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Natural Gardening Blog

Your Healthy Garden – pests to look out for and how to treat them

July 2019

Final nutrient boost for tasty tomatoes before harvest

Tasty tomatoes, ready for harvest
Tasty tomatoes, ready for harvest

Tomatoes are one of the most versatile vegetables whether they’re eaten fresh, made into sauces or pickled and preserved. Growing them takes time and a good amount of effort but the rewards can be plentiful if the plants are kept well fed and watered.

If sown between mid-February and March plants should have full trusses by now that are ready to be ripened, tomatoes love the sunshine so make sure they are placed in a sunny spot and keep them well watered.

In addition to watering, a good nutrition plan is needed. Tomatoes are the most nutrient dependent of all the fruits and vegetables and with the fruits ripening between the end of July and mid August now is great time to give the plants a boost using an organic feed. Our Organic Tomato Feed is a concentrated liquid fertiliser made entirely from natural raw materials. It contains all of the nutrients, micro-nutrients and enzymes that tomatoes need to thrive. Its high level of potassium helps to produce a bumper crop of healthy and tasty tomatoes.

Late blight: a common fungal disease on tomatoes
Late blight: a common fungal disease on tomatoes

Organic Tomato Feed will start to nourish the plants immediately upon application and, unlike most mineral based fertilisers, the formula will continue to feed for up to four weeks which will give plants extra nutritional support as they begin to mature.

Keep an eye out for late blight; this fungal disease is a very common problem during humid summers. Ensure any leaves that are brown in colour with grey/black spots are quickly removed. At the first signs of infestation, spray with a fungicide. Ask at your garden centre for a suitable product. Keep on top of pests with BugFree Bug & Larvae Killer.

July 2019

Summer rose care

Roses – a natural work of art
Roses – a natural work of art

Roses are an instantly recognisable garden plant and a British institution, available in an incredible variety of colours, they are simple to grow and long lasting – when looked after correctly.

Feed your roses easily while watering them: with the liquid Organic Rose Feed
Feed your roses easily while watering them: with the liquid Organic Rose Feed
Organic Rose & Shrub Food with soil improving microorganisms and mycorrhiza fungi for a root system up to 150 x bigger.
Organic Rose & Shrub Food with soil improving microorganisms and mycorrhiza fungi for a root system up to 150 x bigger.

In order to keep these beautiful plants in the best condition possible a good maintenance plan is essential, from deadheading to pest control and fertilisation.

If you pruned your roses in April you should have seen a difference in the plants, with new stems growing upward with fresh green and red-tipped leaves sprouting throughout, plus regular deadheading of wilted blooms throughout the season will encourage more buds to form.

Feed your roses in July and August using a solid or liquid fertiliser that has been formulated specifically for the plants. Organic Rose Feed is a liquid fertiliser concentrate made from natural plant materials which contains vitamins, enzymes and vegetation supporting substances, whilst the solid Organic Rose & Shrub Food additionally contains soil improving microorganisms and mycorrhiza fungi for a root system up to 150 x bigger. This combined with regular deadheading will help to enhance plant growth and promote flower development,

Keep the plants well watered during dry spells, enough to ensure the water reaches the roots. If your roses are planted in a particularly dry area apply a mulch which will hold in some of the moisture.

It is impossible to eliminate pests and diseases entirely but if you have a healthy natural garden, which attracts beneficial insects such as ladybirds, aphids are 

unlikely to get out of control. You can help by using BugFree Bug & Larvae Killer for Roses, which is certified by the Organic Farmers & Growers Association. Its unique formulation is effective against a variety of pests and their eggs and larvae including aphids, spider mites, thrips and blackfly.

Rose facts

  • Most cultivated roses come from central and southwest Asia
  • These wonderful plants have been grown for more than 2000 years
  • Roses are considered a symbol of secrecy – which is why they are found on carving on church confessionals

Click here to learn more about rose care. 

July 2019

Sluggo Slug & Snail Killer – effective, metaldehyde free control

Sluggo Slug & Snail Killer fights slugs effectively - without methaldehyde
Sluggo Slug & Snail Killer fights slugs effectively - without methaldehyde

Our slug controls, like all of our pest control products, have always included ingredients that have as little impact on the environment and wildlife as possible.

