Smell Like Dirt

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

Archive for gardening

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!

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

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.

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

Edible Landscaping!

By now you know I do more landscaping for wildlife than gardening for my own food, but I’m a huge Locavore committed to eating as much locally grown food as possible.  I’m at the Farmer’s Market every Saturday morning and buy as much food as I can that is grown within 50 miles of my house.  Its a big movement that is spreadiing around the county and one committed soul is campaigning to have the next President of the United States (whomever that might be, let’s just get it over with already!) to plant a garden on the front lawn of the White House.  Remember Victory Gardens?  During WW II when most of our resources were going to feed the war machine, Americans were asked to plant a Victory Garden to help feed themselves.  Now, a movement is afoot to encourage Americans to grow Energy Gardens.  The concept is to grow at least some of our food to cut down on our dependency on industrial farms and reduce the amount of energy is takes to truck our food the average 1500 miles before it hits our plate.  The following video was produced by Eat The View and if you agree with the message, go their site and sign the petition.  But, even if you don’t sign the petition, try adding some plants to your landscaping to feed something….either you or wildlife.

Enjoy a WILD Staycation

With the price of oil at record highs and a slumping economy, we are all looking for entertainment on the cheap! Creating a wildlife habitat will provide lots of entertainment without ever cranking up the car. We shot a video of just some of the activity in our backyard that has kept us entertained over the years. And Jason and Cari at Backyard Wild are encouraging you to get your own habitat started by offering discounts on bird seed and feeders. Mention you saw it on Smell Like Dirt and get 10% off!