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Happy Spring!

April 3, 2019

Happy Spring, Everyone! The cold winter is past, and Mother Earth is waking up. Birds are singing to declare theirterritories and attract mates, crocus and daffodils are blooming, and the warm Sun is calling all of us to come outdoors. It’s time to start working in the garden to prepare for the new growing season. As you may have heard, bees and Monarch butterfly populations have been plummeting in the last few years, and desperately need our help. These insects are not only beautiful in their own right, but are essential pollinators for native plants, and most of our food plants. So, what can we, as individuals, do to help reverse this trend?

Monarchs (Danaus plexippu)}, those beautiful orange and black butterflies we’ve all seen as children, eat only milkweed as caterpillars. Unfortunately, with the human penchant for tidiness,and our spread in population, vast amounts of former milkweed growinghabitats have been cut down and converted to suburban gardens, monoculturefarms, or townshipwide beautification projects with vast acres of mown lawnsrather than wildflower meadows. So, plant milkweed in your gardens and invacant land near you, and encourage your townships to allow it to grow onany wild strips of land. Milkweed prefers sun and the orange butterfly weed,the common name for Asclepias Tuberosa, is a bright orange perennial, easyto grow in sunny, dry soil, is deer resistant, and native to most of the US. Itgrows only about 15” high and spreads easily, requiring little care. For thosewith more room, Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium purpureum) is a tall (5-6’) easilygrown American native perennial with purple flowers that tolerates wet soil and areas withpoor drainage. It, too, prefers sun, at least 6 hrs a day. Both these plants are beautiful, andattract many types of butterflies while being essential food plants for the monarchs. They canbe purchased online, or in many nurseries, and can be grown easily from seed or by pottedplants for those of us who want instant gratification. More information on Monarchs, the onlybutterflies I’m aware of that migrate every fall to Mexico, can be found at https://www.monarch-butterfly.com/.

As for bees, it’s not an exaggeration to say that without bees, we starve. Wikipedia lists 105 plants – everything from Apples for your snacks, to Coffee and Tea for your breakfast, to Cotton for your clothes, to Roses for your Valentine’s Day, to Cucumbers for your salad, and of course Honey for your Mead! and so much more – that dependupon bees for pollination. The honey bee population is in serious trouble, as are many of our native bees. Again, quoting Wikipedia, “Pollinators, which are necessary for 75% of food crops, are declining globally in both abundance and diversity. Bees, in particular, are thought to be necessary for the fertilization of up to 90% of the world’s 107 most important human food crops”. I urge you to check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pollinator_decline for insight into just how important this issue is. There are several proposed reasons for this worldwide decline. Habitat loss, pesticide use, pests and diseases, climate change, air pollution, all contribute to the challenges bees face.

So, what can we do? Fill your gardens with native plants, convert some of your lawn to wild flower gardens, encourage your townships to stop mowing strips along roadways and let them revert to wild plants, write your representatives to insist on keeping government land wild and address climate change, write the chemical companies and insist they stop using such toxic chemicals on our food plants, stop using toxic pesticides in your own gardens – do the research to find more environmentally safe ways to grow. Istrongly advocate organic gardening, I’ve been doing so for 40 years. No poisons are used on the plants at G3 and everything is doing fine!The best thing you can do for Mother Earth, is educate yourself. Do the research on Climate Change – see what the scientists, not the politicians, have to say. We are the Children of the Mother, lets take care of Her and all Her creatures! Have a fabulous Spring~

Gaia Greenwood


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