Thursday, 14 June 2007


I tune in to Highland radio every other Thursday to listen to Gareth Austin from the Lifestyle Garden Centre in Newtowncunningham give advice on gardening issues. Gareth has a very easy manner and I am always amazed at the amount of horticultural knowledge he manages to store in his head. Usually if I am asked a question I have to get on the interweb and spend an hour finding a solution. The internet is a great source of information for us gardeners but it can be a bit of a problem as I have recently found out. I joined a couple of forum pages (the BBC and the Irish Gardeners site) and my family are forgetting I live in the house. I have been weaning myself off them this week as they are far too time consuming. I do like answering questions though, even if I have to constantly refer to the oracles. If you have any please send them in to me (I can pass them on to Gareth to answer then take the credit!)

One question I could answer this week was about ants.

I have ants in the garden, are they a problem? N.K. by e-mail.

Ants turn over more soil than earthworms so to have some in the garden is beneficial. They also clear up debris and dispose of some pests. But they also farm aphids by putting them on suitable plants and milking them for honeydew. Ants also keep other predators away. They can also nest in the roots of plants, in pots and under lawns, loosening the soil and creating their own drainage tunnels to take rainwater away rapidly from the nest, so the plants die of drought. They also bite or sting if disturbed - do not poke a stick in the nest then watch them climb it, they'll be climbing your legs at the same time - to attack. If you've got any problems with ants, then mix a small bottle of clove oil with a large watering can of water and soak the nests. Don't make it stronger or it will burn the plants. At that strength, any slight yellowing of grass will soon vanish - so will the ants!


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