Garden Advice: Using Salt in the Garden

no saltOne of my perverse pleasures is perusing Pintrest to find bad garden advice. There’s certainly no lack of misinformation on the web, and Pintrest seems to collect it all. Most advice is simply a waste of time and money—sprinkling Epsom salts on your plants, spraying weeds with vinegar, pouring beer on your lawn. They don’t help, but they won’t kill your plants either. However, yesterday I came across a recommendation that will seriously damage your garden. I was so horrified that I immediately sat down to write this post.

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Splitting Jays

California Scrub Jay_ToroPark-Salinas-CA_LAH_6692Heinlein said that there’s no such thing as a free lunch.* He must not have been a birder. When the American Ornithological Union met this year, many birders added a new species to their life lists without even leaving their arm chairs. It’s time to update our field guides—even the brand new Sibley’s. The Western Scrub-Jay has now been split into the California Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica, left)  and the Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma woodhouseii).

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Applauding Leadplant

Amorpha canescens_Leadplant_DBG_LAH_0251

Sometimes I think of leadplant (Amorpha canescens) as the ugly duckling of xeric shrubs. It’s just not appreciated. Consider this quote from the Missouri Botanic Gardens (MBG) webpage:

A somewhat ordinary looking, small shrub with an attractive bloom but otherwise with no particularly outstanding landscape features. Good plant for naturalizing in a native or wildflower garden, prairie or meadow.

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September Quiz Answer

To refresh your memory, here is the photo from September’s Bird Quiz. The bird was seen in Colorado during the month of August. Don’t read any further if you want one last chance to identify this bird.

09 LakeManitou-CO_LAH_1981

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Villainous Voles


By Author: Bailey, Vernon, 1864-1942; Merriam, C. Hart (Clinton Hart), 1855-1942; United States. Division of Biological Survey – Revision of American voles of the genus Microtus (1900), Public Domain,

In last month’s post on “Who Ate My Plants?” I described the following scenario:

The heavy snowfall took a while to melt, but finally your dormant lawn emerges from under its frozen blanket. Last time you saw it, it was perfect turf, smooth and even. But now, it looks as if an army had performed maneuvers across your yard! Shallow furrows run here and there around islands of still-intact grass. What in the world?!

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September Bird Quiz

Can you identify this bird? The photo was taken in Colorado during the month of August. The answer will appear next week.

09 LakeManitou-CO_LAH_1981


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Beneficial Smelly Aquatic Rodents

  • Muskrat_RidgefieldNWR-WA_LAH_2299They can swim both forward and backward.
  • They can hold their breath for 20 minutes.
  • They’re noticeably smelly.
  • There’s a cute song about them.
  • They’re not very popular.

What am I talking about? Muskrats!

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