I grew an impressive crop of snails last year.
The RHS list of top ten worst garden bastards is in and this year there is a new winner! Slug and snails have been knocked into second place and this year’s crown has been handed to Diaphania perspectalis AKA the Box tree caterpillar. If you live in London or the home counties and you’ve got a box hedge then you’re probably nodding along but for those of us that live further afield or don’t grow box then here’s a run down of what the hairy little buggers do: They eat box (no sniggering at the back) and they get through it pretty quick. They arrived from Asia and are spreading outwards from the capital where they have been wrecking hedges for the last 5 years.
After the box caterpillar and slugs/snails, the rest of the list includes the usual suspects; aphids, cabbage whites, vine weevil, cushion scale, and lily beetle amongst others.
The RHS has also published a list of the top ten plant diseases and box blight is in at number 2. So all-round bad news if you have box or are thinking of getting some.
For the full list of bastards have a look here.
Thompson & Morgan’s latest project
I feel a bit better about my seed habit now because Thompson & Morgan have just spent £1250 on one seed. It’s not just any seed (I would hope not at that bloody price); it’s from a world record breaking pumpkin grown by Beni Meier in 2014. It weighed in at 2323.7lbs and was pulled by a team of mice with a dog as a footman (no, not really). There are lots of lovely photos of it and more details on the completely bonkers but totally fascinating bigpumpkins.com, which I highly recommend you visit.
Photo from bigpumpkins.com. And it certainly is one.
The ginormous pumpkin plant needed 150 gallons of fertilised water EVERY DAY to keep up with the growth of the pumpkin. The world record has never been held by a UK pumpkin, but now is your chance! Thompson & Morgan are looking for pumpkin growers who think they have what it takes to grow the world’s biggest pumpkin. Do you want to grow a jack o lantern big enough to scare the shit out of all the neighbourhood kids? Do you have a massive allotment and no desire to grow anything else but one humungous pumpkin? Do you really, really, really like pumpkin pie? Seriously though; this is all about growing BIG, obviously. If you do think you are in with a shot then contact Paul Hansord at Thompson & Morgan to register your interest.
I am tempted. Imagine the looks on everyone’s faces if I turned up at the village show with that.
You may have seen a few stories about Xylella fastidiosa in the last year or so, and maybe dismissed them because you are not an Italian olive grower (or maybe you are… in which case, buongiorno!).
Here is the basic info: Xylella fastidiosa is a bacteria that infects a plant’s xylem. That’s the bit that carries water around the plant, so you can see why anything affecting it would be a problem. Plants can’t move water around their system, so they dry up and die. NOT GOOD. Xylella fastidiosa is spread by insects that feed on the infected plant’s xylem and then hop off to another plant. But if it does make it to the UK then it will be through import of affected plants rather than leafhoppers making the jump from Calais to Dover.
The average gardener doesn’t need to panic immediately; the plant importers will be the first to notice it. Obviously don’t do anything silly like try to smuggle plants back from your holiday. There is more information on what is being done to prevent the spread of X. fastidiosa on the EC website.
So we remain on high alert and hope that X. fastidiosa doesn’t make it over here.
I don’t mean these. These flowers are cool. I’m talking about this news story about seeds for sale that have been collected illegally. Don’t beautify your garden at the expense of a protected wildlife area. If you’re just buying a tray of petunias at your local garden centre then you probably don’t need to worry too much, but if you’re looking to grow something unusual then PLEASE be careful about where you get your seeds from. It’s also worth noting that it’s not just protected sites abroad; you can’t go digging out plants from your local woods either.