Biological diversity (biodiversity) is the measure of plant and animal life in any given area.
Understanding biodiversity and the ways in which particular habitats are desirable to certain plants and animals can help you get the most from your garden, while also promoting more sustainable and ecologically beneficial habitats. The more species that occupy your garden and increase its biological diversity, the more strength and resilience it has.
Monoculture on the other hand, denies biological diversity which weakens the system creating the need for artificial inputs such as nitrates and pesticides. Infertile land with subsequently low productivity often has a low level of diversity.
Healthy soil has more species diversity than above ground. A fist full of healthy soil contains millions of species, most invisible to the naked eye. Health and productivity can be created and maintained if plenty of organic matter is incorporated into the soil.
At the Hollies market garden we do not dig this in to the soil, instead we spread on top of the bed, cover it and let the earthworms work it in and turn it into rich humus; this is best done in autumn and winter.
Above ground, health and productivity can be restored and maintained by growing as many species of vegetable as the space will allow and not growing the same family of food in the same piece of ground for at least four years. Rotating the vegetable families helps to reduce the build up of pests and diseases.
Growing beneficial flowers such as marigolds, chamomile and borage will attract insects, which in turn will attract birds who keep down the population of slugs, which are one of the more destructive pests in a vegetable garden.
These flowers not only make a garden beautiful, but they can also be eaten and look great in a salad. Promoting biodiversity in your garden will improve the overall fertility, thereby increasing the overall productivity.