Written by Wally Richards.
HARDEN UP FOR WINTER
THE ULTIMATE RAISED GARDEN
APRIL 2016 GARDENING
Weed Problems & Oxalis
ON BULBS AND STRAWBERRIES
GARDENING IN THE BEGINING TO NOW
WEED CONTROL BARRIERS
GREAT PLANTS TO GROW
POTTED PLANT CARE
HEALTHY CROPS, HEALTHY YOU
GARDENS AND DROUGHT
AROUND YOUR GARDENS
A NEW GARDENING YEAR
POLLINATING FRUITING FLOWERS
CHRISTMAS GARDENING PRESENTS
GARDENING EMAILS ANSWERED
GOING TO SEED
GARDEN INFORMATION SEPTEMBER 2015
ABOUT WORMS AND MOSS CONTROL
SUNLIGHT HOURS AND FERTILITY
THE IMPORTANCE OF CALCIUM
A NEW APPROACH: STRENGTHENING PLANT'S CELLS
HOW TO GROW HEALTHY ROSES
RAIN, WATER AND PROBLEMS
THE ANSWER IS IN THE SOIL
SHORTEST DAY, LONGEST NIGHT
PLANTS IN WINTER
FRUIT TREES IN WINTER
WINTER READY YOUR GLASSHOUSE AND ROSES
INTERESTING HIGH HEALTH VEGETABLES
WEEDS FOR FOOD & HEALTH
WEEDS AND HEALTH
IMPORTANT BASIC ELEMENTS
WINTER IS COMING
GARDENING CHEMICALS RAISING HEALTH CONCERNS
NEEM TREE GRANULES
GARDENING WITH FISH
PREPARING FOR AUTUMN
UNBELIVEABLE; ORTHOREXIA NERVOSA?
GENERAL GARDENING, BUMBLEBEES AND INSECT PESTS
THE PERFECT RAISED GARDEN
GROWING FOOD IN CONTAINERS
GARDENING FOR HIGH HEALTH NUTRITION
A NEW CALENDAR YEAR
Articles for 2014
HARDEN UP FOR WINTER
THE ULTIMATE RAISED GARDEN
APRIL 2016 GARDENING
Weed Problems & Oxalis
ON BULBS AND STRAWBERRIES
GARDENING IN THE BEGINING TO NOW
WEED CONTROL BARRIERS
GREAT PLANTS TO GROW
POTTED PLANT CARE
HEALTHY CROPS, HEALTHY YOU
GARDENS AND DROUGHT
AROUND YOUR GARDENS
A NEW GARDENING YEAR
POLLINATING FRUITING FLOWERS
CHRISTMAS GARDENING PRESENTS
GARDENING EMAILS ANSWERED
GOING TO SEED
GARDEN INFORMATION SEPTEMBER 2015
ABOUT WORMS AND MOSS CONTROL
SUNLIGHT HOURS AND FERTILITY
THE IMPORTANCE OF CALCIUM
A NEW APPROACH: STRENGTHENING PLANT'S CELLS
HOW TO GROW HEALTHY ROSES
RAIN, WATER AND PROBLEMS
THE ANSWER IS IN THE SOIL
SHORTEST DAY, LONGEST NIGHT
PLANTS IN WINTER
FRUIT TREES IN WINTER
WINTER READY YOUR GLASSHOUSE AND ROSES
INTERESTING HIGH HEALTH VEGETABLES
WEEDS FOR FOOD & HEALTH
WEEDS AND HEALTH
IMPORTANT BASIC ELEMENTS
WINTER IS COMING
GARDENING CHEMICALS RAISING HEALTH CONCERNS
NEEM TREE GRANULES
GARDENING WITH FISH
PREPARING FOR AUTUMN
UNBELIVEABLE; ORTHOREXIA NERVOSA?
GENERAL GARDENING, BUMBLEBEES AND INSECT PESTS
THE PERFECT RAISED GARDEN
GROWING FOOD IN CONTAINERS
GARDENING FOR HIGH HEALTH NUTRITION
A NEW CALENDAR YEAR
Articles for 2014
We are back in North Island, Palmerston North after the last 9 days in Southland and Otago; meeting lots of keen gardeners and having a great time.
The weather was so good and warm we did not need our winter woollies.
In fact the weather through most of the country is warm to mild for this time of the year so the weather controllers are certainly maintaining the global warming scenario.
I enjoyed talking to other gardeners and exchanging tips. Our Southern gardeners have greater weather problems to contend with such as shorter growing seasons, very cold winds and either too much rain or not enough.
To lengthen the season for tender plants many have glasshouses or similar and I saw several excellent plantings of tomatoes still doing very well at this time of the year.
When it comes to insect problems it is a paradise in the south when compared to the north.
Insects such as psyllids and guava moth not heard of yet, not to say that the south is pest free but shorter seasons equates to less populations and hard cold winters certainly reduce the number of pests surviving for the next season.
One tip that I was given, which I am going to try myself this spring, is in regards to curly leaf in stone fruit such as nectarines and peaches in the spring.
You simply place a quarter a teaspoon of Condys Crystals (potassium permanganate) per litre of warm water with one mil of Raingard and spray the trees and the soil underneath in spring prior to leaf show and every 10 to 14days later for the couple of months when the disease is active..
The lady gardener that told me swears by it for control.
The potassium permanganate is a oxidizing agent that kills fungi, the Raingard prevents the rain washing it off for up to 14 days.
It is during rain that the disease attacks, lifted up onto new leaves by the splashing water.
This means that the potassium permanganate is locked in the film of Raingard which slowly breaks down under UV.
The potassium permanganate is slowly released neutralizing the spores of the curly leaf as they come in contact.
You will need to spray to keep the newest leaves to protect, as well as the existing ones as they grow larger, so depending on growth rate every 7 to 14 days.
If you try this method this year please let me know the results.
As mentioned previously a lot of gardeners have glasshouses or tunnel houses to extend the growing season of tomatoes and other plants.
Some grow in the soil in the glasshouses where others will grow in containers.
Soil in a glasshouse can harbor diseases or what we call pathogens. These love a chemical/acidic environment where they can thrive.
Beneficial microbes and fungi love a alkaline, chemical free environment so the use of chlorinated tap water, chemical sprays along with herbicides are going to create problems for your tomatoes and other plants.
Chemical sterilizing the soil with Basamid is no longer an option since the chemical was banned.
I have in the past suggested potassium permanganate with salt as a soil drench but this takes out both the beneficial and the bad.
Some gardeners dig out the soil and replace it with new soil which is not only a lot of hard work but you cannot be sure the new soil will not have its own problems especially weed seeds.
The new product Terracin is the natural way to clean up soil diseases. Mix the Terracin at 2ml per litre of water and apply to one SqM of moist soil.
Or mix at 20ml to 1 litre to spray over 10 SqM of moist soil.
Terracin uses a combination of a Bacillus amyloliquefaciens BS-1b, a beneficial soil microbe and the enzymes, bacteriocins, secondary Metabolites & signal molecules from the fermentation of Enteroccocus faecium to suppress a broad range of fungal pathogens.
During the next 3 weeks keep the soil moist (not wet) with non-chlorinated water.
After 3 weeks we need to feed and build the populations of beneficial microbes so we apply either Mycorrcin or Thatch Busta to feed them.
In colder weather it is best to apply Thatch Busta as its more powerful and helps warm the soil so the beneficials can multiply.
In warmer weather use the Mycorrcin.
Once you have done this its a matter of not using chemicals in the glasshouse including chlorinated water. A Special filter can be attached to your hose a system same as what I have been using for several years.
The next problem in a glasshouse is the nice environment which is very good for insect pests to breed.
During the growing season you have to keep them in control with the following: sticky yellow traps, Neem Tree Granules, Wallys Neem Tree Oil and Key Pyrethrum so they will get completely out of hand.
Fumigating the glasshouse at the end of the season to kill all the pests that are harbouring over in cracks and places means a clean start in the new season.
Recently Wallys Sulphur Powder has become available for this purpose.
