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HEDGEHOG

It’s Hedgehog Awareness Week (3-9 May) with many ‘hedgehoggy’ events being held around the country, it is organised by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society and aims to highlight the problems that Hedgehogs face and how we can help them.

There is no doubt about it a lot of you have been thinking about Hedgehogs this week, many of our wonderful Hedgehog Houses have been flying of the shelves complete with Hedgehog Food, Dishes and Hedgehog Guides what caring people you are.

We all love Hedgehogs but rarely get the chance to see them as they are nocturnal, usually only coming out at night to look for food having spent most of the day sleeping. At night Hedgehogs tend to ‘do the rounds’ and will visit many gardens unfortunately many gardens are fenced off, our gardens could provide the perfect habitat for Hedgehogs, just imagine if they were all joined together what a massive area this would be, in fact over half a million hectares.

Hedgehog Street is a campaign by The Peoples Trust for Endangered Species and The British Hedgehog Society which aims to ensure that the Hedgehog, the UK’s only spiny mammal, remains a common and familiar part of British life. Hedgehogs are in trouble, we’ve lost a third of all our hedgehogs in ten years. Their campaign is as much about getting people to cooperate as it is about gardening for wildlife.

Here are their top 10 tips for encouraging Hedgehogs into your neighbourhood

Tip 1   Link your garden

Make a hole in your fence or wall so that Hedgehogs can wander in and out, 13cm x 13cm is big enough but too small for most pets, ask your neighbours to do the same.

Tip 2  Make your pond safe

Hedgehogs are good swimmers, but can’t climb out of steep-sided ponds and will drown, set a pile of stones, a piece of wood or some chicken wire at the edge of your pond to create a simple ramp.

Tip 3  Create a wild corner

Leave the plants/weeds/grass to grow in a corner of your garden, don’t cut them back in winter, include some thick stems or branches to add structure this is an ideal place to put a Hedgehog House.

Tip 4  Deal with Netting and Litter

Hedgehogs can often become tangled and trapped in netting or litter such as food or drink cartons, replace netting with a rigid structure and keep taut, store netting inside when not in use.

Tip 5  Put out food and water

Hedgehogs really benefit from extra food, using it as a supplement to their natural diet, meaty cat or dog food, hedgehog food, and mealworms are all suitable. Put out a bowl of fresh water daily, water can be scarce at certain times of the year.

Tip 6  Stop using chemicals

Lawn treatments reduce worm populations, pesticides, insecticides and slug pellets are toxic and unnecessary in a healthy, well-managed garden, if you have a big slug problem use safe deterrents such as Slug Gone and Copper Tape or try Slug Traps or Nemaslug.

Tip 7  Check before strimming

Hedgehogs will not run away from the sound of a mower or strimmer – check before you cut and avoid causing horrific injuries or death. Single hedgehogs are easily moved, but use gloves! Moving a hedgehog family is more complicated and ideally they should be left undisturbed.

Tip 8  Be careful with bonfires

Piles of twigs, branches, leaves and grass are irresistible to a hedgehog looking for somewhere to hibernate or nest – if you have debris to burn, build your bonfire or move an existing bonfire on the day of burning.

Tip 9  Build a log pile

One of the best features for encouraging all kinds of wildlife – and so easy to make, it will attract insects, creatures and animals and provide nesting opportunities all year round.

Tip 10  Become a Hedgehog Champion

For lots more information and to register to join an army of over 30,000 volunteers all working together to help our native Hedgehogs take a look at www.hedgehogstreet.org

Most of the above tips are very simple and would make such a huge difference to our Hedgehogs, why not see what you can do in your garden, have a chat with your friends and neighbours too.

Work in harmony with nature in your garden

Gill

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We had a brilliant response to our October November Competitions, unfortunately there can only be one winner for each Zone, the lucky winners are:

In the Family Zone

John Stowe, Hampshire

In the School Zone

Fulbrook Middle School, Bedfordshire

both winners will receive:

Hogitat Hedgehog Home

The Hogitat Hedgehog House

A perfect winter retreat for your prickly garden friends

guide to Hedgehogs

Field Guide to Hedgehogs

and a pack of Hedgehog Food

Hedgehog Food

Well done to both of you and I hope that you soon have a Hedgehog making its home in your Hogitat

Look out for our next competitions in the New Year

Gill

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Hedgehogs are busy at the moment looking for a safe place to hibernate and eating plenty of food to build them up for the long winter months, if you love Hedgehogs why not have a go at our two free Gardening with Children Competitions, one in the Family Zone and one in the School Zone.

