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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

Help your garden beat the heat this summer! Make-your-own rain barrel adapter kits from the Rain Barrel Depot are available for $25 through tomorrow — July 31st. Reserve your kit now on CRWA’s page here!

A recycled syrup drum courtesy of Coca Cola’s Needham facility and weather-proof paint are included with each kit. CRWA will be hosting a workshop at their office from 6-7 pm on Tuesday, July 31st for anyone who would like to receive instruction for assembling a rain barrel. Anyone who is unable to attend the workshop will be welcome to pick up materials from CRWA’s office in Weston during our regular business hours.

 

Phyllis Theermann

landscapes for living

Before you treat your lawn with chemicals this spring, come learn about safer, healthier, and more eco-friendly ways to care for your home landscape. Sustainable Wellesley is co-sponsoring “Landscapes for Living: A Forum on Eco-Friendly Gardening and Lawn Care,” on Saturday, May 13, 10:30 am to 3 pmat Wellesley Free Library.  

Whether you are a beginner or a long-time green thumb, you’ll find inspiration and information at this free forum. Come early at 10:00 am to get advice on soil analysis from Cricket Vlass, Landscape Planner for our own Wellesley Department of Public Works. 

The program includes nationally known speakers Doug Tallamy and Chip Osborne. Doug will speak about easy ways to incorporate native plants into your decorative landscape. Chip will discuss how you can use the same principles of organic turf management that he developed for the Town of Wellesley to manage your lawn at home. And in between these two keynote speakers, you can choose a practical workshop:

  • Planting for pollinators, with Best Bees
  • Gardening with beautiful ornamental edibles, with Home Harvest
  • Composting in your backyard, with Ann McGovern, EPA 

Wellesley Women Artisans will also present the exhibit “Art in Nature,” with works by 17 local artists. 

Register here to be eligible for prizes: tinyurl.com/LandscapesForLiving  

Click here for flyer to download and share.  

Click here for Facebook event.

Event co-sponsors: Wellesley Natural Resources Commission, Sustainable Wellesley, Health Department, Recreation Department, and Wellesley Free Library.