Aug 032013
Cozy Cottage Egg Farm 1st Egg
Cozy Cottage Egg Farm 1st Egg

Cozy Cottage Egg Farm's 1st egg, layed by our Bard Rock hen, Marmalade. The coins are used for relative size: a Norwegian 5 kroner coin and a U.S. quarter (25 cents) coin. The eggshell was very thin and split open in the coop. Still yummy out of the fry pan!

Cozy Cottage Egg Farm 1st egg was layed!

Watch the video:



Happy habitat food forest!


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!


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:





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 (\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; 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,, 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 (   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.

Feb 232013
Food Ridge West before final layer of garden mix.

It’s now Friday, so my back and body in general are nearly recovered.  On Monday this week, I spent the whole day shovelling manure and compost on top of Food Ridge West, our raised veggie bed and animal habitat.  Veggie bed — because the debris pile covered with manure/compost/gardening soil will be plantable this late spring.  Below are three videos of this week’s progress with the hugelkultur Food Ridge West.  Enjoy!


20130218 Food Ridge West Hugelkulture 1 of 3

Food Ridge West Hugelkulture now has a layer of pine tree limbs in the center of the better, more growth-supportive wood debris pile.  Horse manure will be used to “burn” the pine and help it become a good veggie bed resource faster.


20130218 Food Ridge West Hugelkulture 2 of 3

Eleven yards of manure/compost are now on the hugelkultur.  The compost corral is empty, almost — the rest will go to another site.  Now, we are ready to give the hugelkultur a new hairdo.

20130218 Food Ridge West Hugelkulture 3 of 3

Cousin It has been hangin’ out at the hugelkultur!  The compost/manure pile is on the hugelkultur!  A bale of rice straw has been scattered over the compost to avoid erosion from the coming rains.


Food Ridge West before final layer of garden mix.Food Ridge West before final layer of garden mix.  The shredded rice straw bale is used to reduce the soil’s erosion from the coming rains.  The final layer, of organic garden mix, will be added in a couple of weeks and by then the compost/manure under-layer will have settled some.

Happy habitat creations and don’t forget to sniff the daffy’s.


Feb 172013
Multi-graft apple tree.

Multi-graft apple tree.Multi-graft apple tree.  Note the 5 different tags on the tree: 1) Multi-Graft, with code for root stock; 2) Gravenstein Apple, 3) Red Delicious Apple, 4) Yellow Delicious Apple, 5) Granny Smith Apple.  Keeping the tags on, at least till the fruit is well identified, helps to sort out which apples are which.


Today was a beautiful day in sunny California, with a warm afternoon reaching 65 degrees.  Good napping in the car at work weather.  And, also good weather for planting bare root fruit trees before warmer weather stimulates the dormant trees.

Bare root trees are trees that have been pulled out of their growing soil/sand medium with most of their roots clean of soil, and no leaves or even buds.  These trees look like not more than a few sticks off a main, thicker stick (the trunk) with a straggly mop of roots.  Having planted a bare root tree previously to see it thrive and leaf out helps one to appreciate their dormant abundant life waiting for your garden.

My friend, Mark, recently lost his Papa.  Mark’s Papa, Louis, died January 27th this year and Mark decided to remember him by planting a tree in his honor.  I was lucky enough, and honored, to be part of Mark’s tribute to his Dad.  So we planted a bare root multi-graft upright (not for espalier) apple tree in Mark’s back yard this afternoon.

Simple task to plant a bare root fruit tree.  Dig a hole and put the tree in, right?  Well almost.  Our job today was not so simple.  Luckily, it was also not so hard.  In the end, Louis got just the right amount of work out of us, and Mark and I got to clean up and have sunset to ourselves.

The first challenge was to plant this apple tree so that its feet would not be wet, that is, so that it received good drainage and its roots were not sitting in water.  The planting spot just happens to be the lowest part of the back yard, to the side of a large water-run-off paver patio.  Sitting water was under the plywood sheet we cleared out of the way to start the tree’s hole.   The soil is the famous adobe clay of the area BUT I was pleasantly pleased that Mark had enriched it well over some years.  The tree will be very happy in the spot Mark choose for it but let’s get it up out of the water!

Aha!  Not only is the soil adobe heavy, there’s a plastic sheeting under this part of the yard.  What a pain!  What a blessing!  Better to find a problem now (that can be fixed) than to have one later with no solution in sight.  As we dug out the outer trench for the tree, we cut the plastic liner.  Wala! (tried the old pull-out-the-tablecloth trick but it didn’t work) and a mess of soil later, and we could now plant the tree.

Four stakes were driven into the soil to center the tree.  A Norwegian Tree Box1 was created to raise the soil level by placing thin scraps of wood, two parallel in one direction, then two on top and parallel in the other direction.  The slat wood will hold up the soil till it settles, yet allow roots to escape, adventure, and fully support the tree. 

