Our gardening expert solves your horticultural dilemmas and sets you homework for the long weekend
Q: What’s gone wrong with my fuchsias? The tips are crinkled and the buds look like tiny cauliflowers. PS, Gosport.
A: This widespread problem is caused by the fuchsia gal mite. It’s vital you get the infected plants out of the garden and don’t plant fuchsias in the same place again. An insecticide was available but has been withdrawn.
Q: I have a pear tree on my patio. Last year there were lots of pears but when they were ready to eat they were covered in black patches. I have fruits this year after I pruned it, but how I can stop them being ruined again? RM, Horndean.
A: Buy a ready-to-spray product called Fungus Fighter. Spray the fruits to stop this fungal problem. Give the roots a feed of fish blood and bone fertiliser and gently fork this into the soil. You will need an egg cup full for each square foot. Water afterwards.
JOBS FOR THE BANK HOLIDAY WEEKEND
•Plant out spring hearting cabbages in rows two feet apart with the plants nine inches apart. Every other one can be thinned out during the winter to provide fresh greens.
•Have you seen sternbergia bulbs in packets at garden centres? These gems look like golden crocus but flower in the autumn so there is still time to find some.
•Outdoor amaryllis and colchicum bulbs are in stock at garden centres. These will flower in the autumn.
•When digging out potatoes, cut the haulms down to four inches, remove all weeds and put them in a wheelbarrow. The less they are thrown around the less chance there is of spreading potato blight.
•Have a look around to see where you can get some manure. Stables will often have some. Leave it in bags until November when it will be ready to dig in.
•Keep a sharp eye out for scorching on the lower leaves of runner bean plants. This will be caused by red spider mite. Spray with pyrethrum liquid, sold as PY at garden centres, during the late evening to control this pest. It is essential to spray the backs of the leaves as that is where the pests are seen.
•Go out into the garden an hour after darkness falls and take a torch. You will be surprised how many slugs are out there. You know what to do. Don’t chuck them over the wall. They will come back.
•If you struggle with clay soil, a raised bed will help. On a vegetable area they are a boon, but in an ornamental garden log rolls are often forgotten which is a pity because if the clay can be covered with bags of compost, it is far easier to manage the garden. Log rolls give flexibility and attractive curved lines look better than straight lines.
•Buy some grass seed to oversow patches, Put 1lb of seed to 10lbs of seed compost into a black polythene bag and leave it for a week. After rain, any time between now and the middle of September, prick over the lawn and scatter on the grass seed/compost mix. The germinating seeds will fall into the holes.
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