Big City, Little Homestead

Living rural in the city is hip and urban – and you can, too.

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Creating lawn habitat for endangered bumblebees

In April 2017, news got around about the first bee to land on the US endangered species list: Bombus affinis, commonly known as the Rusty Patched bumble bee. It has a, well, rusty patch on its back. It’s endemic to North America, which means its range is only North America – and not all parts, either. Rusty-patched bumblebees have been decimated nine times over – that’s 90% – from earlier population counts.

This article is a prelude to next week’s Pollinator Week, June 17–23, 2019, whereby I’ll be updating and sharing posts I’ve already written earlier about how we can help bees and butterflies (and maybe even bats). It’s timely, given my previous post on converting lawn to meadow, and how June’s a productive time in the garden where you can still get started! We need honeybees, bumblebees, and native pollinators to help us. So please help them.

Also — bumble bee, bumblebee — it doesn’t matter which one you use. So I use both!

Jane

Bumblebees are important pollinators of native and fruiting crops. In some crops, the flowers need the particular buzz of the bumblebee to shake the pollen loose – they aren’t going to give it up for just any old insect!

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Replacing your grass lawn with a meadow, or just allowing one to happen

Do you hate mowing the lawn? Holy cow, I used to. We had a lawn that was half the size of a football field, and I spent many hours doing it. It’s not a hobby. And loads of gasoline spilled, actually. It kills the grass, but the grass comes back after a week or two.

When I first published this post (in June, 2017), a friend just turned me on to the Freakonomics podcast episode about America’s “stupid” obsession with lawns. It has a lot of different points of view and recommendations on what to do differently. Native species, alternative lawn care, and urban agriculture are some of the topics. Listen at the link.

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New project: build a nest box for bluebirds and chickadees!

It’s been on my todo list for a few weeks to build a couple of bird houses with the scrap wood I have leftover from other projects and so finally I did the job JUST IN TIME for spring migration.

In fact, almost too late – except that some species breed more than once. Those birds who are have been sticking around or arriving earlier already have young, and and some just arriving are getting ready to find a nest box. AND that’s what I’m going to provide!

And so can you. Do it this weekend!

Resource: NestWatch’s All About Birdhouses has everything you need to know about different birdhouses and nest boxes for different types of birds, and also how to set them up with a nest camera!

Cornell Lab of ornithology

I turned this into a new kind of post called a Portfolio post. I decided it was a nice way to do it with a picture gallery, and I could create a series of DIY projects that way. Go check it out. It’s called “Using Old Wood To Build A Birdhouse.

Leave a comment if you do get this project under way / done. I’d love to see the results!

Get your trowels ready! Montréal’s garden giveaway is coming up.

The spring gardening season is upon us with even more speed than it usually assaults us, since winter lingered just a little longer than some people had hoped.

So it comes as small surprise that the Ville and its annual “embellissement” campaign (this translates to “embellishment,” but also “beautification”) is coming to many boroughs just a little late, on the fourth weekend of May, this year (with exceptions).

This annual campaign gives residents of Montreal a panier — a basket — of seedlings for their gardens and balconies: impatiens and begonias, an annual flower such as echinacea, fine herbs like sage, rosemary, and basil, and sometimes mint and tomatoes or cucumbers. Also included is as much compost and wood chips as you want to take.

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