This archived blog begins on April 23, 2010. Go to the bottom and follow the progress of our Pollination Patch through the spring and summer of 2010.


To see how the Patch has evolved, look at 2011 & 2012 and also 2013 & 2014.


As Winter Approaches

We visited the site just to see how the patch was doing. It looks good. No significant weed growth -- just a couple of thistles that we'll catch in the spring. The side-oats grama looks really nice in the fall. There are three holes filled in the beehouse. Quite a few foot prints around the beehouse. Oh, did I tell you that we had deer tracks in August but no nibbling!

Maintenance Begins

For most of July, we have watered occasionally. Rain has been very regular and we have needed to water just once or twice between rains. Most of the plants are doing well. Our side-oats grama is blooming. I had never seen it bloom before -- the flowers are, indeed, to one side of the stalk. The rudbeckia are blooming and even the New Jersey Tea has some blooms.

Weeding has been necessary this month. The grass from the surrounding area has encroached on the sides of the plot and needed pulling. Some small weeds are sprouting but it took only a few swipes with a hoe to get rid of them.

The Sign Goes Up

The sign went up today. We delayed putting the sign up until the garden was a bit more established. Now the "patch" is identified as a project of the Ontario Horticultural Association. Weeding began today, too, as we noticed that some weeds are beginning to pop up. From now on, when we water, we will also check the site for weeds.

Mulch On The Bed

We planned to leave the soil bare to encourage ground nesting native bees, but our weather was so dry and windy that our plants were drying out very quickly. We kept up a regimen of watering every two days but we still lost one little plant. So...we decided to apply some mulch to help retain moisture on that hot, sunny, well-drained site. A layer (2 garbage bags full) of chopped leaves was applied to the planted area to help to retain the moisture. The "backbone" down the diagonal centre of the plot was still left bare as a ready and waiting habitat for ground nesters.

Keeping the Plot Watered

The super southfacing plot dries our very quickly. Rain has not been plentiful so we have been watering every other day to keep our wee plants alive. It really takes but a few minutes to drive over and give the plants another 15 gallons of water. We are starting to meet the nicest people during our watering visits. Many have heard of the plight of our native pollinators and seem interested in the idea of providing habitat. With the site up and running, they can see that it really isn't much work.

First Water Day

The plants were all upright today. That's a good sign! It's been hot and dry since we planted them. Our little AC adaptor bit the dust so we went low-tech today. We took the 3 bladder-type water containers and two watering cans. That system worked just fine. We are finding that 15 gallons (5 gallons a bladder) works really well for the garden. Today I could see that we have a lot of clay in our mix. That will be good as long as we can keep the garden watered -- good water retention and lots of nutrients. The garden is on a southfacing slope so drainage should not be a problem.

The Bed is Planted

The rain held off this morning and with the help of friends we got the pollinator patch planted by noon. There are 68 plants in all. Watering is taking some ingenuity. There is not a water supply at the patch, so we devised a way to use that little 1/12 horsepower pump we found last year to use with our water barrel. We can carry 15 gallons with three water carriers we purchased. Those three carriers will fill up a large container we have and the pump will run a hose from that. Well, you just have to go to the Gallery to see the system.

The Plants Are Here!

Mike and I drove to New Hamburg today to pick up our plants for the pollinator patch from Graham Buck at Nith River Native Plants. All 68 plants look great. Of course, we'll have to wait for at least two years to see them in their glory. Getting plants for spring pollen sources was difficult. We chose two shrubs to be the backbone of the spring supply of pollen: Choke cherry and New Jersey Tea. I've never seen New Jersey Tea in bloom so can't wait. For spring pollen, we also bought a dozen wild strawberries. They should give the patch a kick start! The other plants I'll talk about in our upcoming Guide to Creating a Pollinator Patch, but I must admit to one species that is really not native to my area -- Cup Plant. Yep, I got two just because they are to grand! I think the citizens of Barrie will enjoy them.

Soil Day

We put down the newspaper base and added the soil today. What a job! In my visualization it was so easy but in actual fact, moving 5 cubic yards of soil was not an easy chore. We could really have done with a couple more helpers. But we got it done. If you look in the gallery, you will see that we have the "backbone" done also. That's the bee abode.

