Seeding of a pollinator habitat

Slovak
Our Lady of the Woods
Ground cedar
Ground cedar

Ryan Conner, Happy Tonics Volunteer in Hayward, WI has a native habitat in his front yard. A few years ago, he decided to stop mowing. Bravo!

A visit to tranquility
A visit to tranquility

This past winter Ryan sent me some seed that he gathered from his own property. I am implementing a Wild Butterfly Habitat, on Ashby West Road, Fitchburg, MA. It is on family land and private.

RYAN’S NATIVE SEED:

Asclepias syriaca common milkweed

Desmodium canadense Showy tick-trefoil

Echinacea pallida Pale purple coneflower

Ratibida pinnata Gray-headed coneflower

Rudbeckia laciniata Green-headed coneflower

Solidago speciosa Showy goldenrod

I also bought seed packages for the following plants that were also scattered.

PACKAGED SEED:

Nepeta cataria Catmint

Aguilegia canadensis Columbine

Artemisia caudatus Love lies bleeding

Artemisia tricolor Joseph’s coat

Monarca media Monarda

Ecinacea purpurea Purple conflower

Helanthus spp. Sunflower

 

Ryan Conner proudly stands next to his Conservation Star Home Award sign
Ryan Conner proudly stands next to his Conservation Star Home Award sign.

I won’t look for instantaneous results. I have found that native seed sprouts when conditions are compatible to its growing needs. Sometimes seed can lay dormant for years before it emerges. We will see as time develops what takes.

In the meantime, I have put up a driftwood recycled birdhouse. This week another fanciful bird house for my sister’s grandchildren, a small shrine for for La Senora de Guadalupe and a wildflower wood-chime will be placed at the habitat.

Beauty is etheral
Beauty is ethereal

My sister Ronnie already thoughtfully brought a chair up to the habitat for me. It is set in the cool of the pine grove. She also planted ground cover succulents in an old wooden log that had the center eaten out by some critter. Each touch we add will offer refuge to me. There is a reason for this. My life is centered on living a purpose driven life. It is busy with speaking tours, leading restoration gardens, implementing pollinator habitats, teaching environmental classes and writing my third book. I simply need a place of refuge where I can unwind and listen to the wind. Here I do ceremony for water and communicate with the Creator’s natural world, which renews me. I love it so.

 

 

Butterfly Corner

Ryall, M. E., 23 May 2012. Washburn County Register, Butterfly Corner, p. 7

May 14 – What a day for butterflies. I watched a mother monarch butterfly fluttering low to the ground as she searched for milkweed. She located plants near my kitchen garden. I witnessed the butterfly laying eggs on tiny milkweed plants. When you look closely, one will notice that the butterfly tips her abdomen to the underside of milkweed leaves. More often than not, the air current is less windy close to the ground, making it easier for a butterfly to deposit eggs on tiny milkweed.  This wasn’t the only species of butterflies seen. There were Canada swallowtail, black swallowtail, coppers, fritillary, and Milbert’s tortoiseshell butterflies. Monday’s temperature was a balmy 82 degrees Fahrenheit sunny day, a perfect day for butterflies.

Mrs. Janie LaFave's kindergarten class, Shell Lake Grammar School, WI
Mrs. Janie LaFave’s kindergarten class, Shell Lake Grammar School, WI

May 17 – I was a guest speaker at Mrs. LaFave’s kindergarten class at Shell Lake Elementary School. Children love butterflies. Mrs. LaFave teaches students about monarch biology and the butterfly’s life cycle. One student brought in a deceased monarch to show me. Another student raised his hand and proudly told the class that he had raised a painted lady butterfly at home. I was amazed. He said that he fed the adult butterfly sugar water when it emerged as an adult butterfly. The students have such an interest in nature, be it butterflies, bees, or native plants. We did get a bit off topic when the class wanted to tell me personal bee stories. I found that of interest because bees are suffering a decline. It is wonderful that children are connected to nature and insects. Someday these very children will be the next generation to protect the natural world.

Volunteers met at the Visitors Center in Shell Lake. We talked about the Monarch Butterfly Habitat and ways we are working together to bring this rich environmental land based project forward in the 2012 season. Jim VanMoorleham is going to stain the signs that the Tech Ed. class made at Shell Lake School. Joan Quenan is going to buy some white vinegar to start eradicating invasive spotted knapweed. Yes, it is true. Vinegar kills the invasive species; however, it will kill everything around it too. We are not concerned with killing bird’s foot trefoil in area three along with spotted knapweed. Both plants are replacing native species.

The Monarch Butterfly Habitat is alive with crickets. We saw hundreds of monarch eggs on milkweed plants. Milkweed has finally taken off and there are milkweed plants throughout the habitat. All things point to a bumper crop of monarchs at the habitat this year. We will be marking plants and putting up a “Journey North” butterfly screened tent to view the life cycle of the butterfly. Visitors will be able to observe monarch butterfly conservation in action this year.

