The last couple of mornings have felt really autumnal to me. Suddenly the air is a bit crisper and it takes that much longer for the sun to get going and warm things up. The allotment is starting to feel distinctly seasonal as well. This is great because it means we're heading right into the harvesting frenzy that September usually is, but it also means that it's time to start tidying up on the plot and begin packing things away for the winter.
That's certainly the idea that this big, fat toad had who I found all tucked up and cosy in one of our compost bins today. And seeing him there was a great reminder to me that now is the time of year when we can really do our bit to make the winter much easier for our wild friends. For example, it's good to have a tidy plot or garden but try and leave a couple of weedy corners so there's somewhere safe and untouched for little creatures to hide. It can also be a good idea to build a twig pile (it really is as simple as it sounds!) which is the perfect hiding place for all creatures great and small from frogs and toads to beetles and ladybirds.
The other thing to remember is that, if you do want to move compost heaps and wood piles around, now is the right time to do it. This because in the next couple of weeks wildlife will start looking for somewhere safe to hibernate and, if you move things around too late, you're almost sure to disturb any creatures who have found shelter on your plot. This may all sound like a bit of a fiddle just for the sake of a few bugs and beetles but remember, these little creatures are every veg grower's friend and the better care you take care of them over the winter months, the harder they'll be able to work for you next spring keeping pests at bay.