Caterpillar Brassicas Problems and Cures

Small Cabbage White Caterpillar (pic)

Large Cabbage White Caterpillar are yellow with black markings

Caterpillar Problems

  • There are a large variety of caterpillar from different species of moths, butterflies and saw flies.
  • Brassicas are particularly susceptible to three common types the large cabbage white butterfly, the small cabbage white butterfly and the cabbage moth respectively Pieris brassicae, Peiris rapae and Mamestra brassicae.
  • Butterflies lay their eggs on the outer leaves of the brassica which hatch in 4 days to become voracious feeding larvae.
  • In addition to eating irregular shaped holes in leaves they often burrow into the hearts of cabbages.
  • Damage to plants will occur in April and October as the butterfly produces two generations per year.

Caterpillar Control

  • Avoid the butterflies by netting the brassicas.
  • Pick off any caterpillars by hand.
  • Squash any eggs that are found under the leaves before they develop.
  • Try a biological control from a parasitic wasp that lays its eggs in the caterpillars eg Cotesia glomerata
  • Grazers natural formula is sprayed directly on to the foilage which helps protect the plant from damage.
  • Spray with the contact pyrethroid insecticides but remember you plan to eat the brassica.
  • Distract the butterflies by planting nasturtiums as an alternative breeding ground.

Lawn Grub Problems and Controls

Grubs of the daddy long legs or species of Tipula attract birds to peck at your lawn. More importantly nthe feast on the roots of your turf.


Grub Problems on Lawns

  • Leatherjackets  are larvae or grubs of the  Crane Fly or Daddy Long Legs as they are more commonly known.
  • Leatherjackets live for one year from eggs laid in September, eating there way through winter
  • The fully grown Larvae are grey brown maggots up to 4 cm in length and have grown that size by eating the roots of your grass.
  • Leatherjacket problems can be recognised when your lawn starts thinning and going bare.
  • During dry spells in summer the grass may go yellow-brown caused by the grubby eating habits.
  • The less common larvae of Chafer Beetles  live for 3 years in the soil but the effect can be the same as Daddy Long Legs grubs. They are creamy white, C-shaped with brown heads and look similar to vine weevil.

Prevention And Control

  • Chemical insecticides have been banned by EEC for garden use against these grubs.
  • On a wet day cover the lawn overnight with some black plastic . When you remove it the next morning the grubs will be on the surface to feed the birds.
  • Nematode products utilise natural predators such as nematodes, lady-bird and lace-wing larvae that break the life-cycle of the pest. These solutions boost the number of natural predators and have no detrimental effect upon the lawn.

Book CoverNematodes from Amazon


Earwigs – Forficula auricularia Problems & Control

Earwig O

Earwigs look worse than the bites they take out of plants. Some years there may be large infestations.

Earwig Problems

  • Whilst Clematis, Dahlia and Chrysanthemum plants may be a bit chewed  and ragged by an earwig they will not come to great harm unless you are growing show blooms.
  • Larger infestations  can strip the soft green parts to a network of veins.
  • Earwigs eat large irregular holes in the leaves and petals can be damaged by droppings.
  • Earwigs feed their newly hatched young on aphids and other small insects.
  • During the day earwigs hide amongst the petals. The leaves of Dahlias can be ravaged by
  • Earwigs do not bite or spread disease.

Earwig Control

  • To catch these night feeders use a torch.
  • The inverted plant pot on a cane method with the pot filled with straw or well crumpled newspaper will act as a trap. You can then collect the earwigs for destruction.
  • Birds, frogs and toads that prey on earwigs will help reduce the population of earwigs and keep it under control.
  • Chemical controls such as permethrin should be applied at dusk on warm evenings. Treat the leaves blooms and the  soil below the plants.
  • Prevention by removing moisture and decaying vegetation will make conditions less hospitable for earwigs.




Perennial Begging

The Gardeners’ Charity is registered with the charity commission as no.1155156 – GARDENERS’ ROYAL BENEVOLENT SOCIETY. Most gardeners know it as ‘Perennial’. As befits a charity that has been helping horticultural workers for over 175 years it has built up some sizable reserves £43m plus 19 premises and two gardens at the last count. Rather a lot of investments to fund annual payments of only £3.6m or circa 80% of annual income from donations, trading and legacies. (Figures for 2016 are awaited.)

