Now that Autumn is upon us, the days are shorter and we gardeners are having to pack as much as possible into our days before we lose the light. All of this would be bad enough is it wasn’t for the fact that Cruella (my wife) has cursed me again. Regular readers of this blog will know that this is a regular occurrence, but this time it is not the usual stuff like a plague of boils, or being struck dumb, or having to hop on one leg for a week. This time it is serious she has cursed the garden. All will become clear below.
4th November 2021. Things I have been doing lately:
Dealing with Wooly Aphids. The first sign of Cruella’s curse appeared the very next morning as I did my morning patrol of the garden. Passing under my large Ficus tree, to my horror I found it totally festooned with Wooly Aphids. To those of you not familiar with Wooly Aphids, they are like normal Aphids only with a white fur coat. Wooly Aphids secrete a wooly wax white coat around their colony whilst they use their mouth parts to suck the life out of your plant. If you see evidence of wooly aphids on your plants then you need to deal with them.
Now I don’t want to exaggerate or make a drama out of a crisis, they usually wont kill your plant (especially a tree), but they can be a vector that allows other diseases into your plant. In most cases your first port of call should be to use a high pressure hose to wash the nests away. I have been doing this every morning for a week, and I am confident of victory. The first photos below show the scale of the infestation. whilst the final photo shows my heroic hose work. Click on each photo for a larger view.
Mulching your flower beds. Readers of recent posts will remember that I have finished mulching my fruit trees with compost from my bins. Now is the time to mulch your flower beds to get your soil ready for Spring sowing. Mulching has a number of benefits. Firstly, it introduces worms and beneficial nutrients into your soil, secondly it increases moisture retention and lastly it inhibits weed growth. What’s not to like! However, to mulch properly you need to undertake the following stages.
- Hoe your flower beds every night for a week, this will ensure that you get rid of any weeds and it also breaks the soil surface up to enable it to engage with the mulch
- After you have finished your thorough weeding, water the newly hoed beds to thoroughly soak the soil
- Apply a layer of mulch as thick as you reasonably can
- Gently use your hoe to mix the soil and the mulch together
The first photo below shows the start of my nightly hoe. The second photo shows the watering and mulch spreading stages. You also get a bonus appearance by Tango the blind lonely Labrador as he gobbles up the fallen dates from under a palm. The final photo shows my gentle hoe/mix methodology. Click on each photo for a larger view.
Pruning standards. Standards are those plants which have a bare stem topped off with a small round canopy, a bit like a lollipop. Standards are quite often grown in pots and if they are, as in my case, then now is the time to prune them to make sure they do not suffer wind damage. The first photos below show my standards very top heavy and ripe for wind damage. Click on each photo for a larger view.
From the photos below you can see that I have been very radical and taken them right back. But don’t worry they will be back with re-growth starting quite quickly. You may think you do not have to do this as your standards are in heavy pots – as mine are- however, stems can still snap even when the pot doesn’t fall over. Click on each photo for a larger view.
Cloud prune Olives. Regular readers will know that I cloud pruned an Olive tree some years ago and this needs to be reshaped two or three times a year. The whole point of cloud pruning is that you keep the shape sharp, otherwise in my case you get odd shaped balls. When I informed Cruella (my wife) that my balls were an odd shape and needed pruning, she collapsed with laughter. Personally I find this low level sea side humour demeaning. Anyway ignoring this vulgarity the first photo below shows my misshaped balls – for goodness sake, not you as well! Followed by my reshaped balls. That’s it “Honi soit que mal y pense”. Click on each photo for a larger view.
Keep scarifying lawn patches. You will remember in my last post that I scarified my lawn with my scary machine. If there are still patches of stubborn thatch on your lawn then you need to remove them by using a leaf/lawn rake as below.
Clean up fallen leaves on gravel. This is a continuous job during autumn and winter. If you leave fallen leaves on your gravel, then they will mulch down to form an excellent medium for weeds. It is far better to pick them up now by using a blower and leaf rake than waiting till spring when your gravelled areas will be a sea of weeds. The photo below shows my tried and trusted technique of leaf wrangling.
Cruella has sent a Vulture. As if wooly aphids weren’t enough a Vulture has appeared in our village. People keep wondering how it got here and what it wants, but I had a shrewd idea that Cruella was behind this. When I asked Cruella if she had seen it, she said “of course, it is just here to do a little job”. Since then I keep moving in the garden, and never lie down. It is circling overhead as I write this post and I think it is looking at me in a funny way. The photos below shows it sitting on a roof nearby watching me.