‘Soil Your Undies’: Keepers of Mono Pollinator Garden bury underwear to learn more about soil health

Volunteers at Mono’s pollinator garden gave new meaning to the term “soiling your undies” this year.

Of course, they didn’t do so in the traditional sense.

Earlier this year, the volunteers at Mono Pollinator Garden decided to celebrate the opening of their gardening season with a “Soil Your Undies” test that has become quite popular in North America.

“It was kind of funny, but it was also educational,” said Jutta Holdenreid, head of the garden maintenance group. “We had done it in the past and just wanted to repeat it.”

The test, with its tongue-in-cheek name, is built on sound biological and scientific principles and involves “planting” cotton underwear in various parts of the garden. The biological breakdown caused by microbes in the soil is expected to cause some degeneration to the cotton fabric.

Those soil microbe levels determine how much the underwear would break down and disappear, which helps to demonstrate soil health.

“We wanted to learn a bit more about how we could enrich the soil that’s there,” said Trish Keachie, a volunteer member of the maintenance group.

“This was an experiment that could give us a clearer idea of where we needed to put more effort into providing nutrients for the soil.”

When the planting and maintenance season began, the underwear were planted in four different areas of the garden in order to gauge different levels of organic material and fertility.

In mid-July, volunteers dug up the undies and evaluated their appearance.

“The (tests) showed the condition of the soil in different areas, and whether it was good soil or bad soil,” said Holdenreid. “We now know where things need to be improved.”

Microbe activity was recorded in three of the test areas, with only one area failing the test.

This means that there is a very low level of organic material and poor soil health. The volunteers noted that there was a correlation between the low test score and poor plant growth in that area.

“In that area, we’ll compost more heavily and then try this test again in another year or so to see whether it’s made any difference,” said Keachie.

The garden is already planted, but this knowledge will help the team to be able to know why certain areas aren’t thriving and how to improve growth.

Although volunteers don’t think this experiment will alter mainstream agricultural soil testing, they found it was a fun way to evaluate their own soil.

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“In part, we’re just trying to draw attention to the garden by doing something fun and interesting that might let people know the garden is here and cause them to come and take a look,” said Keachie.

Mono Pollinator Garden is located on Hockley Road, one kilometre east of Highway 10, and is open to visitors.

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How to design your Tucson pollinator garden | Home & Garden

Keep the water clean–both for your health and the health of the animals. Mosquitoes need only 3 days to hatch from stale water, and your water vessels can grow algae and harbor bacteria that are harmful to your new guests. Ideally, hose out and refresh the water dishes every day or at most, every other day.

Shelter and breeding resources: These are plants that provide food for different stages of a pollinator’s life and also provide cover against predators and breeding habitat. For example, in order to breed, butterflies need host plants that provide food for their caterpillars.

Insects like a little mess: leave out leaves, mulch, and some dead branches to ensure that they have plenty of shelter. According to Campbell, leaf litter provides shelter for hibernating bumble bee queens, as well as moth and butterfly larvae. Many of our native solitary bees also require special places to breed–either in hollow tubes, dead wood, or for the majority) in the ground. Make sure you leave some bare ground for the ground-nesting ones.

You can make your own bee condos for carpenter bees but keep in mind that you will need to clean them to prevent diseases. Campbell says bee houses are a commitment. “If you want to really do something good for your native bees…keep [bee houses] clean and maintain them. Smaller is better to reduce the risk of disease.” You can also provide dead native wood (like mesquite branches) and woody plant stems for shelter. Native bees forage in a small territory of about 200-300 feet, so keep their habitat, food, and water resources within this area.

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Why plant a pollinator garden? | Home & Garden

The Tucson Audubon Society also encourages people to have pollinator gardens, even small ones. Their Habitat at Home program, run by Kim Matsushino, helps homeowners design and even plant pollinator-friendly gardens. Matsushino describes it as “A self guided step-by-step program that’s designed to help homeowners, neighborhoods and HOAs…to create outdoor spaces that are productive for birds, pollinators and other wildlife.” There are four levels of the program, from a small balcony garden for apartment dwellers to full-size, multi-acre habitats. “No matter how big or small your plot of land is, you can still provide beneficial habitat,” Matsushino says, and the program encourages people with all levels of experience in gardening.

Campbell says that pollinator plants tend to do very well in pots, another plus for people with small spaces. Hummingbirds are fairly easy to plant for, but gardeners will want to make sure there’s always something blooming, so that a year-round food source is present (more on this in Part 2). Campbell also encourages gardeners to consider how much food and resources there are for hummingbirds in their area. “You might want to think about supplementing with a hummingbird feeder that you keep very clean and refill to help get the hummingbirds through the nesting season so that their babies don’t die.”

Audubon is helping insects for a number of reasons. “Insects are a huge source of food for birds. So having them still be around is very important to our bird populations,” says Matsushino. The pollinator crisis has also got Audubon’s attention. “We realized that we have to do something for them. And creating bird habitat is very similar to creating pollinator habitat. It’s just a few extra little components that need to be done in order to suit pollinators.”

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New pollinator garden opens at CSI



a close up of a flower: The pollinator garden's purpose is about attracting bees and hummingbirds to the community.


© Provided by Twin Falls KMVT
The pollinator garden’s purpose is about attracting bees and hummingbirds to the community.

TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) – The College of Southern Idaho’s new pollinator garden opened Monday.

It’s purpose is about attracting bees and hummingbirds.

Pollinators are very important to have in the community, because they cause plants to make fruit or seeds.

They are important for the different flowers and plants that people have in their backyards or on their farms.

At the College of Southern Idaho, people can learn about honey bee’s in their natural habitat.

“Thank a pollinator for the variety in your diet, the perfume on your skin, the designs on your clothing for peaches and apples and pears and all the things you are harvesting from your garden today,” said Sarah Harris, a biologist at CSI.

Students in biology classes will be able to have classes at the new pollinator garden, and anyone else in the community will be able to come by and check out the bees as well.

It is located behind the Sheild’s Building at CSI.

Copyright 2020 KMVT/KSVT. All rights reserved.

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Why plant a pollinator garden? | Home + Life + Health

The Tucson Audubon Society also encourages people to have pollinator gardens, even small ones. Their Habitat at Home program, run by Kim Matsushino, helps homeowners design and even plant pollinator-friendly gardens. Matsushino describes it as “A self guided step-by-step program that’s designed to help homeowners, neighborhoods and HOAs…to create outdoor spaces that are productive for birds, pollinators and other wildlife.” There are four levels of the program, from a small balcony garden for apartment dwellers to full-size, multi-acre habitats. “No matter how big or small your plot of land is, you can still provide beneficial habitat,” Matsushino says, and the program encourages people with all levels of experience in gardening.

Campbell says that pollinator plants tend to do very well in pots, another plus for people with small spaces. Hummingbirds are fairly easy to plant for, but gardeners will want to make sure there’s always something blooming, so that a year-round food source is present (more on this in Part 2). Campbell also encourages gardeners to consider how much food and resources there are for hummingbirds in their area. “You might want to think about supplementing with a hummingbird feeder that you keep very clean and refill to help get the hummingbirds through the nesting season so that their babies don’t die.”

Audubon is helping insects for a number of reasons. “Insects are a huge source of food for birds. So having them still be around is very important to our bird populations,” says Matsushino. The pollinator crisis has also got Audubon’s attention. “We realized that we have to do something for them. And creating bird habitat is very similar to creating pollinator habitat. It’s just a few extra little components that need to be done in order to suit pollinators.”

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