The plan is to replant a weeded area with a layer of wet newspapers and top soil from Bashaw Nursery. Thank you, Steve Degner, for delivering the enriched soil. We are getting ready to plant a Three Sisters Garden as a teaching garden. People will have an opportunity to learn about healthy organic native crops, corn, beans and squash. Native seed means that seed originated in the Americas. This type of garden allows nitrogen to be added to the soil to replenish good nutrients that corn depletes. The squash is a natural ground cover and holds moisture. Along with this, the group is planning to plant gourds, within the squash family. Hopefully these will produce future gourd bird houses for the habitat.

Learning experiences from Eleventh New Ventures Gardening Seminar

March 19, 2011, Northwood School, Minong, WI, USA

Approximately 200 avid gardeners attended the event. They came from Duluth, MN, Rice Lake, Trego, and Hayward, WI to name a few. One speaker especially caught my attention. Francois Medion, is a French gardener who worked for many years with Paris and United States chefs. He grew vegetables and greens for restaurants. He is a gardener who believes in planting edibles into the landscape. For example, you can pair container cabbage plants near cedar and pine. Nasturtiums can be grown in containers to brighten dark corners which are mostly planted in evergreens. Medion suggested the following and I have personally eaten all of these species:

Edible flowers for garnish and salads: Sweet violets, Anise hyssop, Borage and Nasturtiums.

Edible wild plants: Oyster-leaf, Purslane, French and blood sorrel, leeks and fiddlehead ferns. NOTE: 2/1/2012. I don’t remember eating oyster-leaf but feel certain the speaker spoke of plant.

Edible roots: Evening primrose, Jerusalem artichoke

For the third year, Happy Tonics exhibit drew many visitors who were interested in the monarch life cycle. For the first time this year, gardeners told us that they are now growing common milkweed. Some attendees stated they also grew other species of milkweed. It was heartening to learn that in 2011 more gardeners are incorporating butterfly gardens to welcome the monarch butterfly and other pollinating species. A few visitors spoke of their experiences with the swallowtail butterfly, yellow and black species. Others told of sightings of Luna and sphinx moth.

Cassie Thompson, eighth grade student at Northwood School, Minong, assisted us at the Gardening Seminar. She is a long time advocate for the monarch butterfly. For years, Cassie has been raising milkweed on her property. She has established a colony of common milkweed to welcome the monarch butterfly.

As an exhibitor, Happy Tonics sold common milkweed and native crop seed. I spoke to visitors about crops including beans and corn that also has wild relatives. The purpose of wild species is to keep domesticated native species hardy. Wild relatives insure biodiversity of species. Happy Tonics buys seed from Native Seeds/SEARCH, a native seed company, from Tucson, Arizona. Seed is gathered from the Tarahumara, Hopi and Navajo tribes. Native heirloom seed is drought hardy and is better able to survive Climate Change.  We have had great success with native seed. In 2010, we grew a Three Sisters Garden at the Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake. The garden was captured on Discover Wisconsin TV. Diane Dryden, Board Member of Happy Tonics, taught the film crew about the concept of growing a native garden.

After exhibiting at the New Ventures Garden Seminar for the third year, we are learning that gardeners are actively doing their part to help pollinators by planting butterfly gardens into their own landscapes. This is good news because we need to create a floral corridor across America in order to protect pollinators. We need to plant biodiversity of nectar and host plants. Loss of habitat is so severe that the USDA and Xerces Society have determined that farming practices of using pesticides and planting only monoculture crops have harmed pollinators. We need to reestablish native prairie and pollinator gardens across the country.

In April, our online stores reopen.  Visit Happy Tonics web site at www.happytonics.org to order native seed for crops and monarch butterfly.

Soup Stock III Sustainable Agriculture

Basket of abundance
Basket of abundance

Happy Tonics exhibited at Soup Stock III at Little Footprint Farm, in Turtle Lake, Wisconsin, on 19 September 2009.  The annual event was hosted by Mike Brenna at his sustainabile farm.  I loved the beautiful biodiversity of crops in the gardens.  Mike is growing Oneida corn, a traditional tribal corn, that is grown by the Oneida Indian Nation near Green Bay.  The Oneida originally came from New York State and corn seed came to Wisconin in 1992.  I originated in New York State also and so like the Ojibwe,  Oneida and the white flint corn, I migrated to Wisconsin in December 2006.

I was thrilled that Mike shared three ears of Oneida white flint corn with Happy Tonics.  We distributed a small amount of seed at a seed saving session at the Lac Courte Oreilles Sustainable Living and Wellness Fair, on 25 September 2009, at the Lac Courte Oreilles Convention Center.  You can view my video of event and a migration story of the monarch and food safety issues at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZ7vl9qJIAA

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We will use seed as a teaching tool at events and when we are presenting at conferences.  Seed will be planted in 2010 with the grow out intention of seed saving for our native seed distribution program.  

Learn from http://nativeharvest.com/node/3 the benefits of a traditional diet of native foods in restoring health and reconnecting to native cultural heritage.  White Earth Reservation is honored by Slow Food Movement at http://www.indiancountrytoday.com/living/health/48620117.html  Learn about the story that the three sisters (Corn, beans, squash) gave the tribe at http://www.cias.wisc.edu/curriculum/modII/secb/Tsyunhehkwa2.pdf

 Happy day