August 10, 2016

Get Outside: Encouraging Pollinators

Since planting my first vegetable garden 3 years ago I have become slightly obsessed with pollinators. Well, slightly may be an understatement… I have started keeping honey bees after all, but that’s a topic for another day.

My first few stabs at a bumper crop were disappointing and as I researched successful gardening practices it all seemed to hinge around pollinators. The thing is, without bees, butterflies and other helpful winged creatures we wouldn’t have any pollination and without pollination there are no vegetables! Why do the work if you can’t enjoy the bounty?

While researching this topic I have discovered that the most prolific pollinators prefer flowers within a fairly tight color spectrum: white, purple and colors in the red family like orange and pink. They also, especially butterflies, prefer these blossoms to be in larger color blocks… so a large grouping of the same flower will be more attractive than a wide variety of flowers spread out among other varieties. This is most likely to be because it is easier for them to spot the flowers from a distance.

Armed with this knowledge, I have been consciously adding flowers to my garden and vegetable beds and I am loving the results – lots of fluttering creatures and seas of color to greet me each morning. The jury is still out on how successful this year’s garden will be… but from the look at all of the flowers out there I am hoping for a great year!