Spring is an amazing birding season and great for feeding birds. In spring, not only are year-round resident birds eager to visit feeders as winter food supplies run low, but returning migrants need reliable food sources as they head north to their breeding grounds, and well-stocked bird feeders are a popular choice.
Birds eat many things, from seeds and grain to insects, fruit and nectar, but in early spring all these food sources are scarce and there is fierce competition for available food. Backyard birders can provide more food and help all birds enjoy a nutritious, healthy diet by…
Cleaning and repairing bird feeders. Winter ice buildup and storms can damage feeders, and winter flocks can leave feces and other debris on the feeders. As spring warms up, feeders should be thoroughly cleaned with a weak bleach solution, and any repairs should be made.
Adding extra feeders. As spring birds arrive in the backyard, more birds will be jostling for space at the feeders. Putting out additional feeders will help more birds access the food, and using different feeder styles – open platforms, large hoppers, multi-perch tubes, etc. – will appeal to different birds’ feeding styles and will minimize aggressive competition for feeding space.
Providing a variety of foods. Different birds prefer different foods, and offering a better variety in the backyard will attract a wider range of hungry spring birds. Sunflower seeds, suet, mealworms, nectar, fruit, peanut butter and mixed birdseed should all be available for spring birds to sample.
Minimizing pesticides. Insects are a key food source for many spring birds and provide essential protein for nesting birds and hungry chicks. The more birds there are in the backyard, the more insects they will eat – providing natural pest control – and minimizing pesticide use will prevent accidental toxic contamination of birds.
Providing water. Just as birds need healthy food in spring, clean, fresh water is also essential. Clean and disinfect bird baths, and consider adding a bird bath fountain or solar fountain to the yard to attract birds with splashing noises.
Birds are hungry in spring, and feeding them well is a great way to enjoy backyard birds and meet their spring needs. As those needs are met, birds are likely to take up residence in the yard, leading to a bird-filled summer as well and more backyard birding fun to come.
Agway of Cape Cod is looking for energetic and friendly people interested in working in a fast-paced outdoor environment. Most positions begin as seasonal with potential to turn into longer-term, benefited employment. Prior nursery/retail experience or in-depth knowledge of plants, gardening, or pets is a real plus!
Autumn is a beautiful season to be outdoors, and there are many backyard birding opportunities to take advantage of when temperatures drop and leaves change color – for birders who are ready for them. With just a few easy steps, you can prepare your backyard for fall birds and invite both residents and migrants to visit.
When Is Autumn?
The exact timing of autumn depends on many factors, but the calendar dates for the season are generally accepted as September 22 to December 20 in the Northern Hemisphere and March 1 to May 31 in the Southern Hemisphere. The further from the equator a birder’s backyard is located, however, the earlier autumn will set in, and higher elevations also experience the change of seasons more quickly. Watching for clues such as ripening harvests, changing foliage, shortening days and dropping temperatures can signal that autumn has arrived, and with it, fall migration and the opportunity to enjoy many autumn backyard birds.
Fall Preparations for Backyard Birds
Birds seek safe refuges in all seasons, and autumn birds are looking for good food sources, fresh water and secure shelter that can sustain them during an unpredictable season. By meeting birds’ basic needs not only with supplemental feeders, baths and houses but also with bird-friendly landscaping, backyard birders can provide an autumn sanctuary many bird species will appreciate.
Providing nutritious food in every season is essential for attracting backyard birds, but birds’ feeding preferences change seasonally.
To prepare your feeders for fall birds…
Thoroughly clean bird feeders and inspect them for damage after a busy breeding season. Make repairs as necessary.
Switch to larger capacity feeders such as the 2-In-1 Triple Tube Feeder or add more feeders to accommodate hungry migrating flocks.
Take steps to winterize bird houses, such as adding a layer of wood shavings or switching convertible houses to a winter configuration.
Add bird roost boxes or other snug shelters to the backyard for overwintering birds to take advantage of.
The natural food, water and shelter in a well-planned landscape can be the best way to attract birds in autumn, but a little maintenance is necessary to be sure the yard is as useful to birds as possible.
To make your fall landscaping even more bird-friendly…
An autumn-ready yard will not only help meet birds’ basic needs, but it will easily attract even more fall migrants, turning an already bountiful season into a very birdy one for every backyard birder.
Home Landscaping Tips for Building the Perfect Garden
by Andrea Davis
The landscaping around your home is more important than you may think. Properly done landscaping helps to protect your home from the dangers of excess water runoff, and well-done landscaping can increase the value of your home. There are some elements of your landscaping that you can do on your own, and then there are those tasks that are best left to professionals. There are also seasonal landscaping activities that can become traditions in your family that will go on for many years. The more effort and resources you put into landscaping your home and developing your garden, the more you will get out of it.
