Whilst weeding the onion beds the other morning I noticed I was being shadowed by a robin, it’s a marvellous feeling to me, to be at one with nature. The robin knew that I was no threat to him and even if I was he wasn’t that close, but as I was turning the soil with a fork he was following on pecking any grubs that I exposed. That’s just fine by me as I grow organically so any help I can get to keep the pest population down is always welcome. Any way it got me thinking about othergardeners friends in and around the plot that nature provides, these include:-
- most birds (Pigeons not included don’t get me wrong I have nothing against them except they ruin my pea crop if I’m not careful.)
- slow worms
- Parasitic wasps
- Hover flies
What do gardeners friends do?
Birds as I have said eat grubs of many crop busters like vine weevils, slugs and snails. As do slow worms, hedgehogs, frogs and toads. Lady birds, hoverflies and parasitic wasps are particularly fond of aphids and of course bees are great pollinators as are butterflies although I always net my brassicas to protect from cabbage white butterflies which will lay their eggs on all members of the brassica family and the subsequent caterpillar influx can pretty much decimate your crops.
So I have fitted a bug hotel which I bought from a local supermarket for £3.00, to the side of my shed to (hopefully) encourage the “good” insects to move on to the plot and help me with the never ending struggle of keeping the pest population down.
To encourage gardeners friends think about installing a pond to attract frogs and toads or if you have no space for a pond try sinking a bucket into the ground. Leave it to fill with rainwater add either a piece of wood or a rock to allow easy access for our amphibious allies.
Growing companion plants to attract hoverflies, ladybirds and lacewings and to add colour to the vegetable plot is also beneficial. To help invite hedgehogs and slow worms leave a small pile of leaves or twigs somewhere that you won’t have to disturb.
Birds are pretty regular visitors to my plot and they are very welcome. To encourage them onto your plot try leaving a few vegetable plants to go to seed. The insects that feed on these will in turn be ate by the birds, and I have noticed that birds follow different birds around. So if one variety come then others will follow.