We all know that it is good to attract beneficial insects and animals to your garden, but we don’t always know why. So today I thought I’d look at the Hedgehog, as during the summer I placed two Hedgehog boxes onto my plot.
I hope you find this interesting.
Interesting facts about the Hedgehog:
- The hedgehog is a well known UK animal which is sadly becoming a scarcer sight. It is the only British mammal that is covered in spines, as many as 7000. When it is in danger, it curls up into a ball to give it protection.
- Hedgehogs are mostly nocturnal and travel long distances in their nightly forages for food.
- The young are born between May and September, in litters of four or five.
- They have been known to live for up to 14 years, but most will die after two years.
- Hedgehogs hibernate between November and early April. During this time, their body functions slow down, almost to a standstill and their body temperature drops from 35°C to 1 0°C. This helps them conserve energy.
- Before hibernation, a hedgehog should weigh at least 0.5kg to survive the winter.
- They have poor eyesight but have excellent smell and hearing skills. They can also swim and climb very well.
- Foxes, dogs, badgers, stoats are all threats to the hedgehog.
Why are Hedgehogs good for the Vegetable Garden and how can we attract them?
Hedgehogs are beneficial animals to the vegetable garden because they love eating some of our allotment enemies e.g. caterpillars, beetles, slugs and snails, that destroy our lovely vegetables.
You can encourage hedgehogs into your garden or allotment, by leaving piles of leaves and twigs around for them to nest in, or by making a purpose built shelter like the one we have in the photo below.
I actually have two of these boxes hidden in two different places at the back of my allotments, in overgrown areas, in the hope they will attract a hedgehog or two, to my plot. However, you can just make a pile of leaves or grass cuttings in a sheltered area of the garden. Hedgehogs also love unmown lawn edges as they can find insects in the grass to eat.
Things that can harm Hedgehogs:
- Slug pellets containing Metaldehyde can be fatal to hedgehogs, so organic slug pellets are a better option.
- A hedgehog thinks an unlit bonfire is a really good place to hibernate, so please check for them before lighting.
- Bread and milk will cause the hedgehog to have diarrhea so do not feed it to them.
- Hedgehogs may nest in long grass, and are sometimes injured by strimmers and lawnmowers, so check long grass before you cut it.
- Litter is dangerous to hedgehogs. They can become entangled in plastic rings that hold cans together, or become wedged in empty tins. Dispose of litter carefully and squash all your tin cans before recycling them.
- Despite all these hazards, the biggest threat to hedgehogs is habitat loss. Over the last 30 years, agriculture has favoured large fields and the habitats of the hedgehog, particularly hedges, have been lost. Pesticide usage also puts pressure on hedgehog populations.
I hope you enjoyed reading about the Hedgehog. I will write more about beneficial animals and insects again soon.
Another Recipe To Share
This is a recipe I’ve been meaning to post on my blog for a while. It’s a recipe for Cheese Spread that my husband and daughter really like.
My recipe costs just £1.10 to make and it has none of the dreadful chemicals and preservatives that shop bought cheese spreads have.
You can add garlic and herbs to it if you want, to make it exactly as you like it.
It’s important you have read all the instructions and weighed out all your ingredients, before you make the spread, as each stage must be carried out immeadiately to make sure the recipe works.
100 grams Margarine
2 teaspoons plain flour
1 teaspoon English Mustard
150g grated cheese (use more if required)
1 ½ teaspoons of Cydar vinegar
1 Egg lightly beaten (just enough to combine the white and yolk, don’t over beat)
Fill a bowl of water ready to cool your pan and have all your ingredients measured out as you don’t want your mixture to overcook in between each stage.
Melt the margarine over a low heat.
Take off the heat and mix in the flour and mustard.
Add the milk a little bit at a time and heat until the mixture is smooth and starts to bubble.
Lift off the heat and mix in the cheese and vinegar then return to the heat, stirring until the cheese melts.
Take the pan off the heat and quickly mix in the beaten egg.
Put the pan back on the heat, mixing all the time, until it becomes thicker, (this usually only takes 15-20 seconds, don’t heat for longer or the egg will scramble or the fat will separate).
Remove the pan from the heat straight away and stand the pan in the bowl of cold water, still mixing, until it cools.
Put the spread into a covered container and keep in the fridge for up to 1 week.
I’ve found that different cheeses alter the texture and taste of the spread, so experiment to see which you like best. I use ‘value’ mild white cheddar, as it’s cheapest, but it’s up to you.
Thank you for reading my blog today.