In the origin Part II of this series, which was written in 2016, I wrote about planting 4 Basswood trees with the intention that they would grow and the blossoms would provide food for the bees. Despite our best efforts the trees did not do well and to date only two of the trees are struggling to survive.
I first thought I would just skip Part II and repost Part III in the series. Instead I decided to share my thoughts on a subject has been identified as contributing to the decline in bees/pollinators.
You have probably heard that insecticides, more specifically neonicotinoids, are thought to be partly to blame for the decline in bee/pollinator populations. It would the stand to reason that if our goal is to help save the bees then we should try to avoid use of these chemicals.
Repel Bugs Instead Of Poison Them
Here are a couple of ways to do that. The first is companion planting – that means to plant different types of plants together that support each other’s health and well being. This companion planting guide provides a chart that includes what plants will repel specific insect away from other plants which are susceptible.
The second is this homemade garden bug spray. Like companion planting this spray acts to repel insects rather than kill them. In the past we have tried various recipes for bug sprays – some work some don’t. Last year when I saw this recipe on 5 Acres and A Dream , a homesteading blog that I follow, I decided to try it. Two things that inspired me to try this recipe were first that it was easy to make with simple ingredients – mint, garlic, cayenne and a few drops of biosafe dish soap (see link for complete recipe). The second was Leigh’s (author of 5 Acres and A Dream) testimony that it worked for her. I am not sure of all the bugs that it is effective against but in our experience it worked well against aphids and some other, unidentified, bugs. Leigh says it saved her cabbage and basil plants from whatever was eating them.
Know What You Are Buying
The other thing regarding insecticides that I wanted to bring to your attention, for those who might be purchasing plants from a greenhouse or garden center, is that the plants may have already been treated with neonicotinoids. Since it is not required that treated plants be labeled as such, it is best to ask if they have. While I generally promote shopping local and supporting small businesses, it is probably worth mentioning that two large retailers in the USA, Home Depot and Lowe’s, had planned to stop selling treated plants by 2018-2019. According to this article Home Depot seems to have largely followed through with their plan. (I have not yet been able to find evidence that Lowe’s has done so.)
Of course there is always the option of starting your own plants from seed rather than buying plants and that is what we plan to do more of this year.
Have you ever done companion planting? Do you have any tried and true methods for repelling insects?
Thanks for reading and be on the look out for Part III of this series (Planting For Bees).