Summer is sadly officially over and we're into Autumn. Sigh. The garden might be starting to look a little worse for wear and the trees are starting to change colour...
Which means our littlest friends will be starting to think where to overwinter. This is where you come in, yay! You can help build the perfect little warm hiding spots with all the rubbish that has mysteriously appeared in the garden shed. A broken plant pot, a few split bamboo canes, a bucket of leftover gravel, the tile that fell off the roof. It's all good.
First up, think of size and location. If you're going big, it's probably best to build your hotel in position. Where you build is pretty much up to you, someone is bound to move in eventually. If you are hoping to attract a certain species do your research, as different creatures like different conditions.
Start your creation with a sturdy base, old pallets are great for big structures. If you're saving space, maybe try a disused bird box or wooden crate. Now simply get filling. Aim to make as many nooks and crannies as possible. Think of them like hotel rooms... the more rooms you've got, the more guests you can have. Go mad, dead wood, sticks, stones, straw, tiles, corrugated card... The only thing holding you back is your imagination. Once you're happy, pop on a roof. We wouldn't want any guests getting cold now would we?
Maybe your little ones will end up looking like this:
Or if you're going big maybe you would like to take some inspiration from Abbotswood and Wapley Bushes. Hotel Abbotswood is a rather rustic affair, blending into the wider landscape. Whereas a local Brownie group took the themed approach, Wapley Bushes even has a coffee bar and rooftop garden...
Don't forget, when working in hospitality you can never really be sure who your next guest will be. The right venue could attract more than just insects... Done well you could have the cast of the Wind In The Willows coming to stay!
Ok. So by now you've probably noticed that our blog posts usually talk about we. Well, I'll take ownership of this one, because I know I'm taking a big risk with today's sustainability tip.
I'm going controversial... Prepare yourselves...
The tip of today is...
Make a new friend!
Kind of cute if you squint. I think I'll call him Herbert.
So, how many of you are still reading and not hiding behind the sofa from poor little Herbert? I did say I was going controversial after all, so bear with me. Most spiders are harmless, especially in the UK. Just remember you're a bigger threat to them than they are to you, leave them be and they'll repay the favour.
I'm sure no matter how hard you try there is always that one errant spider web that escapes the feather duster, right? You're not alone, I am forever finding a cobweb above the living room doorway and around the wing mirrors of my car. Well, how's this for a tip...
Let them do your dirty work for you!
In return for a tiny unused corner of your house, they'll help you out in the long run.
Consider them your cheapest possible pest control. Leave the ugly fly papers and smelly sprays alone and give your new friend a free meal. They will feast on the real evil little monsters in your house: the flies, fleas and other critters that spread disease. Ever had a horse fly bite? I'd much rather Herbert eats a horse fly, than a horse fly try to eat me.
If you still can't get on board with letting a lodger into your house at least adopt a live and let live rule. Put down the boot or vacuum and reach for a glass and piece of paper instead. They'll do just as much good outside the house as they will inside.
Save your plants!
You know how frustrating it can be when you've put time and effort into growing some tasty veggies from seed or cultivating the perfect flower bed, then it gets destroyed by an invasion of minibeasts. Move a spider outside and they'll munch on pests in your garden, helping to keep your garden blooming beautifully.
Do you still need convincing? Not interested in giving Herbert a job with your household clean up crew? Not a keen gardener, so not bothered about other garden nuisances? Well I have one last point. Spiders are a key part of our planet's ecosystem, everything has its role to play. So, instead of squishing the next eight legged house invader you see, take him outside...
You'll be making a hungry bird happy!
Anyone feeling crafty?
If crafting doesn't come naturally to you, don't panic... This one's EASY! And has the added bonus of giving a helping hand to our feathered friends.
What you need:
Looking simple so far...
The birds will thank your few minutes of not so hard work. They might even peck the tube to pieces and fly away with it to line their nests. Aww.
Now you've done it once, you can get creative! Here's some suggestions:
A little note from Alex...
In previous years we have applied for grants to enable us to do large projects during Sustainable September. Local residents may have noticed the underpass mural or the sculpture outside St. Nicholas Church. Well this year we're doing things a little differently with lots of small activities spread throughout the month, rather than one or two big ones. Sometimes I've been asked is it worth it? It's a lot of work for maybe not so much of a noticeable difference...
The answer is simple. Yes. Sometimes the difference goes unnoticed but has much more of an impact than you realise, because sustainable communities are just as important as everything else we've talked about so far. What makes a sustainable community? Social interactions, fun and laughter, inspiring each other... team work.
I was talking to Debbie, one of our event volunteers a while ago about Sustainable September. We talked about the planned events, the photo competition and the blog. One of the things that came up was showing people how to make bird feeders out of stuff you might find around your house. I planned on posting this a bit later in September, but then yesterday I received this and couldn't resist bumping it up the calendar...
From the residents of Nutfield House...
After hearing about Sustainable September, the residents of Nutfield House - Filton, with the help of their activities coordinator and carers had been saving up their own recycling to have a go themselves. They ran two sessions making bird feeders out of what they had collected and put their creations to good work in the gardens. It might seem such a small thing, but they've brought their friends together, kept their minds and bodies active all while doing something great for the wildlife sharing their home. Well done to everyone who got involved throughout the project!
It doesn't matter who you are, what your abilities are or what community you're from, there is always something you can do towards sustainable living.
There's just one last little thing we wanted to say...
You're both doing great! Keep up the good work everybody!
Are you making the best out of your bird feeders?
Many of us support our wildlife in some way, whether it be a bird feeder in the back garden, scattering seeds while we're out for a walk, or taking some stale bread for the ducks at the local pond. But, how much thought have you given to what you're putting out there?
Two things to think about:
Is the food you're putting out as nutritional as you expect?
Could you make your pennies stretch a little further?
Bags of wild bird seed are pretty easy to come by, and should have been measured up by industry experts to give a balanced diet, but is that really the best we can do? Maybe it's time to rethink your kitchen waste bin... Supplement your everyday seed mix with kitchen scraps you would normally throw away. This could make that seed bag last a little longer, reduce waste and save a few pennies along the way.
We have lots of things to talk about at Abbotswood Action Group. We're sure you do too, get in touch if you would like to be a guest blogger...