Hydrostore-Friendly Bugs-ladybird

Friendly Bugs-ladybird

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Friendly Bugs-ladybirds

Friendly Bugs-ladybirds

I must confess that this is one of the great and important parts of gardening and growing plants in general. Knowing that many of these little blighters that try to ruin our crops have a natural enemy These little predatory insects have one aim in life! to set out and destroy the very pests that we dread every growing season. Knowing who your little friends are will help you protect your precious plants during the growing season.

If a strong enough army can be assembled of these little creatures, then chemicals can be kept to a minimum.

Friendly bugs aid a natural balance

Most gardeners and growers are also interested in the rest of the natural world. This goes without saying!

Nature has a wonderful way of balancing things out. Also known as “predator and prey,” So ensuring that things in nature can balance things out Well, this also applies to creatures that can help us in the battle against garden pests. Generally, neither will wipe the other out completely, and so the balance of life is maintained.

One species will outgrow the other and vice versa. The commonest of these is the well-known “ladybird.” The ladybird is also known as the “ladybug” in many parts of the world and is a member of the “coccinellid species”

Of course, the ladybird is a well-known devourer of the aphid and scale insect families. These common pests can make a mockery of our new and precious plants. Indeed, many members of the ladybug family will lay their eggs directly in a colony of aphids. thus providing instant food for the developing larvae as the eggs begin to hatch. The world-wide family of the ladybird is huge! with almost 6,000 different members of the species.

Spring ladybird collection days

I often take a glass container with a lid and go out collecting these little creatures on a warm spring day. Luckily, we have some rough land covered in scrub near our local railway line. This is a great place to look for ladybirds emerging from hibernation. The ladybirds frequent the warm, sun-drenched embankments and are easily collected.

On arriving home I let them make their own way out of the glass jar and let them forage for the dreaded aphids. of course to eat!

Here in the UK, we are blessed with about 46 species of ladybirds. all with differing patterns and body sizes. So, these little creatures come in many colours and spots. including red, yellow, orange, and black. When I was a kid, the most common ones were the ones that were red with black spots.

We always thought that the yellow and black ones were somehow poisonous. Hence, keeping well away from them and do not make contact with them. The red ladybird with seven black spots was the most communist, and it’s still around in 2021.

Harlequin ladybird now the most common in the UK-Friendly Bugs-ladybirds

However, a relatively new type of ladybird is now taking over as the number one contender. Known as the “harlequin ladybird,” Unfortunately, the harlequin is killing other popular species. I must admit that there has been an increase in the so called poisonous ladybugs of my childhood.

This particular type of ladybird comes in different disguises. They can be black with red spots to orange with white spots. Fortunately, they all have the same aim in life, which is, of course, to find and eat aphids and their associates.

Incredibly, there is a blue-coloured ladybug! This is known as the “steel-blue ladybird” and comes from Australia and New Zealand. This species is also a voracious eater of scale insects and aphid populations. Particularly beneficial to citrus growers, assisting with the common “scale insect” infections of the fruit crop.

I have seen what I thought was a blue ladybird. However, it was more likely to have been a “blue mint beetle,” which is very similar in size to a ladybird but feed on green vegetation and not aphids.


Botrytis A Quick Look!

Home » Archives for August 2021

Botrytis A Quick Look!

Botrytis A Quick Look!

Most gardeners and growers cringe at the first sight of the dreaded “grey mould,” known as Botrytis cinerea. I do find that the fungus is synonymous with damp, warm conditions. Certain crops are more susceptible than others. Strawberries are the crop that comes to mind, but the dreaded fungus can become a nightmare for all growers. So, this fungus is what’s known as a “necrotrophic” . Of course, that means that the fungus kills the host to get all the nutrients that it needs.

Botrytis will also affect well-known plants grown indoors. attacking weak plants and dying flowers. Importantly, this fungus plays a big part in the natural growth cycle of nature. So, helping to form an important part of the natural breakdown of natural substances. Unfortunately, when it affects your precious plants, it can become a real pest problem.

6 signs of Botrytis

Botrytis, also known as grey mold, is a fungal disease that can affect a wide range of plants, including flowers, vegetables, and fruit trees. Some signs of botrytis infection include:

  1. Brown or gray patches on leaves, stems, or flowers. These patches are often fuzzy or cobweb-like in appearance and may spread rapidly.
  2. Wilting or drooping of affected plants.
  3. Black or brown lesions on the stems or fruit of plants.
  4. Shriveled, rotting, or decayed areas on the plant tissue.
  5. The presence of dark, spores on the affected plant tissue.
  6. A musty or moldy smell emanating from the affected plants.

If you suspect that your plants may be infected with botrytis, it is important to take action to control the spread of the disease. This may involve removing and destroying infected plant tissue, applying fungicides, and practicing good cultural control measures such as avoiding overhead watering and improving air circulation around the plants.

In my experience, the first signs can be seen on your plants in a damp, wet summer! with plenty of sun and rain. Unfortunately, this summer (2021) is such a year. The only thing you can do is keep an eye on your crop for the first signs of the dreaded dark spots.

The plant tissue, usually the leaves, will become darker and softer due to the death of the host plant’s leaves or flowers. Consequently, a furry grey mould will quickly develop on these dark spots.

Spores develop in the air

Unfortunately, the mold is spread by airborne spores. so affecting plants when the weather starts to warm up in the spring. Structures called condias are usually formed from previous years’ infected plants. These are airborne and transported through the air so coming into contact with the host plant’s leaves and other parts of the plant.

If you find that you have the start of an infection, then get rid of the plant parts that are infected. The infected plant parts should be burned if possible or taken as far away as possible for disposal.

