Gardening with Beneficial Insects
Attracting beneficial bugs to your vegetable or herb garden is probably more important than you think! If you are growing veggies, or fruits you need pollinators!
Beneficial bugs -or pollinators- are responsible for pollinating the flowers on your plants. This in turn allows the plant to produce the vegetable, fruit, or seed you are after. A cucumber can’t become a cucumber until the flower on the vine has been pollinated. Neither can the flower on the tomato bush become a tomato, or a blueberry flower become a blueberry. Unless you plan to hand pollinate each flower with a small paint brush or cotton swab, attracting beneficial insects to your garden is the way to go! Fortunately this is pretty easy.
Pollinators don’t do their jobs out of kindness. They come for the food!
This is extra important for urban gardeners to remember! In the city there is often little for pollinators to feed on, so you need to provide them with some tasty ‘bug chow’ if you want them to come and pollinate your plants.
Herbs to the rescue!
Mint, Thyme, Oregano, Marjoram and Rosemary all attract pollinators to their blooms. While they are visiting those plants, they’ll stop in and visit your other plants,too! Many flowering herbs like Echinacea, and Yarrow, and Hyssop are ‘good bug’ magnets and herbs like fennel, dill and parsley are hugely attractive to all kinds of pollinators.
I’m not talking about your average pollinating honey bee, either. Pollinators come in all shapes and sizes! You may see both big and little wasps, all sorts of bees, and even certain flies will happily pollinate your stuff! The ones I get here are shiny metallic blue pollinator flies and they go berserk for my mints!
How do you keep your pollinators happy?
First off, don’t SPRAY your plants for bugs! They can’t do their job if you kill them. Seems basic, but people do this. Really.
You also might want to give your beneficial bugs a drink. A small plant tray filled with pebbles and water set around potted plants or in the garden will provide small insects a place to get a drink after a long flight!