Sunday, May 8, 2011

Wildlife-Friendly Gardening

"Adopt the pace of Nature: her secret is patience." -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Garlic has been a well-known natural way to keep away unwanted insects. Maybe you like to observe insects in their habitat like I do, but realize that the two of you don't quite mingle well. Their way of life might destroy your home. They don't do it on purpose, it is instinctual. Garlic can keep away bugs and other wildlife from your home or gardens. I also hear they keep vampires away too (unless they are the Twilight kind, then you might want to find ways to attract them - wink, wink).

Speaking of coexisting with wildlife and attraction, bees are one of those buggers that are doing such a brilliant instinctual job at their tasks that they can be pretty damaging to a home, or on rare occasions, dangerous to us. There are so many species of bees that if I were to talk about this all today, it would be very lengthy, maybe even novel-size. Briefly, some species of bees, wasps, hornets, etc. are friendlier than others. Also, some are considered scavengers (living mostly alone or few together and just looking for food) while others are considered territorial (forming large colonies, protecting queens, and if anyone gets in their way, they can be aggressive - especially if threatened). The best way to keep bees from building hives in your hive is to maintain your home and plug up any little holes or crevices on the outside of the home. This will also prevent them from getting inside. Another great idea is to plant bee friendly plants that will attract those bees to another part of your yard, preferably furthest away from your home. Basically, make your dwelling undesirable to them and make another area more habitable for bees. Bees are very important for pollination and to our environment. Not only would killing them be sad, it also contributes to the scarily dwindling bee population - which is a problem. Everyone can live happily, it just takes some thought and a little effort. The karma you will receive for being kind to all wildlife will be great. Also, the outdoors is their home - be respectful of that.

Other wildlife that are absolutely stunning but can practically inhale your plant-life are bunnies and other ground critters. They will get into your lettuce, carrots, zucchini, tomatoes - pretty much all vegetables besides onions. I've yet to see bunnies eat onions (as onions are also used to repel), but I'm sure some critters like them. A trick to help solve this is planting vegetables in pots high off the ground. Your bunnies will not climb up on them and you can take them inside during frost. You can buy a plant ladder or make one yourself. A neat idea I saw in a magazine recently takes a wooden step ladder, securing planks of wood across the steps, painting it a super-cute color, and placing your pots on them. Note this will not help if you have gracious deers visiting your yard. A very high fence might help with that, but please know that deer can jump over high fences. To be honest, I love seeing wildlife and enjoy them in our environment - I don't do too much to keep them away! I will be deterring the bees with some rose bushes in the far yard. I will also be trying the potted plants, like herbs or grape tomatoes in recycled and decorated pots on the step ladder. Once the tomatoes get too large for pots, I might give them to a city friend who gardens or just plant them in my yard and let our wild bunny pals have their day. 

Enjoy wildlife, enjoy your garden and nature. And have a honeysuckle sweet kind of day!

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