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Welcome! Our blog focuses on environmental conservation, education, green living & wildlife rescue! We have put together links to resources, books and information to help you and your children learn more about these topics. Please feel free to comment on any items posted. Rate or review us on NetworkedBlogs (Facebook app) & Blogged. Tell your friends about us. Follow us on Twitter and other sites listed on this page. There's a banner & widget if you would like to include us on your webpage. All we ask is that you please keep any comments here G-rated for the kids!

NOTE: The birds & squirrel pictured at the top of this page and in the slideshow below are just a few that I have helped rehabilitate.
WARNING: Please do not touch a wild animal, especially the young ones. If you remove a baby from it's home, sometimes the mother is just off getting it's baby food and will be back.

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Monday, May 25, 2009

On the wagon: the garden wagon!

This wagon was in my inlaws' garden shed when they moved to their senior condo. Mother-in-law (MIL) knew she wouldn't use it again, but she resisted giving it away or leaving it with the house. Like many of their "heirlooms", the wagon landed at our humble abode. Husband suggested putting it in the rummage sale. We have a good wheelbarrow. Our yard is so small, we don't need to transport brush or leaves any distance, really.
But we couldn't quite bring ourselves to let the wagon go. I considered setting it up as the centerpiece of a flower display, with the pots arranged artfully inside it and various ivies draping over the sides. With La Petite's flower expertise and artistic assistance, possibilities are unlimited.
Then Husband cut down the ornamental tree that had gotten too big for its branches, blocking the morning sun and poking its higher reaches into the phone lines. He filled the wagon with brush (while I used the wheelbarrow elsewhere in the yard), and then stacked firewood in it. Perfect. Absolutely perfect.
I won't hazard a guess as to the value of this wagon, with its metal mesh sides and base and the heavy duty handle and wheelbase. It's probably old, but not an antique. There's no damage and little or no rust, even after spending the winter next to the garage in the (recordbreaking) snow. Rust proofing on a garden implement? Maybe. Just lucky? Maybe that, too. But for now, I like it. We'll use it for firewood or build a flower-scape around it. Cute, it's not, but it's solid. This little green wagon has a history, too. I think we'll keep it around.

Woodpile: lighter colored branches are the fresh pieces.
They'll weather and dry for at least a year before they're fireplace-ready.
The "new" old wagon made this process a little easier.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Square Foot Gardening: the good, the bad, and the dirty

My gardening goal this season is simple: use the existing space more efficiently for a better yield. No expansion of the space, no new additions, just do more with my current patch of dirt. The timing was right: I ordered the new and updated Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew. The subtitle is Growing more in Less Space! It sounds like a perfect fit for my goal.

Well, yes, no, and maybe.

The good: Bartholomew's philosophies are sound.
The introduction should be required reading. In it, Mel explains how he came to develop this small-space, low maintenance method for backyard gardening. Much of the how-to advice that follows is based on this introduction.
His compost advice is great. He makes composting sound simple, which it is, and offers suggestions to improve the quality and the balance in very easy ways.
If you're looking for low-maintenance, reasonably small time investment, and limited frustration factor, read this book. He's very realistic about gardeners who have very little time for daily garden maintenance (i.e. weeding).
His methods have been demonstrated successfully over many years and in many different settings. The Square Foot Gardening (SFG) method is applicable in many planting zones and yard sizes: even apartment decks.

The bad: The book reads like an infomercial, and an old-fashioned sexist one, too.
"Without a grid, your garden is not a Square Foot Garden." Okay, Mr. Bartholomew, what is it? Do you mean that unless I plan to construct the full box/grid plan, I shouldn't bother? I hope that's not the case. There are many good ideas in SFG that I can apply without doing the whole enchilada.
On building a compost bin from pallets: "Women tell me they love this because it involves no tools, wire cutting, equipment, or familiarity with construction." Mel, Mel, Mel. It's the 21st Century! Would it surprise you to hear that I, Daisy, chief groundskeeper of Compost Happens, teach science? That I handle wire cutters when I prepare lesson plans in electricity? The All New Edition of SFG really ought to be bias-free.

The dirty (dirt is good, remember): I can integrate many of his concepts into my existing garden.
However, I refuse to feel pressured by the multitude of exclamation points! I will not be intimidated by statements like, "You're not using authentic SFG if you don't!" Mel knows gardening, and Mel knows people. If I can ignore his Ward Cleaver tone and his high pressure salesman-like writing style, there are good concepts in this book.

Overall opinion? Buy it on sale, buy a used copy, or get one on I bought it new, and I'll probably pass it on to a friend or through PBS. It's worth the read; just don't let yourself get sucked into the pseudo-hypnotic "You must! You must!" Trust your experience and knowledge, and adopt the SFG ideas that work for your own garden.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

GreenSpot-On Wildlife Q & A #2

Welcome to the Second Issue of the GreenSpot-On Wildlife Q & A! Here are new questions recieved from a couple more students from Stocking Elementary in Grand Rapids, MI along with my responses to them...

