January 2019

The theme of this January 2019 newsletter is WATER.

Soon the landscapers will send out their sign-up sheets for lawn and garden care. The most tricky item on the list, I find, is how much TLC you want to give your lawn. Perfect and always green lawns have become the fashion. But are they good for us? They may be pleasing to the eye, but…. they are harmful to the environment! The runoff of fertilized grounds causes excess algae bloom in rivers, ponds and shorelines, killing insects, animals and plants that keep the body of water healthy.

If you do not want to be part of that problem (anymore) what are your options?

1. Reduce the watering of the lawn. Sprinkle 2-3 times a week is much better than every day. By being dry the grass is forced to root deeper and that way becomes stronger, needing less watering and less fertilizer.

2. Use natural products to fertilize instead of chemicals. If you love children and pets absolutely avoid getting a sign with a poison red X in your yard. So what, if some clover pops up here and there. It actually puts nitrogen into the ground, fertilizing the lawn. And bees love to visit clover flowers!

3. Do what our parents and/or grandparents did, leave the clippings on the lawn after mowing, or
compost them and later return the composted soil to the lawn. That way you self-fertilize the grass.
Water only when the grass is very dry. It is natural for grass to become yellow and dormant in August, it gets a much needed rest, only to come back strongly in September. (Peter Wild’s advice)

For information from Grow Native Massachusetts, on interesting lectures in the Cambridge Public
Library, see Ann Mikula’s group email, from January 16.

Information from the Massachusetts Master Gardener association can be found in Ann’s Jan 3rd email.

POND. If you visited Wright Locke Farm this fall you may have noticed the pond out back. It is so much more visible now because this summer a team of hard working volunteers, including Charlene’s husband Bill, removed invasive species from the shoreline and planted native species instead. It was a huge job, but the result is so satisfying. They plan to maintain the pond so that ducks, other birds and wildlife will visit and maybe nest. The bees, in four hives against the woodshed, are ready to fertilize the flowers and go to the pond for a drink. Clean water is essential to support all life forms, insects included. Thank you Farm Volunteers!

GLITTER. December, the month of the glitter cards and glitter decorations. Why are people attracted to glitter? According to a NYT article (Dec.2018), it is the remnant of an innate desire to find fresh water, a glittering clean stream. Present day glitter however is far from clean. It is made from crushed water bottle plastic covered in aluminum. It does not disintegrate and is HARMFUL to the environment. Avoid it!

POISON. According to an article in the Winchester Star the local population of red tailed hawks is
dwindling because of frequent use of poison for rodent infestation. After ingesting the poison the mice or rat runs outside to find fresh water. Red tailed hawks hunt for rodents and a diseased (or dead) animal is easier to catch. An accumulation of poison will kill the hawk eventually. The request of the town is to find alternative ways to fight the rodents.

BIRDFEEDERS. To end on a more cheerful note, keep those birdfeeders filled in cold weather! The
Cornell site of Ornithology supports the feeding of wild birds. But do realize you create a dependency, so be consistent especially in cold weather. Also, if you can, provide fresh water especially when there is no snow. There are many water heating systems for sale, but you also fill a dish or birdbath with some fresh water every day. You will be rewarded with frequent visitors who drink or take a bath. Fun to watch!


Thank you for being a conservationist!