Easiest Way to Harvest Milkweed Seeds

You have to be living in a hole if you have not heard of the concern for the decline in Monarch populations across the United States. Much of the loss is thought to be destruction of habitat and of the native milkweed species that provide food for the Monarch larvae. In response, many organizations have started propagating milkweed and in some cases are giving away free milkweed seeds. However, if you are lucky enough to stumble upon a patch of milkweed close to where you live, you may want to collect some of the seeds yourself.

For all the hype of milkweed being a weed, in the case of Showy Milkweed (Asclepias speciosa), it sure does not Continue reading “Easiest Way to Harvest Milkweed Seeds”

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Phacelia tanacetifolia: An Extraordinary Insectary Plant

Phacelia tanacetifolia or Lacy Fiddleneck is my favorite insectary plant; attracting honey bees, native bumblebees, solitary bees, parasitic wasps, syrphid flies, and many other beneficial insects. It provides both quality pollen and copious amounts of nectar to these insects and in return you get the benefit of increased pollination and pest management. Because Phacelia is quick growing and supports flowers that last a long time, it is a great insectary plant.

Insectary plants are grown with the express purpose of providing increased pollen and nectar resources required by the natural enemies of harmful garden pests. Providing these resources builds up the population of these beneficial insects in your garden. And in addition to attracting predatory insects, insectary plants also draw in friendly insects that Continue reading “Phacelia tanacetifolia: An Extraordinary Insectary Plant”

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Planting Milkweed in Oregon for Monarchs

For the first time I saw a monarch at my farm in McMinnville this past summer. And I either saw it on five separate days or I saw up to five of them. And while it is one of the most familiar North American butterflies, and is considered an important pollinator, it is a rare sight indeed for the North Willamette Valley.

The Monarch butterfly Danaus plexippus is famous for its annual migrations, from eastern North America to the mountains of central Mexico, and from western North America including Oregon to the coast of California. When they reach their destination they rest for the cool winter months in large aggregations containing millions of individuals. Monarch larvae feed on milkweeds of the family Asclepiadaceae, from which they sequester glycosides that make them unpalatable to birds and other predators.

Estimates are that the monarch population has declined by 90% in the last 25 years due to habitat loss. That is why in June 2015, President Obama Continue reading “Planting Milkweed in Oregon for Monarchs”

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Creating A Wildlife Corridor

As we build more housing developments and shopping centers we cut up the existing landscape and create pockets of animal habitat that are often too small to sustain healthy populations for very long. This habitat fragmentation is one of the number one threats to wildlife because it isolates populations of animals causing inbreeding and often cuts off those species that need to travel to breeding sites. A wildlife corridor is an area of habitat connecting wildlife populations separated by human activities or structures such as roads and parking lots.

These wildlife corridors provide cover that allows an exchange of individuals between populations, which may help prevent the negative effects of inbreeding and reduced genetic diversity that often occurs with isolated populations. Birds, bees and butterflies are not as dependent on wildlife corridors because they can fly over the impediments, but mammals, reptiles and amphibians benefit greatly by Continue reading “Creating A Wildlife Corridor”

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Best Crabapple Tree for Feeding Birds

I have tested berried shrubs and trees for years trying to find the best ones to feed birds. If you read the labels at your local nursery you will find that every plant that has a berry also has a tag that says “attracts birds”. But this is just marketing copy and very few have any value to birds. However one crabapple performs beautifully in the Willamette Valley. Continue reading “Best Crabapple Tree for Feeding Birds”

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