Thursday, February 21, 2013
Know what you are buying, because wildflowers and native plants are not the same thing.
Thursday, February 21
Native plants have become a hot topic in the last several years. Smart gardeners have come to realize that native plants have some built-in advantages. The biggest is that these plants have been growing in Michigan for thousands of years and are well-adapted to the climate and soils. Insects and diseases are infrequent. Choosing to include native plants in a home landscape can add variety plus give a glimpse of what that area was at one time. There are some new gardeners who assume that native plants and wildflowers are synonymous. They buy seed packs for wildflowers and think this is the envelope for care-free, native, perennial plants. A wildflower pack might have a few native plant seeds, but the vast majority of seeds are going to be …
Monday, February 18, 2013
The earth has warmed an average of 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit over the past 100 years. Understanding the forces behind climate change can guide future decisions.
Climate change describes shifts in long-term climate patterns, including air temperature, precipitation and weather patterns. Climate change is impacted by both human and natural causes. Burning fossil fuels for energy production and converting land from agriculture or natural use to development (housing, buildings) emits greenhouse gases and are the main human causes of climate change. Higher concentration of greenhouse gases, which include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, water vapor and halocarbons, decreases the amount of energy that reflects back toward space from the Earth’s surface. Increased energy on the Earth’s surface means increased temperatures Since the industrial age, the carbon stored in fossil fuels has been …
Friday, February 15, 2013
Gain a better idea of which critter is digging up your yard or garden by the damage they cause.
“Fee, fie, fo, fum. I see the dirt from some furry bum.” Many have walked into the yard and found perplexing piles of soil in their lawn or flower beds. They want to know what critter made the heap and are worried that it means something worse is going wrong. There are several animals that are common yard visitors. Keep in mind that the usual motivation for digging up yards comes down to two things: food and lodging. The time of the year makes a difference in the frequency of digging. Often, more damage occurs in the fall and spring. Michigan State University Extension hotlines receive many calls at certain times of the year about mystery mounds. In the fall, animals are trying to pick up as many calories as possible to make it through the…
Friday, February 8, 2013
Homeowners may think that dealing with pesky grubs is inevitable in the quest for a beautiful lawn. But there is a solution.
Michigan State University (MSU) Extension and Project GREEEN (Generating Research and Extension to meet Economic and Environmental Needs) researchers have come up with a lawn care routine for Michigan homeowners resulting in a green, healthy lawn that can tolerate grubs. “By following the simple steps we’ve laid out, homeowners can manage a low-maintenance lawn that will be able to stand up against grubs without the use of expensive insecticides,” said Dave Smitley, MSU entomologist. It starts, he said, by choosing the right grass. “Kentucky bluegrass and red fescue are the best grasses for this region,” Smitley confirmed. “If managed properly, they produce a large root mass, which is imperative for grub-tolerant grass. The denser the root…
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Trying to eat healthy? Start with your garden plan.
Wednesday, February 6
People grow their own vegetables for a variety of reasons. Some prefer to raise their produce organically, believing it to be safer and healthier. Others relish the idea of bringing forth nature’s bounty by the sweat of their brow, or maybe gardening is just the best way to impress the neighbors or stay out of trouble. Few will dispute that home food production is replete with challenges, but the rewards of home-grown vegetables are numerous. In my opinion, the best reason for growing your own produce is for the nutrition. When broccoli is shipped long distances such as California to Michigan, the vitamin C content will decrease by more than 50 percent. Consuming the broccoli harvested fresh from the backyard garden will contain its full …
Monday, February 4, 2013
Salmon and trout in Lake Michigan often relate to specific water temperatures or edges where warm and cold water currents meet. Savvy anglers have been using websites to plan trips and find fish for years, and online resources keep improving.
Finding fish in Lake Michigan may not seem to have much in common with finding fish in inland lakes, but most predatory fish relate to edges. While bass might relate to drop-offs or weed edges, salmon and trout in Lake Michigan, more often, relate to temperature and current breaks. Depth contours and weed edges can provide reliable fishing throughout the year in smaller lakes, but Lake Michigan is constantly changing. Fortunately, big lake anglers have a variety of online tools available that can help cut down on the time required to find productive water and put more fish in the boat. The Great Lakes CoastWatch site provides surface temperature charts developed from satellite data. Charts are updated several times a day depending on …
Friday, February 1, 2013
Mulching fall leaves into lawn can help you reduce fertilizer and weed control.
Turfgrass specialists from Michigan State University know that the best dressed lawns begin in fall. After a long, hot summer, you may be thinking to yourself, “Why would I want to be thinking about my lawn when I just want to go inside and forget about it?” Over 20 years of turf research has proven that fall is the optimum time to “invest” in the green you will enjoy next spring. If fertilization is on your dance card, then you are on the right track, but don’t forget about a resource that may be staring you right in the face – tree leaves. For years, turf managers and homeowners have been raking and bagging leaves because we all know that when leaves pile up with wet, heavy snow, it can mean disaster for the turf plant below. The ban on …
Friday, December 21, 2012
Families looking for ways to give back to their communities during the holiday season have lots of opportunities for community service, including the “Christmas Bird Count.”
Friday, December 21, 2012
Families looking for a different community service to do together this holiday season should considering participating in the annual Christmas Bird Count. The 113th Annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count, sponsored by the National Audubon Society, will take place from December 14 to January 5. The Christmas Bird Count “provides critical data on population trends” and is “the longest running Citizen Science survey in the world.” According to the National Audubon Society, prior to the 1900’s “people engaged in a holiday tradition known as the Christmas ‘Side Hunt.’ They would choose sides and go afield with their guns; whoever brought in the biggest pile of feathered (and furred) quarry won.” Frank Chapman, an ornithologist involved in the …
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Understanding the five distinct lake zones and the habitats they provide is key to restoring or maintaining lake ecosystem health.
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
At first glance, an inland lake shoreline might look pretty plain. Plants may be clearly visible in the water; other plants may be growing inside the water, but are not clearly visible below the water. Some fish and wildlife species may be obvious while others may not. However, upon further investigation, inland lakes are very diverse and provide diverse habitats or places where species get what they need to survive including food, water, cover and a place to raise their young. A lake can be divided based on many different criteria. One such criterion is based on temperature. A lake can also be divided into distinct areas based on the extent of sunlight penetration into the lake. The amount of light in turn determines the type of plants in…
Tuesday, October 9, 2012
We've got Michigan and Michigan State spirit — how about you? Share your photos on Patch.