July 2013 –
Give a Third, Get a Third

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Rita's Monthly Gardening Tips,  July 5, 2013

It is a commonly known fact that you can thank a pollinator for one out of three bites of food you eat. We understand that we need pollinators. We hope for them to create our wonderful bounty of edible crops. We wait for them. We worry about if and when they will come. The service that pollinators provide is part of a mutually beneficial symbiotic relationship with plants. The bee ensures plant species survival by moving around the male pollen to the female flower. In exchange, the bee receives nectar and pollen to ensure its own survival.  

Because one-third of our food crops are dependent on pollinators, then the least we can do is to give them one-third of our growing space for their food and shelter.

For example, if your garden is 100 square feet, then plants rich in pollen and nectar should cover at least 33 square feet. If your garden is 1000 square feet, pollinator plants should cover 330 square feet. If the total of your front and back yard is 5,000 square feet, then a minimum of 1,650 square feet should be pollinator plants.

The honeybee is the poster child for pollinators, but there are many other pollinators. There are 4,000 species of native bees in North America alone. Other pollinators of flowering plants include butterflies, beetles, flies, moths, and other insects. By extension, many other insects provide pest control for our food crops, helping them to grow to maturity without being decimated by pests or the need for pesticides. We need to give back to all these garden allies. Below are lists of easy-to-grow plants in different categories that will create a mutually beneficial relationship among the flowers, the pollinators, and YOU! Remember: Give a Third, Get a Third.

10 California Natives

  • Achillea-Yarrow
  • Asclepias-Milkweed
  • Ceanothus-California Lilac
  • Eriogonum-Buckwheat
  • Eschscholzia-California Poppy
  • Lupinus-Lupine
  • Monardella-Coyote Mint
  • Penstemon
  • Ribes-Currant
  • Salvia-Sage

10 Herbs

  • Catnip
  • Cilantro
  • Dill
  • Lavender
  • Lemon Balm
  • Marjoram
  • Mint
  • Oregano
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme

10 Perennial Flowers

  • Agastache
  • Buddleja
  • Coreopsis
  • Echinacea
  • Gaillardia
  • Rudbeckia
  • Perovskia-Russian Sage
  • Scabiosa-Pincushion Flower
  • Verbena
  • Veronica

10 Annual Flowers

  • Borage
  • Calendula
  • Centaurea
  • Cerinthe
  • Cosmos
  • Helianthus-Sunflower
  • Lobularia-Sweet Alyssum
  • Marigold-Signet
  • Nigella-Love in a Mist
  • Tithonia-Mexican Sunflower

Happy Gardening!
Check back next month for the August Gardening Tip!