Spring still seems a long way off here in Vermont. Dreaming about green growing things, sweet smelling flowers and buzzing insects is more inspiring at the moment than doing wintry tasks like taxes, garden mapping, and planning.
Pollinators of all sorts are taking abuse from pesticides, GMOs and habitat destruction/lack of biodiversity in agriculture. We are trying to find more ways to support and attract pollinators on our farm. In general we have pretty good habitat for a wide variety of insects between our crop diversity, plenty of tall un-mown areas, and wild edges. We hope to keep honey bees in the future- maybe we’ll tackle that project next year. When we raise bees we’d like to try top bar hives and/or sun hives which seem like shapes that support bees’ instinctual habits. This year we plan on creating more habitat for native bees with pallet stacks in a couple of different garden zones such as between greenhouses, around gardens close to home, and near our berry plantings.
We’d like to try to have more perennials blooming on a regular basis as part of cover crops. We plan on experimenting with under-sowing long term crops such as corn, some brassicas and possibly winter squash with crimson clover which is a nitrogen fixing annual clover, that will hopefully also bloom. We are also thinking about seeding some of our garden pathways to dutch white clover (we will start with a small section as we are worried about it taking over our beds). The benefits of living mulched pathways are that they would always be covered, fixing nitrogen and building organic matter, and they would bloom. Another new idea is to convert a couple of our garden beds into dedicated mulch beds where we will grow plants that are good at bring minerals up from deep in the soil (bio-accumulators) and that are good at creating a lot of biomass that we can cut and mulch with, and many of these plants will also have a variety of blooms for pollinator attraction. Hopefully with a wide variety of suitable homes, nectar sources and undisturbed wild spaces we can invite more pollinators onto the farm and help them to proliferate everywhere.
If I close my eyes I can hear the buzzing of little wings and smell the sweet clover now.