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Unfortunately, the butterfly we all know and love is losing its habitat, specifically milkweed, to modern farming methods and population development. The Monarchs are the only North American butterflies that make a 3,000-mile migration to Mexico and California for the winter, taking 6-8 generations to complete the journey. The fragmentation of milkweed in their migratory path is significant becausemilkweed is the only host plant where Monarchs lay their egg...s, and the sole food source for their larvae. With fewer host plants, their population is suffering as a result-90 percent decline over the last 20 years. Their population decline is so significant that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is reviewing to determine if the butterfly should be classified as "threatened" under the Federal Endangered Species Act.
As home gardeners, we can help to replenish the butterfly habitat by sowing nectar and host butterfly-friendly varieties in our home, school, and community gardens.
Want to help boost the monarch population and observe their life cycle? Monarchs lay their eggs exclusively on milkweed, a plant that feeds the young caterpillars. These precious butterflies will seek out your garden when you grow these vigorous, shrub-like plants. With pink, white, and fiery orange shades of clustered tiny flowers, you'll enjoy them, too!
Sow directly outside 2 to 4 weeks before your average last frost date, and again up to 8 weeks before first fall frost. In short seasons, start seeds inside 6 to 8 weeks before your average last frost date.
Butterfly flower (milkweed) benefits greatly from stratification, the process of subjecting seed to moist/cold treatment to break dormancy, which occurs naturally when seed is sown outdoors in fall. When starting seed indoors in spring, sow the seed into a container of moistened seed-starting mix, cover with clear plastic wrap and leave the container in a refrigerator for 3 to 6 weeks, then remove to a warm location to germinate. Always keep soil evenly moist.
This seminar will cover the basics of starting your veggie garden, including choosing a suitable site, raised beds vs. in-ground, soil prep, critter protection, irrigation, and what you should do at the initial planting, including choosing crops and fertilizing.
Botanical Interests flower mixes have purpose - trying to fill a shaded area? Looking to cook with edible flowers? Want to enjoy the gentle hum of hummingbirds in the garden? With over a dozen different flower mixes to choose from, you will surely find the perfect mix for your need. The varieties in the mixes were carefully chosen by Botanical Interests for color combination, hardiness, bloom period, and other factors. Each variety in the mix is germination teste...d separately and the quantity of each variety in the mix is adjusted so that one variety doesn't dominate the mix. There are also NO fillers in the packets - all seed! Some of the these: Bring Home the Butterflies, Bulb Companions, Edible Flowers, Hummingbird Haven, Made in the Shade, Precious Pollinators, Save the Bees, Songbird Delight, Water Wise, and others.
6 Easy Steps for Flower Mixes
Shake seed packet to mix seeds.
Sow seeds 2 to 6 weeks before your average last frost.
Mix seed in a bucket with some of the soil seeds will be sown in. Evenly spread out over the square footage the packet recommends.
Rake seeds in lightly.
Keep moist until seeds begin to emerge - then water regularly as needed.
Enjoy months of blooms and visits from pollinators!
3 tips for growing great poppies!
Most poppies thrive in full sun, poor to average well-drained soils and don't flinch at drought. Oriental poppies are the exception-they look best in richer soil and moderate water.
A cold period improves germination for most poppy seeds, which is why we recommend sowing them 4 to 6 weeks before your average last frost date or early to mid-fall for bloom the following spring.
Poppies are sown on the soil surface because light helps them germinate. Lightly rake in seeds to ensure good soil contact.
When should I plant my spring bulbs?
Spring planted/summer flowering bulbs and tubers can be planted in the spring when you are certain the ground will no longer freeze in your area.
How deep should I plant spring planting bulbs?
The rule of thumb is to plant the bulb or tuber about 5 inches deep. Exceptions include dahlias and begonias which should be planted just beneath the surface.
How far apart do I plant spring planting bulbs?
For smaller varieties, 4 inches is a good interval, 5 inches apart for gladiolus and 10 inches for begonias. Lilies should be about 12 inches apart and dahlias as much as 16 inches apart. For uninterrupted color, they can be planted even closer together.
Now's the time to start thinking about sowing peppers indoors! Whether you like the heat or like them sweet, peppers are a kitchen staple.
Temperature is crucial for starting peppers. Pepper seeds germinate much faster if the soil/media is kept at 70°-90°F. At cooler temperatures, they can either fail to sprout, or sprouting may take a month. The longer seeds take to emerge, the more susceptible they are to rotting in the wet conditions or being attacked by fungus in ...the media. Seedling heat mats are especially helpful in maintaining warm soil for peppers. Once germinated, peppers can be grown at air temperatures of 60°F at night and 70°F during the day.
Peppers are very frost sensitive, so wait to harden off until outdoors temperatures are frost-free and settled. Soil should be over 55°F when peppers are transplanted. If your spring warm-up is lagging, use plastic mulch or season extension products like hot caps or walls of water to warm the soil.
Peppers do not set fruit in periods of extended cool temperature (below 55°F) or hot (over 90°F daytime and over 75°F nighttime) temperatures. Fertilizing with kelp or seaweed can help plants with stress from heat, drought, or transplanting.
What makes peppers hot?
A class of compounds called capsaicin (derived from peppers' genus name) gives chile peppers their spiciness. Capsaicin occurs mostly in the light-colored ribs (also called pith) inside the pepper. The seeds contain very little or no capsaicin, but are often hot because they come in contact with the capsaicin from the ribs. Capsaicin may have several health benefits. Some of the possibilities being studied are increased metabolism, appetite suppression, decreased heart disease, reduced pain perception, and heartburn relief (believe it or not!). Like your peppers hot? The more mature the pepper fruit, the hotter the pepper will be. Stress, such as drought, will also make peppers hotter. You can cause stress to the plant by cutting back on watering after fruits have started to develop so the soil stays dry, but be careful not to let the plant wilt! However, drought stress may reduce yields.