So many passersby have questions about our rooster-less flock of hens: “How do they lay an egg without a rooster?” and “Have you ever cracked open an egg to find a chick?” or “Does the rooster fertilize the egg after it is laid?”
While we always kindly answer these questions with a smile, we know that the reproductive systems of chickens aren’t always common knowledge. Same goes for the reproduction of the plants on our urban farm.
That’s right: Plants reproduce, and it’s all thanks to birds, bees, insects, and other pollinators who do the dirty work (pun intended) for us.
A pollinator is an insect or animal that causes plants to make fruit or seeds, due to their movement of pollen from one part of one plant to the next. This movement of pollen – or cross-pollination – is how a plant is fertilized and a fruit or seed is created.
It’s especially important to have a wide variety of healthy pollinators in the city, which is why it’s wonderful that urban areas are allowing beekeeping. Without pollinators at work, our gardens and our ecosystem at large wouldn’t be productive. Period.
No pollinators = No vegetative life = No food.
Whether you have a garden or not, be it a couple pots on a patio or acres of pasture, it’s your responsibility to take care of these valuable little critters. Here are some of our own tips that we practice on our urban homestead:
1. We use no herbicides, pesticides, or chemicals of any sort on our property.
This not only saves the pollinators in our area, but also the plants, grasses, flowers, and other insects that the pollinators depend on. Not only that, but even the most ‘natural’ lawn chemicals usually aren’t 100% safe for human contact. We prefer not to worry about this and keep the crap out of our yard. (Now to convince our neighborhood…)
2. We plant flowers (both annuals and perennials) every year.
These flowers and plants are located in clumps, rather than spaced out throughout the yard. This attracts bees and other pollinators. Thanks to the family that owned our home before us, we also have a great variety of perennials that bloom throughout the season. This is also really important for the longevity of the pollinators in our area.
3. We compost, and use that compost in our garden.
The microorganisms and nutrients from our very own compost helps our garden and flowering plants grow, which in turn is beneficial for the bees, birds, and other pollinators in our area.
4. We feed the birds.
A little scratch and birdseed in various spots around our yard is perfect for increasing the pollinators around our home. Birds are so important for pollination, not only for their droppings, but for the role they play in our ecosystem.
5. We buy local honey and bee pollen for cooking.
While buying honey isn’t increasing pollinators in our yard, it is increasing the need for and efforts of beekeepers in our area. Choosing to spend our money locally, and on a product that is so valuable for our health and environment, is just as important as the steps listed above.