By Sarah Buchanan. First published by Rattan Direct on 5 August 2016.
Gardeners’ hands need as much care as, or more care than gardens. Out in the garden and on our patios and courtyards, our hands do a lot of hard work and often don’t look good afterwards. So why don’t we all wear gloves to protect and care for our hands? Probably because when gloves aren’t quite right we just don’t wear them for more than a few minutes. Now is the time to change all that and take care of our hands.
Garden care: find the right pair of gloves for you
The right gardening gloves seemed hard to find. Racks of gardeners’ (and builders’) gloves for sale didn’t help but confused me. My shed is home to hopeless and useless pairs (and singletons who lost a partner). Then I learned three simple lessons and now I LOVE gloves in the garden.
- The right gloves help gardening and the wrong ones don’t (and are thrown to one side, and lost)
- Gloves come in different sizes (buy those that fit, your hands won’t grow into a bigger size) and different qualities (and you often get what you pay for)
- Try before you buy – make sure they fit and feel good.
An old ‘Independent’ review of good gardening gloves made sense to me and might guide you in your search.
Clean and cream
Relax with a cooling glass of elderflower cordial and sparkling water, after a good clean up of hands and nails, and a dollop of hand cream rubbed in. ‘Specialist’ gardeners’ soaps and creams are for sale and are good. Tips from a Good Housekeeping feature might guide you. And, of course, your usual soap and hand cream will do the job too.
Pot care: tackle vine weevils now
Vine weevils are one of the most common garden pests. The adult weevils eat leaves in summer but it is the grubs that feed on the roots which can kill plants during the autumn and winter. Plants that overwinter in containers (such as shrubs) are particularly vulnerable. RHS advice in this summary on the topic is, as ever, very good.
Catch the adults
Look out for the adults: they are about 9mm (about 5/16in) long and dull black with dirty yellow marks on the wing cases. They make irregular-shaped notches in leaf margins during the summer.
The grubs are the big problem. These are plump, C-shaped, white and legless with light brown heads. They are up to 10mm (about 3/8in) long. You may find them among the roots of your container plants – but don’t dig them up now to find out!
On summer evenings, after dark, take a torch and have a good look at your container plants under torchlight. Pick off and kill the adult weevils. You can carefully shake pots over a sheet of plastic or newspaper to dislodge the adults. Or trap them with a sticky barrier around the edge of the pot. Natural enemies are your friends: vine weevils and their grubs are, like slugs and snails, eaten by birds, frogs, toads, shrews and hedgehogs.
Biological controls can work well in light soils and potting compost. These microscopic pathogenic nematodes are available from suppliers of biological controls. You can use these in containers and the open ground in August or early September when the soil is between 5 and 20ºC (41 to 68ºF) and before the vine weevil grubs have grown large enough to cause serious damage. Or use a nematode trap (Steinernema carpocapsae) to catch and control the adults.
Ornamental and non-edible plants in containers can be treated with an insecticide containing acetamiprid (such as Bug Clear Ultra Vine Weevil Killer). Now is the time to apply it to the soil in pots as it protects your plants for up four months and prevent damage during the autumn and winter. REMEMBER: don’t use this on edible plants, such as herbs.