The Benefits of Birds
to Humans and Nature
Not everyone is aware of the diversity of birds around the world, the amazing migrations some take, and the phenomenal range of behaviors, plumages, and songs they exhibit. International Migratory Bird Day 2014 shares the many ways in which birds matter to the earth, to ecosystems, and of course, to us.
Some bird species provide practical solutions to problems, such as the need for insect and rodent control. Others disperse seeds, helping to revegetate disturbed areas. Others are pollinators, ensuring that we are graced with flowering plants, trees, and shrubs. Beyond the utilitarian, birds are inspirations for the arts.
Amadeus Mozart had a pet starling that motivated the opening theme of the Third Movement of his Piano Concerto No. 17 in G. Beethoven used the songs of thrushes and blackbirds, and many musical pieces contain the call of the cuckoo. Paintings, poetry, and of course the IMBD 2014 hammered steel drum art all express the intangible joy birds provide us every day. Join us in raising awareness of birds and why they matter through International Migratory Bird Day.
Follow these links to learn more!
Karen Sands, WFB resident and Manager of Sustainability for MMSD discussed the work being dine by MMSD and their goals for the community.
MMSD has mapped out 28 communities where they need to manage “out of banks” flooding. WFB has separate lines for storm water and sanitary water.
1 We need to filter polluted storm water runoff. The storm water picks up pollutants from roofs, lawns, and roads. Rain gardens can help filter all of this
2 Infiltrate sump pump discharges. In winter, (and all year), water drains to rain gardens, snow melts and absorbs into the ground rather than running off into sewer systems.
3 Hold storm water away from possibly leaky sanitary pipes. Possible cracks in laterals from old age, tree roots. Build rain gardens away from laterals. Water infiltration can be up to 50/gal per minute when it rains.
4 MMSD has a goal of filtering 740 million gallons of water through rain gardens, rain barrels, porous parking lots, and creating other permeable surfaces.
Aaron Jahncke, Asst. Village Engineer, discussed programs, plans and rebates being developed by the village. In 2012 -2013 WFB Village developed aerial maps showing impervious areas and a new assessment was created. However, they also have rebate programs for rain gardens, based on their size, and rain barrels. Brochures and manuals are both on the WFB village website.
WFB also plans to buy rain barrels in bulk and deliver to residents next year. The Village can also assist with site selection for rain gardens.
Marion Boelter, Master Gardener, discussed Rain Garden Siting and plants to be used.
Rain Garden siting Determined by:
Where the water flows across the lawn
Where sump pump discharges
And selecting an area to hold the water that is away from the sanitary laterals (10’ is best), and the house foundation
Size the garden based on soil factors and drainage area size.
There is a brochure available from www.learningstore.uwex.edu.
Prairie Nursery in Westfield WI is another good source and has a catalogue. www.prairienursery.com
Also be sure to call diggers hotline before starting
Rain gardens should hold water for 2-3 days at most after rain. Do a soil test and determine the soil type and texture. Then, select plants for the site conditions…sun, shade, and partial sun. Use native plants whenever possible and have 50% of the area include grasses, sedges, and bushes for good root development. Plant on a grid of 1 plant per square foot and place grasses every 2’ with flowers in between. If the area is large enough, plant in masses of 5 or 7 plants. Include specimen plants for interest. Consider plant height, plant characteristics and type of soil when deciding which plants to use and where to place them.
Open Meeting at WFB Village Hall
Nino Ridgeway was our guest speaker. Nino is the owner of Herbs and Everlasting at Barthel Fruit Farm in Mequon. She is a grower, entomologist and culinary expert.
Nino began by giving us an overview and then went on to describe the common sense and natural way to grow herbs (and plants).
· Give pants what they need…sun, water, carbon dioxide, space, airflow, proper bracing, micronutrients and proper temperatures for the specific plants.
· Most herbs need at least 6 hours of sun per day and well-drained soils.
· Clay soils have high nutrients and don’t need to be fertilized, but they do need to be amended with organic matter to break them up.
· Pots must ALWAYS be fertilized.
· Powdery mildew in pots comes from heat and poor air circulation, but doesn’t spread to other plants
Nino then went on to discuss specifics of both Cool Season herbs (early spring or fall) and Warm Season and Mediterranean herbs. She discussed varietals, pick tips, pests, and uses in cooking and baking. Please see attached handout for details.
· Cool Season include cilantro, parsley, dill, chives, lovage, fennel, mint, chervil, and nasturtium
· Warm season include Basil, oregano, thyme, sweet marjoram, garden sage, lavender, rosemary, pineapple sage, lemongrass, lemon verbena, savory, and French tarragon
Tip for rabbits: Mix warm water with the hottest crushed/ground peppers you can find. Add a clove of garlic and mix in a blender. Drizzle over plants and re-apply after heavy rains. Do not do this just before you plan to harvest!
