The Garden Enthusiast - Backyard Nature Station Update August 2013

Fellow Backyard Nature Lovers, 

We've had so much rain this summer that I was beginning to despair that everything in the garden was going to drown or die from lack of sun. It seems that with the few dry, sunny days we've had lately, those plants that have made it are starting to perk up! We're getting more leaves on our roses now, lemons on our Meyer lemon tree and the grass isn't nearly as soggy. Here's to an August of a nice mix of rain and sunshine.

As many of you know, we have a new website that we continue to add items to. We have some great products and information that we share on the site. Help us spread the word - forward the newsletter or our website address (www.backyardnaturestation.com) to all your friends and relatives across the country that can't shop in our retail store. Maybe they in turn will help spread the word. Between the rise in rents and taxes and more competition from big box stores, small businesses like The Garden Enthusiast depend on the loyalty and support of our customers to stay afloat. Our dedication to "great" customer service, of course extends to our website, as well. With your continued patronage and support,  we will continue to grow and thrive. Thanks for your help!

We'll be attending a show looking for new products in early October, if you have any suggestions, needs or wants for backyard nature products, now is the time to make those requests. Also, to make room for our fall and, yes Christmas,merchandise, we'll have a number of new sale items and more clearance items. If you're already on our Specials notifications list, you'll hear about these as we put them out. If not, join our list (send an email to [email protected]), or come in and check the store often before they disappear. 

Our ongoing series about building a sustainable Aquaponics Farm in Costa Rica continues Sunday with an article about Hydroponics. Check it out Sunday in our Blog section here.

August Specials: 20% off platform feeders, 25% off bat houses, 25% off watering cans, and 15% off books

Remember we have Gift Certificates available in any denomination - a great gift for teachers to help buy nature related activities for the classroom. We also have a "wish list" available both online and in the store - another great tool for teachers to request items for their classroom. 

For those interested in becoming a Master Gardener, information sessions for the 2014 class will be held in September. You can e-mail [email protected] or [email protected] with your contact info, and you will be added to their list.  You must attend an info session to pick up an application.

From Our Customers
Great newsletter!!!! Stan L.
Thank you for the invaluable information on insecticides.  I'm saving this email for future reference. Jane D.

We'd love to hear from you! Please send your comments and suggestions to [email protected]

What's New in the Store?

Birding: NEW Tough Bird Shock Baffle (stops any animals from climbing a pole, rod or pipe to reach a bird feeder by giving them a static pulse when they touch it), Mandarin Baffle, NEW Antique Wide Blue Glass Waterer
 
Garden Art: No Pooping Sign in white

Tool Shed:  Moisture Meter, 3-Way Soil Meter

Classes & Events

Saturday, August 24th 10 -11am "Attracting Butterflies: What, Where and How to Garden" (Dawn Hines) 
This PowerPoint presentation includes many photographs about the life cycle of butterflies, caterpillars, and important elements of the best garden for attracting butterflies. Register now, we have quite a few people signed up already.

Here are just a few specials, please come in to the store to see the full selection:
(Community events continue below)

Attracting Butterflies: What, Where and How to Garden - Free - August 24th, 2013 Online Registration
$0.00
Add to cart
Bat Bungalow
$34.99 
On Sale
$26.25
Add to cart
Birds Georgia Field Guide
$14.95 
On Sale
$12.71
Add to cart
Blue Bird Watering Can
$24.99 
On Sale
$18.75
Add to cart
Flying Pig Watering Can
$24.99 
On Sale
$18.75
Add to cart
Frog Watering Can
$24.99 
On Sale
$18.75
Add to cart
Gift Certificate - Electronic

Add to cart
Hanging Platform Feeder
$28.99 
On Sale
$23.20
Add to cart
Stars: A Month-by-Month Tour of Constellations
$12.95 
On Sale
$11.01
Add to cart
The Night Sky
$5.99 
On Sale
$5.10
Add to cart
 

Old Town Tucker Update/Happenings

Saturday, August 10th, 5 pm Tucker Cruise-In

Saturday, October 19th, 1-6pm Taste of Tucker - Taste of Tucker moves from the Tucker First United Methodist Church (TFUMC) parking lot area to Main Street this year. Put it on your calendar now. Plan to come out and experience food from about 30 restaurants, fresh produce and listen to the sounds of local musicians. Proceeds will again go to NETworks Cooperative Ministry, a coalition of 18 churches in the Northlake/Embry Hills/Tucker area, which helps those in need with emergency payments for rent and utility bills and with food provisions.
   
