We don’t give much thought to the soil under our feet but without it, we wouldn’t have the landscape that is bountiful or food on our plates. It takes a lifetime to create the ideal soil conditions for plants and crops to grow, but no time at all to destroy it.
The Importance of Soil
For every plant to thrive, it needs nutrients. And these are found in the soil. With the right nutrients in perfect balance, a plant or tree thrives. Too much nutrition causes growth that is too quick resulting in a poor quality plant, but not enough and plants and trees fail to thrive. Fertile soil needs nutrients, as well as air and water.
Healthy Soil = Healthy Planet
Soil is essential for humans, as it is for insects, animals, birds and rodents. Different types of soils are needed too. Sandy soil is great for some plants and insects, whilst heavier soils are needed for other flora and fauna.
What Shape is Your Soil in?
By looking after the soil in your garden, keeping it well fertilised, aerated and watered, you are taking an important ecological step to protect the planet.
Ok, so I got abit behind in blogging about our 30 Days Wild adventures. We have still been very much taking part, and I have posted on social media about a couple of things, I just hadn’t got as far as writing about it here! So I thought I would do a quick round-up post instead to catch up!
On Friday, we went for a lovely family walk through a local nature reserve called The Wick. It is a lovely area of ancient woodlands that local residents are working hard to protect and preserve.
The highlight was when we came across this old log and Squiggle looked at it and declared it looks like a rabbit – which it really does! I love her creative mind.
I also paused to grab a few photos during our walk too…
On Saturday, we took a day trip to Whitchurch for the annual Sylvanian Shopping Weekend. It is a pretty village and the event is surrounded by beautiful natural settings with lots of wildlife. We had a wonderful time!
On Sunday, I planted a virtual seed on Grow Wild UK. Squiggle also took this photo in a local park…
Also on Sunday, one of our furbabies went off exploring and hadn’t returned for several hours. By evening I was wondering where he had got to, so I went out to call him. I heard a high pierced sound and when I looked up there was a bat circling right above my head!!! I have seen lots of bats round here before, but I have never heard one – to be honest, I didn’t think humans actually could hear them! I thought their pitch/ frequency was out of the range of human hearing… but I know what I heard; I was shocked, but very exciting!
Earlier this week, I spent time looking into more sustainable products to help us progress with our journey towards a more plastic- free and less waste, green living, lifestyle. I am hoping to collaborate with some brands soon to write an essentials guide – so more on that soon hopefully!
Today Squiggle enjoyed splashing around in the lake at Ruislip Lido…
And that brings me up to date with our wild adventures!
What adventures have you been up to recently? Tell me in comments or leave your posts in my linky!
We have three rabbits; two are paired up and I will be writing more about their enclosure soon, but the third is a smaller breed who lives alone. Having chewed through the wood on his previous enclosure, it was time for a replacement!
We wanted a home for him that provides freedom to be inside or out at all times, gives him plenty of space, and allows him to graze without fear of him digging out. (After all, this is the bun who was once found by a neighbour in the middle of the road after he dug a hole and escaped!) After some research, we decided that the Omlet might be a good fit for him, and they kindly agreed to let us review the Eglu Go hutch and 2 metre run.
The Omlet took quite a while to assemble! The instructions were not as clear as they could be, but there is a YouTube video to watch, which makes it clearer. We made a couple of minor mistakes, which added to the time it took. Plus we had to take a section of the hutch apart because one of the pre-fitted internal nuts had come loose. It was easy enough to sort that out ourselves though without any major hassle. It was fully assembled and ready to use within 3 hours, so I guess that’s not too bad in the scheme of things.
Once put together though, it is low maintence, easy to clean and it is obvious that it is very durable. There are lots of little features that I really like, such as the hay rack and bottle attached to the door and slide out tray for easy cleaning. I also like the attached floor to ensure nothing can dig in or out.
Patchy, our bunny, is given access to both the hutch and run at all times (personally I feel it would be far too small to ever shut him in the hutch alone) and he has free-range access to the garden under supervision sometimes too. He has plenty of space to hop, stretch and periscope!
