Transitioning To A Permaculture Way of Life, Step 4
We are not the only ones who can enjoy our permaculture gardens. All the different creatures with whom we share our space should also be able to enjoy the diverse ecosystem that you help to create. Not only is sharing your garden with wildlife the ethical and environmentally friendly thing to do, it can also help to make your life easier as a keen organic gardener. If we take care of the wildlife, then more often than not, that diversity will help take care of us.
There are a number of different features that, wherever you live in the world, can help increase biodiversity in your garden and encourage beneficial creatures to make their homes there. For example:
Planting schemes will play a huge role in encouraging wildlife in a permaculture garden. Though you do not need to exclusively use native plants, using a large proportion of plants that naturally below where you live will help the creatures that naturally live there too – these plants and animals will have evolved together and plants will often provide them with food, shelter or a place to reproduce. Think big and small. A certain tree, for example, may be beneficial to a wide range of mammals, birds, invertebrates etc… while a few tiny flowers could make all the difference to insects that we need to pollinate our food crops.
A wildlife pond can significantly increase the biodiversity in your garden. You may be able to create a pond system that is replenished, by means of piping and/or a rain chain, by the rain falling on your roof. A pond is a home to many creatures and will also provide drinking water and washing facilities to many more. Many pond creatures are hugely beneficial to the organic gardener as they often eat pests and keep balance in the ecosystem, helping to protect your food crops.
In a permaculture garden, it is sometimes necessary to fight the impulse to fight a little disorder. In an organic garden that attracts wildlife, you will see piles of brush and debris lying in corners and perhaps the odd wild, unkempt section around the edges. Leaving things a little wild makes it easier for wild creatures to find a home in your garden.
Birds are beneficial in the garden in a wide range of ways, as are bats, small mammals and other creatures who may nest in your garden. To keep down numbers of pests, provide nesting sites and good conditions for their predators. Many of the above will eat slugs, snails and problematic insects that could decimate a crop if left unchecked. Research the native creatures you wish to attract and then build or create nesting sites and habitats for them. More often than not, if they are in the area, build it and they will come.
Last but not least, it is important not to neglect the smaller inhabitants of your garden. Bugs and small insects are an important part of any ecosystem and can help to pollinate plants or to predate unwelcome visitors. To encourage bug and insect diversity, create a ‘bug hotel’ which is a small structure with plenty of holes and good bug habitat, so these creatures are safe and are encouraged to stay in your garden.