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Gardening with wildlife

Living the Country Life Radio Program with Betsy Freese

More plants, more animals

Listen to this radio show (MP3 download) or read below.

Radio interview source: Jim Pease, Extension wildlife specialist, Iowa State University

One of the many fun reasons to live in the country is interacting with wildlife. Sometimes, it would be nice to know what the critters are thinking. I've had skunks in my strawberries and once found one that had died in between the rows. He must have eaten a few too many! We had a mole problem one year, with big tunnels throughout the yard. We trapped one huge mole. He must have been their leader because before we could trap anymore, they all disappeared.

When they're not being destructive, animals can be fun to watch. Iowa State University Wildlife Specialist Jim Pease says if you maximize the number of plant species, you'll also maximize the number of wildlife species.

"Diversify tree species, leave some of those dead ones, put evergreens out for nesting and for thermal cover in the wintertime, and put out some grasses and legumes" Pease says. "Flowers provide nectar and pollen for lots of other insects, which provide the food that lots of things need. And include shrubs for berries, nesting and cover."

You can put out brush and rock piles for additional cover, too. Some birds like to nest in grit and pebbles, so try paving garden paths with that material. Other forms of wildlife love tall, grassy areas, so resist the urge to mow every inch of your property.

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