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Byline: Lynne Allbutt

QI always feed the garden birds throughout the year but am having real trouble with a very fat and fearless grey squirrel stealing the food from a bird table and an adjacent hanging peanut feeder. I thought he would be happier foraging in the wild now but obviously not. How can I stop him? AI have had several emails asking a similar question and to be honest it is a dif-ficult problem to solve as the squirrels are so very determined to and clever at getting a free lunch. There are bird feeders on the market which claim to be squirrel proof but I have yet to find that the case. I recently had the same question asked at a Gardening Question Time I spoke at and a member of the audience claimed that the only method they had found s uccessful was to use WD40 on the bird feeding stand or hanging wire as the squirrels don't like the smell of it. It might be worth a go.

Q Although I am not totally convinced that the summer has started yet here in North Wales, is it a good idea to put my house plants outside during the summer months? My mother always used to and says I should too.

A Rather unhelpfully, yes and no. It is a difficult question to answer as it depends on the plants and the weather of course. I think in general, it is beneficial for the house plants to get some natural warmth and increased light and I'm sure if I were a house plant I would prefer it. The tougher houseplants like aspidistra and Christmas cactus will be quite tolerant of our unpredictable weather however more the sensitive plants won't appreciate heavy downpours, scorching sun or strong winds so it is probably wise to consider each plant and its tolerance individually. Try to pick a sheltered spot and partially shaded area if possible, make sure they are not sitting in water if on a drip saucer and possibly be prepared for a few casualties.

Q My husband sprayed the weeds in our lawn a few weeks ago with a weed killer and since I have noticed that some of the plants in the nearby borders are looking a bit poorly. They are quite distorted and the stems are a bit twisted.

Could it be related to the weed killer or is it a virus? A It is unlikely that a virus would affect more than one species of plant and to be honest my money is on the broadleaf weed killer. When you are spraying weed killer, it only takes the slightest of breezes to send the drift of toxin over a wider area than you anticipate and plants can react adversely to the tiniest whiff of herbicide. You may be lucky, if the damage isn't too severe the plants will usually recover but only time will tell.


Squirrels are a difficult problem to solve as they are very determined and clever at getting a free lunch

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jun 6, 2015
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