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August 2008

July 2008

Powdery Mildew makes an summer appearance

The last couple of weeks having been dry, i've started to see the first signs of Powdery Mildew.  This is a silvery fungus that effects some plants and is exacerbated by dry roots or overhead watering, - purple berberis, Lonicera (Honeysuckle) Phlox and Asters are all susceptible to this, - to ensure that the mildew is minimised in future years, prune off badly affected stems to ensure good healthy regrowth, collect up and dispose of all leaf drop, - water around the base/ rootball, and if you are using chemicals, spray a suitable fungicide or sulphur to prevent a bad case.  In the case of Phlox and Aster, - I try and put them at the back of a border, so that you can enjoy their flowers without noticing the mildewy stems.

it's official, Slugs hate Cereal

This week i've read the second report in 2 years that says that the cheapest and most effective slug repellant is - BRAN, - Grow your Own magazine have done a similar test to that done by the Gardeners World programme, which left lettuces to the mercy of slugs and gave each a different level of protection. The lettuces surrounded by the humble breakfast cereal priced at 92p a bag were virtually untouched, - the only other repellant giving the same level of protection was a copper "shocka" mat, at £6.45 a strip - which produces Lettuces with a Waitrose price tag.  I wish i'd read the report a week earlier as the lovely lettuce seedlings given to me by a friend and set to replace the row that i'd just finished using were all munched upon last week.  i'll be off to the health food shop on my return from Holiday to get in my slug bait.!

Bugs that eat bugs

The warm humid weather of the last few weeks has been a fantastic breeding ground for bugs of all sorts, - i've watched from my study window as Caterpillars have eaten my Roses, and i've found Aphids, Slugs, Vine weevil and chafer bugs in clients garden this week alone. Most of these pests can be got rid of with chemicals, but I feel that often that's too harsh a solution and besides, what if the problem is on your fruit and veg.  That's why i've been using Predators, - bugs that eat bugs.

These are available for all kinds of pests, and are often available from garden centres as well as online.  i've tried the vine weevil nematode nematode (steinernema kraussei) which is sent in a soil like pack that you mix with water and water onto your pots or plants, The Red Spider mite predator (phytoseiulus persimilis) is provided in a test tube of vermiculite, and you shake the bugs out onto your plants (usually in a greenhouse) - The other one i've used reguarly is Encarsia formosa which get rid of Whitefly, and Ladybird pupae which are great for aphids.  I havn't used the slug predator yet (phasmarhabditis hermaphrodita), but after my newly planted lettuces disappeared this week, - that will be next on my list!

Dead head for continued colour

my front garden border was a mass of colour last week, but the rose heads have all gone over now, and it's all looking very green.  I should have got out there the weekend before last and used my secateurs to take off all the faded flower heads, and i'd have another round of buds by now, but I missed my chance, and now i'll be lucky to get a second round of flowers.  Dead heading is an easy task, and one that can be done with a glass of wine in the other hand, but it is a job that needs doing on every balmy summer evening if you are to keep your plants at their best.

Check your butts are filling!

ok that isn't me just being cheeky, - after the rain showers earlier, I hears a funny noise at the side of the house, and on investigating found that the drainpipe that goes into the water butt had come loose, - thereby pouring all next weeks greenhouse watering water all over the pathway.  As rain showers tend to be (hopefully) infrequent at the moment, it's worth checking that you'll catch every drop when it arrives. - As i'm going to need a new one soon, - let me know your success stories, - has anyone used a wall mounted water butt?

Keeping everything colourful

July can be a time of  year when lots of gardens become very green, and flowers fade in the heat of summer, but you can encourage more flowers and colours with regular dead heading.  This is one of my favourite garden chores, and can be easily done when pottering in the evening with a glass of wine in one hand.  Geraniums, Erysimums, Roses and Salvia, and many more can be given a lot more life, just by nipping off any spent flowers regularly.

Pollen count through the roof

This week has been a dreadful one if you've got hayfever, the continued hot weather, and all kind of irritants flowering has set off bad reactions in a lot of gardeners I know, including Jamie and myself.  So how do you protect yourself against a high dose of pollen.  Well, - i'm not a doctor, so i'm not going to talk about cures, but prevention, in the form of taking out or reducing the flowers with pollen that affect you is a really good idea.  If you get affected at some times of the year and not others, then make a note, if you go to a friends garden and all of a sudden your eyes are streaming, then it could well be that there are several specific types of pollen that you have a reaction to. - For me this is Ligustrum or common privet. - i've got lots of this in my new garden, but  i've alleviated the problem here, because it's in the form of a hedge, so regular pruning will mean it doesn't flower and affect me.  If you've got a particular plant that effects you, let me know, or ask me to identify what it is, so you can work out how to avoid it.