A Complete Guide of Basil: Varieties, Cultivation, Harvesting, Storage and Uses

Whether you want assist in clearing your mind, discovering joy, letting move of fear, relieving fatigue when the thoughts is vulnerable or indecisive, merely being around the Basil plant will do wonders. Basil or Rayhan is known for its restorative, fortifying, and mild anti-depressive houses among those that practice aromatherapy.

A tablespoon of Basil seed has 22 calories and if jumbled in smoothies or drinks assists in digestion and assists in keeping you full for an extended time.

Basil in Islam

Perhaps this is the reason why Prophet Muhammad(PBUH) said, “Whoever is presented with Rayhan should not refuse it, because it is easy to wear and has a good scent”. (Sahih Muslim)

Geographical distribution of Basil

Basil is as various because the cultures and areas around the world. Strong scented Holy Basil, with its pink flora and religious importance, grows wild in South Asia. Large leaved Sweet Basil is a key factor of Italian Cuisine whilst the small lemony flavoured, brilliant green leaves of Lime Basil are extensively used in Thailand.

Perhaps this is the reason why Prophet Muhammad(PBUH) said, “Whoever is presented with Rayhan should not refuse it, because it is easy to wear and has a good scent”.

Sahih Muslim

On the other hand, Cinnamon Basil, grown for its delightful perfume and mild purple flora contrasting with purple foliage, makes an excellent decorative plant.

Some basil varieties that you can grow for your garden

Basil, Genovese

Its massive, candy and fragrant leaves make it perfect for making the famed Ligurian sauce, pesto. This Italian variety is, clearly, common amongst chefs world wide.

Basil, Lime

It is stuffed with lemony flavour and a very refreshing citrus odor. The leaves are lance shaped. This variety is used basically in Thai cooking.

Basil, Cinnamon

This highly spiced Mexican variety is loaded with cinnamon flavour and perfume. This is an overly attractive plant to have in a garden.

Basil, Purple Ruffle

This variety is strictly what its title suggests. It is darkish red in color and the shiny frilly leaves make the plant stand out in any lawn.

Basil, Greek

This dwarf herb plant is from South East Asia. It has tiny inexperienced leaves and grows as low as 8 inches and spreads only some 6 to eight inches. This makes it appropriate for packing containers and coffee hedges.

Bees and butterflies

Bees and butterflies can not face up to basil blooms and for this reason your other garden plants, particularly tomatoes, like to develop around basil vegetation that invite pollinators into the lawn.

Although the plant life are edible, i Love to use them as cut plants and position them around the house in vases. I find the scent extremely stress-free – for me it generates positivity.

Healing and Medicinal Qualities

Basil could also be valued for its healing and medicinal qualities. Basil assists in keeping the kidneys healthy and treats urinary problems. It helps ease coughs and colds and in addition brings down high frame temperatures This wonderful herb additionally improves pores and skin elasticity.

Being rich in nutrition K, Basil no longer best strengthens our immune device but also our bones and forestalls arthritis.

Grow your own Basil

This mild plant is unbelievably simple to develop. Select which variety you need to develop – or grow as many as you like!

Temperature Requirements

Basil will grow neatly in temperatures above 10 to 15 degrees Celsius

Soil pH Requirements

pH of 5 to 8, which merely approach even a poorly fertilized soil can be good sufficient for basil to thrive.

Can grow in containers?

You can at once sow basil into the container but for rising in the floor, it is best to start out your seedlings.

Things remembers during cultivation

Remember the following issues for cultivation:

Sowing Depth

Sowing Depth: 1 cm

Thinning and planting space

Thinning and planting distance : 20-22 cm

Harvesting time

Harvesting: Any time

Storage

Storage: dried or frozen

Flavored leaves

Basil could also be valued for its healing and medicinal qualities. Basil assists in keeping the kidneys healthy and treats urinary problems.

Basil will develop neatly in a soil mix with three parts soil and 1 section compost or manure. Too a lot nitrogen will result in susceptible flavoured leaves. Keep them smartly watered.

Harvesting and Storage

Basil is highest when used recent in Mediterranean dishes. However, you probably have an extra supply of house grown basil, you’ll be able to dry it within the sun and retailer it in an hermetic container. Picking leaves continuously will inspire new enlargement, make for bushy vegetation and avoid woody stems.

Basil Seeds

To increase your rising season, do not let the basil move to flower. Pinch out the buds. If you do wish to save seeds or use them on your food, you’ll be able to let it bloom after which dry out. Collect the dried flower stems and shake in a paper bag to gather the seeds.

Basil seed or Tukhm-e-Malangan Drink

A tablespoon of Basil seed has 22 calories and if jumbled in smoothies or drinks assists in digestion and assists in keeping you full for an extended time.

This is the reason why weight-watchers include these superb seeds in their diets.

Basil teas as a herbal cure

Boil basil leaves with ginger to make a relaxing tea for chilly and flu.

Holy basil leaves

Holy basil leaves boiled with pepper and honey make for a comforting drink. This is most useful as a treatment to help with malaria and fever.

Tomato and Basil Sauce

This is the most productive thing you can make with your own home grown candy basil! Use this delightfully contemporary sauce in pastas or pizzas.

Pick a handful of unpolluted Basil leaves, wash and stay apart. In a pan warmth 1 tbsp of olive oil, add 2 tbsp freshly chopped garlic. Stir for a minute after which add 2 tbsp finely chopped onions: cook dinner until they get clear. Add 2 cups of seeded and chopped red ripe tomatoes. Stir to combine and prepare dinner on a low flame till the liquid is lowered. Add salt, freshly flooring pepper, half tbsp of sugar, a bit Cayenne pepper powder and after all, some aromatic Basil leaves. Stir as soon as and serve with pasta!

Basil and humming bees

Basil is always present in my lawn. I particularly love this humble herb as a result of when it blooms, bees acquire round it and that’s something I look ahead to. Recently, I found out a beehive on a mango tree at our home garden, where we’ve some lime basil growing. It is all the time surrounded by humming bees that fly back and forth from the sweet scented flowers to the hive putting on a mango tree branch proper subsequent to it.

Blessings of basil herb

There is multiple purpose for this plant in your lawn. To experience all the blessings that include this herb, you will have to develop a plant or two in an instant!

Basic Organic Gardening Skills for Beginners

If you love the theory of having your individual natural lawn but haven’t begun to give it a try, or if you’re a gardener just trying to determine what the organic hype is all about, following is a listing of elementary abilities for the new natural gardener to be told and why they are important. The ways related to planting will vary for each crop, and whether or not the crop is sown immediately into the garden or began indoors and transplanted to the garden.

Making Compost

Planting intensity, spacing and all requirements for temperature, soil, sun, water and vitamins are all elementary elements for the survival and good fortune of the crop.

