Monday, December 29, 2008

What to do with Your Flood Plain When You Stop Mowing

Thanks to our friend G who passed out Catalpa seeds at our annual squash potluck, I started some catalpa seeds (in 2005 or 4). There are now 4 ten foot high trees in the flood plain, flourishing, holding their own against the buckthorn. We even saw some catalpa blooms this year and they are pretty, multiple white flowers, fragrant.

I keep stripping the leaves off of the buckthorn twice a year, pulling small starts where I can. Saplings too large to pull are cut off yearly and mulched if I get to it. I am sure a good covering of maple leaves would wipe out the whole crop.

All of this takes place under the shade of a willow, one that lost a main branch in 2006 (amazing how many pounds of wood came down). We have more sun on the hill now. The hill on the west is steep. Out past the back fence there are lot of leave piles and a large branch pile. I believe these to be regenerative, much of the soil was planted there when the house was built in 1964. As long as we don’t put old refrigerators and cars out there, we are within bounds I think.

Snakes and Toads

Some day, I would like to get some domestic ducks to eat the tasty slugs in the yard, although we have begun seeing more snakes and toads. The mail carrier saw a snake in the front of the house on her way to the mail box last summer, dropped her sack, screamed, and refused to deliver the mail. There is a nice covering of leaves in the bed out front. Apparently a garter snake has taken up residence there, though I have not seem it.

One toad was sunning itself on a black plastic flat this summer. I rudely (and unknowingly) took the flat with toad to church. The flat sat in the social hall for a week until the kids took it upstairs, thinking the brown spot was dirt. There was surprise when the dirt moved and then jumped out. The teacher prevailed upon M to take the toad outside, it was put in the bushes where I assume it took up residence. The church in question is located downtown; lots of cars go there. Puddles have petrochemicals in them and the drainage isn’t built for and is not ideal for toad breeding in spring. These are not ideal conditions for an American toad to prosper in or breed. I hope to know what happened to the toad, but the odds are not with me.


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