Taking Root #26

Planting for Pollinators

Why is it important to attract insects that pollinate to your yard? Gail Langellotto, Oregon State University horticulturist and statewide coordinator of the Master Gardener program says, “The importance of bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, moths and other pollinators has become more prominent as honey bee hives are affected by ‘colony collapse disorder’ and other ailments. Pollinating insects and birds are vital players in sustaining plant growth on earth, and with about 19,200 species, the bee is the most important pollinator.”
Home gardeners can enhance habitat for native pollinators and lure them to the garden with plants whose color and shape attract bees, butterflies and birds. Incorporating some of the pollinator’s favorite flowers, herbs, shrubs or trees into your landscapes ensures our food supplies for years to come.

Plant flowers that attract pollinators near your vegetable garden too, such as along with cucumber and squash plants to ensure they get fertilized.

Some of the many plants that attract native pollinators and other beneficial insects are asters, alyssum, baby blue eyes, basil, cilantro, cosmos, crimson clover, fuchsia, impatiens, single-petal marigolds, nasturtiums, stonecrop sedum and sunflowers. Shrubs and trees include dogwood, fruit trees, June berries, boysenberries, marionberries, raspberries, red maple, sumac and willows.

If you are blessed to have someone in your neighborhood who has taken up beekeeping, as we do, then attracting bees is a no-brainer. But, if you don’t, there are things you can do to ensure your plants are pollinated.

Native bees are different than honey bees in that they stay close to home. If you provide them with suitable conditions, they’ll settle in nicely and won’t stray too far. One way is to bundle sticks and/or smaller branches and secure them in a tree. The bees will burrow in and set up housekeeping. Some natives also like to burrow into the ground. If you have a corner area on your property away from often-traveled areas, keep it vegetation-free to attract burrowing bees. Of course, planting flowers, shrubs and trees to keep them there goes without saying.

Hummingbirds are another important pollinator, and this year they seem to be in abundance. I watch them getting their fill from the native delphiniums my husband has in our native plant garden just outside our kitchen window. Not only do they serve an important purpose, they are a joy to watch.

Spring and early summer-blooming flowers for hummingbirds include bleeding heart, columbine, fuchsia, lupine, petunias, phlox and sweet William. Later, in summer is bee balm, dahlia, hollyhock, four-o-clock, zinnia, cardinal flower, penstemon, scarlet gilia and sage (salvia). Of course, there are many more choices, but this list will give you some idea of how easy it is to provide for our important pollinators.

Some of the flowering shrubs hummingbirds feed on includes azaleas, wild Indian plum, red elderberry, red flowering current, butterfly bush and flowering quince. They also like hawthorne, horse chestnut and flowering crabapple trees. Vines they prefer include twin berry, morning glory, clematis, trumpet creeper, honeysuckle and scarlet runner beans.
More information about encouraging beneficial insects in your garden is available in the OSU Extension publication PNW 550, Encouraging Beneficial Insects in Your Garden.

Brownsville Community Garden

Did you know that most of the harvest in the CFA’s plots is donated to the food bank, meals on wheels and the senior center? Volunteers are needed to help with planting and caring for the garden. Even if you have just an hour to give now and then, Ally, our garden manager, is at the garden most Wednesdays and Sundays starting about noon and would welcome help.
A couple gardens are still available for the public to rent. One of the best things about renting a plot at the garden is that the low cost includes water and use of soil amendments, and best of all, helpful gardening advice and camaraderie with other gardeners.
For more information about renting a plot or to volunteer to help out with the CFA gardens, call Ally at 303-726-5719 or email her at gardens@gocfa.org.

Plant Starts Market Saturday, May 9 and 16

The CFA is hosting plant starts markets on Saturday at the corner of Main and Park streets in Brownsville. The “starts” markets are from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Come down and get your locally and mostly organically-grown vegetable seedling for reasonable prices. Also available will be eggs, shrubs, flowers, local crafts, jams, lettuce for your salads and much more.
Brownsville Farmer’s Market

The CFA’s farmer’s market begins in early June, and will be held Thursdays from 3-7p.m. all summer long. An informal customer survey and research of small farm markets led us to make this change. We hope you find it a convenient time to shop for your local produce, and free up your weekends.

Vendors are needed to sell produce, crafts and other locally-produced commodities. For more information about the farmer’s market, call Diane Remoir at 541-359-5898.

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