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  • Valerie Just

Excellent Time to Start Making a Difference for our Pollinators

Happy Fall! The air is crisp. The leaves are changing colors because of changes in the length of daylight and changes in temperature, the leaves stop their food-making process. The chlorophyll breaks

down, the green color disappears, and the yellow to orange colors become visible and give the leaves part of their fall splendor. My beloved hummingbirds have departed for the year, so I've removed my hummingbird feeders, and replaced them with feed (I get it at Des Moines Feed on Hubbell Avenue - they have a mixture of different kinds of nuts that our birds love) for my chickadees, nuthatches and downy woodpeckers. The temperatures are perfect for me to get out in my gardens and get them ready for the spring.

Now is a good time to plant native seed for our pollinators. If you miss out on this planting season, you can always sow them in the snow prior to spring. I will be at the Flea Market each month most likely from November through January. I bought native plant seed from Allendan Seed Company in Winterset, Iowa, and will be giving packets away at my booth at the Flea Market each month. Here are the scientific/common names of the varieties that I have this year - I've chosen these through observation of my own garden and the visitation of pollinators to the blooms, and the benefits to a variety of pollinators, including our beloved Monarch butterfly:

1. Eupatoriadelphus maculatus: Spotted Joe-pye Weed

2. Echinacea purpurea: Purple Coneflower

3. Agastache foeniculum: Anise Hyssop

4. Asclepias syriaca: Common Milkweed

5. Asclepias tuberosa: Butterfly Weed

Native plant seed needs to go through a cold stratification period, which is the process of subjecting seeds to both cold and moist conditions. Seeds of many trees, shrubs and perennials require these conditions before germination will ensue. You can achieve it by planting the seed in the fall, by sowing the seed in the snow if you miss the fall planting period, or putting the seed in your refrigerator and planting it in the spring. Putting the seed outside in the fall or during the winter is the easiest and sure-fire way to ensure germination. Controlling a moist environment in the refrigerator is a little more challenging - sometimes the seed sprouts before you would like, but it will work if you miss out on the other opportunities. Here is an article on cold stratification for the refrigerator.

I am excited to have reached this pinnacle in my beekeeping journey. When I first embarked on my beekeeping adventure, my goal was to provide education so that others could appreciate the need and determine if they could make a small difference in our declining ecosystem - the seed give-away was an objective that I inspired to reach - and the sales of our honey assist us in funding the seed. I hope to keep adding varieties each year., so everyone can diversify their native flower species within their gardens.

So, come and see me at the Flea Market - it is being held November and December in the Varied Industries Building at the Iowa State Fairgrounds - the promoter believes we will be located in the cow barn for January - I'm interested to see how that will all lay out! I have a 12 foot tall sign that depicts Honey, Dog Collars and Elderberry Syrup, so I am easy to find by scanning the room!!!

I will leave you with the following quote:

"We can change the world and make it a better place. It is in our hands to make a difference.”

Nelson Mandela

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