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A friend in need!

A friend in need!

The longer you have adopted organic gardening the more you notice the importance of balance between “problem” creatures and their controllers. Its surely cheaper and in the long run easier to rely on a natural balance between predator and prey than attempting to eradicate a problem with chemicals which one hopes are tested singularly, but rarely in combination, and always seem to exhibit unforeseen problems.

It is on this note of a natural balance, I want to highlight the dramatic fall in Hedgehog numbers, for if ever there was a garden friend when it comes to bringing balance to the slug and snail population then this is certainly up there amongst the best. The reasons for the dramatic fall in numbers are being actively researched, but seem to hinge on the enclosed nature of modern gardens and the lack of suitable habitat. Whilst the former problem is not easily remedied there is lots that you can actively do to improve the latter, and more interestingly they will have other unseen benefits.

Hedgehog homes are widely marketed but why not concentrate on the first part of its name and improve the habitat under a hedge which can provide both home, hibernation site and a back up larder. This can take many simple forms from adding all hedge clippings to the base of the hedge, immediately assisting the first two parts of the habitat to going a little further by adding other prunings, and fallen leaves. The object being to create a deep litter. If you have the option to choose a hedge, then one that provides some winter cover, like beech, is excellent. The unforeseen benefits are that in the fullness of time this all recycles nutrients to the hedge so it becomes a virtuous circle cutting down on future work.

Now for the larder, under the hedge is naturally a dry place and most of the dinner items usually require damper conditions, so spot add grass clippings and some windfalls to help the composting process and draw in prey items.

Photo by Kalle Gustafsson (

For more great gardening tips from Robert, visit his home page.

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