National pollinator week

There aren’t many days on the calender that haven’t been set aside to recognize, remember, or raise awareness for one cause or another. Unless these “special observance” days stir our souls or if it is something that hasn’t affected our personal life, they pass by with little or no fan fare.

For example… knowing that June 21 is “Go Skateboarding Day”, I am not compelled to grab a skateboard, head down to the  park and celebrate by attempting a Mc Twist.  Skateboarding wasn’t my thing when I was a kid.  When my kid was a kid, I bought him one but I had no wish to partake in the activity.  The only reason I am aware of “Go Skateboarding Day” is because I wanted to make my point.

We need to be aware, then if it’s important enough, we are stirred to action.

June 17 – 23 is National Pollinator week

One week each year is set aside to bring awareness to a global issue.  There is a steady decline in pollinators and the decline is in large part caused by us.  The loss affects crop production, the economy and the environment.  If we want food security and an ecosystem that functions, we need to be willing to make the change and do our part in promoting the health of our pollinators.  They all have a role to play in the environment and I’d rather have pollinators working for free doing what they do instead of trusting the government to come up with a synthetic remedy.

~Primum non nocere~

First do no harm.  It’s the first principle taught to medical students and I have made the decision to adopt this principle in my personal gardening and in my business practices.  I am responsible for my own actions and it’s something I can control.  Change is hard but when you consider the health of our environment, change is necessary.  My big change was the decision not to use chemicals and to start planting for wildlife.

Bidens alba is a favorite for pollenators

At least 80% of our world’s crop species require pollination and the decline of pollinators has direct impact on the stability of food production and consumer prices.

I’ve always been a plant lover but the majority of my specimens were decorative.  They served no purpose other than to sit there and look pretty.  As I’ve re-invented my garden to attract wildlife, I realize how much more exciting it is to watch the butterfly’s and bees visit my plants than it is to watch my Ti plant grow.

Our environment is in need of some TLC and we are capable of making the changes necessary to provide a healthy environment which will ensure the safety of its inhabitants.

Expect and accept that if you have plants, you will have bugs: 

My first boss in the horticultural industry drummed it into me… spray first, ask questions later.  I “grew up” believing that bugs were a result of something I did wrong or didn’t do right.  I was brain-washed into thinking that an assault of toxic chemicals was sound practice.  Information about sustainability was kept secret and worst of all there was no mention of how many beneficial insects are caught up in the haze.

I am my boss now and one of my first decisions was that I would not use toxic chemicals.  This was a hard habit to break and I had to learn not to react when a critter appeared.  Knowing and accepting that you will have bugs takes some of the worry out of gardening.

When critter control is necessary… many can be removed by hand and disposed of in a bucket of soapy water.  If a pest is out of control and the health of the plant is at risk, instead of reaching for the Orthene, use natural soap’s and oil’s.  Sometimes a blast from the water hose will do the trick.  If it’s the same plant getting hit over and over, it might be time to ditch that plant and try something else.

Be an informed consumer:  If you have a gardener or landscape company, ask what pest control methods they use.    Last month in Oregon a landscape company sprayed Safari on the Linden trees in a Target parking lot.  I don’t know if the Aphids are gone but 50,000 bees have died.

Making the decision to go chemical free is deserving of one of those special days on our calender I think.  Another decision homeowners can make is to plant with wildlife in mind.  It’s fun and after you’re addicted to wildlife gardening, there will probably be less lawn to mow, fertilize and water!!!  Sustainable landscaping is the way to go.

Attract pollinators to your garden:

_DSC3650_C 

Do we really need to plant more geraniums or caladiums?  Make your landscape a safe haven for pollinators.  If you decide to plant for wildlife, you want to commit to a pesticide free landscape.   You don’t need a lot of room to get started.  If you don’t own a home or if you only have a small balcony or patio, you can plant container gardens.  Select a variety of plants that provide food, nesting areas, and host plants.   Don’t forget the water.

The best place to start is observe your neighborhood.  My garden started when I wanted to attract Monarchs.  They were already sipping nectar from plants I had so I added Milkweed, that is what the caterpillars eat.  It was exciting to watch the butterfly’s but when I started seeing the little caterpillars, I was hooked and my garden grew.  I started incorporating different plants to attract other species I saw in my area.

Now that you are aware there is a problem that affects each and every one of us, I hope you will take part in the solution.  Let’s take part in leaving the smallest possible footprint on the environment.

Further reading:

North American Butterfly Association provides garden guides for various regions.

Pollinator Friendly Planting Guides  :  These guides were funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the C.S. Fund, the Plant Conservation Alliance, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Bureau of Land Management with oversight by the Pollinator Partnership, in support of the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign.

Bees, fruits and money:  “After 3000 years of sustainable agriculture, farmers in the Chinese province Sichuan have to pollinate apple flowers themselves by using pollination sticks — brushes made of chicken feathers and cigarette filter”.

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