Winterbloom Farm Botanical and Healing Arts is a small farm in midcoast Maine dedicated to providing instruction in herbalism, ecological management, sustainable living, meaningful teaching & learning, & the energy healing traditions of Qigong & yoga.
Operating as usual
We have numerous honey bees on our property, though I'm not sure where they're nesting or whether someone is keeping bees nearby. This article challenges common assumptions that (honey) beekeeping is good for the ecosystem. I frequently hear people suggest that introducing hives improves pollination -- a suggestion that effaces the important role of native pollinator species.
"In the highlands of the islands’ Teide National Park, thousands of honey bee colonies are introduced seasonally for honey production and removed again at the end of the nectar flow, creating an excellent scenario for experimentation [by Alfredo Valido and Pedro Jordano, researchers from the Spanish National Research Council in Tenerife and Sevilla]. Their results, published in Scientific Reports, do not make honey bees look like the sustainability celebrities they have become.
"Bringing in honey bees reduced the connectedness of the plant-pollinator networks. Nestedness and modularity, two indicators of ecosystem resilience, also declined. While some plant species enjoyed higher fruit set, fruits sampled nearest the apiaries contained only aborted seeds. 'The impact of the beehives is so dramatic,' says Valido, 'You can detect disruption between plants and pollinators just the day after beehive installation.'
“'By introducing tens or hundreds of beehives, the relative density of honey bees increases exponentially compared with wild native pollinators,' Valido explains. This causes a drastic reduction of flower resources—pollen and nectar—within the foraging range. 'Beekeeping appears to have more pervasive, negative impacts on biodiversity than it was previously assumed,' says Jordano."
scientificamerican.com They’re important for agriculture, but they’re not so good for the environment
Another lesson in the dangers of shipping plant materials across states. If you know anyone who might have bought one of these trees, please do reach out to Maine Bug Watch.
Did you buy an ash tree from Lowe's this year? If so, please contact [email protected] so that we can inspect it for possible presence of emerald ash borer.
Sadly, here's another cause for vigilance when purchasing plant material from nurseries. It seems that the Maine Dept. of Agriculture found invasive stiltgrass (Microstegium vimineum) at a plant nursery in York County. It's possible that the airborne seeds could land in nursery stock and be spread through the sale of plants. This story follows closely on the heels of the news that a tree shipped to Maine from Pennsylvania contained egg masses for the invasive spotted laternfly. And yet another concern with potted plants is potentially spreading the invasive jumping worm, which is starting to spread around Maine and other New England states.
Unfortunately, the era of just shipping plant material across the country is coming to an end (or at least it should be, given these developments). When purchasing plants from any nursery (or mulch or compost for that matter), be sure to inquire about the presence of invasive species on the nursery grounds. And ask if plants are raised in sterile potting media or dug out of nursery beds and then potted up. You want to purchase from people who are aware of these threats and vigilant against them; and in the very least you're helping raise awareness by inquiring.
content.govdelivery.com Invasive Stiltgrass Found at a Nursery in York County Considered one of the most damaging invasive plant species in the United States, Stiltgrass threatens Maine's native plants and natural habitats
Looks like invasive spotted lanternfly egg masses *have* been found in Maine after all. We need to stop importing plant material! Be on the lookout, folks.
"The Maine Department of Agricultural, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) today announced finding egg masses of the invasive spotted lanternfly (SLF) on trees in Maine communities and is urging residents to report any sign of the invasive pest. The egg masses were found on trees from Pennsylvania, where SLF is established and planted in Boothbay, Freeport, Northeast Harbor, and Yarmouth."
I don’t think these have been spotted in Maine yet, but the vectors by which they’re appearing in MA (shipments, nursery stock, etc.) are worrying for ME residents as well. I have in the past ordered nursery plants from out of state; invasive pests like these and jumping worms are making me reconsider that going forward (same with compost).
Today the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) announced finding two dead specimens of the spotted lanternfly in the towns of Milford and Norwood, MA. MDAR notes they were brought in on materials that originated in Pennsylvania counties currently under a spotted lanternfly quarantine. MDAR was also recently notified that nursery stock with spotted lanternfly egg masses and adults may have been unintentionally imported and planted in several parts of Massachusetts.
Because no live lanternflies have yet been found in Massachusetts, there is currently no evidence that SLF has become established in the Commonwealth. As a precaution, surveys are planned in the areas where the insects were found, to confirm that no live populations are present. While a dead lanternfly was previously found in the Boston area, in December of 2018, repeated surveys have found no further signs of SLF in that part of the state. For more information, visit MDAR's press release: https://www.mass.gov/news/state-agricultural-officials-urge-residents-to-report-signs-of-invasive-spotted-lanternfly
For more information about the spotted lanternfly, please visit: https://ag.umass.edu/landscape/fact-sheets/spotted-lanternfly
If you have seen any of the life stages of this insect pictured here, in Massachusetts, please report it: https://massnrc.org/pests/slfreport.aspx
#Insects #Entomology #SpottedLanternfly #InvasiveInsects #Landscaping #Gardening #Horticulture #UrbanForestry #Arboriculture #CitizenScience
Saturday September 26, 2020
9:00AM Welcome and Introduction to the Online Fair: Sarah Alexander, MOFGA
9:05AM Herbs for Stressful Crazy Times: Deb Soule, Avena Botanicals
10:00AM Organic Gardening & Crops Q&A: Caleb Goossen & Eric Sideman of MOFGA and Mark Hutton of UMaine Co-op Ext.