In organic gardening, the process begins and ends with the soil. Instead of relying on synthetic fertilizers to provide nutrient releases for crops, organic gardeners continually paintings to build the fertility of the soil via additions of organic matter. Making compost out of vegetable scraps, crop residue, weeds, manure and other sources ensures the formation of humus, a long-term builder of soil fertility, a lot better than simply tilling these things at once into the soil.

Starting Plants From Seeds

To keep totally away from the use and residues of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, as well as to open up the full selection of crop varietal choices, the ability to begin vegetation from seeds is essential. This ability gives gardeners the option to choose organic qualified seed, to choose or make an natural seed starting mix, and keep watch over all fertilizer and pest regulate inputs related to the crop.

Proper Planting Techniques

The ways related to planting will vary for each crop, and whether or not the crop is sown immediately into the garden or began indoors and transplanted to the garden. Planting intensity, spacing and all requirements for temperature, soil, sun, water and vitamins are all elementary elements for the survival and good fortune of the crop. Most plants can have some margin for error, however too many rigidity factors may end up in crop failure. The easiest strategy to decrease issues here is to start small. Get ok with a couple of vegetation at first, after which make bigger as you be informed more.

Proper Irrigation Techniques

If you can’t water it, don’t trouble planting it. An inch of precipitation (or irrigation) a week is the standard for summer vegetable gardens. Newly seeded spaces might need a bit of water every day, whilst established plants will carry out better with extra water every time but much less ceaselessly. Some vegetation will require extra water as the fruit develops. Drip irrigation, overhead irrigation and watering via hand all offer their distinctive attributes for the gardener to choose. Again, get ok with a few plants’ wishes ahead of increasing too much.

Planning a Crop Rotation

Crop rotation is going hand-in-hand with each soil fertility and pest control. A good crop rotation could have crops with differing nutrient needs and pest threats succeeding one every other on particular lawn rows/beds. For example, beans-corn-potatoes would be a just right succession of plants because those are 3 unrelated crops that take different nutrients from the soil. Crop rotation should be practiced every time a new crop is planted whether in successive years or inside of the same rising season.

Pest Management

    All of the above knowledge will move some distance in combating insect and disease issues. A well-chosen, planted, and maintained plant could have minimal rigidity elements permitting infestation to happen. However, there are occasions when insect populations or fungal spores are more robust than the garden. Knowing the variations between indicators and symptoms of insect harm and illness injury is important in determining an efficient plan of action. Also, understanding the biology of the extra not unusual destructive bugs, and who their predators are, will also be very useful. Over time, you will develop into more familiar with the threats to particular plants and those choices will become second nature.

    Post-Harvest Plan

    As the season comes into complete swing, the general skill to obtain is that of the use of up the harvest. Most new gardeners are pleasantly surprised at the sudden deluge of produce that turns out to look all of sudden. Share with neighbors and pals. Learn to can, freeze or dry your personal veggies for storage. Donate to a meals bank or soup kitchen. You can feel the satisfaction of self-sufficiency while sharing your abundance with others.

    In a nutshell

    These are skills that all organic growers will frequently strengthen upon. Jump in with both toes, get started small and stay your eyes open. You will be informed so much and you’re going to be amazed at your development from year to year. Most of all, have amusing!

    20 Common Tomato Plant Problems and How to Fix Them

    If you’re one of the three million people who planted a home garden this year, you’re most likely growing tomatoes. Nine out of 10 gardeners grow tomatoes, and that number would be 10 out of 10 if the holdouts would taste a fresh garden tomato and compare it to a grocery store purchase. Nothing beats the taste of a fresh home-grown.

    Many gardeners who grow tomatoes, however, are frustrated with the progress of their plants. The plant may not set fruit. Or your tomatoes may ripen, but have ugly, spongy black spots at the bottom. Worse still, your plants may look great in the evening when you say goodnight to them, but in the morning, they’re skeletons waving empty branches in the breeze.

    Welcome to the world of tomato problems. This list of 20 common tomato problems and their solutions will help you identify an issue — whether it’s just starting or already full-blown — and show you how to correct it, so you can save your tomato plants and harvest yummy tomatoes this year.

    IDENTIFY TOMATO PLANT PROBLEMS AND DISEASES

    Before diving into the list, it’s important for you to correctly identify the problem or tomato plant disease. When trying to identify tomato plant diseases, use these steps:

    1. Identify the affected part of the plant — Is it the tomato itself, the leaves, stems, flowers or roots?
    2. Note differences — When you compare your tomato plant to a healthy plant, how does yours differ? For example, a healthy tomato plant has softly fuzzed, medium-green leaves. If the leaves of your plant have brown or black patches, holes, chewed edges or fuzzy mold growing on them, make a note of that before perusing the list of problems.
    3. Look for insects — What insects do you see on your plants? If you need help identifying them, take a photo and contact your local Cooperative Extension agent to identify the insects.

    Armed with this information, you can easily scan this list and narrow down the possible tomato plant disease or pest problem and how to fix it.

    20 COMMON TOMATO PROBLEMS

    The list is divided into two sections: 16 diseases caused by poor cultivation habits, bacteria or fungi, and 5 insect-specific tomato problems. We have also included some tips for growing delicious, healthy tomato plants so you can keep those problems away next year.

    16 TOMATO PLANT DISEASES

    Tomato diseases, garden fungi and certain environmental conditions can quickly cripple your plants. Oftentimes, you can rescue the tomato plant with a little TLC, but some circumstances may require you to destroy the plant and plant another crop in its place.

    Help for tomato plants

    Be sure to browse the extended information below on tomato plant problems, but, overall, here are the most common disease and fungus triggers in tomato plants:

    • Not enough fertilizer. (Solution: Test your soil and apply fertilizer as appropriate for the growth stage.)
    • Over-pruning. (Solution: Always use a tomato cage and leave enough foliage to shield the fruit.)
    • Not enough calcium. (Solution: Test your soil, apply lime and gypsum as needed.)
    • Planting before temperatures raise to ideal levels. (Solution: Wait for the right planting time for your Hardiness Zone.)
    • Too much water or too little water. (Solution: Water them evenly through the growing season.)
    • Watering overhead, which promotes fungal growths. (Solution: Water at the base of the plant. and apply fungicide.)
    • Lack of air flow around plants. (Solution: When planting, space tomato plants at appropriate distance from one another and prune leaves (but not too much, see above) as they grow. Apply  fungicide if powdery mildew appears.)

