Diseases in the garden should decline during February

February has arrived and hopefully it will end the long hot, humid summer which has unleashed many problems on the garden.

Fungal diseases, army grub and citrus leaf miner, just to name a few, have called for diligent action from gardeners.

I must say though, army grub seems to be more under control than in previous years - I attribute this to lawn loving males who have now caught on that early prevention is better than the cure when the grass is totally dead.

Check any brown patches by placing a wet mat or cardboard on the grass overnight, then flip it early in the morning to see if there are grubs present. Treatment for lawns should be alternated each season - apply Seasol to brown patches to encourage new root growth and lightly apply a lawn top dressing.

Roses have enjoyed the hot summer, producing many blooms, but they also have some black spot. February is an ideal time to do a summer prune - cut off one third of growth and feed with poultry manure, but don't spray with lime sulphur as it can burn remaining growth. Treat the black spot with copper oxychloride.

Citrus have been well and truly attacked by leaf miner which was once successfully treated with a systemic spray, which can no longer be recommended so it is essential to apply eco-oil regularly as a preventative. It will help to cut off damaged growth.

If flower beds are looking shaggy - cut back petunias and apply Flourish to encourage new growth.

If this fails dig them out but don't be tempted to plant out autumn seedlings such as pansies as it is too hot and humid.

Dig in some cow manure, leave a week, then try lobelia and marigolds - the blue and yellow look bright and colourful and will bloom until you are ready to plant out winter and spring annuals.

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