Gardening news – British Tomato Week, wildlife survey, ash dieback

Gardening news – read our round-up of the latest news in the gardening world.

Gardening news - British Tomato Week, wildlife survey, ash dieback

British Tomato Week 20th – 26th May

British Tomato Week – 20th – 26th May

There’s nothing quite like the taste of a perfectly ripe, juicy tomato. British Tomato Week aims to encourage people to buy British tomatoes, which will be in shops from this week until November. Tomatoes are grown in the UK under strict conditions, with most growers using natural pest control instead of pesticides and eco-friendly growing methods. If you’d like to know more about the humble tomato, where it came from, how it’s grown, why British tomatoes are best and so much more, head over to the British Tomato Growers’ Association – you’ll find out more about tomatoes than you ever thought possible!

Gardening news - British Tomato Week, wildlife survey, ash dieback

UK’s wildlife in stark decline

Wildlife survey highlights dramatic decline in species

The State of Nature report, launched by Sir David Attenborough, shows that in the last 50 years, 60% of Britain’s native animal and plant species have declined. Turle doves, toads and hedgehogs are among the most affected species. He has been quoted in the news as saying that, while this is a stark warning, it is also a sign of hope. There are many conservation groups around the country with expert knowledge on how to improve conditions for our native wildlife. There is no single solution to saving wildlife, but there are many things that people can do to help, such as growing native wildflowers, creating ponds, submitting sightings to online surveys and supporting wildlife organisations to name but a few. You can find out more about encouraging wildlife in your garden here.

Gardening news - British Tomato Week, wildlife survey, ash dieback

Good harvest predicted

A good year for apples and pears?

Environmental experts are predicting that 2013 will be a good year for apples and pears. And after the awful weather in 2012, which caused a 50% drop in harvests, growers will be hoping for a better yield this year. Conditions have to be just right for apples and pears to grow – a sunny & dry autumn to encourage flowering, a cold winter, good weather during the 14-day flowering period for pollination, no air frost and warm weather in May. So far, so good…

The fight is on against ash dieback

Ash dieback, or Chalara fraxinea, has been one of the most talked about diseases in the last year. Of the 500 cases reported to date, over 50% are in East Anglia, where 160,000 ash trees are being planted in the hope that 1-2% will be resistant to the disease and can be propagated. Planting where the disease is prevalent means that the impact on the newly planted trees will be quicker and allows for quicker analysis of potentially resistant ash trees. A new grant scheme has also been set up to help foresters replenish woodland. Foresters across the region are being awarded £2,000 per hectare to replace ash trees with oak trees to make the forests more resilient. Speaking to a BBC reporter, Steve Scott from the Forestry Commission said that, while ash dieback is just one of 18 tree pests and diseases to come to the UK in the last 10 years, it is making people think about trees and woodlands and what they can do to protect and preserve them.

The impact of ash dieback on Britain’s wildlife is also a much talked-about subject. Ash trees provide shelter for beetles, including the lesser stag beetle, butterflies and birds. Plants such as wild garlic and bluebells thrive beneath ash trees, as their growth is aided by the trees’ loosely-branched structure, which allows plenty of light to reach the ground.

Tree experts are now calling for a plant health register and tighter biosecurity at UK borders to prevent further outbreaks of potentially devastating diseases.

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