You may know this invasive vine from seeing its sweet little flower along neighborhood fences. Do not, repeat, do not, for one second, think that it is as sweet as it looks. Black swallow wart is right up there with the wetland destroying Phragmites austrailis and the voracious snakehead fish in its potential for disrupting local habitat. Not only does it take over and snuff out native plant species but, because of it’s similarity to milkweed, Monarch butterflies are being tricked into laying their eggs in the pods, which are not large enough to sustain the Monarch’s larval stage. As if Monarchs didn’t have enough to deal with!
To Learn More About the species and it’s disastrous effects Click HERE
There were a lot of great contributors. I made it to three speakers:
Ecological Choices: Product Substitutions - Ben Daniels from Ultimate Organics.
A few pointers…
Hot Pepper Wax - Repels aphids, spider mites, thrips, leaf miners, whiteflies, lace bugs, and leafhoppers from fruits and vegetables including: citrus fruits, root and tuber vegetables, bulb vegetables, leafy vegetables, brassica (cole) leafy vegetables, legume vegetables, fruiting vegetables and cucurbit vegetables. It can also be used on all indoor and outdoor ornamental plants. Also effective on repelling varment
Cedar Oil - Repels unwanted insects from establishing. Kills when sprayed directly on the insect. So be careful with our bee friends!
Castor Oil - Great for repelling lawn varmints, especially moles and voles.
Peppermint Oil (Not Extract) - An insect repellent, yet a friend to nectar eaters like honey bees. The flower produces lots of nectar, and makes a great source for food for some pollinators!
Garlic Juice Extract - Great mosquito repellent as well as a significant source of organic nitrogen.
Diotomaceous Earth - When spread out on a dry area it will remove the waxy coating on the insect exoskeleton causing dehydration and death. Great for crawling insects.
Borax - When mixed with propylene glycol and injected into wood it will kill termites and other damaging insects
Horticultural Vinegar - A great spot weed killer
d-limonene - Spot weed killer derived from orange peels
The next speaker I attended was Bernadette Giblin, who totally shares our philosophy about turf management - Organic Lawns and landscapes are essential moving forward. She’s amazing - She started her own landscape company, Safeground Organic Landcare from the ground up, while raising kids as a single mom. What an inspiration! She is helping push one of the most destructive and pollutive industries toward sane solutions. A very active social entrepreneur, Bernadette is working hard everyday to fight off the big polluters who spend billions convincing the public that pesticides and petrochemicals are ok for the environment, our kids and pets. She truly is a hero!
Ellen Sousa - Pollinator Friendly Landscaping
Pollinators are a ‘keystone’ species to the foodweb, meaning they are essential in maintaining the balance of life on the planet. Many people understand about the role that bees play in pollinating, but few think beyond that, and fewer still understand how important pollinators are. There are thousands of different pollinator species that include bees, flys, moths, butterflies, wasps and even pesky gnats. Many migrating species of birds are responsible for seed dispersal over wider areas of the globe. The mastodon and other mega-fauna are said to be responsible for the success of the avocado trees throughout the west.
Thank goodness for people like Ellen Sousa who have devouted huge amounts of time trying to find the cause of the devastating population declines connected to Sudden Colony Collapse and other mysterious and not so mysterious causes of the general population decline among these essential creatures.
Pollinator decline can be linked mostly to three things: Pesticides, habitat loss, and introduction of exotic species.
What can we do?
Create gardens that have flowers that attract Pollinator Species (check out pollinator.org and plug in your zip code)
Commit to never using dangerous and toxic pesticides that kill beneficial organisms.
Leave part of your property messy over the winter. Many pollinators hibernate in decaying leaf litter,flower stalks and fallen and rotting branches.
Plant wide swaths of single bloom flowers, many insects are near sighted and also can’t negotiate dense blooms.
Install a bee wall for burrowing and nesting bees like the mason bee. They make beautiful art projects. Put a rock in your birdbath so insects may drink. Make a habitat container with moss and lichens.
Plant violets, mountain mint, little blue stem,wild cherry, dogwood, service berry,viburnum, spice bush and wild blue lupine to name a few.
And always, ALWAYS bring the kids!
I attended the ELA. conference last week with my friend Peggy from Greenhalgh Garden.