12 Plants to Entice Pollinators to Your Garden

By: Denise Ruttan, OSU

Consider adding some flower power to your landscape to bring in the buzz of pollinators to your garden.

“Floral abundance is one of the strongest ways to promote bee diversity in gardens,” said Gail Langellotto, the statewide coordinator for the Oregon State University Extension Service’s Master Gardener program. “Also, bees forage better for nectar and pollen in warm, sunny spots.”

A showy blend of flowers can charm birds and butterflies as well, she said. But which kinds of flowers should you choose? Langellotto recommends the following:

    • Lavenders: Bumblebees, carpenter bees, digger bees and large and small leafcutting bees collect the nectar of this evergreen shrub.
    • Pacific or coast rhododendron: Larval host for brown elfin and gray hairstreak butterflies. Hummingbirds, bees and Western tiger swallowtails collect the nectar of this evergreen shrub. Native to the Pacific Northwest.
    • Blueblossom: Larval host for pale swallowtail, California tortoiseshell and echo blue butterflies.. Bumblebees, carpenter bees, honey bees, digger bees and a variety of small native bees collect the nectar of this evergreen shrub.
    • Ocean spray: Larval host for spring azure, brown elfin and Lorquin’s admiral butterflies. Bumblebees and a variety of small native bees collect the nectar of this deciduous shrub.
    • Serviceberry: Hummingbirds, bees and butterflies collect the nectar of this deciduous shrub. Larval host for Weiddemeyer’s admiral butterflies. Native to the Pacific Northwest.
    • Russian sage: Honey bees, small carpenter bees and leafcutting bees collect the nectar of this perennial garden plant. The nectar also attracts hummingbirds.
    • Red-flowering currant: Important nectar source for early-season butterflies. Nectar also attracts hummingbirds. Perennial that is a native to the Pacific Northwest.
    • Zinnias: A wide array of hummingbirds, butterflies and bees collect the nectar. Annual garden plant.
    • Sunflower: Longhorn bees, sweat bees, leafcutting bees and bumblebees collect the pollen and nectar of this
    • Salal: Larval host for spring azure butterflies. Bees collect the nectar on this groundcover. Native to the Pacific Northwest.
    • Catmint: Honey bees, bumblebees, carder bees and mason bees collect nectar and pollen from this perennial.
    • Milkweed: Monarch butterflies collect nectar and pollen and lay their eggs on this perennial wildflower. Nectar
      also attracts hummingbirds. Native to the Pacific Northwest.

Langellotto recommended using a variety of plants to attract diverse pollinators, including plants native to the Pacific Northwest.

“Native plants are fantastic hosts for butterfly larvae, which are completely dependent on native plants to reproduce,” she said. “For example, there’s a call for gardeners to plant more native milkweed, which is the host plant for migratory monarch butterflies. Without milkweed, monarchs can’t complete their life cycle.”

In addition to native plants such as milkweed, think about including some ornamental exotics as well in a pollinator-friendly garden, she suggested. For example, several studies in different areas of the country found that the exotic plants catmint and Russian sage are some of the most attractive garden plants for bees, Langellotto said. “Adult bees are much more indiscriminate than we previously thought and have been found to feed on the nectar and pollen of exotic ornamental plants quite a bit,” Langellotto said.

If you are gardening for pollinators, Langellotto advised against using broad-spectrum insecticides, particularly on plants that are in bloom, as well as systemic pesticides. “Systemic” means that the chemical can be absorbed by a plant and move around in its tissues. Broad-spectrum insecticides, which can include systemic insecticides, can kill or harm a variety of “good” insects, in addition to the target pest, she said. When mixed with water and poured on the soil around the base of the plant being treated, systemic pesticides can kill or harm insects for months or years to come, Langellotto said.

“If you’re having an insect issue, consult with your local OSU Extension office for options. Many plants are able to do just fine with low levels of insect damage. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of us adjusting our expectations and tolerating low levels of damage,” Langellotto said.

Egg Incubation

By: Nathan Herr, SWCD Conservation Specialist

At some point in every chicken raiser’s life, whether it is because of predator attacks, old age, or wanting that specific egg color or breed, there is a need for more or new chickens. Incubating eggs or using a hen to hatch eggs is a fun and easy project to undertake.

There are two options with hatching chicks, either using a “broody” hen, or using an electric incubator. Broody is a term used in the chicken world meaning a hen that is prepared to sit on a clutch of eggs to hatch out. These chickens are fairly easy to identify. When a chicken goes “broody” they will take a set of eggs (usually 4-10) and sit on top of them all day. She will leave her nesting spot once a day to get a quick bite to eat and drink and go right back to sitting on the eggs. After 21 days, chicks will hatch and she will take care of them until they are big enough to take care for themselves. Overall, this is the easiest method of hatching chicks; it is basically just letting the chickens do what they do. What’s the catch? It has become hard finding chickens that will want to brood. With big market hatcheries and egg production, broody hens were culled and selectively bred out of production. Big markets do not want hens to stop laying eggs to sit on them. There are specific breeds now that seem to want to mother and brood more than others, such as Silkies, but overall it could be hard to find a good consistent broody hen to hatch out chicks.