I must say, though, that it is very hard to get rid of an infection and that losses are almost certain. This is because the mould sends out clouds of spores onto nearby plants when it is moved. As time passes, the infection spreads.

There are many preparations that claim to prevent botrytis attacks. One that I think is worth trying is prevention by using “BAC foliar spray” on your plants to try and help prevent an attack.

yellowing leaves iron deficiency

Iron Deficiency in Plants

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Iron Deficiency in Plants

Iron Deficiency in Plants

Of course iron deficiency can effect many types of plants. In the past it has been common in my tomato plants. So, the most helpful sign of this condition is called “leaf chlorosis”. This is easy to spot as the leaves will turn yellow and the leaves veins will remain green.

Starting on the new leaves that emerge the symptoms then start to spread to the older leaves and they begin to turn a yellow colour. This can then turn to the leaves dropping off all together. Coupled with poor growth of the plant. Strangely the condition is not caused by a lack of iron in the soils, but the failure of the plant to take it up. Hence due to the following reasons.

Iron chlorosis in plants is normally cause by one of four reasons.

Your soils Ph is too high

This is relatively easy to rectify. you can purchase a simple PH tester kit online. Soil Ph levels of 7 or above will restrict your plant from getting the iron available to tin the soil. Vitalink “Ph Down” is a great product for lowering the Ph and helping your plant to take up the required iron levels.

Too heavy clay soil

Most gardeners know all about the benefits of a clay soil. However some areas have realy heavy clay soil deposits. Although rich in minerals and vitamins then realy heavy clay make it difficult to be absorbed by plants. Including iron !

Living and gardening here in West Yorkshire UK has always brought its problems with clay soil. Gardens on new build sites very often have a sprinkling of top soil places directly on top of a thick layer of clay. So, making a nice garden virtually impossible without tons of organic material. Hence the addition of organic matter will be beneficial for the plants to take up iron. Clay soils are probably the richest soils once cultivated with added compost.

Very damp and wet soil

Of course this follows on from the last problem. Because clay soils are also wet and damp soils. Of course until well cultivated and free draining. Wet and damp soils are easy and often compacted. making it difficult once again for the plant to take up iron. So, if your garden is permanently compacted then there are few options available. Your plants can be foliar sprayed, or you can use a good soil supplement and even use the addition of chelated iron. These treatments can help plants take up the iron levels that they require.

Too much phosphorous in the soil

Strangely, too much phosphorous can prevent the intake of iron by the plant. Studying this then the main reason for this is the over use fertilizers containing phosphorous. So, the simple answer would be to use a fertilizer with lower amounts of phosphorous to balance the soils out and allow the plant to take up the iron that is required.

However it must be stressed that phosphorous is extremely import to plant growth and development. Of course for indoor growing then products are available to maintain the correct balance of nutrients in your plants. All are available online at Hydrostore West Yorkshire.

LED Lighting for a better heat control

August Heat Wave Expected

Home » Archives for August 2021

August Heat Wave Expected

August Heat Wave Expected

So, I am sure that most people including growers and regular gardeners look forward to long sunny summer days. Of course its time to relax in the garden with your friends and family over a glass of beer or two. Possibly just doing some watering chores and making sure the greenhouse is well ventilated. However according to the weather forecast things are going to hot up in the August of 2021 here in the UK.

So, we have recently witnessed a good week of hot weather and we all know how uncomfortable it can be for us mere mortals. Spare a thought for the plants grown indoors. Good growing conditions require a temperature in the region of 28c! Hence to produce a good crop. However, things can become more unstable if the temperature reaches the 30C+ range outside. Our British homes are built to keep the cold out and the heat in with plenty of insulation. Unfortunately, during heat waves then the homes become stuffy and overheated. Thus making it difficult to sleep on sultry evenings.

Coincidently, plants feel the heat too and often stress out ending in a poor crop of fruit or flowers. The main problem in hot weather is of course the heat given off by the grow room lights. So, many people have their lights fitted with an adjustable ballast. Enabling the heat produced by the lights to be reduced. The ballast wattage can be turned down via its settings to reduce the amount of heat produced by the bulbs.

Importantly, the Lumatek 600w digital ballast provides a stable precise voltage to the lamp and is available online from your local Hydrostore.

LED to the rescue!

Of course the “rescue ship on the horizon! is going to be the LED lighting units. These units although expensive at the moment give off no heat. Therefore giving the grower more control over temperature. Smaller growers are already embracing this marvellous technology. Indeed I recently bought an LED lighting unit from a guy who claims to have had a double delivery. The unit was a bargain and was installed to give my citrus trees extended day light hours through Autumn to Spring. Thus enabling my citrus trees to carry on growing until they were put outside for the summer months.

The temperature was controlled by a greenhouse fan heater and all worked very well. As I have said these LED lighting units are more expensive to buy in the first place! However they pay for themselves because they actually use between 50 and 70% less electricity than the more traditional HPS bulb system.

Good Extraction System also helps

Of course most indoor growing set ups are fitted out with some sort of extraction system. These systems change the air in the growing room replacing warm air with cooler air. So, this combined with a control unit such as a GSE Controller will automate the process. So, as the temperature rises from outside conditions the system will start to work over time to keep the conditions more stable and the plants happier.

An extraction system reduces heat build up by drawing in cool air and then transferring warm air out of the growing area via ducting and a carbon filter. If you introduce a fan controller with temperature probe, your extraction system will automatically react to the temperature you set it too which also allows you to control you grow rooms temperature. Most plants hate to grow in a stuffy overheated environment and can cause growing restrictions leading to a poor quality crop of whatever you are growing.

So with the correct equipment in use then all should be well and the best results will be achieved.