Herb Gardening Naturally Handout
_ Whitefish Bay Garden Club President Mary Beth Mahoney recently presented a program on composting as part of the Garden Club's Community Education Series. Mary Beth got hooked on composing after reading a book by Mike McGraf on composting.
Here are some of the program's highlights:
Four elements are needed for compost: greens (nitrogen-herbaceous plants, fruits and veggies), browns (carbon-trees and shrubs, dried leaves), water, and air.
Use 2 parts carbon to 1 part nitrogen
Chop up into small pieces, mix together, maintain a proper balance of greens and browns, and incorporate soil to introduce the necessary micro-organisms. Add water in the spring when the temp is above 50F. Final layer should be about 3” of brown (shredded leaves or paper)
• chop pieces small
• layer with brown on top to avoid fruit flies
• build a 3’ x 3’ x 3‘ minimum size bin.
• turn the contents if ventilation pipes are not incorporated into the design to allow air flow.
• no pet waste, meat, dairy, fish, prepared foods (animal waste from those that are naturally vegetarian only)
• keep adding material once set up is complete
• add weeds, seeds, rhizomes (roots and leaves are great though)
Composting is like assembling a buffet for micro-organisms that break it down and makes the soil amendment. Since different organisms feed at different levels of heat, it is important to not add to it once set up
ULTIMATE NO-TURN COMPOST PILE
put a layer of twigs at the bottom for air circulation, Use PVC or other similar material with large holes drilled into it for air circulation (4-5 standing vertically in the bin). Add water as you build. Let it bake. OK to add materials during the winter, but once temps hit 50F, stop and let it cook.
• Use red wiggle worms
• Use completely opaque container, dark bin
• Rinse the bins thoroughly before using and drill holes in the lid for air circulation
• bedding material- use shredded newspaper or peat moss or coir (shredded coconut shells)
• moisture level should be equivalent to a damp sponge
• use some soil for grit (sand or dirt)
• 1/2C to 1C egg shells for calcium
• hand full of worms
• Feed them veggies, most fruits, egg shells, coffee, tea, finely chopped or crushed food
• Don't feed them onions, garlic, citrus rinds of fruit, meat, dairy, fried foods, or oily sauces
• Bury the food in a pocket or corner of the bin about 3” deep
take the compost from the opposite side of the feeding pocket
as worms reproduce, give them to a friend, usually find them in the feeding pocket
spread 1”-2” of compost on garden beds in spring
spread 1/2” of compost on turf
a Japanese method using fermentation (pickling). Dilute the compost tea from Bokashi 10:1. Bury the waste 12” deep outside
Mary Beth also provided a handout to compliment her presentation. Please find a pdf of that handout below, print, and enjoy! Happy Composting!!!
This article appeared in the February issue of Bay Leaves
It's February. It may feel like spring will never come, but inevitably the snow will melt in March, followed by April showers. This year the Whitefish Bay garden Club will focus its attention on Rain Gardens and Rain Barrels because of the stormwater challenges face in the village.
Rain gardens have three major benefits: (1) they absorb water into the soil, (2) the beautify our own yards and the community, and (3) they provide an important habitat for birds, bees, and butterflies threatened by reduced food stuffs. The New York Times reported that 2013 was the first year that the Monarch butterflies did not arrive in droves in Mexico for the Day of the Dead (November 1st). It is more important than ever that we think about how we can support the Monarch butterfly in our yards.
Let's explore the benefits...
Water absorption. Ideally rainwater should infiltrate the soil at the point of the downpour. You can capture the water with rain barrels, then use it to grow flowers and vegetables. Or it you want to go the low maintenance route, you can install a rain garden. The EPA reports that lawns have 10% of the water absorption capacity of native plantings. Together we could dramatically reduce the water entering municipal systems.
Beautification. In 2008, WFB residents Nathan and Jean Guequierre finished installing multiple rain gardens and rain barrels at their home on Newhall. The rain gardens not only absorb water-approximately 60,000 gallons/year-but also bring four season appeal. The landscape includes a variety of perennials, mostly plants native to Southeastern Wisconsin.
Important habitat. Experts fear the Monarch butterfly is on the verge of collapse, threatened by the loss of its only food source for the caterpillars-milkweed. The good news is that native plants-like milkweed-both absorb a significant amount of water and benefit the threatened Monarch populations. Milkweed is a native perennial and can easily be grown in your garden as it is in the WFB Butterfly Garden. The garden in Cahill Square has many features to attract and sustain butterflies over their short life cycles-rocks warmed by the sun for resting, shallow sources of water, colorful plants to attract adults and hiding places for developing offspring.
