Tag

plants

Browsing

Ever get frustrated that your plants can’t stay with you for more than a couple of weeks from a disease you never saw coming? This post is here to save you from the worry of them targeting your precious plants again with these handy tips.

 

In order to choose your plant protection products wisely, you first need to identify what exactly is wrong with your plants. Below are the most common issues:

  • Insects – They bite or drill holes in the leaves, stem and fruit, and can cause serious damage or even death to your plant. They usually hide out on the underside of leaves, making it relatively easy to find them. To get rid of or ward off insects, you will need an insecticide.
  • Moulds – These attach themselves to your plants and feed on them. The first warning that you have mould is when you see any staining and discolouration on leaves and stems. To treat, you need a fungicide.
  • Excess nutrient or nutrient deficiencies – You will normally notice these only when the leaves change colour, as they tend to turn paler or yellow. To solve this problem, you will require fertiliser or a deficiency corrector.
  • Excess or lack of irrigation/ exposure to sunlight – If you haven’t found any bugs or noticed spots or stains, and the leaves are a good colour, then it may be that you need to water more or less, or provide more or less sunlight.

The critical thing is to identify the issue. Applying insecticide won’t help if your plant has mould, or vice versa.

 

The essential plant protection first aid kit

Let’s suppose you have ruled out any issues with watering, that the plant receives enough sunlight, and that you fertilise it regularly. In this case all you need is an insecticide and a fungicide, as well as a few targeted products that we will discuss later on.

It’s good to know that most of these products play a preventative as well as curative role. After all, prevention is always, always better than cure. As an example, in summer some regions are prone to torrential rains. This provides the ideal conditions for the appearance of moulds, as these thrive in heat and humidity.

After it rains, it’s a good idea to apply fungicide to your plants, as a preventative measure. This stops the mould or fungus spores from finding a suitable environment to settle in.

The same goes for insecticides. Have you ever noticed that the instructions tell you to reapply the treatment after a few days? That’s because many insecticides target the adult insects, but do not work on the eggs that may have been deposited on your plants. These will hatch after a few days, giving rise to a new generation of bugs that will continue to cause problems.

Earlier on we mentioned that apart from fungicide and insecticide, there are some targeted products that can also be essential to your first aid kit:

  • A molluscicide, or in other words, a product against snails and slugs. A must-have in any plant first aid kit if you have a vegetable patch or garden. Slugs and snails don’t tend to appear on terraces or balconies unless they hitch a ride on one of your plants.
  • If you have geraniums, we recommend keeping a specific insecticide handy that targets the larvae of the butterfly that this plant attracts. This is a very specific pest (also known as geranium drill) which targets this plant only, meaning you should be prepared if you want to keep your geraniums healthy and eye-catching.
  • An iron chlorosis corrector to combat a lack of iron in hortensias, camellias, gardenias and hibiscus, amongst other plants. The leaves begin to turn yellow, shrivel and then fall off.
  • Calcium-rich fertiliser for your tomatoes, especially if you’ve already suffered from apical-blossom end rot, as per the photo above.

How to apply plant protection products

Most of these products come in powder form for dilution, or directly in liquid form. To apply, you’ll need a sprayer as this allows you to spread the product uniformly over the leaves and stem.

If you only have a few plants at home, you can make do with a spray bottle, such as the ones for household cleaning. But we highly recommend getting yourself a pressure sprayer (available in 2, 5, 8 and 16 litres). These are really comfortable to use because by pumping the lever you can achieve enough pressure to spray the liquid without having to continuously pump. The nozzle is usually adjustable, allowing you to create small droplets that will be finely dispersed over the plants.

Larger pressure sprayers also come with a lance or wand, meaning you don’t have to bend down or come into direct contact with your plants. This is great not only in terms of comfort but also to keep you as far away as possible from the product being applied. Some products may cause respiratory problems, hence we recommend reading the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. We don’t want to scare you off, just warn you to take the necessary precautions and apply them 100% safely.

Let’s finish up with a couple of additional tips: try to apply your plant protection products at the start or end of the day, to avoid the direct sunlight over your plants. This will prove far more effective and convenient, particularly with organic products, as most of these are photosensitive, meaning they are less effective in sunlight.
When you’ve finished applying the treatment, release the sprayer’s internal pressure by opening the valve: this will lengthen its service life. 

Thanks for reading!

