July 30, 2022

Hey, milkweed-growers!

In case you didn't see the last email to the wider mailing list, the next opportunity to plant your milkweeds is:

Tuesday, August 29th, from 9-11am

I'm hoping it'll be cool enough by then for you to, but the last milkweeds ya'll planted did look pretty hearty. This was before the heatwave though. Email me back if you'd like to be added to the volunteer roster!

Could I get a milkweed count from y'all? How many do you think you'll have that are ready to be put in the ground on August 29th? Please Reply All so we can all see each others' updates!

In other news...

I need help figuring out what the latest research means about tropical milkweed. Is it good? Is it bad? Because it's certainly not ugly.

This one is for all you internet sleuths, because I've spent enough time on it now that my head is spinning and I still need to work out my nonprofit's taxes from last year . 

Here's where I'm at:

Tropical milkweed has been a controversial topic in the monarch-loving gardener community:

According to new research from the University of Florida, there is one more complication to add to the case of planting tropical milkweed: 

Oleander aphids!

The article was just published here on the research that you can find here.

Here's why my head is spinning:

Given that I'm running around as the Monarch of the Monarchs at an internationally-influential location, I want to make sure I'm the legitimate resource for milkweed-growers nation-wide, and would like to update our website accordingly.

Can someone please help me figure this out?

In other other news...

I discovered a new method we can try for growing milkweed from seed: soil blocking!

Thanks to Daniel in San Diego (I'm not sure how we originally got connected, Daniel ) who shared this method for starting seeds in his Instagram stories! He says everything he's started in them has been more "prolific" than the traditional method of using the plastic containers. In the traditional way, the soil can harden in an odd way that prevents the entire soil from staying moist. With the soil blocks, the water soaks from the bottom and you can pour out extra water from the tray. The roots also come out everywhere so they don't get root bound and the soil gets more air. 

I found this photo in an old post on Facebook where someone is trying soil blocking with growing milkweeds. I sent a message to the poster to see how his results turned out.

Here's what the device looks like:

If we've got a volunteer who'd like to try growing milkweeds with this method, I'll order you a soil blocking device and send it to your address for you to give it a shot! I'd like a volunteer who's already successfully grown milkweed and transplanted to Burrowing Owl Billows so you can report back whether this new method is more effective.

Let me know!

Aisha with an 👁️

June 17, 2022

Hello, milkweed-growers!

I'd meant for this email to be more timely, right after our last volunteer event, but I started a new job that's left me exhausted, but I'm now a professional mermaid teaching others to be mermaids! Follow me @aishathemermaid if you're interested in checking it out (and/or signing up with me to learn how to mermaid on your Maui vacation)!

Apparently we didn't have enough flags and flags kept getting moved around so the whole "let's mark our milkweeds with flags to see how they fair" is a fail. The point of tracking our plants is so that we can figure out which methods/processes/variations are most successful. Since we'll be tracking these plants over a year-long period of time (at minimum--unless they all die), it's quite the tall order to ask you to REMEMBER which plants are yours, but that's where we're at, so let's roll with it.

Gail can confirm we planted 40 showies & 20 narrowleafs, but it's unknown how many plants we planted that you guys grew. Can you please email me back with how many plants you know we planted and from whom?

Aisha with an 👁️

May 29, 2022

Happy Memorial Day, Milkweed-Growers!

Here's our team update I compiled from the latest emails you've sent me:

Here are our latest photos of our milkweeds!

Susan's (5/29):

Heidi's (5/25):

Melissa's (5/19):

Cheryl's (5/5):

Tracy's (5/5):

Mary-Sonja's (4/10):

Tim's (12/21):

Thank you so much for inspiring hope, everyone! I'm adding this update to our website (milkweedsformonarchs.aishawithaneye.com), so if you talk to anyone who might be interested in learning more about our project and/or join us, you can share this site with them!

Happy planting tomorrow!

Aisha with an 👁️

January 23, 2022


I'm checking in to see how your plants are doing!

I just heard from Susan that her milkweed seedlings are "not doing well and seem to be dying off" so she's coming to the volunteer session tomorrow to pick up more seeds from Gail to try again. It could be that they are "hibernating" until it's warm enough again, but I also know the weather has been crazy in the Bay Area so... 🤷‍♀️

Tim emailed me back towards the end of last month with a photo of his seedlings that I shared in the burrowing owl email update just now:

However, Tim's email inbox is full so the emails I've been sending him keep bouncing! He's signed up to attend tomorrow's volunteer session, so can Gail, Phil, Dan, and/or Susan bring this up with him?

Gail has A LOT of seeds left! If you want more, need to try again, or know anyone who wants to join us, email me! You can share the website with the instructions and our updates with anyone interested as well.

