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Feel free to add your own pollinator projects. Tim's post on the milkweed patch sort of kicked this off to share some ideas. Some of these pics I posted before and am trying to tie the idea together now, (being a slow thinker).  A bit of preparation this season should give results next year.

 

Twelve years ago we were joy riding around the neighborhood when my wife spotted an acre of wild meadow blazing stars. We didn't know what they were other than beautiful.

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Fast forward to 2018-2019. My wife planted a few hyssop and columbines in the rock garden. We had great enjoyment watching the pollinators come to that small space.

 

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One day there were 3 Canadian Tiger Swallowtails. I'd never seen one in my life.

 

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A friend who works for USF&W told me to check out a second year seeding they had done on a 160 acre Waterfowl Production Area, (WPA). Pollinator projects aside, it was gorgeous wildlife habitat.

 

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In late August I was scouting some sharp-tail fields and came across another spot of blazing stars. This time they were loaded with Monarchs. I went back in Sept. & Oct. and picked a bunch of seed and gave away half.

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My BIL who is a nutso gardener said we could germinate that seed and plant the results instead of scattering it as I intended. So we bought 2" peat pots and regular starter trays. We had about 1500 of various species, butterfly bush, ironweed, swamp milkweed, zinnias, and primarily meadow blazing stars. 

 

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We gave away half through the wildlife club and planted half at my farm and on a nearby WPA with the manager's permission. Planting was a laborious effort in that wild foliage had to be clipped down with a hedge trimmer, the peat pot was dug in with a hori-hori knife, the sides of the hole carefully filled and tamped with dry dirt and then watered. When the MBS main leaf was a couple inches high the roots were coming through the bottom. A peat pot has a dime sized hole for this but I think it was better to open that up a bit before planting. Less effort for the roots to get going.

 

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The result should be flowering next year. They are a long lived plant and might start new colonies. So far survival has been about 60%.  I should have paid more attention to the weather forecast to plant just before a rain as some dried out. And the peat pot should be filled level with the growing medium and planted flush with the ground. Live and learn.

 

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A ND Apiary sponsors an appreciation supper for farmers every year in the fall. We were coming back from a 2019 grouse hunt by that small town and stopped in for the free supper. There is no free lunch.... Two of the booths there were from Pheasants Forever and The Bee & Butterfly Habitat Fund. The PF folks had a pollinator seed deal that couldn't be beat so I signed up 60 acres. The Bee & Butterfly folks had a different mix so I signed up 4 acres with them. The seeding will done later this fall. This project ate the month of June as I had no usable seeder.

 

I spayed out the 4 acre plot with glyphosate and 2-4D, then waited 10 days and mowed and raked it. The windrows will  be burned soon and the area between was dug.

 

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I'll check this out for unwanted seedlings and dig again as necessary until fall. Years back I had a 10' Haybuster no-till grain drill for seeding skips. The boots were wore badly but this particular drill has an aggressive feed wheel in the seed box. It will handle any kind of seed. So I removed the boots and mounted the fan assembly from a Valmar granular applicator. Then built an air manifold and 24' broadcast boom. I will pull a 25' Melroe harrow behind with the teeth slanted back to just cover the seed. Six MPH should be just right.

 

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I thought I would have suction on the seed tube when the fan was blowing air through the delivery hose but instead got blow back. Nuts. Tried everything in the shop to make a venturi effect. Nope. That night my wife said the water softener needed salt and as I was filling it I noticed the copper elbows on the water pipes. Light bulb! Gave it a try inserting a 45 degree elbow inside the T fitting and with a small adjustment there was suction.

 

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So now it is ready to go. When the seeding is done I intend to rock roll the ground and it should be set.

https://beeandbutterflyfund.org/habitat-programs/seed-a-legacy-program

https://www.pheasantsforever.org/Newsroom/2015-April/Tops-for-Pheasants-Pollinators,-Honey-Bee-and-Mona.aspx

 

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Outstanding. I've been broadcasting by hand ahead of the monsoon rains, which are just starting. Got a few acres done.

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I will update as the project progresses. If anybody wants some meadow blazing star seed this fall let me know. I'm thinking  various wild flower seed could be collected by a leaf blower/vacuum. Black and Decker has a battery operated low cost model not too powerful or heavy that might do the trick. It would sure speed up seed collection.

One of the gals in the gardening club uses small newspaper "cups" instead of peat pots. Her theory is that the peat pot dries out the surrounding ground when planted, versus the single layer newspaper that quickly rots out. Humm...

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Tim Frazier

Absolutely incredible!  I need to update my post but this is the way to roll!  I now am trying to figure how to handle Indian Hemp or Dog Bane.  I have an area I might jut try to kill off completely and start over.  Keep us updated!

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Around the edge of the farmstead we used recycled 18" tree pots to plant the butterfly bush and blazing stars. Cut the bottoms out and dug them down almost level with the surrounding dirt. The butterfly bush is producing Monarch caterpillars now.

 

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This is a meadow blazing star root clump transplanted from the wild last spring. It's going to pop blossoms pretty soon.