Squiggle and one of our cats also demonstrate how much space there is…
We have been using the OMLET Eglu Go hutch and run for over a month now and it has been thoroughly tested in that time. After just a few days of Patchy moving in, we discovered a fox trying hard to get into the Omlet. Given that my daughter had commented that she heard a banging sound quite a while beforehand, I suspect it had been trying for quite sometime. We even spotted muddy paw prints on the hutch roof!
We were relieved it withstood this assault without any sign of weakness, but we have made a few extra safety modifications since them to improve security further still. This includes a padlock on the run door, cable ties on the joints and a couple of bricks at the back. We also throw a blanket or two over the run at night as well.
Now, I am the first to admit that I am not a regular cyclist. However, I do love being outdoors and I also like a challenge! So when Inntravel set a cycling adventure challenge; to explore our local area by bike, creating a cycle route, then share what we discovered, I was more than happy to take this on!
Inntravel are a holiday company that have been offering cycling holidays in Europe since the late 1980s. They arrange the hire of a high-quality bike and you cycle self-guided from one welcoming hotel to the next, following detailed maps and route notes while your luggage is transported ahead. Inntravel plan all their biking holidays carefully, making sure that each route is tried and tested, preferably using quiet roads and country lanes. They try to ensure the routes are enjoyable and interesting, giving you the chance to take in the beautiful scenery and gorgeous views.
Our cycle route went from London Colney (Hertfordshire) across St Albans to Verulamium Park, via Highfield Park then onto the Alban Way. This is a fairly short linear route that covers approximately 5.5 miles each way, so only about an hour or so of cycling in total, but with ample opportunity to pause and take in some of the nearby attractions, or stop for food and/ or refreshments.
Heading from London Colney high street, the route takes us over a fly-over, which cyclists need to dismount for, onto Nightingale Lane then into Highfield park. The park is a lovely place to explore or have a picnic. There is a tree trail and history trail, as well as a maze.
Leaving the park, the next step of the route takes us down bike lanes until we reach the Hill End Garden of Rest that leads onto Alban Way. Alban Way is a cycle path that has been created from an old railway line that joins Hatfield to St Albans.
The Alban Way disjoints briefly at Orient Close where we cycle down a quiet street. There is generally very little traffic though so it is a peaceful ride back onto the Alban Way again.
Just past here is an opportunity to dismount if you wish to and follow the footpath along a small section of the River Ver Trail to discover the wildlife and explore Sopwell Nunnery. We loved doing this! Alternatively you can stay on the cycle path until you get to Cottonmill Lane.
At this point there is some road cycling including crossing a fairly busy intersection (there are traffic lights though). On the other side of the road, is Westminster Lodge and the entrance to Verulamium Park using the cycle path that runs from the athletics track, through the park – where we take in the beautiful views of the Abbey Cathedral in the distance, as well as the scenic views and historical attractions across the rest of the park – onto the Roman Verulamium museum at the other end.
Verulamium park has a wealth of Roman history to enjoy, including the mosaics/ hypocaust, remains of the Roman wall, theatre and the museum. If history is not your thing, you might enjoy a walk around the lake or visit the Wildlife Trust centre instead.
Before heading back home along the same route, you can also stop for refreshments at the Inn on the Park, nip into Ye Olde Fighting Cocks (rumoured to be the oldest pub in Britain) at the other end of the lake, head down past the museum to pretty St Michaels Village that has a selection of delightful pubs, or grab a bite at the well-known Waffle House.
After our local cycling adventure, I really the idea of a cycling holiday. Slow paced and relaxing, yet active, with plenty of time to be outdoors and a chance to enjoy exploring new places; that all sounds ideal to me! Plus I like the fact that with a cycling holiday, you don’t need to stick to circular routes or have to turn around and head back to your original destination because your luggage is forwarded onto your next destination. Also as they are not groups cycles, they can be personalised with your choice of selected routes for the day and travel at your individual pace. It sounds great for any level of cyclist, including very occasional complete amateurs like myself!