We were the first company in the UK launch a slug control containing iron-III-phosphate, both iron and phosphate compounds occur naturally in the soil and are harmless to beneficial animals like hedgehogs, earthworms, bees, but also to dogs, cats and other domestic pets.

In December 2018 DEFRA announced that metaldehyde, which is used in a number of other slug control products, will be banned from most uses from spring 2020. As a consequence the product has been removed from retail shelves as of the 30th June 2019 as the ban includes all home garden use. The decision followed advice from the UK expert committee on Pesticide and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) who considered that metaldehyde poses an unacceptable risk to birds and mammals.

Metaldehyde-based formulas kill pests through dehydration, leaving unsightly slime trails and dead slugs around the garden. Sluggo® Slug & Snail Killer+ stops slugs eating very quickly. Once the pellets have been consumed the pests die in their burrows hidden from view, leaving behind so slimes trails or dead slugs.

Sluggo®+ is certified by the Organic Farmers & Growers Association and can be used in exactly the same way as other slug pellets, but also protects animals that eat large amounts of the pests such as hedgehogs and birds. 

The pellets are extremely rain resistant and any that remain uneaten will convert into 

the plant nutrients iron and phosphate. The composition of the formula means no harmful substances will remain in the soil. 

Two varieties of Sluggo® Slug & Snail Killer+ are now available, the bestselling Sluggo® Slug & Snail Killer+ and Sluggo® Slug & Snail Killer+ Ultra, which contains double the amount of iron-III-phosphate. Its powerful micro pellets are half the size of conventional treatments, making them much easier for the juvenile pests to eat. They offer double concentration and double the coverage of Sluggo® Slug & Snail Killer+

June 2019

Invisible lawn pests

Brown patches may be caused by invisible pests
Brown patches may be caused by invisible pests

If your lawn has been fertilised with Organic CleanLawn in the spring caring for it in the summer months usually means nothing more than a weekly cut depending on the weather.

Summer is also the time of year when we use our lawns the most, it can be easy to disregard brown patches that begin to appear as general wear and tear or scorching from the warm weather, when the root of the problem could be one of two invisible pests.

Leatherjacket larva
Leatherjacket larva

Chafer grubs and leatherjackets can completely devastate turf from below the ground. As we can’t see the pests we may be inclined to add additional feed to the lawn or reseed the affected areas, unfortunately, neither will really work.

How do I know if I have a leatherjacket or chafer grub problem?
Lawns with yellow, brown and dead patches can indicate a presence of leatherjackets beneath the grass. The small grey/brown grubs are the larvae of daddy longlegs or crane flies. 

Chafer grub – larva of Phyllopertha horticola
Chafer grub – larva of Phyllopertha horticola

Turf with scruffy areas pulled up by birds or animals searching for food or yellow/brown patches can indicate that you have chafer grubs. These white grubs can be up to 6 cm in length and target the roots of grasses and other plants.

The only effective way to control these destructive pests is by using a nematode treatment. LawnGrubFree Nematodes and LeatherjacketFree Nematodes are a natural and biological form of pest control, these small roundworms will kill the larvae, stopping the damage.

The two varieties are easy to apply to lawns and do not need to be handled; the sachets containing the nematodes can simply be added in water and applied to the lawn using the NemaSprayer or a watering can. Children and pets can enter treated areas immediately after application.

For more information about nematodes and to find out what they are and how they work click here

June 2019

Healthy plants and vegetables

Tomatoes
Tomatoes

Gardens are looking at their best between now and the end of June and thanks to the British weather there has been little need to water them!

Whilst water is essential for plants to grow, feeding them is important as well, especially potted plants. Using a high quality organic fertiliser will help them to grow strong and healthy to produce healthy blooms and higher yields of tasty edibles.

Organic Multipurpose Plant Food_application
Organic Multipurpose Plant Food_application

Plants need the main nutrients nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, sulphur, calcium and magnesium in larger quantities in order to grow. The trace elements zinc, copper and others are needed in smaller quantities. Neudorff’s Organic solid and liquid fertilisers will provide plants with all of the nutrients and trace elements that they need.