    what does blossom end rot look like on tomatoes

    1. Blossom End Rot

    • What it looks like: The tomato plants appear healthy, but as the tomatoes ripen, an ugly black patch appears on the bottoms. The black spots on tomatoes look leathery. When you try to cut off the patch to eat the tomato, the fruit inside looks mealy.
    • What causes it: Your plants aren’t getting enough calcium. There’s either not enough calcium in the soil, or the pH is too low for the plant to absorb the calcium available. Tomatoes need a soil pH around 6.5 in order to grow properly. This soil pH level also makes it possible for them to absorb calcium. Uneven watering habits also contribute to this problem. Hot, dry spells tend to exacerbate blossom end rot.
    • What to do about it: Before planting tomatoes in the spring, have your local garden center or Cooperative Extension conduct a soil test. Tell them you’ve had problems with blossom end rot in the past, and they will give you recommendations on the amendments to add to your soil. Lime and gypsum may be added for calcium, but they must be added in the proper amounts depending on your soil’s condition. That’s why a soil test is necessary. Adding crushed eggshells to your compost pile can also boost calcium naturally when you add compost to the soil. A foliar spray containing calcium chloride can prevent blossom end rot from developing on tomatoes mid-season. Apply it early in the morning or late in the day — if sprayed onto leaves midday, it can burn them. Water plants regularly at the same time daily to ensure even application of water.

    blossom drop on tomato plants

     2. Blossom Drop

    • What it looks like: Flowers appear on your tomato plants, but they fall off without tomatoes developing.
    • What causes it: Temperature fluctuations cause blossom drop. Tomatoes need night temperatures between 55 to 75 degrees F in order to retain their flowers. If the temperatures fall outside this range, blossom drop occurs. Other reasons for blossom drop on tomatoes are insect damage, lack of water, too much or too little nitrogen, and lack of pollination.
    • What to do about it: While you can’t change the weather, you can make sure the rest of the plant is strong by using fertilizer for tomatoes, drawing pollinators by planting milkweed and cosmos, and using neem oil insecticides.

     why are my tomatoes cracking

    3. Fruit Cracks

    • What they look like: Cracks appear on ripe tomatoes, usually in concentric circles. Sometimes insects use the cracks as an opportunity to eat the fruit, or birds attack cracked fruit.
    • What causes them: Hot, rainy weather causes fruit crack. After a long dry spell, tomatoes are thirsty. Plants may take up water rapidly after the first heavy rainfall, which swells the fruit and causes it to crack.
    • What to do about them: Although you can’t control the rain, you can water tomatoes evenly during the growing season. This prevents them from being so thirsty that they take up too much rainwater during a heavy downpour.

     

    what does sunscald on tomatoes look like

     4. Sunscald

    • What it looks like: The plants look healthy, and the fruit develops normally. As tomatoes ripen, yellow patches form on the red skin. Yellow patches turn white and paper-thin, creating an unpleasant appearance and poor taste.
    • What causes it: As the name implies, the sun’s rays have actually scalded the tomato.
    • What to do about it: Tomato cages, or a wire support system that surrounds the plants, give the best branch support while shading the developing tomatoes naturally. Sunscald usually occurs on staked plants that have been too-vigorously pruned, exposing many of the tomatoes to the sun’s rays. Leaving some foliage and branches provides shade during the hottest part of the day.

     

    Poor Fruit Set - Why are my tomatoes not growing

     5. Poor Fruit Set

    • What it looks like: You have some flowers but not many tomatoes. The tomatoes you do have on the plant are small or tasteless.
    • What causes it: Too much nitrogen in the soil encourages plenty of green leaves but not many flowers. If there aren’t enough flowers, there won’t be enough tomatoes. Another cause may be planting tomatoes too closely together. Tomatoes are self-pollinating, meaning that each flower contains both the male (stamens) and female (pistils) parts. Wind typically pollinates tomatoes, but if plants are too close together, the wind can’t reach the flowers.
    • What to do about it: Have your soil tested. If you’re planting tomatoes in the spring, leave at least two feet or more between plants so that good air circulation can help pollinate them. If your plants are already in the garden, you can simply shake the flowering branches to simulate wind and get the pollen from the stamens to the pistils.

     

    catfacing tomato

     6. Catfacing

    • What it looks like: Catfacing makes tomatoes appear deformed. The blossom end is rippled, bumpy and lumpy.
    • What causes it: Plants pollinated during cool evenings, when the temperatures hover around 50 to 55 degrees F, are subject to catfacing. Blossoms fall off when temperatures drop too low. However, if the flower is pollinating before the petals begin to drop off, some stick to the developing tomato. This creates the lumps and bumps typical of catfacing.
    • What to do about it: If possible, plant tomatoes a little later in the season. Make sure the weather has truly warmed up enough to support proper tomato development. Devices such as a “Wall of Water” — a circle of water-filled plastic tubes — raise temperatures near the tomato and help keep them high enough on cold nights to prevent cold-related problems. Using black-plastic spread on the soil can also help. As the plastic heats during the day, it releases the heat back towards the plants at night. Black plastic can be used as a temporary measure until the temperatures warm up enough that it’s no longer needed.

     

    Why are my tomato plant leaves rolling and shriveling up

     7. Leaf Roll

    • What it looks like: Mature tomato plants suddenly curl their leaves, especially older leaves near the bottom. Leaves roll up from the outside towards the center. Sometimes up to 75% of the plant is affected.
    • What causes it: High temperatures, wet soil and too much pruning often result in leaf roll.
    • What to do about it: Although it looks ugly, leaf roll won’t affect tomato development, so you will still get edible tomatoes from your plants. Avoid over-pruning and make sure the soil drains excess water away.

     

    tomatoes look normal but gaps inside

     8. Puffiness

    • What it looks like: The tomato plants look fine, they bloom according to schedule, and ripe red tomatoes are ready for harvest. When the tomato is sliced, the interior has large, open spaces and not much fruit inside. Tomatoes may feel light when harvested. The exterior of the tomato may have an angular, square-sided look.
    • What causes it: Under-fertilization, poor soil nutrition or inadequate pollination.
    • What to do about it: Make sure you are feeding your tomato plants throughout the season. A balanced fertilizer such as a 10-10-10 should be fed biweekly or monthly. Tomatoes are heavy feeders and need fertilizer throughout the growing season. For gardeners, frequent top-dressings with homemade compost and compost teas are a must.

     

    tomato plant disease - bacterial canker

     9. Bacterial Canker

    • What it looks like: Often confused with cloudy spot disease, bacterial cankers start as yellow dots on ripening red tomatoes. If you look carefully at the spots — using a magnifying glass if you have one — you’ll see a dark, birds-eye-type rim around each of the yellowed spots. This is what distinguishes bacterial canker from cloudy spot disease.
    • What causes it: A bacteria called Clavibacter michiganensis. The bacteria occurs naturally but can be brought into the garden on infected plants or tools. Once it gets into the soil, rainwater splashes it up onto the plants. If there’s an open sore, such as insect damage or a leaf missing from pruning, it can enter the plant and infest it.
    • What to do about it: Remove the infected plants immediately and do not plant tomatoes again in that soil for at least three years. Rotate your crops regularly to prevent these and other diseases from taking hold in the soil. Don’t compost the dead plants — instead, put them in the trash to avoid spreading the bacteria.

