Grow your own world!

This month in the garden - 2019

July in the garden

If you don't have a garden, but are still reading this page, then you will be delighted to hear that the Orgiva branch of the SPG (participatory guarantee system) group, Agroalpujarra, are welcoming volunteers to their community garden. It's close to town and has plenty of parking. It is a multi-lingual group and there is always someone there that can speak English, Spanish, French or German. Volunteers will be offered beautiful organic vegetables in return for their labour. The participatory principles of the SPG group also include a consumers' group so if you don't have the time or inclination to work in the garden, you can sign up to the organic veg box scheme. Much of the veg in the boxes is sourced from the community garden and the rest comes from other local growers in the group. With so many specialist growers in the SPG group, the boxes contain a diverse range of seasonal food. Signing up for a veg box is a great way to support your local growers, your local economy and our environment. Look out too for activities coming up in the garden; children's days, seed saving workshops and a seed swap in the autumn.

Tip: A simple frame can be made out of fly mesh and an old window frame to sun dry tomatoes. It's best to cover the drying tomatoes with another layer of fly mesh too so that moths don't lay their eggs in them. They will hatch later on and might put you off your sun-dried tomatoes when the jar seems to be full of flying creatures.

Reader's Question: We recently moved into a house with a cherry tree. It is an established tree and was heavily cut back at the end of March or thereabouts. It is now shooting off lots of branches with loads of leaves but no cherries and there is also a very, very heavy infestation of black aphid eggs (I think) on the ends of all the branches causing the leaves to curl. Will we see any cherries this year and how do we get rid of the aphids?
First of all, do you have just one cherry tree? Is it a sweet cherry or an acid cherry? Most varieties of sweet cherries are self sterile and so two trees are required to produce a crop. They tend to get very large and so are better suited to the orchard than the garden. Sweet cherries bear fruit on two-year-old, or older, wood. Acid cherries are much smaller trees and most cultivars are self fertile. They bear fruit on year old shoots that were produced the previous summer. The fruit is not generally eaten raw, but rather used for preserves. In the late 1970s, new cultivars of sweet cherries were introduced to Europe from the USA and Canada. This meant that smaller, self fertile sweet cherry trees could be grown in the garden. So does this answer your question? Well, no it doesn't. But watch your tree. If you get cherries next summer, you have an acid cherry. If you get cherries in two years then you probably have a sweet cherry. This can be confirmed by tasting the fruit! If you don't get any cherries at all in two years then you might want to plant a second sweet cherry tree.

As for the bugs, they sound like cherry blackfly. They will suck sap from the leaves and cause them to curl. You could try an organic bug spray but it will have little effect once the leaves have started to curl. The blackfly generally start to die out as summer progresses and will not have any effect on the tree's future ability to produce fruit. The leaves will look unsightly though as they dry up and turn brown. Cherry blackfly has many natural predators, so plant some herbs and flowers nearby to host ladybirds, hoverflies and lacewings. Try dill, coriander, lavender, marigolds or rudbeckia. Many types of wasp will also eat your unwelcome visitors.

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