Healthy and Unhealthy Roots

Get to the root of the problem for bigger better plants. I am a convert to Mycorrhizal Root Grow products that add beneficial fungus around the roots of newly planted stock.

Roots come in all shorts of shapes and sizes but are all designed to help the plant grow and remain healthy. To achieve that the roots themselves need to remain in peak condition and this is where the gardener can help. Start with the right hole in the right place and understand what and why you are doing something.

Roots and stolons

Unhealthy Root Causes

  • Fine hairy roots can be burnt by the application of the wrong or too much fertiliser.
  • Roots that are in waterlogged soil start to rot.
  • Continue Reading →


Get Rid of Weeds

So like everyone else you have weeds you want to ‘get rid of’ and here is how.

Physical Removal Methods

  • Hand weeding is used when weeds grow amongst other plants. Take care to get all the root or bits may grow back.
  • Hand forks work between other plants but for a larger area you need a proper fork. They are les effective for rhizomatous plant like couch grass and ground elder which tend to break and reestablish.
  • Hoeing is ideal in vegetable beds. Draw a sharp blade just below the surface to cut weed roots. Most effective in dry periods when seedlings desiccate.
  • Deep digging can bury the weeds. Pick out dandelion roots.
  • Repeat strimming or cutting will weaken weeds but you need to be patient.
  • Flame guns are useful on paths and hard surfaces but not always effective on deep rooted weeds.

Book Cover

Barrier Methods

  • Black  plastic excluding light for 6-12 months will clear most weeds.
  • Landscape fabric like Phormasil will do the job of plastic but allow water through.
  • A thick layer of organic mulch will kill most weeds but may also introduce new seeds in the compost
  • Inorganic mulch like aggregates needs to be 3 inches thick.
  • Aesthetically such barrier methods may need a covering of gravel or mulch.

Chemical Killing

  • Total weed killers remain active in the soil often for 6 months. They bare effective for large areas and on hard surfaces.
  • Contact chemicals are best for annual weeds. There are some ‘organic’ versions based on natural acid based products.
  • Systemic weed killers are absorbed in to the plant which then dies.
  • Glyphosphate is non selective and is inactive after contact with the soil.
  • Some stubborn or woody weeds need to have exposed surfaces to take up the poison
  • Special chemical mixes have been formulated for lawns

Book Cover

Good weeding for next year – a year of seeds is 5 years of weeds.


Control and Treatment of Vine Weevils

I originally wrote this last year but now in April I have checked my Chrysanthemum plants in the cold greenhouse and find I am infested! So it must be worth a rerun.
Evil weevil grubs eat roots and tubers of your favourite plants. My tuberous begonias were attacked and destroyed by these pesky pests. It is the white grubs that cause the damage as they eat roots and tubers throughout vine weevil puberty to become small black beetles.
Black vine weevil (FG)
The beetles will nibble the edges of leaves but it is the laying of eggs that ultimately cause the problem. The eggs become grubs and your Cyclamen, Primula and Camellias become grub for weevils. Pot grown plants are most susceptible to attack but this pest also affects other plants such as Fuchsias, Gloxinia and Strawberries.

Tips to Control Vine Weevil

  • Prevention is better than cure so try to buy new plants that have been well treated.
  • Put a layer of grit around prized plants or surround pots with water
  • Destroy infected plants or drench in special insecticides.(Imidacloprid)
  • Good hygiene is important so if reusing plant pots wash your pots in a solution containing Jeyes fluid. Never reuse infected compost.
  • In the garden the risk is smaller than in plant pots as centipedes are a natural predator.
  • Use a foliar insecticide to kill beetles before they lay eggs – watch out for nibbled leaves as a sign they are about to lay eggs.
  • Provado a systemic insecticide applied to the growing medium as a drench, lasts for a few months and kills the larvae which do the damage.
  • Nematodes of various eel worms can be used to in April/May when the soil is warm enough for them to survive until they enter the grub and kill it. Use again in Autumn for the nematodes to eat the new eggs.
  • The beetles are nocturnal and can be caught after providing a dark daytime hiding place such as a bit of wet sacking.

