I caught Tom red tongued, gently picking pea pods off the vines. And here I was blaming the chipmunks!
For years every summer a portion of our front yard turned to brown crud. Once upon a time there was an ever green of sorts there. After it was removed, brown crud. Where the tree used to be nothing wanted to grow, in front of that the sun beats to grass to brown fried, and to the right is an uphill making it near impossible to mow. So brown crud.
Until this year!
Now it looks like this:
Photo of a flower meadow with mostly greens and dots of colored flowers
I love our new flower meadow. So low maintenance. Looks lovely, I’ve lost count the number of compliments we’ve gotten on it. Even hubby who usually doesn’t care for such things is enjoying how new flowers and changing colors happen almost daily. He will exclaim About the new purple one, or that blue one or hey now there is mostly yellow. It does seem to change from week to week.
Last fall I did a lot of research on what could be done to that area of the yard and came across information on making a wild flower meadow. I ordered some seed mixes from American Meadows and stored them in a cabinet in our cellar all winter. Early this spring we rented a rototiller for a couple of hours and cleared out the grass and weeds. Waited two weeks, weeding as things grew. Then spread the seed and watered until the plants were about four inches tall. We had great luck with the rainy spring as meant I didn’t have to hand water every day.
The seed mixes we got contained plants that attract pollinators such as bees and butterfly’s, native to New England plants and a mix of both annuals and perennials. I love it. And can’t recommend it enough to others wanting to try it in their yard.
This past winter, once I started researching backyard poultry and making pro and con lists on whether to add ducks or the more common chickens to our suburban back yard (I chose ducks for some very specific reasons which I can go into in another post), my interests in developing a little interdependent back yard ecosystem expanded.
My husband and I did a very small test garden last year, after belonging to the local Audubon society’s CSA (community supported agriculture) for the past couple of years. Because I have to follow a very strict diet to aid in controlling some chronic medical conditions, certain vegetables are near daily staples for me. And as I prefer to go as chemical and pesticide free as possible, being CSA members has been an incredible help to keeping our monthly food budget during the summer and fall months at a reasonable level. But 2 seasons ago, the CSA stopped planting quite the huge amounts of certain veggies that my body really loves (like winter squashes, and summer squashes and zucchinis and cucumbers), so we did a test garden to see if we could grow those ourselves to supplement our CSA share. And our tests were a moderate success.
As the snow left earlier than normal this year, we were able to take down a line of evergreen shrubs on our property way earlier in the season than expected. Which gave a perfect area for setting up our new garden. But more on that in another post, this is more to over view my little yard ecosystem.
Ok so you know we have the ducks, and you know we have the dogs, and you now know we have a garden. So, so far we have the interconnections of:
Then because I really want happy & healthy critters in my life. And I don’t want bored or fat ducks, I have been doing research into the seemingly limited field of duck enrichment. Or if my ducks were wild what would their lives entail to show well adapted behaviors? Which led me to the ideas of cultivating duckweed and vermiculture (aka worm farming).
Duck weed supposedly thrives on semi-begin neglect. And ducks love it. It also apparently thrives on a medium that includes duck waste for fertilizer. Ok we now have yet another hopefully successful way to use duck manure for benefit. And apparently one can fairly easily grow it in buckets. So I am now cultivating some duckweed in a rubber maid bin. Using part of the daily duck waste water to feed the duckweed (the rest goes on the garden). Duckweed is apparently very high in protein, so in addition to being a good enrichment activity giving my ducks something fun to forage for, it can be added as part of keeping the duck food budget reasonable.
And then we have my worm bin. Or what I prefer to refer to my vermiculture as. It even has that written on the top of the bin in black marker, “Worm Bin. Please be nice to them!” So my worm bin is intended to meet a couple of our ecosystem needs. 1. the worms again can be eaten by our ducks providing protein and enrichment. 2. the worms provide lovely compost dirt & fertilizer for the garden & the duckweed (and for my african violets, which I now would refer to as a colony since oi they always seem to be increasing in number). 3. the worms can break down and eat any remaining veggies and duck waste that we can’t otherwise use more fully, including duckweed. 4. the worms will help keep my father happy as I told him he can have some once the colony is well established for his fishing hobby (which in turn, supplies some fresh fish to us which fish are a diet staple for me also).
So now our suburban ecosystem is for the time being complete. And looks like:
Hmm, funny how this diagram seems to show everything benefits the ducks. And people thought I was just The Dog Lady. So few know about my life long poultry adoration which now can come to fruition! (cue maniacal laughter, lol)