Planting for Pollinators

CrimsonCloverfieldAs discussed in Episode #18 of the Sow Edible permaculture Podcast, this week Stacy was part of a panel for the Pollinator Protection Tour with Toxic Free NC.  The goal is to spread the importance of  pollinators in our food system and provide information on how to make your yard a more pollinator friendly place.  This is one of many programs that Toxic Free NC supports and we appreciated the opportunity to be a part of such an important message.  For more information about this wonderful organization you can check them out at ToxicFreeNC.org or on Facebook at Toxic Free NC

So this week we thought we would give you some practical ways you can make your yard more pollinator friendly!

Pollinators

Pollinators are a vital part of our existence.  A part that can be easily overlooked yet provides us with the key we need to produce the food we eat each day.  While most people automatically think of bees as our pollinators, there are actually more than 100,000 different animal species that play roles in pollinating our plants.  Wasps, moths, butterflies, flies, beetles, hummingbirds, perching birds, fruit bats, possums, lemurs, and even gecko lizards are a few off the list.  (Source: US Fish and Wildlife )

Since 90% of all flowering plants rely on pollination from an outside source, having an abundance of pollinators in your home garden is a must.  Pollinators not only allow these plants to set fruit, but they increase the amount of fruit each plant will produce.  In situations where gardeners find that their fruit trees are not producing an abundance of fruit, it is very possible that a lack of pollinators could be the problem.

Pollinator Friendly Plants

A very simple way to increase the pollinators in your yard is to plant pollinator friendly plants.  Here are some dual purpose pollinator friendly plants and ground covers that we would recommend.

  • Clover- White and Crimson Clover are great ground covers that pollinators love.  They fill difficult areas that grass sometimes struggles with while providing forage for ducks.  Our bees love to work the clover right along side the ducks!  White Clover is perennial (so plant once and let it do) while Crimson Clover has to lay down it’s own seed.  We have had no trouble with our crimson clover reseeding itself and as an added bonus we will take the seeds and spread them ourselves in different areas of the farm.
  • Buckwheat- great ground cover with edible grain.  It grows quickly allowing for multiple plantings in one season (in our area) and is a great cover crop for your garden.  The ducks also like it as well as wild birds.  We have watched in amazement at our bees completely covering these.
  • Black Locust- Yes, add super pollinator to its endless list of recommendations!  As discussed many times, it is also a fantastic choice for firewood (slow long hot burn).  Grows quickly, coppices (cut and it grows back), very rot resistant (think fence posts).
  • Edible Fruiting bushes/trees/plants:  Blackberries, blueberries, rasberries, elderberry, wild strawberry, diakon radishes, apple tree, pear tree, fig, plums, peaches…. the list goes on and on!

Best Way to Attract Pollinators

While any of these would be great to have in your yard, remember these tips to get the best results:

  • More is Better- the more plants you have, the more beneficial insects you will attract.  Planting a food forest would be a great attraction for those pollinators.
  • Variety of Bloom Times- Choose to plant so that you have something blooming all year long.  This will attract the pollinators and get them to stay.
  • Become a Bee Keeper and get your own bee hive for your yard.  I could not recommend this enough.  Beekeeping is so much fun with a supply of delicious honey as an added bonus!

How do you Attract Pollinators?  Please Comment Below!

 



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