May 142013
 
Sambucas mexicana in Elderberry Pond wildlife habitat.

I posted my monthly blog article (due every 14th of the month) at Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens:

 

Sambucas mexicana in Elderberry Pond wildlife habitat.

Sambucas mexicana in Elderberry Pond wildlife habitat. Perhaps the cutting shrub propagation will be successful. The young shoots look promising.

 

Enjoy your wildlife garden.  Habitat It!

Tony

Apr 022013
 

Contest Entries

During each calendar month, Spore Lore will accept postings of residential wildlife habitats to Spore Lore’s facebook page, Habitat It and They Will Come.

click to post your Habitat of the Month entry

Click to post your Habitat of the Month entry.

Contest entries must include:

1) The name of the garden habitat.

2) The 4 components of wildlife habitat:

SHELTER =

FOOD =

WATER =

SPACE TO RAISE YOUNG =

3) At least one picture of the the wildlife habitat.

Entry Awards and Contest Winners

All Habitat of the Month Contest entries will receive a “Habitat It!” bumper sticker.  Habitat of the Month, as in the The Winner, will receive a signed copy of Tony McGuigan’s book, Habitat It and They Will Come.  The month’s winning habitat will be chosen from a review of Comments (facebook) posted to the entry AND ALSO from Tony’s impression of the contest entry.  In the case of a tie, two (2) winners, both declared “Habitat of the Month” will be announced.

Contest entries (postings to the facebook page Habitat It and They Will Come) will be accepted till noon (Pacific treefrog time) of the 28th day of the month (26th day for February).  Contest winners will be announced by 6PM (Pacific treefrog time) on the 30th day of the same month (28th for February).  Contest winners will be announced primarily at Spore Lore’s website (sporelore.com\Blog\Habitat of the Month Contest) and at Spore Lore’s facebook page (Habitat It and They Will Come).

To receive your contest entry “Spore Lore” sticker, and/or receive a book if your habitat is chosen as Habitat of the Month, please email your postal address to habitatofthemonth@sporelore.com; please include the name of your habitat in your email.

Please enter your garden habitat one time only.  However, if significant changes have been made to the habitat and/or significant documentation (like pictures!) of the habitat is available, then the same habitat may be re-submitted as a new contest entry. 

Create wildlife habitat and have fun.

Post your habitat to Habitat of the Month.

Good Luck!

Fine Print — Other Rules

There is no cash value for any contest rewards or contest prizes.

Participants/Entrants of the Contest give Spore Lore permission to leave contest posts on Spore Lore’s facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/HabitatItAndTheyWillCome, and to post Contest entries and Contest winner announcements to Spore Lore’s facebook pages (Habitat It and They Will Come, Spore Lore, and Tony McGuigan), as well as Tony McGuigan’s/Spore Lore’s other social media sites (Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube) and Spore Lore’s website (sporelore.com).   Spore Lore reserves the right to use the winner’s name (if provided in the contest entry), habitat name and habitat location (if provided in the contest entry),  for publicity purposes only in connection with the Contest and for no other reason.

Spore Lore is not bound to announce contest entries/winner/winners. 

GOVERNING LAW: Contest governed by the laws of California and subject to all applicable federal, state and local laws and regulations. Accordingly, all issues and questions concerning the construction, validity, interpretation and enforceability of these Official Rules, or the rights and obligations of the Contestant and Sponsor in connection with the Contest, shall be governed by, and construed in accordance with, the laws of the State of California, without giving effect to any choice of law or conflict of law rules (whether of the State of California or any other jurisdiction). The Contest is void where prohibited by any applicable law. Contestants, by participating in this Contest, hereby waive and release, and agree to hold harmless Spore Lore and all of its respective officers, directors, employees and representatives and agents, from and against, any and all rights, claims and causes of action whatsoever that they may have, or which may arise, against any of them for any liability for any matter, cause or thing whatsoever, including but not limited to any injury, loss, damage, whether direct, compensatory, incidental or consequential, to person, including death, and /or property, arising in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, from their acceptance, possession, use or misuse of any prize, or their participation in this Contest, or any prize-related activity. By participating in this Contest, Contestants agree to be bound by these Official Rules and the decisions of Sponsor. Except where prohibited by law, by accepting a prize, winner agrees that Spore may use the winner’s name, address (state), photograph, likeness, and/or prize information for advertising, publicity and promotional purposes and to the use of statements made by or attributed to winner relating to Spore Lore or to this Contest and grants to Spore Lore any and all rights to said use without further notice and/or compensation except where prohibited by law.


