May at Norfolk School of Gardening - Checking for Pests and PlantGrow

May at Norfolk School of Gardening - Checking for Pests and PlantGrow

Keep an eye on your flowers - lily beetles have been spotted and aphid watch begins. And Norfolk grown vegan fertiliser is delivered by PlantGrow.

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Another busy week in the garden and lots more jobs done. Mysteriously the list does not seem to grow any shorter, but then this is always the busiest time in the gardening year, and some of what we do now (sowing seeds) will create even more jobs (pricking out, potting up, planting out, staking, watering) in the weeks to come. We do seem to have filled every available surface in the greenhouse with seed trays or little pots of seedlings or cuttings and on the sunniest days we have longed for an automatic watering system. At least the rain this week has filled up the water butts outside the door and we can just dip in the watering cans.

We are not the only ones who have been busy in the garden. We have just found the sixth lily beetle. They seem to arrive for a bit of pre-season activity on the Fritillaria before moving on to the main event on the lilies. So the theory is that vigilance at this stage will reduce the damage to the lilies later on. We suspect that there were a lot more than six of these scarlet terrors hanging about (they seem to spend some time playing dead, or at least invisible, upside-down on the soil) so we are going to keep an eye out for them daily, and you should do the same. We are also checking the lupins for early aphids. Last year we had limited success controlling them with garlic spray and are looking for other eco-friendly alternatives this year.

Rhino delivered their lovely new aluminium raised beds a couple of weeks ago and this week we have had a visit from another local horticultural hero company, PlantGrow, with a trailer load of their brilliant fertilising soil improver. We will mix this with soil and compost to fill the GrowBeds. It is plant based, all natural and all Norfolk grown. They do now deliver all over the country, but we are delighted that such a great product is available only a few miles from us. We used PlantGrow last year and had really good results with our greenhouse tomatoes, veg in the raised beds and mixed perennials out in the borders. It improves the soil structure and really helps with water retention, and as you know we love anything which reduces the need to water. We will be adding it again to the existing raised beds before planting out veg over the coming weeks.

We don’t know how long this crisis will last but we would love to hear from you if you are interested in joining us later in the year on any of our courses. We will add you to our mailing list and keep you posted when things begin to return to normal.



Plant of the Week

Paeoia ludlowii


Paeonia ludlowii

This is an upright, open, medium-sized deciduous shrub which has large, dramatic, divided leaves. The flowers are bright golden-yellow, opening as the leaves appear in late spring. They are cupped and up to 12cm in width. In autumn the attractive seed pods open to reveal shiny seeds. The open pods often stay on the shrub into winter as all leaves are shed. Grow in full sun or part-shade in a sheltered position.


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