Smell Like Dirt

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

Archive for habitat

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!

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LBJ’s

Don’t write off those Little Brown Jobs in your backyard as boring. Do a little research to see if they have a story to tell. We love to hear the white throated sparrows show up each fall. Their call of “Old Sam Peabody, Peabody, Peabody” makes me smile when I hear it. I thought I was seeing male and female birds, the male having a whiter strip and a “yellower” eye dot, but I was wrong! Watch this video and find out why!

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!

Attracting wildlife with Native Plants

I know, I know….its been a long time since we’ve posted a video but we’ve had a busy summer! The problem with writing a blog about nature is that you have to spend too much time in front of the computer instead of out in nature, so we have been doing less blogging and spending more time outside lately. BUT, we managed to put together this video about gardening with plants native to your area in order to attract wildlife to your yard. I read a book earlier this summer called <a href=”Bringing Nature Home: How Native Plants Sustain Wildlife in Our Gardens“>by Douglas Tallamy and although I knew how important it was to use native plants, Dr. T seemed to explain it better than I have heard before and I’ve been trying to spread the word (another great book, although a bit older is <a href=”Noah’s Garden: Restoring the Ecology of Our Own Backyards“>by Sarah Stein. I was even on the radio with the good Dr in early July talking about natives for an hour (click here to listen to the show). So this video is another attempt to get the word out on how important it is that we plant with natives. If we want birds and other wildlife, we can’t omit this very important part of the eco-system.

Habitat Steward Training

If you live near Charlotte, NC and are interested in learning more about creating habitats for wildlife and helping educate others about the importance of habitat preservation, please join us for a three day workshop being held in September. The Habitat Steward Program is a 24 hour course (3-8 hour days) developed by the National Wildlife Federation to help train volunteers to work with individuals, businesses, schools, places of worship, etc to create wildlife habitats in their communities. The course covers providing the four elements of a habitat (food, water, shelter, places to raise young), composting and soil stewardship, planting with natives, removal of invasives, wildlife identification, and a lot more. The program is being held Sept 19, 20 and 21, 8am-5pm each day, and you must attend all three days. The cost is $50 per person plus 40 service hours in your community. I will be facilitating the program hosted by Habitat and Wildlife Keepers (HAWK), a chapter of the North Carolina Wildlife Federation. Space is limited so if you are interested in joining us, please send me an email at HAWKNCWF@gmail.com.