Jan 032015
 
spore lore, habitat it and they will come, tony mcguigan, garden, soil, soil under my nails, gardening, gardens, native plants, permaculture, wildlife garden, environmental education, ecological landscaping amphibians, Animal Habitat, biodiversity, birds, compost, coyote bush, ecological landscaping, frogs, fungi spore, hugelkultur, insects, lizards, microbes, mulch, native plants, pollinators, reptiles, salamanders, snails and slugs, snakes, soil, Tony McGuigan, wasps, wildlife garden, garter snake, pond

spore lore, habitat it and they will come, tony mcguigan, garden, soil, soil under my nails, gardening, gardens, native plants, permaculture, wildlife garden, environmental education, ecological landscaping amphibians, Animal Habitat, biodiversity, birds, compost, coyote bush, ecological landscaping, frogs, fungi spore, hugelkultur, insects, lizards, microbes, mulch, native plants, pollinators, reptiles, salamanders, snails and slugs, snakes, soil, Tony McGuigan, wasps, wildlife garden, garter snake, pondA garter snake soaks up the sun while Garter Snake Ravine is dug.  I worked not more than ten feet from this snake, banging and chopping at the rock/stone/gravel hardpan surface for a couple of hours till I spied it under the coyote brush.

This month’s project with Orchard View School at the Laguna Foundation’s property, the Laguna Environmental Center, is called Garter Snake Ravine.  The  name was inspired by the many garter snakes that have been seen at this wildlife installation’s site.

spore lore, habitat it and they will come, tony mcguigan, garden, soil, soil under my nails, gardening, gardens, native plants, permaculture, wildlife garden, environmental education, ecological landscaping amphibians, Animal Habitat, biodiversity, birds, compost, coyote bush, ecological landscaping, frogs, fungi spore, hugelkultur, insects, lizards, microbes, mulch, native plants, pollinators, reptiles, salamanders, snails and slugs, snakes, soil, Tony McGuigan, wasps, wildlife garden, garter snake, pondThe wood chip pile to be moved/shaved off a dozen feet or so to create space for Garter Snake Ravine.  View from behind Compost Cricket Corral, looking past Log Pile Apartments.  Habitat it!  Note the coyote brush at the pile’s left edge.  Coyote brush is a very important native, drought tolerant habitat shrub in our environs of Northern California.  The coiled garter snake in the first picture was basking under that shrub while I worked.

spore lore, habitat it and they will come, tony mcguigan, garden, soil, soil under my nails, gardening, gardens, native plants, permaculture, wildlife garden, environmental education, ecological landscaping amphibians, Animal Habitat, biodiversity, birds, compost, coyote bush, ecological landscaping, frogs, fungi spore, hugelkultur, insects, lizards, microbes, mulch, native plants, pollinators, reptiles, salamanders, snails and slugs, snakes, soil, Tony McGuigan, wasps, wildlife garden, garter snake, pondFront view of the wood chip pile to be moved away from Log Pile Apartments to make way for the new wildlife habitat installation, Garter Snake Ravine.  Note the coyote brush (large shrub, right) and the ceanothus (smaller, left) behind the wood chip pile.  Those native plants will be good habitat components of the adjacent Garter Snake Ravine.  Ultimately, the wood chip pile will work together with (right to left) Garter Snake Ravine, Log Pile Apartments, and Compost Cricket Corral to support wildlife habitat — food, water, shelter, and a place to raise young.  As for water alone, the wood chip pile will store moisture and wick it to the habitats’ grateful critters during the long, dry summer months.  Critters feeding daily/nightly in the compost will seek refuge in the many (too many to count!) nooks and crannies of these habitats.  Microbe- and nutrient-rich soil amendments will made by those willing habitat critters.

spore lore, habitat it and they will come, tony mcguigan, garden, soil, soil under my nails, gardening, gardens, native plants, permaculture, wildlife garden, environmental education, ecological landscaping amphibians, Animal Habitat, biodiversity, birds, compost, coyote bush, ecological landscaping, frogs, fungi spore, hugelkultur, insects, lizards, microbes, mulch, native plants, pollinators, reptiles, salamanders, snails and slugs, snakes, soil, Tony McGuigan, wasps, wildlife garden, garter snake, pondThere’s a wood chip pile to be moved!  Note the Laguna de Santa Rosa is cresting in the background.  By tomorrow it will flood Sanford Road (the white station wagon, top left, is heading south on Sanford).  This is tree frog, salamander, and newt weather.  Rain, rain, rain!  The Laguna floods its banks every year, providing the services of the wonderful watershed it is — to allow water to spread out and return to the land before rushing down river and out to the sea.  A great place to kayak!

spore lore, habitat it and they will come, tony mcguigan, garden, soil, soil under my nails, gardening, gardens, native plants, permaculture, wildlife garden, environmental education, ecological landscaping amphibians, Animal Habitat, biodiversity, birds, compost, coyote bush, ecological landscaping, frogs, fungi spore, hugelkultur, insects, lizards, microbes, mulch, native plants, pollinators, reptiles, salamanders, snails and slugs, snakes, soil, Tony McGuigan, wasps, wildlife garden, garter snake, pondStuart from Stone Horse Farm gave the pile a shove and scrapped the top soil layer off to one side.   Thanks for the tractor (top right) work, Stuart!  Note the packed gravel and stone soil base that was uncovered from under the wood chip pile.  Unlucky for us and the critters, the small area seems to have been a road surface debris pile at one time.  Lucky for us and the critters, the habitat microbiome will eat up the asphalt debris.

