I'm so excited to finally be doing this project! It has been over a year in the making and now the beginning stages are done!
We would like to get bees. Better pollination rates for our garden and orchard as well as honey!. But I do not want GMO honey. So that means I need to have enough flowers throughout the bees active season to feed them or they might go down the street to some GMO crop and bring that back into the hive. They will travel miles to collect food. IT will also be great to be helping the declining population of bees and pollinators in general. They are so important to our food supply. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, bee alone are responsible for pollinating 1/3 of our food supply. A great reason for anyone, including you, to start a pollinator garden.
No, I am not counting on this little hillside to contain all of their food it is just another site to add to the gardens (including all the herb gardens) and flowers we already have. We are also making a pollinator border around our newest garden. It is important that we have something blooming throughout the entire season-from early spring to fall and that is where we need to do some work. There needs to be more early and late bloomers. We will be accomplishing this with perennial and annual flowers (this works great for our bouquets in theCSA baskets), trees and bushes, And on top of that they will have everything in the gardens (we're nearing two acers now with plans to turn the front yard into a perennial food forest).
Favorite Plants For Pollinators
We already grow everything with a *. A good start but we still have a ways to go. It can be tricky to coordinate blooms for each part of the season, which ones will grow in your climate, and if they are perennial or if they need to be re-planted every year. That is why I'm working on a reading list for this winter. Next spring I want to be prepared. Here is my list and why I chose each book.
In The Bee Friendly Garden you get instruction from both a garden designer and a bee expert. They both believe in organic gardening and apply this to their techniques and instruction. They also go into attracting other beneficial insects. We knowhow important that is too.
Then there is Pollinators of Native Plants. I really like this one because it goes into the importance of genetic diversity of native plants and their benefit to the bees and other pollinators. It is kind of like growing heirloom vegetables. You don't want to loose so many great traits to hybridization.
Pollinator Friendly Gardening takes things a step further and brings less talked about pollinators into the discussion such as ants, wasps and beetles. Although we want bees and honey we think these other pollinators are just as important.
100 Plants To Feed The Bees focuses more on native plants, trees and shrubs of the US. Each plants lists which pollinators will visit the plant and what kind of honey it will produce. It uses annuals, perennials, herbs, trees, and shrubs. I really like the variety as this is key to great garden design.
It took me, with the help of my two oldest, about a day and a half to get all the rocks in place and the steps formed. We aren't sure how we want to finish of the steps yet-another thing to research this winter.
There was one trouble spot. We knew about it before starting but I wasn't quite sure what to do with it. There was a cement something about halfway up the hill. We were not sure what it was. It didn't seem reasonable that it was anything for the house because of it's location. So after doing some digging and finding out the it didn't go very deep (at least on the edges) we decided that perhaps when the retaining wall to the right of the beds was poured they had extra cement they needed to get out of the cement truck and thus dumped it there. So we took a sledge hammer to it. Well, mostly my son. He loves stuff like that. We broke off the outside edges to find that the middle was quite deep and decided they filled in an old fence post hole. After taking off the edges it became something that I could work with, i.e. hide under the dirt and no longer have it in the way of my path. I really didn't want a cement slab in the middle of my path.
I've planted some Echinacea, Anise Hyssop starts, chive starts, fall crops of spinach, lettuce, basil , and cilantro, Sedum and Rock Rose along the edge and some wild flowers. Even though the perennial wildflowers won't have time to get much of any size this year, they will come back next year. It is a Non-gmo mix for pollinators. I just couldn't wait.
Things are starting to come up. The cooler weather has been perfect for the lettuce and spinach. Don't the little black flowers on the corner look cute. That was my daughter's idea.
Next year we will finish the steps and tackle the section you can see in the upper left of the picture with the plastic. The grass will be dead by then and I should have decided if I want to add a couple of fruit trees there or make more terraced beds. It would be nice to have the fruit trees close and would be a great Segway into the perennial food forest we are planning for the front yard. They wouldn't shade the garden because that is the north side but they would provide some shade for the animals in that pasture. So many decisions. I have to see what my husband, who hauled home all these rocks from a jobsite that didn't want them (thank you!) thinks. I'm leaning towards the trees. Do you think I can convince him?
I hope this inspires you to start a pollinator garden. The bees do too.
Happy, healthy, clean eating,
Hello, I'm Jaci. I love gardening and being outside in God's amazing creation. I'm passionate about whole foods and clean eating. I hope you enjoy my farm life adventures!