I am willing to use chemical treatment like Amazon’s Pbi Provado Vine Weevil treatment, if the squashing of the grubs is not good enough.
Weevils wobble

Read Axis of Weevils on Gardeners Tips

Treatment for Vine Weevil

  • Nemasys is a type of Nematode sold as a Vine Weevil Killer.
  • Provado Vine Weevil Killer is
    s a chemical formula by Bayer. Dilute and water affected areas and plants.
  • Other nematode based products only require dilution with water and applying with watering can
  • BugClear Ultra Vine Weevil Killer Insecticide

Other Controls from Amazon

For more detailed analysis of the problems with Black Vine Weevils read the US Dept of Agriculture’s book ‘Biology and Control of the Black Vine Weevil’

Book Cover

Photo Credits
Black vine weevil (FG) by davidshort CC BY 2.0
Weevils wobble by skittledog CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 ‘…grubs mid-metamorphosis, discovered while re-potting some plants. And then left out for the birds to eat. Evil weevils.’


Summer Insects

A late start to the gardening season may not deterred insects. Bees and hoverflies are spoilt for choice of nectar rich flowers in the summer months

My main beef is with the lily beetle. The red insect needs to be caught and squeezed to death as it’s hard shell protects it from most other treatments. The eggs it lays and the grubs that develop are what can devour a nice lily in next to no time.
Moluscus and in particular snails this year are chomping away on the very youngest plants in my garden.

Autumn Continue Reading →


Raspberry Nutrition Needs

So if you want your raspberries to feed you then we recommend you look after the canes nutrition needs.

General Condition

  • Raspberries are hungry plants!
  • Yellowing leaves can be a sign of nutrient deficiency.
  • Heavy soil, waterlogging, drought alkaline or chalky soil can also cause yellowing.
  • Older plants are often worse – replace after 10 years.

Specific Deficiency

  • Nitrogen deficiency causes yellow leaves and debilitates plants.
  • Phosphorous  deficiency causes slow growth and dull leaves.
  • Potassium deficiency causes browning leaf edges and poor fruiting.
  • Magnesium deficiency is common on light sandy soil or where high potassium feed has been over used. Foliar feed with Epsom salts 2 or 3 times .


  • Best treated with foliar feed sprayed on to leaves.
  • If yellowing is persistent it may be iron deficiency so apply sequestrene.
  • Maintain good hygiene and help water retention with an autumn mulch.
  • Don’t over feed or underfeed or plants will blow a raspberry at you!

Watering or Drowning Indoor Azalea

More plants drown than die of thirst but Azalea houseplants do need damp soil.

Keeping Azaleas indoors can be simple and straight forward and the often large volume of blossom last longer than when struggling outside against the elements. Most indoor Azaleas are of the evergreen type so unlike some garden azaleas they do not loose there leaves.

Watering Tips

  • Azaleas do not like to dry out preferring a constantly moist soil and humid atmosphere.
  • Water daily if necessary, clay pots dry faster than plastic ones

Continue Reading →


Ragwort – Good or Evil

Common Ragwort  Senecio jacobaea or Jacobea vulgaris is a specified weed as it can kill animals that graze on it. Even when  cut with hay and wilted it is toxic to horses and cattle. It is not a significant problem in gardens and some claim its toxicity with horses is overstated


Ragwort appreciation society wants to look at the myths and facts

Senecio jacobaea is part of our biodiversity and provides nectar and pollen for many insects. Cinnabar moths can be an effective biocontrol limiting growth and seed production. Eggs are laid in May -June and catterpillars feed on leaves in July- August. Thay can strip a plant down to its stalks


