Smell Like Dirt

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

Archive for wildlife

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

Advertisements

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!

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.

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.

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.

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!