Monarch Project 2.0 – Ready, Set, Go!

Beatrix tries to help mom with the plants

Lots of good news to report. First, we received the State of CA Resource Conservation Grant (RCD)!!! Thank you to the State RCD for awarding us funds and to our local RCD Director Melinda Barrett for helping me write the grant, design programming and for acting as the program sponsor. We are now able to increase the scale of this work!

Satellite image of the front portion of the ranch with planting sites marked.

Originally, I planted sites 9 and 10 last year – the North and South plots respectively. Those were the test plots. The Second piece of good news is that I have now found that two milkweed plants returned in the North Plot (10 on the map above). Recall, both plots were decimated by gophers despite being planted in chicken wire baskets. I am hoping others will have survived, but I am not finding any others yet.

Ron and Bev delivered the plants for the firs two sites on Sunday afternoon (4/26). The plants look GREAT.

Milkweeds and nectar plants

This morning, I planned the configuration of plot #9. This is near the original test site of the South Plot. I have moved the location slightly south into the raised bed that I had used for my vegetable garden. I weed whacked it yesterday – but just topped the weeds. I have found that it is better to leave the roots and a portion of the plant intact so that it can hold soil and moisture in the space. I plan to place the plants within the weed patch. Naturally, these plants all grow together. I think they can help one another. Non-native grasses can certainly impact native plants by out competing them for sunlight, space and moisture. All plots will be monitored and any weed topping done to maintain the viability of the plants. Native plants just need a chance to get established.

The raised garden bed pre-planting

There were already existing nectar plants established from last year as well as a habitat plant – deer grass. These will be worked into the overall plot configuration.

What you need: clipboard, paper, pencil and measuring tape
Deer Grass

I also made a do it yourself fountain. It isn’t pretty, but I am hoping the pollinators will approve of it. It is supplied by clean, clear rain water and has multiple depths of water including having the spray just moisten the surface of a piece of slate. I have seen butterflies, dragonflies and bees just skirt or land on wet rock or my moist patio after watering potted plants. I used an old stock trough, slate found in the creek, cinder blocks laying around that were from some long forgotten project, and a large fountain kit from Lowe’s. The cinder blocks were used to raise the slate to the surface as well as hold the pump firmly in place. Finally, I included some firm coated chicken wire so that if any bats or other creatures get caught in the deeper water, they can get out.

DIY fountain for pollinator water access

I am extremely fortunate to have this project to work on while sheltering in place due to the covid-19 virus. Around the globe, we have been seeing the return of our animal relations to the places where our frenetic behavior has created a barrier. This is an opportunity to make a better choice – a choice where we can all live together with respect.

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