Harness the power of nature to deal with garden pests. Encourage nature’s army to keep your garden healthy.
Nature is pretty incredible. Life is an intricate, continual cycle of birth, life, death and decay, virtually every living thing in our gardens and the wider environment plays its part. We harness this energy every time we consign the vegetable peelings from the kitchen to the compost bin, leaving our waste to the bugs, grubs and microbes that feed on the organic material and break it down into rich crumbly compost.
Further up the food chain are creatures that eat the bugs and this includes our garden birds. Many wild birds are insect eaters, supplementing their diet of seeds and fruits with the protein rich bugs and mini beasts that frequent our gardens. This natural food can be in short supply; so feeding the birds can really support them through the tough times.
Often the spring surge in pest populations coincides with the appearance of the corresponding predator. So when the aphids seem out of control, the ladybirds appear feasting on these little juicy bugs, or the long tailed tits swoop in and devour every last one.
It’s important to remember that pretty much every bug is a meal for someone and when we allow natures balance to return to our gardens, then the predators feed on the prey just as nature intended. So the blue tits devour the aphids on the roses, the nesting birds pick the caterpillars from the spring greens and salads, and the thrushes smash the snails that feed voraciously on the early spring shoots.
As our wild brids dig about under the hedges looking for tasty morsels, they eat the slug and snail eggs lurking in the dark damp edges of the garden. For these are nature’s army; the pest munching birds that also feed and breed in our plots.
Feed the birds
You can attract the birds into your garden by providing them with high quality bird food presented in a range of different feeders. For the small birds, a hanging feeder of fat balls, seeds or energy rich peanuts will attract a wide range of species. But don’t forget the ground feeders that will forage through the undergrowth looking for food. A ground feeding station is ideally placed in the open so that birds can keep watch for feline predators and other dangers. Stock it with energy rich seed and fruit mixes, or dried mealworms rich in protein, to mimic their natural food.
Always provide a fresh clean source of water for garden wildlife and keep it topped up.
Add bird boxes to the garden, even if you’ve missed this year’s nesting season, they may be adopted for a second brood later in the season. Install the box and then keep well away, most birds prefer to nest in boxes that have been in situ for some time.