Thursdays from 4 - 8 PM Tucker Farmers Market at 2333 Main Street in the Freemasons Square and Bank of America parking lot. 

Community Events and Spirit

Last Chance - Don't miss this opportunity - Get your application in now: Attention Dekalb County Schools (Teachers and/or parents can call): The Dekalb County Federation of Garden Clubs, Inc. has money for YOU! If your school has a project which beautifies its grounds, sets up and continues a garden of any kind, or does any sort of ecological or environmental education for its students, you may be eligible for $200 (the minimum) grant money through a Federation program called "The B.E.E. Grant" and all it takes is a phone call to learn more. Call Judy Lemoine, the Chair of the B.E.E. Committee, at her home: 770-934-8541. If you leave a message and your number, your call will be returned within a day. They want your school! The deadline is September. For Dekalb County public schools only! 

Other Backyard Nature Events

Last Sunday of the month - August 25th, Sunday in the Garden, Woodlands Garden, 2-4 PM 932 Scott Blvd. Decatur, GA 30030
Put on your walking shoes and explore Decatur's seven-acre garden and Georgia Piedmont native plant habitat. Volunteers welcome you and provide helpful information. Musical surprises await. Free and open to the public. Also September 29


Monday, August 26th, 6pm DeKalb Master Gardener Association monthly meeting: Sustainability, Gardening and Everything in Between, Northlake Library (Barbara Loar Branch)
Beto Dutra is a smart man, an interesting character, and he's presenting a topic which promises to educate, cause some surprise, and perhaps some change in behavior!  He has a PhD in Ecology from the University of Missouri and his research focus was on invasive species and conservation. His talk will clarify what is sustainability, discuss the difficulties of accessing the ecological footprints of gardening, and discuss which aspects of home gardening can be done in a more sustainable way. Open to community.

Every Friday & Saturday morning at 9am, Trees of Atlanta, Atlanta BeltLine Arboretum Walking Tours
 Enjoy fresh air, new city views, fascinating Atlanta history, and every season of horticulture interest! Come walk the Atlanta BeltLine Eastside Trail with an expertly trained Trees Atlanta docent. During the approximately 2 mile tour attendees will learn about the BeltLine including design and history; the horticultural collections of the Atlanta BeltLine Arboretum; and experience firsthand the positive changes the project is having on Atlanta's communities. For more information:  http://treesatlanta.org/our-programs/atlanta-beltline-arboretum-tours/
 
GARDENING, ETC.

It's time to plant seeds for a fall harvest of vegetables and herbs for your table. The average first date(s) of frost for our area is November 11th - 20th. Up until mid September plant Swiss chard, Escarole, Oregano, Cilantro, Chives, Cabbage, Mustard, Collards, and Kale. Quinoa, Broccoli, Bok Choy, Beets, Kohlrabi, Radish and Cauliflower can all be planted now. Plant Spinach every 3 weeks up until mid September. Plant beans such as Royal Burgundy Bush beans and Southern Blackeye Cowpeas now for a late September harvest. Most lettuce, Amaranth Burgundy, and Arugula can be planted up to late October, early November. Cilantro can be planted every 3 weeks up until mid October. Chamomile, Feverfew and Lavender can be planted in late fall. Carrots such as Baby Little Finger and Calliope Blend can be planted for year round use as long as our temperatures don't go below 25 degrees. Sprouts, Wheatgrass and Cat Grass can be grown inside year round. 

