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Attracting Pollinators to Your Vegetable Garden

Benefits of Pollinators in the Garden

Maintaining pollinators in the vegetable garden is important for the production of seeds and plant growth. Attracting pollinators like bees, butterflies, and birds can allow for an optimal increase in benefits for the crops growing in the garden. In order for the movement of pollen to take place, the pollinators must move pollen from the male structure known as the anther to the female structure known as the stigma. This movement of pollen will create fertilization of the flower's eggs. Once this has taken place it will in return fertilize the flower and allow for the production of seeds and continue plant growth or reproduction in the garden. Another benefit of attracting pollinators into the garden is creating a bountiful vegetable harvesting. Many crops like squash, cucumbers, watermelons, pumpkins, blueberries, and apples all require insect pollination to make maximum production of fruits. The increase of pollinators will attract beneficial insects that help reduce other harmful pest pressures.

Flowers in the Garden

On this week's episode, Travis explains the advantages of attracting pollinators into your vegetable garden. Two different varieties of cut flowers that we like to plant are zinnias and sunflowers which allow for an increase of pollinators surrounding the garden. Zinnias take 75 days to maturity and sunflowers take 60 days to maturity. Travis's favorite zinnias to plant are the Benary Giant variety which we carry in many different colors variations such as Lime, Coral, White, Scarlet, Orange, and Wine. We also offer a Benary Giant Zinnia Mix that has several different colors all in one pack. One of the easiest cut flowers to grow, Zinnias produce vibrant flowers that are around three to four inches in diameter. They offer great storage potential that can store for up to several weeks in a mason jar or vase. Due to the papery texture and oddly shaped seed size, the zinnias cannot be planted in our walk-behind garden seeder. We recommend direct seeding or transplanting in the greenhouse. When transplanting in the greenhouse they work great in our seed starting trays. Travis likes to plant most crops on double rows when possible so he takes his Double Wheel Hoe with the Drip Tape Layer attachment and lays a line of drip tape which creates two little small furrows on both sides of the tape. The small furrows help with direct seeding because you can just move along and scatter the seeds along the furrow and lightly cover them. These seeds do not have to be evenly spaced along the furrow. The ProCut sunflowers are another popular cut flower variety for attracting pollinators. We offer these in several different color variations such as White Nite, Red Lemon, Plum, Lemon, Red, and Orange. When planting the ProCut sunflowers these can be planted with our garden seeder. So Travis likes to use the number three seed plate which is originally made for okra seeds, but if you drill them a little bigger they work perfectly for sunflower seeds. This variety of sunflowers will get up to around 6" or 7" inches tall and produce one flower per stem when growing in the garden. These ProCut sunflowers are pollenless meaning that once they are cut they will not drip pollen on your table. With the sunflowers, they only have a one-time harvest. However, the zinnias will continue to grow in the garden up until the first frost date. Not only will planting zinnias and sunflowers in the garden help with attracting pollinators for increase vegetable production, but they will also keep your garden beautiful and vibrant during the warmer summer months.