Flush with cash reserves and a conservative spending policy, poor gardeners and horticultural workers should be able to feel some comfort. In a recent mailing I was solicited to donate £25, £50 or £100 in addition to supporting the (expensive) product catalogue. This request wont germinate and bear fruit with me until they are more down to earth and do more for the horticultural workers and families.

The objects of the charity are
1.1.1 the relief and assistance by such means as the trustees shall determine to be appropriate in each case of gardeners or persons who are or who have been in like employment or occupation of those closely involved in gardening or related activities or those training to be gardeners or persons of like occupation and their spouses or widows/widowers or unmarried partners and/or immediate dependants in necessitous circumstances or in circumstances of poverty, illness, disability (whether mental or physical) or old age; and /or
1.1.2 the advancement for the public benefit of education and training in or relating to horticulture or gardening; and/or
1.1.3 the provision, maintenance or assistance in the provision and maintenance of gardens and open space for training, rehabilitation and other charitable purposes for public benefit and in particular the preservation and maintenance of gardens of historic and/or aesthetic importance to be enjoyed by and made available to the public at large;This can include debt advice and financial support to people employed in or retired from the horticultural industry who find themselves in difficulties arising from financial difficulties, ill health, disability, or old age.

The charity employed 38 staff and over 200 volunteers at December 2015.


Grewelthorpe Himalayan Garden Images

The Himalayan Garden at Grewlthorpe continues to mature and develop. It is great to see a wide range of trees allowed to grow their natural size without undue lopping or arbo work.
A new arboretum will open at the end of May 2017 and the next autumn season will be worth a special visit.

As ever the sculptures are excellently located and seem to breed in number every time I visit.

Rhododendrons are the key feature for me that makes return spring visits a must.

Landscape views from the many well located paths are set to delight.


Woodlice Problems and Control

Book Cover


Woodlice are generally seen as scavengers who eat rotting matter, they are not thought of as harmful to the garden. However, they do chew leaves and stems of tomatoes and cucumber in the greenhouse. They are not true insects but a species of crustacean.

Seedlings can be  eaten by woodlice before the seedlings become established. They can eat stems and leaves so woodlice are best destroyed.

Control and Problems

  • Woodlice and millipedes can be controlled using ant and insects powders historically Methiocarb with HCH lindane
  • Keep areas clear of any debris
  • Recycle woodlice you capture on to the compost heap.
  • Squishing and squashing woodlice is a common cure.
  • Woodlice like damp dark places with a source of rotting wood to lay their eggs.
  • Woodlice are unsightly particularly if they invaded the home where they like damp and rotting wood.


Methiocarb  is a molluscicide and insecticide for control of slugs, snails and many other pests. In 2014 the EU banned Methiocarb poison-baited pellets  due to their hazardous effect on grain-eating farm birds

Nippon Woodlice Killer based on permethrin


Pruning Deciduous Azalea and After Care

Azalea Mollis aka Rhododendron sinensis

This species of plants originate in central China. The closely related species R. molle japonicum come from Japan. Both these deciduous varieties are relatives of the popular Ghent and Knapp Hill hybrids.

They are one of our favourite flowering plants with bold, colourful, spring blooms that are not hidden by lime green leaves that appear around flowering time.

A North American variety R. calendulaceum is called the “Flame azalea” due its fiery orange colours and autumn leafs. R. luteum is not surprisingly yellow.

Pruning Azalea

  • Where possible avoid pruning but if needs must then wait until flowering has finished.
  • Water the shrub and keep it well watered through late spring until autumn.
  • Take out dead or damaged wood with sharp secateurs.
  • If reshaping or drastic pruning is needed expect to loose the flowing capacity for one or two seasons.
  • Thin water shoots from the base can be thinned in number to encourage the others.
  • Remove one older stalk to create light space and shape if you must.


