WEEKEND WORK

Spider mites in the greenhouse? Nuke them with humidity, not chemicals. Put pots in soaked clay granules; spray with a hand mister. They'll hate it: he wetter the better
Click to follow
The bug war has already broken out, with aphids building up in astonishing numbers on plants. Flea beetle seems worse this year, too. My sowings of rocket are peppered with holes. Watch for blackfly on beans, thrips on peas, root fly on cabbages, brussels sprouts and cauliflowers, and slugs on the new shoots of runner beans. If your only enemy is the aphid, use an insecticide that is specifically tailored to control it, rather than a scatter gun that will surely kill every flying creature within sight.

Mildew may also be a problem. It has already broken out on my acanthus. The answer is to spray roses and herbaceous plants, where necessary, with fungicide.

There is still time to fill gaps in borders with fast growing annuals such as clarkia and cornflower. If you have had no luck in the past with sowing direct in the ground, try scattering the seed thinly over compost in a seed tray, and waiting for the seedlings to grow in that. Do not bother to prick them out. Just transplant them in little clumps to the places you want them to grow.

Biennials such as double daisies, forget-me-nots, wallflowers and sweet williams should be sown in well-soaked drills outside, ready for a display in spring and summer next year.

I am also sowing seed of a Shasta daisy called 'Snow Lady' (Mr Fothergill, pounds 1.79) which is less than 1ft tall. They are surprisingly successful in difficult areas where there is little sun.

Take cuttings of pinks, pulling off non-flowering side shoots and pushing them round the edge of a 5in pot of compost mixed with extra sand. Cover the pot with a polythene bag until the cuttings have rooted.

Comments