Summer is nearing the end and change is on the way. A welcome change.
Isn’t it ironic that autumn brings cooler temperatures, yet a warm color pallette?
I’m ready to welcome cinnamon, apple cider, mums, flickering candles, and pumpkin flavored everything.
Fall is coming whether you like it or not, and with fall comes winter. From my previous article,
“4 Reasons Why Pollinators are our Friends“, I learned about the importance of pollinators. So, what happens to these important little beings in the winter/fall and am I standing in the way?
I did some light research and broke it all down into 5 ways you can help pollinators after the summer.
1. Refrain from mulching
Mulching is great for your gardens because it protects bare soil, can help prevent erosion, and keeps the soil underneath wet longer. However, gardeners need to be thoughtful about the time of year they choose to mulch. It is best to avoid mulching until it is officially summer.
Mulching at the end of the summer, during fall, winter, or spring can be detrimental to pollinators. Not all pollinators migrate, many simply build homes to hibernate in during the colder months. For instance, several types of bees native to the east coast in the U.S. build nests in the ground for the winter.
If a gardener chooses to mulch after those nests are built then the pollinators could be buried too deep. In the spring they will not have the energy to burrow out of the mulch, causing them to die. Therefore, I suggest holding off mulching in your gardens until the beginning summer months.
2. Step away from the till
Please, please, please do not till the soil after summer. This again, is in regard to pollinators making homes in the ground.
Don’t worry, putting the till away for the fall, winter, and spring is not going to hurt your garden. Nature is filled with ecosystems that create a harmony of life. The soil you want to till so badly is already being aerated, turned, and recycled by our friendly creatures–earth worms, voles, moles, ground hogs, beetles, and many others.
There will be plenty of time in the summer for your soil to be overturned! Enjoy your rest from tilling and let the pollinators do the same in their cozy soil homes.
3. Have a plan stan
In England the months before winter are called “autumn”…a lovely word. In the U.S. we call those same months–fall–because leaves. fall. down. 🙂
When leaves collect on the ground, they create their own ecosystem. Critters and creatures of all kinds use leaf piles as a winter home. The longer a leaf pile sits, the higher chance someone will use it as a home.
If you are someone who strives to keep a “tidy” yard with little to no leaf piles, please collect the leaves as they fall. If they are left to collect at the end of the season, then pollinator nests will most likely already be established and thus destroyed during the “cleanup”.
So, picking up leaves as they fall is best. Better yet, when collecting the leaves rather than disposing of or burning them, try to place them in a consolidated corner. This way, you are still providing a natural habitat, it is just contained.
The other option is to not pick them up at all! Again, this whole protecting pollinators thing is quite relaxing. Just sit back and let them make a home.
4. Fall in love with imperfection
Imperfection is what makes nature perfect.
Many of these tips focus on the concept of leaving nature alone. In addition to soil and leaves, many pollinators also enjoy building homes in ornamental grass stems (or any woody stems) and dead wood. Therefore, it is suggested that if you choose to cut back your grasses, do it a manner where they can be gently placed in a pile, maybe even with your leaves.
The other option is to not cut them back at all. Moreover, if you have some dead wood, consider consolidating it into a pile and leaving it alone for the winter.
This fall, when helping out your local pollinators maybe you will fall in love with imperfection; I know I’m going to try.
Adding native plants to your garden is always a great step to protecting your local environment. After doing some research, I learned that in areas where four seasons occur, it can be best to put native plants into outdoor soil in the fall.
This timing is best because the roots can get a few warm weeks to establish and then develop over the winter. Establishment over the colder months, creates a heartier plant that can withstand more environmental extremes in later years.
Planting flowers is beneficial for pollinators due to all of the extra lovely pollen. Remember to plant your flowers close together to ensure your pollinators do not have to travel far!
I hope this article taught some new ways to help out your friendly pollinators. You know what’s great though? Most of these tips require little to no additional work meaning you’re free time won’t be taken away.
I know this fall all of my free time will be spent sipping and eating pumpkin spice everything, hiking miles on miles, and peeping endless leaves.
Sending warm pumpkiny hugs!