Living In a Wildlife Garden

Reader Contribution by Mary Pellerito
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Trying to create some sort of order in my wildlife garden is futile. For a person who likes a place for everything and everything in its place, sharing a garden with the local birds and other assorted critters is downright frustrating. 

For instance, I fill the bird feeders for the birds and find them empty a day later. There is no way the local bird population can consume that much seed in a 24-hour period. I sneak a peak when least expected and find squirrels, deer and raccoons helping themselves to the bird food.

I tried to strategically place the feeders where I think only birds can reach them, but alas, I am outsmarted and still find empty feeders at the end of the day. So along with eggs, milk and butter, birdseed is a food staple on our weekly grocery list.

Providing shelter for birds was my next goal. I love bluebirds and wanted them to be part of the garden. So, I put up a bluebird house. The first year, we raised a batch of bluebirds and I was thrilled.

The next spring, sparrows found the bluebird house to their liking and they chased the bluebirds away. I put up a second bluebird house hoping for the return of a bluebird pair, but alas, we ended up with a second pair of sparrows. As you can probably guess, the sparrow population is now quite healthy around here.

A few summers ago, purple martins set up their home in our garage. We left the garage door at least partially open all day and night until the purple martins decided it was time to move on. To keep them out of the garage the following year, we put up a purple martin house, well condos really. Remember all those sparrows we have been raising? Well, they decided they needed to expand into the condos. The purple martins still hang out in the garage.

The vegetable garden, if you want to call it that, is more of a community buffet and I am left with the scraps. I have yet to find a fence that keeps my fruit and vegetables protected until I can harvest them. I seem to be the last to know when food is ready to be eaten. 

Last year, I planted a container garden on the back deck. I was able to actually enjoy fresh tomatoes and I harvested enough to freeze a few bags, though I needed to cut away the portions that were nibbled on by the chipmunk that found itself in a food paradise.

Even with all that being said, I have a stack of seed catalogs next to my reading chair. I am ever hopeful that this year I can gain some control over the goings on in the garden. It may not work out as I plan, but life in my garden seems to find a happy medium, albeit skewed more to the wildlife, but I did choose to live in a wildlife garden.

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