Your garden has to be placed in the right part of your yard if you want to get the best possible results. You cannot put your garden in an area that will be shaded from the sun for most of the day because that will inhibit the growth of your plants. You can always block the sunlight with a covering if you need to, but you cannot create sunlight where it is blocked by a building or a tree. Your garden should be in an area exposed to the sun and in a place that is easy to access with your water hose and sprinkler. Some people get very elaborate with their garden designs and add a multitude of colorful flowers. If you want to bring in a variety of flowers to your garden, then it is best to keep the garden away from your house, as some flowers tend to attract large insects.
To protect your garden, you can put up a fence that will keep out smaller animals. If you have problems with animals burrowing into your garden, then install your fence at least one foot below ground level to prevent burrowing animals from getting in. To keep out smaller birds that may try to feed on your plants, you can put reflective tape around your garden fence to help confuse and deter plant-eating birds. If you are having major issues with smaller birds dive-bombing your garden, then put up large owl boxes and other homes to attract predators that will keep the smaller birds away from your garden. The larger predators will not be interested in your plants, and the boxes may add some color and interest to your garden as well.
Your landscaping needs to be sloped away from your home to make sure that all runoff water goes away from your foundation. It is best to bring in a professional contractor to look over your landscaping and make sure that it is graded properly to protect your home. You can facilitate proper water runoff by mowing your lawn regularly to create pathways for the water to travel through. Mowing your lawn regularly will also help it to stay healthy and keep weeds and crabgrass from growing as well. A mowed lawn also enhances the look of your landscaping and gives more curb appeal to your home.
Landscaping lights powered by solar energy will enhance your lawn without adding to your monthly energy bill. You can also add small touches such as mulch and low fencing around the trees and shrubs on your lawn as well. The mulch will absorb and retain moisture that will keep your shrubs and trees healthy. Remember to have a professional tree-trimming company take care of your trees at least once a year to prevent the branches from growing too close to your home. Healthy shrubs and trees can also accommodate holiday decorations that add color and fun to your home during the holiday season. If you do notice that one of your trees is no longer growing leaves, then that tree should be removed immediately to prevent damage to your home and the possible spread of pests.
Your landscaping and garden are the first home elements people see when they visit you. When you take care of your landscaping and work hard to create the perfect garden, you will have a lawn that is worth bragging about. A professionally designed landscape can protect your home’s foundation from damage while keeping your trees and shrubs healthy at the same time. The regular maintenance you do to your garden and lawn are well worth it when you step back and take a look at the results you get.
Here are some resources that will give you a great start on the perfect garden and the ideal landscape for your home.
Announcing the 2014 Employee Spirit Awards at Agway of Cape Cod
The Wile family and management team at Agway of Cape Cod are proud to announce the winners of the 2014 Spirit of Agway Award for their stores. This annual award is given to the employee who throughout the year best exemplifies the Spirit, Drive & Dedication that make our businesses a great success.
Only one employee from each of our locations is chosen annually to receive this honor. Karen Bazan was awarded in the Orleans store this year. Since her start in 2013, she’s been driven, challenges herself everyday, and offers a smile to every customer and colleague regardless of challenges that may come her way. Agway of Dennis proudly announced Rick Kucia as its spirit winner. Rick is an exceptional employee and we appreciate his consistent, quality service to our customers. In Chatham, the award was given to Ty Marchment. Ty is a true team player who gets the job done and is always happy to help. If you are having a down day, go and visit Ty – he will undoubtedly cheer you up with his smile!
Our special thanks to these three outstanding individuals for setting the standard. It is folks like these that personify the true Agway of CapeCod spirit.
Ty Marchment was awarded with the annual employee Spirit Award in Chatham
Rick Kucia was awarded with the annual employee Spirit Award in Dennis
Karen Bazan was awarded with the annual employee Spirit Award in Orleans
There are some special considerations when it comes to containers for fall color.
Contributors: Kerry Meyer
As summer slides into the dog days and heads towards fall, we may find ourselves thinking about freshening our container plantings. Maybe the heat or vacations have left your planters looking less than stellar. Maybe you’re simply tired of what you have and looking for a change or want to get rid of the pinks and purples you loved in spring in favor of the more Autumn-like yellows, reds and bronzes. While the basics of design and care don’t really change for fall, there are a few things to consider.
