Gardening for Wildlife

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Gardening for wildlife is probably the easiest way to garden, and is possibly the best thing that you can do for animals.  It’s also something that we can all do in our gardens, and if you have one, in our allotments too.

There’s nothing that beats the sound of bird song, the spectacle of butterflies and bees, and the thrill of meeting squirrels and hedgehogs.  Between us, we have over a million acres of gardens; these are a rich mixture of habitats that add up to the largest nature reserve in the country.

If you can think of your garden as a sunny glade, set amongst the trees of an urban forest, that’s filled with fruits and flowers; with a little encouragement, wildlife will come.

The Traditional Recipe

Ingredients

  • Trees
  • Pond
  • Lawn
  • Wildflowers
  • Nest boxes and bird feeders

Method

Take one garden.

Hopefully inherit one with mature trees (if not you’ll have to grow your own)

Dig a hole in your garden and fill it with water.

Let your lawn grow and leave it straggly.

Scatter wildflower seeds everywhere.

Decorate with nest boxes and bird feeders.

Hey presto!

Well not quite, don’t forget that your garden is somewhere that has to accommodate you too, so think about how you will be using your garden and what you want to grow.  It needs to work for you and work for wildlife.

Making our gardens wildlife friendly doesn’t necessarily mean that we have to leave them to grow into wild jungles.  Every space, whether it’s a huge estate or a busy family garden, can give a home to nature.

There are lots of simple things we can do to help the animals we share a space with, from making sure that they have access to different habitats, to nurturing well stocked feeding grounds for them.  With a little imagination, it’s easy to create a recipe in your garden that works for wildlife.

Imagine that your garden is a hotel and that it has to offer:

  • A friendly welcome for all creatures.
  • A pool
  • A Nectar Bar open all year round
  • A Restaurant where all diets are catered for
  • Is open to non residents
  • Accommodates short breaks and long stay
  • There’s no booking required.

To create your garden hotel, the traditional recipe for gardening for wildlife needs a few more ingredients.  The essentials to bear in mind are the same essentials that we all need; somewhere to live and something to eat and drink; but the secret to success is to consider what needs wildlife has and how to fulfill them.

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My Recipe for a Garden Hotel

Ingredients

  • Trees
  • Pond
  • Grass
  • Flowers
  • Shrubs
  • Climbing Plants
  • Mulch
  • Wood
  • Stone
  • Nest boxes, insect houses and bird feeders

Method

Take one garden.

Hopefully inherit one with mature trees (if not you’ll have to grow your own)

Dig a large shallow hole in your garden and fill it with water.

Let an area of grass grow, leave it straggly and let moss grow in the rest.

Plant lots of flowers that come out at different times of the year.

Plant shrubs that flower and some that produce fruits.

Grow climbing plants up walls and fences.

Mulch areas around plants, with wood chippings or slate.

Put wood, twigs and logs in quiet areas.

Don’t be too tidy, leave flowers to seed and put clippings on your borders.

Build a stone wall and use rocks around the garden.

Decorate with nest boxes, insect houses and bird feeders.

Hey presto!

Well that was easy!

Like I have already said, gardening for wildlife is probably the easiest way to garden; but with every low maintenance garden there is some work to do in the first place.  The good news is that wildlife prefers self catering to five stars and it will work for as long as you have…

The Right Ingredients

To make your Garden Hotel work, the right ingredients are more important than the method.  There is no right or wrong method because no two gardens are the same.  But the more right ingredients you have, the more wildlife will come into your garden.  Here in order of preference are my right ingredients:

  1. Trees – Nothing in your garden will provide a home and a source of food to more animals than a tree.  One tree can support thousands of insects, animals and birds.
  2. Pond – All wildlife needs water; a shallow pond with a muddy bottom will transform your garden, supporting frogs, toads, dragonflies and birds.
  3. Flowers – Choose simple flowers and try to achieve the longest flowering season, herbaceous perennials will return every year and can flower for months, feeding bees, butterflies and many other insects, whilst offering shelter to lots of insects, plus slugs and snails.
  4. Shrubs – Woody perennials offer habitats all year round; they usually flower and produce fruits and seeds that feed birds and small mammals.
  5. Climbing Plants – Provide habitats and food throughout the year for lots of birds and insects including bees, in areas that are usually lifeless.
  6. Mulch – Nothing promotes more life in your soil than a mulch.  Your barren borders will be alive with insects and your worms will thrive too. Wood chippings are best because they also feed the soil, and you can add to this with clippings from your lawn and from trimmed plants.
  7. Wood – Old planks, logs or twigs will provide habitats for hundreds of insects, small mammals, slugs, snails and even hedgehogs.
  8. Stone – Create some nooks and crannies for frogs, toads, insects, and even bees.  Creatures of the night will particularly benefit from a loose laid stone wall.
  9. Nest boxes, insect houses and bird feeders – Can be useful particularly in winter; but often are just decoration and if not maintained properly will harm wildlife.  You whole garden can be a wildlife hotel even without them.
  10. Grass – A well maintained lawn is almost lifeless, but if left to grow it turns into a mini meadow, that will attract of all sorts of animals.

Our Garden 2019

Our Garden

In our garden we have, just like a hotel, separated the garden into rooms to create different habitats.  We have a lawn garden with flower borders, we have a slate garden with a pond and a fire pit; and we have a children’s playground that is mulched. We have planted different trees, shrubs, flowers and climbing plants everywhere; and these have attracted lots of birds, bees, butterflies, slugs, snails, frogs, other flies, beetles, aphids, some bats, a few mice, squirrels, dragon flies and even a visiting fox.

Plants to attract wildlife

Any plant will attract wildlife, but some are better than others; here are a few of the best ones and why:

  • Blackberries – More use to more creatures than any other garden plant. Flowers provide nectar, berries feed the birds and the plant provides a protective home for lots of animals, including larger ones like foxes!
  • Buddleia – It’s not called the butterfly bush for nothing, but it also feeds other insects and if you leave the seeds on, will feed the birds over winter.
  • Borage – A great herb that will be full of bees.  You will get a succession of plants if you just leave them to it; that will provide nectar from spring into autumn.
  • Comfrey – Flowers from May to July, attracting a wide range of pollinating insects. It has become an important plant for organic gardeners as its roots reach deep into the soil making it rich in minerals, while its leaves can be used for slug control, as a liquid fertiliser and as a composting aid.
  • Cow Parsley – Good food for a variety of insect life including bees and hoverflies.  A must have for every wildlife garden!
  • Cotoneaster and Pyracantha – are a valuable source of nectar when often the bees have little other forage in the June gap. The red berries are also highly attractive to blackbirds and other thrushes.
  • Geranium (Sp) – another favourite for lots of insects, hoverflies love them.  An easy to grow herbaceous perennial that can flower for months and if cut back after flowering will provide a second flush.  If you look under one, just like a log, you’ll find hundreds of insects, slugs and snails.
  • Hawthorn – can support more than 300 insects. It is the food plant for caterpillars of many moths. Its flowers are eaten by dormice and provide nectar and pollen for bees and other pollinating insects. The haws are rich in antioxidants and are eaten by many migrating birds such as redwings, fieldfares and thrushes, as well as small mammals.  The dense thorny foliage also makes fantastic nesting shelter for many species of bird.
  • Honeysuckle – flowers have one of the sweetest scents of all British wild flowers. The scent is strongest at night to attract pollinating moths.
  • Holly – Provides birds’ shelter and protection and berries during winter.
  • Ivy – Robins, blackbirds and many other birds will nest in it.  Insects love to live in it too.  Also provides the last source of nectar at the end of the year for bees.
  • Lavender – Another favourite for bees and other pollinating insects, it’s a low maintenance plant to grow that is suitable for gardens of all sizes
  • Lungwort – one of the first flowering perennials that bees love.  Also grows happily in shady areas.
  • Nettles – Caterpillars use them as food plants; ladybirds feast on the aphids that shelter among them; and birds enjoy their autumn spoils
  • Privet – A great shrub that can be cut into a tidy hedge. Provides flowers and fruit; and a home to birds and insects all year round.
  • Snowball Tree (Viburnum opulus) – A spring flowering native with massive appeal to us and them.  The red berries are an important food source for birds, including bullfinch and mistle thrush. The shrub canopy provides shelter for other wildlife. The flowers are especially attractive to hoverflies.

