Last week I had another amazing opportunity to volunteer at one of my favorite schools. The Sage School Garden invited Mary's Heirloom Seeds back for Earth Day Celebration and my station was making Seed Balls. However, we didn't "just" make seed balls. Before each class, I gave a short explanation of the importance of planting for pollinators.
Fun fact: 1 in every 3 bites you eat required pollination from a honey bee. source Honeybees aren't the only pollinators. Just as important but not really discussed are birds, bumblebees, ladybugs, hummingbirds and even the wind (to name a few) Planting for pollinators can increase crop yields in your garden so we recommend adding a few extra seeds to your garden or around your garden.
I enjoy volunteering and teaching. This was AWESOME! So awesome that I plan on doing this again with my sister and her kids for our garden. These will be great for our Pollinator Protection Patch. "An Ancient Method of No-Till Agriculture" The rediscovery and popularization of seedballs (or “Clay Dumplings” as he called them) in modern times is typically ascribed to Japanese natural farmer and philosopher Masanobu Fukuoka. As with many natural farmers, Fukuoka believed that tillage over large areas is laborious, destructive to soil health, and ultimately not needed and thus a waste of time and energy. Thus, seedballs have become an important aspect of many natural farming and conservation enterprises around the world. Learning how to make seed balls is a fun activity for kids. It’s easy to do and can be easily adapted to your region. The seed ball recipe can be altered simply by changing the ratio of ingredients and/or seeds. Ingredients: potting soil clay powder water seeds large tray to mix ingredients box to store seed balls Directions: I've seen different ratios of soil and clay so feel free to adjust depending on your ingredients Start with 2 cups of potting soil, 1/2 cup clay powder, seeds and 1 cup of water. Add more water if your mix doesn't stick together.
ALL of the kids in my 6 classes had a chance to get their hands dirty making seed balls to take home!
To make it easy for them to transport, we stapled the instructions to small bags for them to take home. A cardboard box would be better to store them in but that wasn't possible this time around. Funny thing happened to my seed balls. I forgot to take my "sample" seed balls out of my go-bag from the event. About 5 days later I opened it up to prep for my next school volunteer day and the seeds had SPROUTED!!
When you're ready to plant your seed balls, don't bury them. You can place them carefully over the area to be planted or you can gently toss them one at a time. From there, Mother Nature will take over!
I hope you have enjoyed another educational article. If you have additional questions, please leave a comment below or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
This might be one of our most exciting projects ever! We are thrilled to dedicate this huge patch of the property for the pollinators that visit our veggie gardens.
This patch is approx 30 ft by 130 ft!
What is a Pollinator Protection Patch?
This is our Pollinator sanctuary. Pollinators require two essential components in their habitat: somewhere to nest and flowers from which to gather nectar and pollen. We've shared about the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge in the past. This is our way of expanding on that idea while expanding our pollinator garden.
Why are we planting for Pollinators?
There are hundreds (probably thousands) or articles available online about the importance of pollinators for crop production. One recent concern a customer mentioned to us was blossoms forming and then falling off their squash plants. In this case, the issue is most likely a lack of pollination.
You don't have to plant a large area to successfully attract pollinators to your garden. It can be done by simply interplanting flowers and herbs in your current garden or setting aside a place dedicated to pollinator friendly plants.
We have decided to dedicate this large of a space because we are fortunate to have the extra room. Most importantly, we do not use chemicals or sprays that would harm pollinators on ANY part of the property.
What are we planting in our
Pollinator Protection Patch?
This was a tough decision because honestly I wanted to plant ALL of the flowers!
I love reading about people in their community growing food and building relationships thru their food gardens. This particular story touched my heart so I'm sharing with you too
11 Year Old Boy Creates Community Garden so No One Goes Hungry Hurt told 24-Hour News 8 he started gardening when he was 7 years old and planted beans. His mom said the beans provided extra food for the family. Hurt is now expanding his garden to help others. The community garden opened earlier in May. “I got rows of tomatoes, one, two,” Hurt described. “This one’s got two tomatoes.”
But this land is more than just a garden of fruits and vegetables. “I got it from across the school because the lady over there donated it to me so that’s when I got it and also I wanted to do that to feed the community,” Hurt added. He said the garden is open to everyone and people can stop by whenever to pick fresh fruits and vegetables. “Because it’s the right thing to help feed the community, and it feeds people so nobody goes hungry,” Hurt said.
Helping people grow the healthiest gardens possible is our passion. This is one of many reasons we started Mary's Heirloom Seeds. Every day we are working to create additional planting tutorials and videos. Our Gardens Fundraiser at Mary's Heirloom Seeds helps fund additional seed donations to school gardens, community and non-profit gardens and church gardens across the country. Every Year our donation program GROWS!
