I've heard that bat droppings make the best manure. Sadly, in our part of the country we have very few accessible bat habitats. We do however, since our local council re-introduced donkey rides to our seafront attractions, have a potential source of manure. If you thought it was a worthwhile substitute for bat guano I would instruct Mrs Clave to gather donkey manure every morning when she takes our labrador, Murphy, down the beach for his morning constitutional. I look forward to your comments. Otto, East Coast

Otto, bat droppings are not really an option, you simply could get enough. However if your good lady is prepared to carry the donkey manure home you could certainly use that. Ideally you should rot it down, and you could compost it along with kitchen waste and seaweed or grass clippings. If you use manure fresh the soil bacteria tends to gobble up nitrogen in order to break it down. Temporary nitrogen deficiency can be the result. I presume you will only be able to get the donkey manure during the summer when the donkeys are on the beach. It would be better composted and use as a mulch about two inches thick after pruning and applying a dressing of base fertiliser and lightly forking over the bed in March. Doctor Rose