Sao Miguel and the other islands are formed on volcanic rock. This is a huge advantage when it comes to the modern idea of sustainable farming or no-tilling. while this is a new idea to many farmers, actually not tilling or digging up the soil to plant seed actually increases the crop value. And the volcanic rock is full of nutrients meaning crops grow incredibly quickly. On the Solar Branco Eco Estate, we have taken over old, unloved agricultural land which we are currently restoring to help the wildlife here on Sao Miguel.
No pesticides: It goes without saying, that in order to encourage wildlife to thrive on the estate, banning pesticides that kill them is was the first step towards restoring the grounds of the estate. With so many professional gardeners and famous public gardens now completely organic, proving it works. And that goes double for the estate.
We believe we are too quick to remove weeds from our allotments and gardens. Often beautiful and they have wildlife value. Bees love feeding on hawkbit and achillea weeds. You can designate a specific wild area of your allotment or garden and leave this to grow wild. On the estate we do this around the walls of the field. We also let some herbs and vegetables to flower to help increases the number and diversity of flowers on our plot for pollinators.
Pests are welcome! I know this sounds counter-intuitive. If you want to encourage beneficial insects like aphids, wasps and hoverflies, you need to make sure they have food to eat. Aphids are a pest of crops but I always leave them to it because I know that a broad bean patch full of aphids is soon going to be covered in these predators.
Pond life: On our grounds we have 2 natural ponds, and. plans for more. They might be small, but they are mighty, attracting pond skaters, dragonflies, damselflies, and frogs.
And finally, homemade compost. Is there anything better? I don’t think so. Making your own compost is fun and rewarding. Homemade compost helps wildlife in so many ways. First of all, like leaf litter in the wild, it instantly creates this type of habitat for centipedes, millipedes, molluscs, worms, beetles and when we are lucky, hedgehogs.