Back to Back Issues Page
Bits and Pieces, Summer in Review
September 08, 2009

Welcome new readers as we continue to grow.

Stick around and I promise you will learn something from time to time.

If not, maybe we can become friends anyway, as you learn a bit about me.

That includes my fur kids pictured to the right, as well as personal points on me.

I hope you had a wonderful Labor Day Weekend.

I know we did and the weather couldn't have been much better.

This past week was very pleasant all the way around.

Weather wise.

The past week was the sunniest week of the year here in Southwest Michigan.

Not to mention the the daytime temperatures were running in the 70's all week long.

Easterly winds the first part of the week blew out the warmer waters (in the 70's) along Lake Michigan's western shore and replaced it with cold water from the deep (40's and 50's).

That doesn't bode well for one last swim.

Still, we'll see what this week brings, as the warm days continue for a short spell.

The warmer weather brings me some hope on harvesting some more tomatoes.

If I can get to October frost free, I may be able to can a few more than we eat.

I've learned this..................

If I feed my determinate tomato plants with bloom builder after they have stopped blooming and are setting fruit, they will start to bloom again and provide a second smaller crop.

This year, they will be green tomatoes.

For new gardeners, there are determinate and indeterminate tomato plants.

Determinate (patio types) is as the name applies....................

The plant has a determined growth and bloom period and stops.

Fruits ripen and plant dies.

However, you can fool it by feeding it a bloom builder.

Nice to know for those with a couple of potted plants with limited space.

Indeterminate tomato plants (healthy) keep growing and going as long as the weather allows it to do so.

This past Wednesday, I was accompanied by my10 year old grandson and 2 foster grandsons to Blandford Nature Center on the Northwest side of Grand Rapids.

For all the new readers, our oldest daughter is a foster parent as well as a mother of 4.

The brothers age 12 and 6 are from the inner city and ventures into nature are new and now seem to be exiting experiences for them.

My biggest challenge seems to be keeping them quite at times so they can listen to their surroundings.

Listen and see with their ears.

We heard different birds and a tree frog or two.

They were amazed by the water bugs and wondered how they could stay on the surface like that.

Blandford Nature Center offers a bit of many things nature has to offer, including a marsh and small wetland.

Not bad for being within the city limits.

Spotting turtles and frogs was a great exercise for all of us, and the boys did well.

Nearing the end of our walk and with all the noise, the boys spotted a deer without my help as she walked across the path up ahead.

"Be quiet and listen, there may be more" I said.

Snap, snap, crackle.....................................

One of here twins (still in spots) frolicked across the trail.

Look to the right and the other fawn just stood there.

We moved on within a minute, but the excitement in the voices of these 2 boys put excitement in my voice as well.

The first time they have seen deer in nature.

And within 50 feet as well.

We all left the Nature Center happy and I get a kick out of all the boys calling me grandpa.

I still must learn to bring a camera with me.

This past Thursday we removed a Sweetgum tree that was getting to large and had a serious lean to it.

I'm all for keeping trees, but this tree was leaning toward the house if you get my drift.

Gum trees can be a pretty tree, but they also have these nasty seed balls they have a habit of dropping.

I already have a Red maple to plant this week as a replacement, but my birds will have to suffer for a few years until it gets some size to it.

Still, we're set okay for bird protection.

Removing the tree also opened up some sunny borders.

That means one thing.............................

More plants and flowers.

Hunting down deals and looking for native plants.

They all were discounted.

And this is the best time of year to plant.

Even in the north.

Days begin to grow cool, making for less stress on your greenery.

Still, the soil remains warm and this is ideal for growing a strong and healthy root system.

Roots continue to grow as long as the soil doesn't freeze solid.

With this in mind, remember to continue to water......................

Yes, even after the tops may have died back.

The first year is always very important, even when the tag say drought tolerant.

Besides the ever growing "honey do list", I have my own chores ahead of me.

Ruby-throated hummingbirds seem to be every where.

This time of year, my yard is very busy with the little gems.

My feeders get enough action for close up views, but it is the flower gardens that receive most of the action.

