If you’re on the lookout for fun ideas to do this half term, we’ve got three that will be fun for you and your children as well as being incredibly beneficial for your veg patch.
Build a Scarecrow
You will need:
- Some straw for stuffing
- Two sturdy wooden poles measuring around 5-6 foot
- Old adult sized clothes
- Something for the head…a pumpkin would work, or you could fill a pillowcase with straw, or use an old 2 litre milk bottle/a bucket.
The key to building a scarecrow is to be imaginative. You can’t really go wrong, and if it keeps birds away from your veg then it’s doing its job well.
Basically, you want to start off by building a cross by tying or nailing the two wooden poles together, imagining that the horizontal pole will be the arms.
Put its shirt/jumper on and tie it in at the waist. Stuff with straw. Then do the same for the trousers or dungarees. Then pop the head on and draw on its face. All you need now is a hat or scarf to finish it off.
For more detailed ideas, have a look at http://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Scarecrow
Make a Bee Hotel or an Insect Hotel
This is a great way to get bees and other pollinating insects into your garden to do what they do best and make sure you get all those beans and tomatoes pollinated! It’s quite straightforward and should only take a couple of hours. There are various different things you could do, but we’ve decided to go down the uber simplified route.
You will need:
- An old wooden box (an old bird box is perfect, or something of a similar size. You could build one out of an old pallet, but leave one side open)
- An old bamboo cane
- Some small wooden blocks (small enough to fit in the box)
- Bits of dead bark, sticks and twigs, fallen leaves, straw
What you’re trying to achieve is a medley of hollow tubes, holes and general garden matter that will attract a whole host of different insects to your hotel. Solitary bees will make themselves at home in the hollows of bamboo canes, for example.
Start by drilling a few holes of different widths and depths into the little wooden blocks and sawing the bamboo into lengths (the same width as your hotel box)
Now, stuff the bamboos and wooden blocks into the hotel (hollows facing the open edge so that bugs and bees can crawl inside) and wedge them in with other garden matter like twigs, leaves, sticks and straw. Try to make sure nothing is protruding from the box as the insects prefer their home to stay dry.
Pop your insect hotel on a flat surface in a spot that gets a mixture of sun and shade, preferably sheltered from rain if it doesn’t have an over hanging roof. Check back regularly to see if you have any guests! For inspiration, check out our pinterest board
Create a mini wildlife pond
Even a bucket of water can become a wildlife hub in the garden attracting frogs and other bugs who will happily eat any slugs that they find. We wouldn’t recommend this with smaller children for obvious reasons.
You will need:
- An old bucket or washing up bowl
- Stones/bricks of all sizes collected from the garden
- Rain water
- 2 or 3 aquatic plants (nip down to local garden centre for these – the RSPB recommend water forget-me-not and marsh marigolds for mini ponds)
First things first…situate your bucket/container in the right place before you start filling it. It’ll be too heavy otherwise. The best site is somewhere that gets a little bit of sunshine and a little bit of shade during day.
Dig a hole big enough for your pond and pop your container into the ground, making sure that it’s level.
Put a layer of clean, small stones at the bottom of the pond – gravel is ideal. Plant your aquatic plants into the gravel. Add a few larger stones and rocks so that animals can climb in and out of the pond easily.
Fill the pond with rainwater (rainwater really is best, so if you can collect some in a waterbutt beforehand then that’s perfect).
Now just add a little border of pebbles and stones around the edge of your pond and wait for some creatures to move in.
The RSPB video on making a mini pond is very simple and straightforward – watch it here.