Many organic gardeners I encounter complain about large birds taking produce from their vegetable gardens. Our blog this week talks about methods to minimise the impact of these large birds. These methods cost virtually nothing and do not involve turning your garden into a fortress or condone harm to the birds.
Its very important to firstly recognise that all life in and around your garden is connected. This includes the life you see as well as the billions of tiny creatures that live in healthy soil. Without a balance being maintained between all this life, your soil will loose its vitality and so will your plants. When the vitality of your plants is lowered, they become targets for insects and birds. Nature provides many mysterious gifts we can tap into which will support your organic food garden. These gifts recognise the synergistic impact of maintaining a balance with all this life.
Its easy to concentrate on the negatives of what birds can destroy in your garden. These impacts are often quite obvious to the eye. I feel its timely to mention some of the good reasons for birds being in your garden, before we get into concepts of limiting their presence:
- Most birds eat common small creatures that live in food gardens. They can maintain a natural balance with such creatures, if you let them do their job. The birds can be your clean up team. You may notice that if your plants are weakened because of extreme heat and lack of moisture, the grasshopper population increases, then birds will become more frequent in the garden to eat the grasshoppers and so bring back a balance.
- The bird song can help the plants to grow. Researchers in many parts of the world have proven that sound benefits plant growth. The singing of birds provides a beautiful vibration of sounds waves to roll over your plants, adding to their vitality.
- The birds and their singing add natural beauty to the garden. When the gardener becomes conscious of this beauty and has a feeling of joy and appreciation in the beauty of all forms of life in the garden, there is an energetic transfer of this feeling to the plants. In other words, if you love your garden and its creatures, the garden will respond positively. If you hate all the creatures in and around the garden and try to destroy them, they will respond accordingly to your feelings.
All that touchy feelly stuff is fine, you may be thinking, but if you don t like the squarking of the crow or cockatoo or the grunt of the bush turkey and its accompanying destruction, what else can you do to counter these large birds that may take more than their fair share of your garden produce.
- Assume that the birds will visit and always put in more plants than you will consume. This allows for some plants to be eaten or die out due to factors such as poor soil, poor quality seedlings or disease, but most importantly, it provides some food for the birds and other animals of your garden. They have as much right to live in your space as you do.
- Do everything you can to maintain the vitality of your plants. This includes diligent work on your soil fertility, maintaining appropriate water levels and regular observation of how your plants are going. With this observation, you may be able to stem a weakness in your plants. Healthy plants emit a natural scent, not detectable to humans. This scent minimises the likelihood of the plants being attacked by pests or diseases.
- Establish a bird family to protect your food garden. This is not as hard as it sounds. Birds are very territorial creatures and you can make use of this aspect of their being to keep other bigger birds out of your food garden. There are three smaller bird families that live around my garden, I call them the garden protectors. Place a seed tray and water bath in an obvious part of your food garden. You may also wish to place a grubs bowl. Each day top up the seed tray in your garden and if you find any grubs on your plants, put them in the grubs bowl. Over time a family of birds will begin to consider your garden as their home base. Once they do this, they will become quite aggressive with other birds coming into their territory. As an example, just last week a bush turkey (as large as a chicken) was nosing around my compost heap. The bird families followed me down to the garden and then began to dive on the bush turkey and continued this until the turkey departed. This deterrence is a common happening and I know it also occurs when I am not around, because my garden is rarely touched and yet there are over 30 different types of birds living on our land, some quite large.
- Once you have established one or more families of smaller birds around your garden, you'll find they will like to be around you when you are in the garden. I feel its important to keep building a close relationship with the birds so they trust you. Just being around them provides a form of communication to the birds, they become partners in your garden. I conduct gardening workshops at our place and its fascinating to see the families of birds interacting with the participants, its as if they want to be part of the conversation.
So you see, there are ways to work with the balance of life around your garden and grow enough healthy food for all, whilst increasing the beauty, productivity and joy of your organic garden.
Peter Kearney - www.cityfoodgrowers.com