Dec 072012
 
Watering with finer spout holes.

First a video re “Bucket Watering Can DIY 4 of 4”, then some pics of the project (below the video):

Bucket Watering Can DIY 4 of 4 (video):

From the project (pics):

 

New and Improved watering can (model 000000000000000002) has smaller holes.  New and Improved watering can (model 000000000000000002) has smaller holes.  A smaller spout stream helps distribute the water more evenly and is less harsh on bare soil and fragile seedlings.

 

A look inside the watering can ready for application.A look inside the watering can ready for application.  Note the floating food particles that would clog up the spout to an ordinary watering can.  THIS is no ordinary watering can!

 

Watering with finer spout holes.Watering with finer spout holes.   Mission accomplished – the new watering streams are less sloppy than the larger-holed watering can.

 

 

Happy DIY projects for your Habitat Food Forest.  See you tomorrow.

Tony

Dec 072012
 
Watering the garden with our new watering can.

First a video re “Bucket Watering Can DIY 3 of 4”, then some pics of the project (below the video):

Bucket Watering Can DIY 3 of 4 (video):

From the project (pics):

Filling the watering can with dishwater (blackwater).Filling the watering can with dishwater (blackwater).   Check out that water!  It’s a mix of soapy water, food particles from our dishes, and pasta drain-off water.  Here microbes, come and get it!

 

Diluting the dishwater with fresh water.Diluting the dishwater with fresh water.  We’ll get more coverage in the garden by adding fresh water to the nutrient “concentration”.

 

Watering the garden with our new watering can.Watering the garden with our new watering can.  Note the use of the fill hole as handle grip.  It works!  And, easy to clean.

 

Happy DIY projects for your Habitat Food Forest.  See you tomorrow.

Tony

Dec 072012
 
Cutting a fill hole in the bucket’s lid.

First a video re “Bucket Watering Can DIY 2of 4”, then some pics of the project (below the video):

Bucket Watering Can DIY 2 of 4 (video):

From the project (pics):

Cutting a fill hole in the bucket’s lid.Cutting a fill hole in the bucket’s lid.  The large hole allows filling the watering can easily AND can be used as a non-moving grip while watering garden.

 

Finding center opposite the watering can’s grip (the fill hole).Finding center opposite the watering can’s grip (the fill hole).  The bucket was then flipped 180 degrees to locate the center of the holes to be drilled.

 

Spout holes are drilled to both the right and left of the center mark hole.Spout holes are drilled to both the right and left of the center mark hole.  The more holes, the wider the watering row-of-streams will be.

 

Happy DIY projects for your Habitat Food Forest.  See you tomorrow.

Tony

Nov 222012
 
Lemon Pot planted with pac choi.

Day 7 in this 6-day video series (bonus day!): Preparing patio pots for winter veggie planting.

First a video  re “Patio Planting Pots”,  then some pics (below the video):

Patio Veggie Pots 7 of 6 (video):


Patio Planting Pots Sprouting Seedlings  and Ripening Scarlet Runner Bean Seeds (pics):

 

Lemon Pot planted with pac choi.

Lemon Pot planted with pac choi. This is the patio pot that I planted the hugelkultur, a thick layer of weeds and greens, just above the drainage gravel.

 

Carrot seedlings in a large patio pot.

Carrot seedlings in a large patio pot.

 

Scarlet runner beans continue to ripen on the kitchen windowsill.

Scarlet runner beans continue to ripen on the kitchen windowsill. These beans were harvested on day 1 (6 days ago) and seem to be ripening (browning) well.

Happy planting veggies on your patio and see you tomorrow (Happy Thanksgiving!).

Tony

 

Nov 212012
 
Ground level (critter head height) entrance to Leaf Trench Highway.

Day 6 in this 6-day video series: Preparing patio pots for winter veggie planting.

First a video  re “Leaf Layer Added to Leaf Trench Highway”,  then some animal habitat pics (below the video):

Patio Veggie Pots 6 of 6 (video):

Leaf Layer Added to Leaf Trench Highway (pics):

 

Leaf Trench Highway with a fresh layer of tulip magnolia leaves.

Leaf Trench Highway with a fresh layer of tulip magnolia leaves. The trench along the walkway is three feet deep and filled with different organic/yard debris layers. The layers will break down and form rich compost in about 6 months to a year.

 

Leaf Trench Highway extends along the back corner of our yard to Salamander Resort (left).

Leaf Trench Highway extends along the back corner of our yard to Salamander Resort (left). Besides storing organic material (twigs, leaves, straw, manure, pulled weeds), the trench also feeds the fedge (food hedge) along our property line. Pineapple guava, fig, and pomegranate trees, as well as annual veggies, grow in the compost-making veggie bed.

