Kath Irvine offers a year round planting plan which will attract and keep valuable insects in your garden.
There is a wonderful array, in large quantities, of insects who reside in your garden and can assist you in managing pests and aiding pollination. All insects ask in return for this help is a good home and a continuous supply of food!
To name a few beneficial insects there’s parasitic wasps, hoverflies, bees, bumble bees, ladybirds, praying mantis, spiders, assassin bugs, lacewings and various beetles.
To encourage these beneficial insects to call your garden home Kath suggests how to make the perfect abode. Plant a dense perennial / native area on your section which will be largely undisturbed. Leave or place chunks of logs or wood beneath trees / shrubs so bumblebees, for example, can create their home. This is also a good use of bigger branches you may have recently pruned as well as being a slow release fertiliser.
It’s important that these insects have a water source – particularly bees. It can be as simple as a bowl of water or a bird bath.
Note to protect against harming the insects in your garden don’t spray chemicals or non selective / on contact killers like pyrethrum.
Nectar eating insects and pollen gatherers require tiny, open flowers. Modern plant varieties often lack in nectar and pollen, so Kath recommends choosing heirloom or wild flowers. Establishing the different plants that will flower year round in your garden will ensure constant activity in your garden. Watch and see which flowers perform best in your garden. Kath particularly loves the flowering broccoli, coriander
Advice from Kath on heirloom and wild flowers:
coriander, parsnip, parsley, carrot, celery, dill, caraway, Queen Anne’s lace and bishops flower
(which offers the added benefit of protection for overwintering insects and nitrogen fixation), vetch, lucerne and lupin
broccoli, mustard, radish and rocket
such as hebes, olearia, pittosporum, carpodetus serratus and hoheria
like dandelion, yarrow and hawkbit are much beloved so let your lawn be wild!
Kath’s suggestions for perennials:
Lavender, echinacea, goldenrod, rudbeckia, thyme, marjoram, oregano, shasta daisy, bergamot
Sedum, caryopteris, rudbeckia, marjoram, oregano, sage, yarrow, lemon balm, anise hyssop
Hellebores, wallflowers, rosemary, sage, hebe, pineapple sage, clematis, anise hyssop
California lilac, lavender, hellebores, poppies, sweet william, dianthus, flax, bergamot, Manuka
Kath’s suggestions for annuals:
Kath recommends borage and phacelia as they are both high in nectar and refill quickly, making them the perfect fit amongst fruit trees and vegetables. They self-seed readily – so just sow them once and they’ll flower nearly all year from a succession of self-sown plants.
Kath Irvine is a permaculture designer and has been designing and managing edible gardens since the late 1990’s. Passionate about growing food and good design, Kath runs workshops from her Edible Backyard. For more information go to http://www.ediblebackyard.co.nz/