Spring is here, and with the warming weather and green blooms comes the constant reminder of ecological collapse at the hands of the ignorant, entitled and just plain selfish. Fortunately, there’s a lot you can do in your own spaces to offset their damage until glorious revolution, and in the meantime every pollinator you foster will be vital to carrying on its role and preserving its species. A diversity of tactics is needed to obliterate the agents of ecological collapse, but here are 8 things you can do in your own spaces to be an amazing ecological steward:
Gardens are about a lot more than just birds and bees! They’re vibrant, living biomes with thousands of different kinds of creatures needed for their health and perpetuity. The healthier a garden is, the less human intervention it requires, and the more time you have to lounge among the blooms and pen feverish anticapitalist poetry. Consider all pollinators, not just honeybees! Birds, bats, moths, flies, beetles, and yes, even wasps! They all have needs, and the more of them you can attract, the more biodiverse and healthy your garden is going to be!
It might be tempting to host a rare, unusual, or just aesthetically pleasing invasive plant, but invasive species have a bad habit of getting out of hand, choking out native plants that aren’t adapted to compete with it, and worse, offer little ecologically to the creatures that haven’t adapted to use it. There are beautiful, useful, and appropriate native plants wherever you might live, you just might not know about them because while there’s big money in shucking invasives, natives rarely get that kind of gas. Fortunately there are a lot of resources and tools out there to help you find native plants like the National Wildlife Federation’s Native Plant Finder. Your local greenhouses should then be able to help you find what you’re looking for.
The first thing that comes to mind is probably those pricey, hand-crafted looking bee hotels. These can be more harmful than helpful, unfortunately, and people stan them very hard because they like how they look, like cheap, easy ways to think they’re helping and because you generally can’t tell anyone anything they don’t want to hear. When I say “create” nesting, what I really mean is leaving perfectly good nesting alone. Solitary bees create nests in hollow reeds or twigs, holes in wood, or, most commonly, in tunnels in the ground. So, you know, leave those alone. Leave your reedy stems poking up and plant around them. Relocate sticks to garden beds. Let leaf litter decompose naturally (that’s great compost you’re raking away, and nesting for all kinds of beneficial critters). Think less Better Homes & Gardens, and more Better Relationship With The Natural World.
Casual, inappropriate and careless pesticide use is a huge factor in ecological collapse. The greed and irresponsibility of chemical companies and the corruption and incompetence of federal regulators, combined with the abject destructive trajectory of the agriculture industry is mainly responsible for this, but a very significant factor is American lawn culture, and the mindset that we have to freak out over any living thing that isn’t a bee or butterfly or ecologically useless invasive grass. Millions of Americans just dump poison on their lawn with absolutly no idea what it affects, and no real interest as long as MUH LAWN. Don’t be an entitled piece of shit. Instead, garden for biodiversity, and I promise you, you will never need a drop of poison. Roundup can’t compete with birds, and birds don’t show up if you don’t let them have anything to eat. If you’re planting native, you’re attracting native pests, and native pests have native predators.
Pollinating is thirsty work! Especially in those hot summer months. Bird baths will serve in a pinch, but even better are some shallow dishes filled with gravel or pebbles on which pollinators can safely perch and take a zipple. Spread a few around and top them off when you water!
Fuck Lawn Culture
Seriously. It’s a shit thing conceived by rich assholes to flaunt how much land they can afford to waste, and was adopted by serfs as part of a diseased mindset of conspicuous consumption. Most people don’t even know why they have lawns or are conditioned to think they’re desirable. They aren’t. They’re wasteful, and stupid, they soak up poison they require to exist, and waste insane amounts of water. A small lawn can take 70,000 gallons of water to maintain. Absolute shit. Undermine lawn culture at any opportunity.
Plan Blooms For All Year, Not Just Spring
Yeah, yeah, May flowers, but do you think bees just stop eating after June? No! They need food all year, and they especially need it in the Fall when it’s time to fatten up and shore up the stores for the long Winter. Plan a staggered garden that blooms all year. Replace plants after their bloom cycle with ones that will continue to provide. Mix it up! Thriving Fall gardens are beautiful and rare, because they aren’t as valued in American consumer culture. You can absolutely have a beautiful blooming paradise right up to the first icy fingers of winter and beyond, in some cases, though the pollinators will be fast asleep by then.
Learn to Accept Loss As Part of Life
Caterpillars are going to eat some of your plants. That has to happen if we’re going to have moths and butterflies. Slugs are going to get into your veggies, and then they’re going to get eaten. An ideal garden doesn’t look perfect. It’s messy. It’s wabi-sabi. You have some leaves with holes chewed in them, and some that got eaten entirely. One tiny bug bite doesn’t ruin a perfectly good tomato, and in an ideal garden, you do have a few sacrifical plants. But on the balance, you also get your pristine, untouched fruits. You get a lot more than you lose. Plant for diversity, plant companion plants (did you know that some plants naturally drive off pests from other plants?). Strive for balance, not total unnatural control. Let the squirrel pick a cherry tomato before you run him off. Give the Devil his due, and I promise you will get so much in return.