Friday, 14 October 2016


I called in at the Clacton garden centre on my way to pick up some 13 amp plugs, thinking I'd stock up on Provado root drench in case I found any outbreaks of root aphid as I put the tender things in pots away in the greenhouse for the winter.  There was none on the shelves, and when I asked at the till whether they would be getting some in the answer was a very unwelcome No, not ever.  It had been withdrawn and they could no longer sell it.  Something to do with the safety of one of the ingredients.

It must have been one of the neonicotinoids that are suspected of causing harm to bees.  I am all in favour of not harming bees, on the other hand I am not at all in favour of root aphids wreaking havoc in my greenhouse.  I asked whether they had anything else I could use instead, but the chap on the till seemed uncertain, beaten down by the succession of products that had been outlawed. Soon, he opined, we would not be allowed to use anything.

I had a quick look on the RHS website when I got home to see what advice they had to offer on the subject.  Only a quick look because I had things to do, but it didn't turn anything up.  Typing 'root aphid' into the search box yielded an article about golden root aphids that included the comment that if they were white they not the golden ones but the ordinary sort, but nothing about common or garden root aphids.  Pretty quickly the list of diseases got on to canna virus and other topics having absolutely nothing to do with root aphid whatsoever.

I will have to return to the problem when I'm not in a rush, and go via Google rather than trying to interrogate the RHS website directly.  It is one of the ultimate signs that a website is badly designed when it is faster getting to the information you want using Google than by using the site's own menu and search facilities.  The BBC is another culprit, their site so unwieldy that while it does have some useful things on it, half the time if I want details of a specific programme I find them by Googling.

It is possible that there is nothing to be found on the RHS site about root aphid treatments post Provado.  Perhaps there is no approved treatment any more.  In which case are there any unapproved treatments, dilute solutions of household products like washing up liquid that will suffocate the aphids without causing too much damage to the roots?  Or maybe the manufacturers are on the case and something will be released before too long.  It would be nice to have some guidance.  Fast growing and easily rooted plants like zonal geraniums can always be renewed from cuttings, but not so slower growing and seed raised specimens.  And what are the professional growers doing about vine weevil grubs?  Or are they still allowed to use compost treated with systemic insecticide, while us poor amateurs are left with nothing?

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