The Roles of Pollinators in the Garden
Pollinators are very precious. Gardeners are continuously asking how to attract pollinators to the vegetable garden because of their benefits. Here are the main tasks of pollinators in your garden:
- Aid the pollination process
The main task of pollinators is to help plants with pollination. They travel from one plant to another, and in this process, pollinators carry the anther part of the plant to the stigma.
Pollinators are responsible for the reproduction of 95% of plants in the world.
- Provide food for the surrounding ecosystem
Most of those plants are foods that animals eat. More food sources are available to the whole ecosystem when those plants reproduce.
- Stabilize the soil health
Pollinators maintain the health of the plants. Healthy plants imply that the soil where they live is also healthy. Healthy soil is less likely to experience erosion and has a higher quality water supply.
What are the Pollinators in Our Ecosystem?
Many animals play a role in pollination. Insects like bees, wasps, and moths are responsible the most for this important agricultural activity (with bees being the most active compared to the others).
However, smaller mammals are contributing to pollination as well. Bats are among the most renowned pollinators in the mammal group.
The way pollinators work to aid pollination is mesmerizing. Due to electrostatic force, the hairy body attracts the pollen when the small creature lands on a flower.
It then flies away to another flower. At this time, the pollen grains on their body are being deposited on the new flower.
How to Attract Pollinators to Vegetable Garden?
What can you do to make pollinators visit your garden? Here are some recommended ways to attract pollinators:
- Eliminate pesticides in your vegetable gardens and opt for organic ones.
- Grow native vegetable plants in your area to attract local pollinators.
- Prepare water and food sources for the pollinators in your garden (e.g., a water fountain).
- Create a sheltered area near the vegetable garden so the pollinators can create nests.
- Do not plant hybrid vegetable plants because they do not provide sufficient pollen grains and nectar.
- Grow vegetable plants meant to bloom during the spring and fall seasons.
- Plant vegetables in large batches to attract more pollinators.
- Plant flowers alongside the vegetable garden to attract pollinators.
Attracting Honey Bees to Your Vegetable Garden
When people ask how to attract pollinators to a vegetable garden, they usually think about honey bees. Honey bees are the most common pollinators in any garden.
This high expectation is not without reason. It is because these bees are especially efficient when aiding pollination. The rate of success is higher with the aid of honey bees.
Here are some tips if you want to lure honey bees into your garden and make them stay:
- Plant yellow, blue, or purple-colored flowers in your vegetable garden (borage is recommended as it is also edible).
- Use essential oil around the garden to lure the honey bee (the recommended scent is lemongrass).
- Place a shallow water dish near the garden (put a stone in the dish for the honey bee to rest on).
Attracting Beneficial Flies to Your Vegetable Garden
Another kind of pollinator people would love to see in their vegetable garden is the beneficial flies. They might be the hoverflies or the flower flies.
Hoverflies are the favorite because the flies consume common pests like aphid larvae. If you want to attract these flies, you can follow this list:
- Reduce the frequency of mowing the lawn surrounding your vegetable garden.
- Plant white and yellow flowers such as the French marigold (it is especially effective in attracting hoverflies).
- Build a small natural pond near the vegetable garden to encourage an ecosystem friendly to the beneficial flies.
- Plant aromatic herbs such as parsley, dill, and coriander because the scents attract the flies.
- Place log piles around the garden to shelter the younger flies so they can grow safely.
Hand Pollination, An Alternative to Pollinators
People are getting worried about the decreasing number of pollinators in the wild. Because of that, people try to find ways to pollinate plants without the help of pollinators.
Hand pollination is one of the most convenient pollinating methods. It is done with a cotton swab or a tiny paintbrush. The gardener can gently swab each flower and transfer the pollen grains to the flower’s mid part.
However, hand pollination is limited to plants that perform self-pollination. Many plants, unfortunately, reproduce through cross-pollination.
It is difficult for us to mimic the natural process of cross-pollination at the moment. Thus, the main concern is increasing the number of pollinators working in our wildlife.
This objective is proven difficult to achieve as human settlements disrupt their habitats.