In years past my gardening strategy has been pretty simple: go to Home Depot in April and get whatever sounded fun, then go again in late-June and buy leftover herbs on sale. Then this spring I noticed *very, very few* bees visiting my tiny backyard container garden compared to previous years, even on plants that normally bring bees to the yard, nothing. Honestly that is one of the many reasons I started this site, *I’m seeing less local bees, it’s scary* and I want to help! So I’ve been hitting the books (and the internet) and learning new ways to garden and make small changes to make my yard a bee oasis in an urban desert. And I want to journal my findings for anyone else who might stumble onto my little blog and is interested in the same thing.
Next year’s strategy actually starts this year, since some plants will require buying and planting bulbs and corms that need an overwintering before they will bloom the following year. This is new territory for me! And while it would be easier just to find a nursery selling already-flowering plants during the season, there is a chance that they will have been sprayed with something that could harm the bees. Or even worse, send them back to the hive with pesticide-, herbicide- or fungicide-laden pollen to feed their colony. I’ll be on the lookout for reputable non-spraying nurseries in my area, but until then the plan is to start my own 2020 plants from bulbs and seeds.
🐝 Garden Strategizing
My first step to planning was to check a few books out of the library on the subject:
The Bee Friendly Garden*, by Doug Purdie
Victory Gardens for Bees: A DIY Guide to Saving the Bees*, by Lori Weidenhammer
The Bee-Friendly Garden*, by Kate Frey and Gretchen LeBuhn
These all had awesome information and I encourage anyone interested in the subject to check these out or see what else your local library has to offer.
Armed with books, the internet and a notepad I planned next years garden with the following criteria in mind:
- I wanted to plant a flowering tree
- Had to have all 3 seasons covered
- There needed to be blooms in early-spring and late-autumn
- Plants need to be able to grow in a pot
- Plants shouldn’t grow too huge or should be able to be pruned regularly
Nothing too crazy. The yard we are lucky to have in the city is small and gets enough light for most plants I’ve attempted (my avocado tree is looking a little sad, but everything else has done fine). How much light your plants will get is definitely something you’ll want to take into consideration. When I do start seeds indoors next spring they will likely need a grow lamp since none of the windows in my apartment let in enough sunlight.
With all of those considerations in mind I came up with the following list:
(🌼 = Spring flowering, ☀️ = Summer flowering, 🍂 = Autumn flowering)
- Hyacinth – 🌼
- Crocus – 🌼
- Rosemary – 🌼
- Mint – ☀️
- Lavender – ☀️
- Wild Bee Balm – ☀️
- Oregano – ☀️
- Chives – ☀️
- Raspberries – ☀️
- Asters – 🍂
- Strawberry Tree – 🍂
- Borage – ☀️
- Dragonhead – ☀️
- Perennial Basil – ☀️
- Holy Basil – ☀️
- Tomato – ☀️
A few of the perennial plants are already in my yard, but I’ll be picking up seeds and bulbs for the rest where possible and will be on the lookout for a good local no-spray nursery. And I’ll keep this blog posted on my progress 🙂 First up will be planting bulbs like the hyacinth and crocus in the next few weeks.