This is ideal for fumigating a glasshouse in winter when there are no crops growing. (May dehydrate and kill plants so empty the house first.)
To use: Close all vents in the glasshouse.
Place an amount of sulphur onto a steel hearth shovel and light.
Place burning sulphur in the middle of the house and leave immediately.
Close the door and let the sulphur fumes do their job. Leave house closed for a few days.
The amount of sulphur burnt will depend on size of the glasshouse.
For a house 2.5m x 2.5 m burn about 50 grams of sulphur.
I did this last winter after cleaning all the plants out of my glasshouses and once outside it was a sight to
see so many whitefly and adult psyllids beating up against the glass trying to escape.
Likely burning sulphur safely in out buildings for cluster flies in winter would be a good way to control them also.
TO THE LIST OF ARTICLES
With winter fast approaching now is an ideal time to do some container gardening for both indoors and outside.
The chill and dreariness of the days ahead can be broken by planting colour (flowers) into containers which can lift the spirits on the gloomiest day.
Starting with the indoors a call down to your local garden centre will find a number of house plants to brighten up your home.
There are ample cyclamen available at this time, being a winter flowering plant.
The miniature types often have a lovely fragrance as well as their delightful up standing flowers.
Cyclamen prefer a cool or colder situation with as much direct sunlight as possible during winter.
This makes them excellent specimens for windowsills indoors and for colour around entrance ways.
Many gardeners find they have more success with these plants outside than they do indoors.
The reason for this is that it is colder outside and there will be a certain amount of air movement to keep them happy even if they become too wet from rain or watering.
Indoors, the temperature is greater in a heated room and if they are over watered this can be fatal as rots will form on the leaves and flower stems. In bad cases the bulb will also rot away.
Cyclamen are not a flowering plant that you can safely place on a coffee table in the middle of the room except for short periods of time.
Away from the windowsill or outdoors, the leaves and flowers will start to stretch towards the distant light and the plant will become unbalanced. The stretching will weaken the plant and be much more susceptible to over watering diseases.
For indoors the plants should sit on a windowsill where they will receive as much natural light as possible being next to the cold pane of glass, (if you do not have double glazing) will be better suited to its needs of both temperature and light.
When you draw the curtains at night then the cyclamen should be behind the curtain where it is going to be a lot colder than in the heated room.
Every few days you should rotate the pot 180 degrees so that each side of the plant receives direct light for a few days before being turned again.
This will greatly help to keep the plant balanced rather than have all its foliage and flowers growing towards the window side of the container.
Watering can be a problem for many as there is often a tendency to over water.
That is fatal especially in a room that is heated and has little air movement.
The easy answer to this is to check your cyclamen every day when you open and close the curtains, if the flower stems are starting to droop then give the plant a small drink of cold water.
(As the potting mix dries out the flowers will be the first to droop followed by the foliage.)
Dependent on the size of the pot and plant this would be about 200 to 500 mils of water.
This should be applied right around the circumference of the pot avoiding watering over the bulb.
If you find that when you water the plant much of the water runs out into the saucer then there is a problem. The mix has become too dry and will not accept much of the water.
To overcome this, you fill a bucket with water and plunge the pot into it so that the top of the container is submerged.
Air bubbles will start bubbling up and the pot should be held under water till there is no more bubbles.
Lift up and allow to drain taking the surplus water away.
The mix is now saturated with water and the best thing to do is to place the pot outside on a porch for a couple of days to allow the container to dry out a bit in the cold.
While outside it should be in a spot where it is sheltered from the worst of the wind and protected from frosts.
After a few days you can bring your cyclamen back inside to the windowsill.
At any time that a cyclamen is looking a bit poorly then simply pop it outside for about a week to refreshen it.
Being a flowering plant they do appreciate some feeding and any good liquid plant food is ideal to add to your water once or twice a month.
Matrix Reloaded is an excellent container plant food as it contains all the minerals for growing plants in a hydroponic system.
When the cyclamen has finished flowering later in the year then you can place the plant outdoors in its pot or plant it in a shaded situation under trees or shrubs. Do not have them in full summer sun light.
Outdoors the cyclamen will likely produce seed pods as the pollination of the flowers is breeze assisted.
You can leave these seed pods on the plants until they are fully ripe and then harvest the fresh seeds.
Cyclamen seed are usually germinated in the winter by keeping the seeds moist as they are sitting on top of the growing medium, only partially covered or bare. They germinate best in the dark with some underheat.
Once the first leaves appear then move the seed tray into a bight light situation and allow the medium to dry out a bit before re-watering.
Later about Xmas time the baby plants will be of reasonable size to pot individually into small 50mm pots. By feeding the mentioned plant food they will then quickly grow and their root system will fill the small pot.
They then can be transferred to a larger container say about 120mm size.
When this pot is filled then up to a larger one again say about 200mm or bigger.
With ample food you can grow a massive cyclamen with hundreds of flowers for the following winter.
If grown for indoor use do not repot into a container that is too big for your windowsills.
Likely you may have a number of other pot plants growing in your home. Great care should be taken in winter not too overwater, in fact the mix should be kept a little on the dry side till they start to come away again in the spring.
There are ample types of flowering plants called colour spots that you will find at your garden centre.
These can be potted up in compost for colour outdoors or some are suitable in potting mix for indoors on windowsills or very close to sunny windows.
Outside now is the time to spray frost sensitive plants with Vaporgard to give them down to minus 3 degree frost protection for the next 3 months.
This works a treat but if there are two or more frosts in a row, night after night, then additional protection such as frost cloth will be needed as the plants do not have time to recover before they are frosted again. Vaporgard is perfect for the occasional frost every few days or more apart.
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A few years ago I happen to be talking to a green keeper, (Ray) from up north about a couple of gardening problems that he had, and during the conversation he mentioned a n Australian product that he was using on his bowling greens.
The product consisted of Eucalyptus oil and Tea Tree oil along with natural plant foods in the form of manures and seaweed/fish extracts.
Ray told me about how he was using the product on his greens to give fantastic control of grass grubs, black beetles, root nematodes and porina caterpillars.
In the past Ray had been using various chemical poisons which he detested as the residue of these poisons would be left on the greens for bowlers to not only get onto their footwear but also onto the bowling balls which of course are been handled.
Unless the bowlers washed both hands, clothes and footwear they would be tracking home substances that are not good for their health.
This new natural product overcome any health aspects and safe to walk on (after the application of water to wash it down) within 24 hours for pets and children.
Ray told me it did a far better control than any of the chemicals had ever done.
Ray also cited a case where some fellow green keepers, up his way, were having problems with porina caterpillars in their greens.
They firstly used diazinon at normal strength and the caterpillars just laughed and kept on munching.
So then they applied the same poison at 3 times the recommended rate and still a number of porina survived. So Ray gave them a few litres of this natural product which they applied.
The result was a complete control of the porina from one application.
(diazinon has since been banned and was sold by Yates as Soil Insect Control.)
This new natural product is applied at the rate one 1 litre to 25 litres of water to cover 50 square metres of lawn.
(Diluted at the above rate; 200mls to 5 litres of water applied to 10 square metres of lawn)
After application the lawn is further lightly watered with the hose or a sprinkler to wash the oils off the grass and down into the top 6 to 10cm of the lawn. It is there that it does its job.
Often lawns are the home of garden slugs which emerge out of the soil and thatch to invade our gardens during moist times. The product knocks them out also.
Worms will happily live underneath the oil layer in the top soil without any known adverse effects.
Worms that are near the surface when applied may not fair so well.
During a more recent conversation with Ray I found that these oils will control other soil insects such as eel worm, centipedes, root mealy bugs etc. Even the likes of earwigs and slaters can be given the old hurry on if they are causing problems.
Being a bit of an experimenter I obtained a bottle of the product and mixed it at 10 mils to 250 mls of water in a trigger sprayer and went hunting for bugs on leaves.
I found some whitefly, (adults and nymphs) caterpillars and leaf hoppers on the backs of some leaves. Sprayed them and the leaves and checked the next day to find dead whitefly and a caterpillar that was a funny yellow colour, still alive but fairly sick.