Samir and Shreyans are starting their plants, so Gail will be dropping off their seeds with Phil and my dad is going to pick them up to coordinate with Samir a time to drop them and the pots off with him at the Google offices.

Whether your plants are doing well or not, please REPLY ALL to the group and let us know how it's going!

Aisha with an 👁️

December 20, 2022

Happy holidays, butterfly-savers!

I'm restarting this email thread because we've got new additions! Welcome, new additions! If you'd like to grow milkweed from seed, and haven't gotten supplies from us yet, reply back to me so Gail and I can hook you up! 

Here are the instructions for growing milkweed from seed.

Is there a volunteer session at Burrowing Owl Billows this month?

Nope! I'm sorry for not letting y'all know sooner. Phil is out on vacation this month and he's the gatekeeper to that land. I've already scheduled the January session with him though and that will be on

January 24th from 9am-11am

If you'd like to sign up, reply back and let me know!

Our City Forest's Narrow-Leaf Milkweed Seed-Planting Instructions

Phil recently attended a workshop for planting California natives, organized by the nonprofit Our City Forest. Here's his report back about their instructions for planting narrow-leaf milkweed seeds:

They placed them in a paper bag or glass jar that was sealed, and left them in the fridge for about two months before planting them. This is to simulate a cold winter period.


They used a potting mix of half potting compost and half perlite. They put both items into a basin and watered it until it could be lifted up and formed a ball, so as not to over saturate but enough to keep sufficient moisture.


They then placed the mix into pots and placed 3 seeds in each pot. They place them in a glasshouse and they have an automatic mister water them four times per day for approximately 60 seconds each time. Again, they do not recommend saturating the seeds but keeping them moist.

I asked about growing milkweed seeds at home without a glasshouse. They recommended placing a plastic container over the pot to simulate a glass house and maintain a moist environment and watering them with a spray bottle at least 4 times per day.


If all three seeds germinate they remove 2 of them so one will be healthier.

This was a nursery preparing plants for purchase, so they are probably more inclined to make sure everything looks nice and neat. I have seen other instances where they remove extra seedlings to ensure the healthiest individual survives. Also, this is just one person’s personal seed preparation method, I am sure if you went to several classes on seed preparation they would all vary somewhat.


It's best to try different methods to see what works, then I presume potting, compost, watering schedule, and exposure to light will all have an impact, so what works for one volunteer may not work as well for someone else.

Once we've successfully transplanted some of your plants into Burrowing Owl Billows, I'll update the instructions on the site so we can hone and share what we collectively have found to be the most effective way to grow narrow-leaf milkweed from seed at home in our area. For now, I've added these instructions to the site as another resource to examine when planting.

How are Our Milkweeds Doing?

We've got photos and updates from a couple of our crew! Here's a recap:

Susan's update: I did two sets. One planted directly and one after time in the fridge. Both have sprouted, but especially the early (non-cold stratified ones) have died back when it got cold. I know that established plants will die back in winter, but wasn’t sure the little seedlings were hearty enough so, for better or worse I decided to bring them inside, and I have small growth in both sets.

Mary-Sonja's update: I put one batch of seeds in the fridge back in october.  I transplanted them into pots today (11/29), along with the seeds that weren't exposed to the cold.  The four red pots are the cold group - let's see how they grow! And then I added netting for squirrel and bird protection - I had this set up already for my tomatoes ;) This is a fun experiment.  Hope it yields some plants.

Thanks for the updates! If you've got an update to add, reply back to this thread so we can all gain momentum from your progress! 

How are You Doing?

This past Saturday I started my campaign to raise funds and awareness for our project to save the monarchs (and burrowing owls). This campaign is nearly 1 year in the making, so I do hope you enjoy it and are proud of our project because of it! 

I also hope you recognize its potential to pay off as well. I'm currently $45k in debt... which I've been slowly slipping into this year as my savings dried up and various unpredictable, costly life circumstances have reared their ugly heads. Not only did I have to SPEND to get away from that second stalker, but then my moped was stolen and my cat swallowed my sewing needle and I had to spend around $4k for his surgery just to remove it.

While I did take compensation from my nonprofit for my work on my nonprofit last year and I plan to do the same this year, it's nowhere near enough to support me sustainably. Not only would I like to do this work full time, but I'd like to hire a team, add projects, and expand our efforts. This campaign has huge potential to make this happen.

What is the campaign?

I've created a "Monarch of the Monarchs" outfit to stiltwalk around Maui in while I carry a giant QR code that will send visitors (and locals) to the following video:

This is the first in a series of videos musically telling the story of how The Boat ends up saying "Ace Ventura Save the Animals," which will be released alongside clips from the camera on my head over the next 6 months. Here's the plan for how the camera on my head will feed the community: THE PLAN

I managed to stiltwalk for about 40 mins and made $20.25 in sticker sales and tips on Saturday. That's actually not too bad, especially because it was the first time I tried it and this campaign is designed to pull people into "the game" of saving the animals.

