As autumn is slipping gradually into winter in the northern hemisphere, I was trying to think of some small wildlife gardening projects you can do with a toddler. My little one was pretty disappointed after all the plums and apples had disappeared and composting and mulching is not exactly an enticement. And the watering can season is also over. Scrunchy leaf piles are a lot better.
And then you may want to try out some of these easy-to-do projects.
1) Build a mini hibernaculum
This is giving them a helping hand to find suitable winter quarters and it is easier to make than a complete insect hotel. It’s probably more like a country B&B and not the five-star luxury leaf pile hotel (see below) but a plant pot filled with leaves can be welcome short-term shelter for invertebrates.
Bury the filled pot half in the ground and angle it to prevent it from getting waterlogged. Add more protection by adding a layer of leaves and sticks above it.
2) Build a mini cairn
Choose large stones and rocks and make a pile in your border. It is best to find a shaded spot so toads won’t feel they have entered a sauna and leave lots of gaps for them to find their way in. To make it even more hospitable and some soil and moss although moss and liverworts will colonise the stones of their own accord.
First, make a circle and then start building up layers to make a pile. Try and achieve a stable, triangular shape.
Next, fill in the gaps with soil and moss. This is not only going to provide shelter for toads and newts, but they will also naturally help you to keep the slugs and snails in check.
3) Leave leaf piles and logs
I happened to find an earthworm and slug nursery underneath it, so I left it. Our garden provides so much shelter for birds and they can gorge themselves on hawthorn and rowan berries and have plenty of nesting places in hedges and walls so it wasn’t really needed.
Old Nesting Box
Invertebrate wildlife #1
Invertebrate wildlife #2