Plant Cover Crops through mid September for healthier soil for next year. Cover Crop Soil Builder (field peas and hulled oats) quickly benefits the soil with nutrients and green matter, while helping suppress weeds. Pea plants fix nitrogen and condition the topsoil while the pea flowers attract bees and other beneficial insects. As an added benefit the young pea shoots and tendrils are edible and can be used in salads or as a soup topping. Oats hold nitrogen, provide green matter and provide support for the pea vines. When planted in the fall, the oats and peas benefit from the cool weather but are killed by the cold temperatures of winter and won't regrow in the spring. The dead plant material provides wonderful winter mulch that helps prevent soil erosion and is ready to be tilled into the garden as soon as soil can be worked in the spring.

Common Buckwheat not only improves your garden's soil, this fast-growing plant is great as a "smother" crop to inhibit growth of common garden weeds such as lambsquarter, pigweed, thistle, purslane, and even tough quackgrass. Buckwheat grows in soils with poor fertility, and after germination requires little water; avoid wet soil and shady sites. Seeds sprout within days of sowing; plants grow quickly and are ready to till into the garden a month later. The succulent buckwheat plants and fibrous roots are easy to mix into the soil with a shovel or rototiller. You can also leave cut plants on the soil surface as mulch. The white flowers attract many beneficial insects to the garden, especially bees that feed on the nectar to make delicious honey. A late summer sowing provides a wonderful food source for honeybees, since other nectar sources become more limited at this time of year. Flowers can also be cut and added to a fresh bouquet.

And, don't forget to plant your perennial seeds now such as coreopsis, larkspur, alyssum, hollyhock, foxglove, butterfly flower, bachelor's button, Chinese lantern, delphinium, echinacea, hyssop lavender, Perennial Bloom, and gaura for a beautiful display next spring and summer.

Seeds for all your fall crops are available now  in our Botanical Interest section online and in the store.

Organic Fungicides

This is the second part in our series on how organic active ingredients work. Organic products are more popular than ever and their active ingredients and the way they work may be different from the conventional products you may be used to. This month we'll focus on Fungicides. (Adapted from an article from Today Gardens Center)

Fungicides are used to control powdery mildew, black spot, downy mildew, rust, anthracnose, and other fungi. Carefully follow the directions on the label. Often, people use higher rates than called for on the label, hoping for better results. However, this can be dangerous for the plant, the applicator, and our environment. It is frequently necessary to repeat applications at intervals of 7 to 14 days to protect the new growth.

Bordeaux mixes are a combination of copper sulfate ("bluestone") and hydrated lime and should be during the dormant seasons as a preventative measure. The copper ions in the mixture essentially prevent germination of the fungal spores. The lime (calcium hydroxide) acts as a "safener" to neutralize the acidic copper sulfate which reduces plant damage. Bordeaux mixture is also bactericidal, which means that it can be effective against disease by bacteria (such as bacterial leaf spots and fire blight). It is ineffective when fungus has become established. Leaf burn can occur when temperatures fall below 50 degrees (F) and in high humidity or if it rains soon after an application. Applying during hot weather (over 85 degrees) can cause yellowing and leaf drop. Plants must be thoroughly covered by the spray. Overuse can create copper build up in the soil. Bordeaux mixture is commercially available in premixed packages. There are also many "recipes" available online for those who would like to mix it themselves. Bordeaux mixture has been found to be harmful to fish, livestock and earthworms (due to potential buildup of copper in the soil). Bordeaux mixes can leave a blue discoloration on plants and painted surfaces.

Copper sulfate should be applied as a preventative when leaves can dry quickly. Copper effectively kills both fungi and bacteria. It's toxic to aquatic creatures, so do not use near streams and ponds. It will build up in the soil. Copper sulfate was one of the original forms of copper used as a fungicide. Available commercial products include Natural Guard Copper Liquid Soap and Liquid Copper Fungicide by Southern Ag.

