Homesteading with Hyacynth: If You Like to Eat, You Should Read This

Welcome to Homesteading with Hyacynth!

Homesteading with Hyacynth is a monthly look at ways to lead a healthy, greener, more sustainable life. My intent with Homesteading with Hyacynth is to offer genuine, practical experiences and humorous and helpful tips. Of course, I am not a medical professional so these are my tips and what worked for my family.bee friendly gardens

I spent my summers literally running away from bees when I was a child.

My grandmother often told me to let them be — if you don’t bother them, they won’t bother you.

Still, I ran every time one buzzed near me.

Now, I find myself running toward them.

I was chatting with my neighbor yesterday about our garden as I was prepping it for planting. We’ve had a sorta epic garden for the past few summers, and our neighbor immensely enjoys watching it grow.

Somehow we got on the subject of why and how my family got into organic gardening and I found myself gushing about the bees.

Because, I’d explained to him, when one ventures into organic gardening, it’s a little like venturing down a rabbit hole. Once you taste your first vine-ripened tomato from your garden, you get sorta hooked. And when your pumpkins don’t fruit because they weren’t pollinated, you start trying to research ways to get the bees to come to your yard.

And one day you  — the girl who used to run from the bees — wake up with a field full of dandelions for a front yard because you’ve learned that those dandelions are first foods for bees after a long winter and you want those buzzers in your yard, baby, so grow, dandelions, grow! Bring on the bees!

{Bonus when you also figure out that dandelion greens are great in smoothies and salads and have enough greens to supply your whole block.}

So here’s the thing. Bee populations are vanishing and colonies are collapsing at alarming rates. And if you like to eat {I sure do!} you should, indeed, care.

Because when bees start vanishing, so do some of our most beloved foods. To name a few:

  • strawberries
  • almonds
  • oranges
  • apples
  • pears
  • cashews
  • pumpkins
  • tomatoes
  • watermelon

Larger list here!

Why are bee populations vanishing? Harvard researchers think they’ve pinpointed the reason, and it isn’t pretty. BUT it is something we can combat with knowledge and even just modest effort.

A certain group of pesticides, called neonicotinoids seem to be impairing bees’ neurological system. Many growers are now growing their plants with these pesticides in them.

So you like to eat, and I like to eat, and we all like to eat so we need to make efforts to save our bees!

What can we do to support our local bee colonies and our food system?

1. Don’t buy plants and flowers that contain pesticides like neonicotinoids. Ask you grower about it and

bee friendly gardens
Apple blossoms on our neighbors’ tree. Apples made possible by bees.

simply choose to buy from farmers and growers who don’t use these pesticides. Geneva Lakes at the Grayslake Farmer’s Market doesn’t use it. Simply asking around would answer your questions; if the grower doesn’t know what you’re talking about — move on! Your best bet is buying plants and flowers that are either organic or buying from a small, local grower {at a market} who knows what they use to grow! Even the big nurseries in Lake County had a hard time answering this question because they have so many growers they buy from. Big-box stores sell plants containing these pesticides almost across the board. Let these stores know why you won’t be buying your plants from them until they demand their growers clean up their acts. Let your dollar be your vote.

2. Grow your own flowers from organic seed, which is easy and fun to do with the littles!

3. Stop spraying your lawn and let those dandelions grow, baby, grow! {“Lazy” gardeners unite!}

bee friendly gardens
Native plants

4. Restore your landscaping to native flowers and native plants. Try contacting EarthWild Gardens or the Liberty Prairie Foundation for information on growing native plants. Or take my word for it and plant goldenrod, St. John Wort bushes, purple cone flowers and native grasses. A fantastic place to check out native plants is in the Native Plant Garden at Chicago Botanic Garden. These plants are drought resistant and crowd out/shade out non-natives as they grow.

5. Grow organic vegetable plants in your garden. Check with Village Homesteading Mundelein, Liberty Prairie Foundation or head over to the organic plant sale on Saturdays and Sundays  at 83 Landscape and Supply in Mundelein.

While this seems like a big problem {it is} and it feels like you can’t make a difference, remember that you can! Individually we can’t do everything, but we can each do something! And when a lot of somethings are added together in becomes a lot!

Next week we’re talking chickens AND then we’re kicking off #EatLocalLLC!

Dance academy of Libertyville
About Hyacynth 33 Articles
Hyacynth Worth is wife to John and mother to two boys and two girls. She writes about motherhood, healthy living and faith at Undercover Mother. She is Little Lake County's managing editor and the author of Homesteading with Hyacynth. She promises to be candid, amusing and only slightly neurotic. Most of the time.

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