     

    Anthracnose - dark mushy spot on tomatoes

    10. Anthracnose

    • What it looks like: As tomatoes ripen, a dark, bull’s-eye circle appears on the blossom end or bottom of the tomato. The spot is sunken and mushy to the touch. When you slice into the tomato, there’s a black mushy spot underneath that looks like rot.
    • What causes it: A fungus called Colletotrichum phomoides. The fungus loves hot, moist weather and is often spread by overhead irrigation, sprinklers striking infected soil and splashing the fungus up onto the plants, and infected plants.
    • What to do about it: Switch your watering methods so water drips on the roots, not the leaves of the plants. Harvest tomatoes when ripe, since overly ripe tomatoes tend to contract the fungus more than tomatoes in the early stages of ripening.

     

    early blight on tomatoes

     11. Early Blight

    • What it looks like: You’ll find brown spots on tomato leaves, starting with the older ones. Each spot starts to develop rings, like a target. Leaves turn yellow around the brown spots, then the entire leaf turns brown and falls off. Eventually the plant may have few, if any, leaves.
    • What causes it: A fungus called Alternaria solani. This fungus can live in the soil over the winter, so if your plants have had problems before like this, and you’ve planted tomatoes in the exact same spot, chances are good the same thing will happen to your plants this year.
    • What to do about it: Crop rotation prevents new plants from contracting the disease. Avoid planting tomatoes, eggplants or peppers in the same spot each year as these can all be infected with early blight. A garden fungicide can treat infected plants.

     

    Tomato fungus - Septoria Leaf Spot

     12. Septoria Leaf Spot

    • What it looks like: After the plants begin to develop tomatoes, the lower leaves break out in yellow spots. Within the yellow spots, dark gray centers with dark borders appear. Black dots appear in the center of the spots. Foliage dies and falls off.
    • What causes it: A fungus called Septoria lycopersici thatinfects foliage.
    • What to do about it: Avoid watering tomatoes from the top, as the spray can force the spores developing on the leaves back into the soil and continue the disease cycle. Certis Double Nickel 55™ Fungicide & Bactericide was developed for use against Septoria Leaf Spot on tomatoes.

    wilted tomato plant fungus

    13. Fusarium Wilt

    • What it looks like: Your tomato plants look fine, when suddenly, they start to wilt. At first, only one side may be affected, but then the whole plant is wilting. You water them, and the problem gets worse. Within a day or two, the plant is dead!
    • What causes it: A nasty fungus called Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. lycopersici that attacks the vascular system of the plant, roughly equivalent to a human’s veins. The fungus destroys the xylem tubes, which transport water and nutrients up from the roots and into the leaves.
    • What to do about it: In the case of fusarium wilt, the best defense is a good offense. Rotate your crops so tomatoes aren’t planted in the same section of the garden each year. Purchase wilt-resistant varieties if you’ve lost tomatoes to wilting diseases in the past, since the fungus can overwinter in garden and lawn soils.

    Verticillium Wilt - Tomato plant fungus with yellow spots on leaves

     14. Verticillium Wilt

    • What it looks like: Yellow blotches appear on the lower leaves. As the blotches spread, the veins in the leaves turn brown. After the leaves turn brown, they fall off. The disease progresses up the stem until the plant is stunted.
    • What causes it: A fungus that lives in the soil, Verticilliurn albo-atrum, attacks the roots and travels up the xylem tubes with water. It then prevents the normal flow of water and nutrients to the leaves.
    • What to do about it: Once plants are infected, there isn’t much you can do to treat Verticillium wilt. Rotate your crops, because the fungus can live for long periods in the soil and even live among weeds such as ragweed. Choosing wilt-resistant varieties to plant is the best way to prevent Verticillium wilt.

    What wrong with my tomatoes - spotted wilt virus

     15. Viral Diseases

    • What they looks like: Viral diseases mainly attack the tomatoes themselves. You might find black spots on tomatoes, or weird stripes on them. Don’t confuse signs of disease for just how some heirloom tomatoes look with natural stripes.
    • What causes them: Many of these viruses spread when plants are stressed by heat, drought or poor soil.
    • What to do about them: If you’ve read through all of these tomato problems and think your tomatoes may be suffering from a viral disease, spray your tomato plants with neem oil. Good soil management and using organic fertilizer for tomatoes also helps keep your plants healthy, which can help them naturally resist viruses better.

     

    powdery mildew on tomato leaves

    16. Powdery Mildew On Tomatoes

    • What it looks like: Powdery mildew is easy to find on tomato plants as it looks like someone brushed the leaves with a white powder. You might find white spots on tomato leaves or even the stem. If you let the fungi thrive it will turn your tomato leaves yellow and then brown.
    • What causes it: Powdery mildew on tomatoes is more common in greenhouses than an outdoor garden because of the lack of air flow and high humidity.
    • What to do about it: The best way to prevent powdery mildew on tomato plants is to use a preventative spray formulated with sulfur. For more information, read this post on prevention and treatment of powdery mildew on plants.

    5 INSECTS THAT CAN DESTROY YOUR TOMATOES

    In addition to diseases, insects can damage tomato plants, too. Not all bugs are bad — some insects are extremely helpful, and some will even attack the “bad” bugs plaguing your tomato plants.

    Help for tomato plants

    Be sure to browse the extended information on tomato plant pests below, but, overall, here are your best options for fighting insect infestations on tomato plants:

    • Caterpillar Killer with B.t. (Solution: Fight hornworms and other plant-eating caterpillars with this OMRI Listed® biological control that targets destructive larvae.)
    • Insect Killing Spray for Tomatoes. (Solution: An insect-killing formula for use on tomatoes that’s compliant for use with organic gardening and fights tomato hornworm, Colorado potato beetles, whiteflies and other caterpillars.)
    • Insecticidal Soap. (Solution: An OMRI Listed® insecticide soap that can be used up to the day of harvest on aphids, mealybugs, spider mites and other pests.)
    • Insecticidal Soap with Pyrethrin. (Solution: By mixing the features of insecticidal soap and pyrethrin, you can maintain your organic garden and fight spider mites, hornworms and destructive beetles.)
    • Neem Oil. (Solution: Neem oil kills insects in every life stage — from eggs to adults.)
    • Insect Traps. (Solution: Lure pest insects away from your plants and trap them before they can do more damage.)

