Who is a Garden Coach?
A garden coach is a knowledgeable professional who can help guide clients in their gardening project with an array of tasks. A garden coach is just like a music lesson teacher, cooking teacher, or personal lifestyle coach, but applied to gardening.
Someone who offers this service is likely very knowledgeable, but feel free to ask for their credentials or read their bio online if they have one.
Who is Garden Coaching for?
Garden coaching is for anyone…
How can a Garden Coach help me?
A garden coach can help in a variety of ways and it mainly depends on what you’re looking for and the service they offer. Usually there is some type of project you’d like to do, such as:
After a consultation a garden coach should be able to offer recommendations on how to go about your project.
Can a personal garden coach save me money?
There is a good chance hiring a garden coach will pay for itself. A garden coach can simply prevent costly mistakes through their guidance. A coach also prevents mistakes that would have cost you effort, time and labor. Here are some examples of how a garden coach would save these valuable resources:
Having a personal garden coach is also an investment in your education and you will be learning knowledge that you can use throughout your lifetime.
Spring is just a week away! I’ve been seeing daffodils, crocus, hyacinths, spring wildflowers, pussy willows, and some cherry trees flowering already. The perfect spring temperatures and rainfall are making lawns turn greener and greener each day and before we know it, it’ll be time to mow!
As we start to draw more attention to our lawns, we’ll also probably be drawing attention to the dandelions, clover, and violets, which will begin blooming soon. Homeowners across the nation will be reaching for the lawn sprays, since for the lawn perfectionist, these weeds are undesirable. I’m asked questions all the time on how to get rid of them, especially violets.
My answer usually goes along with, “It will take time, effort, and expense. Even so- it doesn’t work as a one-time thing. A lot of toxic chemicals will have to be continually reapplied to keep dandelion and clover out. Violets are impossible. Nothing out there gets rid of them except hand pulling.”
However, I’d like to propose we think at how beneficial these weeds are instead of as something that disrupts the look of lawn grass.
Imagine you’re a solitary bee, and you’ve been hibernating all through winter outside in a tiny shape shift home where some leaves collected around the base of a plant.
*Native bees are solitary, meaning they live by themselves, and not in a hive. Many native bees can’t sting and/or are much less aggressive than honey bees and won’t sting unless they get in your clothes or if you try and squash it. Some live in the ground, they shouldn’t be mistaken for wasp.
You wake up because it’s pretty warm outside now, and guess what, you’re ravenous for some good food! So you stretch your wings and go out looking for some delicious syrupy sugary nectar. And there’s not much out there flowering so you nibble around, but nothing is very satisfactory. If only there were nice golden dandelion flowers or white fluffy clover blossoms…
Dandelions and clover are excellent early nectar sources for bees. Not much else is flowering early when that they will pollinate. If you want to help support our pollinators, leave some dandelions, clover, and violets in your lawn or garden.
Clover is actually beneficial in your lawn too. And only until the past 3 decades, clover was normal and actually desirable in lawns. Lawn companies have marketed clover out of our idea of a lawn. Clover is beneficial because it takes nitrogen from the atmosphere and puts it into the soil, where plants, like grass, can use it.
Violets (Common Blue Violet Viola sororia) are a host plant for the fritillary butterfly. Meaning, that caterpillar, that’ll turn into a lovely orange and white butterfly, eats the violet leaf to grow up. Leaving violets helps these caterpillars since it’s really the only food they can eat.
There isn’t a chemical that will get rid of violets. They can be suppressed by certain chemicals (not Round Up) continually applied over and over, but it’s rarely worth the cost or effort.
There are other species have violets besides the one we see most in our lawn. Some have white on them or yellow flowers. They can be used as a vigorous shady ground cover in areas to suppress weeds or to substitute for lawn where it won’t grow in shade.
Unfortunately the caterpillars are not immune to lawn mowers. Mowing a taller height of 3-4″ may help avoid hitting the caterpillars on the violets. Also waiting longer in-between mowing, just until you need to. There is a bonus to mowing at this height- it’s healthier for the lawn and is the correct height to mow!
I doubt many caterpillars survive lawn mowing, so I just leave a small patch in a certain part of my garden for them. One year there were many violets in my vegetable garden and there were fritillary butterflies everywhere all summer. The next year I kept them better weeded, and I didn’t have the butterflies. This goes to show, pollinators need host plants!
Thursday, February 16th- Monday February 19th
Every year this time of year there is the Great Backyard Bird Count! It is sponsored by Audubon, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and Bird Studies Canada. You will be taking part of citizen science, which is helping scientist study birds.
All you need to do is count birds you see in your yard each day.
A general rule is to only count the maximum number of a species of bird you see at one time.
For example, one morning you see 4 robins in the garden eating bugs. That afternoon you see 5 robins at the bird bath. Count just 5 robins for that day. This is because some of those individual birds you may have seen twice.
February is a good time for this project because there aren’t leaves on the trees. Birds are easier to see and identify. In the summer however, most birding is done by ear. Here are some field guides below that are handy to have.
