The ecosystem of a garden can be generally defined as the sum total of all the living units found in the and around the garden. This includes the soil, which usually has a history of development that precedes the garden. And then when the garden is first created, there is interaction by the gardener, who will beak the sod, turn the soil over and perhaps add some extra ingredients or nutrients before the planting stage begins. Then, as the plants grow, another small micro-system is created on each plant. And finally, besides the gardener, there are a host of visitors that can affect the garden in many different ways. All total this is a rough surmise of how a garden ecosystem evolves.
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The soil is filled with all sorts of fungi, bacteria and non-vertebrate forms of animal life, such as earthworms, ants, centipedes, beetles and spiders. Healthy soil is filled with many forms of life which, through their daily activities, add small quantities of nutrients and inorganic compounds to the soil. Weather patterns also affect the condition of the soil, first by adding moisture to the soil and second by raising the soil temperature when conditions are favourable.
Gardeners should be aware that many of the beneficial organisms that live beneath the surface cannot be seen, but their presence definitely influences the colour and texture of the soil.
The planting of garden seeds and seedlings marks the beginning of the growing cycle that will eventually produce the desired end product. In most cases, this involves the cultivation of flowering plants that produce flowers and then seeds contained within a fruit or hard shell. As most gardeners know, the growth of chosen species is always accompanied by the natural seeding of a variety of wild plants. These seeds can be transported by the wind or flying animals, such as birds or insects. Once rooted, these plants might compete for sunlight with the desired species, but interactions by the gardener are usually detrimental to their growth. It is also important to note that as the garden continues to grow, small micro-systems develop within the realm of the plant world. On occasion, invasion by an insect or fungi can kill some of the plants and reduce the productivity of the garden.
As the garden grows visits by other lifeforms increase. Birds are frequent visitors, who may be attracted to some of the insects in the garden as a food source or may feed on some of the plants, both native and cultivated. As the plants flower and fruit, visits by mice, moles, raccoons, possums, skunks and deer are also possible.
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