This week John Stoa is looking at pests, diseases and cures to keep plants healthy
Looks like 2018 could be a bumper year for fruit crops.
Apples, plums, pears and even my peach tree have been covered in blossom, and fruit bushes from strawberries, rasps, currants, saskatoons and gooseberries are all looking prolific.
Even our weekend country walk around the Lairds Loch on Tullybaccart showed outdoor wild fruit of blaeberries, wild raspberries, brambles and elderberries all looking very prolific. However to reap the harvest we need to keep a watch on pests, diseases and weeds to take action before they take hold.
Late spring has also been very dry and coupled with very warm weather at the end of May the hose has been in constant demand to keep plants watered.
However this long dry hot spell has been brilliant for hoeing weeds as they shrivel up very quickly.
Go back over the ground a few of days later and hoe out any survivors.
The hot spell has been excellent in the greenhouse as both tomatoes, planted out mid-May and my three grape vines are putting on plenty of healthy growth and fruits.
Removal of side shoots of tomatoes is a constant job as is summer pruning young shoots on the grape vines to stop them being over vigorous at the expense of developing grapes. Watering and weekly feeding has now started on the tomatoes, and full ventilation of windows and doors has been necessary to avoid condensation and prevent mildew on the vines.
So far this year there has been no signs of vine weevils so my nematode biological drench last year seems to have worked, though I found some in my tubs as I removed the polyanthus, a plant they just love.
The June drop has started early with my cherry tree dropping a fair bit of fruit so I will keep an eye open on other top fruit trees to see if they also shed fruitlets.
My outdoor peach tree Avalon Pride planted a couple of years ago is looking great with about two dozen peaches starting to form and peach leaf curl has not been a big problem.
I just pick off those few affected leaves.
Blackfly on cherries has yet to start, but I watch over them just in case.
Greenfly has been rampant on my roses, so wiping them off with fingers was too big a task.
I had to resort to spraying which soon sorted them out.
Greenfly also had a go on my pansies so they got sprayed as well, and are now putting on a great show in pots and hanging baskets.
It was also necessary to use the sprayer on my gooseberries as my two bushes, appeared healthy one day then a few days later a thousand appeared with voracious appetites chomping through the foliage.
Spraying sorted them out, and like all other fruits the crop potential looks very promising.
Slugs and snails however have been busy on salads, bedding plants, bulbs and strawberry beds so the pellets have had to be sprinkled.
I thought they would have been dormant in the dry weather, but it has not deterred them from seeking out some tender new leaves.
Pea and bean weevils have been a nuisance on both these crops.
I have never been able to find them on peas, but you can catch them on broad beans as they congregate at the top of the shoots.
Scale on rhododendrons has again appeared resulting in sooty mould covering the leaves, so once the flowers have faded the bushes will be sprayed with an insecticide targeting the undersides of the leaves as there are just too many leaves to clean up by hand.
Mildew on apples always appears at this time but removal of these primary infections on over wintered shoots stops it from spreading.
Mildew and blackspot have not yet appeared on my roses, but rust has, but only on a few leaves so these have been removed before it spreads further.
Clubroot on cabbage, cauliflower and sprouts has been prevented by using resistant varieties so now all crops are growing strongly.
Kale never seems to get affected so far. Fingers crossed.
Wee jobs to do this week
Hanging baskets for summer display can now get planted up.
There is an abundance of good plants available at garden centres to supplement your own home grown plants.
Geraniums, fuchsias, French marigolds, Impatiens, nemesia, petunias and trailing lobelia are all excellent plants to use.
Remember to make holes in the side to pop in a few plants so the basket can make a round ball of flowers and foliage.
Always keep them well watered and give a fortnightly feed.