Slat wood used to raise the soil level.Slat wood used to raise the soil level.  A little help, buying time, till the steeply mounded soil settles in place.  The wood will quickly rot, returning to the Earth wence it came.


A root-spreading rock was placed on top of the soil mound and the tree’s roots were spread over the rock.  The roots were then covered with soil and mounded to the correct crown/trunk level.  Mulch was spread to enrich the soil, retain moisture, provide microbe and critter habitat, and to protect the new soil mound from the coming rains.  The tree is planted! 

Mark (right), tree (left).Mark proudly stands by the multi-graft apple tree, his tribute to his Papa.  “Look Dad, there will be blossoms on your birthday!”


A few instructions to Mark, one of which is to bulk up the mound a little; the height is good but the roots could use a little more soil to expand into.  On top of that “more soil”, some wood chips to mulch around the tree and to encourage mycorrhizal root growth.  And beyond the mound perimeter, maintain a watering trench which can also be filled with mulching material.  Especially for the dry months, no sense in having precious water pour off the mound and away from the tree.  Permaculture’s water mantra: Slow it, Spread it, Sink it!

The author and fellow tree hugger.


Take care, Louis.  Glad I was there.


1 There is no such thing as a Norwegian Tree Box, but I thought it sounded very woodsman-like at the time.




Feb 162013

Yesterday, Valentine’s Day, was the start of  new layers to our animal habitat/veggie bed hugelkultur, Food Ridge West.  The new layers are pine tree prunings, horse manure, and organic vineyard compost and can be seen in my post  Happy Valentines Day AND Garden What You Love

Final touches to the pine limb layer are shown in this video:


A straw bale holding bin was constructed on our driveway to stockpile soil-making material till moving them to the hugelkultur.  Also, the rectangle box, or “corral”, would be a good place for the compost company to dump the ordered organic vineyard compost.

Soil corral reinforced with cardboard corner.Soil corral reinforced with cardboard corner.  The cardboard gives structure to the straw housing and prevents leakage between the bales.  The rough concrete driveway is lined with a cardboard floor and folded up the sides of the bales.  Easier cleanup of the concrete and less leakage of the corral’s contents.  The manure and compost impregnated cardboard will be composted, perhaps thrown in the bottom of another hugelkultur after we clean up this project.

A couple of pickup truck bed loads of manure were used to line the bottom of the corral so that the vineyard compost could be dumped on top.  Shoveling out the pile into wheelbarrow loads then mixed the two soil additives to be dumped onto the hugelkultur.

Early stage of manure and compost bin.Early stage of manure and compost bin.  The bin was expanded with more bales, and a second tier of bales was added, to fit the incoming vineyard compost mix.

And here comes the dump truck!


Have a happy hugelkultur habitat day!


Feb 082013
Side view of Grandpa’s Apricot Root Worlds Fair animal habitat.

This is the third of three videos showing a garden animal habitat created when our apricot tree was almost entirely uprooted and partially buried on it side.  Features of the completed project are explained:
–The up-ended rootball serves as an animal habitat.
–The buried tree trunk acts as a retaining wall for the wood chip path.
–The retaining wall allows a watering trench to be dug into the garden bed slope.


20130130 Grandpa’s Apricot Root Worlds Fair 3 of 3 (video):

20130130 Grandpa’s Apricot Root Worlds Fair (pics):

Grandpa’s apricot tree is snug in the ground.Grandpa’s apricot tree is snug in the ground, upside down between the slate wall and the pineapple guava tree.  Note the also up-ended apricot tree rootball, which remains partially buried.  Some of the roots may thrive and send life to shoots reaching for the sky (like a tree!).


Woodchips are scooped aside to create a watering trench for the garden bed trees.Woodchips are scooped aside to create a watering trench for the garden bed trees.   The pineapple guava is tan-colored and the mission fig (thicker, in back) is a pale green.  The buried tree trunk serves as retaining wall to the left, allowing a deeper watering trench to be dug.


Side view of Grandpa’s Apricot Root Worlds Fair animal habitat.Side view of Grandpa’s Apricot Root Worlds Fair animal habitat.  Note the mix of Medusa-like roots and soil in the up-ended rootball.  The mass of roots and crown wood will become homes for wood-loving critters.  As well, the fingers of soil converging into the root mass will become homes for soil-loving critters.  In the end, ALL ARE WELCOME!!!


Enjoy your habitat upside down creations!


Feb 072013
The apricot tree is resting off to the side (left).

This is the second of three videos showing a garden animal habitat created when our apricot tree was almost entirely uprooted and partially buried on it side.  Highlights:

–Preparing the trench (hole) to receive the tree trunk and crown.

–Pruning the tree to live peacefully in the garden path.

