Every year, we put up 2 or 3 hummingbird feeders. My husband and I go through a lot of sugar in late summer, as he is feeding the hummingbirds and I am putting up the figs and pears from the yard. I think the little birdies get spoiled, because they will twitter and hover at the big window if the feeders are empty.
There is a lot of activity around the feeders, and fighting, although the fighting seems to have lessened the closer the time gets to migration, I guess. Going outside is interesting, with all the twittering and screeching sounds of tiny birds zooming past your head. Hummingbirds are perched on the roof, the antenna wires, the basketball goal, in the pecan tree at the side of the house. They are entertaining to watch.
Gail Russell of the Alabama Clean Water Partnership spoke to our September Master Gardener meeting. She came with a very simple message but one we can all take to heart. Each of us can do something to help keep our lakes, creeks, and rivers cleaner. It is not hard, either.
A few things to remember:
Anything that goes into our storm drains goes directly into our waterways; think before you dump.
Do not pour gasoline, car oil, or liquids from any type of machinery into the ground or the storm drains. Get rid of these products by taking them to a place which recycles them.
Maintain your car so it does not leak oil. If a car leaks oil on the street, that leaking oil is washed from the street into the storm drain and eventually into our lakes, streams, and rivers.
Do not overuse pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers; do not pour unused amounts into the ground or into the storm drains. Dispose of them properly according to label instructions. Excess is washed into our groundwater and from there into our bodies of water.
Clean up after your pet. Those little packages our pets leave behind also get washed into our storm drains and pollute our waterways.
Recycle your grass clippings and leaves; do not dispose of them by putting them into the storm drains. Those kind of products can also wash into our waterways causing nutrients to build up which are bad for the health of the water.
Maintain your septic tank. That will save you money and problems and prevent leakage into the groundwater and into our bodies of water.
Use a rain barrel. The rainwater collected is so good for your plants. You will save money on your water bill and help protect our bodies of water. If you need a rain barrel, some of the big box stores sell them. The Extension Office and the Master Gardeners also sponsor rain barrel workshops
Plant a rain garden; the plants help clean storm water runoff.
If all of us followed these few simple rules, we can do so much to protect our waterways. This will help ensure that our lakes, streams, creeks, and rivers will be places where our children and their children can swim into the future.
For more information see http://www.cleanwaterpartnership.org
For all of you who enjoying eating fresh fall and winter vegetables, now is a great time to plant your own fall garden. You can plant cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts, carrots, collards, lettuce, spinach, turnips, and other treats. Without summer's heat these all do much better in the garden and don't go to seed before their time as they can do when planted in a spring garden. It is a little too late to plant most of these crops from seed, but many of our local stores carry a wonderful variety of plants. I was at one of the big box home stores and saw lettuces in a wide range of colors. If you don't have space to put these crops into the ground, many of them perform well in container gardens. Raised bed gardens also make good homes to these crops. For more information please consult the web site for the Extension Service: ACES.EDU and look for ANR 63, Planting Guide for Home Gardening in Alabama and Gardening in Alabama ANR 47.
Growing these vegetables is a healthy and fun experience for the entire family.
I am not sure if this is a Monarch or a Viceroy butterfly as they are very similar in appearance. The Viceroy uses his close appearance to the Monarch as a way to protect himself from predators. Monarchs are poisonous to predators and those same predators leave the Viceroy alone because the two look so much alike. This butterfly is visiting a large patch of lantana. Lantana is a butterfly magnet; they love the tubular shape of the individual flowers. Planting masses of a color helps bring the butterflies to your garden. Plants with tubular flowers provide an inviting place for the butterlies to sip the nectar.
Addendum: One of the very sharp readers to this blog pointed out that this butterfly is a Gulf Fritillary. From the top of the wings these three butterflies look very much alike--especially to an amateur butterfly watcher like myself. However, the underside of the wings is very different. But since I love this photograph I will keep it.
The Alabama Master Gardener program is 30 years old this year. The first MG class was held in 1981 in Madison County. My how we have grown; there are now 37 local Master Gardener Associations in Alabama.
By the way there are also MG Associations all over the United States. Can you imagine the plant talk when all these gardeners get together?