This week, I've got some topical tips for you on pest control and on looking after nature in the garden. Most of the sowing and planting is done, but there's still time to plant and sow a few key seasonal things. I've also a few tips on herbs and other edibles. You'll find much more in my monthly tips for June.
- Check sweet peas for greenfly and broad beans for blackfly. Catch it early and it won't be a problem, so check them as often as you can. A squirt with a hose might be all that's needed, as once dislodged they can't climb back up to the shoot tips.
- Plant simple single-flowered plants, as they will not only provide food for insects but also attract natural pest predators into your patch.
- Under cover - such as polythene or glass - use yellow sticky pads hung above your plants. This colour attracts pests such as whitefly, and they get trapped on the sticky surface. Remove these if you introduce flying natural pest predators.
- Before cutting hedges, do check them for nests. Delay cutting until fledgelings have flown the nest.
- Don’t forget to keep plenty of water out for the birds to drink and to bathe in regularly. A shallow container out of reach of cats is best.
- Continue feeding birds but if you use peanuts, make sure that the mesh prevents whole nuts being removed, as these can cause choking if fed to chicks.
- Don’t rush to tidy up wildflowers after they have finished flowering. Let them spread their seed before you do and that way you'll have more next year.
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Pimp your Borders
- Plant out exotics now that the risk of frost is past. Dramatic looking Canna, bananas, ginger and even dahlias will bring that look of the tropics to your borders. They all enjoy rich soil and full sun.
- Pick sweet peas regularly so that they are not allowed to set seed. As soon as seeds form the flowers will get smaller, and there will be fewer produced. If you have too many, give them away to your neighbours!
- Give height to your displays by planting sunflowers at the back of borders. Climbing beans on a wigwam of canes or sticks can have the same effect and give you beans to eat too!
The Edible Garden
- Most herbs will benefit from being cut somewhat hard now. The young shoot tips are generally the tastiest parts to use in cooking so encourage more by giving them a liquid feed after the cut.
- Some herbs are really attractive to bees and butterflies when in flower and so you may wish to leave these uncut. Chives, thyme and marjoram are firm favourites for insects.
- A late sowing of parsley can still be made and, even if you don’t have a veg patch, curled parsley will not look out of place in the flower border!
- There is still time to sow some more perpetual spinach leaf beet. This is a really useful vegetable that can be harvested right through the winter.