Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for June, 2013

Working together, 25 wildlife organisations have taken a very close look at our native wildlife and on 22 May 2013 published ‘The State of Nature report’. This report has alarmingly revealed that 60% of the species studied have declined with more than 1 in 10 under threat of disappearing. The decline in many of these species can be reversed by providing a clean habitat, good food and a healthy environment so that they can breed and their young survive.

Communities, Schools and individuals really can make a diference, last week the RSPB launched the ‘Giving Nature a Home’ campaign to encourage people to create habit, homes and a safe haven for their wildlife. There are many ways that you can do this here are a few suggestions.

The Hogitat Hedgehog House

The Hogitat Hedgehog House

–   Put a hedgehog house in a quiet area of your garden

–   Build a pond

Frogitat - Ceramic Frog and Toad House

Frogitat – Ceramic Frog and Toad House

–   Provide a home for frogs and toads

–   Let a corner of your garden go wild

–   Create a dead wood pile for insects

 Wooden Bat Box

–   Put up some bat boxes

–   Feed the birds regularly, provide fresh water and nest boxes

–   Plant a tree or shrub

Attractor Pack - Bumble Bees

–   Grow nectar rich flowers that benefit bees and insects

Solitary Bee Hive

–   Put up bee and insect houses

I am very passionate about wildlife, in our garden we have: a large pond which is home to many species, nestboxes (most of them occupied) on all 3 sides of the house, a bee house, hedgehog house and in the very near future I will be putting up some insect houses.

Why not take a look at your garden and see if you can make it a haven for wildlife too.

Gill

Read Full Post »

This week I have spent quite a lot of my free time on my allotment on my hands and knees weeding, it is amazing what you see when you get that bit closer to the ground.

Whilst digging up some of the larger weeds I uncovered two types of grubs one was cream and is the larvae of the Cockchafer Beetle, the other one was grey and is the larvae of the Crane Fly or Daddy Long Legs both these grubs will happily munch their way through the roots of your plants and crops but they will also make a welcome meal for a young bird.

Above ground amongst the foliage were Ants, Spiders, Beetles and quite a lot of Ladybird larvae, which is good news, as I have not seen many Ladybirds this year.

Field Guide to Ladybirds

I began wondering about the life cycle of Ladybirds, so I had a look at my Field Guide to Ladybirds and thought I would share my finding with you.

During the winter months (October-February) Ladybirds become dormant which is known as ‘overwintering’, prefering a dry, sheltered place away from predators usually in leaf litter or bark crevices.

In March/April the Ladybirds will become active and look for aphids (greenfly) to eat.

During May the male and female Ladybirds will mate.

Ladybird Larvae

Ladybird Larvae

During June-July the females lay their eggs on the underside of leaves they look like very small yellow jellybeans, they will choose a plant that has a good supply of aphids, which the larvae will eat once they have hatched out, the larvae don’t resemble a Ladybird at all, they mainly have a long grey body with black and orange markings and have six black legs, after a couple of weeks growing the larvae start to change and after attaching themselves to a leaf become a ‘pupae’.

Ladybird Larvae

Ladybird Pupae

In August the new Ladybirds emerge from the ‘pupae’ and begin to feed on aphids, they need to eat lots of them to build up their reserves to see them through the winter.

Minibug Ladybird Tower

Minibug Ladybird Tower

Ladybird and Insect Tower

Ladybird and Insect Tower

Ladybirds really are good news for gardeners, eating lots of aphids and should be encouraged in every garden, why not put up some insect houses to give them a home for the winter.

Gill

Read Full Post »

If you like drawing and painting why not have a go at our two current competitions but hurry as the closing date is 30th June just over a week away.

On the Gardening With Children website there are two free Childrens Competitions, with a chance to win some great Wildlife and Gardening Goodies for your home or school.

1.  In the Family Zone and Kids Zone

To help the Bees in your garden why not enter our competition for a chance to win

 
Solitary Bee Hive
 
 
 
Butterfly/Bee Nectar Feeding Station
 
 
 
Guide to Solitary Bees
 
 
What you need to do
‘Bee’ creative and design a poster with the heading ‘Bee kind to Bees’  or  ‘Bee’ artistic and draw a picture of a Bee in your garden.
Send your drawing to us with an entry form before the closing date of 30th June 2013 and our favourite will win. Click here for full details and an entry form.
 

