Be Prepared for Life

Activity Kit One:
"There's no place like Home"

Part 3. Protect Nature at Home


Plants and animals are dying at the rate of one species a day. Scouts are friends of animals and plants and will protect them wherever possible. Our gardens can become wildlife refuges. Places of safety for birds that help us to control insect pests. Birds need shelter for suitable nest sites and a food supply. The bird-friendly garden has many bushes and trees to encourage nesting and provide fruits and seeds.

Project 9: Bird streaking in your garden

Draw a sketch of your garden. Place a sheet of tracing paper over the drawing and wait in a quiet corner. Mark in the flight paths of the garden birds that visit the garden. Where do they stop to feed? Where do they rest? Where do they nest? What do they eat?

Keep records on fresh sheets of tracing paper for a week. Make bird path sketches at different times of the year, and different hours of the day.

[For more information write to: The Wildlife Society P.O. Box 44344 Linden 2104 for a copy of BIRD STREAKING].

What type of tree or bush encourages birds to a garden like yours? Where could you plant one?

Build a bird feeder and experiment by putting out different types of food on the feeders.

Make a list of all the different types of birds that visit your garden.

[For more information write to: Caltex Oil.Dept. of Public Affairs. P.O.Box 714 Cape Town 8000 for a copy of the KNOW YOUR BIRDS booklets.]

Build a bird drinking fountain or a fish pond, preferably with a central island for birds to rest on in safety from domestic cats.

Stock your pond with fish and tadpoles from a local lake or river to encourage fish eating birds to visit your garden.


Project 10: Nature's Corner

Set aside a quiet corner of your garden for nature. If possible rope it off to remind others to leave it alone. A place where the lawn is never mowed, where dog droppings are not removed, where leaves are left where they fall and where fallen fruits and weeds are ignored. Spend a few minutes each day with your journal noting all changes you can see. Record where the weeds grow, what happens to the fruit and droppings. Compare this place to other parts of your garden which are regularly cleaned. Where do you find the most animal life?


South Africa has a badly damaged upper soil layer because we have not cared for it properly in the past. Soil conservation begins at home too. If we want plants and animals to thrive in our gardens we must look after our soil.

Gardens can suffer from all the soil erosion problems in our country. Look for signs of path trampling, soil compacting, disappearing soil cover, exposed patches and hollows, surface erosion [soil in storm water drains]. Wind erosion [soil in gutters].

Work out ways of protecting the soil with paths, with plant cover and soil mulching [a layer of compost or lawn clipping around growing plants].

Project 11: Nature's Plant Food

Plant roots remove plant foods [soil nutrients] from the soil and store them in fruits, leaves and branches. The soil becomes poorer unless we return as much plant waste to the soil as we can. A heap of leaves and lawn clippings will turn into a rich black humus [concentrated plant food] after a year. For quick results it needs to be kept moist and turned over with a fork from time to time. Adding kitchen refuse, manure and layers of soil will give the fastest results and may be ready to use after three months.

When this plant food is spread on the ground or dug in around plants the garden begins to thrive and the soil comes alive with soil animals which help to make even more soil food available to plants. Chemical fertilisers burn and kill these animals.


Caring for the world begins at home...
but it doesn't end there.

In our next kit...

we discover a larger concern
for our street neighbourhood

© Copyright 1991 - 1994
Dr Frank Opie for the South African Scout Association