A Haven for Pollinators

DSC_0106Happy tail-end of National Pollinator Week!

On this warm, sunny June day, our farm buzzes, hums, and flutters with pollinators–those amazing animals that do the important job of transporting pollen between the male (anther) and female (stigma) parts of a flower.  Fuzzy bumblebees bury themselves in the mock orange blossoms.  Hummingbirds zip up to sip from the honeysuckle blooms.  Delicate tiger swallowtails alight softly on the vivid pink petals of rose campion.

It makes me happy to see so many of them this year.  Even better, it makes our plants happy.  Thanks to our busy pollinators, the apple and pear trees are loaded with growing fruit, as are the blueberries and raspberries.  Indeed, according to the United States Department of Agriculture, “Three-fourths of the world’s flowering plants and about 35 percent of the world’s food crops depend on animal pollinators to reproduce.”

We owe these little guys (and girls) a lot.

Here on our farm, we’ve made it our mission to be as pollinator-friendly as possible. Four things we’ve done:

  1.  Just said NO to pesticides.  With the exception of zapping the occasional wasp nest in self-defense, our farm is a no-pesticide zone.  Aside from as-needed applications of organic insecticidal soap spray and beer traps from slugs, we let beneficial predator bugs and birds do the pest-killing work for us.   Bonus:  since our feathered friends rely on insects for sustenance at some point in their life cycles, shunning pesticides has made our farm a haven for large numbers of birds as well.
  2.  Nurtured native plants.  Nearly thirty years ago, we were lucky enough to find a piece of property to call home that already brimmed with native plants attractive to a wide range of pollinators.  In the years since, we’ve planted many more, including mock orange (pictured), red flowering currant, and Oregon grape.
  3. Planted other pollinator favorites.  When picking out other, non-native plants for our garden, I gravitate toward those that do double-duty as pollinator food sources. For instance, flowering herbs like oregano, chives, anise hyssop, thyme, and bee balm are favorites of mine–and our pollinators.DSC_0068
  4.   Tried not to be too tidy.  Anyone who has been out to our farm knows that it’s not the …um…tidiest of places.  Dandelions spring bright and roaring from the grass, flirting with the honeybees.  A stinging nettle stand rules part of one pasture, serving as food and a hibernation zone for butterfly larvae.  There are brambles and stick piles and rough, wild spots that have never seen a mower or pair of pruners.  Unlike HOA’s, pollinators are more than okay with untidy.

We’re hoping to do even more for our pollinator friends in the months and years ahead.

For some fast facts and info on how you can help pollinators, check this site

So how do you show your pollinators some love?

Thanks for reading!

Cherie

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