The manufacture informed me that the oils act as an irritant to the pests and they succumb as a result.
Imaginative gardeners may find this product an interesting tool in assisting in the control of some pests such as wire worm in the soil by treating the area a few weeks before planting (say) their new seasons potatoes.
The product is only recommended for lawn use and should only be used for the control of pests in the lawn areas.
Used for any other purpose is not recommended but being two natural oils I cannot see any health concerns as you are not likely to spray over any food crops and eat them without first washing as you would normally do.
Being a oil based product, it can of course burn foliage and grass if sprayed in sunlight.
For lawn applications it is recommended to use early in the morning or late afternoon and washing in with the hose, taking the oils off the foliage and into the soil.
My research on the net indicates that Eucalyptus oil is toxic, but in weak solutions is used medically with warnings of possible toxic effects. (uses inhalers and medications)
Tea Tree oil should not be taken orally as it can be toxic in this form also. (Also used in various medical preparations externally)
The product’s label states ; ‘Do not feed grass clippings to animals and birds’ which would apply to the first or second mowing after application to a lawn area.
If you have pets that eat grass then make sure you water the oils off the grass after initial application before allowing the pets to roam the lawn.
Mind you the oils are only in the following strengths; Eucalyptus oil 10g/L and Tea Tree oil at 2.5g/L and then they are going to be further diluted at 1 litre concentrate to 25 litres of water and further reduced when washing into the soil off the grass’s foliage.
Bearing these precautions in mind the possible harm to pets and birds would be very minimal.
This Australian product is now packaged in NZ and is called Wallys 3 in 1 for Lawns, been a natural lawn pest insecticide, lawn food and wetting agent. For lawn fertilising it is used at any time of the year at 100mls to 2 litres of water to cover 10 square metres.
This rate will in fact assist a little in the control of lawn pests as a sort of top up after the initial application rate.
The wetting agent aspect will assist in drier times for the prevention of ‘Dry Spot’ in lawns.
This is when the soil dries out and surface tension prevents the rain or your watering from sinking into the soil.
Noticed often as a brown area with nice green grass around it.
This is about the right time of the year to treat for grass grub as the soil is more moist and the grubs are nearer to the surface.
If you have had problems in previous years then you are likely to have grass grubs back again.
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Recently I received an article about how smart plants are. This may make you look at plants in a slightly different light.
Plants are not just green leafy things, rooted into the soil soaking up sunlight which they convert to energy (carbohydrates or sugar). That in itself is pretty amazing stuff being in a sense more advanced than our off the grid solar power systems.
Plants are active communicators engaging in a complex relationship with the environment.
They are weather forecasters also; for example, acorns if they have thicker shells than normal it means an extra cold winter. Why is that? Simply to protect the germ inside the nut by having a thicker coat manufactured as the nut forms.
From Folk Law we have two more examples of plants knowing what the winter will be like: When leaves fall early, Fall and Winter will be mild; When leaves fall late, Winter will be severe.
This also makes sense as deciduous trees and roses want to gain as such energy from their leaf factories as possible to withstand the coming winter.
Another is: Onion skins very thin, Mild Winter coming in; Onion skins thick and tough, Coming Winter cold and rough. Once again to protect for the bulb so it will produce flowers and seeds in the spring.
Music and Healing Energy Changes the Way Plants Grow:
Research shows music and noise both influence the growth of plants. As explained in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine:
“Plants are complex multicellular organisms considered as sensitive as humans for initial assaying of effects and testing new therapies.
Sound is known to affect the growth of plants. Seeds are sometimes treated with ultrasound to help start the germination process …
For an example; Foliage planted along freeways to reduce noise pollution often grows differently than foliage planter in a quiet environment … Sound vibration can stimulate a seed or plant.
In a series of five experiments that used okra and zucchini seeds germinated in acoustically shielded, thermally insulated chambers, researchers measured the biologic effects of music, noise and healing energy on the seeds' growth.
They compared untreated controls with seeds exposed to musical sound, pink noise and healing energy.
The seeds exposed to music and those exposed to healing energy both germinated faster than the control seeds or those exposed to noise. According to the study.
Now for those school students that would like to do a science experiment for school that would be a interesting one to try.
It has been noticed in studies that plants: Warn Each Other About Pest Attacks.
Plants growing naturally have capabilities of deterring pest insects from feeding on themselves.
I presume this may happen in ways such as creating a chemical that makes the plant unpalatable to that insect group; creating a chemical that changes either the smell of the plant or the light waves reflecting off the plants to disguise themselves.
Note in most cases insect pests find their host plants by smell or light waves reflecting off the plant.
It would appear that many if not all plants have this ability but from studies done the plants take a bit of time to come to full alert/protection.
Many years ago I wrote an article on how spraying plants with a weak solution of aspirin put the plants onto full alert.
There is a new commercial product which can not only do this but also provide beneficial bacteria to the foliage to colonise and reduce the ability for fungus diseases like black spot from establishing.
Readers will be familiar with Mycorrhizal fungi which is found extensively in healthy soils.
It is known that the Mycorrhizal attach to plant roots and gather nutrients and moisture to the benefit of the plant in exchange for carbohydrates. This can increase a plants root zone by 800%.
The Mycorrhizal fungi threads link plants to one another like a underground internet and this is how plants can communicate with each other.
So we can determine that this works in the following manner: A number of plants of the same species are growing in an area when one is attacked by aphids.
This plant sends out a warning message to the other plants that it is being attacked. The surrounding plants start putting their defense mechanisms into operation while relaying the same message further afield.
Even more amazing, the warning not only leads to systemic changes, particularly it causes the plant to increase production of volatile chemicals that repel aphids while attracting wasps, which are aphids’ natural enemy.
To help prove this; bean plants were used where the researchers removed the Mycorrhizal connecting them together, the plants quickly succumbed to the infestation, presumably because they didn't receive the warning to mount their defenses.
Another 2010 study published detailed interplant communication of tomato plants, explaining:
"CMNs [common Mycorrhizal networks] may function as a plant-plant underground communication conduit whereby disease resistance and induced defense signals can be transferred between the healthy and pathogen-infected neighboring plants …
Suggesting that plants can 'eavesdrop' on defense signals from the pathogen-challenged neighbors through CMNs to activate defenses before being attacked themselves."
One thing that is for sure is the importance of Mycorrhizal fungi in our gardens which you can help increase by applying Mycorrcin to your garden soil.
Mycorrcin is a special natural food that stimulate the development of the beneficial fungi.
Chemical fungicides, herbicides and insecticides along with chlorinated water kills the Mycorrhizal fungi and leaves your plants vulnerable to attack and unable to obtain the full benefit of the nutrients and moisture in their growing area.
It is also the Mycorrhizal fungi that assists in the building of humus in your garden soils which has the following benefits; sequestering of carbon along with the retention of water and minerals.
So when you go out into your garden next you will know that your plants already had their own Internet (under ground net) long before we had the Internet.
Also you can make the plants happy and healthy by playing some soothing music.
Plants can also read your moods and gardeners that love their gardens have a great healing asset.
If you have had a stressful day and you go out into the garden, your plants will pick up on your stress and as you spend time looking after them they will look after you and before you know it the stress has vanished.
TO THE LIST OF ARTICLES
Winter can be a tough time for the more tender plants we grow but there are a few things that you can do to help them get through the harsh times of cold, frosty, windy and wet.
Those gardeners living in southern regions or in higher altitudes will be aware of the winter conditions and have their own methods of assisting plant survival.
Often it is gardeners living in more temperate zones that can get caught out.
Now is the time to start hardening up plants for winter and the first thing to do is to give all the more tender plants and preferred plants a sprinkling of Fruit & Flower Power. This is a combination of magnesium and potash, the magnesium helps keep the foliage green while the potash hardens up the growth. Repeat this once a month over the winter and into spring.
Those gardeners that have the Cell Strengthening Kits from summer to help control damage from the psyllids (Worked very well might I add) could drench the soil with the Silicon & Boron soil drench and spray the foliage with the Silicon Cell Strengthener combined with the Silicon Super Spreader.
