June 20-26, 2016 has been designated National Pollinator Week by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of the Interior. Why should I care you ask? Here are some very good reasons why.
- About 75% of all flowering plant species need the help of animals to move their heavy pollen grains from plant to plant for fertilization.
- Most pollinators (about 200,000 species) are beneficial insects such as flies, beetles, wasps, ants, butterflies, moths, and bees.
- Pollinators are often keystone species, meaning that they are critical to an ecosystem. The work of pollinators ensures full harvests of crops and contributes to healthy plants everywhere.
The Pollinator Partnership has a series of guides that will help gardeners around the country select plants for their area by simply putting in your zip code. It does a good job of explaining the different types of pollinators and their habitat requirements. It takes more than flowers to keep these populations healthy. There are also many shrubs listed that will also get the bees buzzing.
We want to remind you not to freak out if you see a caterpillar munching on your plants. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. If you want to see butterflies, you need to let the caterpillars eat. Don’t get terribly concerned – in most cases a few nibbles on a leaf won’t kill your plants. Relax. Someday that caterpillar will be a beautiful butterfly.
Do your part. Plant something in your garden today that will benefit pollinators. Butterflies love yellow, orange and red, while hummingbirds are attracted to red, fuschia and purple.
Container gardening is one of the most popular ways to add interest and color to any outdoor space. The only rule you need to follow when creating your container garden is to be creative and enjoy it! At Miracle Farms we generally follow the Thriller, Filler, Spiller method when planting containers. This concept utilizes three different types of plants to create well-rounded combinations. Here’s how it works.
thrillers, fillers, spillers
• Thrillers are plants with height that add drama and a vertical element to the combination
• Thrillers can either be flowering or foliage plants or ornamental grasses
• Thrillers are generally put either in the center or at the back of the container
• Place it in the center of the container if it will be viewed from all sides
• Place it in the back of the container if it will be viewed from only one side
• Some examples are: angelonia, argyranthemum, grasses
Once you’ve chosen your Thriller, next start choosing your Filler varieties
• Fillers tend to be more rounded or mounded plants and make the container look full
• Fillers are generally placed in front of, or around, the Thriller variety
• Fillers should be placed midway between the edge of the container and the Thriller variety
• If the Thriller is in the center of the container, the Fillers should surround the Thriller variety
• Some examples are euphorbia, calibrachoa, and petunias
• Lastly, you add the Spillers
• Spillers are trailing plants that hang over the edge of the planter
• Spillers are placed close to the edge of the container
• If the container is going to be viewed from all sides, Spillers should be placed on all sides
• If the container is going to be viewed from only one side, Spillers should be placed in the front of the container
• Some examples are bacopa, lobularia, and sweet potato vine
use potting soil rich in organic matter
Feel free to plant containers full. You don’t need to go by the space requirements listed on the plant label because it’s not making a permanent home in your garden. Especially here in New Hampshire where are growing season is rather short, who wants to wait for a container to fill out? However, you will need to make sure you have enough space for the root zones. Use a well-draining, mixed potting soil that’s rich in organic matter. You can fill the container part way with a substitute fill material (we use empty plastic containers) to save on the cost of soil and to make the container lighter and easier to move. Most annuals will do very well with about 12 – 16” of soil. Remember to fertilize once a week as frequent watering of containers results in leaching of nutrients.