Don't grow wall to wall carpet on your city lot, grow food for pollinators + yourself


spring strawberries

spring strawberries

This morning as I watered some of my new plants I looked up and down the street for yards with blooming fall flowers that would provide food for pollinators. I only saw a sea of cement and grass. I have been so busy working to produce food and feed pollinators on my lot that I hardly take time to look up and see what others are doing, but today I did and it made me sad to see nothing but green or gray and very few pollinator friendly plants.


just have to beat the resident raccoons + chipmunks to eating them since they like to take bites out of each one!

I sometimes wonder if some of the sickness we are all facing later in our life is from lack of enough organically grown healthy food closer to home( traveling miles decreases the nutritional value of our food) which provides more nutritionally dense food. We need to use our food as medicine since many of us have to fight illness every day. When we grow our own medicine or use our food as medicine to heal our bodies, we are less dependent on "synthetic drugs." All  we have to do is  get outside and turn our lot, yard or back porch into a place where we grow food for ourselves and   provide for the pollinators that help create our food! It can be as simple as scratching the earth and scattering a few seeds. The act of going outside and being in nature while working your soil will not only keep you fit, but lift your spirits since science has found dirt is the new Prozac!

I mix edibles, pollinator friendly annual flowers,herbs + also historical pansy flowers since we like to eat them in our spring salads.

I mix edibles, pollinator friendly annual flowers,herbs + also historical pansy flowers since we like to eat them in our spring salads.

Sometimes I just go outside and sit and listen. I find it is at those time that I feel the most connected to nature and it just takes  5 minutes( trust me you won't stay just 5 minutes) of your time. Us humans are just too busy running around from our car to our home and never  take the time to go and sit outside. If we don't start taking the time to care we will see a lot less food in our food aisles, our health decline, our pollinators disappear as the bees and butterflies. I use to use the "red flag" concept when telling my kids to avoid certain situations. I would say, "Well, that is a 'red flag" maybe you need to prevent this or that or maybe go in a different direction. Well, we have a lot of red flags around us +  mother nature is waving her red flags. Please, go outside and sit and observe this is that simple....if we all do a little it will make a big difference!

spring salads include chard, parsley, strawberries, red lettuce, baby red russian kale, and pansy flowers

spring salads include chard, parsley, strawberries, red lettuce, baby red russian kale, and pansy flowers

I have a huge pollinator friendly garden in my front yard which is carefully created to provide food throughout the seasons for our local pollinators. I do have some edibles in our front yard up closer to our home, but  since most of our neighbors spray chemicals or use them occasionally on their sea of green. I create "buffer zones" that provide some protection, but I do most of my food growing in my backyard since they can't spray there and I rotate my crops to keep the soil healthy every year.

Marigolds in Urban Potager Attracts Beneficials

Over the years, I have noticed our  neighbors are using less of the "big spray trucks" that would pull out their hoses and spray chemicals all over their sea of grass.  I would see them spraying and go inside my home to close my windows for I did not want their spray to get into my home, I have created "buffer zones" of bushes between our properties to help with their chemical use, but I am sure it is only a band-aid on the problem. It is no different from the organic farmers out in the country that are trying to grow organically. They have to create 'buffer zones" around their property + hope it  will protect their crops, but how does it help when the wind blows or pollinators travel miles. Did you know chemicals have been found in bee hives?

pots mixed with a variety of pollinator friendly plants can help just sitting on a porch...and some fun plants like my Big Daddy Petunia for scent which I like to smell when I am sitting out in the garden!

use to frequent the farmer market  before I tore up my local yard and I have found as the year's roll on I frequent them less and grow more of my food on my city lot.  I support local farmers when I need an item I can't grow in my space, but I am finding that I can usually find a similar vegetable or herb that will work in my small space, for an example I love radicchio as a salad green,but it takes up too much space in my small lot. I have grown several types on my city lot, but I need the space for other succession plants. I finally decided on red-ribbed dandelion chicory which is a leaf type which fits in my pots and works great in salads. You just have to adapt to developing different foods that provide good nutrition and fit your urban growing area. 

 A bee on a Mahagony Midget Coreopsis

A bee on a mahogany Midget Coreopsis

I have noticed that many sites will sell seed and claim it is "bee friendly" or "pollinator friendly", but if you don't observe the plants in your own growing region, it may not be useful to your area. I have found some are just worthless in my growing region for pollinators and have had to replace them with natives or annuals that truly are "workhorses" in my gardens. It is by sitting outside and observing the visitors to my plants that I capture an understanding as to which are truly providing for the many pollinators that visit our city lots. Do you remember the movie  Field of Dreams,"If you build it, he will come".... well it is the same with our pollinators, "grow it and they will come"....


I have been creating a sea of pollinator friendly plants on our city lot for several years and every spring my "pet" spring bees come early with spring and I see them wandering the carefully orchestrated menagerie  of plants from early spring to fall I have created on my city lot.  I see the early bees since there are not as many, but as the flowers go through their choreographed seasonal dances, I notice other pollinators arrive large and small. The dance starts out solo, but as it ends it includes many other pollinators that join with their own beautifully created costumes of color and wonder to work in my small space to provide food for myself, family, friends and neighbors to keep us all healthy!

They will be crawling in and out of your flowers all season long if you plant the right flowers....

They will be crawling in and out of your flowers all season long if you plant the right flowers....

Mother nature is raising her red flag, do you see it? Let us all get out there and do something about it!

Published by Robbie Palm


Feb 9, 2017, 7:41:51 PM

Hi Terry, Thank you, I just saw your message. It is a great place to escape from the urban life:-)

Sep 28, 2016, 12:38:46 AM

Beautiful photographs. Your 'urban farm' looks wonderful.

Reply heres...

Login / Sign up for adding comments.