Gardening can reduce stress & anxiety, it can bring people together and it's a great education tool. Food gardens offer all of those benefits and more!
You may already know from numerous articles I've shared that I'm a huge advocate of Growing Food no matter what! If you're curious, read
Food Gardens can feed people!!! I know that's an obvious statement but with so many hungry people in the world and right here in our own community, it needs to be said. We can make a difference one food garden at a time. Food Gardens can solve the issue of food deserts. "Food deserts are defined as parts of the country vapid of fresh fruit, vegetables, and other healthful whole foods, usually found in impoverished areas. This is largely due to a lack of grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and healthy food providers." source Food Gardens can help save the Pollinators! 2018 is the Year of the pollinators! If you grow organic and WITH nature, there is always a place for beneficial insects. We use Companion Planting as our first line of defense against pests. A healthy, well fed soil system can produce healthy plant which do not require expensive sprays and treatments.
The agri-chem companies want you to believe that GMOs are meant to "feed the world" but that is a myth. Read GMO Crops Do Not Cure Hunger. The answer to feeding more people is for the community to get involved with their food production. The amount of cancer causing pesticides and herbicides used every year is in the billions of pounds. If we all took responsibility for our food and grow beyond organic standards, we could make a GLOBAL change for the benefit of everyone.
From PPS, "Safety and crime reduction - There is evidence linking community gardens to improved safety in neighborhoods – showing that crime decreases in neighborhoods as the amount of green space increases. Two reports in the Journal of Environment and Behavior studied (1) the impact nature has on mental fatigue (often a precursor of aggression and violence), and (2) the relationship between green space and inner city crime rates. The research determined that aggression and violence was “significantly lower among those people who lived near some green space than those who lived in more barren conditions.”"
Kids love to grow food! Food Gardens are a great educational tool. As part of our seed donation program at Mary's Heirloom Seeds, we work with several homeschool groups and co-ops across the country and in our own community. My sister and her kids grow all sorts of deliciousness in the garden.
Why Heirloom Seeds? From Seed Saving Part 1, "Saving Seeds from your garden bounty is like putting money away for a rainy day. Best of all, saving your own seeds is one of many ways to regain control of your family's source of food" Open-pollinated, heirloom seeds will grow seeds that can be saved and re-planted year after year. Hybrid seeds can be sterile and may not produce true offspring from saved seeds.
I hope you have enjoyed another educational article. If you have additional questions, please leave a comment below or send an email to email@example.com
Midwest wildflower seed mixture is made up of 19 species chosen for their lasting blooms as well s their rugged ability to withstand the extremes of the Midwestern climates.Under normal conditions, this mix may reach a height of 24-30 inches.
Mountain wildflower mix is designed to do exceptionally well in the mountain areas of the U.S. The mix consists of 19 species. Many of the wildflower varieties do well in higher elevations with limited moisture. Will reach a height of 36-48 inches under normal conditions
Northeastern wildflower seed mix is designed specifically for the special needs of the Northeast. This attractive wildflower mix is made up of 19 species of which a third are annuals and the remaining are biennials or perennials. This mix will grow 36-48 inches tall under normal conditions.
Check for your last frost date and plant after this has passed.
Choose a spot on your property that gets 6 or more hours of direct sun a day.
Prepare your soil be clearing the area of all existing growth. Simply dig up everything that is growing, turn the soil and rake the area flat. If this is an area that has never before been gardened, you may need to till the area up to remove growth.
Mix the seeds with sand for better visibilty and scatter the seeds directly on top of the soil.
We recommend lighly compressing the seeds into the soil, making sure not to bury them. You can either walk on them, use a board or just pat down with you hands.
Water so that the soil is moist, not soaking wet, until the seedlings are about 4-6" tall. After that, the seedlings will survive on natural rains. If you are experiencing very dry weather, we recommend watering occassionally.
Spring, summer and fall are all wildflower planting times, depending on your region, your weather, and the way you want to approach establishing your meadow. No matter when or where you plant, site preparation is roughly the same. But the first consideration is not the season; it's your climate.
For mild-winter areas: If you're planting in a warm place such as California, Florida or southern Texas, with minimal — or no — winter frost, you can plant almost anytime, except during your hottest season. Best time is just before your rainiest season begins, and when you know the weather will not be too hot for young seedlings. In Florida, fall is best. In California, most wildflowers are planted during the winter to take advantage of California's greening in early spring.
For all areas with killing frost: If you have definite killing frost in winter, things are different. In these areas (most of the country) spring and fall are both fine for planting, and each has its advantages.