Hummers like all wild birds, prefer to find food the natural way.

Even though my feeders offer a non stop buffet, they prefer to fly from flower to flower.

Chase each other away and visit a feeder.

To our enjoyment and mild surprise, we still have at least one adult male Ruby hanging out in September.

Typically, male hummers take off much earlier than the ladies and juveniles.

Hummingbirds will remain here through most of September (most years).

My yard is full of hummer favorites.

Red salvia, Black and blue salvia, butterfly bushes and penstemons.

Various tall phlox, hibiscus, monarda still in bloom, lanatana and other flowering plants offer the hummers (local and migrators) a nice choice for sugar rich nectar.

Plan and plant ahead and you too may be rewarded with Hummingbirds.

It isn't simply about feeders this time of year (remember to keep them clean and filled).

Although, as hummers head south and more and more arrive, feeders play an increasingly important roll, especially as habitat continues to shrink.

The funnel effect as they head toward the border.

If you didn't read them last week, be sure to read

Feeding Hummingbirds and Migration South.

This past summer I highlighted a few species of birds like Barn swallows and Night hawks.

I also wrote on the importance of natural habitats.

How we need them, but they don't need us.

Also mentioned this past summer 'Feeding bugs first to feed the birds.'

Native plants attract more insects which attract more birds. toads, lizards, etc.

Beneficial insects that you may not think about everyday, like Lacewings, Fireflies and Dragonflies.

Yes, we need our bugs.

Summer continued with native grasses.

Grasses provide more food for more wildlife than any land plant alive.

From Tundra geese above the Arctic Circle, to rabbits, deer, mice and most other herbivores.

Can you imagine the grasses of the North American prairies and plains once fed 10's of millions of Bison at one time, as little as 150 to 200 years ago.

Now there are scarce pockets of prairie land.

Native grasses offer food and protection for much of our wildlife.

Not to mention that all native plants handle our extreme weather conditions.

'Gardening For Wildlife' is more than birds and flowers.

We tackle some touchy subjects like global 'warming or not' and I let loose with my personal thoughts from time to time.

I also mention to you, the importance of getting out and visiting parks, nature preserves and wildlife refuges.

All of the above are recorded in the archives for you to enjoy.

Why visit National Wildlife Refuge?

There is one near you.............

The National Wildlife Refuge System (USA) contains 540 refuges, throughout the 50 states and territories.

At 95 million acres, it is the world's largest system of lands and waters dedicated to conserve wildlife and habitat.

The system provides homes for over 700 bird species, 220 mammal species, 250 reptile and amphibian species and more than 200 kinds of fish.

Millions upon millions of migrating birds use refuges as stepping tones to rest and feed.

25 percent of all threatened and endangered species call a refuge home.

To my Canadian friends................

I am unfamiliar with your wildlife refuge system, could anyone of you please send me some information or where to look for it online?

Thank you. As the days continue to shrink (sunset is closing in on 8:00 PM).

Fledged American goldfinches have reached their prime here in my yard.

For the rest of this month, I can expect this familiar sound of September.

Other familiar sounds fill the air this time of year as well.

Cicadas, Katydids, Crickets and other insects make the sounds of love.

The warmer the days and nights, the more bugs you may hear.

Here in Michigan, another familiar sound of summer will soon be silenced.

I understand this means nothing for most of you, however I feel the need to do this.

Thank you for your patience and time.

Ernie Harwell was the longtime radio voice of the Detroit Tigers baseball team.

This past week, we learned that he was dieing from pancreatic cancer.

His faith in God is so strong, today he is more concerned about others than he is himself.

When games weren't seen on TV, there was Ernie and the old transistor radio.

His voice kept us company in cars, yards and in the home.

For 42 years, Ernie was a welcome voice over the air waves.

His voice was baseball and summer in Michigan, parts of Canada and even into Ohio.

At age 91, Ernie has lived a full life.

All of our prayers go out to you Ernie, your wife of 67 years, Lulu and the rest of your family.

A true Christian man, Ernie your faith is a model for all of us.

