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Growing your own natives

Ever wanted to grow your own native plants? Do you know how to tell a healthy, viable seed from an unhealthy one, when is the best time to sow, and how to give your newly emerged seedlings the best conditions to ensure success?

Watershed Landcare will be hosting a seed collection and propagation workshop on Sunday 6 May and have invited local ecologist, David Allworth, and local botanist, Christine McRae, to share their extensive knowledge on the subject.

“Collecting your own seed and growing the plants yourself for either re-vegetation projects, farm windbreaks and shade trees, or the home garden can be extremely satisfying. The ultimate DIY project that will outlast a lifetime.” said Ms McRae.

“The purchase of seed to grow native plants is relatively low cost. However, collecting your own seed from close proximity to where it will be used can add to the survival rate of the plants.” she continued.

The reason for this is that local plants are more suited to the local environment. They would have evolved over time to cope with environmental variables such as rainfall patterns, frosts, winter and summer extremes, soil types and landscape position. Provenance is a term meant to describe the origin of a seed source. Local provenance equates to genetic adaptation to local environmental conditions.

“Another good reason to collect your own seeds is that there are many native plant species out there and commercial suppliers will not be able to supply everything when required, if at all. Growing your own local native species is the best way to aid their survival.” said Ms McRae.

The workshop will cover basic identification features of some commonly found local plant species; why collecting locally is best; safety, permission, timing, methods, storing collected material; equipment and processing of collected material; methods and materials for propagation and the best time to sow seed.

Workshop participants with gain knowledge and skills to select for viable seed, ensure successful germination and give seedlings the best start.

The seed collection and propagation workshop will be held from 9am to 12 noon on Sunday 6 May at the Straw Bale Shed, AREC. The workshop is free to attend with morning tea and lunch provided.

All welcome. For more information or to book your spot please contact Agness Knapik, Watershed Landcare Coordinator, on 0435 055 493 or info@watershedlandcare.com.au.

This event is supported by Watershed Landcare through funding from Michael King and Landcare Australia.

Attract birds to your garden

Native plants are a great way to attract birds to your garden, but the type of native you plant can greatly affect the types of birds it will attract.

The species you select will influence whether you favour seed-eaters, honeyeaters or insect-eaters, but they all like thick vegetation to nest, shelter and forage in, so density is key.

Aim for a multi-layered habitat, with lots of plants at different heights, and trees and shrubs that will provide year round food and shelter for many species.

“Plant selection is an important thing to consider when planting a garden if you want habitat for the smaller birds.” said botanist, Christine McRae.

“What you plant can shift the species diversity of birds.” she continued.

Larger birds like the wattle bird, which prefers nectar rich flowers such as the grevillea, can be very territorial and displace smaller bird species.

“To attract smaller birds plant less nectar rich and more small, spiky flowered plants” said Christine.

Small birds like finches rely on dense vegetation to provide protection from predators.

During dry conditions don’t forget to provide the birds with a drink. A bird bath or a dish regularly topped up with water can also help to attract birds to your garden.

Spring is the season when birds are most lively and visible and getting involved in the Aussie Backyard Bird Count is a great way to learn more about the feathered inhabitants of your neighbourhood.

BirdLife Australia and it’s Birds in Backyards program have created the Aussie Backyard Bird Count initiative to provide an important snapshot of the birds that live where people live.

The event was launched in 2014 and last year over 61,000 people participated and 1.4 million bird records were submitted.

The 2017 Aussie Backyard Bird Count runs from 23-29 October.

It’s easy to get involved, just head to the website to register as a Counter: http://aussiebirdcount.org.au/ (the website also contains some handy tips for designing a bird friendly garden).

It only takes 20 minutes and it’s a great activity to do with the family or a group of friends.

So register as a counter, grab a Field Guide and head out into the backyard, local park or your favourite green space and see how many of the 800 bird species present in Australia you can identify.

Pro Event Calendar

Local Plants for the Local Environment – Native Seed Collection and Propagation Workshop

Watershed Landcare will be hosting a seed collection and propagation workshop on Sunday 6 May and have invited local ecologist, David Allworth, and local botanist, Christine McRae, to share their extensive knowledge on the subject.

The workshop will cover the following topics:

Identification

Basic identification features of some commonly found local plant species

Useful texts to help with identification

Seed Collection

Why collecting locally is best – (also only collect from large healthy populations)

Safety

Permission

Timing – weather, ripeness of seed

Method/s

Containers for collected material

Record keeping

Processing Seed

Equipment for processing collected material

Processing collected material

Storage for seed – labelling, insect attack

Propagation

Propagating mix

Containers

Best time to sow seed

Watering

Protection of your seedlings

Workshop participants with gain knowledge and skills to select for viable seed, ensure successful germination and give seedlings the best start.

The seed collection and propagation workshop will be held from 9am to 12 noon on Sunday 6 May at the Straw Bale Shed, AREC. The workshop is free to attend with morning tea and lunch provided.

All welcome. For more information or to book your spot please contact Agness Knapik, Watershed Landcare Coordinator, on 0435 055 493 or info@watershedlandcare.com.au.

This event is supported by Watershed Landcare through funding from Michael King and Landcare Australia.