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Early Summer in the Garden

The early days of Summer are welcomed with a frenzy of activity as everyone rushes out to enjoy the warm days. But it's not just people enjoying the end of Winter, many creatures in your garden are equally busy.

Birds will mostly have finished nest building and be well on the way to raising their young. Make sure you top up bird water pots, particularly on hot days. You may then enjoy watching the variety of birds the water attracts for bathing and drinking. Baby birds are usually fed insects, graduating onto seeds or nectar as they become more independent. Help them grow – let spiders build some webs in hanging baskets and around the house, and leave a few weeds to grow seeds. If you have a compost bin, now is the time to dig it into your garden, and you will be assured that birds will be turning it over and helping it break down for your plants while they hunt for worms and other bugs for their babies.

Insects are also in a frenzy now. Of late there have been hoverflies by the hundreds in most gardens. These are fantastic beneficial insects as their offspring eat aphids. Ladybirds are also fierce predators of aphids. The first of the blue banded native bees are now out and about, their loud buzzing and erratic flight common around the smaller flowers. There have been native cockroaches hatching, and many can be seen in their attractive striped nymph stages, sunning themselves on leaves. They are not nocturnal, and do not come inside like the imported cockroaches.

Gardeners too will be active. Activities for this time of year are usually getting the last lot of plants in the ground before the really hot days hit. Make sure you test the soil for water repellence before you plant- if water runs off, then add some wetta soil to the hole and dug up soil. Other things to get done are mulching, including pots, and moving pots out of the hottest areas.

But in your activity, remember that your garden is part of the ecosystem. Using sprays will impact the creatures that live in your garden, even if you never see them. Sprays commonly affect not only the pest population, but also the predators, upsetting the balance and resulting in more pests and less predators. Birds eating these insects can build up levels of pesticides in their bodies. Excess pesticides, herbicides and fertilisers can wash into stormwater and into our creek systems, affecting fish and other water creatures.

If you have a few insects, is that really a big issue? Spray them off with the hose. Plant some insect attracting plants such as helichrysum paper daisies, wild parsnip, grevilleas and bottlebrush. If you have a vegetable garden, let some carrots, parsley, coriander go to flower and seed, they attract a lot of predator insects. If you have a few plants that always attract pests, you can consider them as sacrifice plants, saving others from attack, or really, just dig them out.

A garden that hums with activity from birds and insects is a happy healthy place for humans to be as well.

a half grown mantis on a potted Sturt desert pea

a half grown mantis on a potted Sturt desert pea

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