Gardening for wildlife is possibly the best thing that you can do for animals; not eating them is definitely too, but another thing you can do to is grow your own food in your garden or at an allotment.  Modern farming methods aren’t always kind to animals, or to the environment.  If you grow your own, not only are you getting better food, you also know how it has been grown.  You can also garden for wildlife whilst growing your own food too!

Our Allotment 2019

We also have a large allotment that has also been planned in sections; with different wildlife areas located around the plot.  We have planted many of the plants to attract wildlife that I have suggested, to encourage wildlife that benefit our fruit and vegetable plants.  Our wildlife areas are attracting insects that pollinate our crop plants, and our wildlife areas support other beneficial creatures that help keep a natural balance across the allotment organically.

My tips for success are:

  1. Chemicals – Don’t use weed killers, slug bait or insecticides.  To put it simply, you will be poisoning everything in your garden.  If you pull up weeds and leave the rest to nature, she will create a balance.
  2. Mulching – Do it because it will stop most weeds, feeds the soil, saves water because it stops the soil drying out and it creates a home for insects. Use wood chips, leaves and home compost together.  You can also use slate or single in other areas to create different habitats.
  3. Variety – Offer wildlife as much variety of plants and habitation as you can.
  4. Flowers – Try to have something flowering all the time.
  5. Water – always have water available, in a dish and a pond if you can.
  6. Don’t be too tidy – leave seed heads on, and leave some grass and other cuttings in your borders for slugs, snails and insects to feed on.
  7. Habitats – use unused areas for habitats.  Make piles out of logs, a few rocks or even some old timber to give creatures a home.
  8. Recycle everything – Create liquid manure by putting nettles or comfrey in a bucket of water for a month.  Collect leaves in the autumn to make leaf mold.  Compost or shred everything else and use to create mulch for your borders.
  9. Get a butt – collect rainwater to water your plants because they prefer it.
  10. Put your feet up – and enjoy watching the wildlife!

Written by Jonathan Hornett for a talk at Milton Keynes Vegan Festival 2019

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What is a vegetarian?

veggie heartAccording to the Vegetarian Society, a vegetarian is:

“Someone who lives on a diet of grains, pulses, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruits with, or without, the use of dairy products and eggs. A vegetarian does not eat any meat, poultry, game, fish, shellfish or by-products of slaughter.” 

Put simply, a vegetarian is someone who chooses not to eat or use anything that has to be killed in order for it to be used, either as food, clothes or for any other purpose.

Lisa Simpson veggieWhy be a vegetarian?

Ethical – people are aware of how animals are farmed and killed for meat and they don’t want to be a part of that. Farm animals aren’t allowed to roam free as they would in the wild and are kept indoors for all of their lives. Their food is full of growth hormones to make them grow faster – chickens grow three times faster now than they did 50 years ago. Animals aren’t allowed to care for their young and babies of the wrong sex are put down at birth. Animal production (including fish) is cramped and stressful; their lives are barely worth living before they are murdered for their meat.

cow fartsEnvironmentally-friendly – basically, animal pooh and farts are responsible for almost 20% of the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Methane and nitrous oxide are produced by cow and sheep waste – a single cow can produce 500 litres of methane a day! Carbon dioxide is emitted when forests are cleared for grazing or for growing grain to feed animals.  Fossil fuels are used to transport animals and to power the production of their feed.

