A note from Nature Stewards program coordinator Ken Gurr…

This is the time when most of us are tucking in our garden beds and surrounds for the heavy winter rains and cold. Taking steps to support wildlife can make fall chores even more rewarding. Here are some tips for garden clean up with nature in mind.

Give Leaves a Chance . . .

to decompose, add organic matter and nutrients to the landscape, and give tiny critters a home. Instead of raking up and bagging leaves, rake them to cover gardens and surround the bases of trees to insulate plants and roots while also providing shelter for pollinators, small mammals and other wildlife. To keep leaves from blowing away, cover them with large fallen branches or contain them using deer or snow fencing.

Plant native plants, shrubs, trees or seeds

Fall is the ideal time for planting native plants. Putting in transplants right now is perfect for allowing winter rains to get roots established. If you have a re-wilding habitat project or just want to add more native biodiversity to your garden, check out GaLTT’s Native Plant Depot (located at the Gabriola Commons (near the Timberframe). It’s a free service (but online donations are gratefully accepted) and is catch as catch can.

Or please drop by Nanaimo Area Land Trust’s Native Plant Nursery on 3145 Frost Road (near the Nanaimo Airport). Open Wednesdays 10:00 am to 3:00 pm and Saturdays 11:00 am to 3:00 pm. They have a diverse and abundant selection of native plants for sale.

Save stems and seed heads

Leave dried stalks in the garden to provide overwintering and nesting sites for some beneficial pollinators, such as small carpenter bees. Birds and small mammals will benefit from eating the seeds on the seed heads.

Harvest and share native plant seeds

You may also want to harvest a portion of your native plants’ seeds to grow and disperse more or share with friends, family or a seed library where other islands can access seeds. The Gabriola Agricultural Co-op is newly working on a project to help create a seed library for local biodiversity and food security. Contact them to find out more and how you can get involved,

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