Gardener's Notebook - Hummingbirds have headed south

The other day we bid farewell to our hummingbirds, with our last sighting of them being on Saturday, September 12. They were amazing guests in our garden, providing hours of beautiful bird-watching. If you had hummingbirds in your yard you’ll know what I mean. I did some reading about hummingbirds and found some astounding facts. Did you know that a hummingbird weighs about the same as a nickel? Imagine! Their little wings flap up to eighty times a second, their tiny hearts can beat up to 1200 beats a minute, and they can take up to 250 breaths a minute. And in flight, they can reach speeds of 54 kilometres an hour. Just think how many times their wings have to move to achieve that!

When they say good-bye to us, they head south to Mexico or the Caribbean. What a journey! They use fat as a fuel reserve, and can travel astonishing distances before they have to stop. Every time we watched them, I marvelled at the fragile and beautiful miracle that they are. We felt honored to have them in our garden, and pray that they make it back safely next year!

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Another fragile and beneficial guest in the garden is the ladybug, and now while we are cleaning up our gardens, we should be on the lookout. Ladybugs are one of the garden’s best insect friends. They perform the important task of eating bugs such as aphids. Did you know that a ladybug can eat up to 500 aphids in a day! They are great pest control. They also enjoy the pollen of some of our flowers such as yarrow, dill, coreopsis, and scented geraniums.

To encourage a healthy ladybug population, we want to make sure not to spray pesticides over the spring and summer. And now in the fall, there is one more thing that we can do.

For the very fastidious gardener, ease up a little and leave some pockets of dry leaves and undergrowth. Why? Ladybugs are cold-blooded, and as the temperatures fall, the ladybugs will be looking for a cozy place to hibernate. We want to encourage them to stay with us, as well as other beneficial bugs, and by providing the right environment we increase their chances of making it through the winter.

And speaking of fragile guests in the garden, let’s not forget a very important thing: our garden soil itself! It has been feeding our vegetables and flowers all summer, and can do with a little nourishment itself. Even if you don’t have a compost bin, you can do some good for your soil by adding vegetable peels, tops, fruit peels, coffee grounds, and eggshells to the earth where it can compost over winter. (But remember, no meat scraps of any kind!) How do we do it?

It’s a very complicated procedure. Are you ready? Get your garden hoe, make a trench, throw the peels in, and cover them up with soil. Really, that’s it! Try and do this as often as you can, now, before the ground freezes. It’s such an easy way for us to amend the soil. I read somewhere that billions of pounds of food scraps end up in landfills every year. Think of all the earth’s energy that went into producing those fruits and veggies, and if it could be put back into the earth, it would make marvellous, healthy soil indeed!

There are still no meeting dates set for the Yorkton and District Horticultural Society. But we are keeping busy with various things, and you can read all about it by visiting our website at As soon as things change and we have a meeting date, we’ll let you know!

Thank you to our friends at Yorkton This Week for giving us great local news every week: thank you for all your efforts! Let’s pray for health for all, good fall days out in the garden, good weather for the farmers, and brighter days ahead. Have a great week!

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