Wildflowers can re-seed and continue to grow for many years if planted in an area that will allow them to flourish. Saving seeds from these wildflowers is easy and will ensure flowers for the future.
Companion Planting with Flowers
Companion planting is based around the idea that certain plants can benefit others when planted next to, or close to one another.
Companion planting exists to benefit certain plants by giving them pest control, naturally without the need to use chemicals, and in some cases they can give a higher crop yield. Marigolds: Basil, broccoli, cabbage, cucumbers, eggplant, gourds, kale, potatoes, squash and tomatoes. Often called the "workhorse" of pest deterrents.
JOIN US in the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge! Have you heard of the challenge?
Mary's Heirloom Seeds is joining National Pollinator Garden Network CHALLENGE. NPGN collectively represents approximately 800,000 gardeners, 10,000 schoolyard gardens and bring a baseline of a 250,000 registered pollinator gardens nationwide from across its five main founding organizations.
The Million Pollinator Garden Challenge (MPGC) is a nationwide call to action to preserve and create gardens and landscapes that help revive the health of bees, butterflies, birds, bats and other pollinators across America. We will move millions of individuals, kids and families outdoors and make a connection between pollinators and the healthy food people eat.
The focus of the NPGN is: to inspire individuals and community groups, institutions and the garden industry to create more pollinator habitat through sustainable gardening practices, habitat conservation and provide these groups the tools to be successful.
So how are we getting involved? We already offer a SUPER unique election of Wildflower Seeds and Herb Seeds that are bee-friendly. We grow organic and plant for the bees in our own gardens.
FIRST, we are adding more Bee-Friendly SEEDS at Mary's Heirloom Seeds! **Listed below**
Next, we are offering 50% OFF every single variety listed under FLOWERS. Yes, you read that right.
50% off Flower Seeds now thru February 10th when you use code BEES50 at checkout in the appropriate box.
How does it work?
CLICK HERE for our huge selection of flower seeds. At checkout, find the box marked "discount"
Type in BEES50
in the box and click "apply" to automatically calculate your saving. If you have trouble using our discount code, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we can help you locate the appropriate box.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has designated the rusty patched bumblebee an endangered species - the first such designation for a bumblebee and for a bee species in the continental U.S.
The protected status, which goes into effect on Feb. 10, includes requirements for federal protections and the development of a recovery plan. It also means that states with habitats for this species are eligible for federal funds.
"Today's Endangered Species listing is the best-and probably last-hope for the recovery of the rusty patched bumble bee," NRDC Senior Attorney Rebecca Riley said in a statement from the Xerces Society, which advocates for invertebrates. "Bumble bees are dying off, vanishing from our farms, gardens, and parks, where they were once found in great numbers."
Large parts of the Eastern and Midwestern United States were once crawling with these bees, Bombus affinis, but the bees have suffered a dramatic decline in the last two decades due to habitat loss and degradation, along with pathogens and pesticides.
Indeed, the bee was found in 31 states and Canadian provinces before the mid- to late-1990s, according to the final rule published in the Federal Register. But since 2000, it has been reported in only 13 states and Ontario, Canada. It has seen an 88 percent decline in the number of populations and an 87 percent loss in the amount of territory it inhabits.
This means the species is vulnerable to extinction, the rule says, even without further habitat loss or insecticide exposure. Canada designated the species as endangered in 2012.
The bees live in large colonies that can be made up of 1,000 individual workers. All types of the species have black heads, the rule states, "but only workers and males have a rusty reddish patch centrally located on the abdomen."
Habitat degradation may be particularly harmful to these bees because of their feeding habits, as described in the rule:
"The rusty patched bumble bee is one of the first bumble bees to emerge early in the spring and the last to go into hibernation, so to meet its nutritional needs, the species requires a constant and diverse supply of blooming flowers."
Last October, the Fish and Wildlife Service gave endangered status to seven species of yellow-faced bees native to Hawaii, the first time any U.S. bees received this kind of protection.
Pollinator decline is a global trend. A recent major global assessment sponsored by the U.N. suggested that about 40 percent of invertebrate pollinator species are facing extinction. Since some 75 percent of food crops rely at least partially on pollinators, that raises serious concerns about the future of the global food supply.
We can ALL try to do our part!
How can we help? 1. STOP spraying synthetic pesticides and even organic bee-killing pesticides around your yard and help your neighbors do the same
2. Plant more flowers for hungry pollinators. ****Please be aware that most of the "big box" nurseries sell chemically treated plants that will kill bees and other pollinators
3. Leave the weeds! Dandelions are beneficial flowers for bees and other pollinators
4. Look for local honey! Yum! This supports beekeeping in your area.
5. Bees get thirsty so we leave out a small dish in our beds for them to drink
Going organic is great but growing your own organic is even better! In our own gardens, we take extra measures to ensure a thriving bee population. Without bees, our gardens are pathetic!
