Since taking over this house in January 2017, with the aim of turning it from an urban shingle and slate filled plot to a wildlife garden (see Blog 1), the transformation and increase in biodiversity has been notable. I have been keeping a log and have seen more small birds visiting my garden, and a greater variety of insects. When I first moved in, the only birds to visit my feeder were pigeons and blackbirds, but now I have sparrows, goldfinches, robins and blue tits.
New addition plants were chosen carefully for their roles as pollinators or as companion plants (to deter pests) in the vegetable garden.
New insects spotted include:
Small tortoiseshell caterpillar over-wintering in my compost (January)
Small white butterfly caterpillar in compost (February)
Large yellow underwing moth caterpillar by front door
Male Ghost Moth on my compost bin (May) – this was a strange looking moth, with a furry white head, fangs and bright pink legs.
I was surprised how many caterpillars and moths I was finding in such an urban environment.
The Grow Wild seeds I had sown in the side border (see Blog 3) had resulted in large displays of Viper’s Bugloss flowers which were covered with a variety of different types of bees, as well as several other flowers. I read up on the benefits of companion planting; a way of planting specific plants next to each in order to naturally deter pests. I grew some marigolds from seed, and planted them next to my broad beans and potatoes. Marigolds deter nematodes in the soil, and keep garden pests away from cabbages, beans, cucumber and tomatoes. Pollinating insects such as hoverflies and solitary bees also enjoy their orange flowers.
The small tub pond, however, has not been such a success as it has been continually clogged up with algae. There have been several pond snails and a water boatman living in it, but not a lot else. I added some hornwort with the hope of re-oxygenating it, removed the algae and topped the water level up. If this does not work, I will dig a pond into the ground in a more shady location, to see if this proves more successful.
The vegetable patch is taking shape. This year I am growing sweetcorn, runner beans, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, carrots, radishes, cucumbers, beetroot, sweet peas, onion and garlic.