2.  In the School Zone

Win a Scarecrow for your school garden.

 A dressed scarecrow

Scarecrow Heads
 
For a chance to win one of our Scarecrow Kits complete with a hand crafted Head why not enter our competition, your Scarecrow will make a fun addition to the school garden; why not dress him in your School Uniform or a local Football Team Kit.
 
What you need to do
Simply draw or paint a picture of a Scarecrow, then give him/her a name and send it to us with an entry form before the closing date of 30th June 2013 and our favourite will win. Click here for full details and an entry form.
 
Good Luck
 
Gill

Read Full Post »

Next week (17-23 May) is Recycle Week.

We are all aware that recycling is very important to the environment, I am sure that many people recycle items of their rubbish in their weekly collections, but could we do more? Can we recycle our waste and benefit our garden?

 Twin Bin Composter from The Recycle Works

Green Waste

Millions of tonnes of green garden waste are produced each year, don’t throw it away it contains valuable nutrients. Set up a compost bin to collect and transform your garden waste (grass, prunings, leaves, weeds etc) into wonderful home-made compost which can be used to grow flowers/vegetables, as a soil improver or as a mulch.  Teabags, Cardboard, Newspaper and Fruit and Vegetable peelings can all be added to the compost bin too.

 Twin Bokashi Bucket System

Food Waste

Cooked food waste including meat, fish and vegetables is usually thrown away but can be recycled in a Bokashi Compost Bucket using EM’s – Effective Microrganisms without the fear of smells. Simply place your scraps into the bucket with a sprinkling of Bokashi Bran and re-seal the lid, when your bucket is full leave for two weeks keeping the lid sealed and either dig the contents into the garden or add to your compost bin. Whilst the compost is maturing a nutrient rich liquid is produced, dilute this with water 1:100 and use as a plant feed in the home or garden.

Harcoster Rain Diverter

Water

Gardens can be very ‘thirsty’ especially during warm weather to reduce the amount of tap water you use collect rainwater from your down pipes with a rain diverter and store in water butts.

Paper Potter

Biodegradable pots

Why not make your own pots out of newspaper using a Paper Potter they are very easy to make and great fun for children to do. Egg boxes are great for filling with compost and sowing seeds in, cardboard rolls and toilet roll tubes are perfect for sweet peas, peas and beans as they provide a deeper root run, keep the containers continually moist to allow the roots to penetrate, once planted they will rot down.

 Love Your Environment shopping bag

Shopping Bags

We as a nation use far too many plastic bags, millions go into landfill sites and thousands more become nuisance litter in our countryside, towns and even our seas, looking unsightly and becoming a danger to our precious wildlife. Invest in a reusable shopping bag that will last for years, helping the environment and if it’s a Fair-trade one it helps farmers and workers in developing countries too, it’s a good idea to keep one by the front door as well as a couple in the car.

 PIR Solar Utility Light

Solar Power

Save electricity by recycling the suns energy with solar powered lights which are bright enough to use inside your shed or greenhouse and to light up your garden and feature plants.

Odd Socks!!!

Ever wondered what to do with all those odd socks, if you collect rainwater direct from your greenhouse or shed roof pop one of them on the end of the down pipe to collect the dust and debris keeping the water clean, replace when required!

Reducing And Recycling Waste In Schools

If you have got the recycling bug and want to do more there are many good books on the subject including Recycle – The Essential Guide and Reducing and Recycling Waste in Schools.

Love your environment – reduce, reuse and recycle

Gill

Read Full Post »

Slugs must be at the top of the list of garden pests, they happily munch their way through our treasured crops often eating as much as we do, annoyingly leaving behind their calling card – a tell tale silver trail.

Slug

Last year we had a very wet April and May (which is when slugs breed) this resulted in a large increase in their population and although we had a cold spring this year many will have survived due to their large numbers, if they all breed successfully there could be a slug explosion in June and July.

