Going Bats: Wildlife For Growers Meeting 23rd April

Jan (far right) considers the merits of the overgrown hedge
Jan (far right) considers the merits of the overgrown hedge behind us

It’s been ages since Bath & Bristol Organic Growers (BABOG) have had a meeting, so a few of us took a break from the madness of spring sowings, plantings and cultivation to get together for a chat and coffee (and cake!); and we also welcomed Jan from Wiltshire Wildlife Trust to the meeting at Grown Green @ Hartley Farm on a drizzly Friday afternoon. It seems to make so much sense for wildlife charities and organisations to get more involved in groups based on sustainable gardening, horticulture and agriculture – unsustainable farming is probably the biggest cause of a decline in wildlife after all (loss of habitat and food, increase in disruptive chemicals etc), so it makes sense for us all to work together to conserve wildlife, and also spread the message that if you care about wildlife, you should care about what you eat and how it’s produce (and vice versa).

Despite my small plot size (just over 2 acres), I’m think I’m doing ok for wildlife (especially since building the pond 18 months ago); but I don’t know much about bats, nor whether they are especially beneficial from a growers’ point of view, or just a sympton of a healthy ecosystem. One grower suggested that bats could be very helpful if they predate on nocturnal and twilight pests such as leek moth; and Jan suggested that ‘gleaning’ species of bat, such as brown long-eared bats and natterer’s, would eat these kinds of insects and moths. They especially love open woodland and orchards; so my small field by the copse might be their cup of tea. We all immediately decided that we’d like more of these helpful critters flying around and cleaning all the pests away for us; but bats seem to be struggling due to loss of habitat, food and increased pesticides – all species are protected in the UK. The useful gleaning species like tall hedgerows to fly past at twilight, offering shelter and food at the same time; and like to roost fairly high up – so my idea of adding bat boxes to my shipping container weren’t much good. Jan suggested that I could add some to the little copse of woodland by the edge of my field, which has a wildlife route to and from it in the shape of tall outgrown hedges, so I might look into that (I never realised how many different types of bat boxes there are! Time to get the DIY tools out…). Apparently our area is relatively rich in bats though, even the most-threatened horseshoe bats; so I’ve now sown some night-scented stocks and phlox to encourage more twilighty insects to certain plots, in the hope that this will in turn help the bats too. If nothing else, it will smell nice in the evenings…

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s