Sunday, February 6, 2011

Gardening for pollinators: Win-Win-Win

If you already have a kitchen garden, you diversify your crops and attract more pollinators.  You may already have some of these plants in your garden, but may want to encourage and expand plantings.  Bringing in more pollinators will help boost your production in the rest of your garden.

Squash, gourds and pumpkins.  These productive plants already give more than enough surplus that neighbors and co-workers start hiding from you when they are in season.  There are limits to how much summer squash one can deal with.  My best advice is pick early and pick often, even the squash blossoms which are edible.  Hard shell squash keep very well, for months even, so a large harvest may not be so difficult to deal with.
Sunflowers are large color spots.  Even if you don't want to deal with harvesting the seeds you can save them as birdseed during the summer.  Make sure they are planted with their size in mind, they grow quite tall. 
Mint.  Be careful with this one, mint has a way of taking over and just a few pieces of root can quickly spread over the garden if you till under each year.  Mint can be dried, makes a refreshing tea and an attractive garnish.  Mint can also deter some pests in the garden the oils act as a repellent.
Blueberries, cranberries and huckleberries.  This is a good one all around, as long as you give it the acidic soil that they need.  There are many varieties to choose from and they all freeze well and without processing. 
Some others to consider: Dill, fennel, carrot, mustard, artichoke, strawberry, lavender, apple, oregano, rosemary, raspberry, and blackberry.

The full list can be found here.

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