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How to help nature help us in the garden

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Peter Dowdall
Rank attained: Hazel Tree
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Joined: 15 Nov 2009
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Location: cork

PostPosted: Wed Jan 20, 2010 10:48 pm    Post subject: How to help nature help us in the garden Reply with quote

Before the gardening season starts for real it's time to think a bit about how we can try and work a bit more cooperatively with nature and using her to help us in our gardening efforts.

I'm looking for any tips people have to help the natural order in the garden, below I have listed some and the reasons for why this is important, I'll be glad of anymore that anyone has.

Did you know that that cutting down on the use of harmful pesticides in the garden can benefit your garden as well as the environment. You might not know this, but not every bug in your garden is a bad bug. Some creepy crawlies are in fact eating the bugs that are eating your plants. Knowing which ones to nurture and which ones to blitz can help you to cut down on the use of sprays that are harmful to the environment, without sacrificing your beautiful blooms. Therefore, taking care of the environment does not have to mean a slug infestation.

The food chain begins with the garden in more ways than just growing vegetables. All insects are an important part of the natural food chain in your garden for other wildlife to feed on. By keeping toxic chemicals out of your garden, you allow the beneficial wildlife to make an appearance because more often than not, these good guys are affected to a greater extent than the insect you were trying to control with a pesticide.

Most of us know that Ladyirds and butterflies are the helpful damsels of the garden, but which wildlife are the knights in shining armour? Believe it or not bees, moths, hedgehogs, bats and birds are all responsible for keeping your flowers pest free. But how do you keep this helpful wildlife around?

1. Use ornamental plants that provide a food source over a long period. Include nectar- and pollen-rich plants for bees, butterflies and other flower-visiting insects, and fruiting trees and shrubs for mammals and birds. Night-flowering or scented species will benefit moths.

2 Create a log pile to benefit insects, fungi, birds, mice, hedgehogs.

3 Leave some plants uncut throughout winter to provide seeds for food and shelter to birds and other creatures.

4 A water feature (a washing-up bowl set into the ground will do) without fish will enable frogs to spawn. They will return the favour by eating slugs and snails

5 Turning part of your lawn into a wildflower meadow would require careful management but will provide food and shelter for wildlife of all kinds

6 Attract bats and hedgehogs by providing specially built boxes comfortable enough for hibernation.

7 Put out a variety of nuts, seeds and fat snacks to attract birds when natural food sources are scarce. They will at the same time eat the bugs and aphids on apple trees.

8 Ivy, honeysuckle and clematis and other climbers along with hedges offer shelter and potential nesting places for birds and over-wintering sites for butterflies

9 Hand picking and removing weak plants that are heavily infested with pests will help keep pests in check as well planting Barriers, such as floating row covers or baited traps are also effective.


10. Avoid spraying pesticides in any kitchen garden. Your produce is going into the food chain and you certainly do not want to pollute it with chemicals.

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_________________ Garden with nature for better results and a better garden
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 21, 2010 9:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think a very general piece of advice for all gardeners would be: do NOT keep your garden immaculately tidy !
Nature is not tidy.
Your "eyesore" may be just seem to be a pile of wood, a load of old pots,or a patch of nettles, but look more closely and it's full of life.
A few years ago, we moved to a totally bare site and it was quite depressing as it seemed lifeless. The first spider to colonise our new garden shed, a hare running through, a blackbird landing on a fence....all these sightings were suddenly significant....a sign that our patch of earth belonged to other creatures as well.
It was a good lesson....we are part of a larger picture, and we forget that at our peril.
As Joni Mitchell sang " You don't know what you got till it's gone." !!!
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