We have two types of fertiliser, Organic Liquid Fertilisers that are recommended for plants in pots and tubs during the main phase of growth and Organic Solid Fertilisers that are suitable for use in tubs, window boxes and throughout the garden as a long-term fertiliser with soil improving qualities.

Organic Multipurpose Plant Feed_application
Organic Multipurpose Plant Feed_application

Our liquid fertiliser range includes Organic Tomato Feed, which has high levels of potassium for bumper crops, a great all round fertiliser, Organic Multipurpose Plant Feed, and Organic Rose Feed to encourage beautiful and fragrant flowers.

mykorrhiza
mykorrhiza

There are five solid fertilisers: Organic Multipurpose Plant Food, Organic Tomato & Vegetable Food and Organic Flowering Plant Food plus varieties for acid loving plants and roses. Each has added mycorrhiza fungi which helps plants to stand up to the damaging effects of drought by enlarging the root system by up to 150 x, and includes soil improving microorganisms to ensure healthy soil.

In short Neudorff fertilisers provide an excellent source of food. They work immediately and over a long period of time. All are safe for pets, therefore treated areas can be used immediately after fertilisation.

To read more about the benefits of Neudorff fertilisers click here.

June 2019

Common weeds and how to treat them

dandelion
dandelion

Tackling weeds is an ongoing battle in the garden; they seem to grow better than any other plant, are difficult to control and can deprive plants of water, space, nutrients and light.

Gardeners will be pleased to know that there are several simple steps that can be taken to treat them, but first let’s look at some of the main offenders.

Possibly the most frustrating weed of them all is the dandelion; endless roots and seeds that spread themselves around the garden with the smallest hint of a breeze. Other common annual weeds include chickweed and plantain, whilst stubborn perennial weeds such as creeping thistle and stinging nettle are not only intrusive but can also be painful to handle.

Start by removing as many as you can by hand.
Start by removing as many as you can by hand.

There are three ways to control weeds in the garden. Start by removing as many as you can by hand. This is the best method if you are clearing an area for growing or the weeds have got slight out of control. Carefully remove any roots from the soil as many weeds can grow new plants from a small remaining piece of root. When pieces of root are chopped in half by hoeing, this will even create two new plants. To avoid this, you should be careful to remove the roots from the soil.

The second option is to add a mulch of bark, grass cuttings or autumn foliage. This will prevent light from reaching any weed seedlings. There are a couple of downsides to mulching, it isn’t recommended for areas where new plants are growing and it creates an ideal daytime hideout for slugs and snails.

WeedFree Plus
WeedFree Plus

The third option is to use a weedkiller such as WeedFree Plus+. The glyphosate-free treatment contains two active ingredients; pelargonic acid, a fatty acid which also occurs in nature, specifically in geraniums, and a growth regulator. This combination creates a weedkiller that is fast-acting and long-lasting against weed regrowth.

WeedFree Plus+ can be used throughout the growth cycle of weeds and the active ingredients will not reside in the soil after use, which allows treated areas to be easily sown or planted. It is available in a ready to use spray and a concentrate, which can be diluted and applied using a sprayer making it ideal for areas of the garden that are rife with weeds.

To find out more about how our glyphosate-free weedkillers work click here

May 2019

Bug control in your garden

Ladybird feeding on aphids

It is impossible to eliminate pests from the garden entirely but if you have a healthy natural garden, which attracts useful ladybirds then insects such as aphids are unlikely to get out of hand. 

Plant-Flycatchers provide effective control of a wide variety of flying pests

BugFree ready to use spray is suitable to use on a variety of vegetables, fruits and ornamental plants and is effective against a wide variety of sucking and biting insects, such as aphids, spider mites, cicadas, shield bugs, caterpillars and many more. 

