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Category: Pests, Problems and Health

Pests, infections, disease, cultivation and growing problems

Rabbit Pests not Pets

Rabbit Pests not Pets

The best place for rabbits, if it is not in a pie, is in the wild meadows and byways of the countryside. There they can do as their mum tells them and ‘eat up their greens’. As a vegetarian this is what rabbits do and that is why gardeners start to worry about them eating cultivated greens.

Literary Rabbits

  • Peter Rabbit  sneaks into Mr. McGregor’s garden to eat as many vegetables as he can before Mr. McGregor tries to catch him. Peter manages to escape as other rabbits do in my garden.
  • Then there is the image of Bugs Bunny eating a never-ending carrot. What a way to encourage kids to become gardeners.
  • Tar-Baby is about a doll made of tar and turpentine used by  Br’er Fox to trap Br’er Rabbit. The more that Br’er Rabbit fights the Tar-Baby the more entangled he becomes:- a modern metaphor?  This is not a recommended control method for gardeners.
  • White Rabbit is a  character in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland wearing a waistcoat like many gardeners from that era.
  • Roger Rabbit and Jessica bred a film franchise as quickly as rabbits seem to do when feeding on lettuce.

Rabbit prevention Tips

Earwig Time

Earwig Time

There are a lot of earwigs around this year or so it seems. Typical in a year when I had decided to grow more dahlias than usual but I guess the earwigs must have known that and got on with early breeding.

Facts about Earwigs

  • Earwigs chew on live shoots, flowers or decaying vegetation and like damp secluded conditions.
  • In my garden they do most noticeable damage on Chrysanthemums and Dahlias.
  • Earwigs are attracted to lights when they move around at dusk and nighttime.
  • Females lay between 30 and 50 small, round, translucent eggs.

Some Control Tips

  • Good housekeeping, dry areas and removing leaf litter restricts an earwigs desired living conditions
  • Placing hollow canes around dahlias act as a trap as can grass clippings or mulch removed regularly
  • Soapy water sprays or chemical formulas can reduce infestations

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Deter Club Root with This Tip

Deter Club Root with This Tip

Club root is a fungal infection of brassicas that causes distorted, swollen roots and stunted growth. Your cabbage seedlings and Broccoli, Cauliflower, Calabrese Sprouts and Kale can all be prone to club root but especially your cabbages.

Club Root Tip

Start plants off in larger than normal pots say 4-5 inches. This gives plants a good  head start and they can be planted out surrounded by safe uncontaminated compost. Line the planting hole with a rhubarb leaf to improve the effectiveness of this method. That seems counter intuitive when you would lime the soil as a normal safeguard and the rhubarb leaf in acidic in nature but it works.

More on Club Root

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Weed Free or So I Thought

Weed Free or So I Thought

I bet you spotted my weed as soon as you looked at the picture. ‘Where’s Wally’ you may ask, well he is the gardener that not only let the dandelion flower but seed as well. Back to gardening school. Depending how you look at it there has been a great profusion of dandelions this year but you just wait until next year. The ‘clocks’ have been distributed far and wide since the beginning of May, the breezes were light, the conditions just right and the air and ponds filled with seeds so dandelions are not going to be a threatened species anytime soon!

One dandelion may be excusable but what about your sweetpea zone you may be asking? My excuse for all the self sown seedlings  from last years dark purple poppies include that I found the poppy so entrancing. I fully expected to transplant them into a suitable area but tempus fugit (a good name for a weed). I have other excuses on request.

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Plant Viruses and Viral Infections

Plant Viruses and Viral Infections

Plants in your garden can suffer from infections caused by many different viruses. Once a plant is infected there is no chemical treatment that will destroy the virus without also killing the plant.

Signs of Virus Infection

  1. Irregular white or yellow mottling on normally green leaves such as rings, mosaic patterns or other mottling.
  2. Distorted leaves with curling and or crinkling
  3. Malformed flowers, damaged fruit and early leaf fall.
  4. Once a plant is infected the plant may be stunted and unable to produce flower or fruit.
  5. Some plants are just carriers and do not demonstrate symptoms other suffer from wilt disease.

More About Viruses on Plants

  1. Viral infections are generally transmitted from plant to plant by insects such as aphids, thrips, whitefly, eelworms, and some beetles.
  2. Some control can be provided by keeping these pests at bay.
  3. Viruses can be prevalent and long lasting in soil.
  4. Each virus is plant species specific and some varieties are more prone than others. Potato blight decimates crops, tomato mosaic virus damages fruit, cucumbers suffer as do many flowering plants e.g. carnations, roses and chrysanthemum.
  5. Plum pox potyvirus  the variants of which causes Sharka the viral disease of stone fruit crops.

