Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Garden for Wildlife

May happens to be "Garden for Wildlife" month.
And so, I share with you the beginnings of a wildlife garden. 
I've mentioned before my intent to make my gardens a certified Monarch Waystation
In between rain showers, 
I managed to get things started.
The back 3 plants are Swamp Milkweed, the 2 in the middle are Tropical Milkweed
and the one in front is sedum which serves as a nectar plant.
More importantly, the sedum was my grandmother's and 
I've managed to have it with me at every place I've lived.
Anyway, it doesn't look like much yet, but I'm almost there.
To be able to have a certified Monarch Waystation, there are some specific things you need to have.
  1. Space:  There is no minimum space requirement, but having at least 100 square feet of habitat has been deemed the least amount you need to be effective. 
  2. Sun: Your Monarch Waystation needs at least 6 hours of sun per day
  3. Host Plants: Milkweed plants are the host plants of Monarchs.  You need to have at least 10 plants comprised of at least 2 types of milkweed or 10+ plants of one variety.
  4. Nectar Plants: You need at least 4 annual, biennial or perennial nectar plants that the Monarchs can use as a food source.  You probably already have them in your existing garden.
  5. Shelter: Milkweed plants should be planted close together to offer some cover for the Monarchs, their eggs and caterpillars.  
  6. Management Plan: This means you have plans to thin out your plants to prevent overcrowding, mulching to conserve water, etc.  Basically the things needed to keep the Waystation in good shape year after year.
I technically have the nectar plants I need, so I'm just 5 milkweed plants short of the 10 required.  
But, I did plant some seed in a planter, 
and I'm awaiting the local nursery's plant shipment this week to get some more Swamp Milkweed. 
 I am also considering ordering either seed or plants of another milkweed variety off the internet. 
To certify your garden as a Wildlife Habitat, there are also a list of requirements
  1. Food: You need 3 from their list of Pollen/nectar plants, berries, birdfeeder, squirrel feeder, hummingbird feeder, butterfly feeder, nuts, etc. (I have 2 out of 3)
  2. Water: You need 1 from the list of bird bath, water garden/pond, stream or butterfly puddling area. (I have this category covered)
  3. Cover: You need 2 from the list of wooded area, ground cover, rock wall or pile, dense shrubs or thicket, evergreens or water garden/pond. (I have 1 out of 2 so far)
  4. Places to Raise Young: You need 2 from the list of mature trees, nesting box, host plants for caterpillars, dense shrubs or water garden/pond. (I have 2 out of 2)
  5. Sustainability: You need 2 from the list of soil/water conservation, controlling exotic/invasive species or organic practices. (I have 2 out of 2).
While I will be able to get my Monarch Waystation certification this year, 
the Certified Wildlife Habitat might have to wait until next year.
One of the items listed for 3 of the requirements is a water garden/pond.
I plan to install one, but it won't be until next year.
Of course it's possible I fulfill the rest of the requirements without it,
and then I'd probably go ahead and get it certified.
So, if you have some space, 
consider gardening for wildlife.
A Monarch Waystation is simple to do-
if you already have a garden, all you need are the milkweed plants
and they are easily found online or even at your local nursery.
Happy Gardening!