That’s right, it’s time to plant your bee food. This week at Tubbs Berry Farm we are currently frost seeding cover crops, and adding more bee friendly plants to our pastures and waste areas. Frost seeding is broadcasting seed and allowing the natural freeze thaw action work the seeds into the soil. The spring snowmelt and rains further help to push the seeds into the ground where they germinate when conditions are right.
On our farm in Twin Falls, we are planting cover crops in our pumpkin fields to help build the soil and make it better for the next crop. Pumpkins are planted fairly late so we have time for the cover crop to come up in the spring and grow some before we plow it under. Our mix this year includes daikon radish, triticale, peas, and mustard. Both the radish and the mustard will bloom and produce some good early season food for the bees before we plant our main crop of pumpkins. You can do the same in your garden on a small scale.
In our pastures, road edges, ditch banks and marginal areas, we seed a mix of yellow blossom, white blossom sweet clover, and Dutch clover. These are all wonderful bee food in the middle to late summer. They have great properties for building the soil and add to the quality of our pastures for hay or grazing. Clovers can have a hard seed coat, so many may not sprout the first year the seed is broadcasted, providing new growth for several years.
If your goal is late season food for your bees which we always seem to be low on, plant the native wild sunflowers and chicory. Both will do well in the drier areas that receive very little extra water.
I look forward to sharing more of what we are doing on the farm as the season progresses!