Other Plant Health Problems

  1. Fungus and fungal infections
  2. Virus and Viral diseases
  3. Bacterial diseases
  4. Pests
Disappointing but not Surprising Moss Problems

Disappointing but not Surprising Moss Problems

Yorkshire has suffered an exceptionally wet autumn culminating in disastrous floods at Fishlake and around the river Don. One plant that will thrive in these wet northerly conditions is our old friend Moss.  As this has been covered before I am just using this post to link you to other observations and tips about moss.

Gardeners Tips

Liverworts are a relative of moss as is the green lichen on theses trees.

Moss is a dense low growing mat of greenery that affects badly drained lawns. It is too short to be cut by a mower but a lawn that itself is cut too short can attract moss instead of grass. Feed the lawn with a weed and feed fertiliser or use lawn sand containing a moss killer. Scarify and improve drainage by forking over the lawn. Moss can absorb nitrogen dioxide and  fight against air pollution

Fine Ferns and Damp Moss

Fine Ferns and Damp Moss

I am not a great fan of ferns as I live too near moorland that shares its bounty with gay abandon and I spend significant time removing uninvited guests. These are usually Bracken (Pteridium aquilinum) or  Buckler-fern (Dryopteris
dilatata) with fronds that are arranged like a shuttlecock. There are some exceptions such as the Hart’s tongue (Asplenium scolopendrium) and the  Maidenhair Spleenwort (Asplenium trichomanes) shown in this wall. The strap like fronds  and pinnate rectangular leaflet fronds make a simple  feature on this mossy wall.

Ferns Favourite Locations

  • Due to the microscopic airborne spores British species of ferns can grow in many unusual places such as rocky habitats.
  • Woodland ferns such as Dryopteris species are easy and accommodating in the garden.
  • The striking Osmunda regalis aka The Royal Fern prefers a wetland area.
  • There are several ferns suitable for ground cover and a selection can be found  on the native fern website

 

 

 

Plum Rot and a Rotten Crop

Plum Rot and a Rotten Crop

From this to this 

With clear blue skies and good blossom spring 2019 started so well for my plums. But then many things began to  go wrong. The first disaster was a snap frost that did for my Victoria blossom. Fortunately another variety of plum flowers a bit later, is better sheltered and survived unaffected by frost. That didn’t save the crop from the fungal attack of ‘brown rot’.

More on Plum Problems

  • Plum fruit infected with Monilinia laxa have grey coloured pustules. This fungus can also be responsible for end of stem wilt.
  • Plums infected with Monilinia fructigena have pustules that are buff coloured.
  • It looks like I might be blessed with both fungal infections.
  • Brown rot survives on mummified fruit and small cankers on the tree. It passes quickly on to other fruit in the cluster particularly in moist weather.
  • There is no spray available to gardeners so I will have to improve my hygiene and collect up and burn or bury deeply all infected twigs and fruit.
  • Unhappy with previous years crops I had invested in a new victoria plum tree  and I will hope for more success in years to come.
Stingers in the Garden Get Me Nettled

Stingers in the Garden Get Me Nettled

I was picking the Czar plums to make more jam when a wasp was disturbed from eating it’s lunch. Wasps go for my plums just as they are at their sweetest best. My problem was I couldn’t see which plums had a wasp in the fruit if they were above head height or facing away from my hand. The resulting sting set me on the trail of other stingers in the garden.

Plants Stingers

  •  Who has not been stung by a common nettle or the stinging nettle  a herbaceous perennial aka Urtica dioica. More likely to be stung walking on country paths or unkempt areas not in your garden I am sure!
  • The nettle family are stinging plants with  hairs on  leaves or stems that are capable of injecting formic acid that cause pain or irritation. Brushing bare skin against the leaves causes initial pain with the potential for more effects caused by histamine, acetylcholine and other chemicals that are also present.
  • Giant hogweed  contains a corrosive sap that causes severe rashes,  burns and even serious eye damage if you get the photosensitive chemicals  in your eyes . aka Heracleum mantegazzianum.
  • Poison ivy & its cousin, poison oakone is a noted rash-maker. It’s toxin, urushiol oil, is in the sap of the plant and present in minuscule quantities in some other food stuff.
  • Other plants, often those with hairs or irritating sap, can cause irritation and allergic reactions. I suffer with some verbascum Optunia cacti and euphorbia.