    The following tend to be the most common causes of various tomato pest problems.

    cutworms on tomatoes

    1. Cutworms

    • What they are: Cutworms feed at night on seedlings. They “cut” or eat through the stem at soil level or an inch or less above the soil. Cutworms aren’t exactly worms — they are the larvae of certain moths. They only emerge at night and can be difficult to spot. Cutworms kill tomato plants by snipping them right in half.
    • What to do about them: Prevent cutworm damage by making a paper collar that fits around your seedlings. Just take newspaper or cardboard and fold it into an inch-wide strip. Use tape to make a collar around the plant, leaving about two to three inches around the stem. Remove the collar once the plant has several sets of leaves. You can also cut the bottom off of a paper cup and slide the open-bottom cup over the seedling to prevent cutworm damage.

     

    hornworm on tomato plants

     2. Hornworms

    • What they are: Tomato or tobacco hornworms can decimate mature tomato plants in one night. These crafty insects are large green worms about two to three inches long with tiny horns on their head and ridged bodies. Hornworms are perfectly camouflaged so they look exactly like a tomato stem or branch, making them difficult to spot. They emerge at night, eat all the leaves off the plant and move on to the next section or plant.
    • What to do about them: Nature provides the best control for tomato hornworm in the form of a parasitic wasp that lays her eggs on the body of the hornworm. As the wasp’s larvae hatch, they eat into the living worm and eventually kill it. Natural methods to control tomato hornworms include planting marigolds around tomatoes. The strong marigold scent repels them naturally. Safer® Brand Caterpillar Killer II With B.T. uses a naturally occurring fungus to quell hornworms without harming earthworms. You can also use an insect-killing spray.

     

    Colorado potato beetle damaging tomato plants

     3. Colorado Potato Beetle

    • What they are: Colorado potato beetles are native to the United States. They love plants in the nightshade family, especially potatoes. If they can’t find potatoes, however, they will gravitate towards tomatoes, eggplant and other nightshade family vegetables. The beetles are about the size of dimes, with yellow-and-black striped wings. The adults use their mouthparts to chew holes in the leaves of tomato plants. Females lay clusters of bright gold or yellow eggs underneath the leaves. When the larvae hatch, they spread out among the tomato leaves, easily eating their way through the entire plant. Larvae are red to dark pink with black spots and frequently hide under the leaves during the day.
    • What to do about them: Use a pesticide with pyrethrins to spray on your tomato plants. This method works best in early spring before the larvae mature.

    how to get rid of stink bugs on tomato plants

    4. Stink Bugs

    • What they are: The brown marmorated stink bug isn’t only an annoyance inside the home. These insects also use their needle-like mouthparts to suck the juice right out of your tomatoes. They can be spotted with the naked eye on your tomatoes, or you can see their damage in the yellow, uneven spots that appear on the ripening tomatoes. When you slice into a yellow-spotted tomato, white sections appear under the yellow spots, which distinguish stink bug damage from fungal or viral problems.
    • What to do about them: Safer® Brand makes stink bug traps that harmlessly attract the insects to the trap and away from your tomatoes.

     

    how to get rid of spidermites on tomatoes

    5. Spider Mites

    • What they are: Spider mites are difficult to see because they’re so tiny, but you can clearly see the damage they leave behind. Mites scuttle along the stems and leaves, piercing the leaves to feed on the juices. Eventually, tomato leaves look stippled and bronzed, with damage to the plant’s leaf structure.
    • What to do about them: The best method for treating spider mites on tomato plants is to use a neem oil spray. Another option is insecticidal soap, which also offers a treatment for spider mites.

    NOT JUST BUGS: BIRD PROBLEMS

    One final tomato problem is often mistaken for insect damage: birds. Some birds, especially crows, love to eat ripening fruit, and tomatoes are technically a fruit. Crows peck with their large, sharp beaks at the ripening tomatoes, ripping open gashes and eating partial segments from various fruits. Other birds and even squirrels may also be at work if you find tomatoes that look like they have bites taken out of them.

    The best control for bird problems is a net. A large fruit tree net, available at your local home or garden store, can be draped over the plants. The net is an effective deterrent to birds and usually a good deterrent for squirrels, too.

    Although this list of tomato problems is extensive, don’t let it deter you from growing great tomatoes. The good news is that most of these diseases and problems still leave you with some edible tomatoes. And once you take precautions to avoid these diseases and pests in your future gardens, your tomatoes will continue to be fruitful and successful. 

    Source of Article: http://www.saferbrand.com.

    Vegetables calendar for Pakistan

    Tomato, Hot pepper, sweet pepper, Brinjal, Cucumber, Okra, Bottle Gourd, Sponge Gourd, Bitter Gourd, Tinda Gourd, Pumpkin, Arum, Potato, Mint, Turmeric, Ginger, Musk Melon, Water Melon, Sweet Potato & Groundnut are summer crops. The best time of sowing is spring (Feb, March) and they will produce till September, October.

    Winter Vegetables
    The best sowing time of winter vegetables is September, October and they will produce till Feb, March.
    Winter Vegetable includes: Cabbage, Cauliflower, Broccoli, Carrot, Potato, Onion, Lettuce leaf, Radish, Turnip, Peas, Spinach, Fenugreek, Beets, Mustard, Coriander, Mint & Garlic

    The above mentioned seasons are generally suited for most areas, but there are certain exceptions varying from crop to crop. For example tomato can be grown year around in Karachi or similar areas, but you cannot grow it in those parts of country where frost is certain also there are different varieties for different seasons for example summer Radish variety is different from winter variety.
    Early and late sowing can also be beneficial, prepare seedling of spring planting in winter underneath plastic sheets & fall planting in summers underneath shades these crops will provide you off-season vegetables which are otherwise very costly in market.

