February is a slow month for gardening. The ground is frozen and covered with snow. The skies have been a hazy grey for weeks. Cabin fever is setting in. Despite the oppressive weather, I have managed to keep busy doing a bit of this and that. I have recorded these bits here...
|Downy Woodpecker (Dryobates pubescens)|
PART 1: Tracking the Wildlife in My Yard
Mindful of the fact that gardens are important for the support of wildlife, I decided to track how many species of animal I can observe in my small yard this year. (Our yard is approximately 40ft x 160ft (12.2m x 48.8m).) I am not trying to track the total number of animals, but only the number of species. This is because it is hard to tell if I am seeing the same animal over and over, or several of them coming and going (especially with regard to birds). So far, I have noted 10 different species since January 1, 2017. I think this is a fair number of creatures considering the harsh winter weather and small size of the land being observed. The species I spotted are as follows:
1. Humans (Homo sapien) - (My husband and I)
2. Dog (Canis domesticus) - (Snickers)
3. Tufted Titmouse (Baeolopholus bicolor)
4. Chickadee (Poecile atracapillus)
5. House Sparrows (Passer domesticus)
6. Downy Woodpecker (Dryobates pubescens)
|Nuthatch (Sitta caroliensis)|
8. Black squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis)
9. House Finch (Haemorhous meixcanus)
10. European Starling (Sternus vulgaris)
I spotted most of these at the bird feeder. It is fun to watch the birds flit around. I have also been recording my sightings on the "eBird Cornell Ornithology" website at http://www.ebird.com. I hope to take part in The 2017 Great Backyard Bird Count from 2/17/17 to 2/20/17, and to record more sightings throughout the year. However, I look forward to finding more than birds once the weather warms up. I am hoping to see a great variety of insects, arachnids and mammals.
|House Finch (Haemorhous meixcanus)|
In addition to vegetables, I am starting some annuals and perennials this year. I plan to work on the shaded garden in my front yard this summer and wanted to supply some plants for that area. For that reason, I started: red valerian (Centranthus ruber) , common valerian (Valeriana officinalis), wood betony (Stachys officionalis), coleus (Plectranthus) , and stocks (Matthiola incana & Matthiola longipetola). I am starting some plants to put in pots around the deck as well. These include: Scented geraniums (Pelargoniums), blue pimpernel (Anagallis monellii), cosmos and toothache plant (Spilanthes oleracea).
Of these plants, I am most excited to grow the common valerian and the toothache plant. Both of these are considered herbs and are useful in different ways. The valerian not only grows well in shade, but the roots have traditionally been used as a sedative or sleep aid. While I don't plan to use them this way, it is nice to know that I have such a useful plant on hand. On the other hand, I do plan to use the toothache plant. This is an edible plant that causes temporary tingling in the mouth when chewed. This should make for an interesting culinary experience. I look forward to trying them.
Part 3: Garden Marker Test
- Artline Garden Marker costs $4.50 per marker.
- Inkzall Industrial Marker costs $3.95 per marker.
- Sharpie Pro Marker costs $2.49 per marker.
- A standard Sharpie costs $2.79 for a pack of 2, working out to $1.39 each.
- A standard #2 pencil costs about $4 for about 30 pencils working out to about $0.13 each.
|Pot of labels sitting in the snow on the SE corner of the garden bed.|