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Twigs are useful, fun, free, and help wildlife too.

This Half Term why not put on your warm coat and wellies and go for a walk in the woods or the park and find some sticks, after all this windy weather there should be plenty lying on the ground, collect different lengths and thicknesses, you may also find some on the beach which have been washed up by the sea often in interesting shapes and colours.

Here are a few suggestions for your bounty of sticks:

Pooh Sticks

This game was played and made famous by Winnie the Pooh, you can play it on any bridge over running water, each person drops a stick (at the same time) from the bridge on the upstream side then peers (carefully) over the downside of the bridge to see whose stick appears first, this is the winning stick.

Did you know that there is a World Pooh Sticks Championship, this year it is on Sunday 30th March at Day’s Lock, Little Wittenham, Oxfordshire it is a charity event organised by the Rotary Club of Oxford Spires and Friends.

Tracking Sticks

Tracking with Sticks

Tracking with sticks is a popular Scouting activity; you can play it in the park (split your participants into two groups), in the back garden or even in the house. Use your sticks to leave a trail of arrows to give clues to your seekers of your whereabouts they can be in the open or can be slightly hidden to make it harder.

Spider Catcher 2

Make a Spiders Web Catcher

Spiders are opportunists and will make their web wherever there is the chance of catching some insects. Choose three straightish sticks about 30cm long, place them on the floor in a triangle and tie each corner tightly with string, next pick a strong thickish stick about 80cm in length and tie your stick triangle to it at one end. Push your stick into the ground near some bushes and wait patiently, it may take a while before a spider makes its web there.

Build an Insect/Bug home

When you have finished with your sticks return them to nature and make a home for Insects, Bugs and Beetles. Find a nice quiet corner of your garden, break your sticks so that they are roughly all the same size and then lay them all the same way on top of each other, you can put some leaves, soil and grass in between this will make a damp environment for your creatures, finish off by putting some more leaves and foliage on top.

Have a great holiday and have fun!

Gill

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Hopefully by now, if the weather has been kind where you live, your Sunflowers will have flowered and developed into rings of nice fat seeds.

As you can see mine have grown well but some of them are yet to flower, I hope that this spell of sunny weather will encourage them to flower and set their seeds.

The varieties I have grown this year are Titan and Russian Giant as they have large heads and hopefully plenty of seeds for the birds.

I love Sunflowers, I grow them for their stunning flowers, which benefit the bees and insects, and their seeds, which I save for the birds, if you want to save some of your seeds for the birds or to grow next year here’s what you need to do.

  1. When the backs of the Sunflower heads turn yellow cut them off leaving about 30cm of stem attached and hang them upside down somewhere warm, dry and well ventilated (to prevent them going mouldy).
  2. Tie a brown paper bag around the Sunflower heads to catch any seeds that drop out.
  3. Once the backs of the Sunflower heads have turned brown and dry your Sunflower seeds are ready to harvest, they should pop out when you run your hands over the heads.
  4. Lay the seeds out on newspaper to completely dry out and to remove any flower heads/leaves then store the seeds in a cool dry place in an airtight container.

A Sunflower head that has finished flowering

Make a Bug House with your Sunflower stems

After you have cut the heads off the plants, the remaining stems can go into the Compost Bin or instead if they are hollow why not use them to make an Bug House. Cut the stems into 10 – 15cm lengths and squeeze them into a washed large pop bottle which has had the top cut off (ask an adult to do this), apply tape around the rough cut edge for safety, place at an angle with the open end slightly pointing downwards in a sheltered, dry and shady spot in your garden, this will make an great Bug House for over wintering insects.

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