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Talkback: Compost heaps and wildlife

One of my "Green Daleks" - plastic composters really - is home to a whole family of slow worms, Kate. They are very beautiful. I was just this morning showing another volunteer at the Botanic Garden the good slugs, which were out in force today after last night's downpours.


  • I've only just read your lovely blog, but I too made an entry about hoverflies and their larvae as they are all over the wood I survey. Great minds eh?
  • I am just about to purchase another compost bin as mine is full and I am having to take my pressuos cuttings down to the tip, I know they recycle the waste and make compost of it, I wouldn't like to buy it though as people put in deseased garden waste.
  • Crumbs, I have learnt something about yellow slugs today, in future I shall give those a reprieve from my edging iron or dutch hoe. But I do wish someone would tell me how to stop those horrible tiny flies that inhabit my bins. They swarm up in my face as soon as I lift the lids or disturb the contents. What are they and what do they do?
  • One of my compost heaps is untouchable - honey bees have made it their home. I rang the local bee keepers who warned me not to touch until the end of September. I have put wire netting over it in case enthusiastic grandchildren give it a poke!
  • I didn't know about yellow slugs, Kate, and it's great news, so thanks. Is there any significance in other slug colours?

    I wish I had your friendly attitude to creepy crawlies - so far worms are the only ones I've learned to like, and even then can't I suppress a shudder at some of the bigger ones. What a wimp! Hopefully I'll improve with gardening time.

    We used to have tiny flies, Mrs Wick, that rose in a black cloud into your face every time you opened the lid. On a hunch, I stopped adding fruit to the compost heap and they stopped dropping by.
  • Happymarion - last week dormice and now slow worms! I'm so jealous. I doubt there are many of those living near my garden...

    thediariesofacountrygirl - ooh can you tell us more about he wood your survey? Is it the wood or the wildlife in the wood that you survey?

    mrswick - they're probably just fruit flies. Mandy's tip of not adding fruit to the heap should do the trick, but there should be plenty else in living the heap to eat the flies, and they're all helping the waste break down...

    rosieslade - you're the second person this week to tell me about honeybees finding and nesting in your garden. I'm jealous of you too. I'd be tempted to let them stay... I've never seen see a honeybee colony in its wild state...

    Mandy - you'll get there, I'm sure.

  • Many thanks about the info about the Limaz Flavus - I have been feeding them to my chickens!! instead I will feed them to my compost bins!!
  • Ants and mice - it sounds like your compost bin is too dry. Is it in full sun ? Here's some composting tips for positioning your compost bin:
  • The mice in the compost heap at the Botanic garden made their nests by the warm wall which was the back of it. When the gardeners forked it over to aeriate it they would find 13 or so babies in a cosy nest.
  • I am new to gardening and after acquiring a very high maintenance garden when my Mum moved out I am just about to purchase my first compost bin (at a subsidised rate from the council!), wish me luck!
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