seed starting!

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Last weekend, 14 of us convened at Squash Blossom Farm to start about 7,000 native plants that we will use to create new pollinator gardens next summer.

First we filled the trays with a mix of compost, pine fines, pearlite, and vermiculite.

Then we added seeds. We mapped out eight different tray designs for different environmental conditions (sunny/shady and wet/medium/dry), with 10 species in each 50-cell tray. This will let us have a ready-to-plant “garden” in each tray. Some of the seeds are seeds we collected in the neighborhood and some are seeds we bought from Prairie Moon Nursery.

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We put the filled trays outside to stratify for the winter. We will bring them back into the greenhouse in the early spring to give the plants a little head start to hopefully grow big enough to transplant by June.

Thanks so much to everyone who came! And to Laura G. for boss soil mixing and photo-taking and Susan W. and Roger N. for donating the space and making us lunch!

garden #36

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Our last install of 2019! At Nicole P’s on September 21. Great job, everyone!

garden #33

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This past Saturday an intergenerational team dug up a chunk of Angel and Joel’s boulevard and installed 18 species of prairie plants, including some of the more unusual plants that we grew from seed this winter like the super-showy large-flowered beardtongue, (Penstemon grandiflorus) and some great St. Johnswort (Hypericum pyramidatum) that we received from our friend and neighbor Bill B. These two species are unrelated, but both have opposite, pointy leaves and large, pointy seed pods and can look similar to each other when not in flower. The St. Johnswort typically likes moister soil than the beardtongue, but since it’s hard to tell which plants will thrive in a boulevard, we’ve erred on the side of trying lots of stuff and seeing what happens.

 

garden #32

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On Saturday we resumed garden installations with an install at David’s house.

We planted 18 species including some of the plants we started from seed this winter, plus Bee Lab donations and some large anise hyssop and false sunflower donated by local nursery Pollinator Works (thanks, PW!).

Our fall season actually began last Wednesday with a tour of all the gardens we’ve planted in the last three years, organized in collaboration with our local Wild Ones chapter. Here’s a picture of garden superheros Ben and Jeanell and kiddos, who helped with the tour and volunteered their backyard to house lots of plants for CPP. (Nice shirts, right?)

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Thanks everyone who organized, hosted, and attended the tour!

garden #31

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On July 9 we had our largest (and steepest!) installation to date at Charlie’s house, which has an un-mowable hill of a front yard that we planted to become a native wildflower meadow. The timing for this large installation was great since we’re taking a break for the rest of July but had a lot of plants that needed to get in the ground, including native grasses, asters, milkweeds, bee balms, and sunflowers.

A mighty crew of 10 people knocked out the whole install in 2 hours. As we wrapped up, a huge bumble bee auspiciously buzzed through to check things out. We’ll have some goodies here next year, bee!

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On July 3 we planted a shady garden under the canopy of Carla and Joe’s huge elm tree. We used a mix of plants including wild ginger, violets, blood root, black cohosh, large-leaved aster, and sweet Joe Pye weed (many thanks to plant suppliers Ellie, Julia, and Bob). We’ve got one more garden to go next week and then will pause for a few weeks to avoid the July heat!

garden #29

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Yesterday we planted sunny garden strips along the sidewalk leading up to Casey and Danny’s house. It was uncomfortably hot out, but we had another great turnout of eight volunteers, so were able to get these gardens installed at lightning speed, i.e. ~1.5 hours.

Casey and Danny had already planted a few things (including the adorable silky aster!) toward the sidewalk, and our crew added (possibly way too many) additional plants to fill the area to the street. We have a few more gardens scheduled over the next couple weeks, then will pause for a chunk of July in order to minimize stress and overheating.

garden #28

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We had an awesome group of eight people come out to plant a shady garden at Blake’s house tonight. We had so much labor power that we had to essentially make two gardens, one on the boulevard and one on this cool retaining wall section/plant stage part of Blake’s yard.

We planted graceful sedge, sweet Joe Pye Weed, Canada violet and anemone, wild geranium, zig zag goldenrod, mayapple, big leaf aster, early figwort, bloodroot, jewelweed, wild ginger, large-flowered bellwort, woodland strawberry, and black cohosh. Black cohosh (Actaea racemosa), while not technically a native plant in Minnesota, is native to several states just south of us–close enough that, given climate change and the fact that it is threatened in some places due to overharvest in the wild (info here), I don’t have a problem using it in a native garden. It’s in the same genus as our native Actaeas, red baneberry (Actaea rubra) and doll’s eyes (Actaea pachypoda).

Many thanks to our shady plant donors and garden inspirations, Julia Vanatta and Bob Bergad!

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After the install a segment of the crew walked a few blocks to the ice cream stand and noticed this black swallowtail caterpillar on a golden alexanders plant in Kate’s CPP garden that we planted last year. Yayyyy!!! Here is a cool post about how even though black swallowtails have adapted to nonnative plants like parsley and dill, golden alexanders is one of their original native host plants. Very heartening to see our gardens being put to use by the creatures we are making them for!