Ecosystems exist where high numbers of interconnected creatures and complex food webs are supported by beneficial habitat. For example, pollinator plants support a plethora of beneficial insects - like beetles, parasitic wasps and predatory mites - that control vegetable gardens pests, feed birds and provide pollination services for food crops. More biodiversity means more resilience to disturbances from climate change and habitat loss. Strong biodiversity means healthy communities.
Millions of years of evolution have led local species of plants and insects to rely on one another, in reciprocal relationships. Plants need specific insects to pollinate them effectively. Insects needs specific pollen or nectar sources to thrive. Food crops need pollinators that overwinter in the debris of native plant gardens. Fish depend on grassland insects falling into ponds for much of their protein. Birds rely on caterpillars and seeds to sustain their numbers. Our local food webs need native plants.
Genetic resilience can be bolstered when we plant seeds that were collected from plant communities with numerous parent plants from various generations. Planting seeds from local plant populations helps to ensure that the plants will be adapted to growing conditions like soil type, water availability and seasonal changes. This supports the growth of healthy, strong plants. Healthy plant communities are better equipped to overcome pests, diseases and climate changes.
Native wildflowers, grasses and trees are the evolutionary host plants for countless species of moth and butterfly caterpillars. The dramatic decrease in population numbers of native bird species is directly correlated to the disappearance of these plants (as habitats are destroyed) and therefore, the caterpillars they feed. Just to put it in perspective: one pair of nesting chickadees needs 6000-9000 caterpillars to raise their young!
Inviting pollinators into a pollinator patch adjacent to your fruit and vegetable gardens significantly increases crop yields. Not only will you have more fruits and vegetables, you will also have larger fruit and vegetable sizes! Cross pollination is essential for successful food production. Bee Kissed Seeds never treats our seeds with neonicotinoids or other chemicals that harm precious pollinators and other beneficial "bugs"!
Planting native species near food crops draws beneficial insects to your gardens organically and safely. Species like lacewings, lady bugs, predatory and parasitic wasps, soldier beetles, mantises, ambush and assassin bugs - to name but a few! - will provide essential pest control of destructive insects like aphids and tomato hornworm. No chemicals required and this way, there is no risk of accumulation of toxins throughout the food chain!
In our seed store, the category "Larval Host Plants" is a tag we were able to include on almost all the species we carry! These plants feed butterfly and moth caterpillars, which in turn feed countless baby birds. We think it is pretty incredible that almost all native plants feed caterpillars. On the flip side, if you have a "slug" problem, you probably have lots of non-native plants! This is a real testament to the fact that planting native species is a great way to positively impact local and native biodiversity and ecosystem resilience!
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