Compost is great for wildlife. Read my DIY composting guide to creating a compost heap in your garden and how to make your compost pile great for wildlife.
Making compost is a great project if you are self-isolating and are creating lots of green waste to recycle. It saves the planet because it is not peat based (unlike much compost from garden centres) and it is free. It’s also great fun for kids to help to make compost. Even a small garden should have at least one compost pile.
DIY Compost Heap
Compost creates a fabulous habitat for insects and is therefore great for hedgehogs and other wildlife. Your heap will be full of beetles and other bugs that provide a great food source for hedgehogs. You may even attract creatures like slowworms to live in your compost heap.
I have three compost heaps in my garden. Two are open wooden compost heaps that I have bought and constructed. I have removed the front wooden slats to enable hedgehogs and other creatures to forage in the heap. I also have a closed wooden beehive composter that makes a great garden feature.
How to build a compost heap
- Your compost pile or composter should be placed on bare soil. This makes sure that worms and other insects can get into the compost to help mix and aerate it.
- If you don’t have a ready made wooden composter kit, you can build your own from old wooden pallets or scrap wood.
- Make sure you build your compost heap somewhere you can easily access it to add more materials and to regularly turn the compost pile.
What can you compost?
The perfect compost needs a careful balance of ‘green’ and ‘brown’ materials.
Greens include vegetable peelings, fruit waste, tea bags, plant prunings (not diseased plants) and grass cuttings. Don’t put any perennial weeds on your compost or you will just sow weeds when you use your home-made compost.
Browns include cardboard egg boxes, scrunched up cardboard, straw and fallen leaves. Crushed eggshells are also fantastic. These materials add fibre and carbon and create vital air pockets which help decomposition.
You can also add any other materials labelled as suitable for composting, such as compostable magazine outer packaging that is increasingly replacing plastic.
Never add meat or dairy products to your compost heap or any pet litter.
How to use your compost
Your compost will be ready to use in around 12 weeks if you have turned it regularly and made sure it is not too dry or too wet.
Add your compost to your flowerbeds and vegetable beds to add nutrients to your soil.
Top composting tips
- Turn your compost heap regularly with a garden fork to aerate it and keep the compost healthy.
- Always check your compost heap carefully for hibernating hedgehogs and other wildlife (such as frogs) before you turn it.
- Check your compost heaps regularly to make sure they are not too dry or too wet. Add water if the heap looks dry – but not too much or it will drown the worms. A piece of old carpet can be used as a compost cover if the heap gets too wet.
- Having several compost piles means you can add to the ‘active’ ones whilst the others rot down.
- Take the kids on a mini beast hunt through the compost pile.
I also make handmade silver jewellery inspired by nature and wildlife to raise funds for my work. You can visit my shop here www.littlesilverhedgehog.etsy.com
Thank you so much for your support.