Godless in the garden


Godless in the garden

Discussing all aspect of gardening.

Location: Planet Earth
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Comment by Joan Denoo on December 3, 2018 at 5:31pm

"From the cat's point of view not only do birds not play fair by flying and having eyes that can see beyond the back of their heads, but they can positively cheat by using loud alarm calls and throw the cat's chances of catching any others."

~ Tabor, Roger (1983) The Wild Life of the Domestic Cat. Arrow Books. ISBN 0099312107.

You arouse a laugh in me with "It's interesting that these invasive cats live among the invasive Himalayan blackberries and invasive English Ivy, and eat invasive rats and invasive mice.  And are admired by invasive humans."

~ Loam Gnome

Comment by Loam Gnome on December 3, 2018 at 10:06am

Joan, bird lovers rightfully hate feral cats.   They have the data to show that cats kill lots and lots of birds.   As skeptics, we can look at the data and its sources, and think about complicated outcomes.

We must remember, the most invasive species of all, the one that changes everything and causes the most extinctions, is Homo sapiens.  

Cats do reduce vermin numbers.  Those vermin do cause disease and crop loss - rats, mice, voles.  I think Randy mentioned terrible crop losses due to meadow voles, and I've seen the damage in my trees.  By far the largest number of killings by cats, is "small mammals" which for is, is mice, rats, voles, moles, rabbits.  Rats kill birds too - we lost several ducks to rats and also to racoons.  And cats kill small and baby rats.

The cat has been let out of the bag on this issue.  This is a form of evolution, caused by humans but taking its own course.  Bird populations will shift and there will be changes.  We need to remember also, 30% of cat-killed birds are non-native; raptor numbers are also down; many of cat-killed birds are the sick and wounded; habitat destruction is the cause of biggest losses.

Wikipedia -cats and wildlife

You are soft-hearted for the animals.  So am I.  I was sad when the last cat visitor quit visiting.  Maybe I will put out food for these.  I have some high-placed bird feeders too, although the birds spill seeds and pick them off the ground...  hmm...   I also love the birds. Birds kill harmful (and beneficial) insects too.  It's a web of life, full of complex interactions.  It's interesting that these invasive cats live among the invasive Himalayan blackberries and invasive English Ivy, and eat invasive rats and invasive mice.  And are admired by invasive humans.  

Comment by Joan Denoo on December 2, 2018 at 6:20pm

Cats, feral and domestic cats, get rid of unwanted vermin and wanted birds on our property. My nature reserve in the meadow outside my window attract critters of all kinds. I feed the birds high in the trees and place water out of reach of cats. The wild turkeys seem to fend for themselves. 

The bird species population increased since I first feeding them and I hope to see more diversity in that population.

More gardeners use Permaculture strategies even though the ranchers continue with huge fields for their beef, sheep, goats, and other meat and dairy animals.  They, too, will benefit by managed grazing, but "they have always done it this way (large fields without managed herds). 

Your cat visitors look very healthy; not the scrawny, rib-showing ferals of our property. 

When a larger predator takes one of our animals, we feel a great loss because we have made pets of every sort. A coyote carried off a very special goose and his loss affected all of us dearly. A raccoon got banty hen we called "One-a-day because she left us one egg a day. The dogs killed the raccoon and I felt a mixed feeling. We fence the place but not enough to keep out coyote or raccoon. We talk about stringing a hot wire, except we would have to monitor the border of our 17 acres to see that grass and other growth remained cut. Our most fun intruder is the neighbor's horse who comes for our green grass on occasion. 

Comment by Loam Gnome on December 2, 2018 at 3:40pm

Thanks for the comments.

I grow things that I think help pollinators.  Each year I grow a big bed of Zinnias.  They are visited by lots of bees.  I have lots of herbs - mints, lemon balm, catnip, cilantro, that pollinators like.   Also lots of echinacea and rudbeckia and gallardias, which are dry tolerant perennials that bloom for months.  Plus pollinators love fruit tree blossoms in season - plums, peaches, apples, etc.  I can help others do similar, if they want information.  My garden is in view of the road, and people sometimes compliment me on how they like looking at the flowers.

