We have had a very productive weekend on our little patch. We managed to borrow a digger and began work in my much-wanted and long-awaited wildlife garden. There is a shady spot on the edge of the veg garden that is no good for growing but perfect for creepy crawlies, toads and frogs!
Clearing rubble, years of debris and garden waste left by the previous owner has given us a space of about ten foot by twenty foot. Here I am going to create a habitat that will appeal to amphibians and reptiles. My hope is, that in return for me giving them a home, they will offer me some natural pest control; eating up the slugs on the veg plot for their dinner.
In this area there will be a small pond, a log pile, a compost heap, some toad homes and a bit of corrugated metal for various creatures to either hide under or sunbathe on. We have already found lots of frogs and a couple of grumpy toads near this area so I’m sure they’ll be glad of somewhere to call home.
The digger was used to scrape off the top layer of soil, which had a lot of rocks and rubble in. Next we will be putting some woodchip down to suppress weed growth and then planting up the area with wildlife friendly plants. I’d quite like to have a bench there so that I can sit in the shade of the trees when it’s too hot to be working on the veg patch.
My love of birds means that I will definitely be hanging up some bird feeders, then we’ll be adding all the amphibian friendly housing and structures. I’m really lucky that I already have everything I need on site. It’s amazing what you can find when you poke around the hedgerows! I’ve found some roof tiles that will make a perfect toad home, we have some corrugated metal roof sheets, and a fallen tree has provided lots of logs. My Mum has very kindly given us an old tin bath, which we will line (so it doesn’t rust) and use to create a wildlife pond.
When making a wildlife pond you need to allow the pond to fill up naturally with rain water, use water from a water butt or treat your water. Tap water contains chlorine which is harmful to amphibians, so you will need to buy a product to treat the water before putting it in the pond. We are trying to decide whether or not to sink the tin bath into the ground. I’m leaning towards having a raised pond. I think the tin bath is a nice feature, and a raised pond means the kids are less likely to fall into it! A raised pond means that you need to create sloping sides for animals (especially froglets!) to get in and out using rocks, log piles and planted areas.
I have a planting plan for the veg patch and now the weather has warmed up I’ve been sowing rows of seeds. I’m still bringing on plants on the windowsills at home and this week my Mum has given me a top tip for growing my peas. She’s advised that I put them in 1-2 handfuls of compost in a clear polythene bag and leave them on the windowsill until they start to sprout. Apparently this method gets rid of an enzyme that mice love and it stops them nicking the peas straight out of the ground. My peas did very badly last year so I’m hoping that this method will help my harvest.