By Rick Mikula (Nov. 2017)
Closing down the garden for winter is always the hardest part of the year because it means that things won’t be blooming again for a few more months. A word of caution though. You may want to think twice about cleaning up all your leaf liter and natural mulch underneath your plants. Are you sure that there aren’t any overwintering chrysalis or caterpillars hiding inside the pile? Remember that except for the monarch your backyard butterflies are still hibernating away the winter months.
However this is a good time to think about collecting seeds for next year’s garden. If you find some milkweed pod with the seeds still intact you can certainly collect and save for next season. Most milkweed seeds require a period of moist cold (cold stratification) before they will germinate. This can be achieved in two different ways. Once collected they can be stored in a mesh or paper bag and kept outside or in an unheated building that will experience your ambient winter temperatures. They can also be stored in the bags or a plastic container inside your refrigerator. Just poke a few in the lid of the container to prevent and condensation from developing and ruining your seeds.
Removing the seeds from the opened pods should always be done outside or an area that is easy to vacuum!
Place your pod into a paper or plastic bag. Paper is better.
Fold the top down and secure with binder clip
Shake the bag vigorously until you can hear the seeds rolling around on the bottom of the bag. Then tear a small hole at the corner of the bag and pour the seeds out onto a paper plate of into a container.
Place the seeds into a new bag and they are ready for winter storage.
Now you will be left with empty milkweed pods that are perfect for making Holiday Angels. They are fun to make and gives to a good reason to go exploring in the winter for acorns and pine cones. We have decorated our tree with them and given them a presents to our nature loving friends who have kept them as heirlooms.
Milkweed Pinecone Angel
The material list is pretty short; 1 empty milkweed pods, 1 pinecone, 1 acorn with top still in place, 1 golf tee, and 1 pipe cleaner and glue or a hot glue gun. Paint is optional.
Split the pod in half and remove the center piece and any fluff that maybe still inside.
Now glue the halves to opposites of the pinecone to form the wings and glue the acorn to the base of the pine cone so it looks like the head of the angel.
Twist the pipe cleaner around the golf tee to form arms and trumpet.
Now glue the free ends of the pipe cleaner to the pine cone and the narrow tip of the tee to the center of the acorn.
Tie a piece of fishing line around the center of the angels chest and it is ready to display.
If the natural look isn’t for you the angel can be spray painted any color you like but gold and silver being old time favorites.
This entry was posted on November 29, 2017.