 

Ground level (critter head height) entrance to Leaf Trench Highway.

Critter level, perhaps the head height of a raccoon, skunk, or possum, of the entrance to Leaf Trench Highway. Personally, if I were a salamander, I would crawl under the leaf litter. Lots of tiny tidbit treats (FOOD!) under those moist leaves.

 

Kitchen dishwater ready for the compost pile.

Dishwater ready for the compost pile. Dishwater with soap and food (left bucket) is considered “blackwater”; rinse water is considered “greywater”. We pour blackwater directly into the compost where microbes and micro-critters will process it. The greywater rinse water makes a fine treat for most of the garden, with care not to pour it directly on fruit/vegetables.

 

Happy planting veggies on your patio and see you tomorrow (Happy Thanksgiving!).

Tony

 

Dec 172010
 
This active caterpillar has scaled the front wall of our home to window sill height.

Garden Log:

1. Harvested a few purple potatoes from the Bog, a ditch that was filled with planting soil and potato starts in September.

2. Carried citrus to frost protection and illuminated Anna’s Avocado Aviary with a string of white decorative lights.

3. Photographed more caterpillar activity/crysalis formation on our home’s front door wall.

You, the Habitat Gardener:

1. The Bog is a low ditch in the middle of Dragon Spine Ridge in our back yard; it catches water from uphill.  The Deva Tub drains directly to the Bog.  The Deva Tub’s landscaped bowl — a lush horseshoe of fern, trumpet and jasmine vine, buddleia, ginger, forget-me-not, morning glory, rosemary, canna lily, and fig —  also drains to the Bog.  Good reason to use organic soap in Deva Tub, and not much of it!  The Bog sure appreciates that soapy bath water during the summer and the many plants in the Bog willingly process the greywater.  This year we decided to fill the Bog with soil and potato starts to grow potatoes during the dryer months.

During the wetter months, we want the Bog to collect storm water off the slight hill in our back yard.  No problem, all we have to do is harvest the potatoes that have been enjoying the temporary planting bed in the Bog.  The potatoes will go in our kitchen (or into cold storage) and the Bog’s planting soil will either go into bins for storage or into another planting bed.  I bet some of it will go into the garlic bed we want to get started.  Yes, we are running late.  But we still have some garlic hanging in the kitchen from this fall’s garlic harvest and that can be used with the potatoes coming in now.  Garlic potatoes from the garden — gardening has it’s rewards.

2. The string of 300 lights that we are using to minimize the frost damage on our avocado, paw paw, and guava trees use 61.2 watts — equivalent to a medium-sized light bulb.  Not every night, just when the frost might be a bit too much for these young trees.  Some day we will cut the cord (both electric and umbilical) and the more mature trees will be on there own.  Yes, there will be some frost damage but the older trees will be able to recoup strength and leafage in the spring.  Shutting off the string of lights after the morning’s warmth has arrived helps us minimize their electric use.

3. There’s been a lot of caterpillar activity on the front wall of our home while we have been warm and cozy inside (just minding our own business, I might add).  As I mentioned in “Happy Thanksgiving weekend AND Saving a Pond” ( http://sporelore.com/residential-habitats/garden-pond/ ), these caterpillars are most likely coming to the wall for its warmth and shelter features.  Lucky for us today, there was a yet-to-pupate caterpillar looking for its over-wintering site.  A fresh, plump, partially transluscent light green caterpillar.  Most likely by tomorrow it will have found a cozy nitch to set up camp for the winter.

Enjoy the pics.  And if you know what type of caterpillar this is, please drop me a line.

Tony

Nov 272010
 
Salamander Sunny Swimhole remodelled and flushed

Happy Thanksgiving weekend all!

So nice to have a little more focus on what we have to be grateful for.

Garden Log:

1. Emptied the kitchen compost into the Earthworm Bin.

2. Emptied the kitchen wash basin onto Salamander Resort.

3. Removed leaves and sunken oak wedge from Salamander Sunny Swimhole, the pond over Salamander Resort.  Flushed pond water.

4. Potted red currant and jostaberry starts that were saved during the demolition of Rock Pile Planter.

5. Photographed what was a caterpillar yesterday and is a pupa today.  Just outside our front door, where the sun’s warmth is wind-sheltered, a caterpillar was crawling along the siding yesterday.  In just about the same space today — “You haven’t gotten very far Little One, have you?”  Well duh!  That caterpillar may be there all winter.  In fact, it’s not even a caterpillar any more.  It’s a chrysalis, attached to the siding with a sticky silk ball.

