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Posts Tagged ‘gardening for wildlife’

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

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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

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2010 is the International Year of Biodiversity and people all over the world are being encouraged to look at ways to safeguard the variety of plants and animals on their doorstep. 

…And in this special National Nest Box Week, which runs from 14th to 21st of February it’s time to provide homes for the dozens of species of bird in Britain … be they blue tits, robins, chaffinches or cheeky house sparrows.

National Nest Box Week is organised each year by the British Trust for Ornithology, Britain’s leading bird research charity. 

They recognise that the natural nest sites on which many of our bird species depend, such as holes in trees and buildings, are fast disappearing as gardens and woods are ‘tidied’ and old houses are repaired. 

It is now estimated that there are between 5 and 6 million nesting boxes in gardens across the UK and they are having huge benefits for our bird populations.

So why not support National Nest Box Week and put up nest boxes in your local area.  You’ll be doing your bit for the conservation of our breeding birds and wildlife.  …Plus in a few weeks time you will have all the fun of watching as bird activity in the garden goes into overdrive with the arrival of young and all that that entails!

Take a look at our great range of nesting boxes.  For the perfect nest box for robins & wrens there is the Robin & Wren Nest Box.  Made from FSC wood, this attractive, flat based open nest box has been designed specifically for these types of birds.

The Birch Log Hole Nest Box, looks beautifully natural and its 32mm hole makes it suitable for species including Great Tits, House Sparrows and Nuthatches. 

 To clean, simply unscrew one side of the lid. As this is a natural product there will be some variations in dimensions.

Made from FSC wood

The Open Birch Log Nest Box is made from a single birch log and is suitable for attracting Robins, Wrens and Blackbirds. 

Also made from FSC wood.

The Tall Oval Nesting Pouch  is for all small birds providing essential protection on cold nights to preserve body fat and enable survival.

It also provides nesting space for small birds mainly Wrens and Goldcrests.

Made from natural durable materials, these nests come complete with fixing wire and detailed instructions. The nests are light and easy to fix in hedgerows, ivy, on pergolas, fencing, walls and small trees or bushes.

Comes with hanger and instructions.

…And for watching all the action as it unfolds take a look at the versatile Wildlife Surveillance Camera .

It features a superb colour/ infrared, weatherproof camera unit in an FSC timber housing for additional protection and security. Complete with audio and integral infrared lights (invisible to the eye and animals) the camera automatically swaps from colour during daylight, to infrared (black and white) in low light conditions.

Ideal for bird tables and feeders, it’s also perfect for making night-time observation of badgers, foxes and hedgehogs. The kit comes complete with a long screened extension cable, low voltage power unit and scart adapter to plug directly into your TV or recorder.

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Here at Gardening With Children, we care deeply about our environment as well as our wildlife, and during the winter months I have had such fun with my own children watching the birds in our garden.  

Try Gourmet Robin Food in your garden and give this favourite bird a real treat

The children’s sheer delight as the drama of the bird world unfolds…  The blue tits and great tits swapping and changing on the nut feeders, the blackbirds exploring the ground, the cautious wren hopping amongst the flower pots and the swooping in of the starlings – a boisterous mob of tear aways coming in and causing chaos… and that’s all in a few minutes!  

The Niyger Bird Feeder is great for all sorts of seed feeding birds

 …And yesterday I shared a joke with Jemima as we watched a pied wagtail perched on the wall.  As it teetered and bobbed, wagging its tail to keep balance we soon saw where it got it’s name!! 

Birds need our help more than ever at this time of year and we have also been feeding the birds at school.  This provides a fantastic learning experience for the children, and handy feeders such as the Discovery Seed Feeder and the Window Bird Feeder can be placed where the children can see so much of the action from inside the classroom. 

 

We also love the Handing Bird Table  and the Ground Bird Table.  Both are priced at just £13.95 and are made from FSC wood.  Bird tables are important in any garden.  They reduce the risk of hygiene problems, can be easily cleaned and they keep pets out of reach.  They are also perfect for gardens where space is limited. 

 

The full range of wildlife products, from for Hedgehog Food to Peanut Cakes and beautiful Birch Nesting Boxes, are all available at www.recycleworks.co.uk

 

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Lots of you got in touch to say how much you enjoyed our ideas for Brownies.  So this week we have some more ideas for you.

Brownies Collector Badge

If you would like to win your Collectors Badge why not go on a nature walk and collect something that interests you from the world around.  It could be shells, fossils, leaves, interesting rocks and stones, different seeds from plants…..the list is endless. 

Put all of your finds in a trug and take them home.  Arrange your items and label them.  Then talk about your collection with the tester, how long you have had it, what you like about it, your favourite things in it etc.  And why not find out about other people who made collections like yours and perhaps visit them in a museum.

Brownies Wildlife Explorer Badge

Spend around 15 minutes each day for a week watching birds, animals and insects near where you live. 

Attract birds to your garden by putting out food like these yummy Bird Bistro Feeders, or hang a Nest Pocket in a tree or hedge to provide a place for birds to nest or hide away in the cold weather.  Learn to identify the birds that visit your garden – this Laminated Guide to Garden Birds will help with that. ..And to watch birds really close up, this Bird Window Feeder will bring garden birds right up to you.