Lime sulfur controls foliar disease as well as mites, scale, red spider mites and some sap-eating insects.  Lime-sulfur is a form of sulfur mixed with lime (calcium hydroxide). Lime sulfur covers, sticks better and has more of a lasting effect than sulfur alone. It also penetrates into the bark layers to get to hidden eggs and spores. However, its strong, rotten-egg odor can be a deterrent to widespread use.  It can burn plant foliage so is not often used on evergreen plants. Do not use within 10 days of spraying with horticultural oils. Safer Garden Fungicide and Hi-Yield Lime Sulfur Spray are commercially available products.

Sulfur controls mites and prevents foliar disease. It works by preventing fungal spores from germinating, so it must be applied before the disease develops. Sulfur can be purchased as a dust, wettable powder, or liquid. Do not use sulfur if you have applied an oil spray within the 4 weeks because the combination can kill the plant.  Also, do not use sulfur in temperatures over 80 degrees (F) to reduce the risk of plant damage. Sulfur corrodes metal, so a plastic applicator is best. Commercially available products include Bonide Liquid Sulfur and Bonide Sulfur Plant Fungicide.

BIRDING

I know we've had a lot of rain this summer but please make sure your birdbaths are full. Our feathered friends need fresh water for drinking and bathing which helps to keep them cool. 

We're starting to see more hummingbirds at the feeders and this should continue through the fall as they get ready to migrate. You can still put feeders out, if you haven't done so already.

Quite a few birds are beginning their migration such as many of the warblers, vireos, buntings, etc. They need a good food source for their flights home. Make sure you have seed in your feeders. Many of them will enjoy fruit and mealworms, too. Keep the feeders clean and free of mold to prevent our visitors from becoming ill.

Recently seen by a customer - a bald headed cardinal. It's not unusual this time of year (late summer) to see birds such as cardinals, blue jays and almost all of the small songbirds go through a complete molt which is the process of feather replacement. The American Goldfinch will go from bright yellow to a drab brown in 6 to 8 weeks. As new feathers begin to grow in, they push out and replace the feathers that have worn out. Sometimes birds are even are without a tail as the feathers grow back in. All birds molt once or twice a year in order to stay warm, dry and airborne. Some will even grow in different colored feathers during different seasons to blend into their surroundings or to impress potential mates. 

Bird of the Month:  White-Breasted Nuthatch
The White-Breasted Nuthatch is a stocky bird with a large head and a powerful straight or slightly upturned bill. The upper parts are pale blue-gray, and the underparts and face are white. It has a black cap and a chestnut lower belly. The tail is short and black with broad diagonal white bands across the outer three feathers.
  • It eats insects on trees and branches and large seed sunflower, peanuts, acorns, hickory nuts and suet. It places nuts in crevices in tree trunks and then hammers them in with their beak. 
  • An acrobatic bird, it is able to move head-first down trees, hang upside down or sideways on tree trunks.
  • During courtship the male bows to the female, spreading his tail and drooping his wings while he sways back and forth. He also feeds her small bits of food. They remain together for life.
  • The White-Breasted Nuthatch nests in holes in trees (especially maple, oak, beech & hickory) that it lines with fine grass, fur and shredded bark. Sometimes it will use an old woodpecker nest. The nests are usually 10-40 feet high up in trees.
  • The clutch is 5-9 creamy white eggs speckled with brown. Incubation time is 13-14 days and they fledge in 18-26 days. The babies are fed by both parents. The male feeds the female while she is incubating.
  • It smears insects around entrance to the nest to deter squirrels and, also, may wipe the entrance with fur or vegetation to make the nest more difficult to find by predators.
  • Predators include hawks and owls. Woodpeckers, squirrels, and snakes may attack eggs and babies.
  • The White-Breasted Nuthatch prefers old growth, deciduous habitats such as parks and suburban gardens.
  • It gets the good housekeeping award, too. It has an unusual habit of removing its feces from the roost site each morning.