Question: How big does that bird get? (he was talking about the Great Blue Heron)
Name: Phil Age: 5
Grade: Pre-K School-City/State: Stocking Elementary - Grand Rapids, MI

JRouse's Answer: Great Blue Herons full grown usually stand about 4 feet tall and their wingspan is about 6 feet. Because they are such large birds and they have scissor-like beaks, you have to be very cautious when handing them. They are very fast and they do not like to be bothered. When feeding them or medicating them, we had to take precautions to insure our safety, by wearing goggles to protect our eyes and gloves to protect our hands. But, all in all they are very beautiful large birds (other than the mess you have to clean up after they eat) If you ever see them in their natural habitat, they are truly magnificent looking creatures!


Question: What does the bird eat? (talking about the Screech Owl)
Name: Liam Age: 4
Grade: Pre-K School-City/State: Stocking Elementary - Grand Rapids, MI

JRouse's Answer: Screech Owls are pretty small as far as owls go, they eat a variety of things, varying from insects to small mammals (bats and mice) and sometimes can eat small birds. While in nature they tend to eat those things, while being rehabbed, they were fed mice. Due to their injuries - we often had to cut up the mice so that they were able to intake them. When they have neurologic damage, it makes it hard for them to swallow properly!

Hey Everyone!
These are all the questions I recieved before my post deadline this week. Currently, we are in need of questions so please consider writing me soon to be included in the next issue! I will answer these questions once a week (Usually the post will be made on Saturdays).

Got a question for me on any animals listed or pictured on the site?
E-mail JRouse to ask me! I will answer questions from any age group pertaining to animals.

Please include the following information in your e-mail:

Question: (Question for JRouse)
Name: (First Name) Age: (Age)
Grade: (Grade Level of Child) School-City/State: (School Name - Location: City/State)


NOTE: Due to her work/school schedule this week JRouse e-mailed me this post so I could post it for her. - Khrysania

Monday, May 11, 2009

Pest Prevention and Plot Preparation: Mission Accomplished

It's a typical spring weekend. We slept in - me until 7, Husband a little later, Amigo up at 8 to listen to his favorite shows on Public Radio. I had the coffee on and newspaper in, but I was still in my pajamas when Husband came downstairs fully dressed and full of philosophy and energy. He focused that energy where it would do the most good, and moved the car to make way for the roto-tiller.
As he put it, he took the long way around the garage. Knowing we live on a small-to-medium city lot, the "long way" can't be that long, can it? Wrong: it can. He pulled out and kept going all the way to the Moto-Mart for a box of Krispy Kreme donuts.
I followed the special treat with my usual Saturday: sorted laundry, got dressed, got ready to start the first load (jeans and sweats, by my Green Routine). At that moment, Husband came inside. He'd rototilled the entire garden plot, turning the compost into the soil. Laundry could wait while he showered.
The danger of frost is very real in Wisconsin in May, so the best I can do right now is prepare the garden for the seeds. It was a perfect job for a cool and pleasant Saturday morning.
I re-used old fence boards and deck boards to create walkways and block a few square-foot style raised beds. These walkways keep me from over-compacting the soil, prevent weeds from growing in the unplanted areas, and allow me to harvest without changing into my dirt-friendly garden shoes. I "installed" the bean trellis and put up the old rose supports that will help brace the tomato plants this year. They're taller than the old wire cages, coated so they're less likely to damage stalks, and I can gently tie up the tomato plants with rags as they grow. I hope this will work well. It has to work better than the wire cages did last season!

Next, I took a few more deck boards, the 4X4 size, and braced them against the chicken wire that keeps the critters out. I love my bunnies, and I don't mind seeing the wild ones make my yard their habitat, but I don't want them eating my produce. I buried the big boards slightly and piled up enough dirt to bury the fencing a few inches underground. It's not perfect, but it'll keep most of the neighborhood fauna from finding their way into my lettuce and spinach and parsley.
At that point I took a break. Washed up, more laundry, sipped a Diet Coke to rehydrate a bit, and thought about lunch. Instead of making lunch, though, I went back outside to document my progress. Getting my hands (and shovel) back in the dirt feels so good, so productive.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

GreenSpot-On Wildlife Q & A #1

Welcome to the very first GreenSpot-On Wildlife Q & A! Here are my first questions recieved from some of the students from Stocking Elementary in Grand Rapids, MI along with my responses for them...

Question: How menny times a day did you feed Kirby?
Name: Courtney Age: 9
Grade: 3rd School: Stocking Elementary - Grand Rapids, MI

JRouse's Answer: When I first took him in, I was feeding him every
2 hours at first (yes, even during the night). Then as he got older I was able to space out his feedings more. Eventually it was every 4 hours and until the point where he was able to eat some solid foods (like apples - although he loved grapes), after that he was able to build up to milk and seed.


