Real Men Sow

Caring for Your Garden Wildlife this Winter

Hedgehog-house-720x400

image from dobies.co.uk

Although we may not spend as much time in the garden or allotment in the winter as we do during the summer, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be accommodating to you animal guests. It’s important to take steps to look after the wildlife that may come across your garden to help them survive the harsher weathers. Fortunately, garden plant retailer Dobies have provided some suggestions as to how we can help:

Helping Weak Hedgehogs
In the winter, you might see a hedgehog during the day in gardens or walking across the street – this suggests that they are struggling to find food and water.

One way that you can help weak hedgehogs is to leave out a dish of water in your garden. This prevents them from getting dehydrated when their water sources might have iced over. To feed hedgehogs and keep their energy up, you could also leave out meat-based dog or cat food which will help fatten them up for wintertime.

Bonfire night can also be hazardous for these creatures. Make sure that you check your piles of wood and twigs for hedgehogs before lighting your fire.

Looking After Your Chickens
A lot of keen gardeners and home owners enjoy looking after chickens for fresh produce. With frostbite and heavy rain, winter can prove troublesome for these animals. There are things that you can do to make sure your chickens are as healthy as they can be:

  • Check for leaks in your coop – you can repair any holes with plywood, or if it is time for a new coop, purchase from garden retailers such as Dobies.
  • Insulate windows well in order to capture heat during the day and keep the coop warmer for longer when the dark nights arrive.
  • Coat chickens’ combs and wattles in petroleum jelly to help protect them from frostbite.

Keeping the Birds Healthy
Birds really struggle in the colder months, it becomes harder for them to find food and their energy levels drop. Fatty foods can help with this, with one thing that you can do is leaving out fat blocks in wire cages. These could be made with lard and packed full of goodness for birds, such as fruit, seeds and dried mealworms. For smaller bird such as wrens, search your kitchen for some scraps and leave out finely chopped unsalted bacon rind and grated cheese.

There are many different types of birds that may pass through your garden. Some of these birds like to feed off the ground. To help these species, place seeds or fat balls on a wire mesh just off the ground to help them.

Facing the same problem as hedgehogs, the pools of water that birds become used to visiting can freeze over in the winter. This may be the only water source for birds to drink and bathe in – hindering their hydration and hygiene. Therefore, leave out a dish of water or even an upturned bin lid with water in for birds to enjoy.

When winter comes to a close, help the birds out by cleaning out your nesting boxes so they are ready for the upcoming breeding season.

Other Animals
Aside from the larger visitors, there are other creatures that live in your garden too. Here’s how you can help them:

  • To prevent frogs from suffocating, float a tennis ball or something similar in your pond to stop it from freezing over.
  • Leave your grass to grow long over winter and cut it again in the spring. This will let butterflies and insects shelter from the weather.
  • Piling up rocks, twigs and rotting wood can create a shelter for insects who might not survive otherwise.
  • By planting seed that will flower in the winter, you can provide a food source for bees that may be making their way to a nest.

The tips that we have suggested are easy to carry out and can be very effective when helping your local wildlife thrive all year long.

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About Real Men Sow

meIn 2007, I took on a redundant allotment plot with my gardening-mad mum Jan. As all good mums do, she went along with it, but I don’t think she held out much hope.

However, three years on, and she now lets me do stuff without watching over my shoulder, so I must be doing something right. [ read more ]

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