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Archive for April, 2011

While doing a quick update on the local Horticultural Society website, I came across this information about preserving the habitat of the Monarch butterfly:

KU News Release

April 21, 2005
Contact: Dan Lara, University Relations, (785) 864-8855.

KU researcher plans national effort to create ‘waystations’ for monarchs

LAWRENCE — University of Kansas ecology professor Orley “Chip” Taylor is starting a national effort to create 10,000 “monarch waystations” over the next three years to help preserve the dwindling numbers of monarch butterflies in the United States.

“We need a large-scale effort to help preserve the monarch,” said Taylor, who serves as director of Monarch Watch, an outreach organization based at KU that is dedicated to tracking the monarch’s migration and conserving its habitats. “The idea is to get everyone who is interested in the monarch butterfly and those interested in gardening to create monarch habitats.”

Here in Ontario, Canada, I’ve noticed a drop-off in the numbers of Monarchs that I see each summer, so I’ll identify what I need to do to make my yard more Monarch-friendly, using the resources available at the  Monarch Watch website.

Earth Day just seems like the right day to start.

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The cotton seeds that were planted on Feb 23 are progressing nicely, and show every intention of soon outgrowing their pots. The best performers are the brown and green cotton from Joan Ruane, followed by the Uplands cotton. My heat mat stopped working at some point, which may account for the lack of Pima seed germination so far.

The indigo planted on the same date is also growing, and has lovely delicate leaves.

I re-planted  both the indigo and the cotton about two weeks after the first go, so new plants are still appearing.

I’ve made one addition to my dye-plant list and ordered some Japanese Indigo seed, as I think it might survive outdoors in our Canadian zone 3b climate.

This is based on the excellent dye-plant information to be found at Leena Riihelä’s Riihivilla site – written in both Finnish and English. Her blog is exceptional and I wish I could travel to the Helsinki market where she and her husband Jouni, sell their lovely natural-dyed Finnsheep wool and mitten kits. These are also available on their website and the pictures are gorgeous. Leena provides a list of suppliers for Japanese Indigo seed and I ordered from Peter Borchard’s Companion Plants in Ohio.

A few warm days and some rain have greatly reduced the amount of snow in the yard, so Spring is definitely in the air.

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The sap is still running up here, but we’ve already finished making our little batch of syrup.

Starting on March 16 and finishing on March 30, we collected enough sap with 7 taps to produce about 4.75 litres of syrup, so we assume that we have collected at least 190 litres of sap – or 27 litres per tap. We could still be collecting, but we were limited by the amount of wood we had on-hand for the fire, and the size of the pot we use for boiling the sap down.

As it was, we ended up doing the final boil on the BBQ and very briefly on the kitchen stove.

It’s hard to know the best time to start tapping – studying the weather forecasts, is one way, as is waiting for the full moon in March (the Full Sap Moon), but it I think it’s best to wait until the snow has melted in most of the yard, and the sun is warm enough to encourage sitting on the porch with a hot cup of coffee and a good book.

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