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March 23, 2015

Do you smell that?

Can you smell Spring?

Notice how it rolls off the tongue?


Yes, we made it through another long winter.

For some, winter is still hanging around.

For me...............................

I've been around long enough to be even keeled about early spring.

Even though the snow has melted and the ice is shrinking on the pond, I know better.

It takes another month and more for the air to really warm up and become a constant.

Still, there is that distinct "smell of spring".

(Most of the snow has melted, but ice remains on the pond with some geese walking on it.)

Migrating birds continue to appear and disappear, even the cowbirds have arrived in great numbers.

A bird I could go without.

Birds that stay year round are beginning to disperse as they get into mating mode.

(That means less feeder action, and the cost of feeding.)

Robins, cardinals, chickadees, titmice, woodpeckers and more are singing songs and jockeying for territorial rights.

I'm sure you too may witness the males of any species jousting for territorial rights time to time.

As birds continue the trek north, there are those that seem to be a bit eager.

Birds that seem to jump the gun or show up before they should.

An early hummingbird sighting, Purple martins, etc.

I suppose it is cute to call these birds scouts, but there is no such thing as a scout when it comes to birds.

A scout implies that they are checking things out and then go back to retrieve the rest of the gang.

What is taking place, when you see an early bird (martins, swallows hummingbirds, etc)?

You are witnessing a bird that may have hormones raging a bit more than the rest.

You may have an experienced male that understands the risk and reward for showing up early.

A strong gene pool to keep the line going.

Or, you may have a young male that knows he must get established.

Most years, this may pay off, but there is always that year of cold, snowy or rainy stretch of weather that may cost the early arrival its life.


Risk and reward.

No way does a bird go back to report in.......

Prime territory and mating rights are at stake, not the buddy system.

The Amaryllis are about to bloom (sorry, no pictures just yet).

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

This year they got a later than normal start.

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

Amaryllis are native to South Africa, and won't survive a Michigan winter.

A couple of the bulbs are 10 years old.

Venus is bright in the western sky these days.

Starting about 1/3 of the way up and slowly sinking into the west as time passes.

Mars is a faint light between Venus and the horizon.

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).

Jupiter is high above, early in the evening and moves across to the west as the night passes.

You won't see the famous storm, but a good pair of binoculars or small telescope will allow you to spot 2 to 4 of the Galilean moons on any given hour.

Many people used to think that birds used planets as well as stars to help navigate.

The use of planets is impossible, as they are in different locations from year to year, while stars remain the same.

Spring also brings March Madness.

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

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

All too 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.

(Red-winged blackbirds and cowbirds become a nuisance).

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 merchandise 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.

Don't be in such a rush.

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- emergents 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.

Spring is the most favorite time of the year for me (If you didn't know that, you do now).

Fresh air................

Open windows......

Longer days..........

The sights and sounds of birds.....

Peeper frogs...................

Children at play...............

A brown landscape turns green......

Various flowers show off their stuff....

The world seems to come to life.......

Yes, Spring is my favorite time.

Spring also brings the urge to get out and wanting to play in the gardens.

The smell of fresh dirt.

Spring is the promise of new life, and new hope.

You may have the same itch I have.

That urge to get out and start digging and pulling etc.

Stop Scratching that Itch and read some dirt on your soil.

Come on Ron, it's dirt.........

How can you harm dirt?

Your soil serves many important duties and like anything else, has a delicate structure that performs many duties. It is home to countless creatures, insects, microbes and plant life.

Life needs oxygen to breathe. and water to drink. When you are out there walking around and digging in your gardens and beds, you are packing the soil.

Crushing and squeezing the life giving oxygen right from the very soil you plan on growing your gardens in.

Altering the chemistry so to speak.

Soil that is too wet when we try to work it, loses the ability to breathe and the ability to absorb water may be much less than is needed.

In the trade it is called Compacted Soil.

We destroy the dirt's integrity.

Who thought dirt could be so complicated.

Well, it is time to fly for now.

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

God Bless.

The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.

William James, American Philosopher and Psychologist (1842-1910)

Do you lack wisdom, all you need to do is ask with a sincere heart.

Here's how.

"If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you."

James 1:5

"Make your ear attentive to wisdom, Incline your heart to understanding;
For if you cry for discernment, Lift your voice for understanding;
If you seek her as silver And search for her as for hidden treasures;
Then you will discern the fear of the LORD And discover the knowledge of God.
For the Lord gives wisdom;
From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.
He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk in integrity,"

Proverbs 2: 2-7

"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.

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