Grumpy Gardener – Compost and Hibernators

The Grumpy Gardener – December

Hints & Tips With Mike Alexander
In his regular column for French News Online, professional gardener Mike Alexander offers a word of wildlife caution to those about to set fire to their compost heaps now that Autumn is over.

Every winter, like most gardeners, I find myself faced with the task of burning the large amounts of garden waste that pile up over the year.  
Hedgehog Credit Samuel Palmer Wikipedia Grumpy Gardener – Compost and Hibernators

Watch out for hibernating Hedgehogs (Credit Samuel Palmer – Wikipedia)

This is mainly clippings and fallen branches that were too big to compost. All four of my leaf cages are full to overflowing by now and I also have another mountain I have tucked away out of sight but the leaves continue to fall so I will just have to burn the excess.

If you read any garden magazine at this time of the year you will find a little pearl of wisdom that should be mandatory for gardeners. Before burning do check your waste heap for any hedgehogs hibernating under the leaves.

Having dispensed this advice the writer then skips off to the next subject leaving you, the reader, faced with a pile of waste the size of a saloon car and no real idea how to check for hibernating animals without going through the entire heap by hand.

I would hate myself if ever I incinerated  one of these delightful little animals so I have developed a proven method of checking for them … however it may not be one for all the gardeners out there.

When out gardening I am mostly accompanied by my faithful four-legged assistant, Miss P.  So before burning I throw her ball a few times and then I pretend to hide it in the leaves. Fetching ball is one of Miss P’s favourite past times, superseded only by digging up my car seats and rolling in fox droppings. After half an hour Miss P will have gone through every inch of that pile at which stage I miraculously produce the ball, thus reinforcing my position as lord and master. After that I can burn away, confident in the knowledge that there are no living creatures hibernating in the pile.

Now I know that not every gardener has a well-trained Jacqueline Russell who can assist at this time of year and to be honest, I am a little pressed as to what advice to offer to those who don’t. In some cases you can see where a hedgehog may have entered the pile but normally this is not the case. Short of turning over the whole heap, which may not be practical, and which worse still, may result in the inhabitant suffering a stabbing from a pitch fork, all I can suggest is to keep the burn very slow and start at one end.

Hopefully this will enable any hedgehog to smell the smoke and make good his escape before the flames arrive.  Of course if you have been more diligent than I have and kept on top of your burning, then your heap of rubbish may be small enough to make a more thorough check.

Bear in mind that in most departments of France there are fire restrictions for much of the summer and at other times of the year also. You will need to check with the local Mairie as to what the regulations are where you live. Seek out the town or village noticeboards for the appropriate Arret.

A large compost pile can spontaneously combust if not properly managed Grumpy Gardener – Compost and Hibernators

You really don’t want to leave your pile to reach this state! (Credit Wikipedia)

 

 

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Previously - click an image below
wisteria alba 150 Grumpy Gardener – Compost and Hibernators
honey bee 150 Grumpy Gardener – Compost and Hibernators
Prune for Results
A World Without Bees?
apple tree fruit 150 Grumpy Gardener – Compost and Hibernators
prize winning rose 0 Grumpy Gardener – Compost and Hibernators
Fruit Tree Pruning
Wars of the Roses
forsythia 150 Grumpy Gardener – Compost and Hibernators
cistus salvifolius 150 Grumpy Gardener – Compost and Hibernators
Prune When Finished
Herald of Spring…
cherries tree 0 Grumpy Gardener – Compost and Hibernators
Lavandula angustifolia 0 Grumpy Gardener – Compost and Hibernators
You’ve got to be quick!
Un-thirsty Lavender
nettles 0 Grumpy Gardener – Compost and Hibernators
Star jasmine 0 Grumpy Gardener – Compost and Hibernators
Grasp the Nettle
Star Jasmine – Madrid
Stachys byzantina 0 Grumpy Gardener – Compost and Hibernators
Autumn arrives 0 Grumpy Gardener – Compost and Hibernators
Jihad – on Bunnies Ears
Autumn Arrives
wellies 0 Grumpy Gardener – Compost and Hibernators
Newton gravity 0 Grumpy Gardener – Compost and Hibernators
Designer Chic?
Gravity – not to be ignored!
snowdrops 0 Grumpy Gardener – Compost and Hibernators
habenero 0 Grumpy Gardener – Compost and Hibernators
If Winter Comes….
Hottest chilli in the world
daffodils 0 Grumpy Gardener – Compost and Hibernators
irises 0 Grumpy Gardener – Compost and Hibernators
Dog Days…
Fleur de Lys
marqueyssac hedges 0 Grumpy Gardener – Compost and Hibernators
To read a previous article
- click an image -
Hedge Your Bets
www.french-news-online.com

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Grumpy Gardener

Our Grumpy Gardener has been gardening professionally in France for more years than he cares to remember and before that in Africa and the UK. Today he happily shares his expertise with French News Online readers. Your gardening questions are welcome and while they may not be individually answered, they may form the basis of future monthly columns.

Writer: Mike Alexander
mike@mikealexander.fr

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