Everyone's looking for ways to protect others right now, but that doesn't have to stop with humans. If you have discovered or been cultivating a green thumb during the pandemic, you've likely found this series of articles from Ag Near Me, presented by Prairie View A&M University, to be extremely helpful for planting a garden that's a haven for pollinators.
The first two articles explained the most common types of pollinators and what to plant to encourage them to hang around. In this final installment, learn a little about what you can do to protect the birds, bees, bats, and beetles that are so helpful to your garden.
Even if you're striving to create a welcoming presence among your plants, you might find that destructive invaders have crashed the party. Be choosy about the pesticides that you use and make sure to read all the labels. Some will specifically state if they are safe for pollinators or if they should be avoided.
Don't apply pesticides to flowering plants, unless the label says it is specifically okay to do so. All applications should be done only when pollinators are not active: in cooler temperatures below 55 degrees Fahrenheit, or during mid-day when it's very warm.
Trying to avoid chemicals? Try a natural spray to ward off pests, like garlic, mineral or eucalyptus oil, or a salt spray.
Cold water will also make aphids let go of your plants and move out of your garden, while soapy water causes the outside layer of the pests' bodies to deteriorate and should deter aphids and mites from staying in your garden. Add some pepper to the mix to make plants taste less desirable.
Discouraging pests naturally
Before turning to chemicals, try organic preventative options like cleaning up dropped fruits and removing sickly or decaying plants promptly to cut down on pests and disease.
Till soil often to discourage pests (and an overgrowth of weeds) from getting too comfortable, but remember that some insects are beneficial and rely on having a couple wild weeds as their home.
If you are dealing with larger pests like deer, consider adding a sturdy fence to the perimeter of your yard or property. If you have rabbits or squirrels munching up your veggies, put a live trap in your garden. Don't worry! It won't hurt the animals, and you can simply relocate them once they're caught.
Netting also makes it more difficult for pests and animals to access your plants.
A way to support mason bees
Mason bees contribute to the increased flavor that fruits and nuts gain during pollination, and there's actually a simple way you can help them on their mission.
Hang a wooden bee hotel in your garden, which takes care of the bees' housing needs and keeps them available for crop pollination.
Things to keep in mind during the next planting
Crop rotation is important in every garden. If you leave your plants in the same place year after year, pests learn where to feed.
Spacing is also essential — if you don't put enough space between plants, you won't get enough airflow between them. That can be the perfect breeding ground for pests and disease.
If you'd like to go more in-depth about pollinators, check out the PVAMU's extensive resources through Ag Near Me.