Since we're practicing social distancing and many of us are at home, this is a good time to enjoy nature and work on our dream gardens. Here are some ideas. Please stay healthy and safe.
Eastern Monarch population has declined by 53% since last year. See the new population graph with tips. The Western Monarch count has dropped 99+% since the 1980s. Read more with tips. We need to expand our gardens and add new gardens to create more habitat for them. Educate your community.
April 22 marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. On that day in 1970, 20 million Americans joined the movement for environmental reform. Before 1970, pollution was rampant. Air pollution was widespread, toxic fumes billowed from factories and automobiles, and enormous fish die-offs occurred in the Great Lakes. In 1962, Rachel Carson published her landmark Silent Spring novel about the effects of DDT. In 1969, Cleveland's Cuyahoga River caught on fire from being inundated with oil in its most-reported incident. In 1970, The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was formed and established the Clean Water Act in 1972. After DDT was banned in the U.S., Bald Eagles and other wildlife began to recover. In the 1990s, this movement went international. Celebrate by doing something green.
A pair of Chimney Swifts can use our chimneys for their summer home and nest for babies if the chimney has a textured interior (not stainless steel). When you have your chimney cleaned in early spring (by early April in Ohio), close the damper. Decide if you want to remove the cap and add a cover 12" above the chimney with side openings so that Swifts can fly inside. If so, recap it right after they migrate (Late September in Ohio). See important tips.
Good news: Here's a pollinator protection update. There is a good video toward the end called Pollinators Under Pressure and How We Can Protect Them. Be inspired.
- Organic Lawn Care: Apply Organic Corn Gluten when the soil reaches 50 degrees and crocus blooms (3/15 - 4/10 in central Ohio) for pre-emergent broadleaf weed control
- 5 weeks after using Corn Gluten (if we've had enough rain), over-seed weedy or bare areas with a pesticide-chemical-free grass seed, like TLC Titan, available at most home and garden centers; keep seed damp until grass is 2" high
- Pull out weeds or spot-treat weeds sparingly with an organic product, only if necessary, such as Iron (a few brands are Whitney Farms Lawn Weed Killer Iron, Fiesta or Garden's Alive Iron X)
- Mow high to shade out weeds (3"-4")
- Use an electric, push or battery-powered lawnmower to avoid pollution. Gas lawnmowers have no catalytic converter, and on average, mowing for one hour produces as much pollution as driving 650 miles per Doug Tallamy
- In spring, invasive bushes become green before most native plants, so they're easy to see. Cut the plant at or near ground level and cover with cardboard. If it is pesky, cover with black plastic
- To keep an Invasive Plant away, put an alternative native plant (if a bush: a bush; if a flower: a flower) in its place
- Best bets on what to plant by zip code from Doug Tallamy and National Wildlife Federation
- Put out ruby-throated hummingbird feeders using only sugar water (no honey or red dye) in Ohio April 15 to Oct 15 for migrants and summer residents. Watch this migration map for the timing of hummingbirds in other states
- See the difference between Native Longhorned Beetles and the hardwood tree killer, Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB), and who to call for help
- ID and Control Tent Caterpillars (not Fall Webworm)
- Bag and discard all non-native worms (including Nightcrawlers, Red Worms and Jumping Worms) in the trash, even if worms appear dead. Worm compost should be in a contained bin, and avoid imported mulch and soil that could contain egg casings. These invasive European and Asian worms cause irreparable destruction to forests
- When an invasive Garlic Mustard plant is in its second-year, flowering stage, gently dig out the entire root of the plant. If you can ID the first-year rosette, gently pull it out. Important: Bag the flowering stage plant and put the bag in the trash (not in compost or yard waste) because the plant continues to go to seed even after removed from the ground
- Cut flower stalks to 12-15" and leave them standing until summer (late May to early June in the Midwest) after the small carpenter bees that used them for nests have emerged
- Birds love moving water, but it's easy to trip or mow over the tiny hose for a dripper. Using a shovel, create a slit in the lawn about 3-5" deep and 1" wide by rocking the shovel back and forth. Push the tiny hose down and close the soil over it to make the soil flat and protect the hose for the season. The hose will be easier to remove when the ground starts to freeze than if you buried it
- If showers turn your soil into a mud ball when you squeeze it, wait until after it dries enough to crumble in your hands; then plant and water
- It's easier to pull weeds out by the roots if soil is wet; you may wet with water before pulling
- If you find unattended baby or injured wildlife in your yard, here's what to do from the Ohio Wildlife Center Hospital
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