 

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  • 1 month later...

By mid August we have increased the world Monarch caterpillar count by about 70...., all from 3 pots of Orange Butterfly Weed.

 

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My wife keeps track because she is the one who moves them to the Swamp Milkweed when she finds them.  Otherwise they graze off the Butterfly Weed like sheep.

 

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What started out as a bag of mixed seeds left over this spring turned into a seed and caterpillar nursery. There is always something blossoming and the bees get there too but are very hard to photograph. It is only 3' X 60'.

 

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Ironweed is just starting to flower, the Hyssop is half done along with the Meadow Blazing Stars. There is a fly sized black bee with a buff butt that really likes the Ironweed. Never saw one before.

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This one just emerged tonight.

 

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I sprayed out the 4 acre plot again with 2 qts. Glypho per and might be able to get one more weed germination before frost to clean up the ground for seeding. Canada Thistle is rampant. The seed from the Bee & Butterfly Habitat Fund should arrive the last week of October.


Bee & Butterfly Habitat Fund ND Monarch Butterfly Mix Common Name

Alfalfa*Alsike Clover, Crimson Clover, Ladino White Clover, Sainfoin Phacelia, Anise Hyssop/Fragrant Giant Hyssop, Black-Eyed Susan,   Blanket Flower, Canada Goldenrod, Canada Milkvetch, Clasping Coneflower, Common Milkweed, Evening Primrose, False Sunflower/Early Sunflower/Ox-Eye Sunflower,  Foxglove Beardtongue, Gray Goldenrod/Dwarf Goldenrod/Old Field Goldenrod, Heath Aster, Hoary Vervain, Illinois Bundle flower, Ironweed, Lance-Leaved Coreopsis/Sand Coreopsis, Maximilian Sunflower, Mexican Hat, New England Aster. Partridge Pea. Prairie Cinquefoil, Prairie Coneflower/Longheaded Coneflower, Prairie Trefoil/American Birdsfoot Trefoil, Purple Coneflower, Purple Prairie Clover,  Rocky Mountain Bee Plant, Rough Blazingstar/Button Blazingstar, Sawtooth Sunflower, Shell Leaf Penstemon/Large-Flowered Beardtongue,  Showy Goldenrod, Showy Milkweed, Showy Tick Trefoil, Smooth Blue Aster, Stiff Goldenrod, Stiff Sunflower/Showy Sunflower, Tall Boneset , Western Yarrow, White Prairie Clover, Wild Bergamot/Bee Balm, Big Bluestem*, Canada Wildrye, Little Bluestem-Aldous Prairie, Junegrass, Sideoats Grama*Western Wheatgrass-BartonPlains, Oval Sedge

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Impressive efforts! Very nice for you to see results from your efforts!

 

I have a variety of fruit trees and plants and although I didn't plant them specifically with pollinators in mind, they seem to gravitate to the blossoms produced from the fruit trees, wild rose, blueberries, lavender and other flowers my wife and I have planted. I have one linden tree planted, which is also supposed to be a magnet for pollinators. It's fairly small now but I'm anxious to see how well it attracts the honey and bumblebees as it grows.

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Outstanding work!

I have 5 garden boxes in my backyard, all dedicated to bee and butterfly flowers. It is by far my favorite part of the yard. 

 

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Got it in late but it's coming on strong now. This is a wildflower bee mix from our local feed store. We put it in on a log landing from last years timber harvest. 

I've disked up around it a few times to keep the pioneer weeds and aspen shoots from taking over. Plus hope to keep some bare ground for when we mow it this Fall. 

For better or worse there is a big void in the middle of this patch so we will just seed that spot next Spring and hopefully get a few years out of this site. 

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7 hours ago, ScottGrush said:

Got it in late but it's coming on strong now. This is a wildflower bee mix from our local feed store. We put it in on a log landing from last years timber harvest. 

I've disked up around it a few times to keep the pioneer weeds and aspen shoots from taking over. Plus hope to keep some bare ground for when we mow it this Fall. 

For better or worse there is a big void in the middle of this patch so we will just seed that spot next Spring and hopefully get a few years out of this site. 

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Late isn't the worst thing. Most pollinators are still reproducing or stocking up food for winter/spring so it gives them a boost. Butterflies get all the celebrity PR but the variety of wild bees is amazing, from the little tikes to the big bumble boys.

I'm starting to collect seed again as some of the plants have ripe seed heads already.

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  • 2 months later...

Update on the pollinator plot. In late Oct. the early snow melted off and then the ground froze. My seed order from B&BF arrived UPS and I was able to broadcast and incorporate it. The seeding rate called for 6.75 lbs per acre but I had a higher drop than that as it is difficult to calibrate a drill on small acreage. The seed mix came blended with rice hulls to give it bulk and keep the small flower seeds in suspension.

 

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The outside 50' is planted with the bee mix, mostly different clovers, and the interior is the butterfly mix, mostly native flowers. However the bees will use that too. So now it's up to nature to take it from here.

 

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