Free seeds and help for the bees

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It’s nearly spring, and that means my Little Free Seed Library will soon be up and running.

As many of you know, I reserve the top shelf of our Little Free Library for seed sharing in the spring and fall. I will be stocking the library in mid-March with seeds from my garden, as well as several different types of seeds that people donated late in the fall. The library is located on the boulevard on the corner of 45th & Washburn in Linden Hills.

There are small, coin-sized envelopes available for those who want to take seeds, as well as pencils to write down what you’ve packaged up. Seeds that are available for the taking are either in their original packets or large envelopes that are labeled with the plants’ names. Please take what you want from those packets and large envelopes and leave the rest for others.

If you have seeds to share — and we can always use more — please bring them in their original packets or envelopes that are labeled so people can clearly see what’s available.

And thank you very much to all who have helped make this seed-sharing library a success for the last several years. People stop by all the time during the summer to tell me that the sunflowers or tomatoes or cosmos in their yard came from the seed library. Sometimes they even get out their phones to show me photos of what they’re growing. It’s a joyful thing to be part of, and all of us are making it possible.

Way to go, us!

Help for the bees

As you probably know, news about the health of bees continues to get worse.

Just last December, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declared the rusty patched bumblebee endangered because their numbers have declined so much in the past 20 years. Other bumblebee species are also declining, as are populations of other types of bees.

Gardeners are in a unique position to help bees of all types.

If you’d like some bee-friendly plant ideas, have a look at the University of Minnesota Bee Lab’s publication, “Plants for Minnesota Bees” (beelab.umn.edu/sites/beelab.umn.edu/files/plants_mn_bees.pdf). Plants on the list vary widely and are workable for home landscapes of many different types.

Don’t feel like buying new plants? No problem. If your lawn is chemical free, you can help pollinators by leaving some of your lawn weeds for them to feast on.

White clover is everywhere in most people’s lawns, and it often blooms from mid-spring through the fall. Flowers on this not-that-bad-looking weed, which is recognizable for its three-leaved shape, are white, and bees love them because they are wide enough to land on comfortably.

White clover doesn’t need to be tall to bloom. If you set your mower to 3 inches, your lawn will look reasonably neat and you’ll still leave plenty of nectar and pollen for your bee friends.

Dandelions are also a bee favorite. While these weeds are less easy on the eyes, consider leaving a few in some area of your lawn. Those yellow flowers provide bees with nectar and pollen that they need to survive.

Again, though, be sure that areas you leave for bees are not treated with chemicals that will harm or kill them. No matter what you lawn service tells you, none of the chemicals used to treat grass are safe for pollinators — or other living things, for that matter.

But that’s a separate column. For now, let’s set out sights on helping the bees. They need us now more than ever.

 

Check out Meleah’s blog: www.everydaygardener.com for more gardening tips or to email her a question or comment.

 

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