Williams Sonoma customers swear that dryer sheets keep mosquitoes and gnats at bay in their vegetable gardens – an important benefit considering they are pollinators insects!
Plant flowers that thrive in your region and soil conditions. Native species tend to flourish well as they have evolved specifically for your climate and conditions.
Plant in the Right Season
If your vegetable garden doesn’t produce much harvest after attentive care throughout its seasons, the lack of pollinators may be to blame. Vegetables don’t self-pollinate like many flowers; therefore they require help from bees, birds, bats, insects, flies or other creatures foraging for nectar and pollen sources to complete pollination. To boost vegetable crops further enclose it with flowering plants that produce both nectar and pollen to provide extra pollen to support its success.
Pollinators like bees can be attracted by planting an abundance of colorful, long-blooming flowers from spring through fall, such as annual or perennial varieties, shrubs or trees that produce plenty of blooms. Include some native species as well as flowers that attract pollinators such as hummingbirds or monarch butterflies, like hummingbirds or monarch butterflies. Ornamental vegetables like asparagus and rhubarb can also attract pollinators. Plant brightly-colored marigolds, zinnias and sunflowers to attract bees and other pollinators; or choose easily identifiable flowers like purple clover (Trifolium repens and Trifolium pratense). These legumes belong to the pea family and provide your soil with much-needed nitrogen enrichment – you might even come across an adorable 4-leaf clover!
Vegetables require pollinators to transfer pollen between male and female flowers, fertilizing the fertilized flowers so they can produce fruit. Honeybees are not the only pollinators required; many other animals and insects such as ants, bats, butterflies, moths, flies, beetles and hummingbirds contribute their pollen for fertilization as well. If incomplete pollination takes place this could result in misshapen or undersized fruits being produced.
Pollinators like bees may be well-known, yet nearly 95 percent of native, solitary bees are native species that don’t hive together or lay eggs – instead digging short tunnels in the ground where they store pollen gathered during foraging trips. You might find these bees nesting within cracks in branches, dead leaves, or any bare place they come across.
As most solitary bees are wild, it’s essential that gardens don’t become over-mulched in order to protect their homes and food sources. Leave an open strip near your vegetable garden with flowers in it as an attraction point – bees are nearsighted creatures so large groups of flowers act like airport landing lights to direct them towards them!
Plant Companion Plants
Most vegetables require pollination to achieve full growth and fruiting. To aid with this, companion plants – flowers that attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies – should be planted nearby vegetable crops to attract bees, butterflies, and other pollinators that will pollinate them for you. When combined with proper gardening techniques, companion plants may increase harvest yields as well as repel some pests while protecting from diseases or nematodes while adding flavor enhancement.
Herbs like basil, cilantro, dill and parsley make great companions for your veggies, drawing bees and pollinators while simultaneously deterring pests that threaten your garden – such as basil’s strong scent which can disorient cabbage loopers who lay their eggs on brassica crops.
Marigolds, zinnias, alyssum and nasturtiums can make great companion plants to squash and cucumbers; beans such as sweet peas or runner beans make excellent combinations; corn can benefit from shading its soil while simultaneously conserving water while its vibrant flowers attract hummingbirds and other birds that feed off insects.
Another group of beneficial companion plants includes plants that act as natural pesticides. Such plants include garlic, nasturtiums and dill which repel aphids that threaten garden and crop plants – perfect companions for tomatoes and basil!
Fennel can serve as a natural source of protection from garden pests by drawing in predatory wasps to prey upon squash bugs and other vegetable garden pests, while its scent repels nematodes that damage squash and other vegetables. Ajuga herb deters slugs and snails while its fragrance can deter squash beetles, cucumber beetles, squash beetles, cucumber beetles and other squash beetles that damage cucumbers. Other natural solutions that work include Alyssum, Agstache and Chives all attract bees while deterring cabbage moths, carrot rust and other destructive insect pests of Brassica crops such as cabbage moths which pair nicely with Kale, collards and broccoli crops.
Pollinators are essential in drawing visitors to your vegetable garden and encouraging them to return year after year. While you might be tempted to create an idealized landscape, leaving areas of bare earth and some unevenness can provide nesting opportunities for these insects.
Make sure your garden features plants with flowers blooming at various times to give pollinators ample opportunity for foraging throughout the growing season. Select native flowers, grasses, perennials, and shrubs which provide nectar and pollen at various spots around your garden during each blooming period; by offering an assortment of plant types and flower colors you will attract bees, butterflies, and other pollinators.
Be sure to provide plenty of water in your garden, including birdbaths, small ponds and catchbasins that provide pollinators with access to clean drinking water. Be sure to locate them where it won’t get splashed into or polluted by rainwater.
As you consider what vegetables to plant in your vegetable garden, keep pollinators in mind as an integral component. Beans, corn, squash and cucumbers all need pollinators in order to be pollinated properly; eggplants and peppers require pollinators assistance in producing fruit; as do various varieties of apples, pears and cherries which require pollinators assistance as they produce fruit.
Some vegetables are self-pollinating, meaning that pollen transfers between male and female flowers without needing help from insects; however, this method of reproduction may not be as efficient. By adding pollinator friendly plants to your vegetable garden, adding pollinators-friendly plants will increase crop yield while guaranteeing delicious vegetables!
Though not all flowers attract pollinators, certain ones are particularly effective at drawing them to your vegetable garden. Bumblebees make fantastic pollinators for cucumbers, squash and melons while many native bee species also prove highly reliable pollinators for beans, kale collard greens and other brassica plants.
Make a Bee Bath
Bee baths are shallow pools of water designed to provide pollinators with somewhere to drink in your garden, making for an easy way of encouraging pollination. Starting by selecting an appropriately shallow dish ideally made from glass or ceramic (never plastic as this leaches chemicals into the water). Next add rocks, stones, twigs and marbles as filler. Add sea salt for bee nutrition if desired – but make sure not too deep as bees can drown otherwise. These rocks, twigs and marbles also give pollinators places to land as they drink from this bee bath!
Bee baths provide more than food and shelter – they also give bees a place to go when overheated during summer heat waves. Bees become overheated easily, which is why you see bees congregating around pools or bodies of water such as bird baths to cool off.
To lure bees to your vegetable garden, plant flowers they appreciate. Most garden centers will carry lists of such plants; among the best options are liatris, salvia, native violets, oxeye daisys, buttercups, sage honeysuckles and butterfly bush which are easy to locate, affordable and don’t require special climate conditions or care.
Bumblebees are particularly adept at pollinating nightshades like tomatoes and eggplants by “buzz pollinating” their flowers to release tightly bound pollen. Other suitable vegetables for pollination by bumblebees include peppers, cucumbers, squashes and gourds as well as apples, beans, cane berries, strawberries and fruit trees; plus sunflowers, lupines and wildflower mixes!
By following these simple tips to attract pollinators to your garden, the more successful will be your vegetable garden. By encouraging bees, butterflies and other pollinators to visit, you will ensure that all of the fruits of your labors will soon be ready to harvest in no time at all!