 

20141210-GSR--b6(sfw-18)The coyote brush, a sacred plant (especially to the snake living under it), is roped off to protect it during the wildlife habitat installation.

spore lore, habitat it and they will come, tony mcguigan, garden, soil, soil under my nails, gardening, gardens, native plants, permaculture, wildlife garden, environmental education, ecological landscaping amphibians, Animal Habitat, biodiversity, birds, compost, coyote bush, ecological landscaping, frogs, fungi spore, hugelkultur, insects, lizards, microbes, mulch, native plants, pollinators, reptiles, salamanders, snails and slugs, snakes, soil, Tony McGuigan, wasps, wildlife garden, garter snake, pondHoles are dug into the packed gravel, hardpan adobe clay, and stone surface.  Water soaking in the holes will soften the surrounding ground to allow faster digging progress.

spore lore, habitat it and they will come, tony mcguigan, garden, soil, soil under my nails, gardening, gardens, native plants, permaculture, wildlife garden, environmental education, ecological landscaping amphibians, Animal Habitat, biodiversity, birds, compost, coyote bush, ecological landscaping, frogs, fungi spore, hugelkultur, insects, lizards, microbes, mulch, native plants, pollinators, reptiles, salamanders, snails and slugs, snakes, soil, Tony McGuigan, wasps, wildlife garden, garter snake, pondLooking south to the Hop Barn, with manure pile on concrete slab.  The Foundation’s Native Plant Nursery is off to the right.  Currently, the manure is too wet because water from the road (left and alongside the barn) runs downhill, past the barn, and onto the concrete slab.  The soaking water displaces oxygen in the manure pile; an anaerobic, poorly composting pile results.

Note the grass swath behind the wheelbarrow that runs up to the barn.  SOME DAY a ditch might run along the concrete slab, diverting the road runoff away from it.  Garter Snake Ravine, a pond (during winter rains) and deep hugelkultur (during dry months) habitat is designed to make use of the ditch water before leaving the immediate area.  The deep-hole and bermed soil landscape will also help keep Compost Cricket Corral dry and maximize its aerobic composting function.  The deep hole of Garter Snake Ravine will be underneath the wheelbarrow in the above photo.

spore lore, habitat it and they will come, tony mcguigan, garden, soil, soil under my nails, gardening, gardens, native plants, permaculture, wildlife garden, environmental education, ecological landscaping amphibians, Animal Habitat, biodiversity, birds, compost, coyote bush, ecological landscaping, frogs, fungi spore, hugelkultur, insects, lizards, microbes, mulch, native plants, pollinators, reptiles, salamanders, snails and slugs, snakes, soil, Tony McGuigan, wasps, wildlife garden, garter snake, pondI like this wildlife habitat installation design!

spore lore, habitat it and they will come, tony mcguigan, garden, soil, soil under my nails, gardening, gardens, native plants, permaculture, wildlife garden, environmental education, ecological landscaping amphibians, Animal Habitat, biodiversity, birds, compost, coyote bush, ecological landscaping, frogs, fungi spore, hugelkultur, insects, lizards, microbes, mulch, native plants, pollinators, reptiles, salamanders, snails and slugs, snakes, soil, Tony McGuigan, wasps, wildlife garden, garter snake, pondA hole is dug and filled with water for further digging.

spore lore, habitat it and they will come, tony mcguigan, garden, soil, soil under my nails, gardening, gardens, native plants, permaculture, wildlife garden, environmental education, ecological landscaping amphibians, Animal Habitat, biodiversity, birds, compost, coyote bush, ecological landscaping, frogs, fungi spore, hugelkultur, insects, lizards, microbes, mulch, native plants, pollinators, reptiles, salamanders, snails and slugs, snakes, soil, Tony McGuigan, wasps, wildlife garden, garter snake, pondLake Mead and the Hoover Dam come to mind as water fills Garter Snake Ravine.

spore lore, habitat it and they will come, tony mcguigan, garden, soil, soil under my nails, gardening, gardens, native plants, permaculture, wildlife garden, environmental education, ecological landscaping amphibians, Animal Habitat, biodiversity, birds, compost, coyote bush, ecological landscaping, frogs, fungi spore, hugelkultur, insects, lizards, microbes, mulch, native plants, pollinators, reptiles, salamanders, snails and slugs, snakes, soil, Tony McGuigan, wasps, wildlife garden, garter snake, pondGarter Snake Ravine, using hose water during this installation trial run, drains into and under Log Pile Apartments.  Good thing that the Apartments’ rents are stabilized now that the habitat installation will have running water.