11:00AM Keynote: Power to the People: Drawing Strength from the Pandemic: Barbara Damrosch, Author and Co-Owner of Four Season Farm
12:00PM Working with Sheep Dogs: Dave & Colin Kennard, Wellscroft Fence Systems
1:00PM Public Policy Teach-In Panel: Climate Change in Maine – The Problem, the Response and What All of Us Can Do
Heather Spalding, MOFGA, Director; Hannah Pingree, Office of Policy Innovation and the Future: Commissioner Amanda Beal, Dept. of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry and Melissa Law, Bumbleroot Farm
2:00PM Tour of Dana Off-Grid Homestead: Sikwani Dana
3:00PM Getting the Most Out of Your Greenhouse & Hoophouse Vegetables: Andrew Mefferd, Author and Editor
4:00PM Commercial Hybrid Horse Logging and Land Management: Brad Johnson & Derek O’Toole, Third Branch Horse Logging
4:30PM Community Solar Farms: John Luft, ReVision Energy
5:00PM Steps to Becoming a Certified Organic Producer: Chris Grigsby, MOFGA Certification Services
5:30PM MOFGA Baked Beans Make-A-Long: George Sergeant, Patchwork Farm and Sagadahoc MOFGA
5:50PM Thank you & preview of evening entertainment: Sarah Alexander, MOFGA
6:00PM A Musical Tribute to CGCF from MFC
8:00PM Goodnight, See you tomorrow!
Catch the virtual Common Ground Fair this year!
Shared this one on Instagram but wanted to post a larger picture here. I went hiking yesterday not too far from the house and found a couple young common yellowthroats foraging in a field of goldenrod and aster. It was too perfect: so glad a few of the photos came out well. I think if you look at this bird's cheek, you can see the start of its black mask that will mark it as a male when it's an adult.
Late summer is always a bittersweet season for me, but it has its true joys, like this cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis). Its crimson blooms attract hummingbirds right as their other favored flower, scarlet bee balm (Monarda didyma), is fading.
I've been delighted to see a few more monarchs on the property recently (one seen here alongside a fritillary -- another fan of swamp milkweeed, Asclepias incarnata); however, numbers have been pretty low compared to last year -- at least by my anecdotal reckoning. But just yesterday I discovered this astonishing piece in the Boston Review about the perils of environmental and butterfly conservation in Mexico (trigger warning: the article covers murder and threats of sexual assault). And some of those threats of violence against conservationists are coming from our side of the border as well.
Unfortunately migratory species like butterflies need a wide range of territory preserved in order to ensure their survival. We can -- and should -- do our part locally, but the task requires many hands. And, as it turns out, the project can be destroyed by human prejudices, shortsightedness, violence, and the deleterious effects of our unjust and amoral economic systems.
"From Restraining Orders to Assassinations, the Dangerous Work of Saving the Monarchs"
It’s happening! First monarch caterpillar sighting on our swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)!
Scarlet Runner beans are in bloom! We caught sight of our resident hummingbird feeding from these vibrant flowers. Haven't had much luck photographing her yet, however! She flits between these and our beds of scarlet bee balm (Monarda didyma) -- with stopovers at the Monarda citriodora and wild jewelweed.
Some friends sighted recently on the farm!
Had our first sure sighting of a monarch butterfly yesterday! It was flitting between the echinacea flowers and swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) blooms, pictured here.
[07/16/20] We're starting to sell some native plant seedlings on our small farm here in Dresden, ME. This batch of American Spikenard (Aralia racemosa), grown from wild seed gathered right down the road on my friend's property, is looking good. I have to get our website together for other plants, but we do have some good-looking Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) for those of you wanting to support the monarchs that are now arriving (the milkweed is about 3 feet tall currently).
I'm curious: what flowers do the hummingbirds in your yards/surroundings visit? We typically have one bird around the farm, who favors two native flowers in particular: jewelweed (Impatiens capensis, shown in the article photo below), and bee balm (Monarda didyma). I have seen the hummingbird visit comfrey and borage when these flowers aren't yet present.
audubon.org A new study on Audubon’s Hummingbirds at Home program shows the importance of community science and native plants.
Our blue iris (Iris versicolor) bloomed the other day in our vernal stream. Because the stream bed has dried up in this drought, I've been watering the iris and marsh-marigolds (Caltha palustris) to help them survive this dry summer. I'm sure they're loving today's glorious rain storm.
