Not only are the plants in the garden making lots of fresh vibrant growth, there’s a lot of wildlife activity too. I’ve seen persistent little blue tits and robins flying round the garden gathering nesting material, whittling bits of string off the tree where the bird-feeders hung in winter, and rootling around plants…. this is one of the benefit of not being too tidy in the garden.
I’ve left a mass of ivy on the garden wall, so I hope some of the birds make use of it and build a nest there. I’m trying to encourage wildlife into the garden by growing plants that are good for pollinators, filling bowls of water – until the pond gets built – for birds to bathe in and drink from, and creating habitats, hence the ivy on the wall… though I am concerned that it ultimately it will damage the ancient mortar. The plan is to cut some back early in spring next year, before the nesting season, then cut some on a sort of rotational basis each year, so there’ll always be a mass of it somewhere, and if this is sounding like ivy obsession, well it’s all in a good cause.
Having a wide range of wildlife keeps a healthy balance that checks anything becoming too dominant, though sometimes it feels like slugs and snails definitely have the upper hand, but I’m hoping that birds that are well looked after will hang around and make a meal of some of the slugs.
Talking of the balance of nature in the garden, at a more basic level it’s easy to forget how important the soil is, that deep in the soil, earthworms, fungi, spiders, beetles and millipedes are quietly getting on with shredding leaves. Microscopic bacteria are champion decomposers, and provide nutrients for creatures higher up the food chain, the more bacteria, the healthier the soil.
They all make the soil richer which in turn helps plants to grow bigger, better and healthier. Keeping plants healthy and more resistant to pests and disease plays a big part in organic gardening.
The best way to encourage these little creatures into the soil is:
- to dig it as little as possible,
- avoid walking on it
- and add a thick layer of compost in autumn and spring. I use home-made compost, but there’s never enough. Horse-manure is good, but has to be well-rotted down, green-waste is more easily available for most of us, the best ones have a rich, crumbly texture. When it’s hot and sunny, like it was here at the weekend, the soil doesn’t dry out so quickly, and it also helps the soil to drain after heavy rain and makes for a good soil structure.
I really notice the difference in how plants grow when I’ve looked after the soil, mulching it and adding just a little natural fertiliser when plants need a boost in spring, after pruning or when they’re flagging later in the summer.
In other news, my daughter is getting married this week, I’m a bit distracted by the excitement of it all, so I may be a bit quiet for the rest of the week. I’ll be posting photos over on Instagram if you’d like a peek of the wedding and the preparations.
See Green and Blue bird feeders here.
all photos: Jill Anderson.