Wildlife will appreciate the unkempt areas of the gardenBy James Ashford
October 31, 2009
Gardens start to look a bit scruffy at this time of year. Most plants have completed their annual growing cycle and are winding down towards winter.
Many gardeners take it as a cue to start a big tidy-up but it is a good idea to leave one or two spots alone to create a wildlife haven.
My own garden is about as untidy as a garden can be. Mrs Go Organic often remarks on it and not, I sometimes feel, entirely kindly. But there is good intention behind my lack of effort.
An untidy corner can offer shelter to all sorts of beneficial creatures and they in turn will help you to keep pests under control in the new growing season.
A jumble of logs and leaves can provide a refuge for hibernating hedgehogs. If you can encourage them to take up residence in your garden they will repay you by eating huge quantities of slugs when the warmer weather returns.
The hollow stems of perennial plants can provide shelter for insects so don’t be too diligent about removing them all. Ladybirds and lacewings will shelter here and reward you by eating aphids in the spring. The dead seed heads also provide food for birds.
Solitary bees need shelter too. These invaluable creatures help to pollinate crops. You can buy purpose-built shelters for them or you can make you own by drilling holes into a log or tree stump.
Beetles will overwinter in a pile of mulch or compost left in a quiet corner of the garden.
Organic gardening is all about creating a balance in your garden. By helping out the creatures which help you deal with pests you not only reduce the work you have to do but you also reduce the need to use chemical pesticides.
Giving a winter home to these helpful creatures encourages them to stay on your plot and also helps to maintain their populations.