For destructive pests such as vine weevils, which begin causing havoc as grubs out of sight below the ground, a watered-in nematode treatment such as VineWeevilFree Nematodes is the answer. This biological control kills larval pests, which are present from March – August, by injecting bacteria inside the larval pest‘s body, causing death. The nematodes will then eat the dead body, multiply, and immediately start searching for a new host. It is important to note that nematodes are not a preventative measure and will only work when the pests are present.

Our nematodes are simple to apply using either a watering can or Nemasprayer and do not need to be sored in the fridge. Always check the use-by date on the packaging.

To increase the number of beneficial insects in the garden install an Insect Hotel to provide a habitat for ladybirds, wild bees, mason bees, lacewings, sphecid wasps and butterflies.

Indoor plants also attract pests, they can find their way inside via an open window or they may have already been present on the plant when purchased, a simple and completely pesticide free solution is our Plant-Flycatcher. These handy yellow inserts feature an adhesive, odorless covering which does not dry out or drip, so can be placed anywhere in the house, even above a radiator. The bright yellow-coloured cards will help to control a wide variety of flying pests including white fly, winged aphids, leaf miners and fungus gnats.

Our wide range of pest control treatments provide effective protection without harming the delicate natural harmony in your garden, helping to create a healthy garden inside and out.

BugFree Bug & Larvae Killer works with a natural active ingredient and is effective against adult insects, eggs and larvae.

Other troublesome insects may need controlling with a little extra help from a bug killer product. Look for products that are free of neonicotinoids, which makes them lower risk to bees. 

At Neudorff we make sure that our products, when used properly, do not pose any risk to bees. Our BugFree range includes sprays and a concentrate that are all Neonicotinoid-free and certified by the Organic Farmers and Growers Association. Each contains pyrethrum, a natural active ingredient derived from the chrysanthemum flower, and rapeseed oil, which kills mature insects, their eggs and larvae, ensuring long term protection whilst the natural balance of your garden remains. 

April 2019

Slug and Snail control

Protect your garden – without metaldehyde!)

We have nothing personal against slugs and snails – but when these greedy nighttime visitors pounce on lettuce, hostas and other prize vegetation it is time to take action. The good news is that you can do something about these slimy critters without harming dogs, hedgehogs and other friendly garden dwellers. Read on to learn how this can be done.

2) Use plant protection products safely. Always read the label and product information before use.

To control these hungry pests apply Sluggo® Slug & Snail Killer+ or Sluggo®+ Ultra. Certified by the Organic Farmers & Growers Association and free of metaldehyde, the effective formulas quickly stop slugs eating quickly, causing them to retreat to their burrows under the soil where they die, leaving your garden free of dead slugs and mucky slime trails.

Sluggo®+ and Sluggo®+ Ultra’s rain resistant pellets contain the active ingredient Iron-III-Phosphate, which also occurs naturally in the environment. The pellets are biodegradable and any that remain uneaten will convert into iron and phosphate in the soil, delivering a bonus of added nutrients to plants.

Edible plants can be harvested immediately after using Sluggo® Slug & Snail Killer+ and Sluggo®+ Ultra, and both are safe to use around children and pets when used as directed.

FACTS about slugs and snails…

… Can eat poisonous toadstools with no ill effects

… Are related to clams and squid

… Have been on earth for approximately 500 million years

… Slugs can live up to 2 years, Snails can incredibly live to be 10 years old!

… Lay up to 400 eggs per year

… Are all hermaphrodites

Here are some tips to help prevent your slug problem getting out of hand:

Fence beds with a special slug barrier.

Water only in the morning, not at night, as slugs and snails hate dry soil.

Encourage the natural enemies of slugs and snails to make your garden their home: hedgehogs, birds, toads and shrews all love to eat slugs and snails – and won’t cost you a penny.

Mulch beds with dry materials as thinly as possible so that the top layer is just covered.

Loosen soil repeatedly to destroy their underground hiding places.

Do not overly dig soil in the autumn as slugs and snails are very fond of laying their eggs under freshly dug clods of soil – instead simply loosen with a garden fork.

April 2019

Healthy lawns – it’s this easy!

Enjoy your lush green lawn

Spring is the season to start giving lawns the boost they need in order to look good and stand up to the wear and tear of the months ahead.

