Welcome to Garden King's Plant Doctor Blog, where our experts discuss and answer all your gardening questions. This week I'm talking about keeping up with garden tasks, harvesting onions and answering your questions from the last week.
Well, happy Friday to you all and I hope you've been enjoying the glorious weather that we've been having. It's crazy how we go from torrential downpours to exotic heat in a matter of days! We mustn't complain though, it's great weather to get out and get gardening!
It's a good time to complete some of those jobs which you might have been "meaning to get round to". I looked in my garden yesterday evening and saw the edges of our lawns and lawn paths are a bit untidy. I'm sure all of your lawns have thrived in the recent weather like mine - but with growth can come messy edges! I whipped out my edging shears and chopped them down to a crisp edge. If you have lots of lawn you could always use a strimmer. I find the crisp edge neatens my garden immediately and should we suddenly get a downpour (fingers crossed we don't) which stops us all from mowing - at least our edges will be neat and tidy!
A few weeks back I spoke about spraying roses - hopefully you've all been keeping up the good work and spraying every couple of weeks using a product like Westland Plant Rescue Fungus Control. Even if your roses are looking perfect - it's important to continue spraying to keep them looking tip top. Westland Plant Rescue Fungus Control helps to protect the leaves from disease and during the Summer some varieties of rose are highly susceptible to blackspot. Remember to pick off diseased leaves and bin them quickly as the disease spreads fast!
Spray on a dry day so the fungicide is at its most effective. Don't forget to check the soil around the plant for diseased leaves as any remnants will contaminate your healthy ones, so pick them up and bin them. It's also important to keep up deadheading (not just your roses, but bedding and perennials too) - you'll get the most from them if you do. Take flowers off as soon as they begin to droop, otherwise this will conserve the plant's energy and prevent them from setting seed.
It's time to harvest your onions, had this year been a normal one (growing wise) mature onions should be starting to show yellow leaves and beginning to keel over. This would be any vegetable growers signal to start lifting them, but this year it's different and you'll probably find your leaves are far from brown. The fluctuating temperatures may have caused some of your onions to bolt, which can lead to them being hollow in the centre. Bolted onions are still perfectly fine to eat but they probably won't store too well. Pull any bolted onions off first and let them dry off for use in a few weeks time.
In damp conditions, it's best to harvest all your onions at once when they reach a useable size. Gently pull them from the ground by the neck, you can use a hand fork to ease the surrounding soil if they are a little reluctant. Be careful not to bruise your crop so handle them gently, bruising will affect how well they store. The trick is to get your onions dried off thoroughly, leave the leaves and outer layers on the onions to start with and spread them out undercover to dry off. A greenhouse is OK, but the high humidity can be a problem, so it's probably best you dry them off in your garage or garden shed. After a couple of weeks your crop should be dry enough to store, carefully pull away the remaining dried leaves and store the onions in net bags - somewhere dark, cool and dry.
I keep asking you all for questions, suggestions and comments and this week I got a couple - so I thought I'd post the questions and my answers on here for you all to see.
Question: I've got loads of weeds growing in my gravel drive - I'm struggling to dig them out, what weedkiller do you recommend?
Answer: Weeds in large gravel areas are a pain - and yes to dig or hoe them out would be tricky because of all the stones. At Garden King we sell Glyphosate from Bayer, in simple easy to use sachets and depending on the size of your gravel drive, we have tubs of 18 sachets which will treat up to 450sq.m. Glyphosate is a systemic weedkiller that kills most tough and deep rooted weeds including brushwood, bracken and ivy.
These simple soluble sachets can be dropped into water and applied using a watering can or a sprayer. Glyphosate is ideal for gravel areas, patios, garages & sheds, waste ground and in the garden. As always, read the instructions carefully and don't apply to cultivated areas or lawns (unless you want to kill them). Try to spray on a warm, dry day when no rain has been forecast and give the plants time to absorb the chemical before clearing the dead top growth away. You may need more than one treatment - but it should do the job well.
Question: I've got weird yellow areas on the upper surfaces of my cabbage leaves and on the underside they show greyish patches - do you know what is wrong and will my cabbages be ok?
Answer: It sounds like your cabbages may have been affected by downy mildew. It's important to remove as many of the affected leaves as you can. If you have any plants which are very badly affected overall - I'm afraid you'll have to remove them completely to avoid the carry-over of spores in the soil. Fungal diseases are rife this year due to the high humidity, increased rainfall and cool temperatures.
Sadly there are no products available to private gardeners to treat brassica downy mildew, but it does help if you keep crops weed free and watch out for weeds such as shepherd's purse or charlock which carry the mildew. Make sure you completely clear away any diseased debris.
It was great to receive a couple of questions this week - so if you have any suggestions, questions or comments - feel free to drop us a line (we'd love to hear from you!). You can email firstname.lastname@example.org, call us on 01283 550 516, add us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.
Happy gardening x