Ag Lit Bit"A Puddling Station"
We all have the special someone who is always creating, educating, and opening our eyes to new ways of experiencing the joy of nature. I have that someone who I equate to the Dr. Doolittle of birds and the Martha Stewart of crafting all things nature. It is a gene she inherited from her Mom and Dad and she generously shares with her friends and family. One of long- time favorite creations are leaf castings (left) that are made by finding strong, interesting, thickly veined leaves. Once gathered, Shelli hand mixes mortar, molds the leaves, dries, (paint optional) and uses for beautiful garden accents or water sources with some molded shapes. While Shelli can mix endless buckets without pause, my mortar mixing skills are rather weak, thus reducing my productivity. Her latest project, however, does not require intense mortar mixing abilities.
Her newest creation is what she called a puddler. That piqued my curiosity. She taught me that butterflies assemble around puddles to fill their need for salt and nutrients. As Horticulture Extension Educator, Nancy Kreith shared with me, “Often times we see groups of butterflies gather on wet sand or mud. This is an activity called “puddling” and the butterflies are going to the wet sand or mud to obtain minerals from the soil. Adding some small “puddling” areas in a butterfly garden will also help attract butterflies.”
While there are many ways to make one, here are the basics:
Materials: Shallow container, Sand, Soil, composted manure and/or salt.
Use shallow pan/container like a large clay or plastic pot saucer that can hold some water and sand. To provide the salts and amino acids the butterflies are searching for, add a small amount of soil, composted manure or salt and mix with your sand. You can mix in salt (table salt or rock salt) to the sand at a rate of ½ to ¾ cup salt to 1 gallon of sand to provide some minerals for the butterflies Smooth out your sand and create a slight indention in the center for your puddle. Add water and then place in your butterfly garden. The sand needs to be kept moist, which can be easily done by placing the pan under a soaker hose or near a water source. Replace water daily or as needed, depending on your temperatures. If you would like more information, visit https://bit.ly/3ahxaGx .
We are excited to be creating a Pollinator Garden here at the farm bureau (see information in this issue). Who knows, maybe we will create a puddling station in honor of all the nature lovers, especially Shelli, whose puddling station is shown on the right. Happy Spring!