Wildlife and allotments
Although the primary purpose of allotment sites is to grow food they offer many other benefits and their contribution to supporting wildlife in urban areas is significant. They form some of the best habitat mosaics and wildlife corridors, often linking up with parks, tracks, hedgerows, churchyards and rivers.
Plot-holders can help to support wildlife and ensure a balanced eco-system that will reduce pests and diseases and increase productivity by following some simple steps.
Tips for a wildlife friendly plot
- Reduce or eliminate use of chemicals, use companion planting and physical removal to combat pests such as aphids, slugs and sawfly
- Create habitats for wildlife; bee-boxes, hedgehog homes, log and stone piles for invertebrates, toads and slow worms who will also inhabit a compost heap
- Plant late, mid-season and early blooming nectar rich flowers to attract pollinators and beneficial insects all year round
- Make a pond, keep it ice free in winter by floating a ball on the top and ensure that it is safe for other plot-holders’ children
- Feed birds through the winter and supply nesting boxes
Allotment sites can make communal efforts to be wildlife friendly by managing hedges appropriately and setting aside un-mown grassy areas to nurture insects and amphibians; a patch of nettles will provide both plant food and a breeding area for butterflies. Orchard areas managed in a traditional way provide potential breeding sites for many different species of wildlife.
Click here to read about the importance of Pollinators to your plot.
Citizen Science, allotment holders are also very well placed to take part in the many citizen science projects taking place, contributing to an increased knowledge of how the eco-system works and its importance to human life. Here are a few projects that you may like to be involved with.
Great British Bee Count. - 19 May to 30 June
Earthworm Watch - conduct your own earthworm survey to help map where they are, better understand the vital benefits they bring, and ultimately, help protect them
RSPB Swift Survey - swifts are in trouble and we need to help them survive by providing nesting sites.
Big Butterfly Count - 14 July to 6 August
Team Pollin-ATE- Scientists at the University of Sussex are looking for allotment growers in Brighton to volunteer to become 'Citizen Scientists' and help us learn more about which insects are pollinating the food you grow.
Wildlife enthusiasts can find many opportunities to engage further with this subject, by getting involved with the organisations listed below;
The Wildlife Gardening Forum website has a useful overview of garden science and ecology.