spore lore, habitat it and they will come, tony mcguigan, garden, soil, soil under my nails, gardening, gardens, native plants, permaculture, wildlife garden, environmental education, ecological landscaping amphibians, Animal Habitat, biodiversity, birds, compost, coyote bush, ecological landscaping, frogs, fungi spore, hugelkultur, insects, lizards, microbes, mulch, native plants, pollinators, reptiles, salamanders, snails and slugs, snakes, soil, Tony McGuigan, wasps, wildlife garden, garter snake, pondI will be back to finalize the prep for Garter Snake Ravine next week.  Please do not fall in!

Sunny Galbraith’s Biology students from Orchard View School will be here in two weeks to complete the wildlife habitat installation.  At that time, we will install an owl perch, a hugelkultur, a water-collecting soil berm, and a many headed creature writhing out of Garter Snake Ravine.

Enjoy your habitat installations and outdoor classrooms.  Habitat it!

                          Tony

 

Nov 142014
 
amphibians, Animal Habitat, biodiversity, birds, ceanothus, compost, coyote bush, earthworms, ecological landscaping, frogs, fungi spore, garden, gardening, Habitat It And They Will Come, hugelkultur, insects, lizards, microbes, mulch, native plants, pollinators, redwood, reptiles, salamanders, snails and slugs, snakes, soil, Sonoma fieldstone, Tony McGuigan, wasps, wildlife garden

amphibians, Animal Habitat, biodiversity, birds, ceanothus, compost, coyote bush, earthworms, ecological landscaping, frogs, fungi spore, garden, gardening, Habitat It And They Will Come, hugelkultur, insects, lizards, microbes, mulch, native plants, pollinators, redwood, reptiles, salamanders, snails and slugs, snakes, soil, Sonoma fieldstone, Tony McGuigan, wasps, wildlife gardenBig Bunny Seat is a wildlife habitat installation. 

Big Bunny Seat is a wildlife habitat installation that is an art installation. 

Big Bunny Seat is a wildlife habitat installation that is a seat, a resting place.

Big Bunny Seat wildlife habitat installation is an outdoor classroom project.  School: Orchard View School, located in Sebastopol, California.

Big Bunny Seat wildlife habitat installation, AKA “Big Bunny Seat”, AKA “BBS”, was fun!

 

The Before

amphibians, Animal Habitat, biodiversity, birds, ceanothus, compost, coyote bush, earthworms, ecological landscaping, frogs, fungi spore, garden, gardening, Habitat It And They Will Come, hugelkultur, insects, lizards, microbes, mulch, native plants, pollinators, redwood, reptiles, salamanders, snails and slugs, snakes, soil, Sonoma fieldstone, Tony McGuigan, wasps, wildlife gardenThe Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation, located in Santa Rosa, California, operates the Laguna Environmental Center, on Stone Farm, Stanford Road. The LEC’s (Laguna Environmental Center’s) path to its Observation Platform and adjacent viewing bench terrace wanted something artistic.

 

amphibians, Animal Habitat, biodiversity, birds, ceanothus, compost, coyote bush, earthworms, ecological landscaping, frogs, fungi spore, garden, gardening, Habitat It And They Will Come, hugelkultur, insects, lizards, microbes, mulch, native plants, pollinators, redwood, reptiles, salamanders, snails and slugs, snakes, soil, Sonoma fieldstone, Tony McGuigan, wasps, wildlife gardenBBS (Big Bunny Seat) will be created here in two weeks (from photo date). It will be a seat alongside the path, so that someone just leaving the bridge over the LEC’s Pond will have a place to rest. This habitat installation (because all this effort is about habitat installation foremost!) will be a solid, secure, trustworthy seat for the weary traveler. In other words, while considering the safety and comfort of the sitter, we will be considering this art installation’s ability to nourish wildlife habitat.
amphibians, Animal Habitat, biodiversity, birds, ceanothus, compost, coyote bush, earthworms, ecological landscaping, frogs, fungi spore, garden, gardening, Habitat It And They Will Come, hugelkultur, insects, lizards, microbes, mulch, native plants, pollinators, redwood, reptiles, salamanders, snails and slugs, snakes, soil, Sonoma fieldstone, Tony McGuigan, wasps, wildlife gardenAlas, a lone log lays.  This log will be removed to create BBS and will ultimately be dug into the woodchips under the Observation Platform’s ramp.  Note!: A student from Orchard View’s Biology class (Teacher: Sunny Galbraith; school located in Sebastopol, California) found 2 praying mantis cocoons on the log’s underside.  We also saw an empty paper wasp nest.  When relocated under the ramp, care was taken to protect the cocoons.

Note also, in the pic above, the irrigation tube (exposed), and the easy, smooth slope of land, particularly in the middle of the young shrubs.  The shallow bowl of woodchips and the exposed black tubing will change during this project.