Symbiotic association: mycorrhiza fungus on plant root

The secret to achieving a beautiful lawn isn’t actually a secret, and the good news is that it doesn’t take as much time and effort as you may think. The key is keeping your turf strong and healthy is to use the right products at the right time and by doing this it will naturally suppress moss and weeds.

Lawns are made up of a mixture of different grass species. New blades are continually forming and old blades dying  - this forms ’thatch’, a dense mass of brown, dry matter which makes the lawn hard and gives it a pale, unhealthy appearance. Raking or scarifying can remove it and allow air to circulate freely, but wouldn’t it make more sense to allow this ’thatch’ to decompose naturally into humus, thereby loosening the soil and simultaneously providing nutrients for your lawn? Besides, raking even small lawns can be hard work and time consuming.

Using a fertiliser that is packed with thatch ‘eating’ microorganisms will do the hard work for you. Dead and organic matter is a treat for the many organisms that live in the soil, however, our garden soils are often depleted of these organisms and really benefit from a boost. 

Organic CleanLawn contains a highly effective mixture of different freeze-dried microorganisms. Once in contact with water they are reactivated and get to work on the ’thatch’, breaking it down into useful humus via a natural process. The remains are broken into nutrients for the lawn meaning that you can rake less whilst fertilising naturally.

Like all the solid fertilisers from Neudorff, Organic CleanLawn contains natural mycorrhiza fungi. The mycorrhiza fungi attach to the plant roots and enter into a symbiotic relationship. They supply the plant with essential nutrients and water and in return the plant gives back valuable carbohydrates in the form of sugar. This way, the root system is greatly increased: it can grow up to 150 times larger! In the symbiosis with mycorrhiza, the lawn’s roots are able to reach and absorb additional water and nutrients in the soil. During a dry period the roots are still able to absorb water whereas in lawns without mycorrhiza fungi, the roots will have long been suffering from the effects of drought.  

Organic CleanLawn is suitable for use in spring, autumn and even in summer as it poses no risk of scorching the lawn.

March 2019

Tips for creating a healthy garden in 2019

The growing season is well and truly upon us, and creating a healthy space to grow is the best way to really make a start.

Begin by preparing the soil, remove any weeds and their roots by hand, if the area you plan to grow in has a lot of weeds use a glyphosate-free weedkiller such as WeedFree Plus+. It is fast acting and long lasting against weed re-growth and treated areas can be re-planted after just one day. 

Dig over the soil, digging and turning the earth will expose any larvae from garden pests and the birds will happily take care of these for you! The soil is ready for sowing seeds directly or transplanting seedlings that have been grown under cover in a greenhouse or warm window.

Every time you grow something in the garden nutrients are removed, it is important to top these nutrients up year on year with a good fertiliser. For established gardens and container plants March is the ideal time to begin fertilising to provide an early boost to help make them strong and resilient. Organic Multipurpose Plant Food contains natural raw materials and all of the key nutrients, micronutrients and enzymes that plants need and can be used all around the garden.

If you plan to plant new plants this season consider adding varieties that will attract beneficial insects and wildlife to the garden; flowering plants such as roses, buddleja and honeysuckle make great choices, fragrant herbs such as lavender and oregano are loved by bees, whilst wildflowers provide a haven for all sorts of insects and wildlife. The birds, ladybirds and hedgehogs that are attracted by the plants will feed on the pests in your garden whilst butterflies and bees will pollinate plants. 

These are just some of the many tasks you can do to get started creating a healthy garden in the spring, for more tips for the rest of the seasons we have compiled our top 10 tips that can be easily implemented to achieve a healthy growing space.

10 DIY tips to create a healthy garden

1. Select plants that encourage beneficial insects to help tackle bugs naturally
2. Install a birdbath and feeder to attract garden birds
3. Remove weeds and their roots by hand
4. During slug season water in the morning to prevent damage from slugs and snails
5. Select weed, feed and control products that are gentle on the garden and wildlife
6. Use electric or battery powered lawn equipment rather than petrol
7. Make your own compost using garden and kitchen waste
8. Collect rainwater to use in the garden
9. Deadhead and prune regularly to encourage new growth
10. If you can, start replacing plastic pots for terracotta or wood

March 2019

Spring pest control

One of the first steps to creating a healthy garden is to get common pests in check. 

