Wildflowers on Allotments
Why should you grow wildflowers on allotments?
Growing wildflowers in an allotment has many benefits, many species such as Foxgloves and Teasels attract a range of insects including ladybirds. Attracting ladybirds will help control aphid populations. Many wildflowers such as Vipers Bugloss will attract pollinators such as bees improving pollination levels.
On allotments you can support the local wildlife by making log piles, insect houses and ponds.
A Different Approach
In allotments, rather than attempting to grow a traditional wildflower meadow, meadow grass should be avoided. Normally this grows to vigorously. Instead it is often best to create a border effect using biennial and perennial wildflower species such as Oxeye Daisies.
Cornfield annual mixtures containing Poppies and Cornflowers can also be grown very well on allotment soils. These mixtures can be sown in spring or autumn for a quick flowering the following summer.
Green Manures on Allotments
Green manures work by withdrawing good nutrients out of the soil and storing it in the plants cells and root nodules. When the plants are dug back into the soil and rot down, this will gradually release the nutrients. As well as holding nutrients in the soil, some green manures have the ability to fix nitrogen from the air. This ability to fix nitrogen provides you with fertiliser.
What are the benefits of Green Manures?
- Attract pollinators.
- Provide soil cover.
- Minimises weed growth and prevents erosion.
Types of Green Manures
- Buckwheat & Phacelia – Attracts beneficial insects.
- Legumes – i.e. Lupins, Clovers (Red and White).
- Rye – Will grow well at low temperatures, however, can be difficult to get rid of.
- Mustards – Can be very effective but can interfere with crop rotation.
What flowers should you use on Allotments?
- Marigolds – Easy to grow chemicals in the roots of marigolds, suppressing microscopic worms that invade plant roots.
- Sunflowers – These are easy to grow and are nectar rich encouraging pollinators.
- Nasturtiums – Is an easy to grow annual whose leaves and flowers are edible.
- Yarrow – Useful for attracting insects such as ladybirds, lacewings and hoverflies.