PRFCT Tips

Tagged with "Fall"

The Ten Commitments

September 21, 2019

If the dire news of the climate crisis is making you feel overwhelmed, why not make some promises to a piece of earth. If everyone made their property, or one they frequent, into a natural refuge, there would be much less to worry about.  

Here are some of our promises…send us one of yours.  
 
1. I will think of my place as my friend, my family. I will work with, not against it, and do it no harm. It will be a sanctuary.  
2.  I will let this place keep all that it produces: no biomass will leave the property.
3.  I will make a compost pile, even if I probably won’t turn it.
4.  I will carefully consider everything I bring here—can it be used for a long time, can it be composted or repurposed, does it really need to be plastic? 
5.  I will use no toxic synthetic chemicals. 
6.  I will take a moment to learn about an insect before I decide if I really need to kill it. 
7.  I will plant native plants to provide habitat for insects and birds. 
8.  I will get to know the names of all the plants, animals and insects that live in this place, or at least the big ones.
9.   I will reduce the size of my lawn to just what gets used.  
10.  I will let go a bit, let nature be my collaborator, and help me keep my promises.  
 
Sept 10 TIP

KEEP OR KILL?

September 10, 2019

A friend called recently to ask for our opinion on a backyard situation. A large number of caterpillars were descending from webs in a tree and nibbling on his plants. He called in a tree expert who recommended that the offending tree be cut down and removed. Was this truly the only way to manage the problem?  

Happily, we could tell him to do nothing: keep the tree, and not to worry about the plants. The caterpillars are Fall Webworms, whose webs start showing up in late summer.

The parents are  pretty little white moths. They are native to the US; highly prolific, they lay their eggs in sunny spots on a large variety of host trees. The eggs hatch into the “worms” which weave the nest (same as silk worms). The nests protect them from predators, but they must come out to eat more leaves.  
As it is late in the growing season, the leaves they eat have already done their photosynthetic job and losing some of them to the webworms is no real loss to the parent plant. Many of the caterpillars will in turn become food--for birds and predator insects who need the protein for migrating or overwintering.  

So, just let them be.
Sadly, the people who don’t know about all this may be spraying, pruning, or even chopping down a whole tree.  Compare that to what a few little caterpillars can do. 
 
Note: Our last tip mentioned that milkweed doesn’t provide resources for anything but Monarch butterflies. This is not true, there are a large number of butterflies, bees and insects that benefit from milkweed, and I was quickly brought to task by some of our well informed readers, many thanks to them. Here’s more https://www.xerces.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/Wings_sp11_milkweed.pdf 

2018 03 16 07.06.42

Slow to Mow a Meadow

September 21, 2018

Are you mowing your meadow in the fall? Not so fast please, don’t mow, let it go till the spring!

Why?  For one thing, it looks much more beautiful than stubble.

Also, there are lots of ecosystem benefits:  
Seed heads have time to develop and disperse
Habitat and food is provided for wildlife:  think crickets, bumblebees, turkeys, American goldfinches, hawks and owls.

Mow in the spring, just before new growth begins, 8-12” high (habitat retained for solitary bees) and, best if you can rake off the cuttings.

Stop Throwing Out Pollutants

Made the transition to organic, but still have some old landscape chemicals sitting in your basement? Helped Aunt Bertha clean out her garden shed this spring and discovered a few dusty bottles of Roundup?

You should dispose of any unused chemicals in your home to avoid accidental poisoning (pets and kids), but don’t just toss them in the trash. If dumped with the rest of your waste, they can leach into and pollute ground water.

Most sanitation and recycling departments host events for safe disposal of dangerous household items including pesticides, cleaning supplies, paint, medication, and electronics. Contact your local sanitation department to ask about the next event in your community. Your local department may also have a facility where you can drop off specific items anytime.

• For our neighbors in East Hampton, the East Hampton Recycling Center hosts disposal days on the third Saturday of May and the third Saturday of October.

Southampton Town residents can dispose of pollutants at different locations in May, June, August, and October.

• New York City residents can stay up-to-date on upcoming Safe Disposal Events on the NYC Department of Sanitation website.

Bare soil in winter

Bundling up Your Garden Beds

December 15, 2016

Just like your skin, soil craves warmth and moisture during the dry, cold winter months. Bare soil is prone to drying out and freezing, which can damage roots and affect soil quality.

The best protection for your garden beds? The leaves that naturally fall from the trees and plants on your property. Not only will they insulate your soil over the winter, they’ll feed it, too. Leaves decompose over the winter and build the amount of organic matter in your soil, providing natural nutrients that are essential for soil health and reducing the need for additional fertilizer. (Do you ever see bare soil like this in forest floor?)

Plus, you’ll be saving yourself the trouble of raking and bagging, and keeping organic material out of your local landfill. It’s a win for you, your garden, and the planet.

You can also run your mower right over those leaves instead. Mulched leaves not only protect and feed the plants you love, they also help control plants you don't love. Next spring, those chopped up leaf bits can block sunlight from germinating dandelion seeds and other sun-loving weeds.

Need a special mower? Not necessarily. Mulching mowers are most effective, but regular mowers mulch leaves, too. Run your mower over the leaves a couple times and be sure to bag your mower bag.

Don’t forget: Leaves are called “leaves” for a reason!

More Tips