dreaming of eating appreciating the young fruits on my Victoria Plum tree when I noticed some strange lumps on some of the branches (2 photos down). When I poked them, they fell off and left a white powdery substance on the branches. To my horror, they were actually scale insects!
According to Royal Horticultural Society, scale insects are sap-feeding pests with shell-like coverings which are attached to the bark. They like choosing young branches as their bark is thinner.
I have been growing this Victoria Plum tree for 6 years. It was about 2-3 years old when I planted it. It has only given me a handful of fruits. But this year, after my neighbour chopped down her nearby 15m tall tree, the Victoria Plum has been maturing fast! I have never seen so many fruits on the tree before and I am not going to let these scale insects weaken my chances of having yummy and juicy plums!
Continue reading about how to get rid of scale insects and stink bugs >>
My garden is frequently visited by my neighbour’s cats. (I like cats. My sister has 4 cats and my cousins like putting hers in cute fancy dresses!) Last year, one of them started to poo in my garden. I embarked on a battle to stop him from doing so. I have tried many techniques; some based on the principles of sound, smell, novelty and contact
and failed most of the time. It was a bit like the movie Catch Me If You Can, except that I was no Leonardo DiCaprio (Frank). I was more like ‘Carl’, the FBI bank fraud agent (Tom Hanks), who kept trying to catch Frank, the Conman, but was always a step behind. Every morning, the first thing I did was to roll up the blind and check if the set up has worked. Sometimes, I was amused by how clever the little cat was! A year on, I am happy to declare that I have won the battle! Here is how I found the ultimate solution against cats fouling in my garden.
1. Always remove the cat faeces from the soil. It is not a good fertiliser.
2. Cats like going back to the same spot to make a poo. Clean the area with soapy water helps reducing the smell they are familiar with and makes it less ‘inviting’.
The concept of this is to generate sound Continue reading about the tested methods to stop cats from fouling in your garden >>
If you are like me, ie. a little clumsy, it is likely that you will come across this problem at some point. I dropped my baby yellow courgette while moving it around, pretty much right after I felt proud of myself for managing to get so many flower bulbs on a little plant. (!) The main stem nearly snapped in half, with only 5% intact at the bottom, near to the root. I thought I had decapitated and killed it! Since I could not make it any worse, I decided to try to save it.
I first tried wrapping the ‘injured area’ with toilet paper, then wetting it to form a ‘cast’. Unfortunately, it failed as the damage was too close to the root. The ‘cast’ could not ‘set’ fast enough before the plant started to moved.
First aid- bandage and splint
I then replaced the toilet paper with masking tape. I had to be careful not to break the remaining stem. As the masking tape is naturally sticky, I managed to keep the plant in the profile it was supposed to be in. I imagined that by doing so, the plant could still use its remaining 5% of tissue to send signals to the rest of the plant to grow back. I chose masking tape over sticky tape as its paper content allows the plant to ‘breathe’ and grow more easily in theory, I thought.
I then tied a bamboo skewer (the kind which I use to make kebab or satay) to the plant so that it could act as a splint. This is essential as the plant was weak at the bottom and after such a fall, it could no longer support its own weight. In addition, I piled the soil around the stem up slightly so that it further supported the stem.
The next few days were crucial as if the plant did not like the bandage and splint support, it would just dry out and die. I watered the plant lightly each day and watched.
How did it turn out?
The bottom two leaves did dry out but the plant soon got use to the idea of the support. The plant grew healthily thereafter and gave me lots of health and yummy yellow courgettes!