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

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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

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How to build a pollinator garden

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How to build a pollinator garden

Tiger swallowtail butterfly on purple coneflower.
Tiger swallowtail butterfly on purple coneflower. Photo by Jim Hudgins/USFWS.

We at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service know that pollinators are the engine that run healthy habitats. While we’ve been actively working to restore and conserve more than 1.3 million acres of land across the midwest, we need your help. Whether you have a few feet on your apartment balcony or several acres, you can make a difference. Follow this easy step-by-step guide to build your own pollinator garden and help ensure the future is filled with pollinators.

Planning your garden

Hummingbird clearwing moth visiting a wild bergamot flower.
Hummingbird clearwing moth visiting a wild bergamot flower. Photo by Rick Hansen/USFWS.

Careful planning is essential to creating a successful pollinator garden. Follow these easy steps to make sure you have everything covered before you make your investment.

Choosing your location

While flowering plants can grow in both shady and sunny locations,

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