I pulled up the old broccoli plants this week. I was going to give them to some deserving horses after the bees finished with the flowers. Greenfly had other ideas. I first noticed a small clump of the little green suckers about three weeks ago and thought nothing of it. Over the following days their reproduction rate grew exponentially, so much so that every stem was covered in the offspring. The whole plants seemed to be moving as they sucked the sap out of the plants, you could hear them dehydrating the stems.
I chopped the plants up on the lawn which in hindsight appears to be a pretty silly idea. I think most of the greenfly jumped ship before I stuffed the stumps and stalks into coal bag to take to the recycling centre. I would normally compost most plants but these take a few years to rot down because they are so ‘woody’.
The greenfly that didn’t make the car journey to the skip have happily taken refuge on more young stems in the garden. They are mainly going for the new broccoli and kale as well as any other juicy stem from the bedding plants we have. I’ve never really had a problem with these sap suckers but this year I have taken action. My bottle of neem oil which has been hiding in a dark cupboard for three years has come out. It doesn’t seem to work but at least I feel proactive and the greenfly are happy.
My fabulous Deutzia X hybrida 'Mont Rose’ shrub performed well again. At the end of every year I consider pulling the whole shrub up as it’s far too big for its spot, but every spring it rewards us with the most beautiful flowers bursting with nectar for the bees and I let it stay for another year. I was thinking that I might even take a few cuttings now the flowers have gone to pass on the beauty to other people who probably have more room for one.
After flowering is the optimum time to trim back these types of shrubs so it’s an ideal time to keep a few of the stems from this year’s growth to increase the stock by taking softwood cuttings.
This techniques ideal for a lot of shrubs from buddleia, lavender, euonymus, pelargoniums and salvia to name just a few.
- Cut one of the softer stems and make it a bit longer than the finished cutting, just above a leaf on the parent plant.
- Use a sharp knife to cut just below a leaf joint and remove the leaves
- Aim to make a cutting not more than 10cm long. Use a sharp knife to cut just below a leaf joint and remove the leaves from the bottom half of the cutting.
- Reduce leaf area by half to minimise water loss from the cutting.
- Some people recommend a rooting hormone powder and you might want to dip the stems in that. Willow water works too helping to promote faster roots but personally I don’t bother and most cuttings are successful.
- Insert cuttings into 7cm pots of moist cuttings compost, keeping lower leaves just above compost level.
For the really tidy ones amongst us, push in thin canes around the pot and cover with a clear polythene bag held in place with an elastic band. Place cuttings in a warm position, out of direct sun, to root. I sometimes edge my bets and push some of the cuttings into the ground as I tend to forget to water pots in hot weather. Finding a shady spot outside or even a large container where weeds are controlled seems to work fine for me.
My mother in law was knocking on the door this week looking for someone tall to go and give her a On the menu this year will be the cordial and also she will be making some fritters. Anything deep fried is OK with me, I’ve even tried the deep fried chocolate bar. I did have to clean out the fryer afterwards though so it was far too much bother.hand collecting elderflowers from the branches.
Elderflower cordial is a delicious summer tonic that you can make yourself.Her recipe is best made with fresh flowers, which have been picked on a sunny day when they are still creamy in colour and before they fade to white. At this time they have the highest amount of pollen, which contains the yeast. The recipe is water, sugar, lemons, citric acid and of course the elderflower. Like most recipes it’s open to interpretation. Maybe some of us might add a touch of vodka in there too.