Tuesday 20 October 2020

Finding a use for autumn leaves

We like to think we have a wildlife friendly garden.


The trees are now dropping their leaves

and we have started to 'put our garden to sleep' for the winter.



This year, instead of just raking all the autumn leaves onto the compost heap, we have spread a few on our garden. Rather than trying to make the garden look tidy, we have created a few layers of dead leaves in the flower beds, under and around shrubs.

The idea is to create more space for insects, which it turn should provide a valuable food source for larger garden creatures, especially our local hedgehogs. By next summer we expect most of these leaves would have either rotted down, been dug-into the soil or simply blown away. Either way, its an experiment that isn't going to cost us anything, just a little bit of time.

The two main areas of interest are around the hedgehog house and the feeding station.

The Hog House


Although we are still feeding the hogs each night with Go Cat! I'd like to think that this is just a supplement. If we can develop a healthy population of beetles, the hogs stand to benefit much more.

Early indications are very promising. By day the birds scratch around the leaf litter, and at night the hogs take over and spend a lot of time hunting.

It really doesn't matter that one hog has 'stolen' most of the leaves around the hog house to use as bedding, because we have plenty more to replenish the layer. Each time we add more leaves to an area, we water-them-in using a watering can. I kind of think this provides a nice damp environment, but if nothing else, it stops the leaved being blown away by the wind.

The hedgehog that has been taking leaves into the hog box has yet to spend the night inside, but I gather this behaviour is quite common. Hogs tend to prepare more than one potential 'home' and maybe this allows some flexibility if their main refuge is invaded or destroyed. It could be that they 'stake-a-claim' by leaving their scent as they go in and out carrying leaves. But who knows? ...only another hog I guess.

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