How to encourage wildlife on your allotment
Allotments are not only a wonderful place for us to grow produce and have land to tend in the midst of an urban environment, but they are also an increasingly important resource for wildlife.
Many of the plants and animals that struggle to survive on intensively managed farmland find a refuge on allotment sites. If you’d like to take on an allotment the first thing you need to do is contact your local council – in some areas the take up of allotments is very high and you may have to go on a waiting list.
The key to getting wildlife to work with you on your allotment is to encourage the beneficial creatures that are already present to continue to thrive while also actively working to get other species to live there.
Managing wildlife areas
Empty, overgrown plots can make an allotment look unkempt and uncared for, but a solution is to manage these sites as wildlife areas. Untended plots may be taken over by bramble which is an excellent food source and refuge for many kinds of wildlife. Apart from attracting insects such as hoverflies, bees and lacewings, a tangle of brambles is a favourite nesting site for birds such as robins, wrens, thrushes and blackbirds. Some warblers and finch species may also use bramble in this way.
To control bramble, cut back different sections on a 3 or 4-year rotation so there is always a gradation between the first year growth and mature stems – this means you can keep a plot relatively tidy while still retaining much of the wildlife benefit.