Les’s Patch column

Les Foden.
Les Foden.

The ant is a bigger pest than a lot of people realise.

First of all they actually protect aphids. It’s the honeydew that aphids secrete that the ants are after. Aphids puncture a plant and suck its sap and while doing so give off the sticky honeydew ants like so much.

So if you see ants running up and down your plants it’s a sure sign aphids are on the plants.

A spray with Provado Ultimate Bug Killer will see them off and protect from further attacks for up to seven weeks.

You should give all your garden plants a spray with this, do it just before dark when the bees won’t be around at that time.

Ants usually carry the aphids from plant to plant and at the same time spread virus through the garden.

A couple of methods to get rid of the ants are, first, derris dust mixed with sugar next to the nest is a good one, the ants are attracted to the sugar and carry it into the nest and the Derris does the rest.

The other one is to spray the nest with Pyrethrum or garlic laced with white pepper.

In the old days it was a kettle full of boiling water over the nest which was always successful.

A very useful addition for us gardeners are different coloured labels, there are about eight colours, and they come in very useful at this time of year.

Firstly, if you are the type of gardner that digs up your spring bulbs each year you can use a different colour to identify each set of bulbs, for example a red label goesin the ground next to red ones and so on, this is very quick and easy way of knowing which are which when planting them out again.

When storing your bulbs they are best in paper bags, so that any moisture around is kept at bay by the paper bag, never use them in plastic bags, or you will lose them all. These labels also come in handy when sowing seeds or taking cuttings, they are useful for keeping track of the colours of various trays by just putting the right coloured label in each tray.

This saves you a lot of time not having to write labels out.

Some garden centres have these, but here in Morecambe you can buy them at First Stop at the bottom of York Bridge.

Nitrogen aids normal development of leaves and stems and makes them green. Plants lacking nitrogen are stunted and pale. Potash hardens plants and helps them to resist diseases. Lack of it will limit growth. This tends to happen in sandy soils. In fruit growing potash is important because it makes fruit of a good colour which keeps longer. It increases the production carbohydrates, (sugar and starches). Also increases the scent of flowers.

Phosphorus and phosphates help root growth and hasten ripening.