The Unexpected: The Joy of Animal Visitors
Not precisely the creature we want to see in our gardens, but it does illustrate an excellent example of our gardens feeding more than just friends and family. Growing a garden helps support local wildlife by providing food, shelter, and a mini-ecosystem. Outside of our friend in the picture, my garden has many beneficial insects, birds, and lizards that live and visit my home garden daily.
Depending on the type of supported wildlife, these visitors can have a positive or negative effect. My little friend could be a problem in the picture above, but it was wintertime, and the lemongrass was in remission. So there was minor damage to be done. In Arizona, one of the most common pests is Tomato Hornworms which can devastate my pepper and tomato plants. Other gardeners I talk to that grow more fruit tend to have more rodent issues. It all depends on where you live and what attracts local wildlife. At the same time, I enjoy the variety of life, constantly moving in and out of the garden.
Most insects and animals attracted to our gardens are beneficial to our gardens. However, there are some well we wish we would not see, but it is nature so that we will get our course of caterpillars, aphids, and the odd rodent. Even sometimes, our pets can be the most destructive to our gardens. When my youngest dog was a puppy, she destroyed one 4x4 bed and chewed down a few small trees one day.
I have been experimenting with companion planting to combat those creatures we do not want in our garden. These plants grow well together but can also benefit both or one of the plants. For example, basil can deter particular pests, and most pets will avoid gardens planted with it as they are not fond of the pungent odor of the plant. It will help tomatoes taste better at the same time and deter certain insects. Another plant I use but mainly cuttings, is rosemary, as it keeps my dogs and cats out of my single-potted plants.
Enjoy the garden and all the visitors that go throughout the year. Remember, your garden supports a wide variety of local wildlife, and you can enjoy their presence almost as much as you do your garden.