Installation Day

amphibians, Animal Habitat, biodiversity, birds, ceanothus, compost, coyote bush, earthworms, ecological landscaping, frogs, fungi spore, garden, gardening, Habitat It And They Will Come, hugelkultur, insects, lizards, microbes, mulch, native plants, pollinators, redwood, reptiles, salamanders, snails and slugs, snakes, soil, Sonoma fieldstone, Tony McGuigan, wasps, wildlife gardenBig Bunny is a hulk of redwood, perhaps a chip off a great redwood tree’s top crown to early trunk. In other words, the bulky “head” wood grain is swirly like root wood, while the other end is more linear, like a tail.

Habitat feature: Redwood loves water. The soft, moisture-laden wood will work in tandem with the adobe soil to create a moist soft interface, mud. That’s a great amphibian, soil microbe, crustacean, gastropod place to be. Biodiversity is likely to thrive in this proposed wildlife habitat. Note: The Sonoma fieldstone (local rock) on the skid in background waiting for the installation to start.  Thanks for the delivery Stuart!

amphibians, Animal Habitat, biodiversity, birds, ceanothus, compost, coyote bush, earthworms, ecological landscaping, frogs, fungi spore, garden, gardening, Habitat It And They Will Come, hugelkultur, insects, lizards, microbes, mulch, native plants, pollinators, redwood, reptiles, salamanders, snails and slugs, snakes, soil, Sonoma fieldstone, Tony McGuigan, wasps, wildlife gardenFungi hunting grounds at the LEC – Heron Hall’s back slope mulching woodchips. The woodchips are a habitat restoration resource. Heron Hall was recently built.   The woodchips will allow the native plants and seeds, provided by the Laguna Foundation, time enough to establish, to thrive, before weeds take over. Race between Weeds and Native Plants aside, we get to harvest mushrooms. Those mushrooms will be used to inoculate the new habitat’s (Big Bunny Seat’s) new woodchip mulching. Note: White polka dot irrigation flags (pretty fancy stuff!) mark mushroom colonies.

 

amphibians, Animal Habitat, biodiversity, birds, ceanothus, compost, coyote bush, earthworms, ecological landscaping, frogs, fungi spore, garden, gardening, Habitat It And They Will Come, hugelkultur, insects, lizards, microbes, mulch, native plants, pollinators, redwood, reptiles, salamanders, snails and slugs, snakes, soil, Sonoma fieldstone, Tony McGuigan, wasps, wildlife garden Beginning of class. Today we will be making an art installation as well as a functional bench. And, it will be a wildlife habitat.

20141112-BBS--aamphibians, Animal Habitat, biodiversity, birds, ceanothus, compost, coyote bush, earthworms, ecological landscaping, frogs, fungi spore, garden, gardening, Habitat It And They Will Come, hugelkultur, insects, lizards, microbes, mulch, native plants, pollinators, redwood, reptiles, salamanders, snails and slugs, snakes, soil, Sonoma fieldstone, Tony McGuigan, wasps, wildlife garden2,cr(1000)The 10-foot trench for the redwood branches starts at 6” (six inches) deep and gradually surfaces. The longest branch will rise out of the trench and become a small snag below the Observation Platform ramp. Small snag to you, nice perch for a field mouse or Pacific tree frog.

2014amphibians, Animal Habitat, biodiversity, birds, ceanothus, compost, coyote bush, earthworms, ecological landscaping, frogs, fungi spore, garden, gardening, Habitat It And They Will Come, hugelkultur, insects, lizards, microbes, mulch, native plants, pollinators, redwood, reptiles, salamanders, snails and slugs, snakes, soil, Sonoma fieldstone, Tony McGuigan, wasps, wildlife garden1112-BBS--5(1000)Water to the rescue! A quick hosing and the trench’s adobe clay will become easier to dig.

amphibians, Animal Habitat, biodiversity, birds, ceanothus, compost, coyote bush, earthworms, ecological landscaping, frogs, fungi spore, garden, gardening, Habitat It And They Will Come, hugelkultur, insects, lizards, microbes, mulch, native plants, pollinators, redwood, reptiles, salamanders, snails and slugs, snakes, soil, Sonoma fieldstone, Tony McGuigan, wasps, wildlife gardenStudent digs hole for the “praying mantis head” alongside the packed granite path.   The Sonoma fieldstone rock is roundish up top and angular on bottom. It will sit firmly in the small hole dug for it. Besides providing a pool of moisture, the rock will prevent Big Bunny from tipping when the next traveler sits.

amphibians, Animal Habitat, biodiversity, birds, ceanothus, compost, coyote bush, earthworms, ecological landscaping, frogs, fungi spore, garden, gardening, Habitat It And They Will Come, hugelkultur, insects, lizards, microbes, mulch, native plants, pollinators, redwood, reptiles, salamanders, snails and slugs, snakes, soil, Sonoma fieldstone, Tony McGuigan, wasps, wildlife gardenSpades and trench shovels and digging bars, oh my! Students eke a trench out of the stubborn adobe soil.

