I don’t know if I am more upset about not having seeds, cultivating something that wasn’t meant to be or accidentally starving the insect population. It’s probably all three but how are you to know, the average person rummaging around the garden?
My crochet bee is pointing at some of the sunflowers I grew in 2021 where I harvested the varieties I grew so I could multiply the sunflower areas on the grounds and have it more stunning. I did my part and did some trials this spring and nothing is popping out of the seeds. I literally have thousands of seeds.
Daniel cracked open random seeds and they are empty. One after another, empty. How could this be? The answer is horrifying and goes against what we were trying to achieve here at home.
Our objective was to give back to the environment. Daniel has planted thousands of perennials and trees. From an empty field, the dew worms returned, birdlife and the dancing of the 1000s of honey and native bees we have. We live in an agriculture wonderland. We wanted to give back but some of our choices have done has achieved completely the opposite mission.
Daniel went back to look at the seeds we had purchased to get our gardens started and they are labelled ‘low pollinators’. What does that mean? It means for us a mistake.
- The seeds are hybrids with human intervention to be producing low pollination. It means in the cut flower industry, the flowers will not weep as much pollination when the flowers are displayed. Cleaner in presentation.
- Hybrids can ruin the ability of the plant to reproduce itself. It’s a one-time event.
- Hybrids can produce incredible colour combinations and much more but messing with the genetic coding of the plant can change properties.
Daniel has a section of the garden where the roses are the most amazing visual-looking displays ever. They are claimed to be insect repellent and resist decay. Essentially that’s not a natural occurrence, it’s human intervention. They are also low pollinators. Absolutely stunning but Daniel has caused an imbalance through no fault of his own. In the effort to beautify the garden, he planted some perennials where that are doing very little for the ecological balance of the grounds.
In low pollinators, the male gene could be missing so the plant cannot reproduce, leaving the females to produce low pollen but with the absence of the male gene, the seed process cannot be started. Therefore, what you think the bees and insects are eating are merely crumbs of a potato chip bag as the plant is not producing the pollen as it should. There’s very little for the insects to eat, so the insects leave them alone.
If you are all about beautification, the flowers are stunning and presentation while giving very little back to the environment. So it becomes a choice, beautification over ecology.
Example of What to Watch For
On the front of this package, we are led to believe this seed will be bird-friendly. Turn it over and you see in bold letters that it’s a pollen-free variety. This means this plant will not feed the insects. It means this plant is not being proactive for the garden.
While not impossible for the seeds to form, the chances are very low. Sunflower Pollen is heavy and blows onto other flowers ruining the look of other flowers. So this variety is designed for a cut flower arrangement as the pollen won’t weep onto other plants in the arrangement.
While the flowers will attract the insects, it will be like they are driving up to a McDonald’s in a drive-thru only to realize the store is closed and has no food to offer. This doesn’t offer value to your gardening and won’t give back to the environment.
Many of the perennials Daniel has planted are swarming with honey bees feeding. I was lucky to see a bee on the sunflower and though I was delighted, I had no clue there should be far more bees and that the plant isn’t pollinating as it should.
The birds pecked at a few parts of the seeds but just did a few before moving on. We expected them to ravage the entire heads of the sunflowers and that’s okay as it’s the purpose. Not realizing they gave up as the seeds are empty, not because of abundance.
So now we know what low pollinator means now. So hopefully in 2022, we can plant the sunflowers that are not modified and can give back to the environment instead of just taking the nutrients of the soil. Without the insects, the garden is doomed. The process of crops grown relies on the insects but messing with the genetic makeup of a plant has to have short and long-term consequences. If the bugs cannot eat, they cannot survive. Without the bugs, the pollination process that creates our food gets reduced if bugs are starving.
Feels so wrong. I’m not surprised but going forward we have to get more informed and make better choices.