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Emily Scarratt

Wildlife meadow taking shape

Posted by British Bird Food 21/05/2015 0 Comment(s)

Encourage wild animals and birds to your garden with a wildlife area.

We started to prepare and plant out our wildlife meadow in March of this year. Previously the area of our garden was a livestock pen, for pigs, so the ground was hard and compacted, but well fertilised! so as we had decided the last of the pigs had been reared on the land in question it was a case of what to do with it now. We already have a few small areas of our garden that we leave to nature, or encourage wildlife by leaving things around that Hedgehogs, Toads, and insects can utilise for habitat, but we always try to encourage pollination and we still have a sizeable veg plot, so we decided to turn the ground over to a wildlife meadow. When pigs occupy an area of land they leave behind a legacy of problems, compacted ground as hard as concrete, boulders moved from one end to the other and back again before being planted under hedges, nettles always seen to follow livestock and there were plenty of those and finally the levels of the ground are changed as the pigs moved tonnes of earth form one place to another in their relentless 'routling' for roots and worms. Stage one was to kill off all of the weeds and nettles (we try to be organic in most things but this called for a chemical herbicide to ensure they were put to rest) in order to give the new meadow plants a chance to get established. Two weeks later and it was over to Phil the digger driver to make the earth move for us! - quite literally he had to dig down way below the depth of a spade and move the earth around so it broke up, on the plus side, we could see the quality of the earth, following the pigs was excellent. So when Phil had moved and levelled the soil to a nice slope, we began shaping our meadow, we de-stoned it and laid the rocks in a pile in the furthest corner of the plot, we also laid a pile of wood logs. Then two trees went in, a Pear tree and a Peach tree, both will provide lovely blossom and hopefully fruit, these were planted in raised beds so we can control the grasses and flowers from swamping the tree roots and we can also apply manure directly to the tree roots. First thing to go in was a bird feeding station! (not surprisingly) and we already have a visiting pair of Woodpeckers. A small pond was installed next to the rock pile to encourage toads and frogs, newts and other life that enjoys water and shade. A pile of old railway sleepers cut into one metre lengths form a seat for us and habitat for bugs and Toads, a large sink put in the middle of the meadow for birds to bathe in with a couple of rocks - just in case other animals crawl in and can get out again via the rocks. An old piece of tin laid on the ground so things can crawl or burrow underneath it, four posts with insect habitats suspended near the shady part of the meadow, a bug box or two, Hedgehog house, Butterfly haven and finally four or five circles of stone, so we don't seed them and can plant Bud-lea, Lavender and other animal friendly fauna and let them grow without competition from the grasses. Next came the setting of the seeds for the meadow, we used a healthy mix of flowers and grasses and scattered them around the plot evenly. Now, in mid May they are emerging and it looks like we have a good germination rate as the ground starts to take on a green hue, you can see an abundance of plans within the grasses and so we wait for summer to enjoy it. The final item we are waiting for now, is the arrival of the live bees for our Beepole Lodge, ready to pollinate all those plants later in the summer. [caption id="attachment_3709" align="alignleft" width="150"]Beneficial insect houses in our meadow A view of the bird feeding station and seating pile of railway sleepers, down the far right corner you can just see the rock pile and pond.[/caption]

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