This blog post is about consciously inviting diversity into your vegetable production space. Through diversity comes stability and in turn harmony. Below are five predator habitats to think about incorporating into you veg production system.
This one has worked particularly well for me. It is very easy, blends into your veggie garden and takes next to no time to install. Lizards like to have the different types of mulch around so they can get about unnoticed. Piles of stones and hollow logs will also act as a good habitat for them. Several times in the evening when I have been harvesting, I have noticed a lizard nip back into his home, a short length of terracotta pipe. If you don’t have lizards moving in straight away, don’t worry, as the spiders will and the succession starts!
By using washing up bowls or a small liner you can easily create a habitat for amphibians. Dragonflies will also be attracted and birds can bath and drink there. Find a place that receives a mix of both sun and shade. Position your micro pond so the top is at or just above ground level so wild life can easily get in and out; branches or stones make a perfect bridge. Put a layer of clean gravel at the bottom and use rainwater to fill your pond. Plant two or three plants inside; pondweed, marsh marigold and water lilies work well. Also plant up around your new pond so the frogs and toads can bounce from the pond and through your veggie beds; think of it as a mini wildlife corridor.
3. Birds - Providing nesting boxes or by providing habitat.
Invite birds to eat caterpillars and other insects by providing them with a shelter where they can live and lay their eggs. Birds will also eat seeds, potentially reducing the amount of weeds and some species will also pollinate. By having a diversity of plants shrubs and trees placed around you will create an environment for birds to be protected and nest. Plant diversity will provide year round food for them. You can also put out seed mixes for them in the winter.
The majority of bats feed on insects. Get this, in one night a small bat can eat up 1000 mosquitoes. So the bats keep the mosquito population in check, which allows us to enjoy our work in the garden before dinner. For this reason alone, I incorporate them into my designs by providing them with a sanctuary. I found a neat little design for a bat house which I am going to make on the RSPB website. There are a few things to keep in mind. The wood has to be un-treated, as they are very sensitive to smell, and rough-sawn so they can climb on it. Placement of the box is best at least 3 meters above ground, with clear flight line in, under the eaves of buildings is recommended.
Why not having an area to relax, reflect and enjoy in your garden? Integrate rather than segregate! It can be a great place to have a cup of tea with a friend or family member. While doing so you will by designed default observe and interact, noticing things that need harvesting, weeds that need pulling, migratory birds, plants that work practically well together, the list is endless.
Matt Prosser - 27.10.2016