Here's the first clip I cut from the camera on my head: CLIP

I posted the above clips all around the same time yesterday. What you'll notice is that the clip from the camera on my head has 1.6k views, while the rest only have hundreds. The conclusion that this campaign has massive potential is consistent with the numbers from posting the same clips to Tiktok.

You'll notice it has 1.5k+ views on tiktok compared to only hundreds on the others.

Ultimately, despite these numbers, I suspect my viral growth will be slow because the algorithms are biased and the social-discovery communities are both saturated and fatigued. Really, this is more about fishing for a BIG WHALE to blow us out of the water: Ace Ventura.

If you have any doubt in this strategy, there was just a kid on Youtube with 1000 subscribers who jumped to 2 million in 1 week because Johnny Depp in full Captain Jack Sparrow character and attire appeared in a video on his channel. That happened because of Make a Wish.

I've already met Jim Carrey. I met him in the ocean near where he lives here in Maui. I've hung out with him a couple times, and he's seen my artistic abilities and knows I want his help to save the animals. He's interested, in the way any single man is interested in an attractive woman, but to really get him to step up and commit to this cause as Ace Ventura is going to take more than pedestrian interactions.

I suspect my Monarch of the Monarch's character needs... more attitude, but enacting The Plan is solid for eliciting so much attention that he won't be able to resist stepping into the limelight...  eventually.

I've also been showing up on his beach as a mermaid, in case he needs a more intimate incentive to come out of his shell first.

How can you help?

Apart from getting hands on with growing milkweed from seed for transplanting at Burrowing Owl Billows, you can donate, spread the word, subscribe, provide project feedback/assistance, and/or buy stickers!

Here's where you can buy monarch stickers to help our cause!

I just read an article about selling spreadsheets on Etsy where the woman who wrote it had no spreadsheet or project management experience but was racking up $200k in passive income from doing this. I've been wanting to make tutorials about how I run my nonprofit anyway, so I'll create spreadsheet templates for sale in this shop as well beginning next year.

I hope you all have a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a blessed New Year!

Aisha with an 👁️

September 28, 2022

Good morning, volunteers!

I finally finished (enough of) the site with the instructions so I can share it with you!

Here it is!

There's enough information here for you to get started with your seeds and to share the project with others who may be interested in joining our efforts.

The instructions are composed from a compilation of online research (including Youtube videos with experts teaching about starting our specific species of milkweed from seed) and local experts (thanks to Gail who scouted them all!). Despite this, this first attempt with you guys is AN EXPERIMENT! That means, together, we need to find the most successful path to optimize our process and maximize our results. Gail and I have a spreadsheet where we're tracking everyone's progress and we'll share successes with this mailing list, but we haven't decided on a way for everyone to see everyone's progress on the website. It could be really fun and engaging to do this. It could be like looking at a gaming leaderboard, if you're competitive, or it could be just a way to form connections with other members of your community. Please let me know if you have any ideas or thoughts about this! As it is public, it will, of course, be opt in, but, if it's a good idea, why wouldn't you want to? Let me know!

Aisha with an 👁

September 12, 2022

Hello, potential monarch-saving volunteers!

You're getting this email because you've expressed an interest to either myself or Gail, who's helping me manage this project, about growing narrow-leaf milkweed from seed in 1-gallon pots in your yard for transplanting at Burrowing Owl Billows in Shoreline Park when they're ready (hopefully in the spring).

Seeds will be delivered to you and soil will be reimbursed. You'll need an outdoor area with full sun to put your 1-gallon pots and expect a roughly 6-month commitment. Once you plant your seeds, you'll be spray-watering them for 7-10 days, everyday, and then, upon germination, you'll be watering every 2-3 days. The trick is to not over or under water.

We haven't finalized the instructions, obtained the seeds, or recruited a dedicated expert yet, but we do know that we will be using the empty 1-gallon black plastic pots we've accumulated from previous plantings to grow and plant our milkweeds in. This is our first try doing this, so there is no expectation of success, only hope and learnings. :)

Phil has 800 of these pots, so please pick up however many you'd like to try (and let me know how many you do so we can keep track). You can pick up pots at the September 20th volunteer session between 9-11am (it's fine if you can't volunteer too--this is just the time Phil will be out there with the pots to distribute), but email me back if you can't make it then and we'll find another time for you to pick up pots.

I've CC'd everyone on the volunteer list so questions may be answered towards the whole group (Reply All unless your question is personal). Your contact will not be shared outside of this email thread without your permission.

Aisha with an 👁