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.
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,
Day 5 in this 6-day video series: Preparing patio pots for winter veggie planting.
First a video re “Patio Veggie Pots”, then some animal habitat pics (below the video):
Patio Veggie Pots 5 of 6 (video):
Soil Making in Leaf Trench Highway (pics):
Horse manure ages in leaf Trench Highway, on top of many layers of garden debris organics.
Mushrooms pop out of Leaf Trench Highway’s manure after the first rain. Good stuff! Having the fungi/mushrooms means the manure will break down faster.
Later that year, Tony harvests compost/rich soil from the trench.
Anita dumps a new load of soil critter food. These apples were “debris” for a neighbor that wanted under her tree “cleaned up”. The soil critters and we are sure happy to have the mess!
A short retaining wall is added to Leaf Trench Highway. The short wall of re-used fence boards will allow a higher pile of organics to be heaped into Leaf Trench Highway, yet keep the walkway clear. Note how the block keeps the sledge from splitting the dry fence board.
Leaf Trench Highway’s short retaining wall in place, holding back tulip magnolia prunings (limbs and twigs). Lichens, mosses, and algae so abundant! Does life get any better?!
Figure 2.11 White Clover and Leaf Trench Highway. Leaf Trench Highway is about making soil — the 3 foot deep trench is filled with green mulch (for example, a whole lot of pumpkin vine prunings), then covered over with old (cool) manure and compost. Potato starts are dug in. Harvest, 6-9 months later, yields full-grown potatoes PLUS a long, deep trench of beautiful soil to use elsewhere in the garden. The white clover attracts pollinating insects to the potato flowers, adds nitrogen to green mulching, and is a sheltering go-between for critters to travel from one garden bed to another. Laying the slate pavers on soil, and not on sand or cement, allows soil fungi, microbes, and larger animals to pass through the soil, thereby assisting the growth of the clover cover crop.
Figure 3.37 The After of Salamander Resort. One year later and the resort is still operating. Driftwood creatures, a thriving beet crop, and Salamander Sunny Swimhole hide the goings-on eight feet below. See Figure 3.36 for “The Before”. Watering the pond waters the beets waters the compost waters the wood chips waters the oak rounds waters tank cavities waters Salamander Shady Shallows, AND waters the adobe clay earth surrounding Salamander Resort. Water + Cavities + Microbes + Mollusks (slugs and snails) + Worms + Insects = Happy Salamanders. The half wine barrel pond, with a 5’ x 5’ sheet of pond liner, was home this spring to Pacific Tree Frogs (and tadpoles). Many types of insect on the wing visit the pond. A salamander must be living somewhere in all that! Note some habitat features: clover on the slate path links this habitat to the rest of the garden, the pond’s surface rocks provide a critter rest stop, the “fedge” (food hedge of fig, pineapple guava, loquat, and pomegranate) along the fence provides flowers and food, and the compost in Leaf Trench Highway at the base of the fedge attracts its own ecosystem of soil makings and critters.
Happy planting veggies on your patio and see you tomorrow.