Only use the above on tender and preferred plants no need to do the whole garden.
Wet feet in winter is deadly on some plants such as citrus trees and if you have placed weedmat or mulches around citrus and other plants that can suffer/die from wet feet; remove the mulch etc.
This allows the moisture to escape.
Next spray the foliage of the same plants with Perkfection Supa at the full strength rate and a month later at the lessor rate on the label. (Add Raingard if you have used Vaporgard in the last 3 months.)
Perkfection builds up the immune system of the plants and helps to prevent root rots.
Then there is a need for frost protection for all the plants that can be damaged by frost.
Citrus trees especially limes, tamarillo, banana, Choko, late tomatoes are the ones I will spray with Vaporgard for its frost protection abilities.
Vaporgard will give your plants down to minus 3 degrees of frost protection within 3 days of application for up to 3 months. Spray in sunlight so film sets quicker.
Use only on ever green plants as deciduous fruit trees and roses are hardy able to cope with winter conditions; but a spray of Perkfection before leaf drop would not go astray.
When you understand how things work then you have a great advantage in gaining all the benefits.
Vaporgard places a film over the foliage sprayed, that lasts for about 3 months.
Vaporgard develops a polymerised skin over each spray-droplet which filters out UVA and UVB. Providing a sunscreen for the chlorophyll, which is normally under attack by UV light.
This results in a darker green colour of the foliage within a few days of application.
The chlorophyll build-up makes the leaf a more efficient food factory producing more carbohydrates, along with antifreeze; giving stress protection from moisture loss and extra fuel for better growth and faster maturity.
The plant has its own anti-freeze to protect the cells.
This works fine for the occasional frost every few days but if you have a series of frosts night after night additional protection such as frost cloth is needed.
This is because the damage to the cells from the first frost takes a day or three to heal before they are hit again.
If your plant suffers frost damage, burning the exposed leaves do not remove them as they will offer some protection to the leaves lower down.
Plants do not require much water in the winter and this is especially so for container plants either outdoors or indoors.
Allow the mix to dry down and then small drinks from time to time to prevent the leaves from going limp due to lack of moisture.
If you have saucers under outdoor containers, which can be great in the summer for water retention, these should be removed and a couple of slats of wood place under the pot to allow free flow out of the drainage holes.
If the container does not have drainage then ensure its where it cannot be rained on.
In winter if you have plants in a glasshouse; when they need watering do so in the morning so that the plants have a drier root zone when it get colder in the afternoon.
Leaf diseases on deciduous trees and roses such as black spot or rust you do not need to worry about as they are going to lose their leaves soon anyway.
Later you can spray the plant and surrounding soil with potassium permanganate to kill the disease spores.
Powdery mildew can be annoying if it spreads to new plants so a spray of baking soda at one tablespoon per litre of water with 1 mil of Raingard added will keep it under control or help prevent.
There is little advantage in feeding plants this time of the year unless they are winter vegetables or flowers. Summer tomatoes, chili etc in glasshouses and sheltered situations can be feed to keep them going longer but keep them on the dry side.
Next month will be the time to sort out your strawberries for the next season.
Bramble bushes such as raspberries can have their old canes cut off leaving the new this season ones.
I actually cut all mine back low, both old and new canes and let the plants produce a new lot.
That gets rid of disease and pests very quickly and as I have found the new canes produced will crop well later in the season..
Indoor plants will suffer badly if you over water them in winter.
Also as there is less natural daylight hours, they will suffer though less light if they are further away from direct light through a window.
Some people will move their house plants nearer to a window for winter to increase the light available for their survival. This is very important for flowering plants such as cyclamen which should sit on a window sill or be within a metre of a bright light window.
Likely you have seen pictures of old Victorian rooms with lush ferns and aspidistras thriving in rooms with drapes closed 24/7 (To stop the carpets and framed pictures from deteriorating)
So how could these plants survive week in week out without natural light?
Simple there was always two identical plants, one in the conservatory the other indoors and every week the servants would swap them around. Now back to Downton Abbey.
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Over many years I have raised vegetables in all manner of garden types and containers.
Heavy clay soils, light sandy soils, soils so festered with weeds that you spent more time weeding than growing.
Every house that I moved to over the years I would need to start a garden by digging up an area of lawn.
Initially this would mean spade work digging two spade depths, mounding up the soil leaving a two spade depth trench around the perimeter.
This allowed for good drainage especially in heavy soils during wet times.
The ideal time to dig this garden was heading into winter and the sods would be left whole as they landed.
A good dose of garden lime would be scattered over the clods and winter frosts would do the rest.
The harder the frosts the better and then in the spring the clods would crumble to a fine tilth with the touch of a hoe or rake.
Animal manure, chicken manure and blood & bone would be scattered over the area and forked in prior to planting. Some hardy plants would go in early with the main planting of the tender plants on Labour Weekend.
Looking back on those days of gardening I never used man made fertilisers or any chemical sprays.
Sometimes a bit of derris dust would be used but mostly I preferred to pick off any caterpillars and squash the butterfly eggs. Young seedlings I would protect by placing a clear glass flagon over them with the bottom cut off.
About 15 years ago at the house where I was living I wanted to increase my vegetable growing area after having given my chickens free range of the back yard.
The house was down a long drive in a commercial area so no problem setting up an area for growing except the area was a turning bay with heavy gravel.
The only way to have a garden would be to have a raised garden well above the gravel.
I also wanted a raised garden that could be worked without bending down and the cheapest way for that would be to use roofing iron.
Three new sheets of galvanized iron 1.8 metres long and two 100 x 100 fence posts were also purchased the length of which was half the width of the of the sheets of iron.
Cut the fence post in half and no wastage. The fence posts are treated with chemicals so to overcome that problem a couple of coats of acrylic paint was applied all over the wood surface.
The posts are not going to be dug into the ground and the whole raised bed will sit in the ground or in some cases on a lawn or concrete.
Construction was simple; lay the two painted fence posts on the ground and place one sheet of iron over the posts to completely cover the two posts. Check to make sure its square fitting and then drill holes of suitable diameter to take the roofing screws.
On a roof you would fasten the ridge part of the iron sheet so water would flow down the gully part.
For your raised garden the reverse applies. Screw in the roofing screws at both ends of the sheet.
The reason for using screws as apposed to roofing nails is they are easy to unscrew if you want to move the raised garden or extend it.
The same is done on the other long length of iron. You now have two sides so next the ends.
The final sheet of iron is cut in half making it 90cm long, a nice width to work on from one side or both. The posts are going to be inside the bed.
The two ends are screwed to the fence posts. It is best to assemble where its going to sit which ideally one long side should be facing in a northerly direction..
One very important aspect about where you are going to place the garden and that is as far away from trees, shrubs or other plants as possible.
If anywhere near say a tree or too close to a drip line, the tree will send out feeder roots to your raised garden and then upwards to take all the goodness out.
The garden becomes a dense mesh of feeder roots over a couple of seasons and nothing will grow in it.
I found this out the hard way as my first raised garden was about a metre away from a fence that had a cocktail kiwi fruit growing on it. Within two seasons it had become a mass of fibrous roots and a very big vine on the fence.
If your raised garden is sitting on concrete no problems but near to perennial plants, shrubs, vines and trees then sit the garden on thick black plastic sheet like builders use to prevent roots invading.
Now you have the raised garden ready to fill. Except for the above if your raised garden is sitting on soil or a grass area place a few sheets of cardboard at the bottom to stop any weeds temporarily and attract earthworms.
Next any trimmings of trees and shrubs goes in onto the cardboard along with any rubbish organic material which can be grass clippings (Not sprayed with herbicide for over 18 months) sawdust, newspaper, old spent compost, old potting mixes and even some top soil (which is likely to have weed seeds in it.)
Filling the raised garden to about half the depth. You can even trample it down and add more to about half full.
Over this you put several layers of newspaper. Cover this with purchased compost that is NOT made from green waste. Daltons & Oderings Composts are two safe ones along with straight mushroom compost.