Preparation is everything when it comes to tackling bugs in the garden, some pests can be unpredictable, some remain unseen and others are just plain prolific!

Take slugs for example, just one slightly warmer, damp evening in March or April is all it takes for eggs to hatch and adults to emerge. Newly hatched juveniles are the ones to watch with ferocious appetites, working their way through prized plants and edibles. Slugs and snails young and old prefer the tender green leaves and stems so it is worth keeping a close eye on any young plants and vegetables that are growing and keep a stock of slug and snail killer so that help is always at hand.

Ladybirds are one of the best natural pest controllers to have around the garden, they will feast on sucking and biting insects such as aphids, white, green and blackfly, thrips and spidermites to a certain extent, but a good bug spray that works against a number a different pests, while carrying organic gardening credentials, will be a huge benefit to have on hand.

Then there are the invisible pests that cause damage beneath the soil too, the notorious vine weevil larvae, the small white grubs which grow into destructive beetles that are black in colour and will make short work of a plant’s root system, especially container plants. Nematodes are the best solution for keeping the grubs under control.

It is far too easy to pick any old treatment to get the job done but it is worth taking the time to consider what the wider effects are on the garden and wildlife. For gardeners who prefer to use alternatives in their garden to keep it healthy inside and out our range includes environmentally conscious pest control options for tackling snails, sucking and biting insects, vine weevils and more.

Stock up on pest control essentials to ensure you are ready for the busy gardening season ahead.

March 2019

Gardening is good for you

Gardening is officially good for you. Whilst gardeners have always known this, people of all ages and abilities are increasingly using it as a way to escape, relieve stress and to combat mental health challenges.

Our fast paced digital lifestyles are stressing us out but gardening and spending time outdoors has been proven to help. The combination of being out in the fresh air, concentrating on the garden, the smells, the sounds of insects and wildlife can bring fantastic therapeutic benefits, whilst planting, tending and watching the plants and vegetables grow in the garden is hugely rewarding.

Luckily we can now all take part in gardening without even having a garden through allotments and community and urban gardening projects, we’re even creating gardens indoors using houseplants.

We are also becoming much more conscious of where our food comes from and whether it is being produced ethically and how it is being treated when it is grown. One of the benefits of growing your own produce is that you know exactly how it has been treated, giving added peace of mind.

Our top products for getting started on your new vegetable patch

Sluggo® Slug & Snail Killer+ | With a preference for the tender leaves and salads, slugs can make short work of a fresh veg patch in early spring, use Sluggo®+ or Sluggo®+ Ultra to combat these slimy pests. Sluggo®+ contains a natural active ingredient that also occurs in nature and any uneaten pellets will convert into the plant nutrients iron and phosphate. The composition of the formula means no harmful substances will remain in the soil and the pellets can be used to control pests around edibles and ornamental plants.

Super Strength Cat Repellent | Deter cats from trampling new shots and using freshly dug soil as a litter tray with Super Strength Cat Repellent. The long lasting odour masks the territorial markings left by cats.

BugFree | Keep pests such as aphids, caterpillars and beetles in check using the neonicotinoid-free BugFree Bug and Larvae Killer+. It contains a natural active ingredient and is certified by the Organic Farmers & Growers Association.

WeedFree | Tackle weeds before you start growing in your new vegetable patch. , WeedFree is glyphosate-free and is effective against stinging nettles, dandelions, thistles, chickweed, bluegrass, plantain and more. 

Organic Solid and liquid fertilisers | Our organic solid fertilisers are an all-round care system for plants; they include all of the nutrients which plants need. Each uses natural ingredients providing a trace element and enzyme rich formula.

VineWeevilFree | Vine weevil grubs are renowned for eating away at the roots of container plants including strawberries, so if your plants appear to be struggling, vine weevil larvae is a likely cause. Our nematode treatment can be simply watered into pots and containers. Use between March and August.