Latest posts by Gavin

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Rose Rust & Aphids

Posted: 14/04/2017 at 12:39
Perki says:

Hi Gavin - I think you are over complicating your soil conditions, roses aren't over fussy with PH but for extremes, best to work with the soil you've got than trying to change it. The clay soil is no problem for roses either if anything they love it, roses are very greedy plants and clay locks up nutrients.

I spray aphids with fairy liquid does the after job after one or two applications. Or I squash them if there a lot.

Other than remove fallen leaves in autumn and prune out very affected stems I dont know what else you can do organically with the rust problem. The high potash feed should help but it might be something your going to have to persevere with.

See original post

 Hi Perki,

thank you for your reply. I agree with you about working with what I have. Once upon a time I had visions of an ideal garden with things that couldn't possibly grow together. Now I spend a lot of time looking in other gardens locally for plants and I like and looking to see if they are growing healthily. 
The dictum of the "right plant for the right place" has borne fruit. So my efforts with sulphur have been more about controlling fungus (which I'm led to believe dislike acidic soil) than trying to create a particular PH that would only be temporary anyway.   

I've just been round the garden and looked at the roses that suffer the fungus the most. Interestingly they are all from the same well known commercial rose breeder/supplier - they are also the ones which have aphid infestation.  The others have been grown much more locally. Now I don't know if that makes a difference but it's interesting. 

Trial and Error!

Rose Rust & Aphids

Posted: 13/04/2017 at 10:55

Last year several of my most vigorous roses succumbed to rose rust. Some had been defoliated three times during the year in an attempt to control the infection without chemicals damaging to beneficial insect. 

It was a bad year for the roses. I had fed them with a combination of potash and fish, blood and bone meal. 

This year as early as January my roses had been affected by greenfly. I didn't treat them immediately because I wanted to take measures against rust. 

To step back  in time for a moment, he garden that I inherited has awful soil, about the top eight inches are just about ok, beneath that it is heavy clay, so I began 4 years ago adding lime and manure to the soil to lighten it. I then read that the absence of acid in the soil since the Clean Air Act has led to a upsurge in fungal infection of roses. I wondered if the lime had contributed to this problem.   To add acidity to the soil I began by puffing yellow sulphur around the roses and directly on to them.   I then added sulphur soil. Later I began using wettable sulphur in the highest concentration given on the packet all over the roses - this seems to have improved the condition of some roses, but has not prevented the rust from appearing on others. 

As far as tackling aphids is concerned I've been using a concoction of agricultural soap mixed with Ecover detergent but I've added a few drops of essential oils with fungicidal properties in an attempt to prevent rust taking hold when in the higher humidity caused by aphid spraying. It took two goes with this to do damage to the infestation but there are still stubborn hangers on. 

I have planted a great deal of garlic around some roses which does seem to make them less prone to insect invasion. I've introduced ladybird larvae and lady birds - which always clear off over night ( though this year I have actually found British ladybirds for the first time!!).

I know I can have beautiful pest free roses by using chemicals that will kill off every insect in the garden. I made that mistake once some years ago for Lupin Aphid and was totally gutted by the result.

I haven't used a fungicide because don't know what effect it will have on the beneficials. 

I'm certain I can learn from your collective experience and look forward to receiving your pearls of wisdom. 



Posted: 05/06/2014 at 16:25

Yep, I get you. This is my first attempt with cordon toms, in previous years I've only grown maskotka toms - with those all I have to worry about it growing them up high enough to keep the them from trailing on the ground. 


Posted: 05/06/2014 at 16:00

Hi Steve,

thanks for that. I'm certain you are right that it is a side shoot. A couple of day without attention and this is what happens. I think I would prefer to cut it off, but was afraid it would harm the plant. 



Posted: 05/06/2014 at 15:40


I have several tomato plants growing this year, two in a grow bag, one in a container and another in the ground as part of an experiment to see which method yields the tallest plant. I know it is a bit trivial but it is a sort of a competition I've got going, my Dad's tomato plants are now about 4 feet high.
Anyway, the plant in the container is one of the shortest plants but has the thickest stem, however this stem has somehow how diverged into two. These two stems are growing out horizontally over the container and have plenty of flowers and are beginning to bear fruit. The weight of the stems alone has caused the main stem to spilt as you can see in the photograph. I'm worried that when the fruit starts to grow that the branches will be pulled off under their own weight. 

I have put a large cane into the container close to the stem as far down as it will go and have screwed a hook into it. Using twine I have suspended the two stems in a more natural position but I fear it is too late. Should I dab the scar with a bit of hormone powder to get it to knit together? Would that even work?

I look forward to your thoughts and suggestions



return of the Beris

Posted: 06/05/2014 at 14:28

What I've been doing with the bindweed is training it up stakes (old twigs or canes) away from plants I do want, and then I am slathering weedkiller on to it. I've yet to see any result but my hope is that the weed killer does do as it says on the tin and kills the roots because despite digging up a great deal of the root only a tiny bit needs to remain for the wretched stuff to get going again. 

return of the Beris

Posted: 06/05/2014 at 09:49


Thank you. I'll do that. The only thing that does seem to go on forever is bind weed.

return of the Beris

Posted: 06/05/2014 at 08:55

Last year I moved house. In the front garden was a rather unprepossessing berberis.

It was a vicious, sprawling thing of no merit whatever so I cut it down. It's roots were too tough to saw through all of them so I left some of it behind and planted a beautiful mahonia in its place which is doing very nicely and is planted round with bluebells and lily of the valley.

Yesterday I was horrified to see new shoots of the berberis coming through the soil.

What can I do prevent further growth?

Snails Eggs

Posted: 14/07/2013 at 18:34

Today I have discovered what I think are snails eggs in the soil around my chrysanthemum (the only one as yet unaffected by insect activity).

If I leave these to hatch will the snail-babies pose a threat to my plants? If so how do I play Herod to these innocents?

Job's Tears Seeds

Posted: 25/05/2013 at 17:10

@ Silver Surfer - thanks very much - that's great.
   I'll have to remember to post a picture of them if they grow!

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