The second option for hatching is to use an egg incubator. For eggs to hatch, the eggs first need to be fertilized by a rooster. The eggs that are to be incubated should be no more than one week old and should be turned while waiting to go into the incubator. The eggs should be kept in a cool but not cold place (between 55 and 65 degrees). After procuring the number of eggs that you want to incubate, the process is fairly simple. Put the eggs into the incubator with the temperature and humidity already set then make sure to turn the eggs at least twice a day. The eggs need to be kept at a temperature of 99.5 degrees and at least 45% humidity for 17-19 days.

Depending on your incubator, there are some that regulate the temperature and humidity very well and will even automatically turn your eggs. Other incubators need to be checked regularly for temperature and humidity and you will need to manually turn each egg. Maintaining temperature and humidity is extremely important when incubating eggs. Naturally, the mother hen takes cues from nature and herself to either turn the eggs or to adjust the temperature. When you are using an incubator it is up to you mimic these natural responses.

After 18 days, turn the heat up in the incubator and stop turning the eggs. For the final 2-4 days eggs need to be at a temperature of 101.5 degrees and a humidity of at least 65%. By day 21 there should be some eggs hatching. Eggs can hatch anywhere day 19 to day 23. Once all the chicks that you think will hatch are fully out of their shells, move them to a heated brooder. If you have any questions about this or other related issues please contact Nathan at the SWCD or schedule a site visit with him to come out and help with your incubation concerns.

Intelligent Irrigation

By: Crystalyn Bush, SWCD Volunteer

This year we have decided to test out a new and very intriguing irrigation system in our garden. Last
year was our first real attempt at a vegetable garden and our goal was basically just to get some plants in the
ground and see if we could get them to produce anything edible. Our irrigation plan consisted of a garden
hose hooked up to our wellhouse which then had to be rolled out every day during the summer to hand-water
all of our plants. This was very time consuming and, it seemed to us, somewhat inefficient. This year we are
installing a system known as Aquajet designed and produced by Intelligent Irrigation llc. The system con-
sists of subsurface pressurized PVC pipes that deliver water right into the root zone. Pipes are placed 6 to 8
inches below the soil surface and spray water in horizontal, parallel directions so that your bed/garden is
watered uniformly. Other proposed benefits of this system are that it reduces water use by up to 80%,
aerates roots, reduces runoff, and delivers nutrients and fertilizers to roots more efficiently resulting in
greater plant health and growth.

Additionally this system is supposed to be simple to use and require very little time. We will have a
nozzle at the end of each of our two long beds that we turn on for several minutes to water and then turn off
again. If this sounds as good to you as it did to us, you may wish to look into the product more online or just
stay tuned for a review in next season’s newsletter!

Getting Garden Ready: The Basics on Preparing for Spring Planting

Depending on the size and complexity of your growing area, gardening can require quite a bit of time. That said, many people take great pride in their garden and derive a lot of satisfaction and fulfillment from literally harvesting the fruits of their labor. Although summer is still many months away, now is the perfect time to start planning and preparing for your garden. Below are a few helpful tips on how to get started and how to make sure you are ready for planting.

  1. Decide how much space you have to commit to your garden. Try to choose an area that gets a maximum amount of sunshine. The South side of your property will receive the most sun. If you live next to trees or taller structures be mindful of how much they will end up shading your garden.
  2. Dig up the top foot of soil with a pitchfork or rototiller. You will want to add in quality topsoil and compost before planting. You can check with your local gardening store to find out how much of each you need. If you are using raised beds, check the boxes for any damage and make necessary repairs. Check the soil quality. You can add peat moss to increase soil fluffiness. Check your soil’s pH. If it is low, you may want to add lime in the form of dolomite. Do this several week’s before planting. Finally, top off boxes with compost.
  3. Plan your garden. Order your seeds well in advance and read the instructions on the packets to find out how much spacing and light they require.
  4. Start seeds indoors 8—12 weeks before transplanting them outside. It is safe to transplant seeds after the last frost date for your area. You can find out your last frost date by looking it up online.
  5. Decide on an irrigation system. Make sure you consider the ultimate size of your plants before placing soaker hoses. If you decide on a subterranean irrigation system, this will obviously need to be installed prior to planting.
  6. Set poles and trellises for taller plants previous to planting the seedlings so as not to disrupt roots.