Ornamental and edible gardening adventures.

5 ways to help the planet this growing season

Helping pollinators and the environment is not just for Earth Day. Here's how you can make a difference every day. 

  • Go organic. Say no to pesticides. If you want to create a habitat for native insects and birds — whether you have a patio at your condo or a large front garden — choose these other options for dealing with garden pests:
    • Hose aphids off plants. 
    • Hand pick pests like bean beetles, or knock Japanese beetles into cups of soapy water. 
    • Hang decoy wasp nests to discourage yellow jackets from nesting in your house eaves. 
    • Cover squash plants with floating row covers to discourage squash bugs from laying eggs. (Remove when flowering for pollination.)
    • Put out beer traps to catch slugs overnight. 

  • Incorporate native plants into your garden. Some fruiting ones include viburnum, elderberries and even blueberries. All these plants produce two food sources for bids: insects and berries. Check with your local extension center or garden center for the best options in your area.

  • Plant host plants for butterflies. This includes dill and fennel for black swallowtail butterflies, milkweed for monarchs, and spicebush for spicebush swallowtails. 

  • Plant pollinator-friendly flowers. Look for flowers that look like a "landing pad" for bees and butterflies. Lots of zinnias work well, in addition to asters, which bloom later in the season. 

  • Start a compost pile. When you cut back last year's perennials to make room for new growth, or  remove weeds, add them to a pile where they can break down. If you have a composter that can keep pests out, you can work kitchen scraps into your compost pile, too. The "yard waste" will eventually break down into soil if you let it sit, and if you turn the pile regularly it will break down faster. (Plus, it keeps it out of your trash can!)

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