* How to Attract Beneficial Critters in Your Garden
How to Create a Beneficial Critter Garden
Maybe unlike most people, I really do like the critters that roam my garden and I love to make it as comfortable as possible for them to make them feel at home. All critters and insects have a purpose in the food chain, otherwise they wouldn't be here, is my opinion.
I've learned to live with the critters in my garden and I've learned to respect them and though I feel no urge to pick some of them up, I very often really enjoy watching them minding their own business. Sometimes their world looks very much like our world
I'll show you how I created a critter friendly environment in my garden. I hope you'll enjoy reading about it as much as I enjoy creating and observing it.
Dead Wood Is Perfect
Dead Wood Is Interesting for All Flying Bugs
Many Insects and Birds Love to Nest in Wood
Many insects and some birds often use dead wood to drill holes in, either to nest in them or like some wasps do, use it to create a sort of cement to build their own home somewhere else.
Leaving the dead wood in the garden is a must when you want your insects to feel at home.
Insect Houses Are Great
Building an Insect House Isn't That Difficult
I don't have a special insect house, because I have enough other stuff in the garden where the wasps and bees and other bugs can make their nest. However homemade Insect houses are much fun to create. Even in the smallest place you can build one. You only need a box and fill it with different sizes hollow straws, pipes, toilet rolls and more of that stuff. Each insect has its own need for housing. You can even use a wooden disc of a tree, drill different sizes of holes in it and hang it somewhere on the wall, or fence or a tree.
There are lots of different insect houses to find on the web.
Building Your Own Insect House
We Created a Bed & Breakfast for Birds
Our Bird B&B Is Full Booked Every Summer
Some years ago I bought these bird houses from a little boy and I put them down somewhere and forgot all about them. Until I came across them this spring and then we put them up a shelf and painted the roofs blue. It took a while before the first guests arrived. They checked the premises and then one day we actually had a guest in our Bird B&B. I hope they will spread the word beak to beak and then maybe we will have a full booking next year. It was rather late in breeding season when we put them up.
Update Spring 2013: The bird house with the flat roof has been booked by a family with a whole bunch of very noisy kids.
You see that little hole in the wall on the right side? Last year a spotted flycatcher nested there.
Critters Are Great
You Might Think I Am Crazy - A Critter Poem
Bats Are Beautiful Creatures
How to Help Bats in Your Garden
Do You Have a Critter and Insect Friendly Garden?
The Spotted Flycatcher
Some Ideas for Using Wood in Your Critter Garden - Great Environmental GardeningClick thumbnail to view full-size
We Just Leave the Dead Willows at Peace
Willows Are Great Providers for Shelter and Food
Some of our pollard willows suffered from a bacterial disease of which I don't know the English name, but it's caused by bacteria called Brenneria salicis .
It's a bacterium in the ground and when all elements are perfect it pops up and attacks even old willows. There's no cure for it alas and there's nothing we can do to prevent it or cure it. The willow dies within a short time.
So far three of our willows got infected and we left them standing there because even a dead willow is beautiful and it's a great provider for shelter and food for bugs and birds. I often see the woodpecker hanging there, picking the bark away, and snatching caterpillars or other bugs.
You might like to read my article about Environmental Gardens, which I wrote in honor of Earth Day 2012.
Old Trunks Are Very Decorative Ornaments
Trunks as Statues Until They Fall Apart - so Much Life Is Going on in There
Food Source for Woodpeckers
Piles of Stones Are a Perfect Place for Toads, Salamanders, Mice and Frogs
Stones make good housing and hiding places
Lots of Toads and Salamanders in Our Garden
Restoring our old farmhouse for about 30 years now and doing it all by ourselves, left us with a lot of bricks and stones scattered around. Over the years we got stuck with lots of stones we thought we could use again some day (and we do often 'shop in our own garden). So I started to organize the piles of stones, stacking them in a way that they are useful for different critters like toad, salamanders, mice, snails and all others in need of a hiding place or home. I leave holes in the stacking on purpose, so the critters can get in easily.
