Lawns, Bees & Ants

Taken from Lynne’s weekly column ‘Ask Lynne’ for the Western Mail. 11th June 2016

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How green is your valley?

When I was talking to Alan Titchmarsh recently, he advised on cutting our lawns twice a week during this period of intense growth. That won’t please everyone but it does reduce the stress on the grass  – and the mower – and will result in a much better quality lawn as you encourage the grass to thicken up at the roots.

The perfect lawn seems to be sought after by many and I often get asked for relevant lawn care tips but did you know that some people actually dye their lawns to get that perfect ‘green carpet’ look, especially for super-posh parties.

It’s not something I would ever try, and unsurprisingly is most used in the States, but if you want to try, here’s how (allegedly!).

Firstly, mow your lawn, make sure the grass is dry before spraying and choose a still day with no wind.

Put two cups of a liquid fertilizer into the bucket that is large enough to make enough dye to cover your lawn.

Then add Epsom salts, mixing it as you go.  Epsom salt is actually magnesium sulphate which encourages healthy growth.

Add green liquid food colouring into the mixture and keep stirring it until the whole mixture turns into the required green colour.

Pour the liquid mixture into the tank of a sprayer, which is connected to the garden hose so that the mixture gets mixed with water while spraying. Test a small area first and spray the lawn slowly.

Alternatively, just mow the grass and go and do something far more interesting instead!

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It’s warm!

Honey bees have been busy swarming this last month and it can be quite an alarming sight if you are not familiar with our hard-working little friends.

The most important thing to realise is that honey bees are at their most placid when they are swarming.  They have left their hives because it has got over-crowed (a Queen bee can lay 2,000 eggs per day at this time of year so it can quickly become a bit tight if the hives are not managed appropriately.)

Before they leave they gorge on the honey stores for sustenance, which makes them contented, and they are only intent on finding somewhere new to live, definitely not on causing trouble.  The big black cloud of moving bees will quickly settle somewhere convenient – for them, never for a beekeeper to collect – and look after the Queen whilst some of the bees go off and look for new accommodation.  They can remain in this rugby/football shaped huddle for anything from 10 minutes to a couple of hours but as soon as a new home is found they will all alight and take off en mass again.

I have heard horrendous accounts of people pouring boiling water over a swarm, or spraying them with wasp killer – PLEASE DON’T.  Either just leave them alone to move on naturally or call your local bee keeping association, who have fabulous swarm liaison officers who will be able to collect or advice on the swarm.   You will be able to find your local association by looking on the Internet. Please keep the telephone number in your phone and pas on this message to your friends, family and neighbours.

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AntsAnti-Ant secrets

It’s a busy time in the garden for us all at this time of year including wildlife.

Ants are proving a nuisance for some people as they march into kitchens and larders.

For a natural and inexpensive way to oust them, try sprinkling some salt, turmeric powder or paprika where they are entering your home.  Other natural things that have various degrees of success include vinegar, peppermint oil, cinnamon, black pepper, cayenne pepper, whole cloves, and bay leaves.  Mint planted close to the house is also supposed to deter them but remember it spreads like crazy so could become more of a problem than the ants!
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