Updated: May 14, 2020
As some of you already know my first personal biodiversity project will be the retransformation of my garden into a wildlife/natural garden. Today I will introduce my little garden and tell you a little bit about it's past and what I want to achieve with this project.
My little garden in February 2020 © Earth.Life.You
This is my little garden and, well, my feet. Stefan (that's my husband) and I tend to it since the beginning of 2017. Before that, we had 0 experience with gardening. It is about 60m2 big, facing south and as you can see it is located in a courtyard in the outskirts of Vienna. Just below the garden is an underground garage, so there is only about 20cm of earth. The construction of the house opposite my garden has begun just last year. That was a little sad because before there was just a one-story building on the other end of the property and in their garden grew a really beautiful willow tree. Allegedly, the tree was moved for the construction work and will be transported back when the building is finished, but I don't believe it will fit anymore. But let's hope for the best.
Right now my garden doesn't look like much, I know. But it is still the end of winter, even if it sometimes doesn't seem that way in Vienna presently. In spring, summer, and fall you can find some beauties in my little garden.
Impressions of my little garden throughout the year © Earth.Life.You
Before we took over this little garden it belonged to a woman, who spent all her free time tending to her plants. It looked beautiful, but to keep it that way it would have needed a lot of care and for my taste, it was too neat and had too many foreign plants. But look for yourself, but keep in mind, these pictures were taken in the middle of summer. So it isn't a fair comparison to the first picture ;)
My little garden in summer of 2016 © Earth.Life.You
I like what other people call "messy" in a garden. In nature, nothing is "tidy" and I don't like the concept that plants only survive if I tend to them on a daily basis. It just doesn't seem natural. Probably because it isn't... Don't get me wrong, I love working in the garden, but plants need to be able to survive on their own even if I don't have the time to tend to them for a week or two (except for watering).
So when we took over we removed a few foreign plants and some of the cutesy garden stuff and tried to lay out a wildflower meadow. Firstly because it nourishes insects and secondly because you only have to mow it twice a year. Well, it didn't work the way I intended... Hardly anything which blooms grew and when I tried to mow it with a hand mower it just kind of died. The first time Stefan actually mowed it with a kitchen knife. That worked, but it was exhausting so we bought the hand mower. When that didn't work I used a sickle for a while. After a lot of cuts (yeah, I'm clumsy) we decided to try an electric lawn trimmer. That works, but all it got us was clumps of grass, clover, and moss, although we tried different kinds of seeds and tried to match the condition of the soil wildflowers prefer. The clover didn't even bloom a lot. So I had to admit to myself that the location was probably not fit for a wildflower meadow.
One of the attempts of growing a wildflower meadow © Earth.Life.You
Two years ago we installed a vegetable patch. For that, we built a little raised bed, so the plants would have more earth. It works pretty well. We already grew tomatoes, silverbeet, pepper, and herbs successfully.
Vegetable patch © Earth.Life.You
When I was researching biodiversity for my student project I was reminded of how beneficial a garden can be for native species. A natural garden is kind of a sanctuary for insects, small animals, and plants. Most of the landscape in Austria, especially in the plains, is either covered by buildings and streets or is used for agriculture and most of it is still industrial agriculture. In Austria, the situation is actually a lot better than in other countries in Europe or the world, but we are European champions of land consumption, so we can't really rest on our green image for long if we continue like this. I will probably write a separate post on this subject.
So again I got the urge to do something myself, not only donate to a non-profit organization. I have a little land, so why not use it to make a positive contribution to biodiversity? A lot of people I talked to think that it doesn't matter what they are doing in their garden. Their contribution is too little in comparison to what big companies are destroying for profit, so why even try. But we are so many people around the globe if everyone would do a little, it would have a big influence, not only on other people but on companies as well. I like the saying: "Think globally, act locally". The worst that can happen is that you build a safe, beautiful harbour for a few animals and plants. Doesn't sound too bad, does it?
So that is exactly what I intend to do with my little garden. Create a sanctuary for animals and plants. Since Stefan and I haven't been very successful with our attempts to remodel the garden, I contacted a specialist this time to help. I'm very excited and can't wait to begin!
I will keep you posted!