I’d like to add that camDown .
With the late snows and low temperatures, many of us are itching to get out and begin working in the garden.Tempting as it may be to tidy our yards, our pollinators are still in their slumber.While on our first few warm days, we may see some insects buzzing about, many wait well into May to emerge and navigate the fresh, spring blooms.Bumble bees, for example, often emerge in March and April, while many sweat bees wait until May to join us.Just how long do we need to wait? Xerces Society suggests we wait until all winter coats are put away and tomatoes are ready to be planted in the ground.
Here are some tips and tricks for pollinator-friendly spring cleanup.
Letting your garden “sleep in applies to any leaves, sticks and natural waste material left in the fall as well as avoiding ground disturbance.Leaf litter hosts a variety of our favorite butterflies and moths. Incredibly, our native moths and butterflies who do not migrate can overwinter in egg, larval and adult form.Swallowtails attach their chrysalis to stems and sticks.Eastern blue tails and tawny emperors curl up in leaves and seed pods, while fall question marks spend the winter dormmate in their adult forms in parts of the state.If you are unable to let your leaves rest where they are until warm weather, try to gently relocate them to another place they can stay until weather is consistently over 50 or 60 degrees.Twigs and standing woody plant stems also harbor many native bees. Mason bees and carpenter bees find hollow stems to lay their larvae and or hibernate in the fall and emerge come spring.Each fall, remember to only cut back stems to 12-15 inches and leave the rest for the bees. If you need to remove standing hollow sticks and stems you can place them in a brush pile or hang them in other branches out of sight.
Avoiding ground disturbance in your gardens will help our burrowing bees, beetles and moths. Leaf blowers can be hard on beneficial insects; try raking instead. Many of our bumblebees and native solitary bees are ground dwelling.In the spring, when the ground is thawing and saturated, try to avoid mulching and heavy work through potential nesting areas as the compaction of the ground may prevent them from exiting their nest.Ditch the bags and embrace the natural landscape! There are several great reasons to leave the organic matter on your lawns and in your gardens. By utilizing the “chop-and-drop” method, you are not only providing habitat by leaving the debris and lawn cuttings, but also adding nutrients back to the soil through natural decomposition. This method will reduce your need to fertilize your lawn and reduce your impact on the natural waste landfills.
One last tip for our pollinators is “No Mow May.”Many cities across the state and nation are embracing this trend.The U.S. has nearly 40 million acres of lawns. By allowing them to grow out in the spring, you allow pollinators access to early blooms like dandelions and clover when wildflowers have not yet bloomed in abundance.While most traditional lawns are monoculture, you may look into overseeding a “bee lawn.” Bee lawns generally contain short-stemmed pollinator plants, like clovers, violets and self-heal, which leave you with a lush, beautiful, pollinator-friendly lawn. Applying these suggested practices will save you time and effort in your yard. Many small actions can create a large impact collectively.By letting your gardens sleep in, waiting just a bit longer to mow your lawn, leaving your trimmings and organic matter, you can reduce your carbon footprint and protect the wonderful pollinators that reside on your property.
Be sure to check with the Hubbard County Soil and Water Conservation District with questions and for a free 25-square-foot pollinator seed packet, while supplies last.Claire Hansen is a community conservationist with the Hubbard County Soil and Water Conservation District. Its mission is to provide leadership, education, technical advice, financial assistance to landowners, cooperating agencies for various programs and projects to pursue the sustainable management, wise use and protection of the district’s soil, water, forests, wildlife and recreational resources.
Firstly as we jump in, allow me to say that camDown !