Although the temperatures here are still in the 30’s and 40’s (0-5C), signs of spring are here. Although the trees are still bare and many of the plants are behind, others are starting to green up. And the first baby bunnies and chipmunks started showing up as of last week. The baby bunny (bunnies?) seems to be hunkered down under our rain barrel and is making 20+ appearances a day on our compost cam. This doesn’t bode well for the vegetable garden, which is just in line of the camera, but may help justify the money I spent on a spring/summer CSA share this year. I’ll grow for the bunnies, and Westridge Organic Farm will grow for me.
Since this is a blog not just about cute critters, but also about supporting the natural world in our own yards and spaces, I want to mention some of the plants you see in the videos.
To the left of frame, you can see daffodils. They provide not just a welcome flash of color in the spring when Wisconsin is still pretty brown, with its life hidden deep inside where we cannot easily see it, but also some much needed pollen for the bees. I add 50-200 bulbs to our yard each fall, a mix of daffodils, crocuses, mini irises, scillia, hyacinth, snow drops, puschkinias, guinea hens, windflowers, tulips and others. Some naturalize, some grow a few years and disappear, some get eaten by the critters before they ever get a chance to bloom. But each one is a symbol of hope and life.
Just above the daffodils you can see the branches of a black currant shrub. It also blooms very early in the spring and is almost done blooming right now despite the cold temperatures. In a couple months it will be covered in small black berries that taste and smell foxy when fresh but make a delightful summer cordial when cooked with some water, sugar and lemon juice.
To the right of the frame you can see the corner of my compost bin. I’ve bucked convention by putting it right up against my house, just under the kitchen window. That means kitchen scraps can be tossed out the window and straight into the bin as easily as they could be tossed into the trash. There is no excuse not to compost here! Is it advisable to have a compost bin right up against your house? Certainly, most people would say no, and for good reason. They can cause unpleasant odors and attract pests close to your home.
About 10 years ago we decided to try it anyway, and we have not had any major issues. Part of my reason for adding the compost cam was to see if there were critters I was not aware of. I know there are occasionally voles in the bin, but since they never try to invade the house, I don’t mind them terribly and their numbers have never gotten out of hand (perhaps thank you to our resident fox?). The odors do occasionally get bad in the late summer, but adding a good layer of straw or hay solves that issue rather quickly. This might be one of those cases where our climate is in our favor – cold winters and short summers do tend to keep the pests and odors down. Have you thought of putting a compost bin close to your kitchen? It might be worth a look!