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Name: Joy Gardner
Question: I have been inactive for several months and my garden has received minimal attention. During this period a garden adjacent to mine, & managed by the local authority, has produced masses of ivy that has now grown over & under the dividing fence and become a dreadful nuisance for me. I have approached the local authority concerned and request that they control the ivy but they replied that they could only use a strimmer as it is illegal to use any chemical deterrents. Can you advise how I might control this nuisance that has invaded all my garden including the lawn? I'm at my wits end!
Answer: Hi Joy, it is unfortunate when this happens and all you can do is to try and keep control of the plant growth on your side of the fence. Strong chemical herbicides such as Glyphosate or Vitax SBK Brushwood Killer aren’t always effective on ivy due to its glossy moisture-resistant leaves. Ivy is very resilient - if you decided to spray the ivy on your side of the fence, the plant would have many healthy new shoots on the council’s side in which to recover from. Ideally the entire plant would need spraying multiple times. You could try erecting a physical barrier at the base of your fence to prevent the ivy shoots creeping across the soil surface into your garden. This could be made of paving slabs turned on their side, wood, metal or relatively thick plastic. I would dig the barrier down to at least 15cm (6") to make absolutely sure it is effective. Any ivy coming through the sides or over the top of your fence will need regular pruning to prevent it taking root in your garden. I hope this helps Joy.
Name: Sarah Griffiths
Question: My tomato plants are nearly 5ft tall and have hardly produced any flowers/tomatoes, have trimmed them down to ensure growth on main stalks, am watering and feeding, any advice? Can hardly move in my greenhouse due to the jungle they are creating!
Answer: Hi Sarah, it’s normal in the UK for tomato plants to start producing flowers and fruit from July onwards. I find August and September the best months for flower and fruit production. Your tomato plants also look very lush and green which could be a sign that they are being slightly over-fertilised, or your fertiliser contains high levels of nitrates. Well-fed plants are more likely to put energy into leaf and stem growth at the expense of flowering. You could try easing off the fertiliser, making sure that when you do fertilise, you use one with a low nitrogen content such as Chempak Soluble Tomato Food. This tomato food also contains calcium and magnesium to help fruits set and prevent blossom end rot. The lower leaves of tomato plants may naturally turn yellow and eventually fall so don’t worry if this happens - it shouldn’t be detrimental to cropping. It’s also worth making sure your greenhouse is well ventilated on hot days as very high temperatures can cause the flowers to abort. Indoor plants also benefit from being shaken, to dislodge the pollen in the flowers for good fruit set. I hope this helps Sarah, best of luck with your tomatoes, I’m sure you’ll be seeing bumper crops later this summer.