Question: What tipe of cats do you have?
Name: Gabby Age: 8
Grade: 2nd School: Stocking Elementary - Grand Rapids, MI

JRouse's Answer: I have two cats, a domestic longhair and a domestic shorth
air. I had three total, but my oldest passed away 3 weeks ago. My remaining two are both black cats. They are both rescues (not full bred cats), and my shorthair is actually a kitten that I took in when he was 24 hours old. His name is Talon, he had been abandoned by his mother and was brought in to me from people that had found him. My daughter became very attached to him, so instead of adopting him out, I actually ended up keeping him.


My little oinker (Talon)!


He is now 2 years old and 16 1/2 pounds (yes, he eats very well)!!!


Opie is my long hair and she just turned 11 years old and I have had her since she was 4 weeks.


Question: How old is Kirby? What does Kirby eat?

Name: Aidan Age: 7
Grade: 1st School: Stocking Elementary - Grand Rapids, MI

JRouse's Answer: Kirby is about a year now. When I took him in to rehab he was actually only a couple of days old. He had an injury at first where we wanted to make sure he would be releasable. Due to one of his "toes" not being able to retract properly, we actually had to amputate it. If he had been released with his toe in the state that it was, it could catch on something, causing him to have a more serious injury. But, he recovered well from the surgery and was able to be released!!! Hi, Aidan

Kids! Got a question for JRouse on any animals listed or pictured on the site? E-mail to ask her! Please include the following information in your e-mail:

Question: (Question for JRouse)
Name: (First Name of Child) Age: (Age of Child)
Grade: (Grade Level of Child) School-City/State: (School Name - Location: City/State)

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Introducing the GreenSpot-On Wildlife Q & A!

Parents/Guardians, Teachers and GreenSpot-On Readers!

As someone who has done wildlife rehabbing, JRouse has worked with many different types of animals. She would like to give children and adults the opportunity to ask her questions about the animals she has helped. They include:

Red Fox
Canadian geese
Domestic goose
Squirrels: Red, Black, Gray Tree, Fox and Flying
Great Blue Heron
Green Heron
Barred Owl
Great Horned Owl
Screech Owl
Red-Tailed Hawk
Domestic Cats

Some of these animals are pictured in the slideshow on the main page.

If you have children or students or if you would like to ask a question about any of these animals, please send an e-mail to in the following format:

Question: (Child’s Question)
Name: (Child’s First Name) Age: (Child’s Age)
Grade: (Child’s Grade) School/Location: (Child’s School Name and City/State)

JRouse will answer up to 3 of these questions once a week as she receives them. All answers will be posted to GreenSpot-On with the original question in the format above. We at GreenSpot-On hope you will take this opportunity to teach your child something new about the wildlife around us. Thank you for joining us today!


Monday, May 4, 2009

A Victory Garden in the Family History

Husband recently took a day trip to a nearby city in order to photograph gravestones for his family history web site. He invited me along; I declined, preferring to start readying my garden. He invited Amigo; Amigo wanted to stay home and start his spring break by relaxing. Husband then called his mom and dad. They initially said yes, and then his dad backed out in favor of a nap or two.
On the road between here and there, Mother-In-Law talked about her childhood in Milwaukee. She meant the big city itself, not a suburb. MIL spent her formative years on Milwaukee's north side, around 41st Street between Silver Spring and Capitol Drive. They lived in a small house, and her father bought the two lots on either side when the owners were in arrears on their taxes. "He got them cheap!" as she told Husband. Using the extra lots, the family started what she refers to as their Victory Farm in the sity of Milwaukee.
They grew vegetables, they raised chickens (she remembers somewhere in the range of 500!), and near the back of their lot, they grew the grain to feed the chicks. She, as the only daughter, canned the blueberries and raspberries as they ripened. When they had more than they needed, she would work out trades with the neighbors and/or the small grocers in the neighborhood. She remembers trading berries she'd canned for a box (crate? case?) of peaches. She canned the peaches and started the cycle all over again. She threw a few peach pits in the backyard, and lo and behold, two peach trees came up. As they began to bear fruit, the family didn't need to buy or trade for peaches any more, either. The peach trees were a hardy variety, a Rocky Mountain type, so they held up well in the wicked Wisconsin weather.
I've read that at one time Victory Gardens produced 40% of the nation's food supply. That figure sounded awfully high to me, but if a lot of city families did what my MIL's family did, 40% becomes more believable. MIL told Husband that the family started their Victory Farmette just before World War II. It must have been fairly well established by the time the Victory Garden became the trendy thing to do.
My backyard plot - call it Kitchen Garden, Recession Garden, or just my patch of dirt - won't come near Victory Garden quantities. I can only hope it'll grow stories that I can tell my kids when they have kids of their own. Maybe they'll talk about how their mother liked to play in the dirt all summer long and added home grown spinach to everything they ate! That's the kind of growth our country will always need.

MIL gave us this fabulous old wagon when she moved from her home into a condo. She couldn't part with it, and now neither can we!