    English Name Urdu Name Sowing Time Rows X Rows(inch) Plants X Plants(inch) Yield/Plant First Harvest
    Arum اروی Feb – March 24 18   180 – 200 days
    Bitter Gourd کریلہ Feb – March, June – July 36 12 3 kg  
    Bottle Gourd کدو Feb – March, June – July, October 36 18 4 kg  
    Brinjal بینگن Feb – March, June, Nov 30 18 2 kg 60 -70 days
    Broccoli   Aug –Nov 24 12 0.75 kg 60 -80 days
    Cabbage بند گوبھی Aug – Nov 24 12 0.75 kg 60 -100 days
    Carrot گاجر Sep – Oct 18 2 130 gm 60 -80 days
    Cauliflower پھول گوبھی June – Oct 24 12 850 gm 60 -80 days
    Celery   Sep – Oct 12 4 100 gm 100 – 120 days
    Coriander دھنیا July _ Nov, Feb -April       45 -50 days
    Cucumber کھیرا Feb – July 36 18 2.5 kg 50-70 days
    Fenugreek میتھی Sept – Oct        
    Garlic لہسن Sept – Oct 8 4 50 gm  
    Ginger ادرک Feb – March 12 8    
    Hot Peppers مرچ Sept – Oct, Feb. 30 18 1.5 kg 50-60 days
    Lettuce سلاد پتہ Sept – Oct 12 6    
    Mint پودینہ July – Nov, Feb -April       45-50 days
    Mustard سرسوں Sept – Oct        
    Okra بھنڈی Feb – March, June- July 24 18 1 kg 70-90 days
    Onion پیاز Feb-March, Sep – Oct 12 4 100 gm 150-180 days
    Peas مٹر mid Sep-mid Nov 24 2 600 gm 50-75 days
    Potato آلو Feb-March, Sep – Oct 24 8 1 kg 110 -150 days
    Radish مولی July – Nov, Feb-March 18 2 120 gm 30-60 days
    Spinach پالک June – Nov       50-80 days
    Sponge gourd توری Feb – April, June – July 36 18 2.5 kg 60-70 days
    Sweet Peppers شملہ مرچ Oct – Nov, February 30 18 1 kg 50-60 days
    Sweet Potato شکر قندی Feb – March 36 18 700 gm 140-150 days
    Tinda Gourd ٹینڈا March –April, June- July 36 18 1 kg 50-60 days
    Tomato ٹماٹر Feb – March, Sep – Nov 30 18 2.5 kg 60-70 days
    Turmeric ہلدی March –April, June- July 36   1 kg  
    Turnip شلجم Aug – Nov 24 3 150 gm 60-90 days

    It is not possible to cover all aspects in vegetable calendar, so I will try to post individual topics on each vegetable but this calendar might be helpful.

    What to do in the garden in January

    If your garden is looking a bit bare try growing a winter-flowering evergreen Clematis such as ‘Winter Beauty‘. To find out how to prune Clematis take a look at our Clematis pruning guide.

    Add bare root Alstromeria for a more unusual plantAdd bare root Alstromeria for a more unusual plant

    For a more unusual bare-root plant to add to your borders now, try growing Alstroemeria(Peruvian Lily).

    Cut back the old foliage from ornamental grasses before growth begins – clip them to within a few centimetres of the ground.

    Cut down the old stems of perennial plants like Sedum – be careful of any new growth.

    Remove old Hellebore leaves to make the new blooms more visible as they emerge this spring.

    Cut back damaged, diseased and the oldest stems of brightly coloured willows, and thin overcrowded stems.

    Remove any faded flowers from your winter pansies to stop them setting seed.

    In the vegetable garden

    Harvest parsnips and leeks.

    Use a cloche to warm the soil up
    Use a cloche to warm the soil up for early peas

    If you’d like to grow early peas, place a cloche over the soil to let it warm up for a few weeks prior to sowing.

    While you’re waiting for the weather to warm up, try growing your own mushroomsusing one of our mushroom kits indoors. 

    Start chitting potatoes in a bright frost free place
    Start chitting potatoes in a bright, frost free place

    Start chitting (sprouting) early potatoes – stand them on end in a module tray or egg box and place in a bright cool frost-free place

    You can start growing potatoes in containers under cover for a very early crop (Charlotte potatoes are a good variety for this). Potato Patio Planters are ideal for growing early potatoes in small spaces.

    If your greenhouse is unheated, protect your potato grow bags with horticultural fleece on cold nights. 

    Remove yellowing leaves from your winter brassicas as they are no use to the plant and may harbour pests and diseases.

    In the fruit garden

    Begin pruning your apple trees and pear trees if you haven’t done so already – this is best done whilst they are dormant.

    Plant raspberry canes on a sunny site
    Plant raspberry canes on sunny sites

    Continue to plant raspberry canes on sunny sites with free-draining soil.

    Leave plums, cherries and apricots unpruned until the summer as pruning these fruit trees now will make them susceptible to silver leaf infections.

    Prune blackcurrant bushes, gooseberries and redcurrants to maintain a productive framework.

    Try forcing rhubarb plants by placing an upturned bucket or bin over the crown. This will force tender pink stems to grow that will be ready in about 8 weeks time.

    If you’re looking for something a bit different to add to your fruit garden, try the nutritious Blueberry PinkBerry.

    Order fruit bushes such as currants now and plant in a well prepared bed in a sheltered position; they will be a lot tastier than supermarket produce!

    In the greenhouse

    Plant Amaryllis in pots for stunning indoor flowers
    Plant Amaryllis in pots for stunning indoor flowers

    Plant Amaryllis bulbs in pots now for stunning indoor flowers in early spring.

    Brush heavy snow off of greenhouses and cold frames to prevent the glass being damaged.

    Keep your potato planters inside as frosts will kill the foliage.

    For better seed germination, try using electric propagators to help your early seedlings along.

     

    Looking after your lawn

    Avoid walking on your lawn when it is blanketed by heavy frost or snow, as this will damage the grass beneath.

    Other jobs about the garden

    Brush heavy snow off hedges and conifers
    Brush heavy snow off hedges and conifers

    Brush heavy snow of off hedges and conifers to prevent the branches from snapping out under its weight.

    Shred your Christmas tree and add it to compost bins. Alternatively the stripped down branches make great pea sticks.

    Hang fat balls and keep bird feeders topped up to attract birds, who will in turn eat pests in your garden.

    Get rid of slimy patches on the patio, and paving by scrubbing with a broom or blasting with a pressure washer.

    Wash empty pots by scrubbing them with hot water and a mild detergent. Rinse them well afterwards.

    Consider purchasing water butts now ready for the summer. Rainwater is particularly useful for watering acid-loving, ericaceous plants (tap water is often slightly alkaline).

    Continue planting trees and shrubs while they are still dormant.

    If all you can see from your windows are unattractive sheds, composting areas and bins this winter, think about using evergreen climbing plants like Clematis ‘Winter Beauty‘ or Clematis armandii as a screen, or just to add winter interest.

    Keep an eye on fruits and vegetables in storage and remove any that are diseased.

    Check Dahlia tubers in storage and remove any that are showing signs of rotting.

    Central heating can dry the air in your home and cause damage to indoor plants. Mist house plants regularly and stand them on a tray of pebbles filled with water to increase the humidity.

    From your armchair

    Order your seeds now. Have a garden plan drawn up to help decide the quantities you need.

    Plan your vegetable plot for this year to ensure good crop rotation and prevent pests and diseases building up in the soil.

    Consider dedicating a bed to perennial vegetables such as asparagusrhubarb and artichokes. Order spring-planting crowns and tubers now in preparation for the spring.

    If you’d like to have a go at growing your own fruit, order your fruit trees now ready for planting in the spring.

    Now is the ideal time to order Clematisready for planting in the spring.

    Start to think about your hanging baskets for this year. Order your Fuchsia plants , Geraniums and Lobelianow in preparation for the busy spring period.

