Magnesium deficiency and bay leaf sucker

Green tomato fruit with pale green leaves

After writing my last blog the great news came through that Planning Permission had been granted for the Tayport Community Growing Space. Being a relatively new member I am full of praise and admiration for the other members of the PLANT team and Peter Duncan, Fife Allotments Officer, who have shown such tenacity, ambition and vision in bringing the project through to this stage.
Thank you all for letting me on board for the rest of this adventure. I am looking forward to the challenge.

Now today’s tale;

I am sipping a cup of coffee (decaff of course) while I look out at the rain. Why am I in the summerhouse on a rainy day? It is quite simple, I was caught in the kitchen diluting my comfrey/nettle mixture!  This is apparently unacceptable conduct !!! Even my plea that it was research for my PLANT Blog fell on deaf ears.

However I must move on to what has been happening in the garden;


Although my broad beans did take a battering during the recent high winds all beans continue to thrive and seem to be enjoying the wet weather


They are cropping prolifically and we are enjoying them as a vegetable and in red pepper and courgette soup, delicious.

Butternut squash

Are showing no signs of flowering so I have pinched out the growing tip in the hope of speeding them up to flower. The seeds were given to me and I have no idea of the name of the variety . I have sourced “Waltham” for next year from Seed Parade who I use for most of my seeds as they are very competitively priced and liking their Facebook page gives access to more discounts. The seeds are in minimal packaging with no pictures or cultivation hints so are not ideal for an inexperienced gardener.


I send my apologies to all citizens of Musselburgh for the misspelling in my last blog. Let’s put it down to a senior moment!


I am continuing to sow a mixture of salads in containers every two weeks to ensure a steady supply of fresh leaves. The seeds germinate quickly at this time of year. I prefer containers as I sow less seeds, thus there is less wastage and I can place them wherever I wish in the garden. It also makes it more difficult for the slugs to get a share.


Green tomato fruit with pale green leaves
Still green with magnesium deficiency showing in leaves

These are really late this year thanks to the poor summer. I am usually enjoying them by now but they are still green. Hopefully the sun will shine in August or else we will be making jars and jars of green tomato chutney !! My late mother-in-law had a superb recipe which we still use.

In the meantime I have pinched the growing tips out of the plants after 5/6 trusses and this should divert energy to developing the fruit. I have also removed all leaves below the first truss of tomatoes to aid ripening and improve air circulation to prevent the onset of gray mould (botrytis) which is always a menace in cool damp weather.

The comfrey/ nettle experiment mentioned in my blog of 27 June is ongoing and there is no apparent difference at the moment in the crops. What is noticeable however is the comfrey/nettle tomatoes are showing signs of magnesium deficiency in their leaves. The usual antidote is a spray with Epsom salts but I wonder if any of you readers know of an alternative? Please leave a comment if you do.


Bay leaves damaged by the bay sucker insects
Bay sucker damage

I was puzzled why the sides of my bay leaves were curling inwards, after some research it seems it is the work of the bay sucker. The suggested cure is to remove and destroy the affected leaves or treat with a systemic insecticide. I cringe at the thought of anything systemic being used, especially on leaves likely to be used in cooking. As the bay bush is much too large to remove the affected leaves by hand I found a recipe for garlic spray. I have drenched the bush and it seems to be working.

I think I have created a new herb “Bay leaves with a hint of garlic”, I wonder if there is a market for this?

I have also applied the spray to plants being eaten by slugs and snails, hopefully they will also be deterred.


I mentioned vinegar as a weedkiller in my last blog and I did manage to find a dry day to try it again. I added a dash of washing up liquid and sprayed it on the weeds between the paving slabs and on the drive I must admit it was successful in a very short time. Some people add salt to the mixture but this should not be done if you are applying it where there is soil as you will not be able to grow anything there for a number of years due to the effect of salt.

Well the sun is shining again and the garden beckons but I must finish my coffee first. I wonder if I can sneak into the house and heat it up in the microwave without being noticed? Wish me luck!

Thanks for reading and please leave your comments.

Enjoy your gardening.


5 thoughts on “Magnesium deficiency and bay leaf sucker

  1. Slightly concerned Ian that Tayport may now have a plague of slugs with bad garlicky breath!

    Checked on the Garden Organic website about magnesium deficiency. For vines with this problem, they suggest liquid seaweed – could try it on your tomatoes too? Their comment was:

    ‘Magnesium deficiency is often induced by high levels of calcium in the soil, which locks up other nutrients. Vine leaves become pale, with yellow or orange tints and darker veins. Apply a liquid seaweed or magnesium sulphate feed as first aid for severe cases, but for prevention apply a top dressing of seaweed meal in the spring. On soil with a neutral pH, rake in ground dolomitic limestone around the roots of the vine before it breaks into growth.’


    1. Hi Jessie, thanks for doing some research into my problem. I see liquid seaweed is a remedy and as tomorite contains seaweed extract this will be the reason the plants fed with this are not affected.


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