Thursday, July 15, 2010

Hummingbirds trying to beat the heat

These photos weren't taken locally, but I just had to share them. My friend Pam Winegar moved across the country to California and she and husband Richard are always sharing the most wonderful photos with me. She gave me permission to share them with you.

Pam's Comments:

"We enjoyed watching a pair of hummingbirds at a cherub fountain at Filoli Gardens. The birds were dipping their bills into the fountain to wash off yellow pollen. Sometimes the hummingbirds put their whole heads underwater - it was quite a sight!"


Free mulch and other garden goodies

I was just standing in line at the local dollar store listening to a couple of women talking about how they just MUST bring home toys for their dogs every time they go shopping so that Bowzer and Fido don’t get their feelings hurt.

I thought it was kind of amusing that people would admit to being so well-trained by their pets.

Then I looked at what I was buying and realized that I am the same way with my gardens.

Today I was buying ten-for-a-dollar packages of flower seeds, a small misting bottle and a watering can. But truth be told, I rarely come home from running errands without bringing SOMETHING home for the garden. This could get pretty costly, but some of the things that I bring home are free (or pretty close to it).

Take compost and mulch, for example. Compost and mulch are both great for putting nutrients back into the soil and for retaining moisture, helping your plants through times of heat and drought. And there are plenty of ways to get free compost and mulch.

Many gardeners already know that Starbucks introduced Grounds for Your Garden back in 1995, which offers customers complimentary five-pound bags of used coffee grounds to enrich garden soil. Even if you aren’t a coffee drinker (is there still anyone out there that DOESN’T drink coffee) you can stop by your nearest Starbucks to pick up a bag of these garden goodies (and maybe just ONE little sweet goodie for yourself, too, while you are there.)

Another thing that I’ve learned to do is to ALWAYS buy the largest produce, when it is sold by the piece rather than the pound. I used to be on the lookout for the smallest cucumbers or packages of Romaine because I didn’t want to be wasteful and then I realized “Ooooooh. The leftovers are free compost!”

I’ve also been known to ask my neighbors for piles of leaves they just raked up or the grass I see them emptying after they mow their lawn (although I don't know why anyone uses a grass catcher when it is so much healthier to just let the grass fall where it may.)

You can also get mulch from various waste management departments in the area. It is always best to call ahead of time to make sure that mulch is available.

Frederick County offers low cost single ground and double ground mulch as well as premium compost for as little as $8.00 a ton. They’ll even load it into your open bed truck for you. This mulch is made from collected yard trimmings, brush, landscape debris and other valuable organic matter. More information about this low-cost mulch, including where and when it can be picked up, can be found on the Frederick County Government site or you can call 301-600-2960 for more information.

Residents of Arlington Virginia can get free mulch or even have the mulch delivered. More information can be found on their Brush, Mulch and Fill Dirt page or call 703-228-6570.

The City of Falls Church also has free mulch available. The do not provide delivery, but their website includes a Residential Mulch Hauling Referral List to help you find someone who will deliver the mulch for you. For more information call 703-248-5176.

Do you know of any other great sources for free or low cost garden goodies? If so, let us know!

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