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Archive for the ‘Pests & Diseases’ Category

A new course and discussion group on growing your own
fruit and veg has started at

Ventnor Community Cafe, 3 Albert St, Ventnor, PO38 1DS
Thursdays from 7pm to 8.30 pm.

This is a great opportunity to share and discover new ideas and tips for the coming season.


Healthy CropsIn the current economic climate many more people are thinking about growing their own fruit and veg as it is so much cheaper and healthier but could do with a bit of help and advice.

How do you get from a load of weeds or bare soil or an empty pot to delicious, healthy crops.

Where do you start?

What to do in the garden now?
Where to seeds and when to sow them?
How do you make good compost?
What sort of fertilizer to use and when?
How to deal with garden pests?
What can you grow in pots?
How do you prune things?

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Tomato Blight

Tomato Blight

I along with a lot of other people in Ventnor have succumbed to the dreaded tomato blight. The plant in the photo showed no signs of disease three days before I took the picture, now it is a total disaster along with all my other tomato plants.

If you are growing your own tomatoes for the first time this year and you to have blight don’t beat yourself up about it, you have done nothing wrong. It is a fungus ‘Phytophthora infestans’, which produces spores,  it is transferred from plant to plant by wind and rain splash. Spores develop on the leaves, spreading through the crop when temperatures are above 10C (50°F) and humidity is over 75% for 2 days or more.

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Harlequin ladybird (Harmonia axyridis) identificationNo, it is not a case of our ladybirds not eating their aphids but intruder Harlequin ladybirds (Harmonia axyridis). These ladybirds were introduced into North America from Asia in 1988 and some European countries in the 1990’s for biological control of aphids and scale insects.

The picture on the left shows what the Harlequin Ladybird looks like.

You can find a chart here showing our British Native Ladybirds, their sizes and what type of plant they are found on.

Wherever the Harlequin Ladybird appears it is usually followed by a decline of British Native Ladybirds.

Many people now view this species as a nuisance, partly due to their tendency to overwinter indoors and the unpleasant odour and stain left by their bodily fluid when frightened or squashed. They can get into houses through the tiniest gaps, even closed windows. When they wake up they often bite humans when looking for food, this usually causes a bump and stinging sensation but there are documented cases of severe allergic reactions to their bites.

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Large White Butterfly Eggs (Cabbage White)Keep a look out for cabbage white butterfly eggs on all of your cabbage family plants. If you see any eggs on the underneath of your leaves, squish them straight away, no matter what colour they are, or you will be inundated by hungry caterpillars and you will end up with lacy or non-existent leaves.

Butterfly egg photo: sannse

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If you have broccoli seedlings they should be planted out into there final growing places, at least 2 feet apart. If you don’t have the space to plant them out yet, pot them up in at the very least a 5-6″ pot until you do. I made the mistake of putting mine in 3″ pots a couple of weeks ago thinking it would keep them going for a while and the roots are already out the bottom of the pot.

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Blackmoor Nurseries - Fruit Trees and Soft FruitThanks to Blackmoor Nurseries for their ‘Things to do in the fruit garden this month’ newsletter.

July is the month that the fruit garden comes into its own, plants laden with ripening fruit and many a tasty berry being harvested. July may have heavy rain showers – but don’t rely on these to water your fruit garden. In between the rain showers don’t forget to make time for weekly inspections as things can get out of balance very quickly at this time of year.

Thin out apple and pear fruitlets As the naturally occurring ‘June Drop’ should be over, check your trees and remove any small, damaged or diseased fruits that remain. To get apples and pears to a good size leave one fruit every 10cm apart on the branch. It may seem disappointing to remove a lot of fruit, but the crop in the autumn should be far superior than if all the fruitlets were left on the tree. (more…)

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Ken\'s Land - how it wasKen\'s land in St LawrenceWe held our June meeting at Ken’s land in St Lawrence. He’s really been getting on with it, and has a range of vegetables coming along nicely. You can see how much work he has done when you compare the two pictures.

Ken has worked hard to put in rabbit proof fencing, which gave the moles a good laugh.

As usual with Ken some of the veg we know and others are a bit more exotic. The wall helps to create a warm microclimate which will be ideal for apricots and other soft fruit and perhaps melons. Ken has sourced some local manure to improve the fertility of his plot.

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Aphids on a rosebush - greenflyUnless your growing area is completely enclosed with fine mesh aphids are a problem that you are going to have to deal with sooner or later. It makes no difference if you are growing in pots, back gardens or allotments you will get aphids.

The reason they are such a pest is that they feed on plant sap, so as they move from plant to plant they can transfer diseases such as mosaic virus and if there are a lot of them feeding on a plant they can weaken it or even cause it to die. It is best to get rid of them as soon as you notice them rather than letting them build up, of course if you have lots of beneficial insects in you garden they will keep the aphids down by eating hundreds of them every day.

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