Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Creating Backyard Bird Habitats

Female Cardinal print
As we look out on an unseasonably cold winter day and see over one hundred American Goldfinches, two to three dozen Northern Cardinals and an assortment of Chipping Sparrows, White-throated Sparrows, Carolina Chickadees and Tufted Titmice (to name a few), we revel at the beauty which they provide in our dull, drab winter yard. We also remember how scarce the birds were when we first bought our little piece of heaven. What has changed in the last 14 years that so drastically increased the number of birds, even after extreme natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina? The answer to this mystery is that we plant for the birds. We also feed them and provide water and nesting sites, but I think that planting native and old-fashioned, non-invasive flowering and fruiting plants really makes a difference. Anyone can do this, whether they live in a second story apartment or on acres in the country. Planting some nectar rich flowering or fruit bearing plants will bring birds to your doorstep. There are many benefits of gardening for birds. First, it’s helps the birds and other wildlife. And there's also the enjoyment of seeing lovely creatures on a daily basis that lifts your spirits and relaxes your mind. Lastly, it’s good for the environment and for you. Fruit trees and shrubs are not just for the birds. Humans can also enjoy and benefit from home grown produce.

There are a few Squidoo lensmasters who write about birds and we are one of them, but our meager collection of lenses pales in comparison to the Bird Lady of Squidoo, Elizabeth Jean Allen. If you are interested in learning more about a particular kind of bird, then check out her lenses because you’ll surely find one there. One of our favorites is Create a Backyard Bird Sanctuary which explains how to turn you backyard into a haven for birds.

Other good places to learn about welcoming birds into your yard are:
National Wildlife Federation Backyard Habitats
Audubon at Home
Backyard Wildlife Habitat Info

We hope that you'll start creating your own bird sanctuary as soon as the soil can be worked this winter. Happy Gardening and Happy Birding.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

2009 Green Living Gardening Trends

In post Katrina South Louisiana, the trends for 2009 lean towards edible gardens, vertical gardens, rain gardens and native plants, to name a few. How land is used, especially in the cities and suburbs, is changing from useless decorative landscapes to useful and cost effective ones. Edible and native plants are replacing manicured exotic turf lawns and formal gardens.

The concept of vertical gardening is big, too. Innovative projects proposed for large cities include giant greenhouses with food plants growing vertically. Theoretically, a city (like New York for example) could organically grow all the produce needed for its population and it would be of better quality and cheaper because transporting it long distances would not be required. More basic vertical gardens can be incorporated into any landscaping plans as the article, "Growing a Vertical Vegetable Garden" explains. Another benefit of vertical and sustainable gardening in cities and suburbs would be that many acres of worn out farm land could be returned to its native state. This would provide needed wildlife habitat and restore balance to the environment.

So as you look through the seed catalogs this winter, be sure to include some easy to grow vegetables and herbs in your order. Also consider adding islands of multipurpose native trees and shrubs like Mayhaws (Crataegus), Crabapples (Malus) and wild Blueberries (Vaccinium).

There are several fabulous lenses in our Naturally Native Squids Group that discuss this important subject so it was very hard to choose just one to feature. Since most of them discuss one aspect of Sustainable Gardening, we have decided to feature one for each topic.

Organic Gardening
Organic Food Gardening by Tigga gives the beginner a lot of good information about how to grow your own food, organically. There are many links to organic sites as well as books about the subject.

Growing Vegetables in Small Spaces
Growing tomatoes (and other stuff) by dannystaple shows you that you can grow your own produce, even if you live in an apartment. Danny shows you, step by step, how to grow tomatoes that taste ten times better than those in the supermarket.

You'll find a how-to on composting on A Compost List of Over 200 Compost Ingredients by TheresaMarkham. She gives many useful pointers and there is a long list of what materials can be composted that is very useful.

Natural Pest Control
Pesticides: Don't Kill the Good Guys by Stazjia details the chain reaction that the loss of insects can cause. Using natural forms of pest control will benefit everyone and everything in the long run.

Landscaping with Native Plants
We had to include one of ours, since there was no other lens that covered the subject quite as thoroughly. Gardening with Native Plants by naturegirl7 shows, step by step, how to landscape using native plants and also discusses composting, organic pest control and gives a list of easy to grow native plants organized by the season of blooming or fruiting.

For more information about Green Living Gardening Trends visit some of these other great sites:
Beneficial Insects
Sustainable Gardening
Brooklyn Botanic Garden: Sustainable Topics
Basics of Sustainable Gardening - Do It Yourself

After reading all of these informative, well written lenses and pages, we're sure that you will be ready to incorporate sustainable gardening into your landscape this spring. Happy gardening!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Earth Day Should Be Every Day

As we begin the new year with the words, "Yes, We Can!" fresh in our minds, there is also hope that this new administration will say "Yes, We Can!" for the environment.

It is with this thought that we chose our first featured Naturally Native Squids lens to be Earth Day Should Be Every Day, by WhiteOak50 . You'll find many pointers on how to save money while also helping to save the environment and our precious Mother Earth. If we all do just one more thing toward living green, we will make a world of difference in the future of the Earth.

Naturally Native Squids Headquarters has many other featured lenses about being earth friendly and being green. We're hoping that you will join us in making one of your New Year's resolutions to incorporate more green living practices into your daily life.

Out With the Old ... in With the New - What's Hot, What's Not for 2009 from the Times Picayune, December 27, 2008 has a fantastic guide to go by. Here are a few of our favorites:

        IN                                                         OUT        
Celebrities who do rebuilding               Celebrities who do rehab
Vertical gardens                                  Horizontal gardens
Green building                                    Carbon-guzzling building
Renewable resources                           Disposable products
Edible gardens                                     English gardens
Home and community gardening           Imported produce
Rain gardens                                       Irrigation systems
Native plants                                       Exotic hybrids
Organic cleaners                                  Chemical cleansers
Smaller building footprints                    McMansions
Solar panels                                         Coal-burning power plants

For more information about Green Living, check out Green Living Tips and Mother Earth News.