A little morning floral harvest before we (hopefully) get some rain at last!
We're definitely experiencing a serious drought here in Maine. I think we've only had 2-3 days of rain in the past 30 days. We're giving some serious thought to how to design the farm and nursery in order to be better prepared for climate instability. It's gotten to the point now that I'm seeing understory plants in the forest wilting.
"Colonists, you’ve been here long enough to watch the prairies disappear, to witness the genocide of redwoods, to see waters poisoned by the sickness of Windigo thinking. The Windigo has no moral compass; his needle swings wildly toward the magnetism of whatever profit beckons. Surely, however, the land has taught you differently, too—that in a time of great polarity and division, the common ground we crave is in fact beneath our feet. The very land on which we stand is our foundation and can be a source of shared identity and common cause. What could be more common and shared than the land that gives us all life? Rivers don’t ask for party affiliation before giving you a drink, and berries don’t withhold their gifts from anyone. [...]
"It’s not enough to banish the Windigo himself—you must also heal the contagion he has spread. You, right now, can choose to set aside the mindset of the colonizer and become native to place, you can choose to belong."
(Thanks for sharing the article, Tom.)
lithub.com Dear Readers—America, Colonists, Allies, and Ancestors-yet-to-be, We’ve seen that face before, the drape of frost-stiffened hair, the white-rimmed eyes peering out from behind the tanned hide of a …
Here's a video of a honey bee working the petals open on lupine flowers in June. The iconic blue lupines (Lupinus polyphyllus) that we find so characteristic of early Maine summers is actually not a native plant species. These flowers originated on the west coast of the US. We do have a native lupine, called the sundial lupine (Lupinus perennis), which is now virtually extinct from the wild in Maine. I hope to have some of these more rare flowers growing on the farm soon. The honey bee in this video is also not a native insect -- I don't see much native bee interest in these lupines. I'm not yet sure where these honey bees are nesting in the area, or whether one of our neighbors keeps bees.
A recent garden walk at Avena Botanicals with my friend and teacher, Deb Soule.
Welcome to our first virtual Garden Walk of the 2020 season! Please excuse ambient noises from our neighbors and the elements. To thank you for watching, ple...
It would be better for our only planet and for future generations if we could give up on our perfect lawn obsession. In addition, we would save money, have fewer pesticides in our yard that poison us, our familiy, our pets, and the butterflies and birds.
We stand in solidarity with all those across the country protesting racism and violence against people of color. Please take a moment to listen to this message, if you can.
Everything is connected. Please take a moment to watch this short but powerful message by Justin Robinson (Instagram: @countrygentlemancooks)
This is the start of a conversation.
“I have been put in handcuffs while being in the woods as a botanist [...] Before I am a plant nerd or a musician or a dad, I have a dangerous looking body to people, and that has some repercussions. [...] The system that makes black male bodies vulnerable [...] is the same system that makes plants that shouldn’t be rare, rare.”
#BlackLivesMatter #ShareBlackStories #BlackBotany #CaliforniaNativePlants #botany #plants
[06/04/20] Looking forward to this series of webinars -- sharing in case anyone else is interested in "forest farming" (growing non-timber forest plants and herbs).
Just took care of a couple last webs in our wild apple tree. The caterpillars are definitely on the move.
Tom Schmeelk, Maine Forest Service (MFS) entomologist, reports that caterpillars have developed to the 4th instar at all of the research sites from Lincolnville south to Portland and west to Turner. Caterpillars in the 4th instar are the first to have the irritating hairs that cause human health impacts. The weather has been hot and dry which are not ideal conditions for the spread and proliferation of the fungus that attacks browntail, however wet weather in June will help. Stay tuned for updates!
We heard a wood thrush (Hylocichla mustelina) singing today while walking down our wooded road. Took some time to locate it, but I caught a brief video before it flew to another perch. I'd be reluctant to name a favorite bird song, but if pressed I'd claim this one. This is the sound of a healthy forest, since the wood thrush populations are in serious decline. At dusk we often hear this reedy melody calling from the darkening woods, and my heart is comforted.
Winterbloom is a small farm in midcoast Maine dedicated to providing instruction in herbalism, ecological management, sustainable living, meaningful teaching and learning, and the energy healing traditions of Qigong and yoga. We are a husband and wife team who teach classes at a variety of locations in and around Maine. We thrive on creativity, innovation, collaboration, and community. Together, we have devoted many years of dedicated inquiry to the health and wellness benefits of our respective practices, and we are here to serve our community. Visit and like our page. We also have a website with more info - http://www.winterbloomfarm.com. We'll be continuing to expand our events over the coming months! Looking forward to learning with you! Feel free to share with others who might be interested!
Heirloom seedlings, herbs and produce grown on a small farm in Dresden, Maine. We use non-conventional and sustainable methods.
Feels like home
We are a small, family farm producing vegetables, eggs, meat rabbits, and garlic.
Small scale farm at the top of a small scale hill in Dresden, Maine