As part of Branch Hill Farm’s field management plan, we installed our first pollinator garden last year and have been enjoying the colorful blooms all spring. We plan to install many more pollinator gardens along the edges of our fields to attract and sustain pollinators. Pollinators are critical in assisting 80% of the world’s flowering plants in their reproduction and include species of ants, bats, bees, beetles, birds, butterflies, flies, moths, and wasps. Without pollinators to fertilize many of our fruits and vegetables, people and wildlife would not have much eat, and we would be deprived of the flowering plants’ beauty and fragrance.
Here are the tips we received from UNH Cooperative Extension to install a pollinator garden: Cover a manageable area (18’ by 20’) with heavy duty black plastic in the early spring. (Save the plastic for your next garden.) The plastic kills the grass and the heat of the sun kills most of the seeds. Remove the plastic in late September and rake up the dead grass and rough up the soil. UNHCE recommended using a mix of native perennial wildflowers and grasses. I planted ¼ lb. of the Bee Feed Mix from Johnny’s Selected Seeds and ¼ lb. of All Perennial Wildflower Seed Mix from Vermont Wildflower Farm and mixed them with ½ lb. of native grasses recommended by UNHCE. After spreading the seed, we covered with straw mulch and watered when dry.
The picture is worth a thousand words. Visit Branch Hill Farm for the WWW Festival on August 11th and learn firsthand from UNHCE professionals about pollinator gardens and many things pertaining to New England woods, wildlife and water.
Manager of Branch Hill Farm and MMRG Board Member