The Backyard

The Backyard

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Home for Pheasants

Pheasants have been experiencing a downturn in population due primarily to the loss of habitat for these beautiful creatures. They like fence rows, tall grass, underbrush, and wild areas -- most which are disappearing quickly to housing developments, removal of trees, and modern farming practices. Today's local Harrisburg Patriot news had an article about Central Pennsylvania becoming Home to First Wild Pheasant Recovery Area. And guess where that might be? You guessed it, in my backyard. I feel SO fortunate to live in the Gratz-Hegins valley area that they consider "wild" enough to try raising these beautiful creatures again. Several years ago, the Game Commission attempted to release sechwan (spelling?) pheasants and farm raised birds with no luck. This time, they are catching wild birds from Montana and South Dakota and releasing them here. I'll snap some shots if I see them and share them with you. What's really nice is there will be no small game hunting in this area designated for the pheasants. I'm thrilled this area was picked. I wonder if they know about our family's 20 acres we leave stand in tall grass for the bobolinks to nest each year? Maybe.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

How NOT to Grow Strawberries

Last season was filled with new plantings, new ideas, and new ways to prepare my new crops. You read about them nearly everyday all season long. One of my ventures was 100 strawberry plants going into the ground with hopes that future year's harvest of strawberries will fill my freezer. O.M.G. Little did I realize that this year I'd start turning into a strawberry. My 100 plants started ripening my first day of vacation and 10 days later I had 22 boxes of berries in the freezer and more to come. I'm spending about 2-3 hours a day finding them (I planted them WAY too close together and they are a matted mess and the berries are hiding deep under the debris of crumbled, brown leaves), picking, slicing and freezing. I'm ready to mow them over and start over when I'm retired. So a word to the wise: whatever you do, if you want strawberries, start with about 25, give them a bunch of space, mulch well with straw, and cut off the runners until you are ready to start new plants. I made the mistake of letting the runners root and when 100 plants send runners out and start rooting; the patch becomes crowded way too quickly. I have a mess, stress, and a LOT of work to restore some order to the patch. I'll be digging and tossing probably 100 plants or more. This is one of my biggest blunders to date, and hubby LOVES to remind me about it - every single day. ARGH!