TopVeg – growing veg,fruit&herbs

March 12, 2013

Check onions daily

Filed under: Chef's Plot, pests&diseases, vegetable gardening — Tags: , — TopVeg @ 9:49 pm

The Chef is checking his onions daily to make sure that they are still in the ground.  Until the roots take hold, birds can pull them out of the ground.

So in the first few weeks after planting the onions should be checked every day and pushed back into the soil if the birds have moved them.

November 1, 2011

Cabbage Whitefly on Sprouts

Filed under: pests&diseases — Tags: , , , — TopVeg @ 10:34 am

Cabbage white fly are a problem on the sprout plants.  The white flies are found on the underside of the leaves, and fly off when disturbed, forming a cloud of flies when there is a bad infestation.



The flat, oval nymphs actually stick to the leaf.

The whitefly usually disappear when the cold weather arrives and the sprouts  grow away from any affects.  But this year they have done a lot of damage to the buttons already, before it has got very cold.  Is this an affect of global warming?



In a bad attack of white fly,  sooty moulds will start growing on the sugary honeydew left by the white fly.  The sooty moulds are a consequence of the whitefly attack & can have  serious effects which ruin the sprout buttons.  This has already started to happen and we will have to take another look at how to control cabbage white fly on sprouts.

July 15, 2011

Big Butterfly Count 16th – 31st July 2011

Filed under: pests&diseases — Tags: — TopVeg @ 7:26 am

The Big Butterfly Count  is taking place from 16th – 31st  July 2011.



The big butterfly countis a nationwide survey to assess the health of our environment.  The numbers of butterflies continue to decline, & this survey will help work out what is going on in the butterfly world.  Climate change is warming up the UK & we are seeing some new species.  The hummingbird hawk moth usually  lives in Africa, but we are getting more sightings of it in the UK.  We actually saw one in our garden this week.  It has a very long probosis, which it holds straight out in front of it when it is feeding on our Lilly flowers.  It flaps its wings so fast while it hovers to feed, that you can hear a humming noise.  Sitings in 2011 can be seen by clicking this link:



To take part:

  • Download and print out the Butterfly Chart  from the Big Butterfly Count  site to help you identify and record the butterflies you spot.
  • Count butterflies for 15 minutes during bright (preferably sunny) weather from 16th  - 31st July.
  • Send in your results to 


The survey is run by the charity Butterfly Conservation to encourage sustainable agriculture and help to protect the environment.   We have 59 species of butterfly in the British Isles and over 75% of these are in decline.



Butterflies are beautiful and vital to the health of our environment.


Butterflies have suddenly appeared in our garden in the last few days so we should have a decent number  to report to the Big Butterfly Count taking place from 16th – 31st July 2011!

May 19, 2011

Spots on leaves of Swiss Chard

Filed under: pests&diseases — TopVeg @ 7:31 am

Val has noticed creamy coloured spots on the leaves of Swiss Chard & contacted TopVeg in despair………..

“i saw your website when i was searching for a solution for my swiss chard problem and wonder if you can help? spots of a creamy colour are taking over the lovely shiny leaves and i dont think i can eat them looking like that what can i do?

thanks for any help

TopVeg has replied:

Hi Val

Sorry to hear your swiss chard is having problems. When did you plant it & whereabouts do you live?

It sounds rather like a fungal disease called Light Leaf Spot. If you look at the pale patches can you see any concentric rings of spores erupting through the leaf cuticle, resembling grains of salt? This disease is worse in certain regions & is particularly prevalent after wet winters.

Does this ring a bell? If it is this you can pull off affected leaves & destroy them – any shiny green leaves will be fine to eat. Hopefully it will not attack all your chard.

Let us know how you get on.  TopVeg

What do you think?  Have you any idea as to what is causing these spots on Val’s Swiss Chard?

April 18, 2011

Potato Cyst Nematodes reduced with Caliente Mustard

Filed under: pests&diseases — Tags: , , — TopVeg @ 5:37 pm

Caliente mustard reduces root invasion from potato cyst nematodes.

The mustard should be sown, on the ground which is going to grow the potatoes, in the early autumn before the potatoes are to be planted.  The mustard is chopped up and incorporated into the soil in the spring, before potato planting.