Estimates of the water required to produce a kilo of beef vary, from 13,000 litres up to 100,000 litres. The water required to produce a kilo of wheat is somewhere between 1,000-2,000 litres.

30% of the earth’s land mass is used to rear farm animals and this is responsible for 70% of the removal of the Amazon rainforest.

fish farms19% of major commercial marine fish stocks monitored by the FAO (a UN organisation) are overexploited, 8% are depleted and 1% ranked as recovering from depletion. 300,000 whales, dolphins and porpoises are killed every year as ‘by-catch’ of the fishing industries.

Healthy – as long as you eat a well balanced, nutritious diet, a vegetarian one can be extremely beneficial. Vegetarians are more likely than meat-eaters to eat their recommended five fruit and veg a day. As a result of this, vegetarians are less likely to suffer from all sorts of heart conditions, diabetes and bowel disorders.

Meat takes much longer to digest than a plant-based meal – it can sit in the gut for up to 48 hours under normal circumstances, whereas a meat-free diet will move much faster through the gut. Vegetarians and vegans rarely have digestive issues. Love us not eat us

Can you have vegetarian pets?

Yes you can! There are plenty of vegetarian dog foods available, usually through websites like Veggiepets.com. You can also buy vegetarian cat food from there; these are fortified with taurine, an essential nutrient for cats. We’ve had cats and dogs for years and our vet has told us on a number of occasions that ours are so much healthier than meat-eating pets.

For full information on vegetarian diets, visit The Vegetarian Society.

vegetables

More new lines

Easter eggsYes, more new stuff in the shop!  Can we fit more in?  Yes, we can! Lines added this week include:

VBites Fishless Fishcakes – 150g for £2.43

Pepperoni and waterBottled water – 500ml Harrogate Spring Water for 50p

750ml Brecon Carreg Mineral Water for 52p

Veganic Grated Cheese – 200g for £2.39Vegan Pizza Cheese

Suma Unsalted Crunchy and Smooth Peanut Butter – 340g for £2.89 each

FlapjacksFlapjacks! Various flavours – 80g for either 60p or 65p for a topped flapjack.

Oatly– 1l for 1.75

Provamel choco and OatlyChocolate Provamel lunch box size – 3x 250ml for £1.69 (banana and vanilla flavours also available)

Easter Eggs – Divine Shaun the Sheep is £5.00 and Moo Free (vegan) is £3.99.

We get new lines in based on customer requests and orders – if there’s a special ingredient in your favourite recipe, call us on 01933 741798 or email wholefoods@hornett.org.uk to see if we already have it in stock or we can order it.

National Pie Week!

Yes, it is apparently National Pie Week across the UK.  Who decides these things?  I have no idea but Hornett Wholefoods is happy to join in!  We have 10% off VBites pasties all week, until Saturday March 7th.  We have three flavours:

vbites pasties 2

  • Ham Style and Cheezly
  • Beef Style
  • Chicken Style and Mushroom

Each flavour is wrapped in a lovely tasting puff pastry and is jolly nice served with mashed potato and vegetables. They come in a pair and cost £3.29; with 10% off, this means part of a dinner for two will cost just £2.96 – what more do you need to celebrate National Pie Week?!

cooked pasty

Mother’s Day at Hornett Wholefoods

MOthers day graphicIt’s almost the time of year again when we celebrate the most important person in all our lives – our mums! On Sunday 15th March, it’s time to let her know how much we appreciate her efforts and give her a special treat. We have a few offers for you in the lead up to the big day:

Four-corners-banoffeeBooja Booja Chocolates

It’s hard to imagine where to start with how good they are: tasty, luxurious, dairy- and gluten-free, organic and good looking and now they have 10% off – just in time for Mother’s day! The Fine de Champagne Truffles are usually £12.95 for a 138g box (12 chocolates), which makes them £11.66 a box for a couple of weeks. We also have 3 flavours from the Four Corners collection: Hazelnut, Stem Ginger and Banoffee Toffee; these are £6.99 for a 104g box (9 truffles), or £6.29 during the fortnight till Mother’s Day.

