Growing, Growing, Gone!

Eastern Cottontail_ColoSpgs_PLH_4023Where did they go? Yesterday I had a nice row of lettuce seedlings down one side of my raised bed. This morning three were missing! Not a leaf remained, only the gnawed off stump of a stem, leveled to the dirt. Grrrr!

Since we live on a few acres, there are many possible culprits: insects (such as cut worms or grasshoppers), jays, crows, or other hungry birds, pocket gophers, or rabbits. Figuring out who done the deed was essential to knowing what defenses I needed to erect to protect the rest of my crop. It was time to pull out my Sherlock Holmes hat and bubble pipe and do some sleuthing.

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Grasshoppers

grasshopper-on-dahlia_hudsongardens-littletonco_lah_9279

They’re chewing holes in my big, beautiful chard leaves, leaving tiny dark pellets of digested foliage to mark their conquests. They jump aside as I walk through the knee-high grass in our field. Until I moved to Colorado I had idea how plentiful grasshoppers are (we’re home to over a hundred different species!), or how much frustration they can cause a gardener.

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Eating Locally in Colorado?

How much is local?
How much is local?

All over the country, foodies are advocating the wonderful benefits of eating locally. Save on transportation costs (both financial and environment). Know where your food came from and who grew it. Fresher is healthier. There’s no shortage of good reasons to base one’s diet on food produced within a hundred mile (approximately) radius. In fact, several noted authors have written books on the topic.

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Berries for the Birds

american-robin-in-russian-hawthorn_xg_20091215_lah_5562xHow would you like to have a flock of robins outside your window? How about other thrushes, waxwings, sparrows, towhees, or vireos? Want to add Western Tanager to your yard list?

Along with finches, grosbeaks, thrushes, some warblers, Northern Mockingbird, Townsend’s Solitaire, chickadees, nuthatches, swallows, woodpeckers, pigeons/doves, jays, and even hummingbirds (who drink the juice), all these birds eat berries at some point.*

Planting shrubs and trees that produce berries is a great way to attract more species of birds. Even better, plant several kinds of berries, since each bird species has its favorites.

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