With the warm days of spring approaching we have all been dreaming of what we will plant in our gardens this year. Consider incorporating pollinator friendly plants into your garden plan. One thing you can do without much planning is to plant a small portion of your garden or flower beds just for bees and other pollinators.
1. PLANT NATIVE PLANTS
The decline in honey bee populations has been in the news for quite a while now, but it is just not bees suffering from heavy pesticide and herbicide use, our native pollinators could use a leg up too! Creating biodiversity near your home is one small way you can make a difference. Planting beneficial plants for these creatures will provide them with more forage and habitat. There are many native plants in every area that will attract pollinators to your garden, and not only will you be doing something good for them, they will return the favor by pollinating your flowers and veggies too. The following link is a guide to native plant listings by region: https://xerces.org/pollinator-conservation/plant-lists/. Using perennial native plants is a great way to attract pollinators, beautify you landscape will plants that are drought tolerant and require little care once established.
2. LET YOUR BRASSICAS BLOOM
What else can you do for our pollinators? You can let your brassicas in the garden flower after you are done harvesting your crop. These plants in the cabbage family provide a great source of food for bees, especially broccoli! The bees love it, and they will flower late into the fall when many other flowers are done blooming. I have spent many moments in the garden watching our honey bees collecting nectar and pollen from our broccoli plants in the fall. When I step into the garden there is a noticeable hum coming from the broccoli patch, and it is quite calming to sit and watch hundreds of bees working and collecting on a warm autumn day when not much else is blooming. It is tempting to pull plants out of the garden after they are done producing for you, but you may consider leaving them for the bees and enjoy an unexpected splash of yellow blooms in your garden too.
3. CREATE HABITAT
You can create all kinds of habitat for pollinators besides planting flowers. Consider drilling holes in standing dead or fallen trees for solitary mason bees. These bees like to nest in holes in fallen logs. Also leave good habitat on the ground at the edge of your garden or lawn. Insects need cover and lots of undisturbed places to nest. Follow this link to find out more on raising native bees like mason bees https://thehoneybeeconservancy.org/mason-bees/.
4. DON'T SPRAY YOUR DANDELIONS
Believe it or not many weeds are great forage for our flying friends! Lawn weeds like dandelions and white dutch clover provide an excellent source of nectar and pollen for honey bees and other insects. We have been molded to believe that these weeds are unsightly and a nuisance, that we must conform to uniformity! But if we take the time to appreciate these "weeds" for all that they do for us and for pollinators you may reconsider the urge to get rid of them. Did you know that you can add dandelion leaves to your salad. Dandelion greens offer many of the same benefits of other leafy greens that boost your immune system, are also a diuretic, and can help support proper liver function.
5. VISIT YOUR LOCAL FARMER'S MARKET
Visit your local farmer's markets and nurseries for the best selection of flowers and veggies this year. It's always best to know the people growing your plants. Shopping locally will allow you to ask questions first hand, know that your plants have not been treated with any chemicals, and you will be supporting your local economy! Did you know that for every $100 you spend at locally owned businesses, $68 will stay in the community vs. only $48 when you buy from national chain stores!
That concludes our post on pollinator-friendly spring planting. Have anything else to add? Feel free to leave a comment below. Please share this post on your favorite social media platform. And please also be sure to follow us in social media! (links are in the footer ;)