28 February 2014
Swallows, Purple Martins, Chimney Swifts – these are the birds that soar high above us on a summer day, their song connecting us to a world we can never know above our familiar places.
They share our human habitat, but they don’t eat our food, so we don’t consider them to be pests, and they in fact provide what the market calls environmental services by consuming insects that might bother us or eat our crops.
But they’re in trouble. As Mike Cadman, a songbird biologist with the Canadian Wildlife Service, told a recent meeting of the Midland Penetanguishene Field Naturalists Club, birds that catch insects on the wing have experienced dramatic declines in the past few decades.
25 January 2014
It’s cold - minus 13 Celsius when I woke up, balmy compared to the minus 40 of a few days ago. It’s snowing lightly, the village a smudge on the horizon that periodically fades out of view, and then it’s a blank, the bare trees etched against a white landscape. My bird friends bring the prospect to life – almost 30 Mourning Doves, around 20 Goldfinches, a pair of Blue Jays, two pairs of Juncos, a few Chickadees, a Downy Woodpecker. The numbers and composition of the little flock have remained constant all winter, with an occasional appearance by a passing Chipping Sparrow or Grackle.
17 October 2013
I’d process the Black Walnuts today but the car’s at the mechanic’s. So it will have to wait until tomorrow. I always look forward to this time of year, when I can use the car as a tool.
But first, let’s deal with some misconceptions about Black Walnuts. Most stem from the fact that people want to eat them before they’re ready, when they’re really tough to crack and haven’t achieved a full maturity of flavour. Black Walnuts should season for at least three months; a year is better.
07 October 2013
Don’t throw those leaves away – they can be turned into leaf mould, a wonderfully fragrant woodsy material that results when you have kept your leaves for two or three years.
Leaf mould contains trace minerals that have been pulled from deep in the ground by long tree roots, it improves the structure and moisture retention of the soil, and it promotes the growth of organisms like micorrhizal fungi that plants need to take up nutrients.
What a waste to put such a valuable resource out on the curb!
31 August 2013
Time to get an early start on next spring’s plantings to create an even more perfect mini-ecosystem in your backyard - many items marked down, get great deals at the Return of the Native fall sale! It runs Saturday September 14, from 9 am to 5 pm. Location