Back to Back Issues Page
SPRING, Bits and Pieces
March 22, 2010



And you wondered if you would survive.

(Even the Goldfinches are turning colors.)

It was a different kind of winter for most of us.

I understand the Pacific Northwest had a rather mild winter.

Wasn't the desert southwest a bit cooler?

Record cold was felt as far South as Mexico, and all across the Gulf states.

The Great Lakes region was a bit warmer and less snow as most of that stayed south and east of here.

Of course, because of the major cities and U.S. government shutting down along the east coast, the whole world heard about that.

Now I'm not calling anyone a sissy or pansy here, but now you may have a bit of appreciation for us Northern and Midwest folk.

Right Canada?

Right Plains Region and the Northern states?

All kidding aside,

It is so nice to say it is Spring.

Notice how it rolls off the tongue?


Last week was almost perfect, weather wise and of course, once spring hits we get a dose of reality.

Yes, some wet snow and much cooler and temperatures closer to normal for this week.

There was a time that this would really get me down.

Now, I simply roll with the flow.

I know we can't rush Nature.

I continue to enjoy my Amaryillis as I have for the past 2 weeks.

You may recall, I plant them later so I have color for this time of year when I really need it.

After the danger of frost, I will plant them in a filtered sun location for them to grow strong for next year.

A couple of the bulbs are eight years old.

Venus is low in the western sky these days.

Look to the west, after sunset toward dusk for the brightest object (besides the moon) in the night sky.

It will set within the hour of sunset.

For those that don't know this, if you look at Venus through a scope or good binoculars, you will see a crescent shape, not a disk.

Because Venus is an inner planet, it will always appear as a crescent to us.

This is also why Venus never crosses the sky (East to West).

This past week also gave us a new moon and a beautiful crescent.

If you look at the picture, you might see what looks like the silhouette or dark shape of the rest of the moon.

(Difficult to capture with my camera.)

Again, for those that may not know this,...................

What you are seeing is the sun's rays reflecting of from earth, back to the moon.

In simple terms it is called "Earth Shine".

For new readers, I also enjoy a good night sky and at one time (long, long ago), I fancied myself as a bit of an amateur astronomer.

Our friends in Arizona, Texas and some of the Gulf regions have shared with me that gardens are in bloom.

I think they're bragging, but our time will come:-)

Good thing, hummers are on the move and I don't know of one person that doesn't stop what they are doing to watch a hummingbird.

When nectar is in short supply, hummers will enjoy sugary tree sap as it oozes from wounds and woodpecker holes.

Especially holes made by Sapsuckers.

Still, it is a good idea to get feeders out a good week or two before you expect to see them, as there always seems to be at least one early bird.

Except for the Goldfinches, fewer of my winter birds are visiting my feeders as they are staking claim to breeding territories.

In return, we are blessed with the orchestra of several birds in song from before sun up to dark.

On my evening walks, I am Blessed with the sound and flight of American woodcocks.

Found in the Eastern half of the United States and lower Canada, Woodcocks are not an attractive bird, but are another welcome sound of spring.

From dusk to almost complete darkness, the male woodcock can be heard with its familiar "peenting" sound and with the wing sounds twits and tweets, a single bird can sound like a small flock of birds flying over head.

You may have regional sights and sounds that remind you of spring as well.

Diane from St Joseph, Missouri

I am so excited that spring is just around the corner. I look forward to my nightly walks with my schnauzer, who's biting at the bit waiting for his walk time. All I have to do is put my Nike's on and he knows it's walk time. We have a beautiful parkway trail here that's full of trees and green grass. It's so pretty and full of the sounds of birds chirping.

When I open my eyes in the morning and hear the birds, I feel so happy. I Can't wait to start seeing my flowers pop up from last year. The peonies are my favorite. And to be able to OPEN WINDOWS!! YAY! And of course planting vegetables! My husband really gets into it and almost gets carried away with some of the plants.

But, it's fun and I love being able to walk out to the garden and get things for dinner and knowing there are no chemicals on them, just a little rinse and that's it. And the smells of spring while sitting out in the yard reading my book, I could go on and on. Makes one appreciate things doesn't it? Especially after a very rough winter.

Thank you for sharing Diane.

It is amazing, the little cues that our fur kids pick up on, ours are much the same way.

No time of the year beats spring as far as I'm concerned (others may have different opinions) and winters seem to be longer as I grow older.

Spring also brings March maddness.

I'm not talking basketball and tournaments, I'm talking gardening.

March and Spring almost forces us to get out and play.

All to often we want to get a jump on some of our tasks, and that isn't always a good thing.

We want to tidy up the yard and flower beds.

You may be jumping the gun a bit on some things.

Leaf litter left over the winter work wonders for many reasons.

It insulates the ground from cold and heat.

Decomposes and adds organic matter to your gardens.

Offers nesting materials for your birds.

