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June: An ideal time to learn about and celebrate pollinators

Green Acres presents a free talk on ‘pollinator buffets’ this Saturday

A ligated furrow bee stops in for some pollen on this two-color coreopsis, aka tickweed. Learn about plants that entice pollinators during a free talk 10 a.m. Saturday at all Green Acres sites.

A ligated furrow bee stops in for some pollen on this two-color coreopsis, aka tickweed. Learn about plants that entice pollinators during a free talk 10 a.m. Saturday at all Green Acres sites. Kathy Morrison

From the biggest carpenter bees to tiny sweat bees, from hummingbirds and bats to beetles, moths and butterflies, our natural world depends heavily on the continued efforts of pollinators.

One quick fact here: Approximately 75 percent of flowering plant species need the help of animals to move their heavy pollen grains from plant to plant (or within the plant) for fertilization. This of course include flowers on fruit trees and vegetable plants -- the plants that help feed us.

June is the month to celebrate these hard-working creatures. It's not only Pollinator Month, but next week, June 17-23, is designated Pollinator Week.

Why do pollinators need so much p.r.? They unfortunately continue to be endangered by disappearing natural habitats, urbanization, and the indiscriminate use of pesticides in gardening and farming.

The Pollinator Partnership, based in San Francisco, sponsors Pollinator Week activities. The group encourages plantings to feed pollinators, especially with native and nectar-heavy plants.

In line with that, all Green Acres Nursery and Supply stores in the Sacramento region this Saturday will present on "Grow a Pollinator Buffet." The talk is free and starts at 10 a.m.

I see quite a few pollinators in my home garden now, but it does take some time and thought to develop a welcoming landscape. Here are a few tips beyond planting to attract pollinators and help them thrive:

-- Leave some open ground for native ground-nesting bees, and leave it alone. I turned over some soil in the garden one time and sent one poor bee into a tizzy. It had just returned to the site and was trying to find its (now buried) nest. I felt horrible.

-- Provide safe access to fresh water. For bees, a shallow dish with sloped sides or with pebbles in it will allow them to drink without drowning. I put marbles in clean pot saucers. Keeping them full of water can be a challenge in summer, but worth it. Water features also are great additions to gardens for use by birds.

-- Use integrated pest management practices when solving garden pest or disease problems. (See the UC IPM website at https://ipm.ucanr.edu/ ) A general pesticide will wipe out everything -- it's like setting off a bomb to get out a laundry stain. Overkill, indeed.

For more information on Pollinator Week and ways to help these important creatures thrive, check out the many resources at https://pollinator.org/

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Garden Checklist for week of July 14

Your garden needs you!

* Keep your vegetable garden watered, mulched and weeded. Water before 8 a.m. to reduce the chance of fungal infection and to conserve moisture.

* Feed vegetable plants bone meal, rock phosphate or other fertilizers high in phosphate to stimulate more blooms and fruiting. (But wait until daily high temperatures drop out of the 100s.)

* Don’t let tomatoes wilt or dry out completely. Give tomatoes a deep watering two to three times a week.

* Harvest vegetables promptly to encourage plants to produce more. Squash especially tends to grow rapidly in hot weather. Keep an eye on zucchini.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushy plants and more flowers in September.

* Remove spent flowers from roses, daylilies and other bloomers as they finish flowering.

* Pinch off blooms from basil so the plant will grow more leaves.

* Cut back lavender after flowering to promote a second bloom.

* It's not too late to add a splash of color. Plant petunias, snapdragons, zinnias and marigolds.

* From seed, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, winter squash and sunflowers.

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