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Showing posts from February, 2009

Sandhill Cranes and Bluebirds

This afternoon shortly before sunset we heard the call. Echoing across the snow and mud came the prehistoric warble marking the return of our long-legged friends with the red eyemask - the sandhill crane . (Hear the call yourself at the International Crane Foundation site. Awesome!) Moments later we spotted a bundle of flitting figures caped in blue with their little organge cravats. These we'd seen sitting on the branches of a new pear tree in the front yard and in the catalpa. The bluebird , too, had come back.

My Mother's Meatloaf

I'm diverging for a moment from gardening to a favorite recipe of my mother's that I recently made for my in-laws. I hadn't made it for a long time, and I'd forgotten how absolutely wonderful it is. My mother makes the best meatloaf ever. I've had a few others, and they don't compare. I loved it as a kid, and still find it irresistable. We request it (along with her blueberry pie) when we go home to Wisconsin, and if we don't get it there's so much pouting on my husband's part that she ends up making it anyway. It's spicy, saucy, and comforting. A bit like my mother now that I think about it. (I don't think she'll mind that I'm comparing her to her meatloaf. Maybe.) Dorothy's Killer Meatloaf 1.5 pounds ground beef (I've used venison, and it worked like a charm.) 1 cup fresh bread crumbs (She makes her own chunky-ish style, and so that's what I do, too.) 1 onion, finely chopped (I went for a medium-large onion

Touting Native Plants in the Paper

A recent editorial in the Ann Arbor News supported the notion that native plants are, literally and figuratively, a necessary part of the landscape of our future .  Native plants are becoming more popular for any number of reasons not the least of which are their lack of need for expensive and possibly harmful fertilizers and their tolerance for drought. I've talked about all of this before , so I won't dwell on it again.  Suffice it to say, our  neighbors think we're crazy to have native plants, a.k.a. weeds, growing in our yard. I like to wave at them while their mowing for hours and hours, while I wonder how expensive the mower is to maintain and fuel.

Sedges have Edges...

A recent post on an alternative use for grass elicited a great response from a reader about alternative lawns. As I've said before I'm not a big fan of grass, but I know there are reasons to maintain these open spaces - family recreation, picnic spots, pets, etc. - that look a little more traditional. Buffalo grass and members of the sedge family are two options that come to mind almost immediately as viable alternatives. Sedges Sedges look like grass, but are not. In the woods they often look like a wispy version of lawn grass, but upon closer inspection they have an edge. Literally. If you've ever pulled a piece of grass, you'll notice that the base stem is round with a hole. A sedge is not round, but has an edge. A good friend reminded me of this little ditty: Sedges have edges, rushes are round, and grasses, like a--es, have holes. A native plant unlike traditional lawn grasses, sedges have a deeper root system, can be deer repellent, and relatively drought resis

More Buzz About Bees

(Confession: As we get ready to move to Japan, I'm doing a fair amount of cross-pollinating, if you will, with what I write for the Project Grow blog . We're knee-deep in boxes, visitors, cleaning and tidying projects, plus the highs and lows of leaving one great place for a new adventure in another. I feel a bit like a cheater-pants, but it's all good stuff that I want to share anyway. Thanks for your patience!) I also wrote about this little piece from Grist about cities that are allowing and even I dare say encouraging their citizens to keep bees . These little pollinators are pivotal to our produce. (Ok, I like alliteration. I'm an English major, for heaven's sake.) And how much fun would it bee (see that?) to don one of those nifty suits and harvest your own honey! All while the chickens roam about in the near distance...

Hoophouse Growing Reflections

I recently gave a talk for Project Grow about Growing in a Hoophouse , which was great fun. There were so many interested participants who also offered so much of their own knowledge and experience that I felt I learned a whole load of new information, too. The following post is one I wrote for the Project Grow blog , but thought it would be good to add here, too. We are working on getting the documents up from Saturday's class. (We're experiencing some technical difficulties, but they will hopefully be remedied shortly.) D rop us a note at Project Grow and we'll find a way to get you the information you want. The Resource List offers links to various websites, recommended reading, and a short list of blogs. Suggested additions to this Resource List would be more than welcome. One great idea from an attendee on Saturday for those who don't wish to fool around with creating their own was, I believe, the Greenhouse Mega Store . The actual presentation offers mostly

Possum Coop?

The warm weather seems to bringing out our local marsupials. About two weeks ago we spotted this little fellow ambling around the compost bins and garden fence. Filled with envy for a tail of my own, I watched him attempt to climb on the chicken wire and the garden fence so he wouldn't fall in the snow. I wondered if it was fun in some way or simply the grogginess of the first sunny day in some time. (It would have been much more efficient to simply plop down and wade through the snow to the fence, climb the fence using the tail as needed, plop again, and then dig for food. But, who am I with my longer legs and opposable thumb?) Yesterday, though, these little fellows put their names on my list. My list of things that need to go, that is. I returned from a run around our country block to see two opossums eating from the chicken feeder. I walked up speaking loudly, and one darted between the coop and the barn, and the other (this is where I absolutely shrieked!) went directly into

A Good Use for Grass?

I'm not a big fan of grass. It has its place, but I'd prefer to not have that be in my lawn, if I can help it. Ever since hearing Fritz Haeg speak this fall , I look at every lawn (including my own) and imagine a garden. (Full disclosure: I wrote this blog entry for Project Grow .) But perhaps a use has been found! Check out this post about grass-lined green railways - absolutely brilliant! I might rethink my opinion of that short green stuff.