Hello, again!

Jeremy and I did our Saturday morning radio show on KNSS for many years. We would chat with listeners who would call into the show about topics ranging from gardening to what’s going on around town. We even had the opportunity there to play the world premiere of Robin Macy’s ‘Songs from the Garden’ CD that was released 10 years ago.

Some of our favorite callers had theme songs playing when they called in. Remember Bobby Stout? He was the WPD Deputy Chief, Executive Director of the Wichita Crime Commission, and the face and voice of Crime Stoppers for many years. Bobby’s call-in song was the hit song 'Captain Bobby Stout' from the Jerry Hahn Brotherhood, for which Bobby was the inspiration.

One popular tradition on the show during the winter was to track the Purple Martin migration as they headed north. We would use the official map from purplemartin.org and have listeners guess the date that the first scout would arrive in the Wichita area. It really is not too difficult to guess a date, as historic data is on the site, so guessing mid-March isn’t too far off. If you have Purple Martin houses, knowing the date is important for making sure their houses are open and ready for occupancy upon arrival.

Another migratory bird that we have in our area is the Eastern Bluebird. These bluebirds leave breeding grounds in the north of their range to winter in the Southeastern U.S. or Mexico. Populations in the northern part are entirely migratory. Some fly as far as 2,000 miles between western Manitoba and Texas. With its deep blue head and back and rusty colored chest, the Eastern Bluebird is the most common of the bluebird species here in Kansas. The similar Western Bluebird rarely shows up, but only in the extreme southwest corner of Kansas. The nearly all sky blue colored Mountain Bluebird is a winter resident in Kansas.

Nesting in Kansas in early spring, the Eastern Bluebird can produce two and sometimes three broods. Because of habitat loss, natural nesting cavities have been greatly reduced. Installing a bluebird house provides nesting sites, therefore helping the bluebird population. In areas where bluebird boxes have been put in suitable habitat, bluebird populations are increasing. Check out the North American Bluebird Society for more information on bluebirds and house plans.

I remember Ken Whittington strongly suggesting cleaning out bird houses ahead of time. He also recommended using Dusting Sulphur in the houses to keep parasites at bay.

A great local resource for all things nature related is the Great Plains Nature Center at 29th and Woodlawn. I’ve picked up a set of these free pocket guides for reference when Angie and I are able to enjoy the great outdoors in our state. They are free for pick up or download. This Saturday, GPNC is having a Kansas Day Celebration from 10am-4pm. The event will include self-guided hikes through Chisholm Creek Park, activities in the Nature Center, live animals and the unveiling of the first GPNC annual guide at 2:30 pm. It’s all FREE!!

If any of you have a favorite memory from Johnson's Saturday morning radio show, we would love to hear from you!

Your friend in the garden,

Marty Johnson
Owner - Johnson's Garden Center