In both competitions you have a chance to win

Hogitat Hedgehog Home

The Hogitat Hedgehog House

A perfect winter retreat for your prickly garden friends

guide to Hedgehogs

Field Guide to Hedgehogs

and a pack of Hedgehog Food

Hedgehog Food

All you need to do in the School Zone Competition is to correctly identify which Trees the Seeds and Leaves pictured come from, in the Family Zone Competition you have to correctly identify the Fruit/Berries pictured, in each competition there is a list of options to help you.

Hurry, the closing date for both competitions is 30th November 2014

So what are you waiting for? Click on the above links to enter and find out more!

Good Luck

Gill

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If you have been reading my previous blogs you will know that I love Autumn especially getting out for a walk and collecting leaves, seeds, nuts and fruits I simply can’t resist it. The fruits such as Blackberries and Apples can be cooked to enjoy now in Pies and Crumbles or made into jams, chutneys and preserves to savour over the next few months, the seeds and nuts can be planted and will produce new flowers/wildflowers for your garden or a new generation of trees, all that remains are the stunning colourful leaves and the seed/nut cases.

You can have lots of fun with leaves and when you have finished they can be turned into valuable leaf mould for your garden, for lots of ideas for your wonderful leaves click here. This year the Beech has produced a bumper crop of seeds (which are often called Beechnuts or Beechmasts) and as I have quite a lot of the Beech seed cases I got thinking … they are very dry, hard and often spikey just like the prickles of a Hedgehog, so why not ….

Beech Seed Case Hedgehog

Make a Hedgehog from Beech Seed Cases

What you will need

  • Dry Beech Seed Cases
  • Potatoes
  • A Cocktail Stick
  • Sticky Tack or Glue
  • Conkers
  • Black felt tip pen

What you need to do

  1. Choose a potato preferably with a flat side (to stop it rolling around) this will be the bottom.
  2. Leave one end of the potato bare for the face then make holes with your cocktail stick in rows along the back and sides inserting beech seed cases by their stalks until you have covered your potato.
  3. Draw or stick on some eyes then add the conker nose securing it in place with Sticky Tack or Glue

If you have plenty of materials why not make a Hedgehog family and arrange them on a tray/lid with some of your leaves.

Hedgehogs are busy at the moment looking for a safe place to hibernate and eating plenty of food to build them up for the winter months, why not have a go at the new free Gardening with Children Family Competition or School Competition for a chance to win a Hogitat Hedgehog House, a Field guide to Hedgehogs and some Hedgehog Food for the Hedgehogs in your garden.

The Hogitat Hedgehog House

The Hogitat Hedgehog House – a perfect winter retreat for your prickly garden friends

Have fun

Gill

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This week is Hedgehog Awareness Week (4-10 May) with ‘hedgehoggy’ events being held around the country, it is organised by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society and aims to highlight the problems that Hedgehogs face and how we can help them.

Hedgehogs are secretive, beautiful and fascinating creatures they are especially loved by children and welcomed by gardeners yet there has been a sharp decline in their numbers. Throughout Spring, Summer and Autumn they will eat many of our unwanted garden pests, including slugs (up to 80 a night), snails, beetles and caterpillars, in a totally environmentally friendly way.

During May female Hedgehogs will be pregnant with their young due to be born in June/July there are usually 4-5 in a litter but unfortunately only 2 or 3 survive, the babies (Hoglets) are born blind, pale pink and spineless but after only 2-3 minutes their spines begin to appear, the young stay in the nest and feed on their mother’s milk, after 3-4 weeks they will leave their warm and safe home and go foraging for food with their mother. If you find a hedgehog nest do not disturb it or handle the young as the mother may abandon them.

