Friday, February 24, 2017

Soil Health, Invasive Species and Your Pollinator Garden.

March is around the corner! It’s time to step up plans for that pollinator garden you’ve been dreaming about all winter. One of the most important things to think about is preparing your site for planting. “Soil is the most important aspect that we routinely overlook,” says Kellie Sherman, Coordinator at the Ontario Invasive Plant Council. “A first step is ensuring that the soil is healthy."
Kellie recommends looking for health indicators such as nitrogen, phosphate and potassium. Is the soil sandy or clay-based? What is the water drainage like? She suggests researching the soil type for your area. As this can be daunting, Kellie suggests getting your soil tested. You can pick up a kit from places like Home Depot and then find further research online about results.

Recognizing Invasive Plants.
Periwinkle (Invasive groundcover).
Another critical point of concern are invasive plants such as multiflora rosa, periwinkle ground-cover, Himalayan balsam and jewelweed. Purple loosestrife and honeysuckles are a problem too. But why are invasive species so harmful?

According to Kellie, invasive species are the second most cause of extinction after habitat loss. Invasive species impact the environment and the economy and have an effect on society. “Invasives are aggressive.They compete with species that help our economy and they carry potential diseases that spoil our crops,”she says. Environmentally, invasive plants can have a large impact on natural areas and threaten the important services to both wildlife and humans that they provide. Invasives can overtake forest understorey and prevent forests from regenerating so that we won’t see new trees come up. Kellie points to the Norway maple as being a prolific seed producer invasive in the Toronto Ravine for example. “Research is showing that it significantly reducing pollinators in the area, oaks and maples are not growing.” Invasive plants can change the composition of soil.

As well, there is no good evidence that invasives provide food for pollinators. “Invasive plants can affect forage quantity, reducing biodiversity,” says Kellie. By contrast, “native plants have evolved over eons to work with biodiversity, so they are a better food source for pollinators.”
Society-wise, invasive plants like the giant hogweed can cause irritation to skin.

“Even in a green bin, invasives such as periwinkle can spread,” Kellie warns. She suggests that with something like buckthorn, you could cut it it back before it produces berries, then let the branches decompose. You can check out common invasive plants on the Grow Me Instead Guide, an invaluable guide that helps you identify invasive garden plants and provides suitable native or non-native, non-invasive alternatives.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Hamilton Seedy Saturday 2017

Fun times at We had a great time at Hamilton Seedy Saturday 2017 with our Pollinator Paradise project.

We met lots of knew people and reconnected with so many of our partners and friends! Thanks to Barb for volunteering with us! See you next year!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Fun times: Build bee nest boxes.


Doesn't take much. Some wood, some nails, a hammer, and rolled up newsprint tubes (no ink) that you can stuff into the empty space. Oh, and we used dried phragmites grass, because this invasive species is hollow inside and can be put to good use!!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Winter-Sowing for Native Plants: Workshop

Master Gardener, Bev Wagar. This is how to sow.
Our friends and partners in crime at the Crown Point Garden Club are offering a fun workshop on winter-sowing for native plants. What is winter-sowing you ask? Winter sowing is a method of starting seeds outdoors in winter. This is generally done with seeds that require a period of cold stratification. The method takes advantage of natural temperatures, rather than artificially refrigerating seeds. You can read two blog posts on past winter-sowing workshops here and here.

Milkweed seeds
Here's the scoop:

Try an easy, inexpensive and fun way to grow lots of milkweed and other native perennials from seed. Planted in mini-greenhouses made from recycled household plastic containers placed outdoors, seeds germinate in the spring and plants are garden-ready by summer.

Join local enthusiasts from the Crown Point Garden Club who will help you get started. Participants need to bring planting containers (translucent milk jugs, litre-sized clear plastic bottles, or deep mushroom tubs), sharp scissors, potting mix, a bucket or large bowl, and seeds. Potting mix will be available to buy for $5 a bag.

The event happens Wed. Feb. 8, 7-9pm at Evergreen's Collaboration Station at 294 James St. North.
We'll be there! 

Space is limited and pre-registration is required through EventBrite 

In the mean time, get inspired and read up about winter-sowing here.