30 September - Check drainage to avoid damage

Cultural and maintenance work: Clean out container bed drains - check the drainage of sand beds and stir up the sand if percolation is low due to moss and weed growth or spilt compost.

Avoid damage from early frosts by checking heaters and producing an irrigation drain-down plan now. Allocate space for hydrangeas on outside beds for the cold treatment they need to initiate flower buds. Replace damaged tunnel sheets too - the air temperature is still warm enough, which will allow the sheet to pull much tighter and will last longer through windy winters.

Rabbits: Stems are usually bitten off at a 45 degs angle. Apply Grazers onto damaged crops as a repair remedy and repeat at fourto six-week intervals (depending on the weather) to help reduce further damage. The most common control uses wire netting perimeter fences dug into the ground and laid horizontally under the surface for at least 500mm to the outside. Check carefully for holes and repair any that are found. Electric fences are very effective for temporary cover. Other options are cages to trap them - effective baiting relies on a sweet treat such as carrot.

Conifer needle cast: For good preventive control and to avoid damage coming through in the spring, start controls on outdoor crops with chlorothalonil (SOLAs required), Octave, Serenade ASO (SOLA 2009-0246), Signum (SOLA 2009-1842) or Switch. Continue with spray applications until November. Disease is more prevalent in humid conditions and if plants have high nitrogen levels in the growing media.

Feeding: For sales next spring, make sure this season's plants have controlled-release fertiliser plugs added and an appropriate liquid feeding programme in place.

Light levels: Pull back thermal screens and wash off shade material from glasshouses to make sure that what daylight we have is used to good effect.

Phoma: Control on ajuga, lavender, ceanothus, viburnum and vinca. Stem blackening and dieback are typical symptoms. Control products available include Amistar (SOLA 2009-0443), chlorothalonil (SOLAs required), Octave, Signum (SOLA 2009-1842) or Switch. Apply systemic products to woody species now for good effect before growth starts to slow down.


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