Sunday, May 20, 2012

My Backyard Brag Blog

By the name of this blog, you can already smell how much I’m going to brag about my yard, how totally organic it is, utilizing the most effective natural occurring fertilization and feeding, termed the Forest Floor Model (Heckel, 1993). Perhaps it is this methodology that has won me the honored and distinguished Certified Wildlife Habitat, by The National Wildlife Federation, certificate # 105,706. It is my belief that this certification number is the only certified on the planet, which now clearly sets my yard up for this blog.
BTW, the process to get this baby took at least 25 minutes answering some very tough questions at the National Wildlife Federation website. And you can print them right out, just make sure you have enough ink. Mine came in the mail, personally signed, as you can see. Don’t know David, but he’s reviewed my survey answers and made the call! Thanks, Davey! Feels great to be #105,706!!

Ok, so back to my bragging. Actually, this is also going to include bragging about my lovely grand-daughter, Bettie. So now that you have already established the solid fact that I fricken  KNOW this gig called gardening, allow me to introduce you to one of my back yard’s most famous, and now BEST improvements.
                One day Bettie and  I were walking around the yard, just taking in the day and, of course, checking out her tree, her mom and dad’s , you know, we all have our own tree in yard. Well, Bettie was picking up pine cones, which I was delighted as they are a nuisance. Don’t get me wrong, I love my Confiner trees so much that I literally pray for them often. But the cones got to be so many that I was rolling my ankles over them, which especially isn’t good my ankle with the rod in it. Kinda hurts. Also, running over the cones with the lawn mower was akin to messing with a ground-level-meteor-launcher! Danger notwithstanding, it also wreaked havoc on the mower blades (like I care, really).
                So, Bettie starts to pick up the cones and we put them in a bucket. She then walks over to what then looked like a pathetic, messed up wanna-be-but-ended-up-looking-like-crap flower garden where two clematis (we’re talking plants mr. spell check!) plants grow each year. She thinks a bit, and then starts putting the pine cones into the messy looking flower garden floor.  At first we were just playing around throwing them in but then the more that got thrown in, the better it continued to look! The once dingy looking clamtis garden was looking more like a real garden than a dirt patch with some faded wood chips littered around.
Amazingly, Bettie had the fore-sight that this bad-looking garden needed a touch—her special touch! Her idea. Her brilliance.
As the weeks went by I continued the Bettie Cone Project (aka ‘be cone one to another ‘) making daily rounds of collecting cones until I realized that this cone discovery also yielded a more beautiful, longer lasting and FREE solution to simply dumping in more wood chips that blow away and then turn to dirt. Cones can last much longer than the bark solution. A good pine cone runs around $20/pound, which is about 1200). Mulch runs like $5/20lb bag and I needed at least 5 bags. Guess I owe my little grand-daughter some money!
At any rate, enough of the words, here are the facts:
This is still work in progress as you can still see some junk in the garden.

But the final product looks something like this. . . 

The fundamentals of FFM  are quite simple, you do pretty much nothing and let nature take its course.
However, I did manage to cobble together a few key pieces of organic advice for those of you that desire to learn more about FFM:

1    1) If you bag your grass, create a nice compost pile, else grind it with your mower into an area that needs attention.

2) Never pollute the land-fills with branches, leaves, clippings, etc. Yard wastes comprises a large percentage of all land-fills and, while biodegradable, still waste energy of moving them from one place to another; especially when the materials moved can be used where they originated. So have a ‘beader mower’ and grind up as much as you can with your mower directly over the ‘forest floor.’ Essentially, the concept behind this is the same found in the forest; branches and trees die, creating natural compost for more plant growth. By grinding the waste up, composting, we simply accelerate the decomposition process.
2      3)  Now if you don’t like #2 because maybe you don’t like the grinding idea (there are safety hazards associated with such, so always wear protective equipment!), then the next best solution is to use as much yard waste as you can around areas to control weed growth. This is especially effective in gardens and along driveways, which can make a fine looking border, done properly.

Bottom line is “live and let live.” I’m not one big on fancy spray on lawns or zero-scaping.  At least I’ve found some sort of a balance between the over-killing work by using simple and lazier methods to accomplish not just getting rid of yard wastes, but also putting them into good organic use. And with newer minds on the scene, such as Bettie’s Pine-Cone Project, I keep learning even more tricks of the trade. And if you don’t believe me, drive by, stop and I’ll show you what a Certified National Wildlife preserve/yard looks like.  Number 105,706, to be exact!

And don’t even get me started with the scores of cool birds, eagles, squirrels, foxes, elks, coons, coyotes, hares and other such amazing creations that frequent this habitat for a respite! It’s all good—no, it’s all GREAT! Thanks, Bettie! 

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