Cre­ate your gar­den patch from scratch

Hedge­hogs are keep­ing the slugs un­der con­trol in edi­tor Matt’s gar­den, so his plants are do­ing rather well

Bird Watching (UK) - - Contents - BY MATT MERRITT

The nat­u­ral food chain is key to wildlife gar­den­ing

O NE OF THE keys to wildlife gar­den­ing, of course, is nat­u­ral pest con­trol – rather than spray­ing weed­killer or leav­ing out slug pel­lets and the like, you let the nat­u­ral food chain work as it should, and noth­ing gets too out of hand. Pleas­ingly, we’re get­ting plenty of indi­ca­tions that this is pay­ing off now, with mam­mal and am­phib­ian visi­tors (or res­i­dents, hope­fully), help­ing to keep the bal­ance just about right in our lit­tle patch of green.

We’ve had at least one Hedge­hog vis­it­ing for some time now – the tell-tale black poop is there on the lawn most days – and we’ve had cor­re­spond­ingly very few slugs on our flour­ish­ing green­ery. If our promis­ing tomato, and straw­berry plants do pro­duce plenty of fruits, we’ll know who to thank. This month, we took steps to give our prickly friend some­where to shel­ter (see op­po­site), but there’s one thing above all that will en­sure you can get Hedge­hogs in your gar­den, too. That’s to make sure that there are gaps un­der your fences large enough to let them move from gar­den to gar­den, be­cause they need to range across a fairly wide area. Luck­ily for us, our fences are pretty ill-fit­ting! If yours aren’t,

though, just cut small semi-cir­cu­lar gaps at the bot­tom in two or three places. One warm even­ing in early June, our first Com­mon Frog ap­peared at the edge of the pond, and, within days, we were see­ing three or four more, too. They’ve be­come reg­u­lar fix­tures, and are no doubt en­joy­ing the large amount of in­sect life that also uses the pond. Fi­nally, our home­made and shop-bought bug ho­tels are start­ing to at­tract guests, with sev­eral holes filled up by soli­tary bees. So, we bought an­other mini bee ho­tel (pic­tured, right), for any over­flow – it comes with a mag­ni­fy­ing glass and a lit­tle guide to bees for the kids, and Char­lotte is al­ready start­ing to fill it in with de­tails of what we’ve got.

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