How to Garden to Save Our Pollinators
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Spring has finally sprung and it is prime time for the birds, bees, and other pollinators to work their magic. The pollination process is vital to life as we know it, but climate change, deforestation, and the overuse of insecticides are causing the gravely termed “insect apocalypse”. Last week tackled how to address the major culprits playing into the “insect apocalypse” at a systemic, government, and corporate level. This week we are helping the pollinators from right at home. Whether you have a yard, garden, community garden, or a few potted plants that you look after, there is something for all of us to do to contribute to the livelihoods of pollinators.
For the Love of Gardens
Little Gardens Big Impact
Pollinators are essential to our livelihoods, food chains, and ecosystems. Mindfully utilizing your outdoor space is not only a beautiful way to care for our pollinators but can also help combat climate change.
Pollinators include birds, bats, butterflies, moths, flies, beetles, wasps, small mammals, and most importantly, bees. They are responsible for assisting over 80% of the world's flowering plants to reproduce.
How Gardens Help Combat Climate Change
Both soil and plants extract carbon from our atmosphere and store it. Excess carbon in the atmosphere is one of the leading causes of global warming. You can also reduce greenhouse gas emissions through composting and growing your own food. Composting food scraps keep those scraps from giving off methane in landfills. Growing your own food forgoes the carbon footprint associated with mass agriculture and shipping practices. Strategically planting bushes and trees to protect your home from harsh weather conditions can conserve the energy needed to heat up or cool off your home.
Create a Haven for Pollinator Pals
5 Tips to Make Your Garden More Pollinator Friendly
1. Think outside of the lawn
Invasive vines and foreign turfgrasses, like the American favorites, Kentucky blue, and rye, both of which are native to Europe and Eurasia, can disrupt delicate ecological balance. Utilizing native plants and perennials can be a more environmentally friendly alternative to turfgrass and helps to encourage pollination.
2. Participate in No Mow May
If you have a lawn, encourage your homeowner’s association to participate in “No Mow May“ an effort gaining nationwide attention that drops the lawn cutting ordinances for the month of May. This allows for the bees and other pollinators coming out of hibernation to have plenty of plants and pollens to enjoy. This has seen significant success with bee populations in Wisconsin.
3. Choose a mixture of plants
Utilizing a variety of plants and flowers that bloom throughout the season, provides bees with ample sources of food. Favoring one type of flower could cut off a food source to the bees when that specific flower is not in bloom. By planting milkweed and other pollinator-friendly plants, you increase the availability of habitat and food sources, which can help to save these ecologically important species.
4. Avoid pesticides
Pollinators can be exposed to and die from pesticide exposure from not only drinking the nectar of a flower but also from the air and water. Discontinue any use of pesticides, fungicides, and insecticides in your garden - especially on flowering plants.
5. Provide clean water
Bees need water to drink. Providing a small bowl or bath of water for them during the blooming season is a good way to help support their journey.
Don’t Have Access to Your Own Garden?
Neither Do I
Living in NYC, I’ve had to get a little more creative with how I find places and time to connect and give back to our pollinators and ecosystems. Thankfully, being in a big city hasn’t stopped me from having access to nature. Just a couple of weeks ago, millions of birds began flooding into NYC for their spring migration. As a settling, non-migratory human society, we easily disrupt the paths of nature making these avian migratory paths lethal to many birds. This disruption is also true of any building, highway, or other human-influenced space. So even if you don’t have a personal garden or green space to create havens for the birds and bees, consider visiting and supporting your local botanical garden, contributing to a community garden, or supporting undertakings like Project Safe Flight.
Some Rays of Sunshine
Headlines We’re Happy to See
The Garden Edition
Utilizing native plants is a rising trend in home gardening. - Read More
New Jersey passes law encouraging the purchase of native plants. - Read More
America’s Longleaf Restoration Initiative planted over 1.7 million acres of native trees. - Read More
Pandemic gardening boom shows boost to public health. - Read More
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