Gila County Cooperative Extension’s Chris Jones grabbed a shovel in 2018 and showed proper planting technique, and then joined Freeport-McMoRan staff and interns digging holes for nearly 50 new desert milkweed, ocotillo and prickly pear cactus. New plants were carefully positioned around mature mesquite trees, desert willow and other flowering plants selected for the Pollinator Garden alongside Highway 60 at Freeport-McMoRan’s Miami Operations.

Butterflies, bees, ants, ladybugs and other insect pollinators were quickly attracted to the garden — designed to provide food and “larval host plants” crucial for insect pollinators.

Hear an update on the garden and learn more about pollinators, and join a discussion about how to add suitable plants to your own garden, yard or landscape on Dec. 3 in a free webinar featuring Ann George, senior scientist of biodiversity & sustainability for Freeport-McMoRan Inc. The company is committed to conserving pollinator habitat through its Pollinator Conservation Initiative.

The initiative serves to increase habitat for pollinators, while providing learners of all ages with opportunities to engage in STEM education.

Partnerships are key to ensure pollinator conservation and education projects achieve greater longevity and sustainability.

The presentation will touch on the basic elements required to create a successful pollinator habitat, drawing from approximately 10 years of experience creating gardens of various types and sizes in the arid Southwest. George will also discuss some of Freeport’s partnerships with conservation experts and community stakeholders to promote pollinator-focused education and outreach activities, such as Earth Day celebrations, pollinator workshops and hands-on planting events.

Cooperative Extension’s excellent series of free Thursday online presentations over the past year are arranged and hosted by Chris Jones, Extension Agent with University of Arizona’s Gila County Cooperative Extension. To be added to Jones’ invite list for gardening and horticulture workshops, email ckjones@email.arizona.edu or call 928-402-8586.

Please log in up to 10 minutes prior to the webinar; the Zoom address is arizona.zoom.us/j/87690324094; find easy and direct hotlinks at extension.arizona.edu/gila, where you can also view previous programs, such as Winter Gardening; making Compost Tea; and Payson’s New Fire Adapted Community Code.

The Cooperative Extension website above has an array of links to programs, talks and resources for Rim Country gardeners. Links are also conveniently posted each week on Facebook, where those interested can join Jones and a local network of gardeners and green-thumbed followers at facebook.com/gilaextension

Bees, Butterflies, Birds, Bats & Beetles

Start learning about pollinator gardening today. Resources online include the concise 24-page PDF guide, "Selecting Plants for Pollinators: a Regional Guide for Farmers, Land Managers and Gardeners" in the desert southwest. A compelling quote from the pamphlet states: "in their 1996 book, The Forgotten Pollinators, Buchmann and Nabhan estimated that animal pollinators are needed for the reproduction of 90-percent of flowering plants and one third of human food crops. Each of us depends on these industrious pollinators in a practical way to provide us with the wide range of foods we eat. In addition, pollinators are part of the intricate web that supports the biological diversity in natural ecosystems that helps sustain our quality of life.”

The Arizona Sonora Desert Museum helped create pollinator gardens across Tucson, part of a multifaceted awareness campaign including the Pollinator Projects page on the website desertmuseum.org.

Winterizing to Keep Your Garden Alive

Suzan Miller-Hoover, an avid gardener and staff member at the Payson Community Garden, will talk about winterizing at the Thursday, Dec. 10 Cooperative Extension Wedinar. Over the past three years Miller-Hoover has learned much from her fellow gardeners, always looking to learn new techniques. She shares her knowledge with the gardeners and the public while teaching classes for the garden and when working on her garden.

She said to keep your garden alive during the winter, feed your gardens’ microbes and worms to enhance chances of having a better harvest next summer. Hear essential steps to winterize your garden and prepare it for the growing season ahead.

Convenient, direct website hotlinks are at extension.arizona.edu/gila, where you can also view previous programs. Links are also posted on Facebook, where you can join Jones and a local network of gardeners and green-thumbed followers at facebook.com/gilaextension

Tonto Forest wood fiber and South Korea

South Korea’s renewable energy market is expanding and shows potential for future growth. The market size, government policy support and potential make shipping Arizona wood fiber to South Korea an attractive option. Per-ton wood chip prices in South Korea can be twice the price in the U.S., and industry analysts project consumption of six million metric tons of biomass in 2021. Could selective logging help fireproof the Tonto National Forest, while also supplying this emerging market? Learn more at 11 a.m., Thursday, Dec. 19 at the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension Gila County webinar online: link arizona.zoom.us/j/81050181267; convenient, direct website hotlinks are at extension.arizona.edu/gila

Contact the reporter at tmcquerrey@payson.com

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