General Q&A

Ants nesting in my compost bin! Alan says live and let live…

The Garden Party

Every week I email a gardening question to the panel of experts at BBC Radio Norfolk’s The Garden Party  and then eagerly listen to the programme the following day, scribbling down the gems of information they kindly offer. Once again I would like to share their advice with you.

My Question;

Today I lifted up the piece of carpet I keep on top of my compost bin to find an ants nest underneath, including lots of eggs and winged ants getting ready to fly…

I realise this is as a result of the compost being too dry (feel free to slap my wrist) but could the team advise me what to do with this thriving community? I’ve left the carpet up to allow the winged ones to get out, but what do I do with the rest? Are they doing any harm?

ants in the compost

The Garden Party experts’ answer:

Ian Roofe

I wouldn’t think they’re doing any harm at all. They’re actually beneficial because they’re aerating the bin by creating channels and if you lift the top off you’re bound to get the birds come in and clean the surface… but Bridget it’s too DRY!!

Alan Gray

Ian is right, if anything they’re helping to break down the compost. I wouldn’t bother leaving the carpet up either because the winged ants will find their way out without your help!

I think the great thing is live and let live anyway …and I don’t think they’re doing that much harm at all.


Cartoon General

Gardening Cartoon; Compost party!!

Gardening Cartoon - compost party

Chickens Flowers General Plants

Putting Chicken Tea to the test at the Villas… with Sunflowers!


This afternoon I planted fourteen sunflower plants, seven down either side of a raised bed, 1.2 metres apart, both with a southerly aspect.


Chicken Tea

The plan is to irrigate the plants on the left hand side with rainwater and the plants on the right hand side with chicken tea. At the end of the summer I shall measure each sunflower and calculate the average height achieved in each row.

By doing so I shall be able to evaluate how effective chicken tea is and how much of a difference it makes… I shall also observe whether the size of the flowers appears to have been effected.


Watch this space!

Chickens Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday; Chickens taking a Dust Bath

Beatrice enjoying a dust bathDust bath trance Communal dust bath Pinky enjoying a dust bath


Worm Farm

I’ve  just ordered new worms!

To be honest, I bought my wormery a few years ago and totally killed the tiger worms that came with it.  I found them floating in smelly slimey water and the sight of it was very depressing. I got rid of the bodies, cleaned out the wormery and stowed it away for better days.

Well, I’ve decided that better days are here. In case you have no idea what I am talking about and you’re thinking I sound like a bit of a weirdo with a worm fetish, let me explain…

I love worms! I love them because they produce one of the best composts around. Compost which is amazing to use in the garden. Earth worms are like sacred animals to me – in fact I am thinking of building a small worm shrine to show my appreciation for all the good they do in the garden.

Here are some facts about worms:

  • Worms drag down dead organic matter into the soil and make humus
  • Worms help to get air and water into the soil
  • Worms help to turn the soil…
  • …and this one’s my favorite: Worms fertilize soil with their poo!

That last bullet point is where the wormery comes in. With an ingenious system of layers, you can put kitchen waste in a wormery – including cooked food which is awesome because cooked food is a rodent magnet in a normal compost bin. The worms eat the kitchen waste and do what comes naturally – poo and pee. The poo makes great compost and you can put the pee ‘on tap’ and use as a liquid fertilizer. You don’t use regular garden earthworms but tiger worms. Tiger worms are compost experts!

Still not sure what I am talking about or dying to find out more? Then follow my progress here at I should receive the new tiger worms in about a week and I will post photos of the wormery (and of course the lovely worms), trying not to kill them this time!


General Plants

The Perfect Garden Centre Moment


This morning I woke up to the sound of rain and when I looked outside I saw that a lot of the icy snow has melted. I got up quickly with thoughts racing through my head. Like a mad woman I ran around yelling at the cats keep away because there I had no time to lose. Spring had arrived and I needed to get to the garden centre to buy seed compost, seed potatoes – and I really need a few propagators!!

Plastic Trees

Plastic TreeWe have one big garden centre nearby, right on the border with Luxembourg. It’s a fancy one (expensive too) but they sell good quality stuff and apart from anything else, they’re pretty much the only garden centre around. There is a small one in Bastogne but I am afraid to go inside. I find the big plastic trees with flickering lights rather off-putting.

I drove the twenty minute journey to the garden centre on the border with Luxembourg. The car park was deserted except for piles of snow. I got myself one of those big trolleys and went inside. Right at the entrance, in the pond section, they were re-decorating and the people looked up with wonder and shock as I entered. Ignoring their surprise, I continued pushing my trolley through the store. Immediately the cold hit me. It seemed it was colder in the greenhouse section than it was outside. It was so cold that I found it hard to stand still long enough to admire the plants – my hands freezing as I gripped the trolley bar. I continued along and noticed that the section that normally housed vegetable plants was now occupied by big bamboos and palm trees. Shrugging my shoulders in indifference (and also to try and stay warm) I continued on my way. Rhododendrons were on offer- buy 2 get one free – but I could see why, they looked a bit sorry for themselves…