Sunshine Weekly Weeder Newsletter
8 July 2015
Our Purple Martins are Moving!
Did you know Sunshine Gardens hosts one of Austin's largest Purple Martin nesting colonies? Thanks to the generosity of our Board and individual members, Sunshine nows provides over 50 nesting cavities between the new gourd houses and smaller houses erected and maintained by individual gardeners.
Purple Martins (Progne subis) are members of the swallow family. PUMA's, the abbreviation used by orthinologists, arrive each spring in February and March after a long-distance migration from their wintering grounds in the tropics. After pairing up and nesting (martins are monagamous), the female will lay a clutch of 3-6 eggs, and the pair will raise 1 to 2 broods. Chicks fledge as early as May. Then the adults and young begin to prepare for the long flight back south.
Feeding on many flying insects during the day, the martins build up their body weight for the migration. Flying overhead, they delight us with their distinctive chirps and burbels. Then, beginning late June, they leave their nesting sites and move to larger flocking locations. Here they find secure night roosting where large numbers provide protection from predators. One of the largest sites in North America is located just a mile or two from Sunshine! Variously located around the old Highland Mall and Capital Plaza, the group roost begins to form in late June and early July. Very quickly, as martins come in from all over Central Texas, the roost grows into a massive nightly collection of several hundred thousand birds.
Travis Audubon hosts weekly Friday and Saturday evening "Martin Parties" at the roosting site in July and early August. People gather in lawn chairs to watch hundreds of thousands of birds swirl in at sunset to the appointed trees. You can almost feel the nervous restlessness that develops among the birds as they fly and flock, getting ready to head south. The spectacle rivals our local bat flight at the Congress Avenue Bridge, and, with the bat viewing, is a nice 'two-fer' during the Austin summer. Find more information at www.travisaudubon.com.
Events of Interest
Monday, July 13, 2015, 6:30 pm
Zilker Botanical Garden Center, 2220 Barton Springs Road
Austin Organic Gardeners Meeting.
Agenda: Doors open at 6:30 for visiting and getting answers to your gardening questions from our answer desk (look for the sign and the guys in big hats at the back of the room). Announcements and club business start at 7 followed by our program at 7:30.
Topic: Trisha Shirey, author and head gardener at the Lake Austin Spa Resort, will discuss her "Top Tips and Favorite Things".
Trisha will also have copies of her latest book, "Vegetable Gardening in the Southwest", available for $21.60 – cash (exact change appreciated), check, or charge.
Gardening Outlook for July
Now that the spring season is over there are less varieties of vegetables that will take the summer heat. The long range monthly forecast is for lower temperatures (relatively, in comparison to the last few years) with possibilities for thunderstorms. That is a reasonable forecast for Central Texas, so we can look forward to at least some produce in the coming month.
Vegetables to Plant in July
Early to mid month: Pumpkin, Amaranth, Okra. (I have found chinese long beans (also called yard long beans) to grow very successfully in the heat. They taste a lot like regular green beans).
Officer and Zone Coordinator Contacts - Sunshine Garden
- President - Jeff Monks firstname.lastname@example.org
- Vice President - Jim Willmann email@example.com
- Secretary - Ginny Heilman firstname.lastname@example.org
- Treasurer - Caroline Limaye email@example.com
- Director - Michael Hall firstname.lastname@example.org
- Director - Kay McMurry email@example.com
- Director - Shannon Posern firstname.lastname@example.org
- Zone 1, Jody Trendler email@example.com
- Zone 2, Katy Davis firstname.lastname@example.org
- Zone 3, Ludmila Voskov email@example.com
- Zone 4, Ila Falvey firstname.lastname@example.org
- Zone 5, Mary Gifford email@example.com
- Zone 6, Charlotte Jernigan firstname.lastname@example.org
- Zone 7, Jing Li email@example.com
- Zone 8, Irina Kadukova firstname.lastname@example.org
- Zone 9, Cheryl Hazeltine email@example.com
- Zone 10, Christopher Schroder firstname.lastname@example.org
- Weekly Weeder Newsletter - Margaret Powis email@example.com
- Plant Sale - Michael Hall firstname.lastname@example.org
- TSBVI Liason & Volunteer Coordinator - Janet Adams jartdaht@gmailcom
- Plot Rental - Kay McMurry email@example.com
- Compost Coordinator - Janet Adams firstname.lastname@example.org
- Compost Tea - Jennifer Woertz email@example.com
- Education Committee - Shannon Posern firstname.lastname@example.org
- Carpentry & Repairs - Robert Jarry email@example.com
- Water Leak Repairs - Stewart Nichols firstname.lastname@example.org
- Tools & Wheelbarrows - Bob Easter email@example.com
- Website Coordinator - Sharon Rempert firstname.lastname@example.org
Record Service Hours Online - the Virtual Green Binder