Tagged with "Plants"
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.
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
Weeds are defined as unwanteds plant. So why are people telling me their lawns are full of weeds; and they love them? What’s not to love about a lawn full of little flowers?
Not only lovely, but good for pollinators, biodiversity, soil, and you: they tell the world that no nasty chemicals have been applied.
Known as Freedom Lawns, Eco Lawns, English Lawns, Flowering Lawns…Whatever…please don't call them weedy lawns.
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.
A DIY Update
Wilt Weeds,Wilt! A DIY Update.
This spring we shared a recipe for a weed-killing alternative to using harmful synthetic chemicals on driveways, patios, and walkways. This recipe is meant for use on spaces you don't intend to plant:
1 gallon of horticultural or industrial strength vinegar (20-30% concentration)
1 cup of Epsom salts (purchase at your local garden center for a good price!)
Optional: 1 tsp natural soap
Apply with a sprayer or watering can. Applying early on a hot day will help with the effectiveness. Remember this is only for use in spaces where you don't intend to grow any plants or grass as essentially you are salting the earth. Wear gloves! Vinegar can burn your skin at higher concentrations.
Have a large space to conquer? Lay a tarp down. Not only will it block sun but will deprive weeds of water as well for quick elimination.
Here are our results on this easy, DIY mix, sans soap. Take a look at the amazing before and after photos just a few hours after application – not bad! Repeated use on an area will eventually acidify the soil and increase its effectiveness.
This weed-killing mixture did leave a little discoloration to our driveway gravel so patch testing is recommended, especially before using on sensitive paving or your expensive pool patio.
Give it a try – we would love to see your results! Share with us by tagging your results on Instagram or sharing to our Facebook @perfectearthproject