Add Biodiversity, from MPCA

Header May 2016

Planting natives for beauty & biodiversity

If each of us does a little bit, we can make a BIG difference!

Below is from the Minnesota Pollution control. View on their website here

Turf grass lawns require lots of maintenance—watering, the burning of fossil fuels for mowing and other upkeep, pesticides, and fertilizers—which impact water quality and can contribute to climate change.

Many of the non-native, ornamental plants we plant in our gardens have little value to wildlife. Some of these flowering ornamental plants produce no nectar or pollen for bees or butterflies.

You can play an important role in helping to preserve species and biodiversity in your own yard by landscaping and gardening with native plants. Replacing turf grass and non-native plants with natives—even in small sections of your yard or garden—pays big environmental dividends!

Monarch

Some of the many benefits of native plants

  • Planting a variety of native plants increases biodiversity. We need biodiversity—it runs the ecosystem on which we depend.
  • Native plants provide food and shelter for wildlife. Many insects require a specific host plant to lay their eggs on and the young to feed on (e.g. monarchs and milkweeds). Animals require many different plants throughout their life cycles to remain healthy and robust.
  • Native plants are adapted to the local climate and soil conditions where they occur naturally. Many native plants have deep roots, and require little to no watering once established. These deep roots decrease erosion and filter stormwater, nutrients, and pollutants that would otherwise end up in our lakes, ponds, wetlands and streams.
Mailbox garden

Tips to get you started

Learn what you have. This will save you time and energy later on. Learn to distinguish non-native weeds from native plants. Manage the aggressive, perennial invasive plants that will compete with the native plants for space, water and nutrients. Leave or transplant any native plants you might already have in your yard.

Start small. Perhaps you have an area of your lawn or garden that needs a re-do. Areas of lawn where grass doesn’t grow well or that you are tired of mowing are perfect candidates to get you started. Reduce some areas of turf and add a pollinator garden or a raingarden.

Pick the right plants for the right place. Native plants come in a variety of colors, shapes and sizes. Some plants grow well in full sun with sandy soils, others prefer wet soils or shady areas.

Variety is the spice of life. Try to have plants that flower in succession—different plants that bloom from early spring all the way through to the fall. Plant a variety of different types of plants—flowers, grasses, sedges, shrubs and trees. The larger variety of plants you have will support a larger variety of life.

Avoid neonics. Neonicitinoid pesticides are systemic pesticides that are taken up within the plant. There is mounting evidence that neonics are harmful to pollinators and other beneficial insects. To avoid harming beneficial insects, ask the retailer before purchase if plants have been treated with systemic pesticides.

Shoreline planting

Native landscaping doesn’t have to look “wild.” You may prefer a wild look. If you want a more manicured garden, plant selection is important. You can also utilize mulch, spacing, strips of grass, paths, and attractive fencing for a more formal look.

Support local native plant nurseries and companies. There are many great companies in Minnesota that specialize in growing or managing native plants/invasive plants. They have the expertise to give you some ideas of what plants might work for your situation. Native plant nurseries in your area will have grown local ecotype native plants—ones that came from your region that are adapted to local conditions.

Soldier beetle

Be okay with bugs!  Only a small percentage of insects are pests, and the damage they do is aesthetic and oftentimes tolerable. Insects form the base of the food web. Without insects, there can be no mammals, birds, reptiles, or other forms of “higher” life.

“Free” money. Many Soil and Water Conservation Districts, Watershed Districts, and cities provide cost-share money for people who want to help the environment by planting native plants in their yards. See http://www.bwsr.state.mn.us/native_vegetation for more helpful resources.

Don’t have a yard? Consider adopting a local park or open space for planting natives. Be sure to ask for permission first. Or support non-profits and other organizations that are doing this type of work.

If each of us does a little bit, we can make a BIG difference!

 

 

 

A Win-win for Pollinators and People

How can you help our pollinators? Our pollinators are struggling to survive.  There are things we can do in our yards to help pollinators. The mono-culture of perfect green turf grass lawns does nothing to help our struggling pollinators.

Blue Salvia are loved by bees.
Blue Salvia are loved by bees. (not native)

I have been on a road trip from Minnesota, through Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska,  and South Dakota, and have been amazed at the manicured thick turf grass that dominates in parks and lawns.  Turf grass has no value for pollinators, and when fertilized adds unhealthy chemicals harmful to pollinators, humans, pets, wildlife and our water bodies.  Adding a diversity of fresh new plants and removing some lawn can make a big difference for our pollinators.

Walking a trail in Lincoln, Nebraska I was thrilled at their efforts to help our pollinators. They are allowing clover and native plants to grow. I even saw a few milkweed popping up.

