Bronagh Loughlin

August 3, 2020

Here’s how to have a bee-friendly garden & encourage biodiversity

Here’s how to have a bee-friendly garden & encourage biodiversity

Bronagh Loughlin

August 3, 2020
Looking to make your garden or windowsill more biodiversity-friendly? In this article, we chat to Grace O’Toole, a novice garden enthusiast who shares her tips about gardening for those who frankly don’t have a clue!

Bio-diversity plays a major role in human nutrition and the way in which ecosystems function and in how they provide their services. Now more than ever the biodiversity (ie. the health) of our ecosystems is under threat. A really serious issue, one way you can help biodiversity thrive is through your own garden.

Don’t have enough space or a big garden? Worried it may be a challenging task? Don’t worry about that. Even making your windowsill biodiversity-friendly will help, and the best part is that none of this is particularly tricky to do, even in an urban setting.

1. Cut out the pesticides and harsh chemicals

Let’s put it this way: pesticides are to diversity what crocs are to a person’s sex appeal. Detrimental.

But this doesn’t mean you can’t give your plants a little boost of protection when required. Garden enthusiast Grace O’Toole recommends: “Rather than using store bought sprays to kill infestations, a simple mix of baking soda and water sprayed on the plants after watering will help keep them at bay”.

2. Attract The Pollinators

It is estimated that one-third of the food that we consume each day relies on pollination by bees. Therefore, to be more bio-diversity friendly, we need to keep the bees and other pollinators (birds, butterflies, etc) in mind.

Grace’s pointer here is to plant wild flowers to keep the bees well-fed. She adds, “having more flowers in your garden will attract bees, and adding a bee hotel or any little holes in the wall will give solitary bees places to breed”.

And when it comes to planting flowers, and deciding which to go with – make your array as colourful and locally-sourced as possible.

Flowers such as Wallflower, Berberis, Broom, Rosemary, Lavender, Heathers, Willow, Crocus, Scabies, Thyme and Marigold are ideal as they are more accessible for pollinators to reach the nectar and pollen.

3. Feed the birds

One easy way to make your garden more biodiversity-friendly is to simply feed the birds. To encourage birds to visit your garden, you should put out a variety of food. Grace recommends using bird feeders; either on trees in your garden or on a hook outside your window. She adds, “if you have a bigger space, adding a bird bath will also help”.

4. Cut the grass less

A great option for those of us who groan at the prospect of having to drag the lawnmower out; just don’t do it! Believe it or not, by cutting your grass, you actually make your garden less biodiversity friendly. This is largely because you are cutting the dandelions, clovers and other essential plant species for pollinators.

So go for the lazy option with this one; leave the grass to grow a bit longer between cuts and pour yourself a cuppa instead.

5. Grow stuff on your window ledge

If you are limited to an apartment block or other small spaces, your window sill can be your garden. Grace finds that window sills work perfectly for growing herbs and re-growing vegetables from your fridge. “Keep spring onions in a glass of water and they will keep on sprouting as you snip away what you need”.

Another veggie she has found works great is cabbage. Grace says to regrow cabbage, “chop the ends of your cabbage, place them in water, like magic a new cabbage will grow!”.

Helpful resources for novice gardeners

…Just don’t forget to water!

As Grace puts it, “there is just nothing better than going to the garden, snipping lettuce and spinach for a salad, parsley for the dressing and some tomatoes to go in there”. Grace stresses that it is easy to begin and maintain a small garden and that time is the one thing that plays a major part in regards to daily watering and weekly pruning. 

Snaps for Grace and if you want to check out her gardening journey, her Instagram is @gracinaaa.