After Care

  • After care will help the plant recover from shock.
  • Apply an ericaceous acid plant fertiliserlike miracle-gro specially formulated for azaleas, rhododendrons, camellias, dogwoods and magnolias. Feed through summer.
  • Mulch around the base of the shrub.
  • Other acidifying feeds and treatments include vinegar, ammonium sulfate, iron sulfate or flowers of sulfur but take care as some may burn the shrubs.
  • Dress the top soil with peat or an ericaceous compost

Read more

Rhododendron Pink Pearl


Wasps Problems and Control


Wasps are a large and diverse group of insects with tens of thousands of  species including Hornets, Yellow Jackets and solitary wasps. Some social wasps live together in a nest with an egg-laying queen but the greater numbers are solitary species.

Wasps like munching on ripen fruit Plums, Pears and Apples. They are not the main villain as they only attack fruit that is already damaged by birds or other insects. Their mouths are not usually strong enough to break the skin.

Grapes can be susceptible to damage but bunches of fruit can be wrapped in muslin or old nylons.

Wasp Control and Problems

  • Control wasps by destroying their nests with carbaryl dust.(see below)
  • The sting of a wasp is how they catch some of there food prey.  In late summer  humans may get stung as wasps start to mate for the following year. Wasps may sting more than once if people come close to them but the pain is less than that of most bees.
  • Wasp nests made from chewed wood pulp and saliva can be found in roof spaces, under eaves or in bird boxes  but are not generally a serious problem.
  • Wasps are predators and parasites so  can help in a garden as the larvae feed on aphids and caterpillars. Wasps are major pollinators in the UK and around the world.

Gall Wasps

Cynipids can form a variety of gall on Oak tree leaves, stems and roots. Some years the galls can be very numerous but no serious harm will be done and no control is required. The underside of leaves may get rust brown spangle galls or brown spot gall.


‘Carbaryl is a man-made pesticide that is toxic to insects. It is commonly used to control aphids, ants, ticks, spiders, and many other outdoor pests. It is also used in some orchards to thin out blossoms on fruit trees.’ Pesticide information center


Camassia Flowers and Food

Some Camassia species were an important food staple for Native Americans and settlers in parts of North American

  • Camassia quamash or wild hyacinth will naturalise in grass and is happy in moist ground.
  • These bulbs have a reputation of being tough and hardy and thrive in less than perfect soils.
  • Camassia leichtlinii is a spring flowering bulb with spires of creamy-white flowers although the more normal powder blue varieties are more often planted.
  • Camassia prefer to grow undisturbed and are not ideal for containers.
  • Flowers open in spring and attract bees for their nectar.

Death Camases are liliaceous, perennial herbs and are not edible.



Growing all Sorts of Stuff

Book Cover

Why You Might want to Grow Edible Stuff

  • Food stuff is top of the list in Mazlow’s hierarchy of need.
  • ‘Growing your own’ to feed the family has been a priority for centuries.
  • Farmers, market gardeners and smallholders all contribute edible stuff as do allotment holders and the majority of gardeners.
  • Windowsills, greenhouses, conservatories and sunny sheltered spots can be used to grow tomatoes and salad crops for example.
  • Herbs add taste to many dishes  and  basil, mint, parsley, rosemary and chillies,  are all stuff you can grow quite easily.
  • Stuff called Curcurbits such as courgettes, squash, pumpkins and cucumbers are comparatively easy to grow with a bit of shelter and warmth.
  • Tasty specialties are now more commonplace but Pineapples were grown in special stove houses in the 17th and 18th centuries.

What Other Stuff You Might want to Grow

  • Man can’t live by bread alone so aesthetic stuff needs to be grown to feed the inner man.
  •  Flowers and decorative plants come in all shapes and sizes. Cacti, Holly, Ivy and poinsettia are seasonal stuff you can try.
  • Stuff for indoors includes a range of bulbs and windowsill plants. Old Aspidistra and other evergreen leaved plants have a reputation of cleaning the air. A reputation probably earned when we all had coal fires.
  • Growing stuff in a formal manner from a large landscape to a small Knot garden can be time consuming but rewarding.
  • Organic and environmentally friendly grown stuff has its own reward.
  • Forestry, heath and heather, parks and pleasure grounds all serve a visual or emotional purpose.

How to Grow Stuff

You will have guessed it – read the book!


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