Friday, March 15, 2013

Milkweed mystery

Some of you Centerpointe folk are receiving little gifts with tags stuck in your doors that look like this:
That's happening because I'm in the process of excavating volunteers from my yard.
I'll be re-mulching my wretched-looking weedy beds soon, but before I do, I need to remove all of the valuable volunteers, like this these milkweed starts.  Three years after we first began terraforming our back yard, a lot of stuff has become prolific, including these. 
I dug up this batch and went door to door, sometimes talking with folks, but some were not home and others I knew were putting small children to bed, so I did not knock.  I just left the plants on their front stoops with the tags wedged in their doors.   
This kind of milkweed grows quickly and will attract Monarch butterflies as soon as it gets to be a decent size.  I've blogged about our backyard Monarchs previously
The caterpillars feed on milkweed species exclusively.  We had a lot of fun last year watching them complete their life cycle.  This guy is about one hour old.

Two days ago, NYT published this piece describing how Monarch habitat is almost gone.  That was part of my inspiration for saving our current batch of volunteer plants. 
Milkweed is fairly easy to grow - just place in fertile soil and water frequently.  We keep ours in two large flower pots.
Once they get large, you have to prune them back or they'll look scruffy.  But they flower without encouragement.  I took this pic of the parent plant this evening.  It's been outside all winter - they also stand up well to cold weather.  If frost kills them, they often come back from the roots. 
Anyway, if you happen to receive one of these from me and don't have room for it, feel free to pass it to one of your neighbors. 
They don't take long to grow to a good size. 
I'm going to be distributing tomato starts in much the same way pretty soon.  Because I compost my own garden wastes, I end up with volunteer tomatoes everywhere in my yard.  Based on my past experience with them, they seem to be pretty productive in the second generation, so they're worth planting.  Or at least they have been, so far. 

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