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Wellesley Family Grows Milkweed for MonarchsWellesley Family Grows Beautiful Milkweed For Monarchs

Beautiful Monarch butterflies that were once regular visitors to our yards are now in a world-wide decline. This is largely due to the wide use of pesticides and herbicides that poison the butterflies and their caterpillars, and to the reduction in milkweed plant numbers. Milkweed is the *only* plant that Monarch caterpillars can eat, so it’s presence is essential. Unfortunately, the clearing of roadside verges and more intensive development has greatly reduced this critical, native plant.

Over the past five years Sustainable Wellesley has provided more than 800 milkweed plants to Wellesley residents so they can encourage Monarch butterflies in their own yards. Many have sent in photos of butterflies and caterpillars in their gardens. 

Now Wellesley resident Jaden Crawford has taken it to the next level!

Jaden wrote to Sustainable Wellesley lately letting us know that he has been germinating, propagating and growing milkweed and has some seeds to share if folks are interested in them.

“They are prolific!,” he said. “Part of the trick to propagating from collected seed is collecting the seed pods once they turn brown and start splitting, but before the seeds go airborne. Remove them from the pods and store in a clean, dry container. Then make sure they spend some time in freezing temps and store them in a cool, dry place,” Jaden wrote.  He continued that, “Even though they are prolific, they are much easier to manage than other prolific plants like goldenrod (which we also grow-carefully) because they don’t have the same type of fast-running roots. So they are quite easy to pull at any stage of growth if they do turn up in beds where they aren’t wanted.”

According to Jaden germination took a long time this year and the germination ratio was about 70%. WIth the thousands of seeds produced per plant this is a lot, but he still aims to beat it next season by letting the seeds freeze a bit – just as they do in nature.

Beginning in late February, he uses a greenhouse (one that he built out of an old deck that he pulled up, glass primarily from the RDF, and a polycarbonate roof) and heat mats on timers when ambient temps are relatively low at night. He also keeps moisture fairly constant until they germinate. For folks without greenhouses, simple cold frames would work just as well.

Jaden is happy to walk others through his process in person. Email info@sustainablewellesley.com to get connected to him. If you want to be a monarch watcher, or learn more about them, reach out to them here.

Next month we will learn more about his family’s food, ornamental, and wildlife gardens.

Phyllis Theermann

Bring your family, neighbors and friends to march about environmental concerns in the Wellesley Parade this Sunday. Folks are lining up at 12.45pm on the corner of Elm and Washington Streets. Bring a wagon for the little ones. We have butterfly signs and pinwheels for them to hold.

Look for the sailboat and an electric vehicle promoting healthy, clean wind energy as well as the butterflies and flowers promoting healthy lawns and pollinators.  Sustainable Wellesley, Wellesley Green Schools, Friends of Morses Pond, Wellesley Conservation CouncilWellesley Natural Resources Commission, Friends of Brookside and others will march together. It’s so much fun, please join us!

You will enjoy the shout outs and cheers from friendly spectators along the route.

We are grateful to Laurel for organizing us, the Bender Family for building the float, the Wellesley Municipal Light Plant for their support, and the Wellesley Wonderful Weekend Parade organizers.

There is a great deal of environmental enthusiasm in town. Simply, email info@SustainableWellesley.com to learn how you can get involved.

Quentin

This is Sustainable Wellesley’s fifth year offering milkweed plants. Please help us help the Monarchs by purchasing and planting milkweeds!

Order your variety of organic milkweeds today here.
The Incarnata are very healthy and sturdy and should do really well. These will go fast, so order soon.

Plants should be arriving in late May from growers associated with Monarch Watch.

Please click here to purchase your plants. We will notify you when they arrive.

Please note: you must pick up your plants. Don’t worry, they will be conveniently located at a home in Wellesley.

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Milkweed For Monarchs

Sustainable Wellesley is helping residents do their part to support the Monarch butterfly – by sourcing milkweed for you to put in your yard.  Monarch populations are crashing and one reason is the lack of milkweed that Monarch caterpillars *must* eat to survive.  And milkweed is a beautiful pink and white plant that attracts even more beautiful butterflies to your home!

milkweed and plantAmazingly enough,

Monarchs can produce four generations during one summer. After overwintering in the oyamel forests of central Mexico the first three generations have life spans of two to six weeks and keep moving north. During this time they will mate and have the next generation that will continue the northward migration. The fourth generation is different and can live up to nine months, and this is the one that needs to find milkweed in your yard. These are also the butterflies that will migrate south for winter to either Mexico or southern California.

CaptureMonarch numbers have plummeted…

…by 90 percent in recent years from both the loss of its overwintering grounds, and from the widespread elimination of milkweed in the United States by the use of herbicides like Roundup.  This is where you come in: by planting milkweed in your (herbicide-free, pesticide-free) yard you provide the vital link in the Monarch lifecycle.  Each year Sustainable Wellesley sources the correct species of milkweed for eastern Massachusetts (Asclepias incarnata) and makes it available to beautiful butterfly breeders like you.

Please send any questions to info@sustainablewellesley.com, and do join the discussion in the comments section below.  Let us know how your plants are doing and if you’ve seen any butterflies

COPYRIGHT © 2016 By Sustainable Wellesley

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