Up until the past two weeks I’d been planning my garden with one goal in mind – return on investment. My goal was to get as much food out of that garden as possible and ignore flowers (which I considered lazy for not yielding a harvest). Then I saw an interesting news release about planting milkweed in your garden to help support the monarch butterfly population.
For the past few years I’ve heard about the declining number of monarch butterflies migrating between Canada and Mexico every year, but hadn’t really considered planting milkweed, or other native pollinator-friendly species, in my yard to support the monarchs…and isn’t milkweed a weed? Turns out, it’s not so bad after all. In fact, aside from common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) – an invasive species – most milkweeds grown in Ontario are not invasive and do not pose a threat to agriculture or horticulture production – and that’s according to the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food. Moreover, there are some downright beautiful species of milkweed in Ontario, some which are rare themselves. It’s going to take some research to find the right species for this area (to ensure that I choose something native to this area that won’t act as an invasive species), but there will be some milkweed going in as soon as the weather allows.
Next up, the bees….
Although, I’ve heard that this past winter may have been a good one for bees in the Ottawa area, that won’t make up for the dramatic decline in their populations over the past few years. Much of this decline can be linked to neonicotinoid pesticides and a Canada-wide ban of these pesticides would help prevent further devastating declines. For my part, I will be planting pollinator-friendly plants in my yard to help support bee populations in my area. Apparently, reds, pinks and orange flowers attract bees (and hummingbirds). I’m not quite ready for backyard beekeeping, especially given a few severe reactions to bee stings as a child (I seem to have outgrown that particular allergy), but love the idea.
As for the birds, I’ve got a lovely pop bottle rescued from the recycling bin this past weekend that will soon be converted into a bird feeder.