“Pollinators are important. Really important … The world’s pollinator species — including bees, flies, beetles and butterflies — are required by more than 85 percent of the flowering plants for reproduction. More than 100 crops in the U.S. need or benefit from pollinators, adding up to about $3 billion a year in economic value.”
~ Christine Peterson
It’s easy to get overwhelmed and depressed these days. Where ever you get your news or information — internet, newspapers, magazines, neighbors or elsewhere — it seems that things are getting worse. Politics are going to hell, religion is going to hell, education is going to hell, and the environment — that’s really scary.
My inbox is full every day with requests for donations to all kinds of causes, from saving the Monarch butterflies to electing someone who’s not a crazy idiot (and not a few of the others). It seems that each and every cause needs me to make it work, otherwise, we’re all lost.
Obviously, I cannot do it all. So, I try to do a little something when I can.
Luckily, there are lots of little things that an individual can do to help, some of which fit into my personal preferences. I’m not a precise person, and unlike some of my neighbors’, our yard is somewhat unkempt and the flower beds are only semi-tended.
Well, according to an article by Christine Peterson, “A first-of-its-kind study released recently by the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution found that carefully planned gardens and messy yards can be surprisingly beneficial to many critical species of pollinators, from bees and butterflies to the chronically undervalued hoverfly … within existing cities, homeowners, neighborhood associations and even community leaders can make strides to help the world’s dwindling pollinator populations.”
She lists three ways you can improve the lives of pollinators:
• Start a vegetable garden.
• Choose plants wisely.
• Be a little messy.
She goes on, “The same advice goes for urban parks, roadside ditches and even city street medians. The longer the grass the more opportunity for growing species that help pollinators. Encourage your local cities to consider planting more flowers in public spaces or converting parkland to native species … They found that not all green spaces are created equal in the eyes of pollinators, and while urban nature reserves and parks are good, community vegetable gardens can be even better.”
That doesn’t sound too difficult, and might even be enjoyable. And for someone like me who can easily slip into being lazy, Melissa Breyer offers an idea to free you from a lot of your lawn hassles: grow a clover lawn. Our lawn is currently rife with dandelions, violets, clover, various ‘weeds’ and in many parts, grass. The clover lawn has some advantages, according to Breyer:
1. It is drought-resistant (deep roots)
2. It is inexpensive
3. It requires no fertilization (adds nitrogen to your lawn)
4. It blooms! (a starscape of flowers)
5. It attracts pollinating insects
6. But It can be bee-free, too
7. It grows in poor soil
8. It resists pet urine
9. It resists blight and mildew
10. It doesn’t need herbicides
11. It doesn’t need pesticides
12. It rarely has to be mowed
I don’t throw trash in the rivers or on the ground. I try to drive and buy smartly, and I use few, if any, nasty chemicals. And, anyway, the ideas above are pretty easy to accommodate in normal living. While I used to fantasize of torpedoing whalers on the open seas, maybe I will help a little by taking some smaller steps.
Kermit the Frog famously said, “It’s not easy being green,” but it’s also not really that hard if you take small bites at it.
Melissa Breyer, 12 reasons to plant a clover lawn, April 12, 2019, TreeHugger
Christine Peterson, Can Cities Replace Wildlands for Pollinators?, March 27, 2019, Cool Green Science