By special request, here are five photos of the current state of our garden. The flexible downspout near the rain barrel is easily moved to the top when the barrel needs to be filled. Watering in dry weather from the barrel is easy with the hose.
Tag Archives: Milkweed
Monarchs and Milkweeds
In the summer of 2015 I transplanted some local varieties of milkweed to a small patch in my garden next to the rain barrel. They were shocked by being dug up. I watered and they survived. In the summer of 2016 they all came up looking healthy. I was hopeful for visits by Monarch butterflies. I never saw evidence of any. If you aren’t familiar with milkweed, this link will help. When damaged, they bleed a white sap.
This year in 2017 the plants are nearly 6 ft tall and strong. I put a 4 ft tall piece of fencing around them so they wouldn’t blow over. This picture shows them in the center in full bloom. The second picture shows their flowered tops.
Milkweed | Busy Visitor
I transplanted three common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) plants from a path we walk to our garden last year. They were about a foot tall at that time. They have done well this year and are over four feet tall and now in bloom. This busy bee was so intent it let me get very close for this photo. No sign of Monarch butterflies yet.
Milkweed | Seeds Harvested
Milkweed plants are disappearing according to Monarch Watch and other sources. The Monarch butterflies rely upon them for survival. I decided to gather a few seed pods so I can plant some in my backyard and along a trail near my house. I cruised around some places on my bike looking for patches of milkweed that had extra pods I could harvest and bring home. I only took seven and left the rest for nature. I placed them on the deck for a month to dry out. That worked well. They split open and revealed their many seeds with attached coma.
Each pod had dozens of healthy brown seeds. The challenge was to remove them without getting coma fuzzies all over the place. The garage seemed the best place to do that job.
I grasped each pod firmly by the end opposite the seeds. That is where the coma tails were bundled. Then, I ran a small stick along the seeds to make them fall onto this plate. Almost all of them came loose so I could set aside the pod and detached coma fuzzies without any trouble. One source I read said to put the contents of the pod into a paper bag and shake it vigorously. Cut a small hole in the corner and dump out the seeds. The fuzzies remain in the bag. I never tried that. Here is my crop of seeds for the spring.
They are now stored in a paper bag in the refrigerator until April. At that time, I will vernalize them. They get exposed to very cold temperatures for several weeks before planting them in May when ground temperatures are above 70˚. Vernalization increases the germination rate. I will layer them between moist paper towels and put them into a freezer for several weeks.
More on this story in April and May.