Monday, May 5, 2014

May in the Garden - Apple Blossom, Aphids and soapnuts

The weather has been very pleasant the last few days here in Yorkshire. I have got up to date with the general weeding, dead-heading, pruning and tidying in the garden. The seed beds are raked and the first of the vegetable seeds are in, but not much to see yet.

We bought two small apple trees a couple of years ago. And despite them being tiny the James Grievs tree is looking fine and healthy and provided us with a couple of pounds of apples last year. There were more on but we thinned them out quite a bit to give the tree a chance to get growing.



The Cox's Pippin is still much more immature and has not done well so far. Last year it succumbed to apple frogeye leaf spot. I vigilantly removed all the affected leaves and pruned it back. It does seem to have recovered from this but is still looking small and sorry for itself. A careful inspection revealed a thriving colony of aphids.


Being keen to stick to natural organic gardening methods, despite all the nasties that I seem to have to battle with, I made a solution of soapnut liquid and gave the tree a really good spraying.

If you are not familiar with soapnuts they are a great thing to have around.  Also knows as soapods, they are actually nut shells that are natually high in saponins (soapy stuff).  I mainly use them for washing the laundry. You put half a dozen or so in a small muslin bag (or old sock) and throw it in the washing machine with the clothes, instead of using detergent. Each batch can be used about 5 times before being replaced. So gentle and natural, brilliant for eczema sufferers like my hubby and daughter, and so much cheaper than washing powder or liquids.  You can also boil the soapnuts up to make a soapy liquid which can be used for various cleaning jobs - and to kill or deter aphids.


I did notice a ladybird on the gooseberry bush - the ladybird being the natural predator of aphids - and was very careful to make sure I didn't spray any ladybirds. Hoping she brings some friends to munch away happily. Here's hoping you are enjoying your garden, if you have one, and for more lovely weather!

5 comments:

  1. I like your apple trees. I have been loving the weather lately. Whenever it is nice and sunny, I make the most by washing loads of clothes and hanging them outside x

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    1. Thank you, me too, I much prefer pegging the washing out to drying it indoors.

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  3. Love your apple tree, we planted one last year and are hoping for some apples later in the year.

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    1. We were surprised how many we got in the second year. Though only on one tree, the other didn't give us any. Hope yours does well.

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