There are several things we can all do to get ready for spring besides placing seed and seedling orders.
Planning ahead is an excellent way to get the results you want and be kind to your pocket book. You can start by working with an expert. You can locate you local Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) agent here: https://mdc.mo.gov/regional-contacts?county=All or Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) agent here: https://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app?service=page/CountyMap&state=MO&stateName=Missouri&stateCode=29. These private land management agents will make free visits to your property, help you assess what you have and want to do. They may help with seed mixes and cost share funding for native pollinator food plots.
If you already have a plan, you will need a soil test. Soil tests are $15 available through your local University of Missouri Extension Service. Or most likely, your closest Sur-Gro or local fertilizer store will submit the samples and cover the costs for you. Even if, like me, you primarily grow rocks, a soil test will tell you what kind of soil you have and recommend how to amend it for what you want to grow. This step will save you a lot of money and frustration, and it will help you better match what you plant to your existing conditions.
If you have two acres or more, consider working with the Seed a Legacy Pollinator Habitat program at https://beeandbutterflyfund.org/habitat-programs/seed-a-legacy-program. They have an online application process. Their director, Peter Berthelsen, told me they do recommend using glyphosates (herbicide) to give new seedings a better and quicker start. You can use other options, though, which may be more expensive and take longer. The key is to have a plan and work that plan.
So what kind of trees, shrubs and other flowers should you plant? Plant natives. Those are going to be plants that are used to local growing conditions and will more quickly establish, and maintain, themselves. Those plants also have an established relationship with local pollinators including native bees and require less, if any, harmful chemicals. Studies show that if you plant natives you are helping to restore the entire interdependent ecosystem, which means your honey bees will be accessing more nutritious pollen and nectar.
As you may recall, pesticides and poor nutrition are two of the major honey bee stressors. By giving your honey bees healthier plants, you are ensuring that your bees will have access to more nutritious pollen. That will help them fight off the other stressors including pests, pathogens and poor management.
You might still find some seedlings at George O. White State Nursery in Licking, Mo. Order online or download the catalog from here: https://mdc.mo.gov/trees-plants/tree-seedlings/order-seedlings. Order even it it is marked sold out; and pay for your invoice when you get it or they will reallocate the seedling order to the next person.
Don’t worry. I left you some!
by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins