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Belmont Garden Diary: February

Harvest Time: Urban Gardening with Chris Kulczycki

One of the easiest ways to increase the yields from your productive garden and discourage pest insects is to attract the beneficial ones. Beneficial insects include bees, hoverflies, lacewings, ladybirds, and parasitic wasps. An important consideration when preparing a productive garden is to set aside some space to grow plants that will feed and home the insects that will help do some of the work for you. For example, bees and hoverflies are great pollinators whilst ladybirds do a fantastic job at eradicating aphids without the need to use chemicals.

Some of the flowering plants I grow alongside my fruit trees and vegetables include Borage, Linaria, Chamomile, Marigolds, Calendula, Sunflowers, Alyssum, Roses, Nasturtium, and Bottlebrush, among others. I also allow selected herbs and vegetables to go to flower. This further increases the diversity of flowers available to different insects. There is no rule for what exact types of flowers to use, but as often is the case, diversity is best. This ensures there is a constant supply of flowers across the seasons, as many plants have a peak period of performance including when they flower. In addition, different types of insects have a preference for different types of flowers. By increasing the variety of flower types, the more beneficial insects will visit or establish a home in your own garden.

Growing flowers delivers on multiple purposes. They provide a food source and habitat for the beneficial insects, which will be attracted to your garden. I also get to use some of the flowers in the kitchen as a garnish or in the case of Chamomile, to dry and make homemade tea. The flowers also provide for an added level of visual interest in the garden and of course many are suitable to be cut and used in floral arrangements in your home.



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