With climate change horror choking our newsfeeds (and oceans) it can be hard to know where to even start in saving the world beyond buying a keep cup and metal straw. However, there’s a lot you can do to help the struggling little creatures in your backyard - here’s how.
Not the cutest creatures that make up part of our ecosystem, but an integral one all the same. Nearly half of food waste ends up in landfills, when really it could be going into a slimy tiger worm’s belly. These guys excrete the waste into a perfect fertiliser, so your garden also gets to reap the benefits. Here’s how to set up your very own worm farm:
Bees are an integral part of our ecosystem - without them, Einstein said we would die out in four years - but you can give them a helping hand. Pollinating really takes it out of a bee, so you can whip up a two ingredient energy drink to get them back on the job.
If you notice a bee looking sluggish in your backyard, dissolve a pinch of sugar into a teaspoon of water and leave it on a shallow saucer for the bee to drink from. This will restore their sucrose levels so they can make it home safely.
Bees also froth wildflowers and certain plants, so you can grow a colourful, delectable bee salad. Sweetreehoney.co.nz sells bee-friendly wildflower seed mixes for only $5 - the proceeds of which go to Apiculture NZ to save the bees!
These spiky little friends are nocturnal, so if you see one out in broad daylight they probably need a hand. This hand should be swaddled in an old towel or gardening gloves so you don’t hurt yourself.
You can keep the poorly hog in a deep box where they can’t make a break for it, and line it with old towels and newspaper so they can snuggle up. A sick hedgehog will likely be a little chilly, so you can put a hot water bottle or wheat bag underneath the box to keep them warm.
Once they’re warm, they will want to eat! Hedgehogs are opportunistic little buggers so will froth any cat or dog food (but are also partial to apples and bananas). Do not feed them bread or milk as these are actually toxic.
If you’re still concerned that your new friend isn’t bouncing back, contact Hedgehog Rescue NZ - they’re far more of a wealth of information than we are. We can barely look after ourselves.
If you have a cat and want to help native birds (as well as avoid the trauma of finding a one-winged bird flapping desperately around your living room, while your cat licks its lips) put a damn bell on their collar.
For the cat-less, the best thing you can do is replicate the natural environments of native birds by planting native trees. The nectar of a tarata, kōwhai or flax will attract native birds such as bellbirds, tui, kākā and silvereye. Meanwhile, the mighty kereru won’t be able to resist the fruits of wineberry, karamū and korokia. If you’re impatient or don’t have space for a tree to grow, try planting broadleaf, kaka beak or titoki in small planters.
It may be tempting to put out store-bought seeds for local birds. Although introduced species like sparrows or myna will lap these up, these seeds can be fatal for native birds (unnatural feeding has been linked to metabolic bone disease in kākā).Lastly, avoid planting any scrumptious native plants close to window panes as the reflection causes the deaths of kereru every year.
It can be easy to walk past that tired bee on the pavement because you’re late for class; or neglect your young native plants because you’re too busy studying. But taking a little bit of time out of your day to help a little creature could make a huge difference to them. So slow down, look for hogs and listen to the birdsong!