Gardeners Grow Together Week 27, July, 2021: Bringing Wildlife to the Garden
Welcome to my special gardening page for those of you who like to garden yourselves! Each week, I will make suggestions as to what gardening tasks we need to do every week during the growing season. It will help keep you on track--as well as myself!
To keep things simple, I am using the year's weekly number, Week #1 through #52 (example: the week of January 1 is Week #1), instead of specific dates.
So, come on! Let's get our hands dirty!
Encouraging Beneficial Wildlife to Our Gardens
Inviting Wildlife into the Garden:
In order to have a well balanced ecosystem in our gardens, we need to encourage wildlife to join us! Birds, toads, pollinator insects, predatory insects (those that eat other bugs), even snakes (eeek!!) are very important to have in our gardens to make sure we have produce to eat and also to control those pesky bugs and varmints that are determined to devour our plants.
Here are a few ideas:
A Bird Bath
If you only do one thing to draw wildlife to your garden, provide a good, clean water source. Water is life and all living things need it. A bird bath is ideal for birds, insects and other creatures. Ideally, it should be placed on the ground, so other animals can have access to the water, as well; however, if you have cats, it's best to raise it above ground to protect the birds from predators. You can provide water for other animals on the ground, but put it under shrubbery or other protected place where birds aren't likely to frolic. Just for fun, place a "critter cam" near by and see who else comes to visit in the night!
Make sure the vessel is shallow. If it's more than a couple of inches deep, place a flat rock in the middle for them to crawl up on. Birds can drown very easily and we don't want any tragedies. Also, it is very important to keep them sparkling clean! Rinse and refill every day, and scrub with a mild bleach solution every week.
Make a quick and easy DYI bird bath by placing a round tomato cage in the ground and topping it off with a large saucer! Make sure the saucer fits inside the top ring so it won't fall off or blow away. Place it amongst your plants and let them grow up through and around the cage.
If you do this one simple thing, all of nature will thank you for it!
A Bug Hotel
Building a bug hotel is another great garden and educational project to do with kids. Whether it's a simple tin can filled with sticks, or an elaborate castle, bug hotels are great for housing solitary bees, beneficial wasps, as well as other tiny creatures that like to help us in the garden.
Gather different materials that a bug might like to live in...cut bamboo, sticks, pine cones, moss, folded cardboard, grasses, reeds, hollow stemmed plants. Get the kids involved. Give them tin can, some paint and a bunch of natural items to stuff it with and let them go to town! Make a school project out of it. See how many different kinds of insects make it their home, take notes and try to identify them.
A Toad Hide
Toads and frogs are two of the most beneficial creatures you can have in the garden. They eat all kinds of bugs, but love slugs and snails! Slugs and snails cause more damage in a garden than most anything else, and toads are there to serve! I do anything I can to encourage toads in my garden. And, besides, they are just funny to have around!
Frogs prefer water, so if you can provide a little pond for them, that's great. Toads, on the other hand, only seem to breed in water, the rest of the time they are terrestrial. Toads like to burrow down into cool damp places, so why not encourage them to move in by making them a simple home out of cut logs?
Simply pile a small stack of cut logs in a cool, damp, protected corner of the garden, over some nice soft damp dirt covered a thick layer of leaves or compost. As an added bonus, slugs and snails are attracted to rotting wood. Not only will you provide a cozy place for your toad to live, but she will also have free-take out delivery!
Plant Flowers in the Veg Patch
Plant lots of flowers along with your vegetables to attract pollinators to your garden. Bright flowers with open centers (daisy-like flowers) are irresistible to pollinating insects, they will first be attracted to the flowers, then make their way around the garden to pollinate the vegetables as well. Flowers like Cosmos, Black Eyed Susans and Sunflowers, are easy to grow from seed and are beautiful, too! Be sure to let some of them go to seed to feed the birds. Nothing is more beautiful than to watch a bright yellow goldfinch picking his lunch out of a giant, black sunflower seed head.
Now, lets get busy!
If you have any questions, put them in the comments below!
Valmont Valley Farm
Where Beautiful Magic is Always in Bloom
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