And you might enjoy a robin, towhee, thrush or some other bird scratching around for breakfast or lunch.

Gardening for Wildlife is learning to do a few things 'Nature's' way.

Do you notice how retailers are always ahead of the season at hand?

Try to buy a winter coat in January.

Good luck, as Spring mechandise is out.

Look for a bathing suit in July...................

Good luck as it is back to school stuff and fall merchandise.

The same goes for gardening to some degree.


You may be jumping the gun when you add mulches this time of year.

If you live in a temperate climate, you aren't doing your gardens any favors by throwing down those inches of mulch.

Soil temperatures need to warm up and when you toss mulch down, your 40 or 50 degree soil isn't going to warm up for optimal growing.

Not only that, but good organisms can't break down organics to improve your soil.

Allow your garden beds to warm up some before you throw down mulch.

Another one to watch for.


You see the ads plastered in the papers, and TV.

You hear them on radio.

Prevent Crabgrass by using XYZ products now.

Well, crabgrass begins to germinate when soil temperatures reach and maintain 55 degrees.

If you put your pre-emergants down to soon, most of the herbicide will have leached through your soil by the time it is needed.

That is a waste of time and money.

Garden centers and Greenhouse growers know when it is safe to plant annuals and tenders, yet many retailers will start offering plants well before a safe time to plant.

I know, you want the best selection, but it bothers me when a retailer wont tell me not to plant for two more weeks, or I should harden the plants off.

No, they sell it figuring you'll be back because the other plants froze off (the retailer isn't to blame for that).

Be smart and don't rush it.

The weather was warm enough this past week to bring out the queen wasps and some honey bees.

Honey bees were having a feast on my platform feeder of cracked corn.

As you can see by the pictures, I'm not crazy.

European Honey Bees, don't hibernate; despite the cold, the bees' home is a literal "beehive of activity" in which hundreds or thousands of workers frenetically fan their wings to generate heat that keeps the queen and her troops from freezing.

That takes a lot of honey for food and energy.

Many workers eventually die from all this flapping, but a healthy hive that made enough honey in the warm months will survive winter's cold and liven up considerably when spring arrives.

Although Honey Bees aren't hibernating, it isn't to often I see them out and about this early in March with little in bloom.

(Time of year will vary with regions.)

Bees were flying in, landing, and plunging their heads into little cracks and crannies between the corn. Some bees even looked to be probing the mix with their tongues

there were eight to 10 bees most of the time.

Check out the picture of the bee almost on her side almost rolling around in the corn.

Honey Bees made active by much warmer than usual March temperatures weren't really "looking for food in all the wrong places."

Normally bees acquire their protein in the form of pollen.

Nectar is a carbohydrate.

So, when no flowers are in bloom they collect other kinds of dust that could contain protein.

Such protein is essential for the hive because after the queen begins laying eggs her newly hatched larvae need lots of it for growth and development.

Even though corn is thought of as high in starch (carbs again), its kernels do contain some protein, so it appears the worker bees were doing the best they could for future sisters by gathering corn dust to take back to the hive.

Hmm.............. honey made corn syrup.

Dust collecting by Honey Bees is actually quite common in spring, you have to be in the right place and right time to notice his.

If pollen is unavailable, Honey Bees collect all sorts of dust that contains carbon, even coal dust.

Pollen baskets on the hind legs were full of a pasty looking corn dust mix and this continued all this past week.

If nothing else, it tells me there is one healthy wild bee hive close by.

It also shows me just how amazing God's natural world can be.

Well, it is time to fly for now.

Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.

The tragedy of life does not lie in not reaching your goals, the tragedy lies in not having any goals to reach. It isn't a calamity to die with dreams unfulfilled, but it is a calamity not to dream.

Dr. Benjamin Mays

Read that again and let it sink in.

Yes, we need to dream

We need to have goals.

They can give us hope and something to reach for.

Even if you don't reach your goals.

You may be like me (until I was 40 years old) and never knew the meaning of having goals to really work at or how to go about it.

(Many of us were brought up that way).

Sure I had dreams, but they were only dreams.

Now I know that many of them can be achieved if I chase them.

I never knew about chasing after goals.

Now I do.

You can chase and catch many of your goals and dreams too.

As the author mentioned.....................

The tragedy lies in not having goals and dreams.

Keep dreaming.

Continue to stretch your self.

Take a step outside your comfort zone.

Some (friends and family) will try and talk you out of it.

Don't let them.

Instead, you may talk them into reaching for their own.

Dare to dream BIG.

Dare to move forward.

It is never to late.

Make plans today and go after your dream.

Now that is something to smile about.

Here is something to ponder.

Like minds attract each other.

You may find that you begin to attract others that can help you reach your goals and you help them.

What a great world we live in and what a great God we have.

Now get out there.

Smile and dare to do it.

Until next time my friend.

God Bless.

"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,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.

Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

Back to Back Issues Page