top of page

10 Garden Gleanings from 2020

Michele MacKinnon

“…conservation is everyone’s responsibility—not just those few who make it their profession.”  ~ Professor Doug Tallamy


Here’s a roundup from another year cultivating my garden and my garden knowledge.

  1. Tropical butterfly weed — monarch death sentence — I was horrified to find dead caterpillar larvae and a blackened, disfigured butterfly that emerged from a monarch chrysalis this fall. Skip tropical, multicolored milkweed. Plant only native milkweeds.

  2. “Greener” lawn equipment — Hooray! For those irritated by noisy gas-powered mowers and leaf blowers spewing emissions into the air, help is on the way with lower decibel, battery-powered lawn equipment.

  3. Water right — Never fertilize plants when soil is dry. Water lightly, then follow with organic granular or liquid fertilizer. Water helps roots absorb fertilizer which will then be transported throughout plant tissues where it’s needed. 

  4. Feed the soil, not the plant! — Synthetic fertilizers (with high number formulas such as 24-8-16) yield growth spurts but they don’t promote soil health. Organic, slow release fertilizers act over longer time periods and encourage healthy soil organisms that work with roots to nourish plants. Healthy soil grows healthy plants.

  5. Pollinator puberty — The majority of pollinator larvae feed in leaf canopies all summer then complete their lifecycle on the ground among leaf litter. Creating gardens below trees and shrubs where leaves can accumulate increases the likelihood these species will reach maturity and help pollinator populations rebound.

  6. Lawn yawns — The majority of those 35 and under want less lawn. This bodes well for replacing turf with native plants that benefit wildlife and thrive in our state. 

  7. Lights out! — To protect moths and fireflies endangered by nighttime lighting, keep lights on timers or use yellow LED “bug” lights. It’s safe for insects and people alike. 

  8. Almonds & pollinators — This popular nut may be stressing our honeybees and exposing them to lethal pesticides. Choose organic, sustainably grown brands or consume nuts less dependent on commercial honey bees for pollination. 

  9. Stem keeping — Standing seed heads of coneflowers, anise hyssop, asters and goldenrods are winter buffets for finches, chickadees and juncos. As an added bonus, seed heads catch snow, adding visual interest to winter landscapes.

  10. #plantalog — While it may sound odd, rotting logs offer housing for wood nesting bees, pupation sites for fireflies, and lodging for beetles. Repurpose small logs to edge gardens or tuck away in out of the way corners and let nature take its course.

Try one of these tips, or any from 2018 or 2019, and watch your garden flourish.

Garden Gleanings 2.jpeg
Garden Gleanings .jpeg

Photo: Adult firefly in Connecticut garden

Photo credit: Michele MacKinnon


Michele MacKinnon, is a UCONN-Certified Advanced Master Gardener, garden educator and speaker. Contact Michele MacKinnon for information or questions.

bottom of page