Category Archives: Uncategorized

August Soil Preparation

If you’re contemplating putting in a native seed flower bed in late fall, August is a good time to get the soil ready.

Your main job is to get rid of all the grass and weeds and have a clean area without any vegetation.
Don’t till as that will bring up weed seeds.

I’d loosen up the top 1/2″ of soil and keep the area moist to encourage any weed seeds to germinate now before the growing season.

In St. Louis, Scott Woodbury our resident expert, suggests advice from Merv Wallace…
“Merv recommends one ounce of seed mix per 400-500 square feet and 3 grams per 20 square feet.
With your 4 grams, you are looking at around 25 sq ft.”

Sow the seeds on the surface in December.

I’d suggest mixing the seed with either play sand or potting mix. It makes for better disbursement when you throw the seeds out.
Don’t mix into the soil or cover with straw.
Just let the seeds sit on the surface.
Winter frost heave will move the seeds into the upper layer of the soil to the perfect depth.
Seeds will sprout in early April.

Native plants don’t need fertilizer, but might need watering during the first year.

Note – I like to cover my seeds with a light dusting of potting mix to hide them from the birds.

Comments Off on August Soil Preparation

Filed under Native Plants, soil, Uncategorized

Trays for Seed Starting

Greenhouse Megastore – 13.09 ounces

If you’re starting to think about starting seeds for spring planting, you will need some sort of tray to hold the plants and contain the water. The most common trays are called 1020 trays because that’s their general size – 10″ x 20″.

While you can buy these at the Big Box Stores or Amazon, the quality of the trays is not that good and they generally don’t last many years.

My supplier of choice these days is
Currently they are offering free shipping on orders over $99.00.
While that may be more than what you want to spend, you could go together with a friend and split the order. Remember that the good trays will last for years.

$3.49 each13.09Greenhouse MegastoreHeavy duty – looks just like their other models, but much heavier. These are a good compromise between quality and cost.
$1.00 each5.54Greenhouse MegastoreStandard duty – still heavier than almost all other sources. You may need two trays to lift the entire flat of plants. These are good basic trays, but will not last as long as the heavier weight trays.
$10.00 each16.72ParkSeed.comI have used these in the past and they will last for years. If money is no object, I’d buy these.

Comments Off on Trays for Seed Starting

Filed under Uncategorized

Mycorrhizae Fungi

I had a conversation with Scott Woodbury from the Shaw Nature Reserve about their use of Mycorrhizae in the production of their plants.

They initially use a potting mix which is 50% mix from St. Louis Composting plus 50% BX-ProMix. BX already has some Mycorrhizae in their mix.

When they transplant the seedlings to their own pots, they add Mycorrhizae. The brand they use is

He has had good results with this brand. Scott wrote am interesting article about Mycorrhizae in the Kansas City Gardener.

While the initial price of this product – $20 for two pounds, seems a bit high, when you consider that many plants cost $10 or more, then if you could save just a few plants using Mycorrhizae, then the price would be justified.

Scott did mention that they had not done field tests, but that they great results in the greenhouse.

According to the Myco bag, you are supposed to add 2.5% by volume.
Doing the math, my potting soil container is 9″ x 14″ x 5″ = 630 cu. inches
630 x .025 = 15.75 cu. inches = 1.1 cup of Myco for my full container.

Below is a good video on mycorrhizal fungi.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Monarchs in California

Webinar Title: Western Monarch Population down by 99%: How you can help 

Date/Time: Tuesday, February 26th at 2PM ET (1pm Central, 12pm Mountain, 11am Pacific)


Description: Have you heard about the steep decline in the Western monarch population? Are you wondering how you can help? This webinar will explore the citizen science effort that tracks the California overwintering monarch population and will discuss the results from this year’s Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count, a record low and a 99.4% decline.


·         Katie Hietala-Henschell, Endangered Species Conservation Biologist, the Xerces Society

·         Nick Stong, Programs Manager, Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History

·         Emma Pelton, Western Monarch Lead, Endangered Species Conservation Biologist, the Xerces Society

The webinar will be offered through WebEx.  The link and participation details will be provided the day prior to the webinar.

Please feel free to share this announcement and registration information!We look forward to your participation!
MJV/NCTC Webinar Team

Leave a comment

Filed under Monarchs, Uncategorized

Dormant Oil Spray

aphidsTwo problems I have in the butterfly garden are aphids on milkweed and mildew on many plants. One idea that I saw recently was using Dormant Oil Spray.during late winter and early spring. While the video was mainly for fruit trees, the process would also be similar in my garden.

In particular, the area where I grow milkweed, might benefit from spraying the soil where aphid eggs would over-winter. I remove any milkweed plants around March 1st so my plan is to spray the soil around Feb. 15th then once again after I clean out the garden.

Note – I remove any chrysalises I find in the fall and keep them in the garage.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Root Your Cuttings Now

Butterfly Gardening


If you haven’t already, now is a good time to take some cuttings from your plants to root over the winter months.

I’m going to do a few experiments and try different rooting mediums. My current teacher for Horticulture 101 doesn’t say which type is better, but says that he has good luck with Meramec river gravel – it’s cheap, has the right texture and does a good job.

That’s what we are using in class. I bought the same type of sand at Home Depot – they call it Quickrete Premium Play Sand. It’s a coarse sand – not like what you might find at a beach.

Make sure you take a look at my posting on the14 steps I take to make cuttings. It’s actually fairly easy.

Here are the different mediums I am using for cuttings.

  • Coarse sand – this is what they use at Meramec…

View original post 143 more words

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Aphid Video

Here is a video on aphids done by the naturalist and videographer Jo Alwood.


Filed under Pests, Uncategorized

What to Plant?

While most of my emphasis is on growing specific plants for butterflies, there are many other insects and birds which I enjoy. Unfortunately, numbers seem to be decreasing every year. Here is a good video on what we can all do to bring nature back to our yards.


1 Comment

Filed under Native Plants, Plants, Uncategorized

Watering at Christmas?

drought-mo-dec-17-2017With winter and Christmas just around the corner, one of the last thing on most people’s mind is to get out the hose to water the plants and trees. Yet in Missouri with most of the state in drought conditions, that may be just what is needed.

A recent MU bulletin told people to check their soil around the drip line of newly planted trees and if dry then watering would be beneficial.

This would also be true of fall planted perennials.

A soaker hose set on low would probably be your best bet.

My guess is that established trees and natives will weather the drought just fine, but if you have invested money in a fall planting, those perennials and trees would probably appreciate a through soaking and may be the difference between them surviving the winter or dying in the spring.

Here’s the link for the Missouri drought monitor.




Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Cleaning Up the Garden in the Fall

dead-plants-fall-800With the first frosts of fall, my garden turns from a lovely shade of green to a dirty brown with withered sticks and leaves.  While my first inclination is to clean up everything, there may be seeds that you can collect or even save for the birds.

Here’s a good video which talks about some of your options.

1 Comment

Filed under Gardening, Uncategorized