go back as far as you have records and upload the information. You can even help them track Monarch Butterfly migration. Once we all start reporting our observations, the Powers That Be can take our information and compile it with information from others to paint a very accurate picture of what we can expect blooming (or not) around the country. Its very easy to sign up and they need help in every corner of the country. Every gardener already pays attention to what’s blooming and fruiting anyway, but now you have a place to record it for people who are really interested in what you are seeing. You can be a part of the BIG picture!

Creating a Wildlife Habitat Series

Backyard Habitat
If you live near Charlotte, come and join us for a two part series on Creating a Wildlife Habitat. On Tuesday, March 3 at 7pm. I will be presenting how to provide the four critical elements needed for a Wildlife Habitat (food, water, shelter, places to raise young), planting with natives, lawn and chemical reduction as well as soil and water conservation. The meeting is free and open to everyone. On April 7, Landscape Designer and Habitat Steward, Mary Bures, will be teaching how to design a landscape that is wildlife friendly. The meeting is sponsored by Habitat and Wildlife Keepers (HAWK), a chapter of the NC Wildlife Federation. The meeting takes place at the Matthews Community Center and is free and open to everyone. Hope you will join us! For more info, click here

Bluebirds!!

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Its that time of year!  The bluebirds are starting to shop for a nice home in which to raise their families this year and if you want to ensure that they pick YOUR backyard, mealworms are the ticket!  Of course, you still need to make sure you are providing them with a quality home that meets all their specifications.  If you live in the Charlotte, NC region, my favorite birdstore is Backyard Wild in Matthews and they offer an assortment of official bluebird houses to meet all budget types.  They have a great house that will open up on one side so you can monitor the progress of the babies!  If you start offering mealworms now, you increase your chances of scoring a bluebird family this spring and you can train the bluebirds to come when you whistle.  If you really want to impress your friends, you can teach them to eat out of your hand.  This takes time and patience, but wouldn’t that be great?  Here’s our video on bluebirds to inspire you to go out and get a good birdhouse and some mealworms!

Birding with Binoculars

Just in time for the Great Backyard Bird Count, here’s a Quick Tip to help you find those birds using binoculars.   The GBBC is a great way to practice your birding skills while helping ornithologists track birding populations, migration patterns, etc.  The Bird Count starts Friday the 13th and goes thru Monday the 16th.  You can do it everyday or just one day.  All day, or just 15 minutes…whatever your schedule will allow.    You can count alone in your backyard or at a park with friends.  No matter what you decide, come on out and join us as we count birds across the country and practice using those binoculars!

Put all your egg(shells) in one basket!

Another Down & Dirty tip using eggshells to feed the birds.  Eggshells are high in calcium and if you put them out for your birds to eat, it will give them “strong teeth and bones” as the saying goes, but will also give them the nutrients they need to lay strong eggs this spring.  So start putting those eggshells to work instead of putting them in the trash.

The R’s

Back in the day, it used to be there were just Three R’s—Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. And then they started adding more: Repurpose, Repair, Refuse, etc. Not sure how many we are up to now, but let’s pause at repurpose for just a second. Don’t you just love taking something that was intended for one thing and totally rethinking it and using it for something else? It doesn’t have to be a big thing, even. Take toilet paper rolls for example. Little bitty things I used to put in the recycling bin if the dogs didn’t eat them first. Well, here’s another use for them that will help make your life a little better, I hope. Enjoy the second installment of SLD’s Down and Dirty Quick Tip. Special appearance by Buddy Foster—Debbie’s bird.