Posts Tagged ‘Native British Birds’


I don’t know about you but it’s about his time of the year I start thinking about cutting the hedges. I was brought up in the country and I remember my dad used to take a lot of advice from a farmer friend when it came to hedge cutting. “When you see the farmer out with his tractor and hedge cutter then its time to cut the hedges” he used to say.

Well last weekend the farmer in the back field was out bright and early trimming the hedgerows  so I thought I’d get the step ladder out and start tidying up our mixed hedge. It’s about 60 meters of mixed hedge in total and has pretty much everything in it from lleylandi to hazel with the odd walnut sapling thrown in for good measure.

The hedge was here when we moved in and as each year goes with careful management it just gets better. Although it isn’t perhaps the most beautiful hedge you’ll find but it does host a variety of native birds and flora so it’s always best to wait until the birds have stopped breeding before cutting.

Every year I have the challenge of finding something to do with the waste material. Well this year a friend of mine gave us a small electric shredder. It doesn’t actually shred the waste, more like grinds the branches into submission!


Having said that it is a great little machine and I’m immensely grateful for it, not least as it enables us to create a by-product from the hedge trimmings which serves several purposes.mulchFirstly it makes a great surface for around the entrance to the nursery which is soft under foot and when its had a chance to break down it turns into the most amazing springy compost material.

The great thing is its cheap to produce and lasts for several seasons and you can throw it onto the compost heap or simply lay it on top of the beds and wait for nature to do its stuff.

Last year we started to scatter the trimmings on the paths in the kitchen garden to create a more natural feel.  One year on and its turned into the most amazing mulch which is soft under foot and can be used for mulching the flower beds.  I simply spade it onto the beds and work it into the soil and worms do the rest!

If you’re thinking of buying a shredder then the bigger you can afford the better is my advice. I love my little shredder but do sometimes wish I had a little extra power.

Here are my tips for trouble free shredding!

  • Read and follow the instructions that come with your shredder.
  • Be patient and avoid stuffing too much green material in at once especially Leylandii as it has a tendency to clog the machine.
  • Resist stuffing large branches in or you’ll likely burn out the motor. My little shredder will comfortably take branches up to an inch in diameter. Anything larger gets stripped of its branches and either used for poles in the garden or for winter firewood.

Like most of the green waste in the garden hedge trimmings can be a pain to get rid of  but if you’re able to invest in a modest little shredder I’d say go for it as the by-product is can easily be recycled.

I didn’t manage to finish the job this weekend so will be shredding some more next weekend.

Best wishes

John And Tania The Rural Gardeners



Still living the dream …

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How To Build A Simple Bird Table

Building a bird table is great fun and it’s much easier than you think. All you need are a few basic DIY skills and be prepared to have a go. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy and can be made from any spare timber you have lying around.

When you put wild bird seed and perhaps a few slices of apple out first thing in the morning, it’s not long before the birds arrive to start feeding.

I chose this particular design as it looks fairly elegant and was simple to make.  It’s a pretty standard design and one that you’ll find examples of all over the Internet.

The important thing about any bird table is to keep the seed as dry as possible and try to keep it on the table so as not to attract rats or mice to the table.  So I’d recomend building a roof into your design and add a lip around edge of the table to stop any food falling onto the floor. Having said that the pigeons will scatter the seed all over the place anyway. 🙂

What about the sizes? 

I’m not sure about how big or small a bird table needs to be but it needs to be in proportion.

These are the dimensions I used for the table in the photograph but feel free to experiment, that’s half the fun. If you’re worried about how it might turn out, one tip is to make a prototype out of cardboard first.

Recommended sizes …

  1. Table Top – 24″ long  x 16″ wide.
  2. Height – 9″ to the top ridgeline of the roof.
  3. Side Supports  – 8″ high x 3″ wide
  4. Side Pieces – 18″ wide and 4″ at the highest point
  5. Post – treated 2″ x 2″ (approximately 5ft from top to bottom)
  6. Post stabilisers – 2″ X 2″ softwood


To make the table in the photo you’re going to need the following:

  • 18 mill plywood for the table
  • 2″ x 2″ Rough sawn softwood
  • 4″ Featherboard
  • Edge trim for the table – (1″ x 1″ softwood battens)
  • Angle bead to finish the ridge line of the roof
  • Four (4) Metal Angle Brackets
  • Exterior Grade Wood Glue
  • A Power Drill
  • Assorted Screws
  • A Mitre Block and Tenon Saw. (For cutting 45 degree angles)

First job is to cut the edge trim to size and pin around the outside of the table, then screw the table top to the post using a couple of 2″ screws. I also used 4 angle brackets fitted underneath for added support.

Tip – If you need to find the center of a square or oblong piece of wood, draw a line from one corner to the opposite corner. Where the lines cross is the dead centre of the board.


Lines Cross Dead Centre


Angle Brackets For Extra Strength


I discovered when I was making my table just how important it is to make sure it’s  stable.  My first prototype base was made using two pieces of 2″ x 2″ crossed over and fixed in the center, but on the first really windy day it fell over which became a constant source of frustration.

So I looked at the commercial tables and found that fixing the legs at a 45 degree angle made for a more stable result.


If you have a chop saw the angles are easy enough to cut, if not then a miter block and tenon saw will do just as well.

Continue to build the remainder of the supports and side pieces using the drill and screws and finish the roof.  You can use any board thin board but  I had some old feather board lying around and it seems to look great as a bird table roof.

Final job is to finish off the roof with a piece of angle bead to allow the water to run off the ridge and paint the whole thing with a water based preservative. Worth checking the label as it’s important to use non toxic stain so as not to harm the birds.


I added a few hooks around the outside for hanging peanuts and fat cakes and that’s the table pretty much done.

What should you feed the birds?

There are folks out there far better qualified than me to comment on what to feed our feathered friends but I use a combination of wild bird seed mix and fat cakes  that I make myself. Really easy to make, all you need is some lard a wild bird seed mix and some chunks of apple.  They are really easy to make, cheap to make and the birds seem to love em!

If you fancy having a go at making your own fat cakes the recipe I used is below.


A simple Fat Cake recipe

You’re going to need:

  1. 1-2 Packets of Lard.
  2. A Bag of Wild bird Seed.
  3. An Apple or English Grapes when they are in season.
  4. Stout String (candle string is ideal)
  5. So used yogurt pots.
  • Melt the lard in a deep pan, then let it cool slightly before adding the seeds and fruit. A word of caution here, melting lard gets verrrrrrry hot, so keep the heat low and just wait a bit longer for it to melt. Above all stay safe!
  • Before the fatty mix starts to set pour it into a mould,   not too big (old yogurt pots will do just fine or Yorkshire pudding trays work just as well).
  • Before the lard starts to set take a 3-4″ piece of string and drop it into the mix keeping about 2″ outside the mould.
  • Leave the moulds to set  for a couple of hours and then place in the fridge overnight to set nice and hard.
  • The next day remove the fat cake from the mould and tie the string to the hooks around the outside of your new bird table.


I hope your bird table brings you as much pleasure as ours has, and keep an eye out for the varieties of birds that visit. We are up to 12 so far and one of those is a Jay who while looking fantastic, frightens the other birds. Not sure what we’re going to do about that one.

Good luck with your table, and do feel free to ask if you need any more info on the construction methods.

Best wishes,


PS.  We’ve included a FREE pdf of this post that you can download and use at your leisure with our best wishes.

How To Build A Simple Bird Table (pdf)


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