Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Early August in the Garden

I try to take a photo of the garden on the first of each month just because. The Laitris and Hollyhocks are in bloom, the Zinnias show promise of flowers, the Cardinal Flower is climbing the trellis, and the Iris have been dug up. Any Iris that showed evidence of Iris Borer have been destroyed. The good rhizomes have been soaked in a solution of 1 part Murphy's Oil Soap and 9 parts water. Some of the good iris will find a new home in my garden and some will go to friends and relatives who want them. I can't guarantee any colors although I know there are light purple, Purple almost black, striped, spotted, and plain purples. I think it is the light purple that has the striped leaves. The old Iris patch will be treated with the left over oil soap and water and left for something else next year. It is almost impossible not to get borer but I can keep fighting it anyway.

There is a photo contest for container plants but I don't think this one would be good enough since the plants are showing some stress due to lack of water. The summer rain storms seem to split and go right around us. I wonder if there is some pressure effect from Lake Erie that causes that.

I was so tickled this morning to see the baby Baltimore Oriole in the birdbath splashing happily with a little sparrow. The markings are getting brighter and brighter. I think the baby may be a male. Since the disappearance of the big bright male I have been hoping for another one.

I am concerned about one of the of the sparrows. It will let me come close enough to capture it (if I wanted to do that) and at least one of its eyes doesn't look right. It may be all or partially blind but seems to be healthy otherwise and flying. It will be all too easy for a predator to pick off, though.
Saturday, August 1, 2009

Certified Wildlife Habitat!!!


While reading the Wildlife Federation E-Newsletter a few weeks ago I noticed a link. It was to the pages on the website that give the requirements and a questionnaire about your garden. The more I read the more I realized that my double-lot garden qualified. Actually, even a balcony could qualify if it had all the requirements.

  • Food Sources - For example: Native plants, seeds, fruits, nuts, berries, nectar
Your habitat needs three of the following types of plants or supplemental feeders:
Seeds from a plant • Berries • Nectar • Foliage/Twigs • Nuts • Fruits • Sap • Pollen • Suet • Bird Feeder • Squirrel Feeder • Hummingbird Feeder • Butterfly Feeder
  • Water Sources - For example: Birdbath, pond, water garden, stream
Your habitat needs one of the following sources to provide clean water for wildlife to drink and bathe: Birdbath • Lake • Stream • Seasonal Pool • Ocean • Water Garden/Pond • River • Butterfly Puddling Area • Rain Garden • Spring Wildlife need at least two places to find shelter from the weather and predators: Wooded Area • Bramble Patch • Ground Cover • Rock Pile or Wall • Cave • Roosting Box • Dense Shrubs or Thicket • Evergreens • Brush or Log Pile • Burrow • Meadow or Prairie • Water Garden or PondYou need at least two places for wildlife to engage in courtship behavior, mate, and then bear and raise their young: Mature Trees • Meadow or Prairie • Nesting Box • Wetland • Cave • Host Plants for Caterpillars • Dead Trees or Snags • Dense Shrubs or a Thicket • Water Garden or Pond • Burrow You should be doing two things to help manage your habitat in a sustainable way.
Soil and Water Conservation: Riparian Buffer • Capture Rain Water from Roof • Xeriscape (water-wise landscaping) • Drip or Soaker Hose for Irrigation • Limit Water Use • Reduce Erosion (i.e. ground cover, terraces) • Use Mulch • Rain Garden
Controlling Exotic Species: Practice Integrated Pest Management • Remove Non-Native Plants and Animals • Use Native Plants • Reduce Lawn Areas
Organic Practices: Eliminate Chemical Pesticides • Eliminate Chemical Fertilizers • Compost

My garden more than qualified and this week my plaque and certificate arrived. Meanwhile, I have been acquiring MORE native plants, seed-plants for the birds and nectar plants for the bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. I have purged the chemicals and started a more sustainable garden. I am tracking down some rainbarrels like my nephew found in Georgia. All kinds of changes to keep my garden moving forward as a wildlife habitat.

No cats or dogs in my yard, but a neighbor dog has been killing the bunnies. The hawk and owls that has destroyed more than a few birds including the goldfinches and male oriole, I suspect, causes me consternation, but not as much as a dog that kills to kill and not for food. We do not seem to have any outdoor cats in the area, though. I think since the eagles got the 3 outdoor cats 7 years ago, most keep their small pets inside, now.

Anyway, if you follow the links above, for a registration fee of $20 you are directed to a questionnaire that is quite specific as to the water, food, shelter, etc your garden may have. I guess my 4 birdbaths, 1 fountain, 5 birdfeeders specific to 5 different kinds of birds, hedgerow, thick evergreen trees, mulch, etc, gave me not only certification, but a resolve to work even harder to move ahead with a habitat garden.

Now, how do I get rid of the mice before winter drives them inside my house?

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Laura Lou
Michigan/Florida, United States
I am a retired Middle School Science teacher from Michigan spending 4 months each winter in Florida and learning about a whole new world.
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