by Ann Sanders of AGreenHand
by Ann Sanders of AGreenHand
You know the old rule of thumb when it comes to corn gluten….as soon as you see the forsythias bloom in spring, apply it to your lawn to prevent the germination of weeds. But people often forget that corn gluten, besides being an effective, organic weed preventer, is also a great organic fertilizer, since it is high on nitrogen. So, essentially, corn gluten does double-duty when it comes to your lawn.
There are a few organic fertilizers out there, but very few organic weed preventers, so corn gluten is a boon to those who are uncomfortable using conventional weed control products. It is important to note that corn gluten will not kill existing weeds. There are only a few organic products that kill weeds, and there are no organic selective week solutions that leave the grass unharmed. But, if you are looking to stop weed seeds from germinating, corn gluten is a great option, although it does take three years to reach maximum effectiveness. Corn gluten will stop ALL seeds from germinating….including grass seed. So if you plan on seeding, seed FIRST, wait for about two to three weeks, and THEN lay down your corn gluten. Believe it or not, a lot of weeds, such as dandelions, plantain, and clover, get their start in fall, so that is an ideal time to lay down corn gluten.
What about fertilizing? Most people either under-fertilize or massively over-fertilize. There doesn’t seem to be much middle ground there. Let’s start by pointing out that if you have a mulching mower and recycle your clippings back into the lawn, you are already putting nitrogen back into the ground. That means that you should have a lighter hand while fertilizing. Many of the four-step programs out there are too aggressive with the fertilization schedule, especially for our area, which is on the bay. So a spring fertilization/weed prevention application with corn gluten, followed by a lighter application in September, is all you need.
Have any questions about corn gluten or any other lawn and garden questions? Come on in to K&B True Value and ask our experts!
It all comes down to food. Hummingbirds have a famous metabolism that requires that they eat about every ten minutes, which requires them to visit about 2,000 flowers every day to seek out nectar, their preferred food. So that means you either have to provide nectar, outright, using specially-designed feeders, or you need to plant the flowers that are preferred by hummingbirds. Either way, you have to pay close attention to detail, as hummingbirds are notoriously finicky diners.
When it comes to feeders, there are only a few varieties that are reliable because they must be the right shape and color to attract their customers. K&B True Value carries a variety of feeders by both Audubon and Perky-Pet, which use red and orange, the colors favored by hummingbirds, and receptacles that are flower-shaped. They can be hung from trees, eaves, posts, or even affixed to windows for a close-up view. We also carry high-calorie nectar for easy refill. It is important to clean the feeder frequently, around twice per week during the summer months and nectar can be sticky business. You’ll want several feeders in different shapes in different parts of the yard, so that one bird won’t bully the others and prevent them from feeding. One last thing...try not to hang the feeders in direct sunlight as that could cause the nectar to ferment , which would make for some clumsy flying.
Along with the feeders, you’ll want to plant perennial flowers that are on their favorite-food list. Again, red and orange are their favorite colors, and tube-shaped flowers are a real bonanza for them! We have brought in several native perennials that are hummingbird-friendly including:
Kniphofia (Red-Hot Poker)
Some of these perennials can even be planted in hanging baskets so that they can be moved around the yard, deck, or porch. Then, at the end of the season, they can be planted directly into the landscape to come back next year. Hummingbirds also require a certain amount of protein in the form of small insects, so avoid using pesticides in your yard.
Of all the outside décor that you could add to your yard to add visual interest, none is more beautiful than hummingbirds! And it doesn’t take much to create an oasis that will have them coming back year after year!
Many of them rely on the spent seed-heads of perennials or berries left over from fall, but it doesn’t take too long before those food sources begin to dwindle. And as the temperatures begin to drop in January and February, birds will need high-energy, high-protein foods to maintain their body temperatures. That means birds need food the most when it is least available in the wild. That’s where you come in!
Offer a feeding station that consists of a birdfeeder filled with one of our quality seed mixes. Choose a blend that is specially formulated to attract a variety of birds. Ingredients should include bird favorites like black oil sunflower, thistle and peanuts, which are attractive to a wide range of birds including cardinals, chickadees, finches, native sparrows and others. K&B True Value carries a variety of feeders specific to the type of seed blend and bird species that you are feeding. Common types include covered or open platforms for any size seed blend, cylinders or tubes for small seeds, and a hopper or "house" style to hold larger seeds like sunflower.
In addition to seed, consider offering suet as well. Birds use a lot of energy in the winter to stay warm and search for food, and suet is the high-energy snack that can help keep them going through the tough times. Rich in valuable calories because it's primarily made of fat, suet attracts woodpeckers, chickadees and many other species. We carry wire-cage feeders designed specifically for suet. The birds will cling to the wire and peck at the food through the gaps.
You’ll become a hub of the bird community once you acquire the reputation for fine dining. Make sure to stay on top of keeping the feeders filled, especially when it is particularly cold or snowy. And if you haven’t yet, join our K&B True Value Birding Club! Just buy ten bags of birdseed and get one bag free! You save and the birds eat. Win-win.