Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Plant Chat

As if the ratings for Ant Chat didn't fall off a cliff enough when winter hit, here I go and do a show that has nothing to do with ants. Rest assured, this is a once a year thing. More Ant Chats are on the way that will be about ants. It's just I work so hard on my garden and am a true fan of the belief that the environment determines what lives there. Since the average suburban home in America is 90% lawn it explains why only species that do well in that environment are present.

I start this show out by naming 3 issues: The first is how we're completely devoted to the Honey Bee, Apis mellifera, to pollinate all our crops. Honey bees are probably ideal for pollinating some crops but not all of them and it doesn't make sense to only have one pollinator especially in North America where we have 4,500 -5,000 pollinators. The reason why we don't use this abundance of pollinators probably has something to do with our second problem.

Farms are a monoculture. They only bloom at one time of year and are usually tilled. So there's only food available for a few weeks of the year and the practice of tilling usually destroys any ground nesting bee that was once living there. The concept of a food forest is much more productive in most cases. This is where you take the tallest trees, the under story trees, the large shrubs, the perennials, the vines, and all the annuals; and you replace them with food crops! I don't really go into this in the video though.

The last problem is that native plants are not often sold or used. But we should be using them. Native plants tend to bloom and grow along side their ideal pollinating counterparts. Admittedly I was a little inconsistent in this video. I start talking about native plants and why they're not mass marketed as the nonnatives are. And it becomes a slide show of wonderful plants I've had marked success with.

In the video I talk about how honey bees seem to steal food from the native bees. And sure enough the honey bee in photographed more than any other bee in this video. But I didn't start seeing the native bees until I'd established the native plants! So some success should be marked here.