Homeschool Garden Club - Snow during our Easter Break!
Well it has been an interesting Easter break in the garden so far, what with sun, very little rain but snow that doesn’t stay around too long. Snow staying not long enough to actually water the plants we have already in but freeze damaging the leaves. The wind has made everything feel much colder, so whilst we are able to sit in our gardens with our friends under the new Covid-19 rules: coats, hats and gloves are needed for any length of time, even with the sun out.
Look out for hedgehogs who are now coming out of hibernation, they will soon be making light work of any slugs that are immerging. No local hedgehogs you can nematode your garden against the pests.
Now I would normally, say sow vegetables into the warming soil now. However, the snow this week is telling us to hold off a bit longer. If you have the space continue to plant seeds in modules ready to plant out when the ground warms up.
Gather sticks to help support the vegetables as they grow. If you can leave a patch of sting nettles in your garden for butterflies.
You can deadhead tulips but allow the foliage to fade now and tie in any climbing and rambling roses before they grow away.
While you are in the garden listen out for the distinctive calls of the summer visitors now arriving to our gardens, which are the warblers and the cuckoo. As we transition from winter into spring, our local garden birds' attention turns form persevering vital fat stores to keep warm to finding a mate and laying eggs.
One of the best ways to support the birds during this season is to supplement their diet. Spring will see birds expending a lot of energy, through nest building and laying eggs, so it’s important to have an energy-rich diet. Once the chicks arrive, hopefully they’ll also have a plentiful supply of insects as it’s vital for their development.
Choose an insect-rich bird food like Peckish Mealworms. Soak the mealworms in warm water before adding to the bird table to make them juicy; this will also allow birds to absorb moisture as they feed. The soft mealworms make excellent protein-rich food for growing birds and are a nutritious treat for nursing adults.
Mealworms are also a welcome meal for adult birds, and they’re a particular favourite of Robins. I know the robins that visit my garden love the mealworms when I put them out on the bird feeding stations.
Around about now, it’s more important than ever that birds get a high dose of calcium. Although it’s necessary anyway for bone and feather development, chicks can’t produce enough of their own calcium, so the mother will need to ensure she has a calcium-rich diet to properly form the shell.
Birds often roost in trees and hedges to give them protection from predators, but they also use empty nest boxes and roosting pouches to insulate themselves from the cold and provide shelter from the rain. As the weather is starting to turn, make sure your garden has plenty of dense hedges, shrubs and trees where your feathered friends can stop over for the night well protected.
Walls, trellis and even trees clothed in ivy and climbers give good leafy cover for some species like little owls, while other birds prefer to roost together in boxes to preserve their body warmth. Clean out nest boxes, wash them well and disinfect them. That way, they’re ready for birds to roost in. But don’t worry if birds don’t use them for shelter; at least they’re ready for the next lot of chicks.