|No bird is quite so welcome as the cardinal in the winter.|
It made my day when Grandson Alex saw one eating at our feeder,
from a few feet away in the bedroom.
This morning I woke up to a baby squirrel sitting and eating in the sunflower seed platform, a favorite hang-out for the juvenile squirrels. A male and female cardinal were eating from hanging bird feeder (Lowe's), and two other birds were also on that circular feeder.
The birds are less likely to fly away when I approach the window. Everything is bunched up close to the window, so we have activity all day long. When the sun sets in the West, I have shadows flitting around on the wall that I face when working on the computer.
Management by the Creator
Gentle rains have built up the new roses and energized the earthworms. This is how the Creator helps the soil through the engineering of the earthworm:
Vermicastings (the name given to worm poop) are 50% higher in organic matter than soil that has not moved through worms. This is an astonishing increase and radically changes the composition of the soil, increasing CEC because of the greater amount of charge-holding organic surfaces. Other nutrients, therefore, have the ability to attach to the organic matter that has passed through a worm.
The benefits don’t stop there. The worm’s digestive enzymes (or, properly, those produced by bacteria in the worm’s intestines) unlock many of the chemical bonds that otherwise tie up nutrients and prevent their being plant-available. Thus, vermicastings are as much as seven times richer in phosphate than soil that has not been through an earthworm. They have ten times the available potash; five times the nitrogen; three times the usable magnesium; and they are one and a half times higher in calcium (thanks to the calcium carbonate added during digestion). All these nutrients bind onto organic matter in the fecal pellets.
Worms can deposit a staggering 10 to 15 tons of castings per acre on the surface annually. This almost unbelievable number is clearly significant to gardeners: the ability to increase the availability of nutrients without carting in and adding tons of fertilizer is about as close to alchemy as one can get.
Earthworms are classified as shredders. As they search for food, they break down the leaf litter in the garden and on the lawn, greatly speeding up the decomposition of plant material, directly and indirectly. They open up leaves and other organic matter, giving bacteria and fungi better access to the cellulose (and other carbohydrates) and lignin (a noncarbohydrate) in the organic matter. Earthworms, then, obviously facilitate the recycling of nutrients back to the plants.
Lewis, Wayne; Lowenfels, Jeff (2010-09-10). Teaming with Microbes: The Organic Gardener's Guide to the Soil Food Web, Revised Edition (Kindle Locations 1400-1409). Timber Press. Kindle Edition.
The Wild Garden proved its worth when a flock of grackles landed and began flicking leaves away to eat the insects and worms beneath. More about that below.
"O great rose farmer, your Chrysler Imperial roses have arrived."
The people at Gurney are so respectful. That was the email message I received today. Of course, I wrote that into the program when I got the initial order shipped. Unfortunately, this only meant the roses were being passed from FedEx to the Post Office. I have two more days of waiting. That is why bare root roses seem a bit dry when they arrive.
When I had a DOS computer, it booted up saying, "What is your wish, O Great Publisher?"
One day the computer rebooted and said, "What is your wish, Rex Flipperorum?" That was Little Ichabod's version of King of the Seals. He had his cousins call me Uncle Flippers, which they loved to do. My granddaughter even said this about my short legs, "They look like they belong to another person, Grampy."
So I plan on having fun with little programs that let me input a personal message, which is perhaps a way to make people sure of the message coming from a legitimate source. After all, I get offers of $25 millions or more from various sources each day.
ORGANIC FARMERS ARE mandated by the rules of the USDA’s National Organic Program to work to conserve biodiversity on their farms. Gwendolyn Ellen’s job is to work with both organic and conventional farmers and with researchers to find ways to make this happen. In the early 2000s, Ellen and other scientists at Oregon State University began to develop a program to establish and study beetle banks. A regular practice of farmers in Great Britain and Australia, beetle banking involves creating elongated, semi-permanent raised berms throughout crop fields and planting them with grasses.
Beetle banks are a great example of how habitat creation and companion planting can encourage populations of a very important predator. Ellen explains that the predaceous ground beetles these banks are meant to encourage instinctively climb upward to stay high and dry, away from moisture. To encourage this natural behavior, beetle banks are raised a foot higher than ground level. The native bunch grasses planted on the banks provide a drier, warmer habitat for these insects during the winter. The beetles especially like the organic matter that naturally accumulates around the base of these grasses. In the spring and summer, the beetles move out into the fields to forage for prey.
“You have to think like an insect,” Ellen says. “Create a refuge from soil and pesticide disturbance. Our research shows that providing an undisturbed area, no matter what the size, increases the diversity of predaceous ground beetles on farms.” Ellen’s team encourages farmers to put in banks sized to fit with their farm’s production practices and suggests incorporating a minimum of three different species of native bunch grasses (grass species that grow into a clump or tuft rather than spreading horizontally to form a sodlike mat) into a given beetle bank.
Walliser, Jessica (2014-02-26). Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden: A Natural Approach to Pest Control (Kindle Locations 3395-3409). Timber Press. Kindle Edition.
|The Wild Garden was this wild before we applied about 80 bags of leaves.|
The extra newspapers piled up are now in the driveway to
help in mulching the rose garden and tomatoes.
The back part of the yard is higher ground, and it is left alone. That is the jumpin' jivin' part of the yard, not a place for shorts and sandals.
Weeds and tall grass are welcome. I planted dill and Queen Ann's Lace. I let pokeweed grow 8 feet tall.
Besides that, I have shallow pans for toads and other creatures, careful to clean them various ways and empty them out every few days. Bees too like water and take it back to the hive to create evaporative cooling.
Evaps are popular in Phoenix. Big fans and their water puddles are used to cool the air when the temps are high and the humidity is low. They are also called swamp coolers because they add humidity to the dry air.
So here are bees making their own swamp coolers to protect the hive. And we admire our own engineering.
I never realized that one kind of spider worked without webs - the cursorial spiders. I knew that beetles were so populous in the world that one etymologist concluded, "God was inordinately fond of beetles" when he summarized his career.
Those beetles can track slugs by their odious slime trails and remove them permanently. They do most of their work at night and appreciate a safe place by day, a welcoming place for the winter. Given these facts, do you want to rototill the Wild Garden and destroy an army of beneficial creatures, which doubles as a full-time cafeteria for birds?
That is why we expanded the Wild Garden from a slice of the backyard to 50% of the backyard.