As 2016 ends, Garden Club RFD continues to be concerned with the plight of our pollinators and the lack of pollination of many plants. The National Garden Club (of which the club is a member) is among the organizations in the forefront of those working to improve the survival rate of pollinators. They are intimately connected with the survival of the creatures that help to provide us with the fruits and vegetables that we eat each day. Here are a few questions and answers to help you understand the situation.
- What is pollination and who are the pollinators?
Pollination takes place when pollen is moved within flowers or carried from flower to flower by pollinating animals such as birds, bees, bats, butterflies, moths, beetles, etc., or by the wind.
- What does pollination do?
The transfer of pollen in and between flowers of the same species leads to fertilization and successful seed and fruit production for plants. Pollination ensures that a plant will produce full-bodied fruit and a full set of viable seeds.
- Why does pollination matter to us?
Worldwide, roughly 1,000 plants grown for food, beverages, fibers, spices, and medicines need to be pollinated by animals in order to produce the goods on which we depend. Foods and beverages produced with the help of pollinators include apples, blueberries, chocolate, coffee, melons, peaches, potatoes, pumpkins, vanilla, and almonds. In the United States, pollination by honeybees, native bees, and other insects produces $40 billion worth of products annually.
- Are pollinators in trouble?
Worldwide, there is disturbing evidence that pollinating animals have suffered from loss of habitat, chemical misuse and diseases and parasites. Many pollinators are federally “listed species,” meaning that there is evidence of their disappearance in natural areas. The U.S. has lost over 50% of its managed honeybee colonies over the past 10 years. A lack of research has hindered our knowledge about the status of pollinators. Europe has been so concerned that they have invested over $20 million investigating the status of pollinators in their area of the world.
So, what can you do to promote and protect pollinators? Plant for pollinators! Cultivate native plants, especially those that provide nectar and larval food for pollinators; install houses for bats and native bees; reduce pesticide use and substitute flowerbeds for parts of your lawn. Watch for pollinators! Volunteer for pollinator-friendly organizations and garden groups. Experience time outdoors and work with plants. Reduce your personal impact! Buy locally produced or organic food. Purchase raised beds to grow your own organic vegetables.
At Garden Club RFD in Middletown, concern for pollinators and pollination of plants is just one aspect of the areas in which they have become involved. Others include the care of the herb garden at Middletown’s historic Marpit Hall; working with residents of Sunrise Senior Living (Brighton Gardens) in a hands-on gardening and crafts program; meeting with the Daisy Troop of Nut Swamp School to encourage a love of gardening among the children; providing design classes for flower arrangements to encourage participation in February’s Garden Club of New Jersey’s State Flower Show, as well as develop a skill that will beautify the home; and finally, caring for the grounds surrounding the Little Red Schoolhouse, the club’s home away from home. They are a working garden club!
If you are interested in becoming part of the group, doing good things as well as learning good things, contact Nancy Canade, membership chair, at (973) 452-4846.