I was working on a handout for a presentation, and as I went along I realized just how much I’ve learned in the five years that I’ve had a garden–and not all of those was I aware that I was gardening for wildlife, and what I could yet do. So I want to share the refresher, and please do add or take away in your comments as you see fit. (All of the images are from my prairie-esque Nebraska garden.)
1) Never use chemicals of any kind.
2) Use native plants. Plant thickly to conserve water and kill weeds.
3) Have a water feature.
4) Garden for insects – they are the base of the food chain & all life. (Ex. birds only feed insects to their young.)
5) Embrace bees and wasps – they’re too busy pollinating to sting. Honest!
6) Spiders, preying mantis, and other predator bugs are signs of a healthy garden and kill pests FAST. Love them.
7) Don’t cut down or “clean up” the garden in fall, wait until early March.
8) Use the spring cut down as mulch and to create bee houses (I cut hollow joy pye weed stalks into 6″ lengths, bundle, and tie to the fence for mason bees).
9) Fall leaves are free soil—they’ll break down over winter & be warm homes for hibernating insects.
10) Diversity – grasses, wildflowers, shrubs, trees.
11) Diversity II – groundcovers, short plants, tall plants, big blooms, tiny blooms… create a varied habitat for 4 seasons of life.
12) Host plants for butterflies: milkweed, zizia, baptisia, wild senna, side oats grama, willow, elm, oak.
13) Fave nectar plants: milkweed, aster, joy pye weed, mountain mint, ironweed, culver’s root, goldenrod, coneflowers, baptisia.
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