The fill will take it to about 35cm from the top of the raised garden. Now you spread some goodies such as Blood & Bone, sheep manure pellets, Neem Tree Granules, Rock Solid, Ocean Solids, chicken manure and the cover these with another layer of purchased compost about 5cm deep.
This should then be about 20 to 30 cm from the top of the raised garden and ready for you to sow seeds or plant seedlings.
After planting you can stretch some netting or crop cover across the bed and holding secure with a nail in each corner post.
This will stop birds and cats from getting in and destroying your plantings and if crop cover is used it will stop most insect pests as well including butterflies.
Having one long side facing north will heat up the contents through the iron warming nicely the mix.
The gap between the mix and the top creates a wind break and so you have your own special micro-climate and plants will grow twice as fast compared to if they were in open ground.
When a crop is harvested just place more goodies into the bed and cover with more compost.
You will get years of pleasure and nutrition dense vegetables for your health.
You can easily extend the raised garden with two more 1.8 sheets and one more post cut in half.
Unscrew one end that you want to extend, removing the end section. Unscrew the sides at that end so your new sheets will overlap onto the existing and be screwed on together.
Posts at other end will take the end half sheet and now you have 3.6 metres of raised garden.
Fill this as previously.
You may need to place a brace across the middle to posts to prevent it bowing outwards.
Happy Raised Gardening.
TO THE LIST OF ARTICLES
April 3rd ends daylight saving and we will notice the earlier sunset time giving us less time after work to do a few things before dusk.
It is only our clocks that change, the clock that guides our plants keeps rolling on and they (the plants) started adapting to the less hours of daylight a while back.
Deciduous plants started to show signs of leaf colour change and dropping, autumn diseases such as powdery mildew started covering susceptible foliage.
On deciduous plants and annuals finishing for the season there is little point in trying to put the brakes on nature by using remedial sprays.
That is unless you are trying to squeeze out a bit more time on pumpkins, cucumbers and zucchini so you have a few more mature fruit to harvest.
Spraying the foliage with Wallys Neem Tree Oil cleans off the mildew and allows the leaves to function fully gaining energy from the sun to ripen the last fruit.
Alternative is to mix a table spoon of baking soda into a litre of warm water with one mil of Raingard and spray that.
Those that are concerned that diseases are creating spores that will lay dormant and then attack your plants in the spring can use potassium permanganate (Condys Crystals) at ¼ a teaspoon per litre of water to spray plants and the soil beneath.
This inexpensive treatment can be repeated during the winter and spring and can make a big difference to the diseases on your roses and other plants in the new season.
Potassium permanganate is available from many gardening outlets and by mail order for those that cant find a retail shop.
During the week I read an article that used the phase, “Nutrient Dense” in reference to growing health giving produce. I like that and so expect to hear me use it when trying to convince people to grow their own produce for taste and health.
The taste of food you eat will tell you how healthy that produce is.
We are talking about raw or just cooked without smothering it with ketchup or spices. For instance this season I grew a French Heirloom pumpkin that gets warts on the skin as it reaches maturity.
You have to harvest it before the whole outside becomes warty.
The flavour is so good that I have roasted pieces of the pumpkin and with a little butter had that as a evening meal on its own.
The taste is naturally sweet and no problem eating a plate full in fact feeling a little disappointed there was not more when the last bit was consumed.
Now that is Nutrient Dense for you, grown without chemicals, using only natural things along with Rok Solid and Ocean Solids for the minerals and elements.
Some of you may have grown or purchased a plant called Cat Grass; it is a grass that animals including cats and dogs love for their digestion and health.
We have a cat that has never been outside for over 4 years now and she loves her pot of grass which we have placed on the floor in her living area to nibble on as required or to eat larger amounts so she can bring up fur balls.
A few more pots of Cat Grass are kept outside freshening up. The bowls are changed about once a week as the grass needs to be re-freshened out in the sunlight.
It is very important to have fresh grass for your cat and ours becomes agitated when we take her grass away and when we bring in the new bowl she becomes very excited.
Keep your cat grass healthy by watering it with Magic Botanic Liquid every 2 weeks for the extra minerals and elements.
Dogs also love cat grass which is available from some retail garden shops or as seeds to grow your own.
Even if your cat or dog have access to the outdoor grasses it still is a good healthy principal to have some cat grass by your back door for them to nibble on.
Last month the Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations release the results of a study in regards to pollination of crops and plants.
In the field study coordinated by FAO, scientists compared 344 plots across Africa, Asia and Latin America and concluded that crop yields were significantly lower in farming plots that attracted fewer bees during the main flowering season than in those plots that received more visits.
When comparing high-performing and low-performing farms of less than 2 hectares, the outcomes suggest that poorly performing farms could increase their yields by a median of 24 percent by attracting more pollinators to their land.
It is good to have a study that shows common sense is correct and another good reason to ban all bee harming insecticides.
Reuters reported on 18th March: French lawmakers approved plans for a total ban on some widely used pesticides blamed for harming bees, going beyond European Union restrictions in a fierce debate that has pitched farmers and chemical firms against beekeepers and green groups.
The EU limited the use of neonicotinoid chemicals, produced by companies including Bayer CropScience and Syngenta , two years ago after research pointed to risks for bees, which play a crucial role pollinating crops.
The French outright ban on neonicotinoid pesticides was adopted by a narrow majority late on Thursday by France's National Assembly as part of a draft bill on biodiversity that also contains an additional tax on palm oil.
New Zealand being very dependent on agriculture should be looking to the same objectives.
I noticed at the beginning of the season a few bumble bees and the odd honey bee working my bee friendly plants but now in the autumn instead of seeing much more activity, as it used to be in the past as hive numbers increase over the summer months, I am now lucky to see any at all.
This is likely due to the fact that residential houses a few hundred yards away have been using bee killing insecticides such as the neonicotinoid, Confidor.
Now that the soil has cooled down and a bit of rain has started to happen you can now safely plant your spring bulbs.
Bone flour used to be the special food to use with your bulbs but that is hard to come by these days.
Instead a little gypsum and some blood & bone would be good value and for protection against soil insects damaging the bulbs use a little of Wally Neem Tree Granules.
Moisture means weed seeds germinating slice them off at soil level while they are small and easy to do.
TO THE LIST OF ARTICLES
Autumn is a great time to garden, the temperatures have lessened making for a pleasant time to do those end of the season jobs.
An email from a gardener this morning asked how do you get the black sooty mould off a citrus tree and said that copper sprays were not working.
Black sooty mould on plants is caused by insects that feed on the plant and pee out honey dew which is from the plant's sugars. This honey dew forms a mould which we call black sooty mould.
It is sticky and can take a long time to weather off after the insects that originally caused the problem have gone.
If the insects are still present the mould will build up into thicker layers.
First action then is to get rid of the insects and on a citrus tree all you need to do is sprinkle Wallys Neem Tree Granules under the tree from trunk to drip line. Lightly water and after about 6 weeks all the pests should have gone including any borer in the tree.
The sooty mould can be treated at the same time by spraying a new product call Wallys Karbyon.
50 grams of the powder is dissolved into a litre of water then another 4 litres added before spraying the foliage with the mould. Spray till run off so the mould gets a good soak.
Leave for 48 hours to soak into the mould and then with a jet of water from the hose blast the mould off. In cases of thick layers of mould you will need to repeat the Karbyon spray until the leaves are clean.
Those leaves that have a layer of mould over them can not gain energy from the sun which does effect the health of the tree through reduction of performance.
Bit like having dirt over your solar panels, you are not going to generate the electricity the panels are capable of in sunlight.
Sooty mould on your plants not only looks unsightly it does affect the well being of the plant as well; so should be removed. If the insects that pee out the honeydew are also feeding on the plant you have a double whammy, energy sucked out and less energy created from the sunlight.
So get rid of the insects causing the problem with sprays of Wallys Neem Tree Oil and in the case of citrus the Neem Tree Granules.
