Attracting Bees and Butterflies to your Garden

Butterfly on pink flowerThe loss of millions of bees and butterflies in Ontario has many people concerned about these critical pollinators and the impact it’s having on our environment. Fortunately, we do our part to attract bees and butterflies by creating beautiful habitats in our own backyards. And in exchange for just a little work, you’ll have a more fruitful vegetable garden with a higher yield and better quality.
All animals need food, water and shelter and bees and butterflies are no exceptions. Unlike birds, insects can’t manage the deep water of birdbaths. If you already have a birdbath, just add a few stones so these smaller creatures can also have a drink. A small saucer of water is just as effective. Just make sure it’s kept clean and topped up.
Both bees and butterflies love colour, so indulge in the brightest most colourful plants for your garden. Native species are best and will produce exactly what these insects need. Your local garden centre can advise you on which plants to choose. Purple coneflower is a favourite of both species. Asters, sedums and sunflowers are also popular. Flowering herbs are also a wonderful choice. The added bonus is that these flower varieties will also attract beautiful hummingbirds.
Some butterflies prefer fruit to flowers, so you may wish to offer some overripe melon rinds and other bits of fruit. A plate of fruit in a sunny sheltered location will be very appreciated by these lovely creatures. You may wish to research what species of butterflies are common to your area to tailor your offerings more specifically.
Bee and butterfly “houses” are available at many garden centres and hardware stores. These small habitats will help these animals weather storms and hide from predators.
Of course, the largest killer of bees and butterflies is pesticides and even chemical fertilizers. Forego the chemicals to protect your visitors and use organic garden methods instead – it’s safer for you and your family, including your pets, too.
With these few easy steps, you will soon have a garden buzzing with life and vitality and full of colour.

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Rain Water Harvesting

rainbarrel
It has been used since ancient times all over the world, and today in Canada rain water harvesting is becoming more widely used in residential, agricultural, and commercial buildings. Rain water is clean, natural and free of chemicals and is an efficient and economical method to use at your home.
Rain harvesting systems capture, store, treat and deliver rain to use for daily water needs. Harvested rain can be used outdoors for irrigation, gardening, washing vehicles, filling up children’s outdoor water toys and swimming pools, and water for livestock, and indoors for toilet flushing, laundry, cleaning floors and if filtered, as drinking water. Simple harvesting systems consist of rain barrels that collect roof runoff for outdoor use. You can install rain barrels at the downspouts of your eaves troughs. Always make sure it has a secured lid to prevent children and animals from getting in as well as breeding mosquitoes and contamination. Also to make things easier when taking water out, position the barrel high enough to be able to place a bucket or watering can beneath the tap.
There are also more complex pumped systems that involve large above ground or buried cisterns that store water collected from the roof. This water is then plumbed into the house, either as a replacement or supplement to the standard municipal water supply.
One of the main purposes of rain harvesting is to conserve and reduce water demand. Reusing water saves considerable amounts of energy, because lots of electricity is used on community water pumping and treatment. It also allows you to store water to use in times of low water availability like in droughts or water bans. This can also save you money on your household water bills.

For a very small investment of time and materials you can collect hundreds of litres of free water every year, while helping out the environment. You’ll feel good about harvesting rainfall to help use less water and allow yourself to use this natural and free resource.

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