–Stamping the tree into position before it is buried under the garden path.


20130130 Grandpa’s Apricot Root Worlds Fair 2 of 3


20130130 Grandpa’s Apricot Root Worlds Fair (pic):

The apricot tree is resting off to the side (left).The apricot tree is resting off to the side (L) until its trench will be dug between the slate border and the pineapple guava tree (R).


Enjoy your habitat thinking-out-of-the-box creations.  Nothin is debris in a habitat garden food forest!


Feb 042013
Close-up of nearly removed apricot tree and its rootball.

Time to remove the apricot tree, Grandpa’s Apricot Tree, in our back garden.  Almost no fruit in at least 6 years.  Seasons, soil, water, and our hungry food-producing mindsets will wait no longer!  Time to nurture another tree.  We will plant a Santa Rosa plum tree, who’s namesake is the next town over from our sunny California garden.


Almost!  I almost got the entire apricot rootball out before coming to my senses.  Yes, I like to create an animal habitat EVERY time I dig into the soil.  But, I thought I would shortcut that vision because so many parts of the garden call for my attention.  (Truth be told, the garden would do very well without my meddling.)  Then, with ¾’s of the root ball removed and even less breath in my lungs, I came to my senses. 


Yes!, this is a habitat.  I can stop right here.  This rootwad DOES NOT have to be completely removed from the bed.  The Santa Rosa plum can be planted next to the almost-removed rootball of Grandpa’s Apricot Tree.  My exhausted muscles can think of many reasons why to keep the leaned over, buried tree trunk.  Watch today’s video and the next 2 to come to find out why!


Habitat it and they will come!


20130130 Grandpa’s Apricot Root Worlds Fair 1 of 3


20130130 Grandpa’s Apricot Root Worlds Fair (pics):

The apricot tree was pruned to make removal easier.The apricot tree was pruned to make removal easier.  Note the old grafting sites (with yellow grafting sealer); even new stock would not produce fruit.  A shame – the tree growth was vigorous with beautiful structure and wood/bark.


A tree is down!  Repeat, a tree is down!A tree is down!  Repeat, a tree is down!  After cutting some roots with a shovel, and bronco-riding the tree, other roots snapped and the tree was rendered a soil dweller.


Close-up of nearly removed apricot tree and its rootball.Close-up of nearly removed apricot tree and its rootball.  This is where, when I discovered that the tree need not be completely removed, that the soil-rich rootball makes a fantastic garden animal habitat.


Enjoy your habitat thinking-out-of-the-box creations.  Nothin is debris in a habitat garden food forest!


Jan 172013
Insect Eggs on Pine Needle.

Pine Brush Pile is a  Zone 4 or 5 (Permaculture) habitat oasis in Tony’s back yard.  Great place to resource this year’s Xmas tree.

 20130114 Pine Brush Pile (video):


Pine Brush Pile (pics in Tony’s book):

Insect Eggs on Pine Needle.Figure B.4 Insect Eggs on Pine Needle. [The picture has two parts: the background is from a distance and an insert is the close-up of the eggs. See post below for the close-up.]



Close-up of Insect Eggs on Pine Needle.  Figure B.4 Insect Eggs on Pine Needle.  The insect eggs shown are probably true bug eggs.  True bugs, order Hemiptera, are insects like cicadas, stink bugs, planthoppers, leafhoppers, shield bugs, aphids, and others.  All bugs are insects, but not all insects are bugs!   True bug eggs often have the visible “escape hatch” (the circular disc on the top of each egg), which is visible in the inset photo close-up view.   I particularly love the outer texture to the egg wall — looks like lime bumps on an orange.



Pine Brush Pile (pics from Tony’s garden):

Nest-building supplies made available for birds.Nest-building supplies made available for birds.  Lots of birds come and go in Pine Brush Pile thicket, some looking to build nests.  Yarn, string, and hair is left to help them color coordinate and insulate their nests.  Always fun to discover “foreign” articles in a bird nest.


Ground view of Pine Brush Pile from Snake Shores.Ground view of Pine Brush Pile from Snake Shores.  Perhaps a snake will slither down from the thick, warm slate of Snake Shores.  It can enter Mayan Totem Seat, the 18-inch-deep stack of slate AND spacers in the foreground, or go beyond, into the coolness and food-rich jungle of Pine Brush Pile.


Pine log, shaped to maximize thicket-building.Pine log, shaped to maximize thicket-building.   The branch stubs left on this log will keep the log off the ground and from snugging up to other logs.  More space between logs means…[who knows but Habitat It and They Will Come!].  See next pic for the placement of this log in Pine Brush Pile.

Nobody but us pine logs here!Pine logs and branches in Pine Brush Pile.  Helter skelter never looked so good!


Enjoy your habitat thicket creations.  Nothin is debris in a habitat garden food forest!