    This article taken from website https://www.thompson-morgan.com/what-to-do-in-the-garden-in-january for original article. This article only share for information sharing purpose all copyrights to owners https://www.thompson-morgan.com.

    Beneficial Insects

    Nature’s way of controlling garden pests without chemicals! Beneficial insects feast on aphids, mites, caterpillars and other plant-consuming bugs and are harmless to people, plants and pets. Our comprehensive selection helps you match the correct predator/parasite to your pest problem. For best results, make releases at the first sign of a problem. If pest populations are high, use the least-toxic, short-lived natural pesticide — Insecticidal Soaps, Horticultural Oils, Botanical Insecticides — to establish control before releasing predators/parasites. Need help? Our knowledgeable staff can help.

    Read more about beneficial insects download fact-sheet Beneficial insects guide

    What is organic gardening?

    Organic gardening is not just a matter of replacing chemicals such as artificial fertilizers and pesticides with more natural products, as it is often simplistically described. There is a great deal more to it than that, in both theory and practice.

    Basic principles
    The organic approach recognizes the marvelous complexity of our living world; the detailed and intricate ways in which all living organisms are interconnected. It aims to work within this delicate  framework, in harmony with nature.What is an organic gardening 3-agriculture information bank (agrinfobank.com)
    Feeding the soil
    Conventional fertilizers are generally soluble, their ingredients directly available to plants. The organic way, on the other hand, relies on soil-dwelling creatures to make food available to plants.
    Unbelievable as it may sound, a single teaspoonful of fertile soil can contain more bacteria and fungi than the number of humans living on the planet. These microorganisms, which are invisible to  the naked eye, break down compost, manure, and other organic materials that are added to the soil, to provide a steady supply of nutrients for plants to take up. Their activities also help to improve soil structure. soil fed in this way tends to produce healthier plants that are better able to withstand attack from pests and diseases, or have a much better chance of recovery.
    Natural pest control all creatures, whatever their size, risk attack by pests and diseases. They are part of a great food chain. Ladybugs prey on aphids, robins eat Japanese beetles, and toads devour slugs, as an organic gardener, you can capitalize on the situation by  creating the right conditions to attract these unpaid pest  controllers—the gardener’s friends. There are other strategies in  the organic cupboard, too barriers and traps, pest- and disease resistant plant varieties, companion planting, and crop rotation all provide realistic alternatives to the use of pesticides.What is an organic gardening 2-agriculture information bank (agrinfobank.com)

    Managing weeds
    Weeds can be a valuable resource as a compost ingredient or food for wildlife, but they can also smother plants, compete for food and water, and spoil the look of a path or border. organic
    gardeners don’t use weed killing sprays, but there are plenty of effective alternatives, both for clearing ground and for keeping weeds under control: hoeing, mulching, cultivation, hand-weeding,
    and the use of heat in the form of flame or infrared burners.

    What is an organic gardening-agriculture information bank (agrinfobank.com)Conservation and the environment
    By taking a holistic approach to the use of finite resources and by minimizing impact on the environment, organic growing makes a positive contribution toward creating a sustainable future for
    all life on earth. This means recycling and reusing, instead of dumping or burning or buying new; providing habitats where wildlife can flourish; and avoiding the use of non reusable
    resources. It also involves choosing locally available materials, rather than those transported over long distances.

    Welfare considerations
    Animal welfare is an important element of organic farming. There is no place in the organic philosophy for factory farming, such as battery and broiler hen houses or intensive feedlots. as a logical
    extension, organic gardeners do not use by-products—such as manure—from intensive agriculture. There is concern for people, too—standards governing the trade in organic food are gradually
    converging with those concerned with “fair trade,” to provide better livelihoods for those employed in farming, particularly in developing countries.
    The use of animal manures is an integral part of most organic farming systems, but it is quite possible to garden without using any products of animal origin if you prefer. garden compost, leguminous green manures, leaf mold, and plant-based fertilizers are all “animal-free” organic gardening ingredients.

    Why Garden Organically?

    Gardeners may choose organic growing techniques for several reasons. Some do so because they believe organic gardens and landscapes are better for their health and the health of their families. Others grow organically because they believe this practice is better for the environment. And some gardeners believe organic gardens are more productive and beautiful.

    I grow organically for all these reasons and because, when I do so, I become part of the legacy of people who honor the health of the Earth and all its inhabitants by using growing techniques that are safe and sustainable over the long term.

    www.agrinfobank.com

    Probably the main reason why many people garden organically is to provide their families with safe, wholesome food and a toxin-free environment. Many gardeners believe that organically grown foods taste better, and recent studies show that organically grown foods may have higher nutrient levels than their conventionally grown counterparts. Organic growers also steer clear of genetically modified plants, the health risks of which are still unclear.

    When it comes to health and safety, pesticides pose the greatest concern in gardening. Americans use about 4.5 billion pounds of pesticides each year in yards, gardens, homes, farms, and industry, about 1 billion pounds of which are synthetic pesticides. Despite a complex system of rules, regulations, and labeling requirements, thousands of people suffer acute pesticide poison-ing each year. Like most gardeners, organic growers may occasionally need to use pesticides, but they choose them carefully, opting for the least-toxic organic sprays as a last resort — only after other control measures have failed.

    Many people assume that organic means nontoxic, but that’s not really correct. Some commonly accepted organic pesticides are, strictly speaking, more toxic than some synthetic chemical pesticides. But in general, organic pesticides ,which are derived from plant, animal, and mineral sources, tend to be less toxic than synthetic chemical pesticides, which are created from petroleum and other chemical sources. More important, organic pesticides tend to break down quickly into benign substances, whereas synthetic pesticides can linger in the environment for decades.

    www.agrinfobank.com

    Many of the synthetic pesticides used today belong to a group of chemical compounds called organophosphates. They’re used to control insect pests on fruits and vegetables, to combat termites, and to control fleas and ticks on pets. These chemicals work by interfering with the nervous systems of the pests. Unfortunately, organophosphates can also harm the nervous systems of animals and humans. In fact, they are chemically similar to the World War II–era chemical-warfare agent known as nerve gas. In humans, symptoms of overexposure include nausea, headache, convulsions, and (in high doses) death. Diazinon and chlorpyrifos, two recently banned pesticides discussed in the sidebar “How unsafe pesticides remain on the market,” fall into this cate-gory. Unfortunately, since diazinon and chlorpyrifos have been phased out, the use of carbaryl, an insecticide that also damages the nervous system, has increased. The EPA classifies this product as a likely human carcinogen.

    Despite extensive testing by chemical companies in controlled trials, it’s hard to know exactly what pesticides will do out in the real world. Ponder these statistics: The EPA now considers 60 percent of herbicides, 90 percent of fungicides, and 30 percent of insecticides to be potentially carcinogenic (able to cause cancer). A study conducted by the National Cancer Institute found that farmers exposed to chemical herbicides had a six-times-greater risk of developing cancer than farmers who were not exposed. Scary stuff.

