Get Your Hands Dirty For Spring

The birds will start chirping and the bees will start buzzing soon! It’s time for us to go outdoors and start working on our gardens. If you are new to gardening and are planning to start your own veggie garden, we have some tips for you:

  • Your garden should receive a minimum of 6 hours of sun per day, 8-10 hours is ideal
  • Your garden should be located near your house (this will make you use it!)
  • Your soil should be fertile and easy to till. Loose, well-drained loam are preferable; sandy and clay soils are fine as long as you add organic matter 
  • Avoid soggy soils that remain wet after it rains
  • Your garden needs 1″ of water/week. Please water in addition to rain
  • Your garden should have good air drainage- should be on high ground
  • and the FUN part-plan what type of veggies you want to grow
  • Start planting after the LAST frost date- April 13th 
  • Be prepared to dedicate half an hour of work per day to your garden

If a veggie garden isn’t your thing, you can plant a flower garden. Keep in mind to plant native species. Native species are accustomed to the soil, climate, and water conditions of their habitat. They will also require less maintenance than non-natives and will attract native species!

For a list of native flowers, ferns, grasses, rushes, and sedges visit the North Carolina Botanical Garden at UNC 

For more information on gardening, please visit NC State Cooperative Extension  site. 

East Durham Children Help Pollinators while Learning about Food Production

Pollinators

Keep Durham Beautiful AmeriCorps Member, Monica Ospina, teaching 3rd graders at Spring Valley Elementary School about the important role pollinators play in our food production.

This fall, Keep Durham Beautiful partnered with East Durham Children’s Initiative (EDCI) to educate East Durham 4th and 5th graders about the importance of pollinators. These young students are enrolled in the East Durham Youth Health Leadership Council (YLC) Program.

The purpose of EDCI’s Youth Health Leadership Council Program is to inspire, educate, and empower youth to become advocates for health and wellness within their community. The program provides training and leadership development opportunities for East Durham children. The training that is provided for the youth empowers them to lead the design and implementation of a community-based health intervention project, with the following core topics: leadership development, nutrition and healthy eating, health disparities, and physical activity.

One topic that interested EDCI was the connection between pollinators and food. At Keep Durham Beautiful, we found this to be an excellent opportunity to educate these young leaders about the relationship between pollinators and our current food system. Pollinators help plants to reproduce by carrying pollen from one plant to the other. It’s crucial to understand the process of how a berry becomes a berry (just to name a beloved fruit) and the key role pollinators play in that process.Experts calculate that pollinators are responsible for 1 out of 3 mouthfuls of drink or food that Americans consume.
The children learned that populations of pollinators, in particular bees, have been in decline in recent years due to pesticide use and habitat loss. However, as gloomy as that may be, we wanted to remind the kids that they play a vital role in helping to protect our pollen-loving friends! The youngsters learned that they can help raise awareness, advocate for pollinator-friendly gardens and habitat preservation, and decrease our use of pesticides.

To make the lesson hands-on, we planted pollinator-friendly seeds in Sub Irrigated Planters (SIP’s) also known as “self-watering plants.” The SIP’s were created with recycled 16 oz. water bottles that were collected from the City of Durham’s General Services Department. We also gave the kids extra pollinator friendly seeds, so that they can plant more at home. They were excited to help plant the seeds and advocate for pollinators.

Once the kids finish all of their training they will design and implement a project of their choice, if they decide to plant a pollinator garden in their school or community, Keep Durham Beautiful will be excited to guide them through the process.

More information on how to create your own SIP: http://www.brooklynseedcompany.com/how-to-make-a-plastic-bottle-sip/

Food Day and Pollinators

Pollinators support this message

We support Food Day held on October 24th because it helps to raise awareness on our current food system and promotes healthier diets. When I think of a healthy diet, I think of scrumptious vegetables and sweet juicy fruits along with sustainable farming practices. Sustainable farming practices take into account environmental preservation and limit the use of pesticides, which pollute the environment and are responsible for the decline in pollinator populations.

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Pollinators play an integral role in our food system and we can thank them because they help provide 1 out of 3 bites of food we consume each day. In the US more than 150 crops are dependent on pollinators; this includes most fruits and grain crops.

Flowers have evolved an ingenious way to reproduce by attracting pollinators to carry their pollen. Pollinators are attracted to flowers due to their scent, vivid colors, or their sweet nectar. Once the pollinator lands on one flower it gets covered in pollen and then carries it to the next flower to pollinate it. After the flower has been pollinated fruits containing seeds are formed, these fruits will be picked by farmers and end up in our markets where you and I will enjoy them.

So, on Food Day, let’s eat healthier and support sustainable practices in our food system, for pollinators’ sake!

 

To learn more about pollinators:

http://keepdurhambeautiful.org/programs/healthybeehealthyme/

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Rain gardens are a kind of Superhero garden!

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A rain garden is not your typical garden but rather a kind of “Superhero” garden. To all the gardeners that may be shocked by my claim, please allow me to explain myself. Rain gardens are composed of native shrubs, perennials, and flowers that are planted on a small depression on a slope. These superhero gardens are beneficial to us and wildlife in many ways. The main tasks of these gardens are to temporarily capture and soak rainwater runoff that flows from roofs, lawns, and driveways. If you’re thinking” but all gardens do that!” the answer is: yes and no. The reason is that traditional gardens are not planted in a “bowl-shaped” area but planted in a flat area. On this flat area, some water filters into the soil but MOST of the water runs off until it reaches a lake, river, stream, or storm water drain. During its journey, runoff picks up pollutants such as fertilizers, pesticides, bacteria, dirt, oil, garbage, etc. Those pollutants will eventually reach and negatively affect our sources of drinking water and recreational areas. But with the help of our Superhero- Rain Garden the water will be captured and filter most of the pollutants. By collecting water in the “bowl-shaped” area, rain gardens also protect against flooding and erosion by minimizing the surge of water that rushes to a body of water after a storm. You can plant native plants that are accustomed to excess water in your rain garden. The added benefit of planting native is that these plants will help attract native species and reduce the amount of time spent in maintaining your garden. If you are trying to save the bees, butterflies and other friends the Superhero- Rain Garden will save them all along with enhancing the quality of our drinking water.

We have an upcoming volunteer opportunity to participate in planting a rain garden- Let’s Create a Superhero with Keep Durham Beautiful- Rain Garden Planting at Watts Montessori Elementary School on October 9, 2016 from 2:00 pm- 5:00pm.