Butterfly chrysalis on wood siding.

Butterfly chrysalis on wood siding.

Close-up of butterfly chrysalis

Close-up of butterfly chrysalis. Yesterday it was a plump, cylindrical, light-green, soft-skinned caterpillar. Today it is forming angular, hard ridges (natural I-beams) and a dark, thick crust.

You the Habitat Gardener:

1. The nights are getting chilly, even for cold-blooded invertebrates.  I like to use planty of straw in the Earthworm Bin to keep it well insulated and to create a compost-breaking-down situation.  All the die-hard microbes will generate heat, that will allow the straw and kitchen food to breakdown (from the microbes, of course), which puts off still more heat.  The bottom will fall out of this Pyramid Scheme when we run out of kitchen scraps to add to the compost — “Quick!, gather up those rotten fallen apples and feed them to the worms.”

2. The Salamander Resort, our 6-foot-deep habitat hole/cavern/rock, wood, and soil pile, still has an unplanted surface.  Intense soil making for now.  The surface has been covered with different layers of organics, including manure soil, oak leaves, wood chips, magnolia leaves, straw.  Great place to dump the kitchen washbasin, which is considered blackwater.  “Blackwater” is a notch more ecologically volatile than greywater because of either sewage (toilet) or food particles from the kitchen sink.  Sewage or food — all the same to a microbe.  So for our garden, we purposefully wash our dishes in a half bucket, let it cool, then dump it in non-food areas or on the ground being careful to stay away from any leafage or root crops.  Food particles and nitrogen-based “Earth-friendly” soap.  [Pill Bug to his family]: “Soup’s on!”  When in doubt, spread any greywater/kitchen water around then garden so you won’t drastically inundate any one plant.  And don’t forget to save the bottom of the wash basin for one of your favorite plants.  “Who will get all this yummy oatmeal flake- and baked eggplant polenta-infused water today?  Who’s been good?

3. My heart broke this week.  All the hard work I did to set up a cooler-than-cool pond habitat in Salamander Sunny Swimhole turned out to be a flop.  A cold snap, with some nights as low as 26 degrees (well, after all, this is sunny California!) set in and forced a lot of falling leaves.  Between the shorter days of low-angled sun, the flood of organics falling out of the air (leaves), and the lower temps, the half-barrel pond ecosystem could not keep up.  Murky water filled with fallen leaves AND a touch of “oil slick” on the surface.  It was the slick that told me this pond is going anaerobic — it’s being starved of oxygen.  All the precious muck that I saved during the the relocation plus the current conditions were just too much for it to keep up, for it to recycle life from the decaying matter being quickly added to it.  A note about the shiny, multicolored slick:  it’s a sign that there’s too high a concentration of nitrogen in the water, usually from muck on the bottom.

Sure, there’s some lesson to be learned here about our pond that went flop.  But the bigger picture lesson I want to convey is how freeing it is to learn from a mistake and to feel the satisfaction of having corrected it.  My heart broke not because the pond wasn’t working.  My heart broke because I was WRONG.  Don’t you just hate that!  I was so jazzed to include a neat piece of wood (a freshly cut oak wedge with rotted out holes) when setting up the pond.  What design, what art!  All my visions of tadpoles and other aquatic critters meandering through the wood’s passages, perhaps escaping a foraging raccoon, gone up in smoke.  How couldn’t this be Paradise?

Daily cleaning out of some of the fallen magnolia leaves postponed more effective action.  Luckily, I was smart enough to finally give up the ghost and hauled the wood wedge out of the pond.  Smelly!  Foulness that bespoketh rotteneth (Old English, so old that they may not even know about it).  Clearly an inorganic situation, AKA anaerobic, going on in the pond.  How cool once the wood wedge was out.  More water could be added to make up for the displaced wood.  Also, I was able to scoop out leaves and muck more easily.  Then I gave the pond a good flushing with fresh water.

Be careful when flushing a pond, especially if you are flushing with city water which might contain health-related additives in it.  Those additives, like fluorine and chlorine, will bubble out if you let them sit overnight.  But straight from the city-water hose to the pond in an excessive amount might overwhelm some critters and kill them.  But back to Tony’s state-of-the-art foul pond.  For our pond, it was already foul, so I flushed it, flushed it, and then flushed it some more.   Hey, we’re starting over, both me and the pond.  The pond will recoup and achieve it’s ecosystem.  I will find something to be right about, again, some day.

Stay posted — I’ll post a pic of the pond’s success as it comes.

Tony