When I first started growing my own food, I was driven by wanting to know where my food came from, reducing the air miles it travelled, and being 100% organic. In essence, I wanted to be in control. However, after getting my lottie, I found so many other benefits to growing my own food, both physically and mentally. The lottie is my haven and refuge from the stress and strain from modern life. As the world becomes increasingly busy, your time in demand, gardening is the perfect opportunity to take a step back and find your inner happiness.
I teamed up with Fiskars this spring, promoting its fantastic campaign “0% Stress, 100% Happiness” which is something I am really passionate about. Approximately one in four people will experience a mental health problem each year. During those dark days you can feel isolated, unhealthy and with no way out. We all have our vices and for me, mine is gardening. The energy I created when digging my new wildlife pond not only was like a workout in itself. It also releases any stresses you’ve built up on a pile of dirt, armed with nothing more than your trusty spade and the birds singing around you.
You’ve probably heard the saying, a bad workman blames his tools, well there’s actually some truth in that. There is nothing more frustrating than digging away, to suddenly find your spade head snapped off. Or your loppers just not good enough for the job, so you end up hacking at the branches in anger. That will not achieve happiness! As part of the campaign, Fiskars is so confident that its products will help create 100% Happiness, they are offering a voucher or your money back after 60 days of using the easy to use tools. To find out how you can benefit, click this link.
Fiskars challenged me to find 0% Stress, 100% Happiness in my lottie, so this spring I have been working on introducing more wildlife into my plot, making it a haven for not only myself, but all the wildlife around. I find listening to the sounds of the birds and the bees flying around very therapeutic. It’s hard to explain the power of immersing yourself in the outdoors, has on your wellbeing. There are a few things I am doing to increase the wildlife that visit, one is to provide a food source and the other is to provide habitats.
I have begun by making a wildlife area behind my shed. This was an unused space due to the previous plot owner using it as a rubbish tip. It was solid compacted soil, filled with all sorts of rubbish, netting, bottles and even a buried wheelbarrow and wardrobes. For this ground, I needed something tough but lightweight as it was going to require a lot of digging. My Fiskars Xact Digging Spade was perfect for the job and was really comfortable to use.
Next up was to cut the overhanging branches back from the area, exposing the ground to more sunlight for the planned pond and bee friendly plants. My lottie is lined by a thick mixed hedge which is great for all the birds and wildlife that take shelter in it. It can get a bit unruly so I use my Fiskars PowerGear X Loppers to keep it under control.
The area was finally ready to begin digging the hole for the pond! I followed information from The Wildlife Trusts which was really useful. The pond ended up becoming egg shaped which I guess is pretty perfect with the chicken theme! The deepest point is 80cm which is perfect for overwintering frogs and toads. I made a shallow area at one end to attract all kinds of wildlife. When the shape and levels were all dug, I lined the whole thing with sand. I’m using a second hand butyl liner so I wanted to ensure that nothing in the ground would pierce the liner.
My dad helped me drape the liner over the hole and then I began to fill it with rainwater. The water pushed the liner into place and naturally filled the hole. I wanted to create some nooks and crannies for the wildlife to hide in so I laid some large rocks in the bottom of the pond, and some smaller ones to create a ramp in the shallow end. I salvaged the rocks from a plot neighbours garden and I even had enough to edge the whole pond. You need to give the wildlife an escape route so ill be adding a wooden plank that has chicken wire wrapped around it. The chicken wire provides a bit of grip to whatever animal is walking up the plank.
Last but not least, was some plants! I’m pretty certain I have an addiction to plants, whether that be ornamental or edible. But now I have to add water plants to that list! Plants not only provide another habit for wildlife, but they also oxygenate the water. When I picked up the second hand pond liner, the kind man asked if I would like some pond plants as well. He gave me a beautiful pink lily and some waterweed. Since I’ve added a Scirpus Cernuus grass which will be perfect for insects to burrow in and a Butomus Umbellatus that has beautiful flowers.
Since installing the pond, both my girls and the wild birds have loved it. I currently have a family of blue tits in my bird box and the parents regularly come out for a dip in the pond. I can’t wait to see what other wildlife visits. As well as the pond, I will also be adding a frog house, bug hotel and plenty of flowering plants that the bees and butterflies will love. Not only will they love it, but so will I!