What can you do?
The May Regular Meeting of the Whitefish Bay Garden Club included an outstanding presentation on Gardening with Native Plants given by Carol Bangs, Landscape Design Horticulturist, MATC. Carol shared some tips for eliminating "opportunistic" (native, aggressive plants) and "invasive" (non-native, aggressive plants) from our gardens. The tools she recommended for this task included the Parsnip Predator, the Weed Wrench, and the Weed Torch. Click on the tool's name for a detailed description and purchasing information about each tool.
Carol also recommended two resources that every gardener should have in his or her library: Invasive Plants of The Upper Midwest by Elizabeth J Czarapata and The Wisconsin DNR Publication on Invasive Species. Clicking on either resource will take you to a website with more information.
Once the "opportunistic" and/or "invasive" plants are under control, Carol suggested a trip to the Prairie Nursery (or their website) to select the native plants appropriate for your soil and growing conditions.
At the Garden Club's April Regular Meeting, Marilynn Cech and Niedra North gave a very informative and educational presentation on Adaptive Gardening. Marilynn has worked as a Surgical RN for the past 39 years and has also served as a Wisconsin Master Gardener volunteer for the past ten years.
Niedra works as a Life Coach and has volunteered as a Master Gardener wtih Ozaukee County for the past four years. Both Marilynn and Niedra work on the Lifelong Gardening Committee. Together they presented tools, tips, and techniques that will help gardeners adapt to physical limitations and advanced years.
Highlights from the presentation include:
Getting started - Start with warm-up exercises, switch tasks every 30 minutes,
rest 15 minutes of every hour, hydrate, plan ahead, use a cart to transport materials
Hands - good grasp, prolonged pinching, pressure on pads of thumbs- use wide
handles to ﬁt your grasp; OXO tools; Homemade tools- foam pipe insulation can wrap
around handles to make wider, increase leverage on hose shut-offs; choosing hand
pruners, anvil for dead materials and anvil for living materials; recruit more muscles to
do the job (Garden’s Pride tool by Union tools)
Gloves - Bionic gloves (available on amazon.com); proper hand positioning-radius tools (Peta-UK.com); Telescoping tools; Sure Grip tools-arm support
Choosing a Lopper - consider weight of tool, width of branches to be cut, telescoping handles, ratchet system
“Leverage handles” as back savers - attach to handles on your own tools, diamond hoe, Hula Hoe, Fiskars, Oswego’s Grandpa’s weeds, and the Garden Rake offer outstanding options
Garden Seating/Kneeling - “the Garden rocker”, knee/stool combo, some have bags for hand tools, some collapse for storage, gel knee pads (Ace Hardware), use 2 kneeling mats to move along the garden
Planting - use a garden seat, use proper ergonomic tools, don’t lean too far forward, use seed tapes, use seeding augers
Raking/Shoveling - “Garden Shark” for raking mulch; "dance" with your rake (walk forward, walk back, don't twist); O-handled tools; don't bend your back; don’t lift and twist. Use a smaller face on the shovel so the weight is reduced
Energy saving tools - garden vest; 2 wheeled garden carts (not wheelbarrow); self watering pots; hydro powered auto re-wind hose reel; raised bed gardening; use heavy lifting tools to reduce strain; ergonomic water cans (Fiskars); “Gator-Grabber” clean up tool (Garden supply.com)
Please see RESOURCES page on the WFB Garden Club website for links to websites with additional information and tips.
Handouts from Meeting:
Small yard? No yard? No problem! A vertical garden could be your answer. At the regular monthly meeting of the Whitefish Bay Garden Club, Lisa Nieske from Bayside Garden Center presented several options for creating a vertical garden.
Modular vertical gardening containers are available for purchase at many garden centers or on the internet and provide a quick and easy way to plant succulents, herbs, and flowers. These containers fit together in any configuration to make a garden wall. Vertical gardening systems can also be created from items as simple as wood palates or hanging canvas shoe storage. Attach landscaping fabric to the back and sides of a wood palate, fill with soil, and plant between the slates. After the roots have taken hold, attach the palate to a fence, garage, or trellis. Hanging canvas shoe storage systems have large pockets perfect to hold pots of favorite vegetables.
Vertical gardens can be any size and shape and are a great way to grow vegetables, herbs, flowers, or succulents no matter what size your outdoor space!
The Lawn and Garden Tips page is updated by members of the Whitefish Bay Garden Club.