Hudson Valley Parent

HVP July 2017

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26 Hudson Valley Parent n July 2017 By SUSAN HURD C ongratulations on a cutting edge goal! You are joining a group of gardeners and farmers who are engaged in beneficial insect ecology. Whether your garden is a small yard of flower beds or an acre of vegetables, the lessons you gain from planting a pollinator garden are rich in wisdom. So swing wide the garden gate and get ready to see sprouts of knowledge take root and start blooming. How about putting in eye catching colorful native plants that will bloom in succession throughout the growing season? The additional benefit is they are a surefire way to attract pollinator insects, the good bugs! What is a pollinator? Simply put, a pollinator is an insect that carries the fine yellow powder formed on the anthers of flowers and transfers it to the pistils of other flowers. The flower can produce fruit after this pollen transfer. Common pollinators found in the North East include honey bees, bumblebees, other species of bees, butterflies, flies and wasps. What is needed is an open, sunny space. If you grow zucchini, butternut squash, or pumpkins or have fruit trees in your yard, they are dependent on insect pollinators to produce fruit. In fact, two thirds of all the crops we eat are pollinated by winged insect pollinators! I bet your family enjoys watching fuzzy bees bumbling around, poking in and out of flower heads. I love to see them appear with a mass of pol- len over their faces or on their legs. They remind me of kids slurping ice cream cones! Blooming with benefits What is the benefit of planting a garden to attract pollinators and insects? If you plant milkweed or butterflyweed, where monarchs lay their eggs, you help increase the population of good bugs. You should include multiple plant species that bloom throughout the growing season such as, Cardinal flower (red lobelia) in early spring and late blooming Asters in fall. You will be nurturing a miniature storehouse of pollen and nectar at critical times for beneficial insects and be providing a stable source of pollen or nectar. The advantage of using native plants is they require less water and fertilizer. It would be wise to intersperse pollinator plants with fruit and vegetable plants. You may wish to consider adding shrubs like Elderberry, Buttonbush, Azalea, Spirea, and of course, Butterfly bush nearby. Foliage favorites Popular pollinator plants can easily be found at local garden centers and greenhouses such as Victoria's Garden, Twin Ponds Greenhouse and Adam's Fairacre Farm. Make a BIG environmental difference with a small garden Plant a pollinator garden to attract the good bugs

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