 The Original hedgehog house

The Hogitat Hedgehog House

 The Hogitat

How can we help?

Provide a safe home for female hedgehogs to rear their young, there are various types of Hedgehog Houses available, place them in a quiet part of the garden preferably against a bank, wall or fence and to avoid cold winds make sure that the entrance does not face North or North East. Make your hedgehog house more welcoming by placing twigs, leaves and short grass on top and around the house and some dry leaves and grass inside.

Hedgehog Food

A quick ready meal of Hedgehog food will be welcome to the mother and her young hedgehogs, place out of the way of other animals, birds and pets along with a dish of fresh water.

Hedgehog Feeding Bowl

It would be such a shame to lose these delightful creatures if you see one enjoy watching it quietly from a short distance, they should not be touched or picked up unless absolutely necessary.

Field Guide to Hedgehogs

If you want to know more about Hedgehogs why not treat yourself to a Hedgehog Field Guide this four page guide includes lots of facts and information on feeding and encouraging hedgehogs into your garden.

Love your environment

Gill

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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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Hedgehogs are considered the gardeners friend, but we may not be that friendly towards them as our gardens can contain many hidden dangers. Here are some ways that we can reduce these hazards.

Slug Pellets

Many slug pellets contain Metaldehyde (commonly the blue ones but check the ingredients on all slug pellets) and will not only kill the slugs but can also kill the hedgehogs (and birds) if they eat one of these victim slugs. Try alternative natural slug deterrents such as Slug Gone and Copper Slug and Snail Tape that are safe to all wildlife.

Recycled containers

We are all being encouraged to recycle but empty food cans, yoghurt pots, plastic cups etc. are a real danger to inquisitive hedgehogs and small animals which can get stuck in them head first and die of starvation or suffocate, to prevent this squash all cans, and cut up containers before putting them into the bin. Wildlife can also get caught in the plastic rings that hold the cans together and the different sizes of holes in them can trap different types of animals, each circle should be cut up before putting them in the bin. These have been banned in America we hope that our government will ban them too.

Water Features/Ponds

These attract wildlife to our garden but if there is no escape route anything that falls in will be unable to climb out and drown. Hang some plastic coated wire over the side and into the water to make a ladder, half submerge some rocks around the edges or make a gentle slope on at least one side of your pond. Keep ponds topped up, especially in hot weather so that hedgehogs are less likely to topple in. Children’s paddling pools and sand pits are also a danger when filled with rainwater.

Netting

Keep all pea-netting a foot above the ground so the hedgehogs can go under it and will not try to go through it and become stuck.  The same applies to tennis nets, children’s football nets etc.

Bonfires/Compost Bins

Before burning accumulated rubbish in the garden or before emptying or turning your compost bins check that a hedgehog has not made a home in it, the best time to spread the heap is October/November.

Strimming

Take care when mowing long grass with mowers or especially strimmers, when cutting long overgrown areas cut initially to about a foot high and then check for hedgehogs and other wildlife before cutting any lower. 

Provide a safe home for our friends

We should all leave an area of our garden to go wild for nature, and this would be an ideal place to put a hedgehog house these provide a safe haven for hibernating hedgehogs and also for females to have their young. Ideally place the house somewhere quiet against a bank, fence or wall and out of prevailing wind. We have the perfect Hedgehog home at The Recycleworks the Hogitat it is an attractive natural home and safe retreat for hedgehogs which will comfortably nestle into any garden.

  • It features a sturdy, rust-proofed steel frame
  • A waterproofed roof with an attractive natural finish
  • A predator defence tunnel
  • Lots of room for a family of hoglets and the mother

 So let’s do all we can to help our adorable prickly friends.

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Bonfire Night is a traditional celebration in memory of Guy Fawkes, who on this day in 1605, was discovered attempting to blow up the houses of parliament. 

Remember, remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason & plot
We see no reason
Why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot

The traditional burning of a great bonfire at this time, probably goes back much further than that to the Celtic Samhain or summers end, when there were harvesting celebrations, animals were brought in from the summer pastures and food was stored in preparation for the heralding of winter.

