We absolutely love this time of year. A time to hike and get out into nature on a regular basis. A necessity, in our business, since we hand collect our seeds from Southern Ontario. People ask why we just don’t buy the seeds or seedlings.
To me, that would defeat our whole genetic program. The only way we know, for sure, where these seeds have come from is by picking them ourselves. It is not just about location but the way in which the seeds are chosen. We do not just pick from one tree or one shrub but from multiple shrubs or parent trees to diversify the genetics of what we are picking. Even though they are all from the same geographical location we pick as much as we can from varied parents at that site. In this way, we are diversifying that genetic base.
Is it more work? You bet. But I am convinced that we need to continue these seed picking efforts if we are to diversify our future forests and make them resilient towards climate change.
We are always looking at ways we can diversify the Ontario landscape and enable assisted tree migration. For the past 2 years, we have intensified our efforts to find more southerly seed sources. These southerly sites will allow for tree and plant migration to the north. The more sites, and parent stock, available the greater the genetic diversity moving northward.
But what about cottage country? Climate change will not skip over this precious area. We decided to include more northerly locations to help assist our lake area with assisted migration. Not only does migration include vegetation moving northward but also laterally. Basically, expanding east to west boundaries.
This is usually the time of year where customers phone in a panic wondering if it is too late to plant. Much to their surprise, I respond to them by saying they are too early – wait till September.
Why? It is more logical to plant in the Fall. By September, our weather changes from blistering heat and droughts to cooler temperatures and rain. This decreases the heat and water loss stresses on plants. Also, with the dropping of leaves there is less water loss since leaves are not transpiring. In the end, this equates to you not standing at the end of a watering hose everyday making sure your plantings are watered.
The most fascinating point about Fall planting is what happens below the ground. Ground temperatures stay at a constant 56F till December, depending on the weather. With the lack of activity above ground (no leaves photosynthesizing) the roots establish and grow undisturbed. By next spring, the roots are well anchored and the plant ready to burst into spring.
From a frugal point of view, the Fall is the best time to purchase. Most nurseries are down sizing their stock and usually great deals are to be had. So, bottom line, relax and wait for the Fall and then plant all those great deals.
A very complex subject. 25% of our bird species are declining, and rapidly. Other species, such as waterfowl and raptors are increasing. Many, many factors from banning DDT to international agreements on bird breeding grounds have influenced bird populations.
At home, we have to realize one startling fact. Birds are starving to death. If you want to increase populations and save them from the brink of extinction you have to have food available. And lots of it – especially for migratory birds. Birds usually prefer their native berries since they have co evolved with these plants. However, there are some shrubs that our birds love that aren’t native.
I am referring to the currant family. We have purposely sought out the old heirloom black and red currants on farms that birds persistently visit. Now we have black currants ready. Remember, share the berry wealth. Or even better, every bush you plant for yourself plant one for our feathered friends. They will thank you for it.
Check our inventory for currant numbers and availabilities.
Being a nursery, many people ask what trees should they plant. One of my top suggestions is the northern catalpa tree. When they are in bloom they are undeniable. A giant orchid! Needless to say, that when they are blooming they are pollinator magnets. Be sure to plant northern not southern catalpa since the southern type is too fragile for some of our Ontario winters.
This particular catalpa by our front porch is only 18 years old. They grow relatively quickly with very little maintenance. To find out more on the magnificent tree check out our website and the northern catalpa article.
There is still much work to be done to help our dwindling monarch butterfly populations. Just in the US, 150 million acers have been lost to Roundup ready crops. We are probably looking at the same acerage here in Canada. It is obvious that huge amounts of milkweed need to be planted back to the environment.
But we must always look to planting diversity. Did you realize that Ontario was home to 7 different types of milkweed? These diverse plants covered many terrains and made milkweed widespread to the breeding monarchs. Now the horticultural industry only supplies 3 types of milkweed.
We are determined, at B Sweet Honey Nature Company, to offer all the milkweeds native to Ontario. Our first new addition to our milkweed trio is the whorled milkweed. In September, we hope to have a massive milkweed sale and offer whatever has germinated and is ready for planting.
Be sure to check our inventories for the milkweeds. And happy planting.
We launched our ancient tree program several years ago. This program realizes the need to save the genetics of these old trees. The longevity gene, in itself, is a mystery. Why are some individuals long lived and healthy and others not? A mystery. Whatever the explanations, we need to bring these genes forward to the present day plant populations in order to help them be more resilient.
Though we launched this program long ago, it takes time to find these trees, find their history and grow up their progeny. Factor in the fact that many trees are periodical in seed production and you are looking at many years before we could actually offer saplings for sale.
Last year was very sporadic for seed production but we managed to get some good quality, though not abundant, seeds from many of our ancient trees. We now have many 1 year old seedlings from the following:
The Niagara Treaty white oak
The Toronto Carrying Trail white oak
The Niagara Necklace Black Oaks
The Jordan White Oak
The Point Abino Red Oaks
Dundas Driving Park Oaks
We have most of the histories of these trees on the website. Happy reading.
This time of year we yearn to be gardening and feel the soil around our hands and the sun on our faces. But remember that the leaf litter carries this years pollinators and butterflies. By removing leaf litter, and disposing of it, you are disposing of this years pollinators. Be patient, my rule of thumb is, ‘ When the dandelions start to bloom, we can start tidying up our gardens.’
Usually by the time the dandelions start to bloom, the weeds try to take over. Here is an organic spray recipe for unwanted garden plants.
This was the perfect fit for us. We are a pesticide free honey producer and support the bees and pollinators by growing needed plants through our organic nursery. It is an integrated business where the nursery provides the much needed native, organic plants for the needs of the bees and the bees provide the pollination services for the nursery to continue.
When we discovered about Bee City, it sounded like a wonderful opportunity. We are so glad to be part of the Bee City family.
We’ve adjusted the nursery opening season date. It seems that spring is being a wee bit tardy! We will be performing our winter damage assessment on all our nursery stock the 2nd week of April and then we will fling open the doors by April 15th.
Be sure to contact us ahead of time as to when you would like to visit the nursery. Spring is always a rush between spring cleaning bee hives and emptying out the greenhouse.