In spring, you are likely choosing plants, at least partly, for their ability to withstand summer conditions – in other words, bright sun and hot temps. When choosing plants for fall, their ability to withstand cool temperatures, including frost or even hard frost, is key to keeping your containers looking great for months.
Another trait to consider is the ability of the plant to bloom under shorter day-lengths. Some plants need longer days to bloom. The shorter days of fall and early winter can cause these plants to go out of bloom. There are plants that will bloom under shorter day lengths and do not mind, at all, if the temps get a bit frosty. And, no you are NOT limited to mums, ornamental kale and pansies – although they are great plants for fall. When looking at plants in our on-line database, plants that work for Fall are marked as having Fall Interest.
Fall is a great time to look to foliage for color. There are many plants with foliage that is most colorful when the temps are cool. Heuchera, such as ourDolce® series is one example, as are most, but not all, ornamental grasses. Foliage also adds color without the need for flowers. However, not all foliage plants are good for Fall color – even some whose color palettes are perfect for Fall. The two categories that immediately spring to mind are Coleus and Sweet Potato Vines. The colors are pitch perfect and they seem to make perfect sense. However, neither of them is at all frost tolerant – the first hint of frost is going to be damaging.
Hopefully your local garden centers are stocking plants that work for Fall, but it pays to ask questions of employees if you are uncertain about your potential purchases.
When potting up planters in spring, there are advantages to using fewer plants per container and leaving those plants plenty of room to grow. But, Fall has a different set of circumstances. While you are likely planting your containers while the temperatures are still quite warm, those temps are going to quickly begin cooling off. As temperatures cool, plant growth slows or stops completely. This means that plants potted up in the fall aren’t going to show the amazing growth you get from those planted in spring, despite potentially providing color for months. Fresh container plantings for Fall is when stuffing your pot full of plant material, with little room for growth, makes sense. How full the container looks when you plant it is pretty close to how full it will look all fall.
Watering and Fertilizing
As mentioned before, the cooler temperatures of fall will lead to less plant growth. Well, cool temperatures and smaller plants also lead to plants using less water. Less water used means you don’t need to water nearly as often as you’ve become accustomed to during the heat of summer. As always it is best to check if a planter needs water before irrigating. The deeper into fall you go, the less often you will need to water. Water Your Way to Happy Plants is a great refresher on best practices for watering containers. Don’t be surprised if you need to water only once or twice a week.
Fertilizing is also different in Fall and is likely unnecessary. In spring, we suggest applying a controlled release fertilizer at the time of planting and then potentially supplementing with water-soluble fertilizer after a couple of months of growth. However, many of the controlled release fertilizers release fertilizers partially dependent on temperature. Colder temperatures means little to no fertilizer is released for plant use. However, unless you are in the deep south or sun-belt areas where fall is very extended and temperatures remain warm, your plants will not be growing vigorously enough to need fertilizer applications. If you do feel as if fertilizer would be helpful for your plants, an application of water-soluble fertilizer will be more effective than controlled or slow-release fertilizers.
While choosing frost tolerant plants is necessary, you might also want to add an extra level of protection for your plants when night temps get get close to 32 degrees. If temperatures are expected to get unusually chilly for a few nights, before rebounding back to average for that time of year, it might make sense to use an old sheet or other light-weight fabric to cover your plants. While doing this every night as temperatures decrease will be quite labor intensive and unnecessary, a bit of effort for a few unusually cool nights might be well-worth the effort.
If you use heavy decorative containers for your plants, such as ceramic or concrete, removing old soil and putting in new soil can be, literally and figuratively, painful. One way to make planting easier is to find lightweight plastic containers that are the right size and shape so you can plant the plastic container and then just drop it inside of your decorative container. When you want to replant, simply pull out the plastic container, compost or discard the plants, refill and replant the plastic container and drop it back into the decorative planter.
You can take it one step further and buy two or more plastic containers for each decorative container. A few weeks before you want to replace the current plant material, plant the extra liner. This will get the new plants time to settle in, and then when you are ready you can remove and “replant” your decorative planter in no time at all. This is also a great way to keep prominent containers looking fresh all summer, especially if you have an important event planned and want everything to look perfect.
Perennials in Pots
If you have perennials, or shrubs, in containers the article Pretty Potted Perennials covers the ins and outs specific to growing these types of plants in containers.
Our November Sales Flyer is here! Great savings on Fall yard care products, bulbs, wild bird supplies, and more! Get into backyard birding during migration season! Save on feeders, suet, and seed! Also, unbeatable prices on Dog and Cat food! Don’t forget your Agway preferred customer card and save even more!