Don’t forget Garden Wildlife on Bonfire Night

With all the excitement of bonfire night don’t forget about the wildlife in your garden.  Make sure the bonfire isn’t set up too far in advance, as hedgehogs and other small mammals will be looking for somewhere to hibernate at this time, and may find a pile of leaves and wood enticing.  Why not provide hedgehogs with an alternative home like one of these Hogitats

Place fireworks away from trees and hedges where birds may be roosting…. And when bonfire night is over, remember that now is an excellent time start feeding garden birds.  We love this range of Bird Feeding Goodies so why not take a look.

apple_feeder_med

Birds and bats will also be looking for warm places to roost as the weather gets colder.  The Wooden Bat Box is perfectly designed for this and the Bird Nesting Pouch is always popular in our garden as an overnight roosting place at this time of year.

batbox_med

If you decide to tidy up the garden before your bonfire night party, leaves and other garden waste can be collected up in super quick time with the Green Hands Leaf CollectorsAnd if you don’t know what to do with all those leaves once you have them in a pile why not put them in a Leaf Composting Sack or Leaf Mould Compost Bin.  With the helping hand of some Compost Magic they will break down nicely into a lovely rich leaf compost.

green_hands

Activities for Bonfire Night

Make A Story Stick
People have been telling stories around the campfire since ancient times, and story sticks have perhaps been around for that long.

To make a story stick, find a sturdy stick and decorate it with coloured thread, ribbons or streamers.   Pass the story stick around the campfire.  Whoever holds the stick has a turn to speak and so adds a few sentences to the campfire story…In this way an interesting and original tale unfolds.

Make a Guy

A very traditional and endlessly appealing activity for children, make a guy by stuffing old clothes with straw and tying the ensemble together with string.  Make a head from an old pillowcase and paint on a makeshift face.

Make a Bonfire Picture

Tear up thin strips of orange, red and yellow tissue paper and stick onto black card to make a bonfire.  Use brown paper or pipe cleaners for the wood, and put star shaped stickers or sequins in the sky.  

Make Edible Sparklers

Dip chocolate fingers into warm water and then into hundreds and thousands to make your very own edible sparklers

Ask an Adult to Roast some Food

An activity for adults only, take a selection of food, wrap in foil and roast on the burning embers of the bonfire.  Ideas of suitable food include:

  • Pre steamed corn on the cob with butter
  • Mushrooms brushed with olive oil
  • Garlic bread
  • Chunks of pepper and aubergine
  • Pre-cooked potatoes in garlic butter

Make some Children’s Punch

Take some warm apple juice and sprinkle in cinnamon for a warming drink

Make some Bonfire Toffee

You will need:

1 lb demerara sugar
1/3 pint water
1 ¼  oz butter
2 level tablespoons of golden syrup
1 teaspoon vinegar

Method

Put all the ingredients in a saucepan
Dissolve over a steady heat
Slowly bring to the boil and cook slowly
Drop ½ teaspoon of the mixture into a cup of cold water
If it sets hard it is done, if not cook for a little longer
Pour into an oiled or buttered tin
Break up when set

Make some Toffee Apples

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter with 2 large tablespoons of golden syrup
Add 1 large tablespoon of sugar and the juice of half a lemon
Allow the ingredients to boil to a deep toffee brown
Insert lollipop sticks into the apples
Dip each apple into the toffee mix
Dip into cold water
Place onto greaseproof paper to set

Make some Traditional Lancashire Parkin

You will need:

6 oz plain flour
1 teaspoon each of salt, ground ginger and ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
10 oz oatmeal
6 oz black treacle
5 oz butter
4 oz dark brown sugar
¾ pint milk
1 egg

Sift together flour, salt, spices and soda
Add oatmeal and mix
Heat the treacle, butter, sugar and milk together until the butter has melted
Cool slight, add the egg and beat well
Poor mixture into the dry ingredients and mix well until smooth
Turn into a greased baking tin
Bake at 175 C for around an hour

London’s Burning, London’s Burning
Fetch the engine, fetch the engine
Fire, Fire!  Fire, Fire!
Pour on water, pour on water

 
Remember to always stay safe on Bonfire Night.  Check advice from the fire service here

Happy Bonfire Night

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