Smell Like Dirt

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

Archive for ecosystem

Compost. Managing a Natural Process

Backyard Composting is simply taking a process that’s completely natural and speeding it up so that we can reuse the yard waste from our gardens for the benefit of our gardens. If you can’t take one of my classes (see previous post) then take the time to watch these videos and feel free to ask if you have any questions!

Water!

After a long dry spell (pun intended), we’re back with a video about water.

Of the four elements of a wildlife habitat: Food, water, shelter and places to raise young, I think water is the most important. EVERYTHING needs water and being creative in providing water for wildlife can lead to hours of enjoyment watching the birds and other wildlife in your backyard.

If you have some creative ways you are providing water in your habitat, please let us know by sending pictures or videos.

Ruby Crowned Kinglet

We had so many comments on the Ruby Crowned Kinglet footage that we used in the “Window Feeder” video we decided to post a longer clip of the RCK! Hope you enjoy this view of the rarely seen crown.

How much is that birdie in the window?

Great, now you’ll be humming that song all day, right?

Smell Like Dirt announces a new feature for the New Year! Down & Dirty Quick Tips! We will be doing a series of short videos (hopefully a minute or less) highlighting something you can do in your garden, home, workplace, etc to help wildlife, the environment, or just make life a little easier. We are launching this new feature with this short video on how to get a closer look at the birds in your backyard. During the filming we were able to capture a Ruby Crowned Kinglet showing off for its reflection in the window and couldn’t wait to share it. If you’ve ever seen RCK’s in the field, you know how difficult it is to watch these birds because they flit around so much. Its hard to get a good look at them and even harder to see the crown which is rarely seen. This video shows why…..it is not even visible unless the bird “flexes” its feathers. I hope you enjoy the video and keep checking back for more Smell Like Dirt “Down and Dirty” tips.

Composting Season Approaches

Yes, another re-run but for good reason! Composting season is just around the corner. The very best thing you can do for your garden is to add compost. And spreading free compost that you made yourself is the most satisfying feeling you can imagine. So, we’re re-posting the compost video, Part 1 (part 2 at right in the VodPod) and if you live near Charlotte and want to take a 4-hour composting class, here’s the schedule. I’ll be teaching the classes on Oct 4 at Reedy Creek and Oct 25 at Latta Plantation.

The Top Five


The pain at the pump right now is being felt by everyone. And although, high gas prices are probably going to be a good thing for the environment in the long term, its hard right now as we adjust to these new prices. So, we’re offering additional things we can all do to save money and save the environment at the same time. These are relatively easy and relatively cheap, especially when you consider the return on your investment. So try some of these hints and let me know if you have any suggestions for other quick and easy ideas.

Change your five most used light bulbs from incandescents to compact fluorescent lights (CLFs). They use less energy, last ten years or longer (the ones in our garage will be 11 in August), and burn cooler. If everyone did just the top 5 bulbs in our homes, it would be the equivalent of taking one million cars off our roads. Want to save more energy and pollution? Change all your light bulbs.

Use Dryer Balls. For about $10, you can by these balls to use when you dry your cloths. The balls help break apart the wet clothing so they dry faster using less energy!

Use reusable bags when you shop. And NOT just for groceries! Going to your favorite drug store, office supply store, vitamin shop, or hardware store? Don’t forget your bags! If you make it a hard and fast rule, it will only take two times of forgetting your bags and having to walk back out to your car to get them, to remember to take them the first time. And it makes it so handy to throw a couple over your shoulder, walk through the store filling them up and then emptying them to pay and then filling them back up again. Unless you are doing a big shopping trip, an added bonus is that you don’t have to touch those germ laden shopping carts or baskets!

Unplug appliances when not in use. Appliances burn up to 40% of their electricity even when they are in the off mode. Our TV, DVD, stereo, etc are all plugged in to a surge protector. At night, once we are done with those components, we simply switch off the surge protector. There’s no need for them to burn 40% of their electricity 22 hours a day for the two hours they are in use. We also unplugged the alarm clock and the TV in the guest room. And why should the microwave be burning electricity all day just to use it for 10 minutes (if that!) around dinner time?

Now, this next one is a little more effort, but has a big impact so its worth it: Reduce the size of your lawn! If you reduce, or better yet, eliminate the amount of grass you have, you will cut down on the chemicals (weed killers, fertilizers) you pour on the grass, you cut down on the water you use, you decrease the mowing you need to do. Consider replacing the grass with a natural area. A few native shrubs surrounded by mulch. The native plantings will not need as much care and the benefits native plant provide to wildlife is critical for a healthy ecosystem.

Ok, that last one was a little harder, but you have to admit, going green can be pretty easy and you’ll save money in the long run. And sure, there’s more you can do: install a rain barrel, buy a hybrid, start riding the bike that’s collecting dust in the garage, buy local food, etc. But even if you just do those top five things, it will make a big difference. I’d love to hear how you’re going green and saving money!

Gardening for bugs

Louise, a friend of Smell Like Dirt, alerted us to this recent article in the NY Times about the importance of gardening with native plants that will feed the native insects, who will then attract the native birds. Doug Tallamy has written Bringing Nature Home: How Native Plants Sustain Wildlife in Our Gardens which does a great job of explaining the importance of gardening with the entire food chain in mind. And, planting with native plants is a great way to cut down on the amount of water, chemicals and maintenance that a garden full of non-native species requires. Read the article and get inspired to attract more bugs!