Prevention is always better than cure

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It’s been a very difficult year for most plants in the garden.

But now the evenings are drawing in, the fungal problems on the roses, peas and Michaelmas daisies will become a real nuisance.

Allotment gardeners won’t risk sowing pea seeds after June because the peas are ruined by attacks of mildew. But the variety Ambassador is resistant to mildew and, although the foliage may be attacked, the peas in the pods are okay.

I recommend this variety and mine are about 8in high. I water them regularly with rainwater from the butts and spray them with Fungus Fighter to prevent the problem

Prevention is better than cure so we need to arm ourselves with some fungicides which will help prevent mildew on Michaelmas daisies and rust and blackspot on roses.

It has become very clear that if the same product is used all through the growing season the diseases become resistant to that product, so it’s a good idea to ring the changes.

Are you prepared to spray the roses once a week for the next eight weeks? I thought not. But just in case you may consider this idea, here is a well-established programme for preventing these diseases.

Always spray late in the evening when things have quietened down and there is no direct sunshine on the leaves.

Add a measure of Maxicrop Complete garden feed, which is made from seaweed. This will feed the plants through the leaves and make the chemical even more effective.

The first product is called Bordeaux mixture. It’s quite cheap and if applied over the foliage as a liquid spray it prevents fungi from entering the leaves. It leaves behind a copper covering which ‘burns’ the spores as they try to enter the plant cells. It’s organic and safe to use.

A week later, spray with Systhane which is the best product available to domestic gardeners because it prevents rust which seems to be getting worse every year. If there is already rust on the leaves, remove them before spraying with the Systhane.

The following week spray Rose Clear 2 or Dithane 945 or Multirose.

Cleanliness is very important, so before spraying give the rose bed a good weeding and pick up all the dead leaves. These are often crammed with spores which fly back on to the healthy growth.

Wouldn’t it be good if we could use a vacuum cleaner for this job? Have a look at your instruction book. If it’s one that will suck up water, it will suck up rose leaves.

Just to finish, you aren’t throwing the dead petals on to the rose bed are you? They too hold black spot and rust spores. Put them on the compost heap.