Home gardening has bloomed during the COVID-19 pandemic, with many people stuck at home turning to seeds and soil as a therapeutic way to pass the time.
Whether you were born with a green thumb or are just now discovering the joys of getting dirt under your fingernails, it's helpful to know not just how to plant, but what to plant.
Ag Near Me, presented by Prairie View A&M University, helps inform urban and suburban consumers of the many ways at-home agriculture can help us all lead more sustainable lifestyles.
One of the most important things you can do while choosing what to plant in your garden — whether vegetable, flower, or even just a few pots on your patio — is consider the pollinators.
"Pollinators benefit crop production by traveling from bloom to bloom, spreading genetic material and facilitating the production of food and resource crops such as tomatoes, berries, pecans, and even cotton," says a PVAMU representative. "The quality of fruit, vegetable, and nut products depends on the quantity of pollination they receive during development, making pollinators directly tied to the success of farms."
But first, what are pollinators? You're probably fairly familiar with bees, but several other birds and insects also play an important role in enabling the fertilization of plants and creation of seeds.
Some typical Texas pollinators are:
- Bees. There are five major types of pollinating bees here in the Lone Star State, and those include honey bees, bumblebees, carpenter bees, mason bees, and sweat bees.
- Butterflies. From Monarch to Swallowtail, Skipper to Hairstreak, butterflies are generally drawn to the sweet aroma of fruit plants.
- Moths. While butterflies rest, moths pollinate your nighttime garden. Some, like the white-lined sphinx moth, resemble birds because of their size and flight patterns. Others like the luna moth, sphinx moth, and giant silk moth might more closely resemble moths you're used to seeing.
- Birds. Aviary friends play their part too, especially the Texas blue jay, hummingbird, and mockingbird. Their long beaks make birds excellent pollinators, and they're often attracted to fruit and seeds.
- Beetles. You may be familiar with ladybugs, but scarab, milkweed, and soft-winged flower beetles also help transfer pollen between plants. Wildflowers, for which Texas is famous, attract the insects, as do fruit and even fungi.
- Bats. Those commonly found in Texas enjoy fruits, pollen, and insects. Many bats become pollinators when they forge in areas with other pollinators, such as along rivers or in deserts.
In upcoming articles, Ag Near Me will be naming which plants you should choose to attract pollinators, and how to protect these valuable agents of nature.
If you'd like to go more in-depth about pollinators, check out the PVAMU's extensive resources through Ag Near Me.