20141112-BBS--4.89Student levels the Sonoma fieldstone. The rock has a dip on one side, which is facing skyward in the pic. Water is used to determine “level”, or better, that position of the rock that holds the most water. The goal is to create a mountain lake for tiny critters, like amphibians, reptiles, and crawly creatures smaller.

amphibians, Animal Habitat, biodiversity, birds, ceanothus, compost, coyote bush, earthworms, ecological landscaping, frogs, fungi spore, garden, gardening, Habitat It And They Will Come, hugelkultur, insects, lizards, microbes, mulch, native plants, pollinators, redwood, reptiles, salamanders, snails and slugs, snakes, soil, Sonoma fieldstone, Tony McGuigan, wasps, wildlife gardenA student and I have the redwood hulk balanced on its head, resting before the final flop.

amphibians, Animal Habitat, biodiversity, birds, ceanothus, compost, coyote bush, earthworms, ecological landscaping, frogs, fungi spore, garden, gardening, Habitat It And They Will Come, hugelkultur, insects, lizards, microbes, mulch, native plants, pollinators, redwood, reptiles, salamanders, snails and slugs, snakes, soil, Sonoma fieldstone, Tony McGuigan, wasps, wildlife gardenLowering the redwood seat into position. The Bunny’s tail will rest on the water-holding fieldstone, ensuring a stable seat.

amphibians, Animal Habitat, biodiversity, birds, ceanothus, compost, coyote bush, earthworms, ecological landscaping, frogs, fungi spore, garden, gardening, Habitat It And They Will Come, hugelkultur, insects, lizards, microbes, mulch, native plants, pollinators, redwood, reptiles, salamanders, snails and slugs, snakes, soil, Sonoma fieldstone, Tony McGuigan, wasps, wildlife gardenSonoma fieldstone offers a shallow hillside lake to the critters inhabiting Big Bunny Seat. Newly planted grass will add to the installation’s richness.

amphibians, Animal Habitat, biodiversity, birds, ceanothus, compost, coyote bush, earthworms, ecological landscaping, frogs, fungi spore, garden, gardening, Habitat It And They Will Come, hugelkultur, insects, lizards, microbes, mulch, native plants, pollinators, redwood, reptiles, salamanders, snails and slugs, snakes, soil, Sonoma fieldstone, Tony McGuigan, wasps, wildlife gardenCovering the spore-covered redwood branches with straw.

amphibians, Animal Habitat, biodiversity, birds, ceanothus, compost, coyote bush, earthworms, ecological landscaping, frogs, fungi spore, garden, gardening, Habitat It And They Will Come, hugelkultur, insects, lizards, microbes, mulch, native plants, pollinators, redwood, reptiles, salamanders, snails and slugs, snakes, soil, Sonoma fieldstone, Tony McGuigan, wasps, wildlife gardenStudents plant native grass plugs. Note: The facing side of Big Bunny has been covered with woodchip mushroom harvest. Those old chips will inoculate the new wheelbarrows of chips in queue.

amphibians, Animal Habitat, biodiversity, birds, ceanothus, compost, coyote bush, earthworms, ecological landscaping, frogs, fungi spore, garden, gardening, Habitat It And They Will Come, hugelkultur, insects, lizards, microbes, mulch, native plants, pollinators, redwood, reptiles, salamanders, snails and slugs, snakes, soil, Sonoma fieldstone, Tony McGuigan, wasps, wildlife gardenThis student knows plants, and this one is the native California fescue, Festuca californica.

amphibians, Animal Habitat, biodiversity, birds, ceanothus, compost, coyote bush, earthworms, ecological landscaping, frogs, fungi spore, garden, gardening, Habitat It And They Will Come, hugelkultur, insects, lizards, microbes, mulch, native plants, pollinators, redwood, reptiles, salamanders, snails and slugs, snakes, soil, Sonoma fieldstone, Tony McGuigan, wasps, wildlife gardenThis biology class is outdoors. Exposure to soil, Nature, time off campus are among the curricula. Note: Adobe soil from the trench is used to create a new grass hill. Mix things up a bit, change the terrain. The trench, topped with a layer of moisture-loving straw, is ready to be covered with new woodchips.

amphibians, Animal Habitat, biodiversity, birds, ceanothus, compost, coyote bush, earthworms, ecological landscaping, frogs, fungi spore, garden, gardening, Habitat It And They Will Come, hugelkultur, insects, lizards, microbes, mulch, native plants, pollinators, redwood, reptiles, salamanders, snails and slugs, snakes, soil, Sonoma fieldstone, Tony McGuigan, wasps, wildlife gardenStudent unwinds the flexible black irrigation tubing (plastic python).

