A unique and viable approach to establishing local food self-reliance and building stronger communities.

Sunday, November 7, 2021

Rewilding at the Sharing Gardens...

Monarchs in Pismo Beach, CA by Steve Corey, CC license

Those of you who've been following our Blog know that the Sharing Gardens is dedicated to fostering habitat for the flora and fauna that call this place "home". We've had several successes in the insect realm:

Last week we discovered a preying mantis in our celery patch - left. We haven't ever noticed any baby mantises though they're super-tiny so it's not surprising, but we have noticed several egg cases each year. They like to lay them on wood or metal surfaces. 

Preying mantis egg-case
We found another adult a few years back too. They're such intelligent, conscious, engaging creatures the way they cock their heads and look right into your eyes.

Preying Mantis - Sharing Gardens - 2017
We have also been very happy to see increasing numbers of Swallowtail butterflies on our land. When purchased the land in 2014, one of the first things we did was to plant groves of various trees to provide us with a source of leaves for mulch and compost, and to provide wildlife with a greater diversity of habitat. We selected sycamores and aspens because both are fast-growing trees and don't mind having their roots wet in the winter when our land sometimes gets deeply saturated. We didn't know it at the time but aspen trees are one of the natural host-plants for swallowtails! (A host plant provides food, and/or a place for butterflies to attach their cocoons). Each year we see more and more of these colorful beauties.

 A Swallowtail butterfly on  one of our marigold patches.

We found this Sphinx moth on the end of a bamboo pole in August.

I (Llyn) have been developing my skills at propagating Showy Milkweeds - a host plant for Monarchs. We now have three established patches that self-sow and return yearly. Though we've yet to see any Monarchs (we're at the very northern-most reach of their migration-range), each spring, when the milkweeds are blooming, they are just covered with other kinds of pollinators: butterflies and bees of various kinds. Here's a post I wrote about our Milkweed/Monarch program.

Showy milkweed in bloom.

Happily, many frogs have taken up residence on our land as well. We love to sleep with our windows open on summer nights and hear their chorus of croaks as they commune with joy. Here's Adri with a pair of them she carefully caught on a volunteer-day.

And our sunflowers, and Birdseed Millet-patches provide plenty of food for many kinds of birds in our neighborhood. Some of the plants we leave for them to enjoy in the field while some of them we harvest, dry and store so we can distribute the seeds throughout the winter. (That's Jazmin - right - with a Mammoth Russian sunflower head).

And here's an article that describes how, in England, hundreds of land-owners of relatively small plots (churches, houses, city parks) are contributing to a massive movement of "re-wilding" that now amounts to about 600,000 acres! So, every little bit helps!

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