Monday, May 23, 2011

Calling all birds...

We have quite a variety of birds on our 3 acre plot, and deciphering their unique calls is quite a challenge. We have the cardinal and woodpecker down, but the rest are giving us a run for our money, as many of the birds are out of sight, or don't stay still long enough for us to find the source of the call.

My daughter's recent inquiry as to if a call we heard was an owl (it was a dove), prompted me to search for sources that have birds sounds to show her what an owl in our area would sound like. During my search on the local library's website, I came across The Backyard Birdsong Guide. There are 2 editions: and Eastern and Central guide, and a Western guide.

I picked up the Eastern guide and I have to say that this is one of the neatest books I have seen. There are 132 recorded bird songs included, from birds all over the eastern and central US. Each bird has a 2 page listing featuring an illustration and some details about its habitat, location and song.

If your local library has a copy, ti is worth it to pick it up, especially if you are into birding. For more information, you can visit the companion site at

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A gardener's learning process...

It is amazing how quickly frustration goes away with knowledge. As I work this year's garden, I am learning all I can (thru books, web searches, forums, etc) and experimenting to see what works and what doesn't. It is quite interesting how satisfying failures can be when you allow yourself to get past the aggravation and see the knowledge that can be gained to be used on future plantings. Just in the past month and a half since I planted, I have learned many lessons that will be valuable come next spring.

While I admittedly would have liked to have known all this before I started, I take it as part of my initiation of sorts. As a new gardener, I now know that it is crazy to believe that your first efforts will be 100 percent successful. You have to invest the time to experiment and see what works for you, in your area of the world. There are so many factors that affect the outcome of a garden—soil condition, weather, available time, pests, diseases, money—and they change every year, and are different for everyone, even if the distance between is just around the corner. And it only gets harder if you are trying to go organic! (Right now, I am working on sustainable; organic may have to wait a few years.)

So, if you are a new gardener like me, allow yourself to fail and let it be OK. Figure out what went wrong and how to correct it and use that information to create a success next season!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

New beginnings

I am a bit frustrated with the way the garden is behaving. I have (had) squash plants that were about 6" tall and already beginning to flower. I posted the problem on GardenWeb, and most said it was due to stress on the plant. Still being a novice gardener, I have no idea what could be stress my plants. I water regularly (though I may have been over watering in the beginning), and put out a some bone meal and blood meal to fertilize. However, they may need some immediate fertilizer as the bone meal and blood meal I have is slow release (learned that after I bought it).

So, in an effort to see what is wrong, I pulled up all the squash plants. I dug deep into the row and turned over the soil the entire length. I then added some Black Cow, home made compost, potting soil, some leaf mold, and bone meal, and turned all of that into the soil. I did my best to not compact the soil as I worked ( I did not till this part of the garden this year, which may be an issue as well).

When that was done, I planted some new squash, watermelon, corn, and peas in this row as an experiment. The watered thoroughly.

I did not amend the whole garden this way in the beginning due to time and budgetary reasons (the garden is a lot bigger this time), but if this proves fruitful (pun intended), then I will make an effort in the fall to get my soil like it is supposed to be, amending and perhaps planting a cover crop, to be ready for spring 2012.

Will keep you posted!

UPDATE: I have now pulled up the first set of southern peas I planted. They were so over run with aphids and their "shepherds" (ants), and they appeared stunted, and also may have been affecting the corn I co-planted them with. I have since put out some ant killer to hopefully get rid of them (and the aphids) and will try again with some peas soon. The corn looks better since I pulled the peas out too. May have had too much together. I'm still learning! : )