While on the subject of Honeydew; Manuka honey does not come from the manuka flowers it comes from scale insects that feed on the manuka shrubs and pee out honeydew.
I always wondered when I had bee hives near my manuka plants that when it flower the bees were not interested.
As the original native manuka had white flowers, which were pollinated by native moths at night time, attracted to the reflected light from the moon shining off the white petals. There was no need for nectar production in the flowers.
Autumn is a prime feeding time for your citrus and the best foods by far are natural such as Blood & Bone, chicken manure, sheep manure pellets, BioBoost, Neem Tree Granules, Rok Solid and Fruit & Flower Power.
Sprinkle as many of the above as you like under the tree or on top of the mix for container grown and then cover with a layer of compost. Avoid manmade fertilisers as they harm the soil life and can lead to disease problems.
Not only is this the right time of the year for planting the last crops of winter vegetables it is also the time for planting or sowing winter flowering plants to brighten up those weary winter days.
It has been many years since I have grown sweet peas for their beauty and perfume in winter.
While looking at a mail order web site in NZ for information on the spring bulb article I wrote recently I found that the company had an excellent range of sweet pea seeds.
Some modern hybrids and many heirloom varieties which tempted me to purchase 5 different varieties, some for their colour and the rest for their fragrance. I will place netting along a wooden retaining wall that has good morning sun.
Sweet peas, like snow peas and vegetable peas love a good natural diet and ample lime to do well.
I plan to sow them this weekend as its a nice day outside.
Lawn sowing, repair and maintenance time is now that we are getting some autumn rains.
If sowing a new lawn the biggest concern is not to sow the seeds too soon before you allow most of the weed seeds in the ground to germinate.
Prepare the area up to the point of sowing and then keep moist to germinate the weed seeds present.
When these show and grow about 10 to 20mm tall, slice them off with a sharp Dutch hoe. Preferably do not use a weed killer as it can have a detrimental effect on the young grasses when they try to grow.
Yellowing of the new grasses can be a result of Roundup or other weed killers been used prior to sowing.
Repeat the weed slicing/watering weed seed germinating more than once so you have less weeds competing with your new grasses.
Suggested type of lawn seed is Super Strike unless you have other preferences. Also can be used for patching unless you have other varieties of grasses growing.
BioBoost is a natural slow release prill that is inexpensive and a good food for your lawns. Available through some garden centres or Farmlands.
Thatch is the layer of debris that builds up on the soil in your lawns. It weakens the grasses, interferes with watering, feeding and aids the establishment of diseases and moss.
It can be removed with a scarifying rake or machine but the easy and very effective way is to apply Thatch Busta to the lawn. 100 mils into 10 litres of water to cover a 100 SqM.
According to the manufacture in NZ it will eat up an inch of thatch in one month given average conditions of moisture and warmth.
Moss in lawns can be safely controlled with Moss & Liverwort Control jetted into the moss (or liverwort etc) at the recommended rates.
I had a farmer present a problem to me this week of a 700 metre griselinea hedge that was turning yellow.
As he is not living too far away he brought me a sample of the foliage which he was concerned about.
The sample showed some herbicide damage to the new growth so the question was asked do you spray herbicides?
The reply was yes regularly to control weeds under the hedge using Roundup and sometimes Tordon.
I then explained how these chemical get into the soil and last for long periods of time.
They are taken up by the roots of the plants in parts per million which does not kill the plants outright but over prolong period will affect growth, turning foliage to yellow (Termed the Yellows caused by herbicides such as Glyphosate) and affecting new growth with curled/distorted/feathery and strange foliage.
Eventually over the years the plants will succumb to the continued dosing of herbicides and die.
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An email which I will share with you later about Comfrey stimulated my interest in this herb/weed and how it can be used to advantage in your garden.
Comfrey is also a menace in your gardens as it will spread rapidly and takes a lot of work to remove.
Leave a small bit of root behind and Comfrey is back in business.
If you are interested after reading this article to obtain and grow this amazing plant then only grow it where it will be confined.
A tub or trough would be ideal sitting above the soil or on concrete and keeping an eye on the plants, preventing them from seeding by removing the flowers.
I have seen it contained between a building and a concrete path where it will fill all the available soil area.
Comfrey is a remarkable plant and it has gone by many synonyms over the ages such as ; Knitbone, Blackwort, Bruisewort and Boneset. Wort is a common old name for a plant or herb.
A member of the borage and Forget-me-not family of plants it will grow in any soil but prefers to be under trees in the shade. Not only does it spread making a pest of itself like convolvulus, it can grow from a little bit of root left in the ground.
The chief and most important constituent of Comfrey root is mucilage which it contains in great abundance. Also 0.6 to 0.8 per cent of Allantoin and a little tannin.
The roots have in the past been used for a number of remedies and made into concoctions for taking internally. The leaves have been used externally for a number of conditions such as; sprains, swellings, bruises, poultice, to severe cuts, boils, abscesses, and applied to inflamed parts where bones have fractured to reduce swelling and assisting in the reunion.
Comfrey contains high concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorous equal to that of farm manure which makes it great for use as or with compost tea.
The leaves are also high in vitamins B, C and E and beta-carotene. With those high levels of potassium it makes an ideal fertiliser for any fruiting plant which at this time of year that means tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, melons, potatoes - in fact, any other plant you can think of that bears fruit.
The leaves can be used directly on the garden as mulch or you could add them to your compost or liquid manure barrel.
It is best to harvest the leaves just prior to flowering as this is when the nutrient levels are at their highest.
A plastic rubbish tin with lid is ideal for making brews of liquid compost. Harvest the leaves of Comfrey prior to flowering and chop up a bit and place them in the container along with water and a little Mycorrcin or Thatch Buster to help with the fermentation.
Animal manure can also be added along with urine.
Keep the lid on and as it will smell so have it far away from your home, down the back of the section.
The email from a friend mentioned earlier told the following story:
COMFREY: The miracle Healing Herb
Today I saw a 67-year-old friend who a few weeks ago was clinically diagnosed following a biopsy by her GP family doctor with a large (about 20 mm dia.)
Squamous cell carcinoma (cancer) on top of her hand and was quoted about $1600 to have it cut out. I saw it myself at that time, and thought it looked quite nasty.
She followed her dear husband's recommendation to use the herb COMFREY on it which he had in his vegetable garden.
To this point I had never even heard of COMFREY!
She then made a paste up of chopped/ground up fresh Comfrey leaves mixing it with coconut oil with a few drops of lemon juice, and then applied it to the lesion.
That was probably 4 or 5 weeks ago. Today I saw her and incredibly, the cancerous lump is all gone and her hand has healed up beautifully! Simply miraculous!
So when I got home I thought I would do some further research on the web about it. As usual, similar to Black Salve, Comfrey has miracle healing power which is simply mind boggling!
Like all the best natural supplements and remedies known to our fore fathers they can be very effective and save you a bundle of money.
All in all a great healing option, which proves, if you have an open mind you learn all the time!
Apparently it is magic on hemorrhoids and varicose veins as well.
The active ingredient in Comfrey is allantoin, which repairs tissue, and reputedly has anti-inflammatory properties. If you keep chickens then Comfrey is said to be a good natural worming remedy and conditioner for the girls.
Care should be exercised if taken internally can lead to problems as reports of the toxic effects of pyrrolizidine alkaloids in Comfrey can lead to liver damage when taken in large amounts or over a long period of time.
From what I have read of old remedies for internal use did not have more than small amounts of the plant material and as I have found in folk lore medicine the cures are usually very quick.
After reading the email about the Comfrey paste I thought it would be a good idea to obtain a plant to have on hand when needed.
It was only a few hours later a local lady phone asking about how to get rid of a Comfrey problem without using chemicals. I said no problem as long as you drop off a plant or two for me to grow..
Sometimes you may find Comfrey plants in garden centres otherwise if you contact your local Herb Society you should find someone who can supply you a plant or two.
Do not plant in any garden instead into a container or trough where you can harvest without have a big problem.
WATERING: this time of the year we are in the change of seasons and the amount of water you have being giving to your gardens and container plants has changed.
