Shipping Live Plants
As we have been getting more attention from out of province lately, I thought it would be a good time to go over a few things regarding shipping live plants. Although we would love to, we do not ship live plants out of province due to the potential risk of spreading species not native to other areas (we do however, ship dry goods out of province). Since our plants are hardened off outdoors to prepare them for the environments they will be living in, it is possible for our local fauna like insect eggs, microbes and such to make their way into the soil, even if plants are grown in pots. Although this is normal and does not mean our plants are “infected” or are “unhealthy” in some way (in fact ‘living soil’ can be far more healthy than irradiated, inert or otherwise ‘clean’ soil), it does mean one should be aware of some things.
One may think this is not a big issue, but look at something like the Asian Jumping Worm as an example and you will be quick to change your mind. Although there is currently no record of them in Alberta, they are making their way into the Maritimes and Southern Ontario, both by in ground migration from the States and in soil brought in from other locales. This is also how they arrived in North America in the first place. Our native woodlands and most other areas in Canada have been earthworm free since the last ice age so even the red wigglers and dew worms we know are non-native. They were brought over by European settlers. Imported potted plants, transportation of soil and fishing with live bait have been the largest spreaders. The difference between other earthworm species compared to Asian Jumping Worms is that other species are not as aggressive in their feeding habits. This can be seen in worm compost where plant material is only partially broken down which provides nutrients to our gardens. Jumping Worms however, are very active and voracious feeders which can turn a vegetated area into a coffee ground looking wasteland devoid of nutrients in a very short time. Although adults cannot overwinter in our northern climate, the eggs sure can. This can be especially devasting to boreal forests as they take many years in northern climates to build up their duff layers
including mycelium networks, rotting vegetation, mosses, understory plants and wood in various stages of growth and death. This layer is crucial to the health and growth of diverse boreal ecosystems. They cannot recover from the impact of Jumping Worms and are quickly destroyed.
here is a link to a CBC article which explains more about the Asian Jumping Worm and how to tell the difference between it and its closest lookalike, the Dew Worm or Night Crawler:
This is just one of the highest impact examples. We do not fully understand the ramifications of many other non-native species on local environments. Medieval
Manor Gardens suggests to ere on the side of caution then. If you are fishing always dispose your bait in proper garbage receptacles and do not throw it in the water or on the ground. Even if it is dead you do not know what eggs, microbes or pathogens may be contained within it. Use soil from you own property or if bringing soil or live plants in, know where that soil has come from. If it was produced locally it is far less likely to contain non-natives from another area. Be mindful of seeds as well, since even commercially prepared seed can and will at some point contain a certain percentage of seed other than the species you are after.
By being aware we can make better choices. The choices we make can cost little or nothing, but can have a huge impact on our environmental future.