Just a few changes can make a big difference for pollinators.(bees, butterflies, and birds)
Just a few changes can make a big difference for pollinators.(bees, butterflies, and birds)

Spring is a fabulous time to add new plants to your yard. A wide diversity of plants helps

Foam flower is an early blooming plant
Foam flower is an early blooming plant

our pollinators. Native plants don’t need chemicals so they are the healthiest for you, children, pets, and the pollinators.  More garden diversity, and less chemicals creates a win-win for our earth and us all!

Here is a good article on creating more diversity for pollinators.

Pussy toes add texture and interest
An early blooming plant, pussy-toes add texture and interest, and is a host plant to the painted lady butterfly

image

Allowing the violets, Virginia waterleaf and dandelions(until they go to seed), and clover can create easy gardening and great pollinator habitat.

 

http://www.startribune.com/flower-power-season-long-blooms-are-a-win-win-for-people-and-pollinators/378411041/

https://health4earth.com/add-fun-pollinators-to-your-yard/

Always consider how to add more milkweed. Swamp milkweed has been the most successful for me.
Always consider how to add more milkweed. Swamp milkweed has been the most successful for me.
Wild geranium, easy to grow, is loved by bees and butterflies.
Wild geranium, easy to grow, is loved by bees and butterflies and is early blooming

Everyday, Earth Day

The earth is what we all have in common”  Wendell Berry

Yesterday, we saw the first Compton Tortoiseshell of the season
Yesterday, we saw the first Compton Tortoiseshell of the season

Happy Earth Day, hope you can get outside and enjoy the marvelous spring changes!  Go for a walk.

From http://www.startribune.com

The first Earth Day on April 22, 1970, was a day set aside to think about creating lifestyles to reduce waste and destruction of our environment.

One of the main messages many of us heard that day was that human life can continue on Earth only if people cooperate with nature. Strides have been made over the past 46 years in cleaning up many rivers and lakes, recycling, protecting natural ecosystems, becoming more aware of hazardous materials, and the list goes on. But we have a long way to go if we are to live in a sustainable way in harmony with nature.

There are things to do and things not to do when it comes to being a good steward of our planet, but one of the best may be to take pleasure in the true beauty of the Earth’s ecosystems and its creatures. Too, take time to learn about some of the plants and animals that share the Earth with us. It’s just about impossible to destroy something you understand and love.

Throughout the year, and especially April 22, with the wonders of spring all around us, we should make a point to get out and observe. Every forest, wetland and prairie remnant is full of spring signs — evidence that our Earth is designed as a place for life, no matter what foolish acts people may commit.                                       Jim Gilbert   http://www.startribune.com/appreciating-earth-s-beauty-is-one-way-to-steward/376565231/

http://www.startribune.com/today-s-earth-day-but-people-should-care-about-the-planet-every-day/376648961/  Dennis Anderson

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Where Have All the Pollinators Gone?

Plant your yard with plants the bees, butterflies and birds love
Plant your yard with plants the bees, butterflies and birds love

Each of us is so unaware of the damage we are doing to our earth.  This week I was at a seminar on pollinators.  Minnesota has lost two of its native butterflies, the Dakota Skipper and Poweshiek Skippering.  and many more bees and butterflies are declining in numbers. Also, I was surprised so many people don’t know about neonicotinoids.  Neonicotinoids are harmful systemic pesticides that weaken pollinators

Round up kills the plants bees and butterflies love!
Round up kills the plants that bees and butterflies need for food and egg laying !

Why is there is so much buzz about bees during the winter?  The United Nations announced that we are loosing many of our important pollinators that are vital to the pollination of many important food crops.

What is causing this loss? The major reasons we are loosing species of native butterflies, bees and birds is because of mono-crop planting, habitat loss, and our obsession with pesticides.  The combination of these three is making it hard for pollinators to survive.

Even a small yard can make a difference for pollinators.  First, add more native plants to your yard, they don’t need chemicals.  Plant for different bloom times, diverse flowers, and never purchase a plant treated with neonicotinoids ! Be careful and read directions with any chemicals you use on your yard….Try to go without!  Finally, bees and butterflies love blooming dandelions and clover…Let them bloom, then weed them out!

Below is from http://www.wildones.org/ What are native plants?

  • Native plants are needed as host and nectar plants as our native butterflies, bees and birds go about pollinating our food plants as they forage for their own sustenance.
  • Native plants have deep roots which absorb excess rainfall and prevent water from running directly into our rivers and streams helping to provide clean water for everyone.
  • Native plants instead of turf lawns help reduce our carbon footprint.

A Lot more to read:

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/feb/26/decline-of-bees-poses-potential-risks-to-major-crops-says-un

http://www.nola.com/environment/index.ssf/2016/02/wild_bees_path_extinction.html

http://ecowatch.com/2016/02/26/save-the-honeybee/

http://www.xerces.org/providing-wildflowers-for-pollinators/

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/02/26/468241649/report-more-pollinators-species-in-jeopardy-threatening-world-food-supply

http://citybugs.tamu.edu/factsheets/ipm/what-is-a-neonicotinoid/