Yesterday these visitors were in the border adjacent to the woods.  I don't know if they are feral.  Probably.  They let me close enough for the photos. 

I've seen lots of things about how bad feral cats are, how many animals they kill.  I've never seen a balanced report.  If the cats are not killing field mice, voles, moles, rabbits, rats, as well as birds, what happens with those populations?  Predators are necessary.  The ecosystem is way out of balance.  I read the main problem is cats are decimating the songbird populations.  That's not good.  As for these two, I have a neighbor who is the "cat vigilante", traps them and takes them to the humane society.  I don't know how long these will be here.

Comment by Joan Denoo on December 2, 2018 at 1:17pm

Ruth, thank you for this article on farming strategies to increase bee pollination. 

This research shows, "substantial gains in income and biodiversity from devoting a quarter of cropland to flowering economic crops such as spices, oil seeds, medicinal and forage plants."

Comment by Joan Denoo on December 2, 2018 at 1:13pm

Daniel, my best wishes go with you. 

Comment by Ruth Anthony-Gardner on December 2, 2018 at 11:59am

A new method of protecting pollinators and reducing the need for pesticides has proven successful. 

Scientist unveils blueprint to save bees and enrich farmers

Christmann has spent the past five years working on a different approach, which she calls “farming with alternative pollinators” with field trials in Uzbekistan and Morocco.

The essence of the technique is to devote one in every four cultivation strips to flowering crops, such as oil seeds and spices. In addition, she provides pollinators with cheap nesting support, such as old wood and beaten soil that ground nesting bees can burrow into. Sunflowers were also planted nearby as wind shelters.

Good luck on your surgery, Loam Gnome.

Comment by Patricia on December 1, 2018 at 1:41pm

All the best, Daniel.

Comment by Loam Gnome on December 1, 2018 at 9:36am

Not wanting to give too much information, but I will be heading for a hernia surgery in a few weeks.  The reason I state that here, is it means gardening activities will be curtailed.  Fortunately, it's winter, and not much digging is needed, and in this weather I can't cut firewood either. 

So what I can do, is putter a little, admire the indoor flowers, plan, and read.  It's still a month away from even the earliest seed planting.

I have a few favorite books I am rereading:

"Uncommon Fruits For Every Garden" by Lee Reich.    This book introduced me to the awesome flavors and challenges of persimmons, pawpaws, Asian pears, and others.  I always pick up new information or renew what I forgot, when I read this book.

"Apples of Uncommon Character" by Rowan Jacobsen.  Subtitled "123 Heirlooms, modern classics, and little known wonders".   This book is one of a few about apples, and opened me to the idea that it's worth the effort to grow and try many types - for the varied flavors, different tree performance in different areas, and different ripening seasons, from July to December.  It's helped me choose the types that I try, and one of the reasons I multigraft my trees to try many varieties.  Because of reading this book, I have a Gravenstein Apple tree,a variety that's been grown since 1669.  And Baldwin, which was an American favorite, grown since 1740.   As well as modern varieties, some of which are incredibly good.

"Apples of North America" by Tom Burford.  Subtitled "192 Exceptional Varieties for Gardeners, Growers, and Cooks".  This book also describes many delicious apples, interesting history, and diversity of apples.  Because of reading this book, I grafted Baldwin, Goldrush, Granite Beauty, Hawkeye, Hidden Rose, Honeycrisp, Jonathan, Keepsake, King David, Newtown Pippin, Opalescent, Porter, Priscilla, Pristine, Sutton Beauty, sweet sixteen to my trees.  It's interesting to taste an apple that was beloved by Queen Victoria, or Benjamin Franklin, and think about my ancestors in the 19th century possibly loving these flavors.

So far, my favorite apples from my own trees are more modern - Jonagold, Liberty (very delicious and disease resistant), North Pole (McIntosh offspring and similar flavor, in a columnar shaped tree), Pristine (early, modern disease resistant variety.  Unfortunately it overbore and the branch broke off the tree from the weight).

These and other books are great winter reading for the gardener.   They are all on Kindle, so no need to go to bookstores.   Do you have some good gardening books to read too?

Comment by Idaho Spud on November 29, 2018 at 10:41am

Randy, my melons were not sour.  Just mushy and nearly tasteless.  


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