    No matter what type of pesticide you’re using — organic or synthetic — you must follow label directions to the letter. Read all warnings, wear recommended protective gear, and use only as instructed. Taking these precautions isn’t just smart, it’s also the law.

    5 Secrets To Watering Your Garden

    1. Try a Toothpick Watering Test

    Just as you test a baking cake for doneness by sticking it with a wooden toothpick, you can do the same to see whether a garden bed needs watering. Stick the toothpick into the soil as far as it will go, then examine it. If it comes out clean, it’s time to water. If any soil clings to the pick, you can forgo watering and test the soil again the next day

    2. Bury Milk Jug Tricklers

    Tomatoes aren’t the only garden plants that like lots of water. Others with a big thirst include squashes, melons, and rosebushes. How to keep them quenched? Bury plastic milk-jug reservoirs alongside. Start by perforating a jug in several places. Dig a planting hole large enough to accommodate both plant and jug, and bury the jug so its spout is at soil level. After refilling the hole and tamping down the soil, fill the jug with water. Then top it to overflowing at least once a week, and your plant’s roots will stay nice and moist.

    3. Offer a Cup of Tea To Your Ferns

    Also, when planting a fern, put a used tea bag in the bottom of the planting hole to act as a reservoir while the fern adapts to its new spot; the roots will draw up a bit more nitrogen. Another drink ferns like: a very weak solution of household ammonia and water (1 tablespoon ammonia to 1 litre water), which also feeds them a little nitrogen.

    4. Add Borax to Sun-Sensitive Plants

    To keep direct sunlight from burning the leaves of ferns, azaleas, yews, hollies, hostas, and herbs such as thyme and chives, add borax to your watering can — 1 tablespoon dissolved in 4 litres of water. Wet the leaves of the plants and soak the soil with the solution a couple of times in the spring (more than two treatments is overdoing it), and your plants will be better able to stand up to the sun’s hot rays in summer.

    5. Recycle Unsalted Cooking Water

    Boiled foods release nutrients of one kind or another, so why pour their cooking water down the drain? Let the water cool, and then use it to give a garden plant or two a healthful drink. But take note: When you cook any of the following, do not add salt to the water because salt is harmful to plants.

    • Eggs: Hardboiled eggs leave calcium in the cooking water, so use the liquid to water calcium-loving solanaceous garden plants: tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants, peppers, chayote squash, tomatillos.

    • Spinach: Plants need iron, too — and spinach water gives them not only iron but also a decent dose of potassium.

    • Pasta: Starchy water will spur the release of plant nutrients in the soil, meaning starch may be better for plants than for you.

    • Potatoes: Ditto.

    Winter Flowering Trees and Shrubs

    Prunus mume 'Beni-Chidori'

    If you thought there wasn’t much to look at outside at this time of year – think again. Dozens of beautiful trees and shrubs are at their colourful best in December and into early spring and here are some of my favourites.

    Flourishing in the coldest part of our Derbyshire garden are some of the winter flowering cherries. Prunus subhirtella ‘Autumnalis’ bears flutters of white flowers throughout winter from November till Easter; it’s close relative, Prunus subhirtella ‘Rosea’ is similar with soft pink flowers.

    The subtle difference, apart from the colour, which I have noted over the years is that the white form usually has a few flowers virtually continuously during winter unless the weather is exceptionally cold whereas the pink clone has bolder flushes of flowers off and on during this period.

    Elsewhere in our arboretum, Prunus subhirtella ‘Fukubana’ is growing into a small tree bearing delicate, semi-double rose pink flowers sometimes as early as February during mild winters and the Japanese Apricot, Prunus mume ‘Beni-Shidare’, is now a small, distinctly lollipop shaped tree flowering in late winter or early spring when its’ rich carmine pink flowers exude a powerful perfume.

    Three , perhaps more unusual choices for flowering winter interest are the Golden Alder Alnus incana ‘Aurea’, Persian Ironwoods Parrotia persica and Parrotiopsis jacquemontii, both surprisingly members of the witch hazel family.

    The Golden Alder is a slender, rather smaller tree than wild alders with soft yellow foliage all summer and really conspicuous bright yellow, flushed red catkins often during the harshest weather.

     

    The best selection of ironwood, Parrotia persica ‘Vanessa’ has a myriad of breathtaking autumn colours, indeed the clonal name “Vanessa” refers to the genus of butterflies which includes red admirals. During winter it bears clusters of velvety crimson flowers, iParrotia-persica-'Vanessa'nteresting rather than showy but yet more interest for the winter garden.

    Parrotiopsis jacquemontii is a large shrub or small tree, preferring a woodland garden and bears conspicuous creamy white flowers in late winter or early spring, rather like small versions of the American or Chinese flowering dogwoods.

    Arguable the finest winter flowering shrubs or very small trees, witch hazels, will break into full blossom during the New Year. As a young nurseryman in the seventies, there were very few varieties available; nowadays you could find over 100 cultivars in specialist collections.

    Witch hazels are hardy, surprisingly wind tolerant and suitable for most situations other than shallow soils over chalk. They have one real need, good drainage and they absolutely won’t tolerate wet feet!

    Despite all the improvements, Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Pallida’ is rightly still a firm favourite with its’ strap-like, sulphur yellow flowers and a deliciously sweet perfume. Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Diane’ is still one of the best red flowered varieties and also has fiery autumn colours but little scent. A recent introduction, Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Aurora’ has especially bold strap like, scented orange yellow flowers and fantastic autumn colour.

    Hamamelis x intermedia 'Pallida'

     

    Looking now at smaller plants, already the first few buds of winter sweet, Chimonanthus praecox and the Nepalese Daphne bholua are just opening as I write in mid December, their perfume is heavenly, you’ll never buy anything that smells so good in a bottle!

    Other woody plants will soon burst forth shortly after the New Year, one of my favourites is the winter flowering honeysuckle, Lonicera fragrantissima and Lonicera x purpusii ‘Winter Beauty’ (both completely indistinguishable to me). This tough, hardy, semi-evergreen shrub is one of the very few plants which will actually perform better in a cold, exposed and open situation. There it will become completely deciduous and far showier as the flowers can’t hide behind the foliage.

    Connoisseurs might look out for the very rare Lonicera elisae. Sadly this winter flowering species (the first buds are already opening) lacks fragrance but the ivory white flowers are much bolder than Lonicera fragrantissima and, during the summer months the young foliage is flushed with chocolate purple.

    Robert Vernon the Younger, is the owner of Bluebell Arboretum and Nursery in south Derbyshire.

     

    About Author:

    Robert VernonRobert Vernon | 07:00 UK time, Monday, 19 December 2011