Smell Like Dirt

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

Archive for wildlife

Summer Reruns

Network TV can do it, so I figure, why can’t SLD?  Its July and the temps are in the 90’s pretty much every day now, and we are all spending a lot more time in the air conditioning, including me!  But we can’t forget the wildlife in the backyard who don’t have the option of coming in to get out of the brutal temperatures.  So I figured this is a great time to revisit our very first video, The Mister.  At about $20, the mister is cheapest and most fun method of providing water for birds and other wildlife.  And a great excuse to climb a tree!  Come on, you know you want to.

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Are you Certifiable?

Monarch Butterfly

Ok, so most of us know about getting our backyards (or schoolyards, or businesses, etc) certified as a Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation, right? It’s a fun thing to do and gives you great bragging rights and a wonderful opportunity to educate friends and neighbors on providing the four elements of a habitat (food, water, shelter and places to raise young) while reducing (eliminating!) chemical usage and practicing other eco-friendly gardening methods. But why stop there? Look into getting your yard certified as a Monarch Waystation. Like a lot of wildlife, Monarchs are struggling due to loss of habitat, pesticide usage, loss of wintering grounds, etc, and need all the help we can give them. Monarchs are particularly needy because in their caterpillar stage they are incredibly picky about what kind of plant they will eat and only have one host plant—Milkweed (Asclepias)— and milkweed is becoming increasingly rare. And as with all butterflies, if you want butterflies, you have to provide the host plant for the caterpillar.

Monarch Caterpillar

Fortunately, there are over 100 species of milkweed, so no matter where you are in the country, chances are there’s a milkweed native to your area. You’ll also need to provide nectar providing plants for the migrating, so make sure you research what’s native to your area and plant nectar sources that will be blooming when the Monarchs migrate through your area, especially fall blooming Asters

Monarch on Aster

And while you are learning what you need to provide to become a Certified Waystation, go ahead and see what other certifications might be available to you. Here in North Carolina, those of us trying to incorporate as many native plants into the garden can be certified as a Native Plant Habitat by the NC Native Plant Society. In Colorado you can even take classes to become a Native Plant Master, which I think would go nicely with my Master Composter certification!

You’re doing all the hard work to provide for wildlife anyway, and your friends and neighbors already think you’re certifiable, so prove them right!

The Spud-O-Matic!

The Great Potato Experiment of 2008! We don’t grow many vegetables, but each year, I have the urge to do something people-food related, so this year we’re trying a method of growing potatoes in a small space that we’ve dubbed the Spud-O-Matic. We will be posting updates on our success (or not), and will hopefully finish with a video of us enjoying a great potato salad. So, for all you backyard gardeners, watch and see if this is something you would like to try and if you do, please send us comments or pictures on your experience. Credit for this method goes to David Blackley at Renfrow Hardware in Matthews, NC, but we will take all the blame if it doesn’t work due to silly rookie mistakes.

We have guests!

At the end of April each year, just in time for my birthday (355 shopping days left!) we have two of my favorite migrants stop over for a bite to eat and to take a load off.  Now, I think I would love Indigo Buntings and Rose Breasted Grosbeaks even if they were here year round, but the fact that they will only be here for a short time makes spotting them even more special.  I hope you will enjoy this footage of them visiting our feeders.  The RBG dined primarily on Black Oil Sunflower Seeds and the Indigo’s feasted on white millet, both on the ground and in the feeder.  Enjoy and please let me know what you have in your backyard!

Backyard Babes!

Spring is when most small animals breed so that their babies are born (or hatched) when the weather is milder and food is abundant, and there is plenty of evidence right in our backyard!  The birds are busy feeding babies so we shot this video on the important of providing the 4th element of a wildlife habitat—Places to Raise Young.  Its not too late to put up some nesting boxes in your habitat.  Most songbirds will have 2-3 broods in one nesting season that they often switch nesting sites, so there’s still time!

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.