Vermont Garden Journal: National Pollinator Week
Happy National Pollinator Week! These days, there seems to be a dedicated week for all kinds of topics, some frivolous and others not. But pollinators are important.
We've all heard the news about honeybee hive declines and the colony collapse disorder. The often quoted fact that one-third of our food is dependent on pollinators has been well ingrained in our minds. But pollinators are not just honeybees. Bumblebees, flies, butterflies, moth and wasps are also pollinators. In fact, there are over 1,000 vertebrates such as bats, small animals and birds that act as pollinators as well.
One of the best things to do to help all pollinators is to create habitats and grow plants that encourage pollinating insects and animals to thrive. Here's a quick checklist to see how pollinator friendly your yard is:
- Reduce or eliminate the use of pesticides. Even organic pesticides, such as Bt or Thuricide, will kill the larval forms of many butterflies. If you must spray, do so when plants aren't flowering, on cloudy days and towards evening when pollinators are less active.
- Design your gardens so they have some plants blooming continuously from early spring until fall. Make sure you have some old fashioned varieties of flowers in the mix. Many modern hybrids don't have the nectar and pollen that pollinators need. Keep a few wild areas around your yard for native wildflowers and shrubs to thrive.
- Have a source of water for pollinators. But change the water frequently so it doesn't become a mosquito breeding ground. Erect bat and bird houses to encourage these creatures to stay around, eat insects and pollinate plants. Remember, every little bit helps.
And now for this week's tip, it's time to spray beneficial nematodes on lawn areas around plants that Japanese beetles were feeding on last summer. The c-shaped beetle grubs are in the upper layers of the soil and will pupate into the adults soon. Beneficial nematodes parasitize the grubs, reducing the adult population. Spray them in the evening and water them in well.
Next week on the Vermont Garden Journal, I'll be talking about weeding. Until then, I'll be seeing you in the garden.