Check out what’s happening on Social Media with your friends at Agway of Cape Cod. This social blog includes the latest events and news at Agway and around the Cape Community. Socialize with us on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, and Twitter! Even better, come on in and visit with the friendly staff at each of our stores in Orleans, Dennis, and Chatham!
An authentic Cape Cod clambake and barbeque with live music, a beer and wine garden, kids activities and more! Come to the iconic Orleans event! Proceeds benefit the Ed Gill Memorial Scholarship Fund, The Odd Fellows and the Orleans Chamber of Commerce.
Awesome Musical Entertainment!
$35 Clambake & Admission $25 BBQ Dinner & Admission $10 Admission only $5 Reduced Ed Gill Memorial Run Participant Admission only FREE Admission only Kids 12 and under
Sometimes lawns can have bare spots and unfortunately toupees aren’t intended for that purpose too. Here are the steps you need to take to re-seed those areas to get your lawn looking like new again:
1) Dig in
For the grass to take hold, it first needs a place to stick. That means that you will have to dig a little bit into the area where you plan to seed. Use a steel rake to work the soil to about an inch down in the ground so you can have a loose surface to operate with.
2) Applying seed and fertilizer
Depending on how big your area is you can either apply the seed by hand or use a spreader if the area is larger. After you have done that, put some starter fertilizer on top of the seeds. This will help them take hold and grow stronger much quicker.
3) Frequent watering
The trick is to water a lot but not too much. You should give the area water everyday but only enough to keep it moist. Over-saturating the area will not help it grow any faster. If it is kept moist, that will create the ideal growing conditions.
4) When to mow
When the grass reaches the inch and a half mark, you can start mowing that area. However, always make sure that when you mow it the grass is dry and your blades are sharp. If you mow when it’s wet, you can ruin the seedlings that are sprouting up. As you keep mowing, the grass will get stronger.
Regular exercise is one of the main pre-requisites for health, longevity, and happiness for humans and house pets alike. There are boundless opportunities to enjoy quality time with your furry friend in the great outdoors while maximizing the accompanied health benefits. Partaking in outdoorsy activities with your pets will also keep them happy, relaxed, and most importantly, obedient. The runner’s high phenomenon – the calm, positive feeling experienced after prolonged exercise – is not exclusive to humans. The same neurochemical, serotonin, is released in dogs and other mammals following aerobic exercise. This natural chemical burst will keep your pets well behaved and entertained during the day and soundly asleep at night. Following these simple suggestions will keep you and your dog happy, healthy, and thirsting for adventure.
Start off slow when hitting the outdoors with your dog. A simple game of fetch with a doggy toy or stick for a half an hour in the backyard or park will suffice for a puppy or untrained dog. Move around with your dog and make it a mutual activity so that your dog stays entertained and you stay invested in the activity. A little enthusiasm will go a long way with your pup. If you’re unable to be mobile with your dog, schedule a trip to a local doggy park. Although this may be a small feat in human world, the doggy park is the penultimate venue for dogs, and the epicenter of doggy excitement. Simply spectating your dog interact with other dogs will be utterly enjoyable as a bystander. Before setting out to the dog park, make sure that you strictly follow the necessary etiquette. Firstly, make sure that your dog is well behaved enough to be around plenty of other excited and eager pups. Take caution in bringing a dog with anxiety or other social issues that would prevent positive encounters with other dogs. Moreover, make sure that your dog is up to date on vaccinations just in case an altercation occurs with another dog. Err on the side of caution here since you can’t control how other dogs may act within the doggy park. You can always find another park or green space if you’re worried that other dogs are simply being too aggressive. Finally, clean up all of your dog’s messes and dispose of them properly.
Your outdoor excursions with your pup don’t have to be confined to your neighborhood and local dog parks, however. Hiking is a fantastic way to explore scenic areas and simultaneously share some great exercise with your pup. Keep your dog on a leash at all times, especially in wilderness areas where a wild animal could provoke some unwanted excitement. Make sure to bring extra water and treats for your dog and take breaks when necessary. You may be in better shape then your dog, but the last thing you’re going to want to do is carry them back to the parking lot. Lastly, consider swimming as a healthy, low-impact activity for your dog. Keep swimming to local ponds, creeks, or pools, while avoiding the ocean at all costs. Rip tides, oceanic predators, and a whole host of other risks could compromise your dog’s safety at the beach. Stick to a game of fetch with a tennis ball in the sand instead. Enjoying outdoor activities with your pup is a great way to establish a healthy, long-lasting bond with your beloved pet. Whichever activity you choose, know that you’re investing time in your pet’s happiness, healthy, and longevity for the future.