Birds and Blooms Blog

Get the latest birding and gardening tips from our expert bloggers.

DIY Vegetable Garden: How to Root Basil Indoors

DIY projects from the garden are one of my favorite things to do.  It is so rewarding to grow the plants yourself and able to use them in different ways.

Today, I’d like to teach you how to make multiple basil plants starting out with one plant.  This is done by ‘rooting’ the basil, which is a process where we help stimulate the roots from a cutting (single stem) of basil to grow from the base.  After roots have formed, you can re-plant it out in the garden or indoors in a container.

So why would you want to ‘root’ basil?  There are several reasons including:

- It’s an inexpensive way to increase the amount of basil you have growing in the garden – or from the grocery store, starting from just one plant (or stem).

- As fall/winter approaches you can root a few stems and grow basil indoors throughout the winter where you can enjoy fresh basil all year long.

- It is a great way to create personal gifts from your garden by rooting and planting basil in decorative containers.

Are you ready?  Let’s get started.

How to root basil-002

1. Cut several sprigs of basil from the garden (or use those from the grocery store).

How To Take Herb Cuttings

Basil, mint and Thai basil cuttings

2. Remove the lower leaves for the part that you will later be submerging into water.

How to root basil-001

3. Place the cuttings into a clear glass or jar with water in front of a sunny window, but out of direct sunlight.

4. Change the water every other day.

Basil roots growing after 10 days in water.

Basil roots growing after 10 days in water.

In 7 – 10 days, you should have 1/2 – 1-inch long roots growing on your basil cuttings.

how root basil tomato can container

5. Plant in your favorite container using potting mix.  Instead of throwing a tomato can away in my recycle bin, I used it instead as a colorful and fun container – what goes better together than basil and tomatoes?  I used a Phillips screwdriver and a hammer to make the holes for drainage.  Be sure to provide a saucer underneath the container (you can use a plastic lid from a coffee can as a saucer).

Wouldn’t this DIY vegetable garden project make a great gift?  It would cost you next to nothing if you already have basil growing in the garden and recycled a can from your pantry.

*In addition to basil, mint is easy to root as well using this method, but the roots will take a little longer to grow.

Friday Funny Photography: Robin Bathtime

Lorie

Friday Funny Photography: Robin Bathtime

Birds & Blooms’ Friday Fun Photography snapshot for Aug 15, 2014: Robin Bathtime by Roger Templeton of Martinez, Georgia.

Do you have a clever caption for this fun photo? We’d love to hear it!

5 Tips for Finding Birding Locations

Rob Ripma

I am often asked to help people find new birding locations to visit either when they are travelling or when they have moved to a new area. It usually is not super difficult to find places to go birding, but the trouble is sometimes knowing where to start. There are so many potential resources out there – some with really good information and some that are just not so good.

I found this awesome birding location when I visited Hawaii last year!

I found this awesome birding location when I visited Hawaii last year!

Here are my top 5 tips for finding new birding locations. I use all of these whenever I’m traveling somewhere new!

1. Look for local Audubon Societies – I always check to see if there is an Audubon Society in the area that has information about birding locations in their region posted online. This is a great way to get a feel for the best birding locations in a given area.

2. Check Birding Listservs – Almost every state has a listserv available, and some have multiple ones for different regions. Listservs are places where birders can go to report their sightings. Since they cover a large area, it’s best to have the names of some birding locations that you would like to look for reports from before heading to a listserv. You can find links to all of the listservs around the US and many from around the world on the American Birding Association website.

3. Find Facebook Groups – Facebook groups are a very fast growing reporting system for birders. Almost all states have a Facebook group now, and it’s a great place to ask questions and get information from local birders.

4. Look for eBird Hotspots – eBird can be used for more than just looking at recent sightings. It can also be used to help find new birding locations. You can see all eBird Hotspots on this map. It will also tell you how many species have been reported at each spot.

The eBird Hotspot Map is really easy to use!

The eBird Hotspot Map is really easy to use!

5. Look for more info on NuttyBirder.com – NuttyBirder.com is a website that my brother and I started several years ago. We have information on birding locations from around the US and several spots around the world. From the best spots to go birding within different locations to the specialty species of the area, we give you the information that you need to make the most of your birding time. We are always adding new locations, so be sure to check back often.

Garden Bugs: Ladybugs for Aphid Control

Jill Staake

I came across a welcome sight in the garden the other day: this no-spotted ladybug (Cycloneda sanguinea) preparing to dine on the aphids infesting my milkweed vine.

Ladybugs

Ladybugs (or ladybird beetles, as scientists prefer) are familiar sights to gardeners, though most of us first think of ladybugs as having black spots. However, there are many kinds of ladybugs, some without spots (learn more here), and most of them feast on smaller insects (like aphids or scale bugs), making them welcome in most gardens as a biological control of pest species. You can even purchase ladybugs at many garden centers or by mail order to add to your own garden, although there is some debate as to whether the ladybugs will actually stay around long enough to make this worth your while.

Want to attract ladybugs? Avoid broad use of chemical pesticides, even natural ones, as this will kill off ladybugs and other beneficial bugs too. Ladybugs also consume pollen, especially from plants with flat clusters of flowers – think dill, Queen Anne’s lace, and yarrow. Adding flower like these (click here for more) to your garden will invite ladybugs to visit, and once they’re there, they should be happy to dine on other insects. (An important note for butterfly gardeners: ladybugs will eat butterfly eggs and small caterpillars, so keep that in mind.)

Need more info on beneficial garden bugs? Click here!

Searching for Shorebirds in Northwest Ohio

Rob Ripma

While I was traveling in northwest Ohio this weekend, I was able to escape from meetings for a morning to do some birding with a friend. Since the shorebird habitat near my home hasn’t been very productive, we decided to focus on seeing if we could find some quality habitat and shorebirds up there.

I always enjoy watching Ospreys!

I always enjoy watching Ospreys! (Photo not taken this weekend)

We’d had gotten a tip from some  locals about an area where water had been drawn down and there were mudflats that were exposed. We weren’t really sure what to expect but as we drove up, we knew that we had found an awesome spot! Before we were even out of the car, we could tell that there were a couple hundred shorebirds feeding on the mudflats.

Our first bird wasn’t a shorebird but a beautiful Osprey perched up in a dead tree over the mudflats. As we got our spotting scopes set up and started to scan the mudflats, we quickly called out many species of shorebirds. I almost immediately found several Stilt Sandpipers mixed in with a group of Short-billed Dowitchers. Over the next 45 minutes, we found a total of 12 species including, 2 Wilson’s Phalaropes and about 275 Semipalmated Sandpipers!

There were several Lesser Yellowlegs mixed in with many more Great Yellowlegs.

There were several Lesser Yellowlegs mixed in with many more Great Yellowlegs. (Photo not taken this weekend)

We had expected to find Semipalmated Plovers but we were starting to think we might not find any after being at the location for about 20 minutes. I finally found about 6 individuals way out on the mudflat.

We had expected to find Semipalmated Plovers but we were starting to think we might not find any after being at the location for about 20 minutes. I finally found about 6 individuals way out on the mudflat. (Photo not take this weekend)

As we were getting in the car to leave, I noticed a couple of small birds moving through the marsh on the other side of the road. It turned out to be two Sedge Wrens, which is the species that I wrote about in my last blog post!

Have you been out looking for shorebirds recently?

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