If you love being outside amongst nature, then having an allotment plot gives you ample opportunities to create a haven for wildlife at the same time. This will not only help dwindling numbers of valuable insects, birds and mammals but also help you out with natural pest control too.
Things you can add to encourage more wildlife to your allotment:
- A compost heap can encourage slug-eating creatures such as hedgehogs, birds, toads, grass snakes and slow-worms
- Nest boxes with different size entry holes will encourage birds such as Robins, Tits and Thrushes, along with carefully positioned bat boxes for any bats looking for a roost site
- A pile of logs or dead wood will feed beetle larvae and woodlice and become a home for stoats and weasels who will help control rodent levels
- Sheets of corrugated iron laid down provide places for reptiles to shelter
- Try not to be too tidy, little areas of uncut grass and piles of leaves make valuable habitats for insects, spiders and small mammals
- Leave the odd bit of windfallen fruit, this can be much needed autumn food for birds
- A patch of nettles will attract various butterflies such as Red Admiral, Peacock and Comma
- If possible, providing even a bowlful of water can encourage many birds and small mammals to your allotment. Just remember to add a safe way out for any creatures should they fall in
- A bug hotel is probably one of the most popular ways to create something for your allotment that is fun, and can be done using leftover garden finds such as old bricks, broken terracotta pots, wooden pallets, pinecones and twigs etc. Children also love helping with this project too; so, it’s a great way to get them out in the fresh air and closer to nature
Insects can ensure valuable protection to a lot of your cherished produce, with ladybirds alone consuming 50-60 aphids per day. They will also keep down the numbers of scales, mealy bugs, leaf hoppers and mites. Damsel bugs, although a little creepy to look at, do a great job assisting ladybirds in controlling mite and aphid numbers. Spiders are one of, if not, the most beneficial creature for pest control on an allotment. With no other insect consuming as many pests in a day as spiders can, it’s worth ensuring they can thrive.
Not only will adding the above elements to your allotment help with pest control, it also means you can cut down on chemicals and the need to continually spray to kill off unwanted bugs.
With bees contributing to around a third of our food pollination, it’s important we consider their needs and how we can get them to work for us, and our crops. Include herbs and fruit bushes if you can, as well as single flowered annuals such as cornflowers, nasturtiums, pot marigolds, borage, cosmos and sunflowers to attract more bees.
Finally, don’t forget to take some time out to sit and enjoy the wildlife that surrounds you on your allotment, you’ll soon notice the increase in lots of little helpers and many mammals that begin to call it home.