Thank You Ernie Harwell.

Our Ernie, Baseball Hall of Fame and Radio Hall of Fame announcer of the Detroit Tigers.

As much a part of summer, here in Michigan was the voice of Ernie Harwell.

Thank You.

Well, that about does it for now.

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

This is where planting native can help big time.

Have your area prepared before you plant and keep them watered until the ground freezes or snow falls.

Even if the top has died back or the plant has lost its foliage, the roots are still alive and continue to grow and store energy.

This especially holds true for evergreens.

Where the ground freezes, put down a generous layer of mulch.

This not only holds in moisture, but helps prevent ground upheaval from freeze and thaws.

Some experts recommend to hold off on plant foods this time of year.

Still others suggest a light feeding of slow release food helps the root system, yet doesn't fool the plant into a growth spurt.

I suppose much depends on where you live and what you have had success with in the past.

I have been successful following both programs.

So much depends on the plant species and health, when it is planted, and so on.

One thing all expert agree on is to keep plants watered for the first year or until, they are established.

Even if the plant tag says drought resistant.

The plant isn't resistant until it is well established and deep, timely watering takes care of that.

One last thing to add.

Bargains are bargains if you have the proper place to plant them.

No matter how good of a bargain you just brought home, it will suffer if you plant it in the wrong location.

Shade plants need shade.

Sun plants need sun.

Some plants require little water while still others have some heavy water needs.

What about soil?

Acid, alkaline, clay, sand etc.

All of these needs must be looked into for a healthy plant.

Sure, you can amend your soil or individually water a spaceman, but who wants to go through that all the time.

Gardens are meant to be enjoyed and if you are Gardening For Wildlife, you will have like needs with like needs already.

A quick reminder for all:

Labor day is next week Monday for the United States and Canada,

So we can all enjoy Monday, Gardening For Wildlife will be published on Tuesday, September 8.

Thank You.

Well, it's time to fly for now.

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

There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that's your own self.

Aldous Huxley (1864-1963) English Novelist


This goes back to removing the board from your own eye before you can see to remove the speck from another person's eye.

How quick are we to point fingers at others?

How easy it is to place blame on others?

How easy is it for me to turn my back or hide in a corner?

Improve myself?

I'm good enough the way I am.

Besides, if I decided that I needed to improve myself, that would take commitment and effort.

Do I really want to do that?

Commit and leave my comfort zone?

Do I want to improve myself so much that others begin to notice?

Do I dare say it.

Do I dare to be different?

March to a different beat?

Do I want to walk tall and proud?

That would take some courage.

If I improved myself and my little corner of the universe, I could help others do the same.

I've been there, I know what it takes.

I understand how to remove bad habits by replacing them with new and improved ones.

I now know how to encourage others and how important that is.

Do I dare say leader?

Am I a leader instead of a follower?

A person can be a silent leader as well.

That puts a smile on my face.

Marching to a different yet good beat.

I like my drummer.

Do you need to look at your corner of the universe?

Do you need to start taking responsibility instead of playing the blame game.

It all starts by taking the first step.

Look at your self with a smile, tell yourself you love yourself and you can do it.

Smile and take one step at a time.

Take responsibility.

Stop blaming others.

You can change that by changing things in your life right now.

You are now in charge of who you are and what you will become.

You will become the best you.

You will become great.

Greatness isn't being a hot shot CEO or Athlete.

Greatness is all the people like you and me.

We make things happen.


You are great and today and everyday you will tell yourself you are special as you improve forward.

Your little corner of the universe.

The best corner there is and I want to visit it someday.

You are the best.

Many of the quotes I give you every week are from people that were either blessed enough to have someone in their life to teach and show them the way.

Others learned the importance through the school of hard knocks and learned instead of blaming others.

Still others knew (know) a supreme helper.

This world is full of how to books, yet there is only one book that really trains us the right way.

The Holy Bible.

As you begin to study God's word, you will understand his plans and endless love for you and me.

Now that makes me smile.

You too?

Now go share the beginning of something wonderful.

Until next time my friend.

"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