Caliente mustard releases a gas called isothiocyanate  when it is chopped or crushed in damp conditions.  This gas acts as a biofumigantin the soil, and reduces the actions of  potato cyst eelworm.

February 2, 2011

Watch out for Pests

Filed under: Uncategorized, pests&diseases — TopVeg @ 12:59 pm

We must not be complacent; we must keep watching out for pests. 

Last winter was harsh and perhaps pest and disease problems will reduce as a result. But, climate change can upset the balance of our ecosystem.  Organisms find niches that didn’t previously exist and nature abhors a vaccuum!  

So we must be on constant alert for new pests and disease, & keep a watch out.

September 26, 2010

Mosaic Virus on Courgettes

Filed under: pests&diseases — Tags: , , — TopVeg @ 2:03 pm

 The two most important virus infections of courgettes are cucumber mosaic virus & zucchini yellow mosaic virus. 

If the virus appears in the courgette plants:

  • there is no cure or treatment
  • it is spread by aphids & by knives cutting the courgettes off the vines
  • virus resistant varieties can be grown (e.g. Defender, Primula, Supremo, Tarmino, Zucchino).



The two most important diseases of courgettes are the mosaic virus and powdery mildew.


If the virus appears in the courgette plants there is no cure or treatment it is spread by aphids & by knives cutting the courgettes off the vines Virus resistant varieties can be grown (e.g. Supremo, Tarmino, Zucchino, Defender).

August 2, 2010

Hoverflies control blackfly on runner beans

Filed under: pests&diseases — Tags: , , , , , — TopVeg @ 8:42 pm

Our runner beans are surrounded by hoverflies, and their larvae will eat & so control the blackfly on the runner beans.



The hoverflies mimick wasps by having the same colouring, so they are left alone and avoided by other animals!

The following photo shows a hoverfly on a runner bean flower – it is on the top left of the photo. 



 Unfortunately it is much easier to see the blackflyon the runner bean plants!

There is always a time lag whilst the  controlling insects build up their numbers, & the pest increases.  Hopefully the hoverflies will soon have the blackfly on the runner beans under control!

July 30, 2010

Trap crops

Filed under: pests&diseases — Tags: , , — TopVeg @ 8:22 am

A trap crop is a plant that attracts  pests, usually insects, away from the fruit or vegetables which are growing nearby.  Trap cropping is a type of companion planting and another form of organic or biological control.

Examples of trap crops

  • Sweet alyssum is a good trap crop for the European tarnished plant bug that attacks strawberries. 


  • Nasturtiums trap aphids (blackfly, greenfly, whitefly) when planted between rows of cabbages.


  • Chervil protects all vegetables from slugs when planted in amongst them.
  • French Marigold protect vegetables from nematodes.


  • Radish can be used as a sacrificial crop to attract flea beetle and root fly away from cabbages.

The trap crop is planted either:

  • around the circumference of the fruit & vegetables to be protected
  • or interspersed among the fruit & veg

Trap crop is generally destroyed before the pests’ lifecycle finishes so that it does not spread onto the main crop.  When the trap crop is destroyed, the pest will go with it.  If you do not want to destroy the trap crop, the pest can be vacuumed up using a mini-vac like the ones used to valet cars.

Trap crops are an interesting way to control bugs in the vegetable garden and a way of protecting the environment, because they do not kill the pests’ predators.

July 28, 2010

Greenfly Explosion

Filed under: pests&diseases — Tags: , , — TopVeg @ 5:53 pm

 The warm, dry weather this summer has led to a population explosion of greenfly and thunderbugs (also known as thrips). We have had clouds of greenfly in the last few weeks.

Greenfly are a real problem to vegetable gardeners, sucking the sap of plants which causes them to wilt. The greenfly also spread disease from one plant to another.

Luckily we have just had a heavy, cold rain and the greenfly and blackfly seem to have disappeared, for the time being at least.



There is a notable lack of lady birds this year, although we have seen a few more in the vegetable garden this week. The ladybird grubs eat aphids.  Lets hope they will put a stop to the greenfly explosion.

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