Green Fingers I Wish

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Ladybirds Cover Farm

The red and black insect army literally covers "every possible inch" of the 20-acre site.

They sit three or four deep on walls, tree trunks and machinery and look like a "crawling, wriggling carpet" on the grass.

Experts say the ladybirds are feasting on the natural 'larder' of aphids or greenfly, a plant-eating insect, that descended on the farm last month.

The site owners grow thousands of square metres of 'eco-roofing' made of sedum, a cactus-like grass - the aphid's favourite food.

Ladybirds thrive on greenfly and as the sedum flourishes in summer, the numbers of aphids increase tenfold - attracting even larger numbers of the hungry bug.

Staff at Blackdown Horticultural Consultants say vast numbers of ladybirds arrive at the farm in Combe Saint Nicholas, near Chard in Somerset, every July and August.

But this year has seen an explosion in aphid numbers - and the biggest swarm of ladybirds for 10 years.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Insects Control Japanese Knotweed

With its clusters of pretty white flowers, Japanese knotweed was first introduced as an ornamental plant. But with no natural enemies in the UK it soon raged out of control, wiping out surrounding vegetation and threatening wildlife. The fast-growing plant can grow up to 13 feet tall and is so strong it can break through paving stones and tarmac.

It has been estimated that to remove all knotweed from the UK would cost several billion pounds.

However scientists have identified an insect - the psyllid called Aphalara itadori - that keeps the superweed under control in its native Japan by feeding on the leaves and stunting growth.

Now the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Welsh Assembly have launched a consultation on releasing the insect in Britain.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

RHS Flower Show at Tatton Park Opens Today

The RHS Flower Show at Tatton Park in Knutsford, Cheshire, opens to members today, with a record number of attractions. The 5 day event is expected to attract over 100,000 visitors

The annual event, which is known as the Chelsea of the north, has become a huge draw over the years, at one time Prince Charles attended it.

Grow-your-own products will be featured prominently as gardeners look to growing more of their own food.

This year over 600 businesses will be trading at this year’s event. This year’s show, which has themes of fun, fruit and future designs, sees the launch of a new garden category for ‘visionary gardens’ which focus on sustainable garden methods.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Ways to Water the Garden Economically

Watering the garden isn`t the greatest of climate change sins, but, emissions from our water use can all add up:

One litre of mains water emits about 0.75g of CO2

Installing a rainwater butt can save 0.6kg of CO2 per year - equivalent to a three mile drive in your car - and up to £200 off your water bills

Watering with a sprinkler uses 138 times more water than watering with an old-fashioned watering can, while a garden hose can use almost as much water in an hour as an average family of four uses in a day

Digging in a low volume irrigation system with a timer in a large garden can cut water use by half, and the time you spend watering the garden by about 90 per cent

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Children Get in Free at Flower Show

I like the idea which is new this year of allowing children in free to this year's Hampton Court Flower Show.

The idea is to get children more interested in gardening, particularly planting. This ties in nicely with the `Let Children Grow` gardening campaign.

The numbers of children attending the show are expected to be well up this year on last year`s 5,000 child visitors. Events such as making musical instruments out of vegetables to a competition to build a Tudor scarecrow are being held.

A knock on hoped for effect of involving children in gardening is to encourage more to be aware of cooking and eating healthy food, rather than junk food.