You may be able to identify some birds with this online guide from Louisville Water
Popular Birding & Field Guide Books
After my last post on How to Freeze Onions, my cutting board needing some cleaning and deodorizing. Taking care of wood cutting boards will extend their life for many years. Anyone who has left a wood cutting board sitting in water, knows how quickly it can warp. Oiling wood cutting boards is quick, easy, and worth the effort. Before oiling my cutting board, I use some ingredients I have in the kitchen to clean it.
I don’t use my wood cutting board for meat. I have a separate cutting board so juices don’t get down into wood fibers, which could be unsanitary. I use this Epicurean- natural wood fiber composite cutting board, made in USA. Never have to oil this one and dishwasher safe.
How to Clean & Oil A Wood Cutting Board
With all the snow and very cold temperates this January we’ve had, my bird feeders have been full of birds looking for some good nutrition to keep them warm!
Please remember: Do Not feed birds any form of bread. It starves them to death by filling them up with food that offers no nutrition. They need fat and protein to keep warm, which why birdseed and suet is great! Read a previous blog post Feeding Birds in Winter.
I’ve seen all kinds of species of birds out there and it’s been fun to watch!
Just like us, birds too have to deal with snow! I observed them hopping around from stem to stem in my garden so they didn’t have to trudge through snow looking for food. Getting their legs wet could lead to frostbite.
Ah ha, another reason to keep those perennials standing through winter!
I’ve seen some of the female cardinals eating hoary skullcap seeds in the garden too.
There are always lots of housefinches. They’re not shy and love to eat. The males have red on their upper bodies, but the females are all brown. They can be confused with sparrows. They love both sunflower and safflower seeds. They really love to chat with each other too.
Also hanging out is a goldfinch on the far left, along with a female cardinal behind the feeder.
This male housefinch has his feathers fluffed up to conserve heat.
This is Georgia, a female Downy Woodpecker. Every morning she’s out in the maple tree chirping. I see her more often than her male partner, Plez, but he’s been coming around more, I guess since it’s so cold and he’s hungry! He has a red spot on his head that marks him as a male. Woodpeckers love suet and the bark butter I give them, but I never see them eat birdseed. See how her tail is being used to cling onto the feeder? I love seeing them. Georgia’s eyes are very pretty.
The Blue Jay knows what’s up- getting to that feeder!
And in he swoops. Usually all the other birds vacate when the Blue Jay arrives just because they’re big birds. Female and males are nearly identical in appearance, but males are usually slightly bigger.
“Blue Jay was right, this is a good spot to hang out and fluff my feathers!”
“What’s going on over there?” Mrs. Cardinal says
“Yea Mr. Cardinal, this is a good spot!” says Mrs. Cardinal. “I’ll fluff my feathers up too while I perch here.”
“It really is nice!” says White Throated Sparrow
“This spot is much better… closer to the food…” says the big bad Starling
Starlings are in invasive bird that is causing problems for our native songbirds. I’ve been told they can kill small birds, though I have not witnessed that. They’re native to Europe. Usually when you see large flocks of black colored birds, they’re starlings. Or you’ll see a big group of them on the lawn looking for food. These invasive species can bring more diseases to our native songbirds too.
They also gobble up lots of food, and they’ll will wipe out your feeders. Groups of them will get around the feeder and fight. The only bird I see that’ll sometimes get near them at the feeder is the Blue Jay.
There are things you can do to keep them at bay. They’re hungry too, but geez… Maybe that’ll be a future blog post.
They are kind of pretty with their spots and different colors. Far away they look all black, but to other birds (they see ultra violet) they are very colorful. You can kind of see in the photo green colors along its chest feathers.
“Is that Starling gone yet?” says little Tufted Titmouse
“Good, cause I want to swoop in and get a sunflower seed.”
Isn’t her mohawk cute?
Male and female tufted titmouse look just alike.
The titmouse are quick. They’re in and out of the feeders fast as they can go. They’ll grab a seed and fly off to eat it elsewhere.
I’m glad to see someone using the bottom suet feeder.
“I like that suet feeder too,” exclaims little Carolina Chickadee- who’s cute as a button. Their chirps are cute too and a distinctive quick call. They’re kind of elusive at the feeder and I don’t see them as often as other birds getting seed, but mainly just hanging out in the trees.
Word’s gotten out the feeders are open for business on this snow day!
I saw at least 3 sets of cardinals out there. Close by in my neighborhood, a large wild area that was full of trees has been leveled in order to develop it. Lots of birds have lost their habitat. Birds are territorial. It’s not as simple to fly over to a new area and call it home, so I’m wondering where all those birds will go. It makes me want to plant more trees.
Aren’t these 2 cute? Mr. & Mrs. Cardinal. Mrs. Cardinal just sat there and watched Mr. Cardinal nibbling away. The cardinals will work the sunflower shell in their beaks until it comes off and they can eat the seed inside.
And my favorite- Mr. Cardinal posing and showing off how handsome he is, since he knows we humans love to see cardinals sitting on an evergreen covered in snow. “It brings out my beautiful and bright red plumage.” says Mr. Cardinal.