Go with an adult to a local park or watch what is happening in your garden or school grounds.  Record what you seen in a nature notebook.  Go on a nature walk and learn how to identify wild mammals with this Guide to British Land Mammals.  And why not study the insects in your garden with this Solar Insect Theatre?  Make drawings, take photographs and make leaf and bark rubbings.  With an adult why not visit a local pond and record all the wildlife that you see there.  Most of all have fun and enjoy the environment around you!

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We received an enquiry recently from Rona in Peterborough.  She asked:

I have been asked to take on the Reception class garden.  Part of it is designated as the wildlife area.  There is a buddlea bush but otherwise it is just grass.  What can we do to make it a bit more wild and diverse?

My advice would be applicable for anyone wanting to increase the wildlife interest in their garden…so hope you find it useful.

1                    Provide Plants for Shelter & Food

If you are just setting up your garden, or if you have a garden that is very open with perhaps just a lawn and fence, consider introducing some wildlife friendly plants.

Sorbus, Berberis and Pyracantha all have berries which are a good source of food for birds.

In Spring sow raised beds with Flower Meadow Seeds .  These will give beautiful colour in the summer months and will also provide important nectar for butterflies.  During April consider sowing flowers such as Honesty.  This plant will appear year after year and is great early nectar for butterflies.

The native climber Old Mans Beard (clematis vitalba) can be planted at the base of a hedge or fence, and is good for bees, butterflies and moths.

For container gardening consider Marguerite plants in the summer months as they look so pretty but also attract butterflies and moths.

Lavender bushes provide nectar for bees and butterflies and seeds for birds when the flowers die back.

Other container plants to consider for their wildlife benefits include Sedum Spectabile (Ice Plant), Skimmia Japonica and Mexican Orange Blossom.

If you have the space, every garden benefits from having a few trees or large bushes.  Consider Field Maple which will attract bees, moth caterpillars and hoverflies, and Laurel for shelter for birds, bees and hoverflies.

2                    Provide Food for Birds

To encourage birds to your garden, provide a supply of food, particularly during the winter months.  Seeds, peanuts, bread crumbs, chunks of cheese and windfall apples are all good sources of food.  The bird bistro feeders are an excellent source of seeds for blue tits and finches and attach easily to a fence.

When providing food, think about attracting a variety of bird species.  Putting food on the floor will encourage ground feeders such as blackbirds, thrushes, dunnocks and wrens.  Hanging feeders of nuts and seeds will encourage finches and tits.  The apple bird feeder is handy for those windfall or half eaten apples that the children have left, and fruit is an excellent bird food.

Food on a bird table will be popular with robins, sparrows, doves and pigeons.

Also don’t forget that birds also need a clean supply of water all year round and a bird bath is ideal.

For bird lovers the Gift Bird Feeder is a great present.  Included are sunflower seeds, a fabulous flower bed feeder and wool spiral.

The perfect gift for Bird Lovers

The perfect gift for Bird Lovers

Remember not to overfeed the birds though, as food left to go rotten will attract vermin, and harbour disease.  So clean away excess food regularly with a Bird Table Cleaner and replace water each day.

 

3                    Provide Nesting Pouches

Nesting pouches are useful for birds all year round.  Not only will birds use them for breeding in the spring and summer months, these are also excellent places for providing winter shelter.  At the end of the summer clean out bird boxes and nesting pouches ready for winter use. 

And to encourage bats to roost in your garden these Wooden Bat Boxes are designed to meet their needs perfectly.

Wooden Bat Box Specially Designed to Encourage Bats to Roost

Wooden Bat Box Specially Designed to Encourage Bats to Roost

4                    Provide Habitat for Mammals and Insects

Wildlife will thrive better in gardens where there are areas left to go a little wild.  Leaf, twig and log piles are great refuges for insects and mammals, and also provide habitats for hibernation.  So it’s a good idea to put piles in corners and quiet parts of the garden.

Crevices in rotting wood are great places for ladybirds and creepy crawlies to hide, and the Ladybird and Insect Tower is specially designed for this.  Rotten tree stumps are also a favourite with woodpeckers, who delve into the wood with their beaks to find tasty grubs.

The hogitat is specially designed as a natural home and safe retreat for hedgehogs. 

Hogitat - A perfect house for hedgehogs

Hogitat - A perfect house for hedgehogs

The Solitary Bee Hive and Butterfly Feeding Station are perfect for increasing the diversity of insects visiting the garden, and Insect Study Centre and Solar Insect Theatre make studying insects at close quarters easy and fascinating in equal measure!

 

5                    Sit Back & Enjoy!

After all the hard work of setting up your wildlife garden, it is so enjoyable to sit back and watch as things begin to happen.  You will be amazed at how quickly birds, mammals and insects begin to investigate the new surroundings and set up home, and it is fascinating for both adults and children alike to watch as this magical process unfolds.

This fabulous selection of Wildlife Guides makes identifying your garden wildlife so much easier.  And if you want to observe and record all the action at close quarters this Wildlife Surveillance Camera will provide great footage for classroom sessions.

           picture 7

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