With organic gardening becoming the norm in more and more gardens, it only seems natural to let the tiny creatures of the garden assist you with some of your gardening chores. Ever wonder what Earthworms do to your soil? Should you try and get rid of those moles tunneling through the garden? What about the birds pecking the ground or roosting in trees? Should you try to get rid of what some people call “nuisances” in the garden, or should you try to work with these creatures?
The most natural thing for organic gardening is to enlist the help of small and tiny creatures in the garden to help make the most out of your resources. The animal most gardeners dread seeing the most is probably Mr. Snake. Snakes rank right up there with root canals and filing income tax for most people and more snakes meet their fatal end with the edge of a shovel or hoe stabbing into their middles.
But, if you stop a minute before hacking these slithering creatures to death, you may learn to enjoy the benefits of snakes in the garden. Always remember, if you run upon a snake in the garden, he is going to be more afraid of you than you can ever be of him. The snake’s first instinct is to get away at the first sign of danger. If you will just step back, the snake will skim across the grass faster than you can scream, “Help!” That snake will be so startled, he won’t come out for the rest of the day, and he will probably find another hiding spot, one well away from the crazy humans.
Snakes will keep your yard free from excessive mice, voles, and occasional rats that are a natural part of a neighborhood back yard. Most people are willing to put up with an occasional snake in the garden in exchange for no mice or rats in the home.
Walk through the gardening section of discount and home improvement centers and you will see many traps and contraptions to eliminate moles from your yard. Moles are the tiny bulldozers that leave raised mounds all through some lawns and gardens. Some people will try anything to stop these tunneling creatures from making tracks through their lawns, but is that really necessary? Moles are not vegetarians, so contrary to popular belief, they don’t eat the roots of your plants and trees. Instead, moles continually feast on grubs they uncover in the soil.
An easy, but time consuming way to eliminate “mole trails” in the yard or garden is to gently lift the mounding soil into pots and use them to make container gardens. This soil is nice and fluffy which leads to nice drainage and aeration, perfect conditions for container grown plants. You can also sprinkle the super fine soil across the lawn to provide supplementation throughout grassy areas. It is also easy to use a steel tined rake and rake the mounds into the surrounding areas. Moles like an extra hand with tilling the soil - they keep the topsoil aerated and tilled and in return, they also eat all the grubs hibernating in the soil. The quicker the moles can rid of Japanese beetles grubs, the happier you will be.
Spiders are another icky factor for some gardeners, but without their continual patrolling of gardens and lawns, all our plants would be overrun with aphids and other soft bodied insects. Spiders use their webs to capture large flies, cabbage moths and other flying creatures. Many times large farms will install “spider boxes” throughout their fields to help with insect problems. These spider boxes are typically wooden crates turned upside down and the spiders spend the hot days under the cover of the box and build their webs in the vegetation.
So next time you are tempted to hack at a poor little snake, set out mole traps or brush away those spider webs, think first of all the benefits these creatures can have to a natural landscape. You will be surprised at what these creatures can do.