Brian Kidd: on scale insects and swede seeds

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Q: Our grapevine’s leaves have white rounded areas. We can’t see any insects. Can you tell us what the problem is and how to deal with it? MJ, Hilsea.

A: This is a scale insect. Spray the undersides of the leaves with liquid soap flakes. Use one tablespoon in two gallons of water during the late evening when the sun is off the leaves. Make sure the main branches are soaked too. Repeat once a week for three weeks. The fruits will not be damaged as long as the spray is used in dull weather.

Q: I keep your articles and read them when the weather is bad. You wrote that swede seeds can be sown in cells. Is it too late? I love swede. MB, Idsworth.

A: Swede seeds must be sown in the next few days. Single seeds in each cell ensures you will get a good crop. Once planted out dust the foliage with ant powder to ward off the dreaded flea beetle.

Q: Our plum tree has lots of curly leaves and there are hundreds of insects and ants on the leaves. Can you advise please? JD, Hilsea.

A: The best idea is to cut out all the infestation using long-handled loppers. These have

a lever to cut off the branches. Bag it all up and take it to the recycling centre. This is a good time to prune all stone fruits but complete the job before the middle of July.

Q: My greenhouse tomatoes look good . The foliage is dark green but the top leaves are curled. There are no insects. Is there a problem? VP, Cosham.

A:There is nothing wrong. Congratulations you are keeping conditions just right.

Q: My marrow plants are only producing male flowers, what shall, I do? CD, Denmead.

A: This is due to the plants being kept in pots to long. Give them a feed once a week for three weeks using Maxicrop Complete liquid feed. It is always in stock at Keydell Nurseries, Horndean.


Take cuttings about 6in long of indoor pelargoniums of all kinds. Leave just one pair of leaves and the growing tip and cut just below a leaf joint. Insert in a sandy cutting media and rooting should take place in less than a month. Keep the cuttings shaded and moist.

This is the best time to take cuttings of all types of shrubs.Just take off the side shoots of any kind of shrubs, yes,­even camellias. Put the cuttings into a sandy compost mix in the shade and they will root in about three weeks.

Bud roses on to rose stocks planted last October. If you have never budded roses before and you like a challenge, get hold of a good book on how to propagate plants. Propagation is very rewarding. When successful, you feel great!

Need to replace the strawberry bed? This is the time to put 3in diameter pots filled with compost into the soil close to strawberry runners. Peg the tips of the runners into the compost by using wreath wires bent over like hairpins. The runners will root in a few weeks. You will then be in a position to plant the new plants where you want them and at a time to suit you. Strawberry plants in pots can be planted at any time. Find the plants which produced the best fruit. You may be surprised at the size of the berries on the new plants, it makes all the effort worthwhile.

After enjoying rose blooms as cut flowers, remove the dead head and remove all the leaves apart from the top pair and cut below the lowest joint on each stem. Place the stems in the greenhouse in a pottery vase (not a glass vase ) ­ the stem bases need to be in the dark but the leaves must be in the light. Once the roots appear, fill the container with Vermiculite, this will encourage masses of new roots, pot each rooted cutting into 4in diameter pots and plant out next spring.

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