ChocoSoil Blog #5 – The Birds and the Bees

In addition to the edible weeds, herbs and vegetables grown on our roof this season, we planted numerous flowers in 12 of our of EarthBoxes to attract pollinators. Pollinators are animals (birds, bats and insects) that “visit flowering plants in search of food, mates, shelter and nest building materials” (OMAFRA, 2015).  Since the spring our garden has been visited by bumblebees, wasps, blackflies and monarch butterflies who were attracted to our sunflowers, zinnias, blue cornflowers, cosmos, pepper, tobacco, tomato and sorrel flowers (to name just a few!). Not only do pollinator gardens attract beautiful wildlife, they provide a habitat that would otherwise be lost in an urban centre and are essential to our urban food system. Pollinators play a vital role in our ecosystem and it is important that we continue to create and maintain healthy and inviting habitats for them.

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Here are a couple key elements to the ChocoSoil pollinator garden:

  • our organic soil mix made up from homemade worm castings and organically sourced seeds, (Thanks Colette of Urban Harvest!  (http://uharvest.ca)
  • planting a diversity of edibles and flowers to attract a variety of pollinators,
  • planting native plant species such as sunflowers and milkweed,
  • intercropping the flowers with mint, lemon balm and edible weeds to provide them with shade
  • selecting flowers with attractive blooms to add colour and vibrance!

There is growing international concern for the health of our pollinators, and organizations such as the David Suzuki Foundation and the Government of Ontario are working to conserve and restore native plant species to attract our native pollinators. OMAFRA recognizes that “the long term sustainability of Ontario’s food system and productivity of the natural environment may be affected” (2015) with the decline of pollinators.

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Not only do pollinator gardens look beautiful but they are essential to maintaining our local food system. Investing in some seeds or asking a friendly neighbour to share can help to improve your harvest and protect our future! Check out our blog in the coming weeks to see how we have saved the seeds from this year’s garden to provide for next year!

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References:
http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/pollinator/session-toronto.pdf
http://www.ontario.ca/page/pollinator-health?_ga=1.1204849.1703061365.1439398236

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