Monday, October 27, 2014

Bombing for Bees

View from the airplane as Cascadian Farms drops hundreds of wildflower seed bombs to help pollinators.

'Tis the season, friends.  Thanksgiving?  Hanukkah?  Christmas?  Not so fast.  It is still fall and, across much of North America, fall is prime wildflower planting season!

I have been ankle deep in native wildflower seed packets for the past month, doling out poppies and lupines before the rain.  Waiting for the cosmos to hurry up so I can put in the clarkia.  Last year at this time, I was involved in the same planting game and I reaped dividends in the spring with my big fat pollinator garden.

My wildflower garden last spring, buzzing with life.

This year, in the midst of planning and planting, an email landed in my inbox about an organic food company's efforts to help protect our pollinators.  Cascadian Farm recently partnered with the Xerces Society. As part of their campaign, Cascadian Farm planted over a million wildflowers. (Check out their fun video of a plane dropping oodles of seed bombs on a prepared field. My kids loved it.)

Cascadian Farm dropping seed bombs by plane.

Sure Cascadian Farm may have a plane and pastel colored seed bombs, but let's not let them get all the glory!  Anyone can plant flowers and create habitat for pollinators.

Here's how you can help if you have a garden:

Because you plant them in the fall and they die in the spring, wildflowers work well as a cover crop in the edible garden.  I usually pair them with late planted vegetables - like winter squash.  As a cover crop, wildflowers offer over-winter habitat to beneficial insects, crowd out weeds, and bring in pollinators like crazy.

These California goldfields grew in a bean tepee last winter. I replaced them with gourds in late spring. 

Use wildflowers as fillers.  I have transitioned a few flower beds to native perennials in the three years.  One day, those beds will be beautiful!  Right now, though, the perfectly spaced one gallon plants look lonely.  Wildflowers in between the perennials bring color and life to a flower bed in transition.

Wildflowers are a commitment-phobic gardeners best friend.  For instance, I have the perfect spot in my garden for an asparagus bed.  Last year, I seeded it with wildflowers because I was not quite ready to make the commitment. Of course, like me, you might be bit by the bug (pun intended) and decide to postpone that asparagus bed for just another year as you toss a few more seeds into the soil this fall.

Even if you do not have a garden, you can take these steps to help pollinators:

If you are feeling crafty, you can turn wildflower seeds into your very own seed bombs. Here's how. You can also buy seed bombs online or in some garden stores.  Then launch them into the nearest empty lot, roadside ditch, sidewalk strip.

Seed bombs dropped by Cascadian Farm.

Put in a pot of flowers on your balcony, porch, window sill, on your sidewalk strip, anywhere.

Join a community garden, donate seeds to a school garden, or help an elderly person add some color to their neglected yard.

Give the gift of flowers.  Seed bombs and packets of wildflower seeds make wonderful (and thrifty) gifts for anyone with a yard.  I save seeds from my wildflowers for re-seeding and for gifts.

Do not use pesticides. This is a biggie! We can plant all the flowers we want but if they are doused in bee-killing insecticides, we are not doing pollinators any favors.

Buy organic fruits, vegetables and everything else.

What are you waiting for?  The wildflowers are calling and fall won't last forever.  Get bombing for bees.

This post is part of the Homestead Barn HopBackyard Farming ConnectionMaple Hill HopTuesday Garden Party, and Homeacre Hop.

I did not receive anything from Cascadian Farm for sharing their video and their Bee-Friendlier campaign. I did it just because I think it is important to help our imperiled pollinators in every way possible.  


Turning the Clock Back said...

I love the idea of seed bombs! I wish I could do more wildflowers in my yard but we have so much shade!

Lynn Hasselberger said...

That's so great! I have a perfect spot in the back where we've been throwing sticks/branches. Why not toss some wildflower seed bombs there?! I also have some random milkweed seeds to toss around for butterflies. Bravo to Cascadian!

Green Bean said...

@Turning the Clock Back - are there any shade friendly wildflowers near you? I recently read a pollinator book that promoted Chinese Houses (a California native wildflower) for shade. I've always grown mine in sun but now ...Here I come, shade garden.

@Lynn - That sounds wonderful. Isn't it so great when a company does something good! :)

Anne said...

Beautiful garden & beautiful idea that we can all take part in. You're reminding me to encourage more wildflowers around our yard & garden.

Brenna Burke said...

This is awesome! I had no idea you should be tossing wildflower seeds out now. I know I have some around here somewhere. Better get busy. :)

Jenny Bradford said...

I love to see planes spraying things that are NOT chemicals!!

Betsy Escandon said...

Great post, Green Bean! It did sound like a cool idea. I'm glad you got a chance to write about it.

Green Bean said...

@Anne: Thank you for the compliment. I cannot take too much credit because the wildflowers are so beautiful, they make everything look good!

@Brenna: Yes! Fall is prime time for planting wildflower seeds and also some perennials like milkweed. Let the weather do the work for you!

@Betsy: Thank you for sharing the idea with me.

Angi Schneider said...

One more reason for me to buy Cascadian cereal. We are in the process of seeding our property for wild flowers, we need rain though. Thanks for the link to the seed bombs, I think my little one will have fun making some with me.

Liz said...

What a truly unique idea!! As a bee keeper we need all of the seed bombing we can get! I love this idea and will be using it/passing it along! Thanks!

Green Bean said...

@Angi - That is what I thought last time we were in Whole Foods and saw their campaign for bees. My kids like their cereal anyway so win win.

@Liz - Thank you for sharing. I'm glad that we are on the right track and hope to see more and more folks planting flowers for pollinators.

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