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Moosa Creek Blog

Food and Natives

Creekside Chat

 The COVID-19 pandemic has caused the threat of food shortages, and so many people are planting fruit and vegetables. That is marvelous, but don’t pull out your native plants if you do. Food-producing plants need good pollination, and not just from the non-native honeybees. The hundreds of species of bees, wasps and flies that are native to Southern California, and which are often so small as to look like a speck on the flower petals, are vitally important not only to pollination but for eating the aphids and other ‘bad’ bugs that also want your crops.

Native plants go hand-in-hand with food production, so keeping an area of your landscape planted with a wide range of flowering natives is essential. Many neighborhoods offer little or no food for wildlife. Look around: do you see lawns, mature non-native trees and shrubs, the same types of common non-native plants everywhere? You are looking at a wildlife desert.

Food plants and native plants have very different soil and water requirements, so keep them separated. Most native plants want good drainage and an occasional soak. Food plants are usually thirsty and want regular watering. Native soil has few if any earthworms in it and is usually low in organic matter so plant natives right in the dirt without amendments. Rich, wormy compost is perfect for growing hungry vegetables and most fruit.  Planting natives at the perimeter of your garden and fruit and veggies closer to your house for easy access is a good landscape design.

What natives are great for pollinators? You can’t go wrong with any of the sages, and if you need to conserve space try a smaller hybrid such as Rubin’s Baby Sage. Verbenas make a great substitution for lantana. Yarrow is another perennial that blooms for months and has small clusters of flowers that tiny insects love. Or let Moosa Creek do the work for you with their new Pollinator Paradise Pack.

So pull out the ficus, twisted junipers, pittosporum and pepper trees, and surround your fruit and vegetables with plants that will help your food production be more successful, save you water and look beautiful as well.

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