Montezuma’s Giant Buttonsmontezuma-dark-button-bag

 We have three flavours of buttons for you to treat Mum to – Milk, Dark (vegan) and White, all £2.79 for a 180g bag. We are taking 10% off, which will make each bag come to £2.51.   The buttons really are giant – each one is about the size of a 10p coin! They are very more-ish but you’ll have to make sure Mum gets the lion’s share of the bag!

bb ice creamBooja Booja Ice Cream

Another vegan choice – lovely, luxurious vegan ice cream alternative with just four ingredients. This is made with water, agave syrup, cashew nuts and the relevant flavour extract. We have Hunky-Punky Chocolate, Vanilla M’Gorilla and Feisty Rollercoaster Ginger, all at £5.99, or £5.39 with 10% off for Mother’s Day. Mum gets first dibs on the tub please!

 

 

Offers in store this weekend!

Coconut milkHello all,  I can’t believe it’s almost the end of February already!  March means spring though and already we have spring bulbs starting to come through; chez Hornett, we have snowdrops in the garden and the magnolia has buds.  The end of February means that the coconut oil offer is finishing on Saturday 28th.  A 650g jar is currently £9.55 and will be going back to its normal price of £11.95; a smaller 320g jar is currently £5.49 and its normal price is £6.85.  Come and get a bargain while you can!

We have Tyrell’s Veg Crisps on offer till 5th Tyrells veg crispsMarch – there’s 10% off each 40g bag, which is a lunch time size.  These veg crisps are sliced beetroot, parsnip and carrot crisps with a pinch of sea salt and are something different from the norm.  They are hand cooked and really tasty.

We also still have Fab Feb running for another couple of days – Engevita B12 and Rice Cakes are Saturday’s offer – see the blogs for full details.

See you soon – we’re open Monday to Saturday 9.00am to 5.30pm!

Fab Feb for 48 – 27th February

Engevita Nutritional Yeast

Engevita trioThis is something we stocked after a couple of customer requests (a lot of our stock additions happen this way – it’s always worth asking if you can’t see what you want!) and I’d heard of it but never tried it. We now sell a 125g tub with B12 for £2.99; with 10% off for 27th and 28th February, it comes to £2.69 and it’s become a store cupboard staple in our house. I use it in stews, Bolognese sauce and I’ve even sprinkled it on an omelette for a low fat cheese taste – yum!

EngevitaI stocked the B12 version as this is a vitamin that can easily be missed in a plant-based diet as there are no sources of it in plants. B12 is important for healthy blood growth and keeps the eyes, brain and nervous system functioning normally. Signs that you’re missing out include lethargy and poor circulation. Those that are on a purely plant-based diet need to eat fortified foods, such as Engevita, breakfast cereals, soya milks and vegetable margarine.

What is “Nutritional Yeast”?

Not exactly a great description is it? Doesn’t sound ever so inspiring? The description on the tub makes sound exciting then a bit of a let-down – “The vegan food with a cheesey, nutty taste (yum!) made from primary inactive yeast without additives or preservatives (oh…)” Well, nutritional yeast is made from a single-celled organism, Saccharomyces Cerevisiae, which is grown on molasses and then harvested, washed, and dried with heat to kill or “deactivate” it. And that’s it. Having trawled the internet and read a few reviews on various sites, there seem to be many uses for it – from simply eating it out of the tub to sprinkling it in casseroles to making cheese from it!nutritional-yeast1

However you choose to use it, come and see us at Hornett Wholefoods and share recipes (we’ll happily share them on our many blogs if you want us to) and enjoy 10% off for a couple of days – you’ll be hooked!