Audubon Field Trips
Check out the upcoming field trips from the Atlanta Audubon Society (get in touch with them for more information at 678-973-2437).

Saturday August 3rd Fernbank Forest for AAS Members Only - 8:00AM 
Birding Focus: Discover more about the feathered inhabitants of Fernbank Forest. We will be looking for summer residents, including woodpeckers and thrushes. This program is excellent for beginning birders or those desiring gentle terrain. All ages are welcome. We recommend participants bring binoculars, field guides and water with them. Cost: Free for Atlanta Audubon members (does not include museum admission). Advance reservations are required at 404-929-6400. Participants should check in at the Museum ticketing counter 15-20 minutes in advance of the program to receive a wristband. The group will meet in the museum lobby and depart promptly at 8 a.m. Due to the nature of the program, latecomers will not be accepted. 

Saturday August 3rd Piedmont Park - 8:00AM 
Birding Focus: Summer and breeding residents. Red-headed woodpeckers are usually seen. Excellent for beginning birders or those desiring gentle terrain. Walk lasts ~ 3 hours with ~ 2.5 miles on foot.

Saturday August 10th Cobb County Corps Property at Lake Allatoona - 8:00AM 
Birding Focus: ground nesting birds, birds of prey, and wetland birds. The habitats at this site include grassland, woodland and swamp. The walking trails are natural and easy.

Saturday August 10th Reynolds Nature Preserve - 8:00AM 
Birding Focus: Woodland birds such as Pileated Woodpecker, Barred Owl, Wood Thrush, and Acadian Flycatcher. Very wide, flat trail less than 2 miles round trip, through mature deciduous forest and along several ponds. 

Thursday August 15th Cochran Shoals, CRNRA - 7:30AM 
Birding Focus: Summer is a slow time for birding, but we'll hope for assorted "suburban" species and a treat or two like a Red-headed Woodpecker or Great Blue Heron. Interesting plants & other wildlife sightings will be incorporated into the walk too! We'll be walking on wide, level trails and one short boardwalk. 

Sunday August 18th Leone Hall Price Park - 8:00AM 
Birding Focus: We'll be looking for summer breeding/resident birds. Any level of skill is welcome. Walk will be approx. 3 miles on natural paths, easy terrain. Habitats: meadow, wooded and creek edge paths. 

Sunday August 18th Panola Mountain State Park - 8:00AM 
Birding Focus: Permanent wetland & forest residents, including warblers, vireos, flycatchers, sparrows, blackbirds, raptors, waterfowl, waders, and shorebirds. 

Friday August 23rd Sweetwater Creek State Park - 8:30AM 
Birding Focus: Permanent and breeding residents of wetlands and forest, including herons, wood ducks, warblers, thrushes, and vireos. With its falls, overlooks, and lake, Sweetwater Creek State Park is Georgia's most-visited state park and is the closest state park to the city of Atlanta. It offers a diverse birding habitat of woodlands, streams, wetlands, grasslands and a large lake. Families and children are welcome to attend this walk.

Saturday August 24th Johnson Ferry, CRNRA - 8:00AM 
Birding Focus: We'll be looking for early southbound neotropical migrants at this unit of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area. This area is comprised of forest, meadow, and wetland habitats and is one of metro Atlanta's best wildlife viewing areas.

Sunday August 25th Cochran Shoals, CRNRA - 7:30AM 
Birding Focus: We'll be looking for early southbound neotropical migrants, for which this property is particularly productive. Possible species include Blue-winged, Hooded, Yellow, Chestnut-sided, and Canada Warblers; Least, Acadian and Olive-sided Flycatchers, as well as vireos, buntings, and swallows. 

Hope to see you soon,

Linda, Brittany, Jessica, Jeremy, Stephen & Greyson
The Garden Enthusiast - Backyard Nature Station
2316 D Main Street
Tucker, GA 30084
Hours: Monday - Saturday 10am - 6PM
Sunday: Closed
Contact us at 404-474-7072 or [email protected] - we love to get your feedback!