Attached 2 pix plus roundell

Let the Light in!

The nights are drawing in fast now and will continue to do so for another month. On cloudy days it gets dark very early and in these conditions plants that are being over-wintered in a greenhouse can start to suffer due to lack of light. Instead of strong, healthy growth, many tender plants take on a drawn, leggy appearance. When the day length increases these plants generally recover without too many problems, but for the time being it’s a good idea to do all you can to ensure the plants get maximum light during the day. The easiest way to make sure plants get good light levels it to wash the glass in the greenhouse, ideally inside and outside. Green algae develop very quickly on glass, especially on the north side where the sun doesn’t shine and also where nearby trees and buildings cast a shadow. Some warm soapy water and a soft brush remove the grime very easily to allow more natural light to you plants.

Readers’ Questions

John from Ripon has emailed me about a problem with apples in his garden. This year many of the apples on his tree started to rot and turn brown on the tree. A few apples were affected last year, but this season the problem was much worse and John wants to know what the cause is?

This disease on your apple tree is called Brown rot and it starts as a small area of infection that quickly develops until the whole fruit turns brown, followed by cream coloured raised pustules, often arranged in concentric rings. Some fruits fall to the ground and others remain on the tree as mummified fruits through the winter. Brown rot is a fungal disease that affects most types of fruit including apples, pears, plums and cherries and the fungal spores enter through a small crack or where wasps or birds have damaged the skin.  The microscopic spores are in the air and are also spread by birds and insects. There are no effective fungicides to prevent brown rot, so the best control is good garden hygiene. Any damaged fruits should be disposed of or burnt and any mummified fruits on the trees should also be removed as these are a source of infection for the following year. If left, not only do the mummified fruits spread spores around the garden, but the disease can enter the tips of the stems and cause blossom rot next year. Although difficult to totally eliminate from the garden, by removing all infected fruits you can greatly reduce the problem.

Jobs for the Week

Now is a good time to create a new lawn with turf, or to carry out repairs to an existing lawn with patches of turf. When laid at this time of the year, turf establishes very quickly and of course does not require watering.

Rose bushes can be pruned down by around half to tidy them up for the winter. The final, harder prune is done in March.

Start harvesting winter vegetables such as leeks and cabbage as and when needed. Both are hardy and withstand cold weather very well.

Check pots of bulbs that are being forced for Christmas. By now hyacinths should have produced a healthy root system and a short new shoot should be emerging from the top of the bulb.

If you have a gardening question for Martin Fish please email him at martin@flowershow.org.uk and we’ll print a selection of questions and answers for readers to share. Or, write to Ackrill Media Group, 1 Cardale Park, Harrogate and we’ll pass on your question