This time of year, many of us are busy decorating our homes and gardens for Christmas. This week, we put up Christmas lights in our front yard. We've wanted icicle lights for the front of the house for years, and finally treated ourselves to a set :)
When we decorate our garden for the winter, we try to make it look festive and remember the local wildlife. Winter is often a difficult time for birds and other wildlife because food is scarce.
We recently juiced some apples (the last of this year's apples from our trees). We were left with all of the apple pulp in the juicer, and didn't want to just throw it away. So we used it to make our own bird feeder balls. Here's how.
1. You will need apple pulp, peanuts and/or bird seeds, and string/ribbon/twine. You also need an oven.
2. Take the apple pulp (this would also work with pear or another similar fruit), and a piece of string at least 8 inches long. Form the pulp into a ball with the string running through the middle of it.
3. Push peanuts and birdseeds into the pulp--push about halfway in so that they are easily visible and accessible, but are still firmly attached to the ball. The birds will be more interested in eating the nuts and seeds than the dried fruit, so be generous in how many you add.
4. Bake the balls. I put them directly on the bottom tray of the oven while dinner was cooking. Ideally you want them to cook for about an hour (until firm) at a low heat.
5. Use the ribbon to tie the balls onto branches of trees, bushes, gates, etc.
Not only are these fun, cheap, and easy to make, they look great out, and help to feed the birds. It's really cheerful on a winter's day to look out and see birds gathered in your garden because you've provided them with a snack. If you want to make them more festive looking, use green or red string, or a Christmasy ribbon.
For more ideas on decorating your garden in wildlife-friendly ways, click here.