As I write this the first decent sunshine of the year is flooding through the window, and a few primroses are peeping out to greet it. The snowdrops are also enjoying the elevated temperatures. The rest of the bulbs will take longer to recover from the recent snow. According to the forecast though, we may not have seen the last of it.
In accordance with Jon’s monthly column – don’t necessarily rush to get out there. If you are afflicted with clay you can do more damage, by compacting the soil, than good. Perhaps now is a good time to be planning rather than doing.
As I mentioned last month, 2013 should be a year in which we all try to be a little more environmentally friendly in our gardens – especially where local wildlife is concerned. We can all put food out for the birds but we
need to aim higher perhaps by considering the 4 essentials – Food, Water, Shelter and Places to Breed.
Planting - think about bee friendly mixes, keep corners of long grass and other forms of cover. Nettles are important to many butterflies and moths too so don’t be too quick to get rid of them if you have a quiet corner to spare. Ivy is very important cover for all sorts of wildlife. Marigold is an excellent companion plant for vegetables, as it encourages a number of aphid killers, such as hoverflies.
Habitats – do you have room for a pond? Does your current pond need a clear out – a great spring job! The sooner the better but take care not to disturb frog’s spawn. Log piles or decaying stumps are great for beetles and other insects, which in turn support other species. It’s not too late to put up bird boxes – though these are best put up in autumn, to allow it to become naturalised. Tip for siting birdboxes – face it between north and east to avoid strong sunlight and the wettest winds.
Water – if you don’t have room for a pond then a bird bath (or suitably positioned pot stands) can help. Try to avoid tap water in any of these – take it from the water butt.
Chemicals – avoid these wherever you can. If you have to use them then steer clear of the nicotonoids as mentioned last month) which are bee and other beneficial insect killers. Please try and avoid slug pellets too – copper bands work well on pots.