Dogtown is a community group in the Dogtown neighborhood that seeks to live sustainability, to learn and share knowledge and practices for sustainability. We are an urban ecovillage situated in a city neighborhood. We work together and help each other on sustainable living and group projects. We each own/rent our own homes and we gather for meals and projects, etc. The core group is all within a few blocks; others come from the surrounding neighborhoods.
1) Bring together and build a community of neighbors interested in environmental sustainability through shared experiences such as pot-luck dinners, community service projects, parties, and educational events
2) Enhance the environmental sustainability of the neighborhood and promote these values more regionally.
3) Create projects such as: gardening in private and shared settings, permaculture, home energy audits, improved housing efficiency, cottage industry such as aquaculture, environmental or social justice activism, tool lending library, shared car, shared wifi, shared child care, shared space for environmental activist organizations.
Squirrels are a fact of life in our urban setting. And they can be a nuisance in our yards and gardens. They dig up plants, they eat our tomatoes and our fruit, and they gnaw on our stuff. So what can we do about this.
Plant propagation is the name we use for a variety of methods of increasing the number of plants we have. In plant propagation, we make use of a plant’s natural capacity to reproduce itself, and manage it for our own plans. Some plants reproduce very readily and we have to work to contain them in the garden. Other plants need a little encouragement to reproduce where and when we need them.
Plants reproduce through flowers and fruits (called sexual reproduction) and through spreading of the plant itself (called asexual or vegetative reproduction). We’ll talk first about sexual reproduction, involving collecting, storing and planting seeds. Then we’ll cover asexual reproduction, through softwood and hardwood cuttings, root cuttings and divisions.
Plant flowers contain male and female parts. Pollen is transferred from the anther of a flower to the stigma of a flower and fertilization occurs. Some flowers are ‘complete-flowers’ containing both anther and stigma, and thus the flower can self-pollinate. Seeds from self-pollinated plants will have the same genetic make-up as the parent plants. Sometimes pollination is done with the aid of wind or insects. Plants with large showy flowers are usually pollinated by insects or animals. Wind-pollinated plants often have small, even insignificant flowers, for example, grasses and some trees. Some flowers have separate male flowers and female flowers, and sometimes, the male flowers and female flowers grow on separate plants. It is helpful to learn the reproductive characteristics of the plant before collecting the seed. Once pollinated the seeds begin to form, sometimes within a fruit, as is the case with berries and pawpaws, tomatos and melons. Other times, the seeds form in a pod as with legumes, or in the open as with asters, milkweeds and lettuces.
Observe plants growing in the home garden, watch the flowers and fruits develop. Pull a flower or fruit, now and then, to assess the maturity of the seed. The Seed Savers Exchange (www.seedsavers.org) has information about saving many species of seeds. Here are some general tips:
Most native seeds can be planted outdoors in late winter. They will benefit from the variations in temperature and moisture, and will germinate when conditions are right. Native plants are adapted to spread their seeds without human intervention. Observe when the seeds ripen and how they are dispersed. Follow that pattern for best results.
If you are starting seeds indoors, make sure to give them sufficient resources to thrive. See the section on Air, Earth, Fire and Water. Most seeds germinate best at around 70-degrees. Keep seeds moist until the develop a root system to absorb moisture from the soil. Once sprouted, give the seedlings plenty of light and some moving air. Young seedlings are susceptible to fungal infections called dampening-off. The best prevention is a healthy growing space.
Many growers insist on using sterile planting mix. Others get great results by using soil straight from the garden, especially if they have been working for years on improving the soil microbiology and organic matter.
Start plants 4-6 weeks before the last frost. Slow growing natives can be planted even earlier. Some find it helpful to plant 10-20 seeds in a 4-inch pot. Then in 4-6 weeks, when the seedlings have several true leaves, they can be gently separated into individual pots. It is easier to pamper one 4-inch pot than 20 individual pots.
When transplaning to larger pots or transplanting into the soil, pamper the plants for a few weeks. Make sure they have protection from too much sun, too little water, and from critters who would prey on them before they get established.
Many plants can be propagated by taking cuttings from an existing plant. Cuttings should be pencil-thickness. Cut at a node, i.e. where a leaf is attached. Cuttings should have 4-6 nodes. Keep cuttings moist and place them in growing medium as quickly as possible after cutting. Take extra care of cuttings until they are well rooted. If you put them in pots, put them in a protected spot to root and grow out, before planting them out in the ground.
Some plants grow in clumps that expand from year to year. These plants can be propagated by division. As a general rule, plants that flower in spring and early summer should be divided in late summer or fall. Those flowering in summer and fall should be divided in early spring before new growth begins. Dig the plant up, and remove enough soil to get a good look and the root structure. Divide the plant into clumps, keeping several shoots and roots on each clump. Sometimes there is an older dead portion in the middle of the plant – that can be discarded.
Shrubs can also be divided when they are dormant. Cut the shrub back to one or two feet tall and dig it out of the ground. Dividing the shrub may require a saw or hatchet, keeping several shoots and roots on each clump. Put each clump in a separate pot or in a separate spot in the landscape.
Some plants can be propagated by roots and tubers, e.g. Apios americana, Sagitaria latifolia, Asclepias tuberosa. It's best to wait till the plant goes dormant and dig the root or tuber. Store it dormant till the spring, or place it in its new location to settle in and winter over.