Monday, September 30, 2013

Great Balls of Seed

Seed balls drying
The seed ball is a little garden all its own with the seed, the compost to nurture the seed, a little chili powder to deter pests, and the clay as its soil all mixed together.  A post in the blog, Heavy Petal, was the inspiration for my seed-ball-making interest.  Surely this was a super way of putting native seeds into unused spaces.

A bit of research resulted in learning that seed balls are used in third-world countries as a way of planting crops. Masanobu Fukuoka has developed the seed balls as almost fool-proof way of planting vegetables and wheat.  See a video here:

Seed balls in boxes ready to give away
I made my seed balls using seeds of native plants harvested here in Ontario and purchased from Tallgrass Ontario:  blue vervain, tall coreopsis, culver's root, grey-headed coneflower and showy tick trefoil.  All these seeds need some stratification so fall is the best time to "toss" them.  

When the seed balls were dry, I packaged them in little boxes and give them away as gifts to native plant buffs.  I've also placed some seed balls in my own garden and will watch for their development in the spring.  The squirrels move them around a bit but, perhaps because of the chili, don't damage them.

Seed ball planted and waiting for spring

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

You Can Stay

The plants in my garden must now be useful to native insects or very beloved by me.  All others will be taken out.
Because of my new-found interest in bees, I watch to see which plants the bees like.  The aster pictured here is/was Alma Potschke -- a vivid magenta hybrid of New England aster.  Last year it began to revert to its native stock -- a purple aster.  Today I noticed that the bees were constant around the purple flowers but none were attracted to the magenta ones.  Another bit of proof that bees prefer native rather than hybridized plants.
The aster can stay because of its reverted parts.  Next year, I will cut out any magenta stems and let the plant go completely back to its purple origin.