Strange as it may seem, I have had to get used to sharing my living and outdoor space with those pesky creatures THE ANTS, everywhere you don’t want them there will be a busy line of ants doing ant things like stealing seed in the garden or clearing something up from the table where you inadvertently left crumbs. I have a line of ants that appear in the bathroom, I have no idea what needs clearing up in there unless they like toothpaste. They are quite fascinating actually and we don’t set out to destroy them, merely dissuade them from certain areas.
A favourite place for the ants here is our washing line, which is strung between two old trees neatly out of the way from main walking areas meaning you risk a twisted ankle to get to it. Even if you do remember to knock them off there are always a few that find their way into the inside of your clothes. They lurk there until you put on the item of clothing and then they bite! More than once, I have had to make a quick exit from a room when I have gone out with a newly washed item on to extract a biting ant from within tops or bottoms! There are a few answers to this problem, one would be to iron clothes and another is to remember to spray the entrance and exit to the line with vinegar to dissuade them. I know there are other things but it’s a difficult area. I tried vinegar and it seems to work for now. Ants also steal many seeds in the garden, I wrote about them stealing a whole lawns worth of seed in my first column. They are still at it and were very fond of the carrot seedlings this year, only one or two seeds were left to germinate. Last year I resorted to sowing carrot seeds in pots, not ideal apart from the fact they are fiddly to plant out.
This year odd as it sounds I sowed a patch of carrot seed on paper spread with a thin layer of compost. As soon as they germinated, I slid the paper into place and it appears so far that the carrots are happy and I have thwarted the ants on another stealing mission. A mini victory and in a few months’ time, I will have some lovely carrots to grate on top of the salads, they are so tasty when they are small they won’t make it to full size. Well that’s the plan. Far easier I am now told is sprinkling the area with cinnamon, the ants don’t like it at all, so more cinnamon will be on my weekly shopping list.
We do also have evidence of rodents in the garden. Last year I saw a big brown bundle of fur curled up in my salads and thought it to be a baby bunny, aw cute thought I, until I saw its big long tail. Mollie collie saw that one off for us and I composted the salads. ‘Get a cat’ I hear you say, well we have one and he much prefers his basket than anything that might be happening outside. Rodents, so the farming community tells me, dislike the smell of cowpats but I know my dogs would love to roll in them and cover themselves. The dogs have this way of looking at you after rolling in something horrible, as if to say, “aren’t I clever”, usually while lounging on the carpet or settee. Therefore, we will not be visiting the local farmyard for fresh cowpats any time soon.
My understanding is that they also don’t like vinegar and that’s my choice of fungacide so lets hope that helps or they don’t ilke my choice of veg this year, so far so good, but its early days. They can be a nuisance eating seeds we have in store and anything thats in a cardboard box is fair game too. Once we had harvested the few sunflower heads we had last year, we laid them on the table outside to dry off. Lo and behold, the following morning there was a neat little pile of empty shells and deseeded sunflower heads on the table. I hope the little pest at least took some home for his family. I will keep spraying the vinegar and watch with interest.
Speaking of Sunflowers, despite declaring myself the winner of our little competition because mine flowered first, the field that o/h planted really does look fabulous so on this occasion I will hand over victory... just don’t tell him I have already planted my melons for the 2020 melon competition...