Newsprint Galore

We picked up the newsprint today from Central Ontario Web, Ltd.(part of Metroland Media Group). Darl left his lunch to help us load up the care. Your kindness is much appreciated, Metroland. Tomorrow we lay the newsprint and spread the soil.

We Have Soil!

The soil was dumped at the pollinator patch site today. Rizzardi Homes kindly donated extra soil from the excavation of their newest home in Barrie and Mike Hill of Mike Hill Construction out of Hillsdale provided us with a truck and driver to deliver the soil. You know, I just hate asking for help and have learned a big lesson during this experience. There are really great people out there ready to help if only you ask. Thanks Rizzardi Homes and Mike Hill Construction.


Preparation for Thursday next has begun already. Our garden cart would not have stood up to loading soil on Thursday so....a new wheelbarrow is now hanging in place of the old cart. We have also purchased 3 five-gallon water containers in anticipation of having to truck water to the site. There is no water hook-up so each time we water we will have to bring our own.

We now have one volunteer to help with the soil -- my granddaughter, Alexandra.

We Visited Our Soil

Just checking. We went by the soil piles today just to be sure they are still there! Mike took pictures of our piles. Check out the Gallery

My Soil Situation

We checked with the contractor today. The foundation is almost done on the house and the contractor reckons that they will be backfilling the foundation on Tuesday. There goes my golf game!

The two piles of soil are huge so I'm very sure there will be at least 4 cubic yards for our site and the contractor will deliver it to the site.

A Soil Source

On our way home from shopping this morning, we drove through a fairly new part of town. . Lo and behold,a contractor is starting a new home. They have excavated the site to construct the basement and all that that entails. As a result of excavating the basement, there were two great piles of soil on site. We screeched to a halt and checked out the soil. It's a nice mix of sand and clay -- a very good soil for our project.

The contractor was on site -- how's that for luck? He was very amenable to letting us have any soil that is left over after they back-fill the site when the basement is completed. One more milestone.

The Weed-Whacking

An important part of preparing the site is to weed-whack or mow the area as close as possible to the soil so that the newspaper layer can do its job well.

We had planned to weed-whack/mow to clear the site twice before adding the newspaper and soil. The initial clearing has now been done -- thanks to a crew from the City of Barrie. Mona's crew did a super job -- the site is cleared well and will not need much of a second clearing. See the pictures in the Gallery.

Finding The Soil

Finding free soil that is not amended should be soooo easy. It's not. I've contacted two construction sites but contactors are busy people. Getting in to inspect the soil and talking contactors into delivering it to our pollinator patch is challenging. I have only 2 weeks left! Will the soil be there on time?

Incidentally, wear boots when walking around a construction site. After the rain this week, I sunk to my ankles in mud on one site. And, of course, I had street shoes on. Learning, learning, learning.

The Plant Order

Today I stuck my neck out and placed the order for the plants. I ordered from Graham Buck at Nith River Native Plants. Graham had all the plants I wanted but, the big reason that I ordered from Graham was that the plants were grown from seeds gathered in Ontario about as close to Barrie (Waterloo) as possible.

Plants were chosen over seeds because the success rate with actual year-old plants far outstrips trying to grow from seed on site. Better still would be to have plants grown from seeds gathered right in the area. I will have more lead time for the next site and will plan a year ahead.

A Donation

We needed a lot of newspapers for the base of the plot. Neither of the two Barrie newpapers keep old papers around. It's a storage issue. The Barrie Banner was extremely helpful and gave us a lead to the company who actually prints the newspaper -- Metroland Media Group Ltd.

What wonderful people work at Metroland. They listened to my odd request for a large amount of newsprint to lay down as the base for a planting bed. Metroland sells the waste newsprint but were willing to hold back a great pile for us to use. Yeah! People are so nice. We will pick up the paper from them closer to May 20 when we lay the paper and add the soil.

The Project Begins

We visited the Coulter Street site with City of Barrie representativesand found the perfect spot -- well away from future construction on a slight slope facing south.

We spray painted a 10-foot by 20-foot (approx. 3m by 6m) plot. The City will weed-whack the area for us twice before we add the newspaper layer and the soil.

Our dates are set: April 20 for soil and April 22 (Biodiversity Day) for the planting.

The job now is to find enough newspaper to cover the plot by at least an inch. The search also continues for a source of unamended soil. One suggestion was to look at a development area.