Our Flower Companions at GFF
Since we do not grow flowers so we can cut and sell them (though it seems we could do that), it might seem like it might not be an economically sound model to spend time on the flowers on our farm. But, in case you do not end up buying my arguments by the end of the post, there is one reason that is good enough for us. We (Tammy and I) like flowers. Since where we work is also where we live, it makes sense that we should grow some things that make us happy.
So, reason number 1 is...
1. We like the way they look!
|Zinnia - from the State Fair mix.|
|Autumn Beauty sunflower|
But, we actually have some other reasons why we select some of the flowers we do.
2. They really attract the pollinators
|Look in the center and you'll see a bumblebee|
|Oh, and they like buckwheat flowers too!|
So, part of the strategy is to make an area so attractive for the pollinators that they will not need or want to go all that far afield to find the nectar they desire.
|buckwheat far left, then melons, then zinnia, then melons, then borage.|
3. Increased Pollination Services Increases Yield and Yield Quality
So, if you are wondering why we are willing to expend some effort in growing flowers other than the "we like them reason" - how about increases in crop production?
|Yep, pollinators were here.|
|Beans do not rely exclusively on pollinators|
4. A Host of Additional Reasons
There are many other reasons - and maybe I'll spend more time this Winter writing something up. But, one big reason is the diversity provided by the flowers in the growing space. Diversity interrupts pest cycles and breaks up paths that pathogens can travel. In other words, the simple act of NOT growing one type of thing in a given area makes it harder for pests and diseases to attack our crops. I will not claim it is impossible for them. But, there is a difference between what we do and placing a giant blinking sign on our fields that say "Eat at Joe's" for all of the aphids (or other pests) traveling around out there.
Then, consider the habitat we are providing for the things that EAT the pests. We have a host of toads, frogs, snakes, katydids, ladybugs and other helpful workers that love to sit in the shade of these flowers and their cash crop companions.
|And sometimes, the flowers provide cover for a cash crop|
Here's hoping we can continue to be this successful with our flower crops in future years!