amphibians, Animal Habitat, biodiversity, birds, ceanothus, compost, coyote bush, earthworms, ecological landscaping, frogs, fungi spore, garden, gardening, Habitat It And They Will Come, hugelkultur, insects, lizards, microbes, mulch, native plants, pollinators, redwood, reptiles, salamanders, snails and slugs, snakes, soil, Sonoma fieldstone, Tony McGuigan, wasps, wildlife garden

Oops! Forgot the irrigation. The flexible black emitter hose, which was watering the young coyote bushes (4) and the larger ceanothus, has been hijacked. Those five emitters will now irrigate the mulch woodchip bed that encompasses:

–drought resistant native grasses

–a clay trench that is filled with a lasagna of redwood branches, puffball spore (Found by redwood roots as whole dried puffball.), and straw.  The straw will hold moisture, perhaps nourishing the puffball spore.  Maybe we’ll see fungi emerge from the trench this winter.   (Outdoor classroom.)

–a hulk of redwood that wants water.

Any time soon the irrigation can be removed; BBS is a drought tolerant wildlife habitat. In the meantime before the piping is removed, the new grass plugs will be in Water Joy.

amphibians, Animal Habitat, biodiversity, birds, ceanothus, compost, coyote bush, earthworms, ecological landscaping, frogs, fungi spore, garden, gardening, Habitat It And They Will Come, hugelkultur, insects, lizards, microbes, mulch, native plants, pollinators, redwood, reptiles, salamanders, snails and slugs, snakes, soil, Sonoma fieldstone, Tony McGuigan, wasps, wildlife gardenThe day Big Bunny Seat was installed. View sitting on the redwood seat, or standing very close to it. Mid November afternoon in Northern California. The LEC’s Pond and native plantings and habitat landscaping look beautiful, thriving.

amphibians, Animal Habitat, biodiversity, birds, ceanothus, compost, coyote bush, earthworms, ecological landscaping, frogs, fungi spore, garden, gardening, Habitat It And They Will Come, hugelkultur, insects, lizards, microbes, mulch, native plants, pollinators, redwood, reptiles, salamanders, snails and slugs, snakes, soil, Sonoma fieldstone, Tony McGuigan, wasps, wildlife gardenThe day Big Bunny Seat was installed.  Late afternoon November skies.  This outdoor classroom rocks!amphibians, Animal Habitat, biodiversity, birds, ceanothus, compost, coyote bush, earthworms, ecological landscaping, frogs, fungi spore, garden, gardening, Habitat It And They Will Come, hugelkultur, insects, lizards, microbes, mulch, native plants, pollinators, redwood, reptiles, salamanders, snails and slugs, snakes, soil, Sonoma fieldstone, Tony McGuigan, wasps, wildlife gardenBig Bunny Seat’s first day. Who will sit on you tomorrow, Big Bunny?

Thank you for the wonderful pictures, Jenna.  To all the Orchard View students, and teacher (Sunny), and Cordy and David, and the Laguna Foundation’s staff (especially Brent Reed, Restoration Projects Supervisor), cool project!

Enjoy your wildlife habitat creations.  Habitat it!

Tony

Jul 152014
 
Bird feeding on Amaranthus caudatus. Photo credit: Diane Kennedy of Vegetariat (http://www.vegetariat.com).
Great Green Bush Cricket on Amaranthus caudatus.

Great Green Bush Cricket on Amaranthus caudatus.

Amaranth is an ancient grain. Its family name is Amanthaceae, with nearly 900 species worldwide. This article focuses on the non-native species Amaranthus caudatus, a species grown by the Aztec Indians of Mexico 8000 years ago, and which has naturalized in my area, Northern California. Yes, that the popular amaranth in our garden is not native was a concern to me when considering it as a topic for this blog site. However, I am taking the time to discuss it here because of its generous gift to both humans and wildlife as a food source.

Mature amaranth in the fall surrounds garden seating.   Note the pale color of the seed heads -- time to harvest seed.

Mature amaranth in the fall surrounds garden seating. Note the pale color of the seed heads — time to harvest seed.

Amaranth likes disturbed soils. It gets its common name “pigweed” because it frequently thrives in the disturbed soils of barnyards, especially pig pens. But because there are so many plants commonly referred to as pigweed, I use “amaranth” in this article. Furthermore, I do not use Amaranthus caudatus‘s other common name, “love-lies-bleeding”, because that’s just plain weird! We’ll stick to “amaranth”.

Young volunteer amaranth in the author's garden.

Young volunteer amaranth in the author’s garden.

A curious thing happened in our garden recently. We reclaimed a garden bed that had laid fallow– it was an excellent undisturbed wildlife brush pile creating excellent soil!!! The soil was pushed back off off walkway slates and churned into a planting mound. It was disturbed, first time in a couple of years. Up came amaranth, all along the borders of the bed, some on the mound. Yes, there’s cucumber in there somewhere.

Young amaranth in the author's garden competes with dock and rhubarb.

Young amaranth in the author’s garden competes with dock and rhubarb.

The young amaranth leaves have been a delicious salad addition. Tastes a little like soil to me, but I appreciate the not-iceberg-lettuce! hearty flavor.

These amaranth (foreground), by fall, will have been thinned, will grow to over 6 feet tall, and will drape luscious tassel-like, seed-rich flowers.

These amaranth (foreground), by fall, will have been thinned, will grow to over 6 feet tall, and will drape luscious tassel-like, seed-rich flowers.

Amaranth is considered an insectary plant, and that’s no wonder considering how many zillions (don’t quote me) of flowerlets there are, with each needing to be pollinated before becoming a seed.

Amaranth stalks are filled with pith, a welcoming overwintering habitat for insects.

Amaranth stalks are filled with pith, a welcoming overwintering habitat for insects.

The substantial sturdy stems of amaranth can become so ridged and thick that an adult’s hand just reaches around it. Inside is a porous pith — perfect burrowing material for insects. At harvest time, don’t forget to leave some stalks in the garden to encourage wildlife to overwinter in your garden. Besides, you will never get the last seed from the Medusa of flowers, but hungry songbirds might. So leave harvested stalks in your garden. One person’s “debris” could be a whole ecosystem’s habitat.

Birds feeding on Amaranthus caudatus. Photo credit: Diane Kennedy of Vegetariat (http://www.vegetariat.com).

Birds feeding on Amaranthus caudatus. Photo credit: Diane Kennedy of Vegetariat (http://www.vegetariat.com).

Bird feeding on Amaranthus caudatus. Photo credit: Diane Kennedy of Vegetariat (http://www.vegetariat.com).

Bird feeding on Amaranthus caudatus. Photo credit: Diane Kennedy of Vegetariat (http://www.vegetariat.com).

The advantages for including amaranth in my edible garden, which is within our “habitat food forest”, keep adding up. Buckwheat and amaranth pancakes for us, pollen and leafage for insects and small critters, seed for birds, a soil builder, and an overwintering material for insects and soil critters.

Enjoy your wildlife habitat garden!

Tony

Some Extra Photos:

 

Amaranth caudatus growing alongside Bird Bath Beach in the author's garden. Note rocks in the bath -- steps to the deep end for wasps, bees, butterflies, and birds.  Also note the driftwood perches to allow birds to check for safety before committing to the water.

Amaranth caudatus growing alongside Bird Bath Beach in the author’s garden. Note rocks in the bath — steps to the deep end for wasps, bees, butterflies, and birds. Also note the driftwood perches to allow birds to check for safety before committing to the water.

 

The red pigment in amaranth was used by the Native American Hopi tribe to dye cloth.

The red pigment in amaranth was used by the Native American Hopi tribe to dye cloth.

Amaranth seedlings (purple, back right) are tiny in relation to a sunflower seedling (green, with seed still attached).

Amaranth seedlings (purple, back right) are tiny in relation to a sunflower seedling (green, with seed still attached).

 

Drying stand for amaranth. The flower clusters will be "milked" so that the seed will drop onto the sheet for easy collection.

Drying stand for amaranth. The flower clusters will be “milked” so that the seed will drop onto the sheet for easy collection.

 

May 152014
 
Turtle Pond Pier -- AFTER.

 

Oak Tunnel Tower -- BEFORE.

Oak Tunnel Tower — BEFORE.

Oak Tunnel Tower -- AFTER.

Oak Tunnel Tower — AFTER.

Lizard Stone House -- BEFORE.

Lizard Stone House — BEFORE.

Lizard Stone House -- AFTER.

Lizard Stone House — AFTER.

Turtle Pond Pier -- BEFORE.

Turtle Pond Pier — BEFORE.

Turtle Pond Pier -- AFTER.

Turtle Pond Pier — AFTER.

See the post

Creating Perches To Welcome Pond Wildlife

for more pictures and for how these habitat installations were created.

Yesterday (the 14th) was my monthly blog post at Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens. This month, my blog article discusses these wildlife habitat installations at the Laguna Environmental Cental in Santa Rosa, California.

Enjoy! And please comment me under my NP & WG article if you have any comments or questions.

Tony

 

Apr 142014
 
Closing in the underground habitat — the adobe soil is molded to create a base for the compost and woodchip mulch hill.
The BEFORE.

The BEFORE.

The Plan.

The Plan.

The AFTER.

The AFTER.

 

Snake Sedge Rockpile Resort

Today (the 14th) is my monthly blog post at Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens.  This month, my blog article discusses this wildlife habitat installation with high school seniors from Orchard View School in Sebastopol, California.

Enjoy!  And please comment me under my NP & WG article if you have any comments or questions.

Tony

 

Feb 142014
 
Golden Crowned Sparrow in Tulip MagnoliaTwig Pile

Twisty Toad Tunnel is a hugelkultur wildlife habitat in our Northern California garden.  I severely pruned back a lichen-covered and overgrown tulip magnolia tree and stuffed the cut-down limbs, prunings, and cutting into The Bog — a hole in our garden where we make soil by winter and grow crops by summer.  Much of the magnolia cuttings are elegantly draped with lichens, surely a beneficial source of wildlife shelter and food for animals microscopic to crawling to larger.

