Back to Blog
Look for Penguins!
I hope some of you out there have planted a tree. As I write this I am still waiting for mine to arrive.
I would love to hear from any of you who actually did plant one if you would leave me some feedback.
I discovered a way to occupy time, discover some cool looking birds, and help scientists.
Scientists are constantly looking for penguins and the penguins don't cooperate. They move around, appear, disappear but using remote cameras there are lots and lots of pictures. So many that scientists can't keep up. SO they came up with a way for the public to help! At Penguin Watch, you take a few minutes to read some instructions and then off you go looking for penguins!
The app shows you a picture of Antarctica. Some have penguins in them, some don't. Of the first four pictures I looked at, two were empty of any life and two had lots and lots of penguins to count.
As you look over the picture you click the box on the right that matches the penguin you are going to count (Adult, Chick, or Egg) and then click on the penguin! The site also asks that you count any other animals in the picture using the 'other' button. As you click the app keeps count.
In order to count as many penguins as you can, there is a zoom feature that lets you get in real close so you can count exactly how many are in the picture.
If this sounds like fun, click on Penguin Watch and you can be counting in less than five minutes and helping save the Penguins while you are at it!
After counting penguins, and you are ready to relax, I hope you will consider buying my picture book Little Tree's Big Dream which can be found in paperback, hard cover, or ebook at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Friesen Press also available at Apple Books and Google Play.
Back to Blog
So it has been a few days and I am wondering what am I going to do for the next 2 to however many weeks? After binge watching 5 entire seasons of “The Good Wife” I started feeling guilty that I wasn't doing something productive with my time.
I have this great chunk of free time to do whatever I want with, (well besides going to see a movie or out to eat or... anything else that involves being around more than 10 strangers).
I am currently living with three young people, a 13 year old, an 8 year old, and a soon to be 4 year old. Can I involve them somehow? Keep them occupied and maybe even teach them something about life? Okay, I have high aspirations, but if you set your goals low you may always reach them but they won't be worth much right?
So I have decided I would plant a tree. Now, I'm terrible at planning things. I'm the kind of person who just sort of figures it all out as I go along. Drives some people crazy. Sometimes I'm the one being driven.
By the way, If you live in an apartment or just want to grow a tree inside, there are several varieties you can grow.
I have never planted a tree in my life, so this is going to be a learning experience. I hope my sharing it gives you a few moments of distraction at least, or actually gives the Earth another 'lung'.
Here is my plan.
1. Figure out what sort of tree to plant.
2. Find a place that will ship the tree to me.
3. Figure out what equipment I will need for said planting.
4. Keep the 3 year old from eating the bugs he finds on the ground.
5. Figure out where the best place is on the property to plant the tree.
6. Plant the tree!
Since most businesses are closed right now, I am searching for mail order trees. Yes, you can have your tree delivered to your door! Who knew?
1. What should I plant?
First, I needed to find the right tree. What should I grow and more importantly what CAN I grow?
Well, turns out there is a map provided by our federal government which will tell you what 'Plant Hardiness Zone' you live in by entering your zip code. planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/PHZMWeb/
“Plant Hardiness Zones' are defined by the “average annual minimum winter temperature “. Gardeners can use it to decide what plants will thrive in their area and what plants will die. Maybe you knew this, maybe you didn't want to know this, but now you do! Moving on...
For my 'Plant Hardiness Zone' I now will decide what sort of tree I will plant. I am thinking a low maintenance sort of tree would be nice. Yard work is not all that appealing. A fruit tree might be nice but I live in the country, who knows what sort of animal might come sneaking in for the fruit? MMM... time for a web search!
It turns out there's a Tree Planting Wizard! I just answer a few questions and the Wizard recommends a tree just for me. www.arborday.org/shopping/trees/treewizard/intro.cfm
What's my zip code?, okay we start out with an easy one.
What kind of tree do I want? Shade tree, flowering tree, fruit tree, big tree, little tree, trees that climb on rocks.. no wait... now I got a song in my head!
What type of soil am I planting in? What? It's dirt! What else do I need to know? Turns out there is a lot to know. There's the PH or how acidic your soil is. There is the composition, is there more clay in your soil? More loamy?
There are kits you can buy. If you really are into testing things and maybe have a budding scientist living with you. Otherwise there is a website for 'dummies' that will help you find out what kind of soil you have https://www.dummies.com/home-garden/gardening/how-to-test-your-soil/
You can purchase a kit at a local nursery and do it yourself. https://www.dummies.com/home-garden/gardening/how-to-test-your-soil/
Or, you can just call a local nursery and ask them, “what kind of soil do we have around here?” you might even want to ask them for a recommendation on what sort of tree to plant. Experts are great people to know!
So I used the Tree Wizard and decided on an American Hazelnut tree to plant in my yard. To keep it honest, I didn't bother with buying a kit to test my soil. I used the dummies.com site and it pointed me again, in the direction of the American Hazelnut as the type of tree I should plant. But please, anyone reading this who DOES get a kit I would really like to hear about your experience with it. I used to be a budding scientist. Still am, although the buds are well. You know. Old.
Next up, the tools! Basically all you need is a decent spade (about $30) and a pair of gardening gloves (about $15). Oh, and a hat! Gotta have a hat. One of those big floppy ones or just a baseball cap. Up to you.
You could spring for a decent flat shovel
and maybe a sharpshooter.
But those are not really necessary unless you have a lot of dirt to shovel back in or the ground is tough and you need a sharpshooter to loosen things up.
When you are digging the hole, remember you just need to cover the root ball of your new tree. Covering the trunk is totally unnecessary and probably embarrassing to the tree. (it could happen! Maybe.)
To help the tree fight off insects, if you are planting in grass, leave a circle around the tree three feet in diameter. Trees get nervous and send up roots if the grass gets too close. (It's true! Ask any expert.)
So where should I plant my tree? There are a few things to consider here.
So my trees are on order.
(The order form says if I want the tree to flower I need two of them for pollination purposes. Another learning opportunity for the kids. Or not.)
Total cost $45 for the trees, and around $30 for the tools.
I looked online for tools but the places I check seem a bit expensive. I'm going to go to Walmart I think and keep my distance as I look for a spade (about $20) gloves (about $10) and I already have my hat.
Thank you for reading my blog! And if you are looking for another fun exercise to do with your children please consider buying my book. “Little Tree's Big Dream”.