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Gardening For Wildlife
January 22, 2018
Pictured is yours truly with three of the four fur kids.
Miss Penny isn't as sociable, rarely can she be had in pictures with the rest of the family.
It's too bad, she was such a loving kitten, I have now clue as to what may have caused such anxiety for her.
Yet another January thaw.
The snow from this past week is long gone.
Only shrinking, dirty piles remain.
I've said this before, but the freeze, thaw, freeze, isn't healthy for even hardy perennials.
If the ground thaws too much, plant crowns will freeze off and die.
Still, step outside and it feels like spring, and even smells like spring.
Such a tease 'Mother Nature' can be.
Gardening is on the brain, and the itch is starting to grow.
'Gardening For Wildlife'.
Yes, 'Gardening For Wildlife'.
You may wonder why I'm bringing up gardening, this time of year.
Plan your work, and work your plan.
If you are at all like me, you are Itching to get out there and get your hands dirty.
Now, you need plans and ideas for planting and attracting your favorite wildlife.
Smart gardeners always plan ahead.
Besides, I have gardening on the brain this time of year so please bear with me and maybe pick-up a tip along the way.
Many birds are drawn into our yards year round because of what we plant.
These birds become aware of the surroundings, and may even feel a bit comfortable hanging out in your country or suburban yard.
Many species can adapt to humans, but most cannot adapt to the lack of habitat.
Each region and location within a region, has native plants that are needed to sustain life, and add value for native wildlife.
While most of us want the newest and latest exotic plant to add to our gardens, it is usually the native plants that add the most value for wildlife.
Now some introduced plants do offer a good source of food (especially for pollinators), they may also be very invasive.
Russian olive is some places is a valued food source for birds, but is also a very invasive small tree.
The list is quite extensive.
Insects, yes protein is what nesting birds really need, many non-native plants offer little to our native bugs.
(Feed the bugs to feed the birds.)
Considering your site:
Each site has its own combinations of assets and limitations.
Even in the middle of some urban areas, some of the best wildlife drama unfolds.
An established garden has trees, under-story plantings and a self-seeding core of plants.
You may have a grove of trees reaching maturity.
This provides considerable value that even extends into its declining years when hollow trunks offer nest cavities.
Brush piles, decaying leaf litter, and other organic materials enrich the soil, which creates feeding and shelter for many kinds of wildlife.
Physical features on the site can be equally important as well.
A natural, or created water feature provides water for drinking and habitat.
Moderate slopes and varied terrain help to divide the garden into different habitat zones such as shade and sun.
Physical extremes can limit a garden's potential.
But you will learn what lives and grows in your area in those extremes and take advantage of it.
Even a very small lot has the ability to create habit variety.
For example, a well planned window box can draw a host of visitors.
Soils can limit what you can grow, but know what grows there or amend the soil.
Sandy or clay soils can limit plant growth.
The best type of soil is a combination of sand, silt and clay.
This is called loam (there goes the nurseryman in me).
You may need a soil test to determine the soil pH.
Some plants prefer acid soil.
Some plants prefer Alkaline soil.
While others like it more neutral
Neighborhood factors can also diminish a garden's potential.
Isolation from sources of wildlife immigration and migration is a serious concern, though less so in the case of particularly mobile animals like birds and butterflies.
A background of heavy urban noise constrains animals dependent on vocal communication and will deter the more weary from entering a site.
Well placed trees, shrubs and berms can help to alleviate noise pollution.
Pollination and Other Partnerships:
The relationships between local animals and plants are a fascinating part of creation.
Do some planning and planting and you can encourage such partnerships in your gardens.
Cooperative relationships, such as hummingbird and butterfly pollination, in which all parties benefit is one kind of partnership.
But there is also natural predator-prey relationships in which the system, not the individual, benefits.
For example, Lady-bugs and their larvae will devour the Aphids and other small insect larvae that appear on plants throughout the year.
The absence of all pesticides allows insects to prey and pollinate unimpeded.
Yes organic insecticides can do more harm than good under certain conditions.
Without pollinators, where would we be?
God created a unique system, and now we must lend a helping hand.
Why not start in your own yard and gardens
Why not, we are Stewards of out planet aren't we?
Creating Successful Wildlife Habitat In the absence of nature:
Plant to suit the natural topography, low points are suited to moisture-loving plants or water features and a high, sloping bank is ideal for dry rockeries.
Shield the garden from winds, especially cold winter wind.
Introduce food plants favored by animals in your region and that you have targeted.
Or, plant natives that deter certain plant eating critters
Not many deer, rabbits, woodchucks, etc. will bother with anything in the mint or sage families.
Strive for diverse plantings, follow nature's cue.
Coordinate habitat with water use.
Locate some food plants and feeders in more secluded areas of your property to attract the shyer, ground feeding and dwelling animals.
Eliminate or minimize the use of pesticides, they will unbalance the predator-prey relationships natural gardening helps to create.
Arrange plantings of trees, shrubs and ground covers to lead shy wildlife closer to your house for better viewing.
Supplement food plants with feeding stations.
Offer water and boost nesting opportunities with nest boxes.
Plant like need plants in a certain location.
High water needs closer to the house/water source.
Low water needs farther away (these plants thrive on neglect).
Yes, now is a good time to start making plans.
Are you new to 'Gardening for Wildlife'?
Maybe you are working with a clean slate (what fun).
Make plans to revamp, or just move a couple and add a couple.
Whatever you do, or plan for, have some fun doing it.
Well, it is time to fly for now.
Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.
“Enthusiasm in our daily work lightens effort
and turns even labor into pleasant tasks.”
Stanley Baldwin (1867 - 1947)
Starting each day with joy, good idea.
"Work with enthusiasm, as though you were
working for the Lord rather than for people".
"Treat the earth well:
It was not given to you by your parents,
It was loaned to you by your children.
We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors,
We borrow it from our Children."
Ancient Indian Proverb.
Your friend indeed,
Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.
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