An allotment site is an ideal place to encourage wildlife. Whilst we’re all trying to grow some good crops, there’s plenty of opportunity to help nature too. To help to protect our wildlife, we encourage our plot holders to find alternatives to slug pellets to control slugs and snails and not to use pesticides and herbicides. We are also moving to peat-free only composts in our Allotment Shop.
Harlow Hill Allotment site has, for many years, had a wildlife area - with a small pond, which is full of frog spawn each Spring, and an area of shrubs and bushes around it. Hopefully, the many frogs that result will help to keep the slugs under control! Additionally, a number of plots have small ponds (some just bin-lid size) which provide a home for caddis flies, damselflies, dragonflies, mayflies, pond skaters, snails and water beetles, all of which breed in water.
The site is mainly surrounded by hedges and some tall trees; the large tree on the boundary near the Allotment Shop is always full of birds.
Several plots now have bug hotels which provide much needed shelter for a whole variety of insects and of course, most of us have compost heaps and leaf piles.
Many plot holders grow flowers to attract bees and other pollinators, which helps to make the site look colourful and improves our crops. We now have three bee-keepers on site and two hives. 2017 was our first season with the bees and many people remarked on how well things had been pollinated! Regular updates on the bees appear in the Newsletter.
Plot 44B is unsuitable for its main purpose, due to the presence on the boundary of a large ancient oak tree. This means most of the plot is in the shade much of the day and the roots spread wide and far - not the best conditions for raising crops. The front of this plot has been improved by the addition of raised beds for some cultivation, but the back half has become a wildlife habitat. There is a large flower bed, with plants to attract bees and insects. A large bug hotel has been built, a new pond installed (the first frog spotted already) and the boundary area is left fairly wild – long grass grows in the summer; there are some natural plants, a log pile, a stone pile and a fairly dense hedge.
Hopefully all of this will help to encourage wildlife on this corridor.
Wild about Gardens - click the pdf button to read the March 2020 press release
Go wild for worms - click the pdf button for an interesting booklet from the RHS and Wildlife Trusts on the benefits of having lots of worms in your garden.
Click here to see an article on using less plastic in your garden and making your garden greener, which appeared in the Independent (22.03.19).