There are many environmentally friendly ways to control slugs in the garden:

1  Place a slug deterrent such as Slug Gone around your plants, composed of sheep’s wool, sand, grit and potassium salts it acts as a barrier which irritates the slugs foot and absorbs its slime. Slug Gone wool pellets can be used anywhere in the garden, they are natural, organic and safe to children, pets and wildlife, the pellets hold twice their own weight in water and will act as an excellent mulch, weed suppressant, soil conditioner and slow release fertiliser too.

Slug Gone 3.5 Litre

2  Install Copper Tapes around the outside of Pots, Troughs, Raised Beds or the legs of Mangers/Growing Tables the tiny electrical charge they give out will send the slugs away.

3  Apply Nemaslug, which is a biological control, every 6 weeks to the soil by simply watering it in, it contains millions of microscopic slug hunting worms called nematodes which invade and kill the slugs.

Nemaslug® Slug Killer

4  Build a pond in your garden; it will soon become a home to frogs, toads and newts whose favourite food are slugs, as well as benefiting and encouraging masses of wildlife.

5  Create permanent log piles in your garden to encourage Ground Beetles they can eat a surprising number of slugs for their size, the logs provide a summer nesting site and a perfect place to overwinter.

6  Attract birds to your garden by providing bird feeders, bird food, and a bird bath, Thrushes especially love slugs.

7  Encourage Hedgehogs to your garden by putting out hedgehog food (don’t overfeed them as they will stop foraging for the slugs), clean water and a place to nest or hibernate such as a Hogitat or a Hogilo they love a tasty snack of slugs.

 Hedgehog at snack bowl

8  Mulch the garden with bark chips, well rotted compost or manure all of which are inedible to slugs.

9  Patrol the garden when it has gone dark with a torch collecting them in a bag/bucket and disposing of them as you think fit!

I would not recommend using harmful slug pellets that contain metaldehyde, although they kill the slugs they will also kill their natural predators (insects, birds, mammals, amphibians) who unwittingly eat the slugs, as well as being harmful to pets, children and grown-ups.

Although slugs are often not wanted in our gardens they do have a place there and are a vital part of  our wildlifes food chain, it is all about creating a natural and harmonious balance.

Love your environment.

Gill

Read Full Post »

Last week we had an enquiry regarding our Croma Preservative, there is nothing unusual about that, but this was from The Barn Owl Centre of Gloucestershire who wanted a preservative to use on their owl nest boxes and as it is non toxic, kind to wildlife (and plants) it is perfect.

The Barn Owl Centre of Gloucestershire is a registered charity which has been established since 1997 and who are working to support the environment, wildlife and the community through Education, Conservation and Bird Welfare not only are they passionate about Barn Owls but all species of Owls and Birds of Prey.

Education plays a huge part in their work and their resident birds play an important part in group visits to/from Children, Schools, Farmers/Landowners etc. making it a fun, interactive and enjoyable experience. Wild bird casualties can be brought to them for treatment and rehabilitation with the sole aim of releasing the birds back to the wild once they are fit and well.

Young Barn Owl

Did you know?

Barn Owls ….

… hunt at night, and although they have very good eyesight  they rely on their exceptional sense of hearing to locate their prey.

… are easily recognised by their heart-shaped face, whose outer feathers collect, trap and focus sound just like human ears.

… fly almost silently which enables them to hear the smallest noises made by their prey of mainly field voles, wood mice and common shrews, they eat on average 4 a night.

… eat their prey whole, the indigestible parts are then coughed up in the form of an owl pellet.

… do not hoot (that’s Tawny Owls) they screech.

We have barn owls locally but I have yet to witness these magnificent creatures in their natural surroundings. If you are passionate about Owls and wildlife why not have a look at their website to see how you can help, if you live locally why not become a volunteer.

Many of our native birds are in decline and really do need our help, they need Nest Boxes, which provide them with a safe place to roost and rear their young, Bird Feeders filled with high energy bird food throughout the year and a Bird Bath with clean water to drink and to bathe in to keep their feathers in tip top condition. Wildlife products make excellent gifts why not treat your dad or granddad this Father’s Day (16th June) and help the wildlife in your garden.

Gill

Read Full Post »