At my house, we feed the birds – A LOT. On any given day Alfred Hitchcock’s movie The Birds could be remade at my house. We are a pretty popular destination and likely in West Fargo’s top ten “must visit” locations for birds.
We feed the birds in a variety of locations in our yard, but our largest feeders are in the landscaped rock area in the front of the house. This makes it easy to look out the window and see the variety of visitors we get. Unfortunately, our visitors can be a bit messy. They toss bird seed here, there, and everywhere and the bird seed falls into the rocks. The rocks have plastic under them, but somehow this bird seed in the rocks finds a way to sprout and quickly create an unsightly weed mess. It is a pain in the fanny to clean up, but we love the birds so we have to deal with the weeds.
Mike started suggesting last year that we should get seedless bird seed – he swears such a thing exists. I confess, I sort of blew off the whole idea last year, but after all that rain we got and the sprouting of a virtual jungle in the front yard, I was ready to discuss mitigatory efforts. At first I thought I could sprinkle Preen in the rocks to suppress further growth, but I wasn’t sure if Preen could hurt birds. I did a Google search on the matter and came across both the answer to my question and the solution to my problem in a snippet from Ron Smith, a horticulturalist with NDSU Extension Services. I believe Ron has now retired, but his great advice is still out there in cyberspace lighting the way for gardening no-nothings like me.
There it was on Ron’s question and answer page:
Q: Is Preen weed preventor harmful to birds? I want to sprinkle some beneath a bird feeder to prevent the bird seed from sprouting but I don’t want to harm any birds that may ingest it.
A: Yes, it is harmful to birds. If you have trouble with seed sprouting, nuke it in the microwave for two minutes at full power before placing in the feeder. That will kill the embryo and prevent germination and won’t harm the birds.
Whoa…this kind of advice could change our lives. Weed free bird seed via my microwave – how did this information escape me all these years? I couldn’t wait to tell Mike who was outside at that very moment working his way through the remaining section of the sprout jungle. He didn’t squeal with glee like I did, indeed he looked at me like I might just have lost whatever wits I had left. My enthusiasm was not dissuaded when he asked me in a doubtful way where I found that information. You could tell that he thought it was on some half-baked gardening site. But never fear, I knew I had this one. I told him the source of the information was Ron Smith – the Ron Smith from NDSU Extension who knows everything about everything when it comes to gardening. And then I toddled off to microwave me some weed free bird seed.
As the microwave was magically creating a brighter future for me, I reflected upon how easy this solution was all along and how the answer to my problem came from one of my favorite kitchen appliances (right in line with the dishwasher and refrigerator). When the microwave dinged I couldn’t wait to get that bowl out so that I could witness my genius. Oh my, was that bowl hot! I must say though, I really liked the aroma of microwaved bird seed – and if you are snickering at that- don’t knock it till you have tried it.
I have to tell you, it took a good long time for that bird seed to cool down. I found that so interesting. It occurred to me that perhaps that was what was in those microwave heat wraps they always sell at craft fares – bird seed. If it stays hot for that long, I can see where that would be pretty handy as a heat wrap. I was tickled with myself when that discovery came to me. I casually shared with Mike that I thought bird seed may be what crafters put in those microwave heat wraps. He didn’t seem as tickled with me as I was with myself. I did not like that. My moments of brilliance are few and far between and when they happen I want a little recognition. So I felt obliged to share with him that I was thinking I might test out my theory by filling up a sock with bird seed and seeing if it worked like those heat wraps. I do believe he rolled his eyes.
I have not tried the sock experiment yet. I need to do some research to find out if socks in the microwave start on fire. The last thing I need is to give Mike another “Carol story” to roll out whenever he gets an audience. Like I said, my moments of brilliance are few and far between and I think I will just bask in the non-sprouting bird seed for the time being. You know what they say, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
Day one thousand four hundred and fifty-three of the new forty – obla di obla da