Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Night Gardening

I've been busy. Kind of stressed out from work obligations and because I'm just generally prone to angst. But I've been mostly happy.

I lost my wallet yesterday. I had it when I got on the bus (I'm sure of this because it has my bus pass in it), but when I fished for it a minute after leaving the bus, I didn't have it. I was sleepy and it probably slipped out of my bag without me realizing it. I've contacted the transit authority lost and found and plan to do so again tomorrow in case it turns up today, and I cancelled my credit card and bank card and applied for a new license. My wallet also contained a fully stamped buy-nine-coffees-get-one-free card from the coffee shop where we have our lab meetings, and today's meeting was going to feature my free coffee. My labmates encouraged me to ask for a free coffee anyway, so I did, and they gave it to me! It helps that this particular coffee place bases itself on bringing people together in a spirit of cooperation and love. So if that means giving someone a free coffee, so be it. I refrained from ordering a large, but still felt guilty about asking for a medium rather than a small. A medium is what I need to get me through my day.

I'm considering adopting a new hobby: night gardening! I started working in the yard in the late afternoon today and had so much energy (thanks to the free coffee) that I continued working until after dark. It reminded me of when I was a kid and we would play outside well after the sun went down, and everything would take on a mysterious, almost magical quality. I swear I could run faster in the dark. At least it seemed so.

The only drawback to night gardening is that you can't see what you're doing. Otherwise, it's great. Very calming.

One of my gardening projects was to remedy the birdfeeder situation. The birds throw all the seed on the ground, and have, on occasion, used up a whole half-gallon of seed in one day. According to my googling, this happens when you use a seed mix; most birds focus on one type of seed, often black sunflower, which has the highest fat content of the typical bird seeds. My seed mix contained approximately 0.0000003% black sunflower. So the sparrows would sweep the seeds everywhere with their beaks, aptly imitating the SNL dance club skit featuring the song "What Is Love", and the seed would fly around like reflected light from a disco ball. "Baby don't hurt me. Don't hurt me. No more." Do you wanna dance? With me? No? Okay cool.

The suggested way to prevent this waste is to only put one type of seed into the feeder, and have two or more feeders, each with one type, so there is some variety and you don't exclude any birds, such as those that can't open the shells. This is more expensive than a seed mix but considering how much is wasted with the mix, it might cost about the same over time, with the bonus that you don't get a pile of seeds under the feeder, unless you have really stupid birds in your area.

I was not aware of the full extend of the problem until I attempted to sweep up the seeds. I thought the birds and squirrels hopping around on the ground were doing a good job of cleaning up, but I was wrong. The seeds were 4-5 inches deep and spread 3-4 feet around the feeder, inside plants, around rocks, and in the grass, and from surface to the deepest part went fresh wasted seed and sunflower shells, not-so-fresh seed, gray clumped seed, seed that had taken root and grown into a cute little grass, seed that was almost fully composted, and seed that was incorporated into a black wet substance that might have been mold. Just a huge mess. It was piled high and deep into the mystery plant with pink flowers that I blogged about a while back (that turned out to be apple blossom yarrow, incidentally). It was difficult getting the seeds out of the plant and I'm worried that I might have damaged it. Fortunately, I don't really like that plant. Anyway, I used a broom, a rake, and a trowel in turns until I filled up half of a lawn bag with seeds in various stages of decomposition. I'm not sure what to do with all of it; it's not allowed in the regular trash, since I think it qualifies as yard waste, and I don't think it belongs in the yard waste composting lot that we take our leaves and clippings to when the container gets full, since it's a strange material. I'll figure it out.

Another project I engaged in after dark was making a birdbath using a plant stand, plastic tray, bungee cords, sea glass, rocks and beads. I'll post a picture when I can. I'm thoroughly pleased with how it turned out, but all that matters is that the birds like it. If I were a bird, I would like it. If it gets any use I might make another one using one of our stumps-on-wheels.


Lois Rosewood said...


I'm not laughing that you lost your wallet, that sounds traumatic. The closest I came to that recently was accidentally leaving my purse on the bus when I got out at the university. I realized it right away, and ran (as fast and carefully as I can with bum knees) to the other side of campus where the bus driver takes a 10 minute break before heading back down the hill. Sure enough, my purse was inside the bus, safe and sound.

I was LOL at the birdseed flying around "like reflected light from a disco ball."

Amacrine said...

I used to night garden in Pearland. Until I uprooted a pesky weed and an entire fire and colony. The weed I dropped, the colony I flung onto my legs. Thus ended the nighttime weeding. But, hey, good luck to you.