Prevent Trouble In Your Garden Before It Starts.

By: Rick Skew

A variety of troubles are likely to occur with your garden. That is reality. The nature of your plant is important here, some hardy shrubs might stay trouble free all their lives, an old-fashioned Rose might be host to an assortment of pests and diseases every season. The weather is another basic factor, there’ll be slugs when it's wet, greenfly when it is dry, frost damage when it is cold and red spider mite when it is hot. So both expert and novice gardeners can expect problems.

The big difference is that the expert knows what to look for, takes steps to chop down the likelihood of pest and disease attack, and tackles trouble the moment it appears. Garden troubles are tackled in two basic ways, culturally and chemically. One method cannot replace the other, they both have a job to perform in a well-tended garden.

Pruning properly:
You must learn this essential art. It is obviously necessary for ensuring fruit and flower production, but it is also important in a war against pests and diseases. Cut out dead wood. Remove congested branches to ensure adequate exposure to air. Paint large cuts with Arbrex.

Choose wisely when buying plants:
Reject soft bulbs, gangly bedding plants, old seeds, unhealthy looking shrubs and disease-ridden perennials.

Plan carefully:
Be certain that your plant is suited for the site. Avoid sun loving plants if shade is a problem - avoid tender plants if your garden is open and prone to frosts. Rotation of crops is also important for many vegetables.

Spray to avoid disease:
Fungicides tend to be protectors rather than cures. This implies that you should spray from the moment the first spots are seen. In some cases (e.g black spot, peach leaf curl) you have to spray before the disease is seen.

Remove dead plants, rubbish and weeds:
Decaying plants can regularly be a source of infection, some actually attract pests to the garden. Boxes, old flower pots etc are a breeding ground for slugs and woodlice. Weeds rob plants of food, water, light and space. Hoe them out or pull them out - take care if you use a weedkiller.

Guard against animals:
Use netting to guard seedlings, vegetables and soft fruit from birds. A cylinder of wire-netting around the trunk base is the best way to keep squirrels, rabbits, cats and dogs away from the bottom of trees.

Always follow the rules of good hygiene under glass:
The humid environment of a greenhouse is a paradise for pests and diseases. Control is usually difficult, so again, prevention beats cure. Use compost or sterilized soil when planting. Ensure the house is adequately ventilated; dry air encourages pests and poor growth, saturated air encourages diseases. Try to avoid sudden fluctuations in temperature; water regularly. Water during the morning, although you can water in the early evening if the weather is warm. Remove dead leaves and plants straight away.

Feeding the plants correctly:
Shortages of nutrients can lead to many problems, poor growth, undersized blooms, lowered disease resistance and discolored leaves. But take care, overfeeding may cause scorch, and unbalanced feeding with excessive nitrogen may end up in lots of leaves and very few flowers.

Prepare the ground painstakingly:
A strong-growing plant is more likely to resist pest or disease attack than a weak specimen. Water-logging because of insufficient soil preparation is the basic cause of plant failure in heavy soils. Add a humus maker when digging. Remove perennial weed roots. Add Chlorophos to the soil if pests have gnawed roots somewhere else in your garden.

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All of my spare time is spent in my garden, but as I am getting older and things are becoming harder to do. I have decided to use a company called Gardener London. Up to now they have given me all the help and advice that I have asked for. I still do a bit of pottering around my own garden when I can.

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