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Musings while Cleaning Native Seed

Seed cleaning season is here, and as we started working on this year’s harvest, an as-of-now unidentified invader (see photo) was spotted crawling around our work area. This unknown larvae has been pouring out of our drying Aster piles in large numbers and appears to be residing in a re-purposed seed husk and crawling around with it like a hermit crab. In a crop-based line of work, one’s thoughts can quickly jump to the question of whether or not a particular creature is a pest. Though some of the things we see are potentially problematic or can carry a microbial pest, I think it’s important to keep in mind that pests exist inside a larger order of equilibrium and balance.

This larvae also got me thinking about the innumerable insects and other creatures I’ve seen on and around the plants from which we harvest seed. Over the field season I’ve encountered many types of butterflies, moths, spiders, beetles, aphids, et cetera… some I’ve never noticed before. They are numerous even around the small 8’ diameter rain garden at my home. The rain garden is probably the only instance of habitat like that for at least a mile, yet creatures like Monarch butterflies, various damselflies, and all sorts of other things find this tiny oasis. Although small patches of native plantings like the one in our yard in no way replace large contiguous habitat, they do provide a home or respite to many forms of life.

So as you settle in for the winter and look out at a barren snow-scape from your window, use some of that time to plan a planting in your own yard. It doesn’t have to be the whole yard… maybe just a small, unused part of it. A PRI crew would do a great job converting your turf into a native planting, but if it’s not in your budget to have others do it for you, consider talking with someone in PRI Retail and finding out which plants would work the best for you. Seed mixes and a wide variety of plants are available for purchase. Rip up your sod and put some native plants in the ground! Your neighbors might think you’re a pest, but you can rest assured that you exist in and are making stronger a larger order of equilibrium and balance.

-Kevin (Boreal Natives Seed Division)

(It might be advisable to determine if your local ordinances restrict the height of your yard before beginning.)

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