To help YOU grow a healthy garden and help the bees, we've added 2 NEW varieties to our SEED SALE!
It's no secret, I love to plant seeds. Wildflowers are a favorite since they add so much color to the garden and attract beneficial insects and beautiful pollinators. Wondering what to plant in FALL?
Planting Time in Mild-Winter Areas
If you live in an area with minimal or no winter frosts (parts of California, Florida, southern Texas or parts of the South West) you can plant wildflowers any time, however, the hottest time of the year is not recommended. It is best to take advantage of the rains and plant in the fall when the rain begins.
Planting Time in Cold-Zones
If you live in snow zones or areas with bitter-cold winters, it is best to wait and plant in the spring or some even say you can plant in fall. The advantage of planting in the fall is you will see those blooms earlier than if spring planted. Fall Planting - Timing - best to wait until after a good hard frost. The seeds will not sprout until the spring when the soil has warmed up enough for germination.
Unless specifically buying a shade-loving mix, wildflowers like full sun. But they don’t like soggy, wet feet, so a good draining location is a must.
Give your pollinators a good food source and enjoy the long lasting blooms in your garden or backyard.
Just a few from our HUGE selection of pollinator-friendly varieties include
"Scientists concluded that an almond tree can compensate for the lack of nutrients and water in the short term by storing the nutrients and water in the fruits instead, but cannot compensate for insufficient pollination"
Also called Cornflower, this attractive old-fashioned wildflower blooms in shades of blue, carmine, pink, and white that is quick and easy to grow. Frilly flowers sit atop multi-branching stems. Perfect cut flower that freely self-sows.
Coconut coir growing medium comes from the coconut's fibrous husk (known as coir) that is bound together by lignin (known as pith). After the husk is immersed in water for 6 weeks, the fiber is extracted mechanically, and the pith is left behind as a waste product and stored in heaps to age. Since the pith comes from the fruit, it is quite naturally rich in nutrients. Coconut coir growing mediums are dehydrated and compressed into a compact form for easy handling.
Around our gardens, we plant extra for the Bees and the Butterflies! I've written a few articles on our blog about the benefits of planting for the bees.
In case you missed it, we already posted about Identifying Common Garden Pests. Now, we need to identify "Good Bugs" or insects in the garden and what they can help. This isn't a complete list but it's a great place to start.
Honey bees can often be identified by the balls of yellow pollen they
carry on the backs of their legs. Grow flowering plants. Encourage wild
honey bees. Because the spread of mites and the increase in pesticide usage has seriously reduced honey bee
populations, the wild honey bees that are left are even more important.
Butterflies are attracted to brightly colored, fragrant flowers and feed
on nectar produced by the flowers. As the butterflies travel from one
flower to another, they pollinate the plants, resulting in further
development of plant species. Numerous plants rely on pollinators, such
as butterflies, for reproduction.
Damsel bugs use thickened front legs to grab their prey, which includes
aphids, caterpillars, thrips, leafhoppers, and other soft-bodied
insects. Nymphs, too, are predators, and will feast both small insects and their eggs.
There are more than 80 species of
dragonflies. They can be identified by their long narrow body, their
large compound eyes and the four transparent wings. There is variation
in color. Sizes range from one to two inches. The larvae are found in
water. They eat mosquitoes, aphids and other pest bugs
Earthworms are natural tillers of garden soil. Earthworms naturally aerate the soil, an important component of any
healthy loam. The air that is held by worm tunnels helps breakdown
bacteria in the soil. Earthworm excrement, called “castings,” acts as a soil conditioner,
improving the porosity, moisture retention and overall quality of the
soil. Castings also help bind important nutrients to plant roots and
can deter pests and soil-borne diseases.
Lacewing feed mainly on flower nectar. Lacewing larvae, however, are voracious
predators that feed on aphids, thrips, scales, moth eggs, small
caterpillars and mites.
LADYBUGS (actually a beetle)
Most ladybug adults and larvae feed on aphids and other soft-bodied
insects. Adults are attracted to flower nectar and pollen, which they
must eat before they can reproduce.
(yes, there are "good" and "bad" nematodes)
(too small to see with the naked eye)
Beneficial Nematodes can be used anywhere developing pests exist
including backyards, flower and vegetable gardens, lawns, fruit and nut
trees, vines, greenhouses, row crops, pastures and more
All spiders feed on insects and are very
important in preventing pest outbreaks. The spiders normally found in
gardens do not move indoors, nor are they poisonous. Permanent perennial
plantings and straw mulches will provide shelter and dramatically
increase spider populations in vegetable gardens.