Leeks and Pot Leeks

Opening Tips

  • Grow leeks in ground with well rotted compost that nhasn’t cropped leeks for the past 3 years.
  • Sow autumn and winter varieties in deep pots during late March or April
  • Transplant in June-July so about two thirds of the plant is burried increasing the length of blanching.
  • For average sized leeks plant  6 inches apart in rows a foot apart.
  • Nitrogen fertiliser in autumn helps winter growth


I first went to a Leek show in the North East one September about 40 years ago and the Pot Leeks on show were really something to behold.
It is an art, a science and a bit of black magic that helps create a show stopper in this region renown for its prize leeks.
Pot leek exhibition standards require a blanch of up to 6” which can give a circumference of 28″. Intermediates are up to 14″ blanched length and Long leeks are anything in excess of this.

For eating purposes, size is much less important than flavour. We will  concentrate on normal garden culture for flavour.

Leek flags

Tips on starting to grow Leeks

  • Seeds can be sown in Mid march until June as the plants like a long growing season.
  • Set out the plants at the end of May.
  • A quick and easy start can be made by buying seedlings from a nursery or market stall.
  • Continue Reading →

UK Deciduous Azaleas

Deciduous azalea

Description & Growing Deciduous Azalea

  • All Azalea are Rhododendron but not all Rhododendron are Azaleas. Now we have that as clear as a muddy pond what is an Azalea?
  • An Azalea can be an evergreen or deciduous flowering shrub with pale or startling coloured blooms.
  • Some Azaleas are scented whilst others are without scent. Whatever you think about deciduous Azaleas, ‘muddy and boring’ they are not.
  • Azalea are some of the most gay and brilliant flowering shrubs yet grown.
  • For the technically minded Azaleas are in the genus Rhododendron, with evergreen azaleas in the subgenus Tsutsusi and deciduous azaleas in the subgenus Pentanthera.
  • Most deciduous azaleas are hardy but asiatic species need more protection when young


Rhododendron occidentale #4


Varieties & Hybrids of Deciduous Azalea for Growing

  • The species have been much crossed and bred but the scented Rhododendron luteum and Rhododendron japonica are available as species.
  • Knapp Hill hybrids are amongst the most colourful deciduous Azaleas.
  • The Ghent hybrids have sweetly scented, honeysuckle-shaped flowers with long stamen emarging from the tube.
  • The Rhododendron Mollis Azaleas are crossed between Rhododendron mollis and Rhododendron japonicum
  • Rustica hybrids have fragrant double flowers and Occidentale hybrids flower in late May
  • The Exbury range were bred by Lionel de Rothschild who loved deciduous azaleas and carried out much breeding work to enhance colours and scent. The Solent Range was started by George Hyde a private grower in Dorset but bought for Exbury (Images).
  • For specimen plants Azalea Coccinea Speciosa or R obtusum are recommended

Continue Reading →


Cucumber Pests and Problems

Pests on Cucumbers

  • Red spider mite can be a problem in a greenhouse.
  • Avoid hot dry conditions when they will thrive.
  • Treatments include spraying with fatty acid, oils and soaps as an insecticide.
  • White fly and red spider mite may need a biological control of parasitic wasps or predatory mites respectively.

Powdery Mildew

  • Powdery Mildew is the worst cucumber problem under glass badly affecting leaves
  • Causes include Stressed plants by dry root conditions or high humidity.
  • Excessive temperatures can create mildew.
  • Use sulphur or fish oil fungicides and good husbandry.

Other Problems

  • Water well and often but beware of rot on the roots. Soil should never be soggy
  • All female varieties can be bitter and bloated if cross pollinated
  • Do not grow Gherkins with cucumbers to Avoid cross pollination.
  • Remove all male flowers without embryonic fruit at the base.
  • Avoid splashing the fruit when you water
  • Do not let cucumbers rest on the ground. Put on a tile or flat stone for them to rest on to avoid damage and rot


For vine weevil I am willing to use chemical treatment like Amazon’s Pbi Provado Vine Weevil treatment, if the squashing of the grubs is not good enough.



Powered by WordPress. Designed by WooThemes