JoAnne Skelly: Eight-week ‘Grow Your Own’ class series begins Thursday

Shown is the Sierra Peony.

Shown is the Sierra Peony.

Last week I wrote about insect life cycles and mentioned beneficial insects. On Thursday, Cooperative Extension horticulture specialist Dr. Heidi Kratsch will teach a class called “Bring Beneficial Insects to your Garden with Native Plants.” This is part of the eight-week “Grow Your Own” series occurring each Thursday through May 22, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. She will discuss what native plants attract which insects and how to grow native plants in Northern Nevada.

Native plants are adapted to our wonderful Nevada climate. They may use less water than non-native plants. Many have beautiful flowers that add beauty to a landscape and work well for pollinators. For example, bumblebees find larger-flowered penstemons, such as Palmer’s penstemon, irresistible. Each native plant attracts a variety of pollinators adapted to its flowers’ shape, color or scent. These pollinators in turn can improve our fruit and vegetable harvest as they move from plant to plant or tree to tree spreading pollen.

There are more than 1 million types of insects in the world and only 5 percent are harmful. Besides being pollinators, many insects are natural enemies of insect pests. The balance between good and bad insects is important to a healthy landscape. The good guys will hang around your yard if you treat them well. The ways to do this include planting more flowers, especially natives, providing fresh water and rarely using insecticides. Accept a level of pest insects as food for good insects and know what the insect is before taking action so you don’t kill the good ones.

For photos of both pest and beneficial insects, see the Cooperative Extension insect photo gallery at You will also find information on managing insects, plant diseases, weeds and vertebrate pests. There are also “Quick Tips” for healthy lawns and trees and for using pesticides safely.

The next class in the “Grow Your Own” series will be April 10 — “Soil Basics and the Best Amendments.” For gardeners wanting to grow tomatoes, “Tomato Basics (and not so Basics)” will be taught April 17. On April 24, “The ABCs of Fruit Trees” will detail how to select, prune and care for fruit trees. All classes are free at the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, 2621 Northgate Lane, Suite 12, Carson City. To register for a class or to receive the complete list of classes, call 775-887-2252 or send an email to

JoAnne Skelly is the Carson City/Storey County Extension educator for University of Nevada Cooperative Extension and may be reached at or 775-887-2252.


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