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Green Fingers in Summer

Down at Caves Folly Nursery in Colwall, Bridget is finding ways to deal with the pests that are after her plants!

Spring has sprung into early summer and the growth of plants is amazing after all the rain and some warm weather.

There are some benefits after such a mild wet winter, many plants have not had to suffer severe frost and there are so many insects around!

I know it’s not so good for humans, but the bugs provide an abundance of food for birdlife. There are lots of ladybirds, lacewings, hoverflies, and plenty of aphid eating insects so hopefully we will not suffer too much damage to our plants.

Pest control in the garden is always tricky. My general rule is to mulch regularly and create a healthy soil. Nature tends to sort out most problems if you create a good healthy soil.

Sometimes I need to deal with greenfly or blackfly on a show plant, I wash it in a bucket of soapy water each day until all the aphids are gone. If this does not work I spray with a soap based spray.

Spraying leaves of plants prone to aphid invasion (Lupins ,Centaurea, Delphiniums) regularly with a garlic spray can prevent damage. Aphids are an important part of the food chain so ignore them if possible!

Downy mildew is also another common problem in the summer. I usually get it on my courgettes. The disease is worse when plants experience drought followed by high humidity. Removing the infected leaves or disposing of the plants that are badly infected often cures the spread. Good air flow around plants helps along with regular watering and mulching.

Biological controls can be used to control slugs and snails, vine weevil, leatherjackets, and many other pests. is a great website for information as well as environmentally-friendly products.

The vegetable garden is abundant at this time of year but don’t forget to regularly sow repeat crops such as Salads, Beetroot, Carrots, Radish. Prune plum and Damson trees after harvesting, cuts rapidly heal in the warm weather and there is less chance of silver leaf fungus.

From late June through July is a good time to sow pak choi and other oriental vegetables. Mizuna can be ready a few weeks after sowing. Pick courgettes regularly so that they keep producing more fruit. Harvest early potatoes when flowers open or flower buds drop. Tubers are ready to harvest when they are the size of a hen's egg.

Keep tomatoes, cucumbers and courgettes fed regularly, every ten days with a high potassium liquid feed. Healthy plants will be more likely to grow out of any problems.

In the ornamental garden early flowering plants need dead-heading. Cut perennials that have flowered back and they will often flower again in late summer. Dead-head bedding, roses and some perennials to encourage new flowers.

Move house plants outside to a shady place. Many plants benefit from having a time away from hot temperatures in a conservatory or hot window sill. Keep feeding and picking sweet peas to encourage more blooms.


Bridget runs Caves Folly Nurseries on Evendine Lane in  Colwall (WR13 6DX). They are open from March until October, Thursdays to Saturdays from 10 - 4. You can contact them on 01684 540631 or visit their website: