I’ve been thinking about how to preserve as many flowers and vegetables as I can against the pests that prowl my garden and allotment.
One of the easiest ways to do this , without using any chemicals, is to encourage as many insects and creatures into your garden to feed on pests. A popular method is to make a nice, safe habitat for them, often known as a bug hotel, consisting of a framework that contains a variety of fillings to encourage a range of insects.
Use specific fillers for different insects:
Lacewing insects have a voracious appetite for aphids, placing a rolled up corrugated cardboard in an old plastic bottle makes a welcoming place for them.
Ladybirds, and we all know how they love to feed on aphids, like to over-winter in a collection of dried leaves.
Solitary bees will be attracted to wooden posts with drilled holes, solitary bees don’t have a nest to protect so they keep a low profile and won’t attack people.
Location and construction:
Bees like a sunny spot, whilst frogs and toads like a more shaded, damp place. I’d love to have some frogs in my garden to keep the slug population down.
The frame-work of the bug hotel needs to be secure, so the corners should be attached to stakes in the ground. I’m going to use old wooden pallets and keep it low to make it safe and so that it doesn’t take too long to make.
These are some good fillers:
terracotta flower pots, a good use for chipped ones,
bricks, the types with holes in are perfect
hollow plant stems
small bundles of straw.
Place it near to food sources and shelter, like hedges and flowers, insects like open flower shapes best. Provide some water for them too, a bird bath is fine if you haven’t got a pond.
This is a lovely project to make with children and encourage them into the garden.
Although this is made entirely from discarded things, it has to look good. I have seen ramshackle objects that look like piles of rubbish, but I’m after something that looks rather more sculptural, lovely to look at as well as practical.
all images: Jill Anderson