Why soil needs to be cher­ished

Let’s make sure we look af­ter our plants and wild life

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By JO FA­GAN

The big­gest threat to Porirua Har­bour is soil wash­ing off land into streams that empty into the har­bour.

Soil is valu­able. We need it to grow food. It takes about 10,000 years to form and one big rain to wash away if it is left bare.

The eas­i­est way to keep your soil at your place is to plant into it.

We want to help you use na­tive plants to make your gar­den and back yard even more beau­ti­ful.

By plant­ing na­tive plants you can at­tract fas­ci­nat­ing na­tive an­i­mals, such as birds, lizards and but­ter­flies, and keep your valu­able soil on your land, where it be­longs.

Lizards love messy, un­tidy gar­den­ers. They need to hide from preda­tors like rats, cats and hedge­hogs, so they like plants close to­gether.

Good plants for lizards are na­tive ferns, tus­sock grasses and sedges, New Zealand daphne, flaxes and astelias.

Muehlen­beck­ias and di­var­i­cat­ing co­pros­mas at­tract birds, lizards and na­tive cop­per but­ter­flies and are cur­rently very pop­u­lar for adding tex­ture to gar­dens.

Good plants to make your gar­den a feast for nec­tar- feed­ing birds and lizards in­clude rata species, manuka and koromiko.

Fruit eaters pre­fer co­pros­mas, iconic nikau palms and kawa- kawa, also known as the New Zealand pep­per tree.

Kawakawa leaves make a re­fresh­ing pep­pery tea and the ripe fruit tastes like pa­paya with pep­pery seeds. You can even burn dried leaves as an in­sect re­pel­lent.

Check out doc.govt.nz for more gar­den plants that pro­vide food for na­tive crea­tures all year round.

One of the lizards most likely found in your gar­den is the com­mon skink. They love to lie in the sun, so look for them on sunny days. Com­mon skinks range in colour from striped brown in grass to dark colours on the coast.

Lizards are an im­por­tant part of our na­tive ecosys­tems, so when you keep them safe in your gar­den, you’re help­ing to re­pair the com­plex sys­tem of plants and an­i­mals that keep our streams and har­bour healthy.

Stu­dents at Pukerua Bay School have cre­ated a skink gar­den at school. They pro­vided flat sunny spots for the lizards to lie in and lots of safe hid­ing places.

Teacher An­drew Wooster said the skink gar­den helped his stu­dents en­joy and un­der­stand na­ture and sus­tain­abil­ity.

Check out our web­site for pre­vi­ous ar­ti­cles about Porirua Har­bour, gw.govt.nz/porirua.

Jo Fa­gan rep­re­sents Porirua Har­bour Strat­egy Group.

Photo: RICHARD ROMIJN

Sun-seeker:

Com­mon skinks can be found through­out the Kapi-Mana area, of­ten in your gar­den.

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