Pollinators in the Garden
One of the most common questions I get asked from people, who are fairly new to gardening, is how they can increase their harvest, or yield. They want to know what my secret is. More fertilizer? Is it my watering schedule? Honestly, nothing more than a little prior planning and lots of bugs. Yes, you read that right, bugs, or rather, pollinators. Most people think of bees, but there are a variety of bugs that pollinate.
Here are a few steps to make your garden more pollinator friendly.
When planning your garden it’s critically important to include plants that draw in pollinators. Local or indigenous plants are always best, and for this I suggest visiting a local nursery that provides such plants. Not all plants have to be indigenous. Consider edible, medicinal, and herbal plants. Some of my favorites are borage, nasturtium, comfrey and yarrow. Many can also be perennials, which are great for food forests. Roses, berries, trees, and vines are great for pollinator friendly yards.
Never Use Pesticides
Unfortunately, pesticides have become a common practice for the mainstream gardener. Pesticides are all encompassing and will kill both good and bad bugs. And the resulting use of pesticides won’t stay in your own garden. Run off from pesticide laden gardens drain downstream and which cannot only kill bugs in other areas, but can contaminate streams, rivers, storm drains, the list goes on. Even more horrifying to me is the thought that pesticides were created by the same Nazi who created gas for the gas chambers in Germany during World War II. That is not a legacy that I personally care to take part in.
Offer Drinking Water
Pollinators need water too. A birdbath, saucer, or dish that is either shallow or has an edge on it will be fine. It will become a communal area in your garden for all kinds of wildlife, so create a watering station that you would enjoy seeing.
Do Not Bee Keep
Many people think beekeeping is a great way to bring pollinators into their yard, however, honey bees can be detrimental to local bees. Most honey bees have been imported and are not localized species. Non-local honeybees often have weaker immune systems than local bees and can introduce diseases to local bees. This is having a massive affect worldwide on declining native bee populations. Native bees, wasps, bumble bees, etc., can pollinate many times more effectively and efficiently than honeybees. Look into what pollinators are indigenous to your area and create shelter for them instead. Save the bees by letting them do what they do.
Use Permaculture Practices To Ensure Good Pollinators Stay
Permaculture practices promote balanced yards and gardens. When a garden is balanced bad bugs will be managed by good bugs naturally, and pollinators will always be present. Permaculture involves watching and educating yourself about your surroundings to create a garden that works in harmony with nature. Because pollinators are a part of nature, watch for them, see what brings them to your yard, and what you can do to duplicate that process.
Pollinators are just bugs who are doing their jobs. Whether you’re a fan of bugs or not, they are a necessary part of gardening. The more pollinators you have in your garden, the higher your yield can be. Give them reasons to visit your backyard and they’ll keep coming back. What do you do to keep your garden pollinator friendly? Comment below!