It is easy to over water and cause problems.
Some days you will need to water well and other days none at all.
Overcast days that are not windy means the water needs are reduced. Sunny or windy days will suck moisture out of growing medium and plants meaning they will need watering.
Plants will start to go into stress with dropping leaves when their growing medium starts to dry out. Watch for that sign and then give them a drink...
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Weeds are plants that are growing where you do not want them. Some weeds are the result of plants that we have grown and cultivated for either food or pleasure; then these have gone to seed and their off spring have become a nuisance.
That garden pest oxalis was I believe, introduced by the settlers for its flowers. They also introduced gorse and a number of other plants which were not indigenous to NZ.
Some of the plants we call weeds are very beneficial to your health and are cultivated for their benefits by those that have the knowledge. (Such as Comfrey)
I n fact over the years I have come to the conclusion that all health issues that we may have, that there is a remedy or relief in the world of plants, that will fix the condition or give relief from the side effects.
Most of our original medicines are from different plants that we learnt about from folk law or shaman.
I have during my life gone through a weed cycle starting off when I was young where weeds were removed by hand while they were small growing in our vegetable or flower gardens.
Placed into a bucket as one weeded and either emptied into a compost bin or placed as a stack where it was convenient for them to break down into compost. In waste areas, paths and drives where you did not want weeds to grow you treated with boiling water, salt or oil.
When scientists invented herbicides many of us turned to them for convenience, you could spray your lawn to kill broad leaf weeds without killing the grasses which was much quicker that spending most of the day on hands and knees weeding out the lawn.
Then along came glyphosate discovered in 1950 and patented by Monsanto in the early 1970s as the active ingredient in the herbicide Roundup®. In agriculture, glyphosate was first developed for weed control in crops.
Here was a supposed magic bullet against weeds, non-selective it would kill most weeds through its action and was originally considered safe to the environment and our health.
I know I used Roundup a lot in the past around the section and in my nurseries and garden centre, it killed the weeds and as long as one was careful it did not appear to effect other preferred plants.
Then after realising the the health risks of these chemical herbicides I stopped using them about 20years ago and returned back to the old methods.
One of the problems with herbicides is the damage that they do to the soil life which is the beneficial microbes and fungi. If you are still using chemical herbicides you can off set this damage by adding Mycorrcin to the weed killer for less damage.
The chemical knocks back the soil life while the Mycorrcin helps to restore it quickly back to normal.
This is important for the health of our plants and gardens as the length of time that Glyphosate (for instance) stays active in the soil can be a lot longer that previously thought. The following extract from Internet:
The widely used weedkiller glyphosate persists in water and soil longer than previously recognised, and human exposures to glyphosate-based herbicides (GBHs) are rising, experts from various universities as well as environmental health and consumer groups have concluded in a new scientific review.
Field studies cited in the report show the half-life of glyphosate in soil ranges between a few days to several months, or even a year, depending on soil composition.
The authors say the research demonstrates that soil sorption and degradation of glyphosate vary significantly depending on the soil’s physical, chemical, and biological properties.
The authors suggest that considerable work is needed to better understand glyphosate and GBH toxicity, mechanisms of action, and exposure levels before the EPA can credibly conclude that GBH uses and exposures are consistent with the US Food Quality Safety Act’s basic safety standard, namely that there is a 'reasonable certainty of no harm' from ongoing, chronic exposures to GBHs across the US population.
This I found interesting as here is a local scientist in the International scene:
Dr Kerry Harrington, a weed science lecturer at Massey University in New Zealand, agrees. 'I don’t think there should be knee-jerk banning of the herbicide, but we do need to find out exactly what the issues are, and perhaps we need to go back to using glyphosate for the jobs it was originally designed for:
preparing seed-beds for planting crops and controlling weeds around the streets, and stop applying it over the top of foodstuffs, especially fairly close to harvest time,' he tells Chemistry World. 'But more research is needed before we can be sure of that.'
I totally agree that Glyphosate should never be sprayed over food crops prior to harvest such as carrots, wheat, potatoes and cereals.
Pre-harvest means a far greater concentration of glyphosate in the food you eat when compared to what plants may take up from residues left in the soil after killing weeds before planting.
There is some discussion that gluten problems of wheat is really glyphosate intolerance.
I also looked up Dr Kerry Harrington on the Massey University web site and found a great table of 70 common, troublesome weed database. See
Information about each weed and controls that can be used (most of which are commercial)
Great to help identify many common weeds.
An email this week was: Hi Wally, I’ve just read your article at http://www.gardenews.co.nz/oxalis.htm Last year, for about 12 months, I let my garden go completely... so I had weeds as tall as I am...
This year I want to “reclaim the territory” but have found that the small amount of oxalis I had, has multiplied considerably.
Oxalis is a new arrival in my garden, having only been in it for about 5 years. So I am determined to eradicate it. I grow vegies, so any chemical intervention is out for me.
My strategy, starting in about December 2015 has been to completely clear the garden of all plants except for my Loveridge and Rhubarb plants.
Then to dig out as many oxalis plants as I have found, and where there was evidence of bulblets, I’d pour 2 litres of boiling water into the hole and mix it well. Having done that for a 6 weeks, I dug the patch over to give myself what I call "the gardeners advantage" i.e. Loose soil.
Then watered it well to create ideal “oxalis growing” conditions. Now a further 3 weeks on I monitor the garden every 2 or 3 days and dig out any that pop up. ( 30 today after a week of little attention to it - plot size 2 x 4m).
It seems to me that this strategy must work, because eventually all of the bulbs will produce a plant and then be dug out. But I am interested in what you say about “Not disturbing the soil” which is advice that I have seen given elsewhere.
To me that doesn’t make sense but it is entirely possible that there is something that I don’t know. I seem to have about 3 different species present with the longest one having a "stem that was 220mm long" ( That is deep...).
Would you care to educate me a bit more on why not disturbing the soil is the advise you have given. Is it possible that the strategy I’ve taken will backfire?
Your thoughts are welcome...Cheers Frank.
My reply: Hi Frank
The problem with digging out is, the bulbs have bulblets which are very small and fall off the parent then disturbed. These will overtime become large enough to throw up a set of leaves and by that time they have bulblets.
So every disturbance increases the number of future bulbs.
If left alone as you did for a year the bublets grow attached to the parent and also produce foliage and more bulblets.. Chickens are the only ones capable of seeing and eating all the bulblets.
By burying the problem such as a layer of card board over area after cutting foliage to ground level and the placing a good layer of clean purchased compost over the cardboard which you can plant into.
Later on oxalis foliage will start to appear and you simply cut the leaves off, weakening the bulb, preventing it to gain energy from the sun. It will send up more foliage which is cut off as soon as it appears. No energy from sun, bulb runs out of puff and rots in soil.
TO THE LIST OF ARTICLES
The first of the spring bulbs are starting to arrive in garden centres.
Each year there are a few new interesting specimens in many of the traditional spring bulb types, to wet your appetite. I personally enjoy planting a few types of spring bulbs such as daffodils, tulips and freesia so that in the spring the flowers will herald the beginning of a new season.
Back in days when I had a garden centre (over 20 years ago) it was a big event in February and March as stocks of the new seasons spring bulbs arrived.
Back then most of the bulbs were sold loose with hundreds of some types sitting in boxes with header cards for customers to help themselves to the types and colours they preferred. Some of the most popular were the anemones and ranunculus followed by freesia and daffodils.
Now days with bar coding and convenience for the stores the spring bulbs are prepacked with a header card and culture information.
This is likely one of the reasons why far less bulbs are sold these days as the packaging increases the price and one cant obtain just a few of several different types and colours of a variety.
Like a lolly shop its neat to get one of that, two of another and half a dozen of the frilly one etc.
Its not so much fun sorting through packets to see which one has the best bulbs in it compared to having a box full to hand pick your preferences. With some types big is not best where with others big is better and gardeners that like their spring flowers are very discerning about what they buy to plant.