Once when I needed some bricks I found a family of nearly 25 orange belly salamanders, living in that pile of stones. As I had disturbed their home, I helped them move to another pile. Don't know if they were thankful, I never spotted them again.
We do have lots and lots of toads though, but I never got around taking pictures of them. Normally when I stumble upon one, I pick it up and move it out of the way. I found two this morning when I was pulling out some weed and stinging nettles.
Beneficial Critters in Your Garden
One Bug's Death Is the Other Bug's Life
What to Do with Leftover Stones and Bricks?
Build Insect and Bug Friendly Walls in Your Garden
We ended up with a lot of stones and bricks that were not fit to use for the renovation of our house and in stead of putting a lot of work into getting rid of them, I started to build little walls around bushes and trees. It takes a bit of work, but it's so much fun to do, knowing you're helping lots of mice and insects to a hiding place. This part of my garden is still a wilderness, but actually I like it this way. I keep an eye on it that it doesn't get too much overgrown with stinging nettles and other aggressive weed, but for the rest I let nature take its course.
We don't have central heating, we use wood stoves and a coal stove in stead, so we need a lot of wood, which all the pollard willows we planted are giving us. We use every bit of the branches we have to chop off every three to four years. The parts that we can't use for the stoves are pushed down a double fence, creating a perfect home for Blackbirds to nest in and other creatures.
Some Ideas How to Use Stones in Your Critter and Bug Garden - It's Cool and Dry HousingClick thumbnail to view full-size
Even a Natural Garden Needs Attention
Making Muckheaps Is Important
Hedgehogs Are Very Beneficial Creatures
At the end of each Summer we'll have hedgehogs in our garden. They not only come to eat the fallen fruits, like the medlar, pears and apples, but they also eat worms and snails. End of Fall they dig themselves in and sleep the whole winter until the Spring sun awakens them.
Hedgehog Eating a Medlar
Mulching Is Important!
Mulching Is Important for All Kind of Worms and Insects
Mulching Makes the Soil Open and Nutritious
I'm a breeder of Drenthe Heath Sheep and some ewes give birth in the barn. So each year I have a lot of manure and spilled hay or straw which I use for mulching. I spread it between the plants in Autumn and within a year the worms and insects and bacteria have convert it into healthy soil. It keeps the ground from drying out too much. Sometimes I have a whole bale of hay or straw gone bad and I put it somewhere in the garden in a lost corner. Mice are nesting in it and very often mushrooms are growing on top or on the side. Nothing organic has to be thrown out.
Ideal Housing for Mice
Insects Are Beneficial for Spreading PollenClick thumbnail to view full-size
The Birds Love My Garden - and They Nest in the Most Strange PlacesClick thumbnail to view full-size
Don't Forget the Water!
I Use Sinc Tubs for Frogs and Other Critters
Frogs Hibernate During the Winter in My Tubs
I love to use old sink tubs in my garden to either plant flowers in them or just fill them up with water.
Over time soil will slip in and grass or weed is growing and so they make a perfect shelter for frogs and other water loving creatures.
Frogs in My Tub - They Come and Go and Sometimes They Hibernate
All Animals Have to Eat
We Planted Trees for the Birds like the Malus Red Sentinel
Fruits Are Shared with Birds, Hedgehogs and Insects
We planted some trees specially to feed the birds so they can eat nutritious food in winter. It's so much fun to watch the birds eat and fight over it. Then they just look like us, people, being territorial. The trees provide us with beautiful flowers in spring and colorful fruits in winter. I share a lot of apples and prunes with the insects. I love to see the hedgehogs appear on the grass to search for fallen medlars.
Rowan Berries Are the Thrushes' Favorite Winter Food
Sharing My Apples with Insects
I Hope I've Given You Some Ideas
Critters and Insects are so important to have in a garden, at least that's my opinion. Each time of the year it's different and each time of the year I enjoy watching them minding their own business. Wood pigeons are nesting in the trees. Lots of tits and sparrows, finches and even small owls once nested in the Pollard Willows.
I don't have a neat and clean garden and I wouldn't have it any other way. I have a beneficial critter garden and I'm happy to share whatever I have with them.