So, at 8:00am I left the house, and two trains and a bus later I arrived at Hadlow College to begin learning about the identification and control of pests and diseases.
We began with a walk around Hadlow College’s impeccably maintained (their hedges are perfect, and herbaceouses seas of colour) gardens – Broadview. There we collected and learned about lily beetle larvae (which cover themselves in their own poo so birds don’t eat them), froghoppers, black bean aphid and sawfly larvae.
Then we took a short minibus trip to Downderry Lavender Nursery to learn about the rosemary beetle, which clearly prefers lavender. The nursery made good use of us, putting us to work picking off a total of 420 beetles. They do this manual cultural control every day, as the lavenders are used in such intimate products that chemical control would be impossible. There was free lavender ice cream… yes, lavender ice cream. Weird: enjoyable on a hot day but not a flavour I’d choose again.
Lunch, and during this hour I visited the Broadview garden centre to buy myself some… Nepenthes looking pitcher plant which I need to identify and another Rhipsalis pilocarpa, which, at just £1.49 was irresistable.
On to Hadlow College’s production houses!
Wow, I was so star-struck by professional flowers for floristry and fruit and veg trials. It was fascinating. Here we learned about the pollen-eating thrips, or thunderbugs.
While learning about powdery mildew and the benefits of bees (putting my ear to a cardboard box full of them was a little scary), I tasted what may have been the tastiest strawberry ever. …then while in the sterile tomato trial house, learning about green aphids and the teeny tiny parasitic wasps, I may have tasted the tastiest tomato ever.
In one of the education houses, we covered scale insect, spider mite and predatory mites.
Back to the classroom for a DVD, after which I probably know considerably more about aphids and their predators adn parasites than an ordinary human being should. Ah, horticulture.
A little identification test and then home.
A day well spent, but I’m looking forward to work tomorrow. We’ve got two new work experience guys in and I’m eager to meet them.
1: My jar of collected rosemary beetles, and a cinnabar moth that I ensnared briefly.
2: Downderry lavender nursery, display garden.
3: Tomato production.
4: The very tiniest fraction of Broadview’s herbaceous and hedges; beautiful.
5: Strawberry production.
Rhipsalis pilocarpa (Hadlow) Growing