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Expert tips from Hampton Court

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Zoe Behagg - web producer Zoe Behagg - web producer | 11:51 UK time, Friday, 9 July 2010

The Dig In Team popped down to the Hampton Court Flower Show this week, to see some of the inspiring veg displays. We had a chat with Jon Wheatley who designed the fantastic Home Grown showpiece and put some of your questions to him.

Eve from Bedford wants to know what to do with her Dig In salad leaves now that they are bolting. Jon says: "This year has been very difficult for all plants. The heat has meant that cabbages and nearly all lettuces have been bolting. There's not much you can do once the plant has bolted, but you can still keep sowing more salad leaves. Sow a 1/3 of a packet at two week intervals and you will have some right through the summer - you could try some Lollo Rosso."

Margaret from Nottingham is suffering from mildewy leaves on her courgette plants.  Jon says the heat is to blame for this too. "One way to avoid  problems with fungal diseases is to make sure your spacing between plants is correct - if air can circulate, there is less chance of the fungus settling.  If your plants are in pots you can space them further apart. But if you can't change this, try a solution of 1 part skimmed milk to 8 parts water and spray this on the leaves - it gives a milky coating that protects them from disease."

Meanwhile Ed in Bedfordshire says that when his courgette fruits get to 5-6cm the ends start going brown and the fruit starts to rot. This is down to irregular watering, says Jon. "If your courgettes are in a pot, don't let the roots dry out, but the most important thing is consistent watering - it's the key to all plant health."

Lots of you are worried about ants on your plants. "Ants are an indicator of the presence of aphids," says Jon. "The ants are not harmful to plants, but they do mean that there are probably some green or black aphids clustering on they end of new shoots and the undersides of leaves. Apply a soap solution spray to get rid of them otherwise they will weaken your plant."


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