Pest control and pollination is best done when you allow for insects and their predators places to live in your garden. You do this by planning spaces for the , the birds and bugs. Having nectar sources, water sources, nesting sites, and leaving overwintering refugia all provide habitat for natures predators. It is a hands off approach that has worked for gardeners for centuries.
Pollinating plants that bloom in succession will allow many different creatures nutrients while they await the arrival of our pests. A garden with early spring flowers like on Spurge
Euphorbia olychroma (Cushion Spurge) blooming with the Syringa (Lilac) feed the first wave of garden guests. Next the Lupinus (Lupines) and the Lonicera (Honeysuckle) are in bloom. Here in Alberta, these blooms are gone before we can put our annuals into the ground.
Good choices for necator amongst these are Verbena and Zinnia and Salvia. Beside these, The Nepeta Mussinii ( Catmint) and Dianthus (Garden Pinks) bloom all season long. Late Summer brings the blooms of Coreopsis (Tickseed) and Echinacea (Coneflowers). Pollinating plants both smell wonderful to us, and attract the predator insects that will help care for your flowers without pesticides. It is a win-win.
Sites with running water are important to beneficial insects survival too. The birds and insects active in the yard increases when you add water. You get to relax to the sound of a gurgling fountain, and nature will be busy doing the yard work.
Using natural pest deterrents like pollinator planting and adding a water source over applying pesticides is important. It increases the worm populations in the soil increasing soil health (and with it plant robustness) and it makes sure there are no residues on the flowers that could harm potential pollinators.
As for birds and critters we may not always notice them but they are there always. Often you will see the Robins out in the morning finding breakfast in the lawn. You can feel good that your hands off approach is feeding them well.
A commonality of some Canadian insects is their adaptation to be tolerant of extreme temperatures. In order for some beneficials to survive however there needs to be a place for them to hibernate in very hot dry times and in very cold times. For example, Ladybugs need decaying leaves to winter in as it will keep them from completely freezing. Many insects need the soil as protection and decomposing matter as their food. I do not know if wood chips alone that we mulch our gardens with would provide that. Leaving some leaf matter on your plants rather than cutting everything down to the ground in the fall is a great addition for your urban habitat.
Any of these ideas will attract the larger predators of the insects to the garden as well creating a more diverse setting.
I hope you find you can add a little bit of nature to your yard care routine.
Biological Survey of Canadian Terrestrial Anthropods. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://biologicalsurvey.ca/public/Bsc/Controller/Page/briefs/insectsofcane.pdf (Original work published 1988)
ezfromseed.org, . (2013). Priority: Pollinators. In Home Garden Seed Association. Retrieved from https://www.reneesgarden.com/articles/pollinators-hgsa.pdf
Degagne, J. (2016, May 31). Assignment 2: Plant and Pest Community. In Google doc. Retrieved June 16, 2016, from https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1vziBcTyiJqWfWZssJJJkqjVBRC71nrnMJAoLoMC6iAo/edit#gid=37802890
Gorsuch, C. (2002, October). Beneficial Insects and Related Arthropods. In Clemson University, South Carolina. Retrieved from http://www.clemson.edu/cafls/departments/esps/factsheets/beneficials/beneficial_insects_and_related_arthropods_bb01.htm
Kruss, S. W. (n.d.). The Best Ways To Attract More Songbirds To Your Property. In The Cornell Lab: All About Birds. Retrieved from https://www.allaboutbirds.org/the-best-ways-to-attract-more-songbirds-to-your-property/
Mainz, M. (2016, May 31). Top 10 Hummingbird Flowers. In About: Home. Retrieved from http://birding.about.com/od/Specific-Birds/tp/Top-10-Hummingbird-Flowers.htm
Mickelbart, M. (2010, May 3). Leaf characteristics of drought tolerant plants. In Purdue Extension. Retrieved from https://www.ppdl.purdue.edu/PPDL/index.html
Phipps, N. (2016). Wind Resistant Plants For Your Windy Garden. In Gardening Know How. Retrieved June 16, 2016, from http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/special/spaces/wind-resistant-plants-for-your-windy-garden.htm
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