This month, as throughout the year, there could be a number of so-called ‘pest’ species that you have to deal with in your polytunnel. Perhaps you have caterpillars eating your brassicas, aphids on your tomato plants, or slugs and snails sneaking in and decimating your lettuces. Perhaps you have rodents munching your plants or seeds during the night, or wasps in your soft fruits… there are plenty of ways that we can get annoyed by the creatures with whom we may share our space. But while there are ways to garden organically while managing these pest species, it is also important to remember that we should also be celebrating wildlife in our polytunnels. Without the wildlife, we would not be able to garden as we do.
All too often, polytunnel gardeners can fall into the trap of thinking of the creatures that come into our polytunnels as pests – something to deal with and get rid of. This month, why not take the time to celebrate the wildlife that helps us in our gardens. We can begin by considering what wildlife does for us:
Celebrating Wildlife That Pollinates Our Crops
Wildlife such as bees and many other creatures help us to pollinate our food crops. Many insects are amongst the most important pollinators for polytunnel gardeners, as well as for other gardeners and farmers. Unfortunately, many species are endangered, which is why it is so important that we all understand and appreciate their importance before it is too late.
Celebrating Wildlife That Keeps Pest Numbers Down
Certain wildlife helps us keep pest species numbers within reasonable bounds in an organic garden. Wildlife generally adds to biodiversity, thus improving the overall resilience of a system. Encouraging a wide range of different wildlife species will help to keep the ecosystem in balance and this can help in making sure one species does not proliferate too much. Specific species will predate pest species and can be particularly beneficial in a polytunnel garden. Ladybirds and hoverflies, for example, will eat aphids and keep their numbers down.
Celebrating Species That Help Keep Soil Healthy
Wildlife in our soil ecosystem helps keep the soil/ decomposition system functioning as it should. Bacteria, fungi and larger organisms such as earthworms all do their part in keeping the soil web working smoothly and effectively. Most wildlife will contribute waste to the soil, helping to keep nutrients cycling in a natural way. The soil is one of the most vitally important things in all organic gardening. Wildlife, whether we see it or not, helps us keep it functioning as it should.
There are many other things that wildlife will do in the broader ecosystem. Wildlife can, for example, help eat certain plants to keep weeds down, or naturally prune overgrown areas. When we start to really look around us, we can see how much wildlife really does for us, and to appreciate the natural world in all its complexity.
So, when you are gardening in your polytunnel this month, take some time to look around you and solute your wildlife helpers. Are you celebrating wildlife in your polytunnel? Or getting bogged down in pest problems? Let us know in the comments below.
Originally posted 2018-09-03 13:51:02.
Elizabeth Waddington is a writer and green living consultant living in Scotland. Permaculture and sustainability are at the heart of everything she does, from designing gardens and farms around the world, to inspiring and facilitating positive change for small companies and individuals.
She also works on her own property, where she grows fruit and vegetables, keeps chickens and is working on the eco-renovation of an old stone barn.