Milkweed Seed Bombs

May 3rd, 2016 4 Comments

IMG_5025

 

Remember this little guy from two years ago?  We did figure out he was a guy by the dots on the wings, check out better pictures here to see the visual differences of male and females.

 

Spring is a great time to plant milkweed to help these buddies flourish and continue their remarkable migration to Mexico.  Monarchs can’t survive without milkweed, it’s the one plant that larvae will eat so this is where they lay their eggs.  The reduced growing habitat and use of herbicides on fields has led to a major decline in milkweed across the nation, making the 3,000 mile journey of the monarchs more and more difficult.  Apparently their numbers in Mexico last winter was the lowest on record.

“Seed bombs” are a fun way to have ready-made guerrilla tools to help repopulate the nation with this milky plant and provide food and a place to lay their eggs.  Throw the ‘bombs’ into abandon lots, ditches, and other areas that they could grow relatively undisturbed and not mowed.

 

IMG_2865

 

This is Red Milkweed, Swamp Milkweed, White Indian Hemp, or Asclepius incarnata in some circles.  It’s a native to North America, loves damp environment and is highly attractive to butterflies, particularly the monarch.  There needs to be some caution with what variety of milkweed to plant, especially if you live in southern states.  Some studies are finding that Tropical Milkweed (Asclepias curassavica) doesn’t die off in warm southern states so the monarchs linger and cancel their migration to Mexico, and it can also carry a protozoan that infects the monarchs and reduces their lifespan.

.

Two places to find Milkweed seeds:

.

Seed Savers

Seed Finder

.

I have childhood memories of opening milkweed pods and letting them blow in the wind, floating up and away.  My sisters would gallop the ponies while releasing the pod innards and their fluffy, silky, feathery seeds would sail upwards spreading them far and wide.  This would drive my father absolutely crazy—as a farmer, milkweed was a bane in his fields and would contaminate his crop if we missed it while weeding or ‘walking the beans‘.

Sorry dad, you’ll probably hate this post.

 

IMG_2886

 

All the sites I found gave the same ratio of what I listed below.  The clay helps hold everything together and the compost provides some nourishment to the seeds when they begin to sprout.  Foragers Harvest shares ways to cook milkweed if you want to experiment.

 

 

Milkweed Seed Bombs

 

5 Parts Clay or Clay-Soil Mixture

1 Part Compost or Worm Castings

1 Part Seeds

A tiny bit of water to make it stick together.

Mix everything together and form small balls, then let dry. 

After the last frost, plant in moist areas, ditches, abandon lots and other places where that will not be mowed.

 

If you’re into it, check back for monarch eggs then follow these adoption steps to help ensure their survival:

House the leaf with the eggs in a covered container that can get air and with a stick to climb.  When it hatches continue to bring in fresh milkweed leaves (you can keep extras in a plastic bag in the fridge with a damp paper towel).  Clean out the little black ‘frass’ regularly.  The caterpillar will form the chrysalis from something they can hang from, and once it happens don’t disturb it.  Wait patiently for the miracle.  Release a few days after hatching somewhere near flowers so they will have food. 

 

More about it on these sites: 

Monarch Watch

Wiki How

Video

 

 

IMG_5027

 

 

 

4 Comments

  1. Jane Shuttleworth says:

    Hi Ruthie
    I love your posts. I just had a great weekend with Alice and Barb. Love you and monarchs and milkweed and admire you! xoxo jane

    • Ruth says:

      Awww—ditto right back at you with all of that! Glad you could hang with the sisters.

      • Norma Hervey says:

        This is a wonderful way to begin the day; thank you. IT is especially meaningful as the NYT this week included a story of a village in Mexico trying to protect themselves and the nearby forest from destruction for an industrial development. The greatest tragedy is the forest home to monarchs who have migrated there for centuries to spend the winter. Tourism has been the only economic development as monarch lovers have flocked to the forest. Do any of you remember my monarch butterly, plastered against the windsheld on I90 as I accelerated to enter from a ramp. I had visited friends of decades from our yeras in NY who were having a family vacation in WI and I thought it highly unlikely that I would ever see them again so had a few tears with memories; the butterly brought more tears until I stopped at the first rest stop to remove him when I discovered that he was stuck on the windsheld wiper but, to my amazement, when freed, he walked across the ood of the car and flew off- my own private miracle. I was a a moment of surprise and joy. I loved this post.

Leave a Reply