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Facebook Q&A Session 11th July 2014

Thompson & Morgan Facebook Q&A; Session 11th July 2014
- Your horticultural questions answered.

Our horticultural expert Sue Sanderson runs a fortnightly question and answer session - so if there is something that has been eluding you in your garden, post your question on our facebook page and she will get back to you during her next Q&A; session.

View the answers to our previous sessions.

  • Jane Durston
  • How do I manage water melon plants to ensure goods crops?

  • Sue - T&M; Horticultural Expert
    Sue Sanderson - T & M Horticulturalist
  • Hi Jane. Watermelons are tropical or sub-tropical plants so they are best grown in a polytunnel or greenhouse although make sure you regularly ventilate the structure to prevent pests and diseases. Melons are most successfully grown in rich, fertile soil. A liberal application of well-rotted manure or garden compost should be dug into the soil before planting. Watermelons are extremely vigorous (they can spread 3-4 metres) so give them plenty of space - plant them about 1m apart.

    After planting, keep them well watered but they must not sit in wet soil for long periods as this will cause them to rot. Feed with a balanced fertiliser every two weeks until the fruits begin to develop. Pinch out the growing point on each plant when they are about 2m long, to encourage laterals to form.

    When the flowers form, choose five female blooms per plant (female flowers have a small bump underneath them). Using a fine paintbrush and the pollen from the male flowers, you can begin to hand pollinate your chosen female blooms. As the fruits begin to set, remove any further flowers and feed with a high potash feed. Be extra careful with your watering as the fruits develop. Overwatering as the fruit develops can make the melons watery and tasteless. I know it sounds complicated, but it is well worth the effort! Best of luck.

  • Bob Newlands
  • Is leaf curl on tomato plants down to the difference in temperature between day and night?

  • Sue - T&M; Horticultural Expert
    Sue Sanderson - T & M Horticulturalist
  • Hi Bob. Tomato leaves do often curl as a result of differing day and night temperatures, but this is nothing to worry about. They will usually grow perfectly well despite their curling leaves, and this often rectifies itself as the season progresses anyway. It is worth just checking your plants for aphids however, as these can cause similar symptoms. Best of Luck Bob.

  • Pauline Petros
  • I very cleverly (or as I thought) grew a fig tree from a fruit I bought. 6ish years on its 6ft - it set 8 fruits this year but they're not ripening and are dropping off one by one - will I never get fruit because they're not getting fertilised?

  • Sue - T&M; Horticultural Expert
    Sue Sanderson - T & M Horticulturalist
  • Hello Pauline. Unfortunately fig trees that are grown from unknown seed are pretty unreliable. There are a number of reasons why the fruits may be dropping, but yes, it is possible that they have not been fertilised if they are dropping whilst still very small. Another reason might be that the plant has suffered water stress during a period of hot weather. Inconsistent moisture levels may cause fruit drop, particularly if the plant is grown in a container where it is more vulnerable. Have you noticed any indications of disease that might be affecting your plant? This can also cause fruit drop, although you would normally notice some other symptoms too.

    Given that this is the first year it has shown signs of fruiting I would be inclined to give it the benefit of doubt. Cropping is likely to improve with maturity so enjoy it for its foliage for now and see what it does in future years. If you have the space then you could buy another fig to try to improve the chances of pollination but this is by no means a certainty!