The beginning of this post focuses on video installations of Twisty Toad Tunnel.

The last paragraph provides you with a link to learn more about Twisty Toad Tunnels’ rich lichen contribution to out wildlife habitat hugelkultur.

Installation of Twisty Toad Tunnel


Learn more about Twisty Toad Tunnels’ rich lichens

Today (the 14th) is my monthly blog post at Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens.  This month, my blog article discusses how lichens support wildlife habitat in our residential gardens.

Enjoy!  And please comment me under my NP & WG article if you have any comments or questions.

Tony

Jan 142014
 
Lizard Oak Tunnel and Cellar Wildlife Habitat Installation supplies
Lizard Oak Tunnel and Cellar Wildlife Habitat Installation supplies

Lizard Oak Tunnel and Cellar Wildlife Habitat Installation supplies.

What a lot of fun I had today, working with my daughter, and installing two habitats.

 

To see the blog post of these installations, go to my monthly blog post at Native Plant and Wildlife Gardens.

 

To see some video of the installations, click away!:

Lizard Oak Tunnel 1 of 5

Lizard Oak Tunnel 2 of 5

Lizard Oak Tunnel 3 of 5

Lizard Oak Tunnel 4 of 5

Lizard Oak Tunnel 5 of 5

Enjoy your wildlife habitat and food forest garden.

Tony

Dec 142013
 
Earthworm Box surounded by leaf pile

Earthworm Box surounded by leaf pile. The organic leaf pile will help keep the Earthworm Box a few degrees warmer during the winter months.

As I discuss in my monthly Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens blog article, “Over-Wintering Insects in Insulating Leaf Pile“, I wanted to insulate our earthworm boxes to take a little of this winter’s chill off the critters inside the boxes.  Surrounding the boxes with leaves accomplish 2 goals: 1) insulating the boxes to keep them warmer, and 2) provide more over-winter leaves to provide more wildlife habitat in our garden.   Here are 4 videos of the project.  Enjoy!

20131211 Earthworm Box Insulation Barricades 1 of 4

Tony McGuigan discusses his plan to keep outdoor earthworm boxes warmer by surrounding them with leaves and straw.  The organic fluff, (leaves and straw) will create an insulation barrier on the outside of the earthworm boxes.  Over-wintering insects will thrive in organic pile and move to the boxes, becoming food for the chickens when they are treated to the opened boxes.  Come warmer weather, the frame to hold the leaves/straw in place will be removed. ***Toast and Marmalade, Tony and Anita’s two Bard Rock hens, visit the earthworm boxes BEFORE construction.***

20131211 Earthworm Box Insulation Barricades 2 of 4

An in-process video of the construction project.  The frame is up; leaves are yet to be filled into the insulating spaces.

20131211 Earthworm Box Insulation Barricades 3 of 4

A pile of leaves is worked into the insulating spaces alongside the earthworm boxes.

20131211 Earthworm Box Insulation Barricades 4 of 4

***Toast and Marmalade, Tony and Anita’s two Bard Rock hens, visit the earthworm boxes AFTER construction.  Construction is approved by Toast and Marmie!***     Savouring the winter garden, enjoying anticipation of the coming spring’s wonder,

Tony

Oct 172013
 
Harlequin Bug on impatiens flower stalk

I have a paper to write, so I procrastinated in the garden.  Was so fun meeting Harlequin Bug on a withered impatiens flower plant.

Harlequin Bug on impatiens flower stalk

Harlequin bug on impatiens flower stalk.

Enjoy your garden.  Habitat It!

Tony

Oct 112013
 
Male checkered white butterfly on sunflower leaf -- pic 2

Through my Canon 50D and 180mm macro lens, I witnessed the following sequence of photos.  A male checkered white, ID’d by the sparse dark spots versus the female’s abundance of brown outline and spots, is approached by another male checkered white.  Note how the grounded butterfly’s abdomen is used to ward off the approaching male.

Male checkered white butterfly on sunflower leaf -- pic 1

Male checkered white butterfly on sunflower leaf -- pic 1

 

Male checkered white butterfly on sunflower leaf -- pic 2

Male checkered white butterfly on sunflower leaf approached by another male.

 

Male checkered white butterfly on sunflower leaf -- pic 3

Male checkered white butterfly on sunflower leaf fending off another male.

 

Male checkered white butterfly on sunflower leaf -- pic 4

Male checkered white butterfly on sunflower leaf approached by another male checkered butterfly.

 

Male checkered white butterfly on sunflower leaf -- pic 5

Male checkered white butterfly on sunflower leaf successfully fends off another male.

 

Male checkered white butterfly on sunflower leaf -- pic 6

Male checkered white butterfly on sunflower leaf at rest, again.

 

Enjoy your wildlife food forest garden.  Habitat It!

Tony