Sunday, November 9, 2014

Sowing Seeds for the Future

Have you ever struggled with germinating Milkweed seeds? A lot of folks wonder how to get those seeds started. Generally it is best to plant them in the fall or early winter, as milkweed (Asclepias sp.) seeds native to Ohio need to be stratified, meaning cold treated.

Elijah Martineau with his excellent poster.
 Yesterday I met an extraordinary young man and had the opportunity to discuss Monarchs and Milkweed seeds with him.  His poster showed a step by step process for easily germinating seed which need to be cold treated.

Here is a large photo of Elijah's poster and below is a portion of his text:
The best time to sow seeds (also called seed stratification) is late January or early February. This is so the seeds get the necessary amount of cold temperature time.
Once warm weather sets in, you may need to tear the duct tape off so you can keep the soil moist.
Transplant the small plants when they have four leaves, either into the ground or into small pots.
 Keep the plants watered while they are developing their root system during the first summer.
It is unlikely the milkweed plants will flower the first year and may take 2 - 3 years to flower.  It can still be used as a host plant for Monarchs.  Try growing some nectar plants to provide food for adult butterflies. 
                                                            From Elijah Martineau's poster display. 
  Cutting drainage holes.

Watering the seed from the bottom. 

I hope Elijah's poster gives you some ideas for germinating Milkweed seed, but he was not the only conservation minded citizen I met yesterday.  He was just a small part of an incredible gathering at the Wilderness Center in Wilmot, Ohio, where the children were remarkable and the youth were taking charge!

It was my honor to attend the Ohio Young Birders Club Annual Conference.  These are some of the brightest and best of our future generation.  Lest you think they are only "bird brains," I'll dispel that notion rather quickly.  These youth may have united over birding, but they are budding scientists and conservationist!  OYBC empowers them with remarkable educational opportunities.  They are birding, butterflying, mothing, on land and by and kayak.  They check out plants, insects and all matter of life on earth.  This is the place for youth to meet other like minded youth and to be educationally encouraged. 

 If you, too, think kids should use their brains, I hope you will buy an adult membership or send the a nice $$ check to support the OYBC efforts! I can honestly say meeting these students is always a highlight of the year for me.  If they are our future, we will be OK after all.

ABA's Young Birder of the year, Alec Wyatt presented Taking Action for Birds.
The excellent programs ranged from Growth and Development of Blue Birds by Stephen Bischoff, The Impact of Plastic on Birds by Dakota Callaway, 4-H and Ohio Birds by Corrine Woods, Birding Costa Rica by Tyler Flicker and Ethan Rising, Soaring with Birds by Joey Tomei, Listing Research and Competition by Doug Whitman and Trevor Zook, and Alec Wyatt's, Taking Action for Birds.

Alec travelled to Ohio from San Antonio, Texas to give his presentation and I predict we will be hearing more about this young man in the future!

A young-at-heart Kenn Kaufman and his Bird ID Quiz was assisted by Cassidy Flicker, Helena Souffrant and Nate Koszycki.  May Martineau was an excellent M-C for the event.

 Thanks to all the students and the excellent staff of Black Swamp Bird Observatory for providing the platform to success for this incredible group.  I hope to see you all at the conference next year!


  1. I do hope we see you again next year Cheryl. I think I'm going to try to get Elijah to do a presentation about insects that use native plant seed heads and their relationship to birds.

  2. I hope to be there Cindi! It is marvelously uplifting to meet these bright young men and women. We will be looking forward to the educational displays and presentations from your progedy!
    Best, Cheryl