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From the Experts – November

From the Experts – November

The Winter Garden: Providing Food and Shelter for Backyard Wildlife

When we’re out in our garden all spring and summer, it’s easy to remember to keep the bird and squirrel feeders stocked for our wildlife friends. When winter rolls around, however, we tend to tuck the garden in and forget about it until spring, including filling the feeders.

Here a few things you can do to provide extra sources of food and shelter for overwintering visitors that come to your garden.

Do remember to fill all of your feeders and corn holders.
When you’re doing your fall and winter prep—such as coiling and storing your hoses—give all the feeders in your garden a complete fill. This will provide food beyond what they might source in the garden. Perhaps consider keeping a bag of seed in a storage container near the back door to remind you to check when you go outside.

Do leave your birdhouses up.

Backyard Wildlife

It is tempting to clean houses up and put them away for the winter, but leaving them out provides roosting places during the winter where birds can stay warm.

Don’t rid your yard of every last leaf in sight.
Fallen leaves not only make a great source for mulching your garden beds, but critters will find the leaves as useful shelter. Instead of raking and bagging, pile leaves on garden beds and in the compost pile.

Do gather stray twigs and branches into piles away from your home.
Gathering all the small twigs and branches that have fallen around your garden and piling them in a spot out of the way, but not up against your home, provides critters a safe spot to hibernate and build nests over the winter.

Don’t cut back all of your perennials just yet.
Although late fall is the perfect time to cut down your perennials and tuck them in for the winter, many garden perennials have leaves, stalks, and seed heads that provide food and shelter for wildlife. Consider leaving some of them uncut until springtime such as Rudbeckia, Echinacea, Sedum and Daisies. Along with berried plants and grasses, wildlife will forage the plants for seeds and use the stalks and leaves for nest building.

Do provide a source for fresh water.
As the temperatures dip colder in winter, many water sources dry up or freeze over. Anywhere that you can provide fresh water in bowls or ponds for backyard wildlife will be greatly appreciated, because water is one of the most important resources for them this time of year.

Grasses & Shrubs for Winter Foraging
Do offer food other than seed.

This time of year you can find craft fairs and markets every weekend, which are often great for finding fatty treats for your backyard friends. You’re bound to find a local crafter with a passion for nature’s critters. Look for some of those pine cones filled with suet or peanut butter as treats to hang in your trees.

Don’t forget about the larger wildlife.

Deer, chipmunks, and squirrels are likely to turn up in your garden if they hear the birds are enjoying the food and shelter you are providing. Put out dried corn cobs and cut up apple chunks or pieces of roasted squash for them to snack on.


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Sunflower Acres Farm & Garden™

PO Box 5843
Salem, OR 97304
Phone: 503-967-5902

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