Smell Like Dirt

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

Archive for insects

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.

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They’re baaackkkk!

Spring is here so the hummers can’t be far behind. This video shows some easy steps you can take to make sure the ruby throated hummingbirds choose your backyard as the place to raise their families. There’s nothing like having a bunch of energetic hummers zipping around the garden and fighting over feeders. We’ve added some great still photos from Lauri Shubert, Smell Like Dirt Official Photographer. And although we didn’t include it in this video, remember to provide a water source for the hummingbirds. We find that the mister is their favorite. We also added some clips at the end to show some of the challenges in filming videos in your own backyard! Enjoy and remember, mix your nectar with a 4:1 ratio. 4 cups water, 1 cup sugar.

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!

Repurposing your Christmas Tree

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!! The Three R’s of Green Living–and you can practice all three with one simple step.  Instead of putting your live Christmas Tree onto the curb for the county to pick up, consider using it to start a brush pile in your backyard.  Brush piles are a great way to provide food and shelter for the wildlife that visit your yard.  The decomposing wood will attract beetles and other bugs which will in turn feed birds and other wildlife.  The shelter from the elements and protection from predators will benefit all types of birds and other animals this winter and will turn into a “places to raise young” in the spring.   It will be its on little ecosystem!

The Tree Controversy

A Real TreeI’ve decided to wade into the controversy of real vs fake trees.  Being a diehard “real” tree consumer, I was a little afraid of what I was going to discover when I started my research on which kind of Christmas tree is more eco-friendly.   Was I ready to give up the tradition of a real tree if I found out that a fake (or “life-like” as one friend calls his plastic tree) tree was better for the environment?  Well, the answer is…..it depends on who you ask.  Like a lot of issues regarding the environment, there seems to be differing opinions.  One camp says that cutting down a tree to stick in your house for a couple of weeks is crazy.  Why, that tree was producing oxygen!  Why would anyone cut down a perfectly healthy tree?  Of course, the tree would not have been planted at all if it weren’t for customer demand.  Another group says that fake trees are plastic, which is a petroleum based product so you are supporting the big oil companies by buying a petroleum based product.  And then there’s all the other chemicals that are in the tree and used in the process of making the tree.  Then there’s the “China Syndrome”….most of the fake trees are made in China so who knows what’s really in them!  Back to real trees.  Not only are you cutting down an oxygen producer, but you also have the transportation costs of getting it to you.  But, fake trees ride around in trucks too, but overall the carbon footprint of a fake tree is bigger than the footprint of a real tree.  Then there’s disposal.  Fake trees can be used many years before they are disposed of, which is a good argument for the “reduce, reuse, recycle” mantra.  BUT, when they do end up in the landfill, it will take thousands of years to break down (if ever).  My real tree, on the other hand, will end up on the brushpile in my backyard to provide cover for wildlife and food for bugs until it turns into compost and replenishes the soil.    But next year, I will have to buy another tree.  So the answer is, I have NO idea which is better.   Another option is buying a live potted tree, enjoying it indoors until after the holidays and then planting it outside.  Which sounds GREAT in theory, but the trees won’t live everywhere in the country, and with the drought in the Southeast right now, planting anything is not a good idea because you will need to keep it watered to give it a fighting chance of survival.So, this controversy is not going to be solved here at Smell Like Dirt.  I would be interested in hearing how you feel about it and what you will be decorating in your home this year……Real or Fake?  

Pileated Woodpeckers

Another video from our recent Smell Like Dirt Takes a Road Trip to the Ichetucknee Springs State Park in North Florida. We got lucky and stumbled upon a pair of Pileated Woodpeckers who were too focused on looking for food to care about us filming them. Pileated Woodpeckers can be found across the Eastern United States so most of us have a great chance to see them. Find a large forested area near you and see if you can find some for yourself. They are very loud so chances are you will hear them before you see them.

Special thanks to Lauri Shubert of Lake City, Florida, for letting us use the still photos of a male pileated working on a tree in her own backyard. Lauri definitely Smells Like Dirt!