 

How to Prevent Plant Pests

Top 8 Weird Flowers

What is a drip irrigation system?

A new way of effectively watering plants: a drip irrigation system! This is the ideal way to navigate and distribute the water used for your plants directly to their roots, as well as being able to leave your plants to become hydrated whilst unattended. So, in order to make your life easier – and especially as the holidays are coming up! – we’ve decided to show you just how easy it is to install.

 

The controller

The heart of the system is the irrigation controller. This is installed on a tap near the garden or vegetable patch and is responsible for opening and closing the flow of water according to what you have programmed in. There are many different models and prices available to satisfy the needs of all: from those that control two different areas of the garden (image 1) to those that you can control over the internet via an app (image 2). The controller is battery operated and can be left outdoors at all times without a problem.

It allows you to control two variants:

– the frequency of watering (in terms of hours or days)

– the duration (in minutes or hours)

It would be recommended to start off with a kit such as the one in this image. It contains everything you need to get started and you can always expand your collection by purchasing further parts which are sold separately.

Besides the controller, there are two types of tubing in the kits (image 3): a 16mm diameter tube (which acts as the main one) and a 4mm one, whose job is to channel the water to specific areas or to each plant pot.

These tubes are completely watertight, although some come pre-perforated (with small holes in them) or are exudative (porous along the entire length). They also are available in various lengths if you prefer to buy them separately.

 

Parts needed to install a drip irrigation system

  1. Irrigation controller
  2. Irrigation controller programmer
  3. Irrigation kit
  4. Tee connector
  5. 4-way connectors
  6. Elbows
  7. End caps
  8. Stopcock
  9. Dripper
  10. Dripper stakes
  11. 2 port manifold

Connections are made using various plastic pieces (also included in the kits): these come in the shape of a T (image 4), of an X (image 5), elbows (image 6), end caps (image 7) and even stopcocks (image 8) to be able to open or shut off specific sections according to your needs.

Start by connecting the controller directly to the tap. The pressure reducer, filter and main hose (also included in the kits) should be positioned below this.

Design your own drip irrigation system

It’s a good idea to start off with a small map of your garden or vegetable patch. Sketch out where you would want the water to go and take measurements to check how many metres of the main tubing you will need. The kits usually come with around 25 metres of 16mm tubing.

Begin by uncoiling this tubing and spread it over the selected area. It is essential so that you don’t fold or twist it at the corners. To help avoid this, use the elbow shaped pieces (image 6) which allow the water to flow more easily rather than ‘choking’ it.

The tee pieces (image 4) will help you to cut off towards various plots you may want to avoid, you close off these ‘branches’ by using the end cap (image 7) which was designed for this purpose.

If your plants are on the ground, you can pierce this tubing directly with the punch and install the dripper (image 9) above it. However if the water needs to reach plant pots or planters, it would be recommended to use the smallest tube (4mm).

Here is an analogy I like to use to make it easier to understand: the thick tube is like the arteries of this circulatory system that you’re installing. And the narrow one is like the veins that reach every corner of the body!

To gain maximum control over the amount of water that reaches your plants, drippers are used. These can be adjustable or can even be shut off completely. For plant pots I like to use drip stakes (image 10), because these are easy to jab into the soil.

As mentioned at the start, all of these items are available separately: tubes, laterals, elbows, drippers, stopcocks, connectors… But we also want to highlight a type of ‘splitter’ that turns your single tap into a double one (piece 11). This allows you to connect the drip irrigation system to one outlet, while keeping the other one for your normal garden hose, or just as a tap. Note that if you’re looking for something like this, they also come with 4 outlets.

A few tips before you install your drip irrigation system:

  1.      Don’t leave it all to the day before your holidays. Give yourself plenty of time to test how it works and make adjustments to the length and frequency of watering.
  2.      If you’re installing your system on a terrace or balcony to water pots, make sure that the minimum length of watering that can be programmed is 1 minute. If your plants need it, it’s a good idea to program the system to water them twice a day rather than to waste water because you can’t water for less time.
  3.      If you need to pierce the tubes to insert the connectors, try to make these holes as straight as possible and insert the pieces all the way in to ensure a good seal. If this is too difficult, heat up the tube a little with a lighter or hot water. The parts will then slide in more easily.

Until next time!

 

Check out our other how-tos!

How to Prevent Plant Pests

DIY Pergola Tutorial