Encouraging wildlife in your garden
You’ve probably heard that there’s a big push to halt the drastic decline in British wildlife. The recent launch of the People’s Manifesto for Wildlife lays out the practical steps we can all take to help halt the destruction of species and habitats in Britain.
You can read more and download the full manifesto, written by leading naturalist and TV presenter Chris Packham, here.
We thought we’d share how composting can help.
First, if you don’t already have one, get a home composting system. We know most of our customers and active blog readers have one, but new readers might not.
What happens around the compost bin?
The compost heap or bin will act as a natural attraction for many animals; some wanted some not so welcome! If you have wooden pallet frames, you’ll often find the corners are nesting sites for small mammals. Plastic bins on uneven surfaces will act as entry points for small mammals.
In a hot heap the top area working at 60C will be devoid of anything but thermophilic bacteria; this is part of the pasteurisation process that helps kill of pathogenic bacteria. Below this layer numerous things can start to inhabit the compost heap; it’s one of the best active ‘wildlife’ zones going!
The diagram below illustrates the ecological pyramid in the heap.
The microbes eat the organic waste, protozoa and special types of nematodes (not ones that destroy roots) eat them. Worms and various invertebrates will eat microbes, protozoa as well as decomposing organic matter. You may not get excited about these small bits of wildlife, but keep in mind, without them, the more attractive wildlife (birds, mammals and so on) won’t have the food they need. Making and spreading compost feeds the wildlife food chain.
When you open the heap to take out and spread compost, things start to happen. In my old house, I used a HOTBIN which got emptied every three months. A robin got used to this. Every time I took out compost, along it came, sat down about 30 cm from me, and jumped over to the compost to pick out worms that popped up.
Spread compost on your lawn. You’ll bring in birds to feed for a day. Most birds have no sense of smell, so I guess they must see the black compost from a distance and just know that it contains lots of worms and insects!