Pippa Greenwood Gardening advice for July
Welcome to my gardening advice for July. We are going to start with some good news. Warmer, drier weather will mean some good growing conditions but unfortunately (now the bad news) it also increases the risk of red spider mites becoming a problem.
Red Spider Mites
Red Spider mites are tiny mites. They are correctly known as two-spotted mites as they have two spots on their backs and, despite what you might expect, are a sort of off-green or khaki colour for most of the year! But don’t worry about the name, think about the damage they do as the feed intensely on foliage.
This is particularly on plants growing in greenhouses, frames and conservatories where the air if more likely to be warm and dry. They can soon cause such intense mottling that the leaves become dry and brown and things then go downhill very fast. Red Spider Mites hate damp conditions so regularly misting or even spraying the plants with water will help to decrease their activity. Another way to stop red spider mites if to consider introducing the fantastic, fast moving Phytoseiulus mite to get really good control. They work fast and efficiently eating all life stages of the bad guys. You must introduce them before the plants are too seriously damaged though!
As tomatoes grow more and more rapidly, don’t forget to regularly pinch out or 'side-shoot’ them (unless they are ‘bush’ varieties). It is a job that seems to need doing every few days sometimes.
How to pinch out Tomatoes
You'll find it is quicker and more effective if done when the side shoots are very small. Just look out for the new shoot appearing between the main stem and a side stem. Don’t use scissors or a knife. Instead, grasp it firmly between thumb and forefinger and with a swift downward flick it should snap out. Using a knife or scissors is more likely to result in a bigger wound in a less suitable place.
Continue to tie your tomatoes into their supports as necessary. Its too late now but consider using the Crop Booster Frame next year, it makes the job of supporting the growing plants so much easier. It also allows the plants to put more of their energy into fruiting.
Early in the month think about slugs (yes again!)This time it is potatoes I’m concerned about, especially the main crop varieties which are especially prone to significant tunnelling from keeled slugs. Drenching with Nemaslug now will provide really good protection on a moist soil for up to about six weeks, so helping to keep the tubers free from those tunnelling pests which have the potential to devastate. Even if they don’t do too much damage, they make your main crop spuds useless for storing. If you’ve got any Nemaslug mix left over you need to use it on the same day, so simply apply it to the moistened soil around other slug-prone crops or ornamentals.
My gardening advice for July sems to be all about the bad things but as you know July is a beautiful time in the garden so - weather allowing - do get out there and enjoy it!
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