Thriving Pollinators

The August yard
Cardinal flowers pop-up everywhere in my yard!

What joy to look out the window and see monarch butterflies and ruby throated hummingbirds enjoying the plants in my yard. Bees, butterflies and hummingbirds thrive on native plants. Hummingbirds are especially crazy about the cardinal flowers, and because cardinal flowers are a pop-up flower* and I am a pop-up gardener they are everywhere one looks in our yard. Where ever you look you see a hummingbird enjoying a native plant. Native plants are now at their peak and bees and butterflies are happy. Because the rainfall has been so heavy this year, many plants are taller with more blossoms than usual. Thriving plants attract thriving pollinators.

Plant and they will come!

Loving monarch butterflies
A monarch on swamp milkweed
Every yard should have purple cone flowers
Many pollinators like purple cone flowers.

 

 

hummingbirds love cardinal flowers
Cardinal flowers pop-up everywhere.

*pop-up flower -You never know where they will re-seed and pop-up.  I let them grow where they are happy!

 

Suggestions for easy to raise native plants: 1. Never use chemicals, native plants like compost, but not chemicals. 2. Strive to have plants that bloom in different seasons. 3. Work for plant diversity, and you get a variety of happy pollinators. 4. Native plants are very easy to grow if you put them in a place that meets their needs for sun and moisture. There are natives that will thrive in almost every condition. 5. Native plants are a process, we weren’t born knowing this, it takes time, and you will be surprised by their energy and persistence. 6. Whatever you do to add plants to your yard, be sure to add some milkweed.

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

Small Changes Can Make a Difference

Get rid of plastic bags
Make plastic bags history!

Three months ago two large grocery stores in Australia banned plastic bags. It has lead to an eighty percent reduction in plastic bag use in Australia. Read about it here.

In England retailers are reporting a 90% drop in plastic bag use after a bag fee was introduced in 2015.

Businesses can take leadership and help make enormous changes to help our Earth. Call on Target to help.  Here is a petition you can sign to get Target to ban plastic bags. Petition to Target

Bring your own reusable bags.

We can all make a difference also! First you can always bring your reusable/washable bags with you shopping. Make bringing bags a habit. Next, lets get Target to take leadership and ban plastic bags in their stores. Sign the petition, but also ask them to ban plastic bags when you visit their stores. Petition to Target

July, Plastic Free July, is almost over, but it’s not too late to set goals to reduce your plastic use. Start now!

Plastic Free July

July is plastic-free month
Work to reduce your plastic footprint

It is hopeful that some states and countries have made important laws on the regulation of single-use plastic in the past six months. Where I live the corporations and lobbyists have so much power over the decisions and law making that plastic pollution continues. The first committee where I worked on plastic bag legislation was over 25 years ago!! But I am thrilled with the legislation of other places.
We are living in a time when people don’t want regulation, OK then, take personal responsibility, and reduce your plastic footprint by reusing washable containers, bags and water bottles.

As I write this I am traveling in Ontario, Canada. I was at the grocery store and everyone had their reusable bags. At a restaurant I said, “No straw please!” the waiter response was, “Our straws are made of paper!” WOW! Also, Canada has passed legislation to ban single-use plastic in a few years.

Other places have recently passed single use plastic bans. Read about it at: Maine and Vermont, and California works to regulate all types of plastic packaging. Oregon has bans on plastic bags, and New Zealand has began their bag ban. The European Union is working on single-use plastic bans, and even Thailand is trying to make a positive difference. Maine has passed a Styrofoam container ban that I think is huge!

Bring your own reusable bags.

We can all take personal responsibility and reduce our plastic footprint. Always bring your shopping bags and eliminate those take-out containers unless they are compostable. Everyone making a small effort adds up to an enormous difference!

Here is the Dorset family and their effort to be plastic-free https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=2150414795256894

Happy July!

July 1, is Canada’s birthday, and July 4, is the birthday of the United States. Both kick off a month of celebrations, reunions, and all kinds of parties. How do we cope with ideas and activities we don’t agree with? Actions For Happiness calendar ideas below help us to enjoy the month of July.
I always recommend outdoor time, and a daily walk without technology! Set a goal for something to work on such as Plastic Free July. My husband is training for a long walk, and others are training for long bicycle rides. Maybe just set a goal for a short outside walk everyday, sign up for a new class, or really commit to zero waste, smile more, or reduce the amount of driving you do! I met a woman whose goal was to go fishing and camping in Canada. She was so happy!
Take control of your life, don’t let politics get you down, unplug, be kind, and enjoy!

Action for happiness calendar
Be kind

Superior Views, The Longest Days

Picture of Lake Superior
Lake Superior

As I sit and listen to the waves, I can tell this is no ordinary lake. The sound of the waves tell of a deep cold big lake, and this year it is colder than usual making for a late spring and summer.

hummingbid sits at feeder
Female ruby-throat hummingbird

Song sparrows have built a nest on the ground a short distance from my window. Building a ground nest is surprising to me, but these sparrows know more about nests than I do. Any outside activity near the nest is off limits for us, and I am thrilled I have such a good view from my window.

painted lady butterfly
Painted lady butterfly

Along with the song sparrow the common yellow throat, red-eyed vireo, red start, oven bird, mourning warbler and chestnut sided warbler sing their hearts out and bring joy. The painted butterfly, monarch, and yellow swallow-tail are searching for host plants for their eggs. I hope the lateness of plants this year doesn’t harm the butterflies.

Lupine on Lake Superior

During these long days the sun rises at 5:10am, and sets at 9:03pm giving us lots of daylight to enjoy the big lake, the birds, the butterflies, and new blooming flowers.

 

Buffer strips
Buffer strips along lakes protect water quality, would they keep the shoreline from collapsing?

Run-off from the rivers and high-water levels are making the big lake brown. The dirt banks are wearing away.  The wet climate of the last few years has really changed the lake! And a local news article about powerful Lake Superior grabbing land as the lake levels rise. Lake Superior is always changing and renewing itself in every season, including the shoreline that surrounds it.

Searching For More Diversity

This is a week to appreciate and celebrate our pollinators. In my yard there are many baby monarch caterpillars eating on milkweed, and eggs of the painted lady butterfly on pearly everlasting and pussy toes. A dragon fly has been following me around as I work, and the hummingbirds stop to check things out.  It is a beautiful exciting time!  Get outside and enjoy.

Monarch Caterpillars

Our insects and pollinators have been in serious decline the past few years. This is a week is to heighten our awareness of pollinators. Make an effort to spot some butterflies, bees, dragon flies, or maybe a hummingbird.

Create a yard pollinators want to visit.

Unfortunately, we have become a mono-culture world of asphalt, concrete, turf grass and hostas. Maybe you live in corn and soy bean country, more mono-cultures. Most of us can make changes to our environment to help pollinators. Maybe just place a pot of flowers on your deck, something that bees and butterflies like, or maybe replace a hosta with a wild geranium or native violets, maybe stop using chemicals on your lawn and turn it into a clover yard, or plant some bee balm, milkweed, coneflowers or sunflowers.

A new extensive UN study says we are on track to loose over a million spieces in the next few decades.  Pesticides are a problem for bees and insects, but the study says the lack of plant diversity is also a big problem. Our farmers plant too much corn and soybeans, and yards have too much turf grass and too many hostas!

Each one of us can make a difference, think diversity in your yard! How can you brighten your yard and make it more attractive to pollinators?

Find ideas from the Xerces Society or native plants from Audubon for your area here.

The urban and rural gardener all have an important part to play in the health of our pollinators. Diversity is important. Keep it simple to start,  native plants are  easy to grow, but don’t forget native trees, especially oaks, are excellent at adding diversity. Last, but most important, purchase plants from serious nurseries, and ask to make sure plants haven’t been treated with neonicotinoids.

“Nature needs to be appreciated for itself and viewed as natures health dictates our human health. Without healthy water, land and soil and wildlife we will not survive as human beings. We must set aside of land, and water bodies and protect them from development. We must be aggressive protecting our land water and wildlife.” Ecowatch,  read more here.

Neonicotinoids and Bees

Plastic-Free Day

 

Plastic-free shopping by filling your own containers

Reducing single-use plastic consumption is an important way we can make a positive change for our earth. We can make a big difference, and change the way we live our lives. Let’s start with One Plastic-Free Day, June 6. It’s not easy reducing your plastic foot-print, but it is possible. Becoming aware of all the plastic we purchase helps to start making change.

This cup is made of commercially compostable material.

It is my hope that if we don’t purchase plastic items corporations will realize they need to make bottles and containers out of something that decomposes and can be composted. The plastic and oil industry will do everything they can to stop progress. That is why the consumer needs to speak!

Plastics are found in the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the fish we eat.  I think this raises the bar that we need to make changes to our plastic life-style and fast.

My plastic-free journey has taken several years, it has been challenging, but fun at the same time.  Filling bottles and containers with bulk item has just become habit. Food co-ops make it easy. It just takes a little organization to make a grocery list and figure which containers are needed for filling. I reuse the bottles and containers I have accumulated from earlier purchases. Also, we never eat at places that don’t use real dishes and utensils, but are still trying to remember to say, “No straw!” We never leave home without reusable water bottles and washable reusable bags. This past year we have begun making cookies, yogurt and humus with items from bulk shopping. Something I never wanted to take on, but now I make it fun, and zero waste cooking is healthy, rewarding and satisfying.

What are some items that are impossible to purchase in bulk and need to come in plastic?

Protein powder and vinegar need to be available in bulk

Here are a few quick easy zero waste ideas from my local county:  “There are many ways to avoid single-use items. Want a quick list? Pack your lunch in reusable containers. Forgo the straw in your drink. Bring your own mug to the coffee shop. Bring reusable bags, produce bags and containers to the grocery store. Support businesses that serve food on reusable dishes.” Hennepin County

Read Audubon’s easy ways to reduce plastic waste

https://health4earth.com/2019/04/18/boycott-plastic/