Garden and composting

Green Garden Consultancy

Gardens can be important for nature. Two local ecologists are offering a wildlife gardening consultancy for 2 to 6 hours depending on garden size. In return, they are asking for an advanced donation of £10 to Southampton Transition for each site; they will not receive any of this money. All advice will be in response to the wishes of the participants and reflect both the potential and realities of the specific garden concerned. The coming winter provides a good opportunity to consider how to enhance the wildlife value of your garden in advance of practical work in the spring and beyond.
If you would like to participate in this scheme, contact chair[at]transitionsouthampton[dot]org
This popular scheme is on hold at present, although at least one gardener has received advice via internet and phone!

The volunteers will provide between 2 – 6 hours of their time (depending on garden size) to each participant. They will undertake this on a pilot basis to gardens within, approx, one mile of Portswood. This is so that they can easily walk to site if. If the pilot is a success, it will be gradually expanded to other areas. They will provide advice specific to the situation; ie this is NOT a ‘one size fits all’ dump of standard wildlife gardening ideas that anyone can get from TV, books or the internet. As such, they will consider the particular wishes and circumstances of the participant and the characteristics of their site. So, if a person has a postage stamp’ sized garden and they want a wildflower meadow; that may not be the first line of advice! The volunteers have created (and advised upon) wildlife friendly spaces and conservation matters across multiple scales in both the UK and overseas. They are both former research biologists (animal ecology) and are now retired or semi-retired and want to help people green up their gardens at time when wildlife is very much under siege.


Standard advice for composting is to restrict yourself to prunings and vegetable peelings, avoiding cooked food and especially meat and dairy. Since meat and dairy in fact compost really well, the reason for this advice is purely to reduce the bin’s attractiveness to rats. We are trialling two ways of rat-proofing a compost bin so that a wider range of materials can be home composted. The first is a steel collar which goes around the base of a standard “dalek” type bin. The second is a slatted bin whose material we believe to be rat-proof. In either case the bin must be placed on concrete, paving slabs or steel mesh to keep rats out of the bottom. We want to see if our proposed designs really are rat proof, enabling people to comfortably put a wider range of material into their bins. We have 3 slatted bins in place and are now seeking expressions of interest from people willing to try one of the sleeves around their existing bin. If you would be interested in taking part, let us know! We are looking for sites with a known rat problem. We are seeing sufficient volunteers to make it worth funding a small number of sleeves -we welcome contributions toward the cost. chair[at]transitionsouthampton[dot]org
The research continues during the lockdown, with positive results so far – no rats gaining entrance! We have even been able to supply more retrofit collars for owners to install where social distancing can be maintained.