Sunday, March 11, 2012

Attracting Wildlife To Your Garden

If you live on a small holding or farm wildlife like rabbits and hares, deer (in the USA), gerbils and moles can be a huge problem for veggie growers. If you are like me living in the city, then you will have to employ strategies to attract wildlife to your garden to create a thriving eco-system where each plant and animal do their thing to keep the balance.

One of the best ways to start attracting wildlife is by making a pond or setting up a water feature. Birds, frogs, dragon flies, lizards and even pond skaters are have a function in a vegetable garden and they all love a watering hole.

When we converted the last part of lawn into a veggie garden in Dec 2010 my son begged us to make a pond. We are so glad that we listened to him as we now have a thriving ecosystem for all the above mentioned critters.

Early pond

15 months later

Another way to attract wildlife is to have feeding stations. This one below my youngest made back when we started the pond. He simply nailed together 3 slats of wood then nailed it to a spare fence post. He hit 4 nails through from the underneath to spike fruit to hold it in place while the birds feed.

He also attached two cup hooks to the underneath to hand a traditional bird seed feeder and a homemade nectar feeder. The White Eyes and Sunbirds polish this off weekly.

At woodwork class he made this very professional bird feeder which we put fruit, seed and meal worms on which is visited daily by Bulbuls, Red Wing Starlings and Fiscal Shrikes. During winter he likes to make pine cone feeders for birds, but the squirrels generally get to them first.

Another tip to attract wildlife is allowing herbs to go to flower. Borage is my absolute favourite for this as the bees cannot get enough of their beautiful lilac and blue flowers. Below is yarrow that is also flower and gets its share of daily visitors.

It goes without saying that creatures will visit your garden if they know it is safe. A couple of years ago our neighbours sprayed their law with something toxic and our chameleons dissappeared for 2yrs. If you need to spray, then make sure you use something that is specific, non toxic and preferably homemade like chilli and garlic sprays etc.

A better way to deal with pests is to introduce it's predator. Ladybugs love aphids, frogs eat slugs and other flying pests, spiders pray on mosquitoes and ants, Praying Mantids are probably one of the most beneficial garden helpers. Companion planting is another great way to keep pests off vegetables and is really doable with a little planning.

A wonderful book to buy on this topic is Garden Guardians by South african author Johan Gerber.

I cannot tell you the joy I experience when I see our Leopard Toad, turn over the soil and see the loads of earthworms, lift leaves and see the woodlice or peep into the asparagus and see our lizards and praying mantis...I am so glad they feel safe here and have made our garden their home.


Lois Evensen said...

How nice. So very creative to attract the critters and pretty to look at, too. :)

Anonymous said...

Wonderful post! My youngest is always surprised at what we can attract in the garden. We planted an ornamental apple tree the year she was born, it's in the front yard and doesn't lose it's fruit until the following spring. What a surprise when we saw deer prints outside her bedroom window just under the apple tree!

africanaussie said...

You have created a wonderful sanctuary for all your wildlife. The pond is looking great.