Q. For a couple of years now my dahlias have been invaded by earwigs. How can I get rid of them?
Q. My lemon tree has very few leaves on it. It’s planted in a large container and is about five years old. It hasn’t been frosted and it’s sheltered from wind. Do lemon trees normally lose their leaves over winter?
A. No, they don’t. Lemon trees are evergreen, so your tree is telling you it’s not happy. It’s probably hungry. Citrus are gross feeders, so when nutrients are in short supply, their leaves often turn yellow, drop off or simply don’t grow.
Any fertiliser that was incorporated in your potting mix when you originally planted it will have long since been depleted. Potted citrus need a regular feeding regime.
Wait until spring, then apply a slow-release fertiliser and give your plant a monthly feed of liquid fertiliser too. A. Earwigs tend to hide away during the day – often within the petals of various ornamentals, including dahlias, zinnias and chrysanthemums – and come out at night to feast on them. In my garden, too, the earwigs take up residence in my dahlias.
The best solution is to provide another home for them. Turn a small flowerpot upside down (I like the small terracotta ones), stuff it with straw or shredded paper and place this on top of a garden stake that’s positioned beside your dahlias. Fill several if necessary and place them around the garden. The upturned flowerpots make an ideal hiding spot for earwigs during the day. Leave them for a few days then go out during the day and see if they’ve taken up residence. Then drop them into hot soap water. You can also smear the top part of the dahlia stems with petroleum jelly or some such, before the buds open, to keep the earwigs away from the blooms.
Q. My chives are very slow growing and seem to attract black aphids. What can I do?
A. The black aphids are usually a sign of water stress. Chives need water to keep them growing well. You can simply blast the aphids off with a spray of water. Do that if they appear again and eventually they’ll get the message – so long as you keep watering your chives regularly.
Chives can also be fed with a fertiliser that’s high in nitrogen to get them off to a good start. You can sprinkle blood and bone around them or use a liquid fertiliser. Each year I give my chives a liquid feed late winter/ early spring, sprinkle blood and bone around them and let them grow. I feed them again only after the clump has been entirely harvested. Once that clump has been harvested I move on to the next. They don’t usually need any further feeding, but if yours are still looking sad, you could give them another liquid feed.
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Need feed: Lemon trees are hungry feeders.