Disclosure: This post is in collaboration with Inntravel.
As I mentioned briefly in a recent post, I started reading abit more about bees – initially beekeeping in particular. However, I then found some lovely resources that I wanted to share with you all about bees. After all, these hardworking pollinators are vital to us yet are in need of greater understanding and protection!
This short blog post by Raising Little Shoots has some great YouTube links. One of them demonstrates how sometimes tired, thirsty bees are in need of some sugar water to help revive them/ give them the energy needed to fly off. We did this ourselves recently, with a few drops of sugar water on a spoon for a little bee in our garden who was crawling around but was clearly exhausted. Afterwards, he went on his merry way!
We have a wild patch in our garden. I love it because from a distance it doesn’t look like there is much there but the closer you get, the more you spot that there is actually an abundance of wildlife. So I decided to turn it into a 30 Days Wild activity; nature’s version of Where’s Wally?
How many minibeasts can you spot in each of these photos?
What about this one?
I was going to share some closer up pictures as part of this post, but I have just decided that on second thoughts, rather than give away the answers too quickly, I will post my close up photography in a separate post later! So look out for that coming soon!!! In the meantime, how many things have you spotted? Tell me in comments!
Here is week three 30 Days Wild/ #LivingLifeWild linky,remember you can link up as many posts as you want! I will read and comment on them all 💚
Early this morning, just after dawn, this little fella made his way across our garden and into our bushes. We have never seen a hedgehog in our garden before – infact I don’t think any of us have seen one in the wild ever full stop! SO excited!!!!
This is Squiggle’s photo, she was thrilled to see him, she was the one who spotted him first!
It would seem to be the day for spotting these adorable little creatures for the first time! Over on instagram, The World Is Their Classroom posted this…
A post shared by Nicola's Islamic Home Ed (@theworldistheirclassroom) on
It is so wonderful to see British wildlife making an appearance up and down the country! The Wildlife Trusts website has some useful information and fun activities about hedgehogs, including a handy PDF download too. Squiggle made a hedgehog hideaway today to encourage and protect our new friend!
Yesterday for 30 Days Wild, I used all of my senses to explore the natural environment around me. Even in a small urban garden, this is a very simple activity that really connects us to the world around us, and helps us to feel balanced and calm at the same time.
Looking around for natural items, I could see an array of colours. All around there are a variety of flowers, different types of grasses, a few weeks, a tree in our garden with many more in the distance, our growing area, a mass of tiny wildlife hiding in every corner. Such a wealth of things to see.
Not just the flowers, but the air in general. Does it smell clean and fresh? Or maybe something is polluting it? Some of the common smells from an urban garden might be things such as freshly cut grass, food, rain, flowers and herbs, smoke, earthy smells etc… Focus on the natural ones. My favourite is when it has just rained!
Listen to the sounds around. I could hear alot of other noise; an ice cream van, people talking, lawnmower, some kind of DIY, the bouncing noise of a trampoline… I tried to filter all of these out and tune into natural sounds. If I listened carefully, I could hear four different bird calls.
I touched the grass, then took off my shoes and walked barefoot through it. We did this same activity, called Grounding, last year and I wrote about it briefly here.
I didn’t taste anything. However, I could have made nettle crisps so that is perhaps inspiration for some other time! I would also love to learn more about foraging in general, since at the moment I don’t feel confident doing it (except for berries)!
On Sunday, we went to a family fun day at a local college. Whilst that was in itself far from wild, we did find a couple of nature related things going on!
The main thing was finding our local beekeepers. This also led me to read more about beekeepers afterwards, especially from an ethical point of view. I found an interesting blog by a beekeeper about how approaches can vary and some are less ethical so I would like to know more about the practices of the ones we saw now. It was educational for Squiggle to see them though anyway!
We also spotted some woodcarving, which is such an awesome skill! Squiggle loved the rabbit…
There are a few less ‘wild’ photos too! Building a wall…
Inflatable assault course…
There were also sheep, birds of prey, funfair rides and dancing demonstration, plus lots of other things that we didn’t get round to as well!