If you don’t have a pond at home, look at installing one now to get ready for next year.
If you don’t have small children at home, they’re marvellous to have in the garden both for amphibians and for birds and hedgehogs to drink from.
Install a pond with sloping sides to allow creatures to escape easily and check regularly at this time of year to ensure it hasn’t frozen over, making water inaccessible. If frozen, use hot water to thaw the ice as smashing it can harm pond inhabitants. Alternatively, leave a tennis ball floating on the surface, which will leave a natural space if the ice covers the rest— then creatures will still
have a breathing hole. INSECTS like stag beetles and ladybirds also need to hibernate during winter. To help them, simply leave a bit of your garden untidy. It works particularly well left at the back of your plot, underneath a hedge or tucked round behind the garage.
Add in a few leaves, stacked logs, or terracotta pots on their side. Ladybirds will eat around 5,000 aphids in their lifetime so are marvellous to have in the garden. I pick up a few open pinecones on a woodland walk and then stuff them into netted fruit bags from the shopping.
Simply leave them in sheltered parts of the garden to help the ladybirds to help you. Be careful not to leave them too low or groundbased critters like hedgehogs might get caught in them.
So, you don’t have to spend a lot to support a habitat for many garden-friendly hibernators this winter. Protecting these little creatures and keeping them tucked up during the winter means they’ll be able to get started when the weather warms up.
It will help increase the population and protect your plants next spring.
HOW can I protect my tender plants from frost?
THERE are several things you can do. For very tender potted plants, bring inside or into a greenhouse.
For others – especially shallow-rooted plants like strawberries – apply a thick mulch to keep roots warm.
You could also cover plants with frost fleece at night.
Make sure containers don’t get water-logged, and insulate pots with bubble wrap.
Malcolm via email
MY PLANTS are infested with whitefly. What can I do to get rid of the problem? Simon
WHITEFLY can appear in late autumn if it’s warm. The first frosts of November should kill off any infestations outside. If any remain in glasshouses or indoors, consider introducing Encarsia formosa, a tiny parasitic wasp available via mail order from biological control suppliers.
These wasps lay eggs inside the whitefly and quickly get rid of the problem.
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Ladybirds (above) and stag beetles (right) need to hibernate