Lately, my pandemic-weary brain has been wandering. I’ll be curious about a certain topic, which takes me down the Internet rabbit hole to several different, but related, topics. The majority interest me, so I wind up bookmarking and making notes to investigate later. That made me wonder whether others might be interested in these topics, as well. Here are some of my wondering wanderings.
Last winter, I started several different varieties of perennial and annual flower seeds. One was Asclepias tuberosa, butterfly weed. The plants are now loaded with seed pods, which I quickly learned to harvest prior to the pod popping. I’m amazed at the quantity of seeds I’ve collected for next year. However, with the seed pods came a vibrant orange and black bug whose offspring quickly covered the seed pods. Missouri Botanical Gardens’ website (www.missouribotanicalgarden.org) identified them as milkweed bugs. They appear in mid- to late summer, are basically harmless, and the adults live approximately a month and do little damage. Since they are only present for a short time, I’ll just let them be.
How to assess and improve garden soil.
Kathy LaLiberte wrote “Building Healthy Soil” for the Gardener’s Supply Company retail website. This is a thorough, easy to understand guide to improving your soil. Visit www.gardeners.com, and search for the article by name. For soil testing information, contact the
Cobb County University of Georgia Extension Office, 770-528-4070.
If you’re unfamiliar with Joe Lampl, aka www.joegardener.com, he’s the host and executive producer of the PBS show “Growing a Greener World.” His website is full of blogs and podcasts covering a variety of topics. I particularly was interested in the latest, “Growing Great Garlic,” where he interviews Alley Swiss of Filaree Farm in Washington state. In the fall of 2019, a good friend gave me three cloves of elephant garlic that her brother raised. So, I stuck them in the ground and left them until this spring. Those three cloves produced eight plants, some single bulb, but the majority had bulbs with at least four cloves of giant garlic. I’m eager to experiment with new varieties, and Joe’s podcast provides lots of information on how and what to plant.
Georgia bird species of concern.
Georgia Audubon (www.georgiaaudubon.org) conducts studies to identify Georgia species that are struggling. Currently, there are four birds on the list: the ruby-throated hummingbird, chimney swift, wood thrush and brown-headed nuthatch. Visit the organization’s website to learn why these birds are threatened, and what we can do to promote their survival.
Why we need birds.
The recent announcement by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that 22 animals and one plant have been removed from the endangered list and declared extinct is a harsh reminder of the impact of human-caused environmental changes. Birdlife International (www.birdlife.org) posted an article by Jessica Law entitled “Why we need birds (far more than they need us).” She explains how birds directly impact human health, our economy and food production.
Top 10 foods for winter birds.
While Georgia doesn’t have to deal with the winter deep freeze of the North, the birds in our backyards can benefit from being fed year-round. Remember, in addition to food, birds also need shelter where they can hide from predators and bad weather, as well as access
to clean, fresh water for drinking and bathing. For the top 10 foods, visit Bird Watcher’s Digest online (www.birdwatchersdigest.com).
The American lawn.
The Green America website features an article on America’s obsession with the lawn, the effect on biodiversity, and the cost of resources to maintain. It’s eye-opening, and provides suggestions on alternatives. Visit www.greenamerica.org, and search for “Designing an end to a toxic American obsession: The Lawn.”
I hope these wondering wanderings sparked some interest. For more information on these topics, UGA Extension has an extensive library of publications for homeowners; visit https://extension.uga.edu/publications.html.
Master Gardener Volunteers of Cobb County, Inc. (MGVOCC) is a 501(c)3 organization that promotes and supports horticultural education programs and projects in Cobb County. Members have been certified by the University of Georgia Master Gardener program. For gardening questions, contact the Master Gardener Help Desk, UGA Cooperative Extension/Cobb County at 770-528-4070.
– Master Gardener Volunteers of Cobb County is a part of the University of Georgia Extension.