A general rule of thumb is that you do not plant your spring bulbs until the soil temperature drops to about 10 degrees or lower and the autumn rains have started to moisten the soil.
March is the first month of autumn and I noticed the other day that dew is forming now in my part of the world so likely elsewhere also. That means two things, less watering is needed, so start to be careful on how much water you apply.
The other is leaf diseases such as powdery mildew which you can control with the simple use of baking soda. One level tablespoon of baking soda to a litre of water with one mil of Raingard added.
If spraying for insects then Wallys Neem Tree Oil will also help arrest mildews.
If you are planting your spring bulbs into pots then use a good compost such as Daltons or Oderings place a little Blood & Bone and Rok Solid into the compost and plant the bulbs as to the instructions.
Place the containers in a shaded situation which gets only morning sun or late afternoon so the bulbs will not bake. This can be done now; just keep the mix a little moist and later on when the weather cools the pots can be moved into full sun.
When you plant your bulbs in the garden I like to make a hole deeper than needed, sprinkle a little Blood & Bone and Rok Solid into base of the hole cover with a little soil and then your bulb.
Bulbs such as daffodils and freesia which can be left in the ground for a few seasons do need to be lifted and divided about every 3-4 years. Now is a good time to do so while they are dormant.
Be careful not to damage the bulbs and once lifted they can be separated and placed on a tray in an airy situation out of sunlight. Plant out the better sized bulbs and if you want some in the future place the small bulbs into a nursery tray with compost to grow on.
Seeds of all spring bulbs can also be planted in nursery trays for the future. The seeds will likely produce some different flowers dependent on parents.
Xmas lilies and other lilies will be in foliage at this time and it is important to leave them till the foliage dies down. If the clump has not been lifted for 3 or more years then they can be lifted while dormant, separated and planted back into gardens or containers.
Smaller bulbs treated as above. Lily bulbs must not be allowed to dry out so while out of the ground keep in moist sawdust, sphagnum moss or straw.
Dahlias are going to die back as winter creeps in and can be lifted (best) or left in the soil to take their chances in winter.
Allow to dry in a airy situation out of direct sunlight and store safely dry till the spring.
You can plant the whole tuber but it is better to layer them in a tray with compost and let them sprout by keeping moist. You do the same as you do with kumera, when you have sprouts that are about 8cm tall lift the tuber and you should find that at the base of the sprout some roots have formed.
With a sharp knife par the sprout away from the tuber without damaging the roots.
It is best to place these new plants into small pots with compost to grow on and develop more roots before planting out. Once you have all the plants you want you can trow the old tuber away.
Do this and you will have better dahlias each year.
Now to strawberries, some of you have had a great season but others like myself not so good.
The weather in spring through to summer was the problem I believe and the plants did not like the cold winds reducing the amount of berries and their size.
Once the weather settled they produced better but now the plants are generating lots of runners.
My strawberries are in troughs hanging off a fence and a raised walkway.
The amount of runners these plants are producing is far more than I have ever seen previously and if they all root in I would have enough plants to cover the needs of half the country. This is likely due to the spring conditions which put a damper on the plants.
So what to do with your runners? Simply ensure that they are running across soil so that they can take root. Spray them every couple of weeks with Mycorrcin.
In May you can lift the runners and replant or give to friends. Older parent plants that are thick clumps will not do so well and can be discarded and replaced with your own free runner plants.
I was asked an interesting question this week which maybe of interest to those that have the problem of Sheep Sorrel. (Look it up on the net it has many health benefits as well as being a pest weed.)
I am having a terrible experience with trying to eradicate sheep Sorell from my flower garden. Please could you give me some suggestions.
I found an article on the internet about it and they said to deal with the soil by applying sulphate of ammonia which I applied two or three weeks ago.
This perhaps has helped a tiny bit but I need to know how often I can do this..
I have always used natural weed killers and hours and hours of hand weeding and I don't really want to use chemical systemic sprays but perhaps this might be the only way to go. Please can you help.
This problem has only arrived in my garden since we had a row of trees removed. I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. Any other suggestions to help would be most appreciated.
I look forward every week to your articles they are just so good and helpful. I live in New Plymouth. I would be be grateful for your suggestions. Regards Robyn
Sheep Sorrel is not a very competitive weed but it will thrive in dry acidic soils.
The problem is its root system and any little bit left forms a new plant.
Your information on treating the soil with Sulphate of Ammonia is in correct, the nitrogen onto the soil will only make it grow.
Sulphate of ammonia can be applied to the foliage dry and then a little moisture from dew will burn the foliage.
Give the area that it is living in a heavy dose of garden lime which will weaken the plant.
Rather than dig it out with hand weeding simply cut off foliage where ever it appears.
That with the lime should in time do the trick and not create more plants from damaged roots...
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I read recently with interest the amount of food that is condemned to landfills every year in NZ.
From the Waitaki food waste web site:
The average New Zealand household throws out $563 worth of food a year which is equivalent to 79 kilos. Nationally this adds up to 122,547 tonnes of food annually, enough to feed 262,917 people or double the population of Dunedin for a year.
New Zealanders spend $872 million a year on food that will be thrown away uneaten.
This statement made me stop and have a think about how much food our household throws out each week and with the exception of a few lemon peels it turns out to be zero.
The reason for the lemon or citrus skins is that they are acidic and not something that you would put into your worm farm as worms do nto like an acid environment.
I think that a number of gardeners should have near zero food waste but this will depend on a few factors, some of which you may have or could obtain.
There is a food pecking order that we have in our household starting off with us two legged (humans) next we have several dogs and one cat so any tidbits suitable for these four leggeds go to them.
What they may leave plus suitable scraps go out to our chickens (two legged with wings) otherwise all vegetable off cuts not suitable for the chickens go into our two worm farms. (legless and wriggly)
A plastic pail with a lid is kept in the kitchen for putting scraps in for the worms.
Two bowls are also kept one for bits suitable for the chickens and the other for the dogs.
(Our cat is too fussy to eat any thing not on her menu which is raw veal meat, cat biscuits and cat grass)
Interestingly anything she leaves the dogs devour.
The worm farm gives us worm pee for the garden along with vermicasts and lots of worms to populate our raised gardens and container plants.
The chickens give us the best garden fertiliser going every time I muck out their hen house. (Along with eggs you would die for)
They also get edible weeds from the gardens and we grow heaps of silverbeet for them also.
The dog manure goes into a tumbler compost bin along with green material not suitable for the chickens and a good batch of tiger worms.
This manure/compost is tipped into a raised garden along with garden lime and covered with compost.
Heavy feeding plants such as silverbeet are planted for winter use and currently pumpkins are growing
from the last lot and doing exceptionally well.
There is no reason that gardeners cant have a worm farm and a compost tumbler or bin.
Between the two items you can reduce your household food waste to the tip to Zero and have free products for your gardens.
If you have a good size area for your vegetable garden you can use one of the old methods we used to use in the country. You dig a trench across your vegetable garden too about two spade depths.
Scraps are collect in a bucket and then emptied into the trench at one end and lightly covered with soil.
More scraps go on top of this first pile and also covered with a layer of dirt until that bit is filled level with surrounding soil.
Next lot goes into the trench beside the first pile and so on till the trench is full.
Then along side of this trench another is dug and so on till there has been a trench over every part of the garden which then you start again.
The goodness that is put into the soil and the thousands of earth worms that work your garden is amazing.
That is as long as you do not stuff it up by watering with chlorinated water, use manmade fertilisers and chemical sprays including herbicides.
Treat the soil with Rok Solid, Mycorrcin and Magic Botanic Liquid also apply ample Wallys Calcium & Health. Your plants will grow so well you will be over the moon.
It has become fairly well known that science these days is for sale and companies that require studies which allow them to obtain the permits they need to market products can be obtained by direct or indirect payments to the scientists and even Universities.
It has been found also that some studies have been Peer reviewed by students in China for a fee. Of course these students only qualifications are an empty wallet.
Take for instance a number of gardening chemicals that were originally deemed safe to use and then years later the honest science condemns them and they are banned.
In my simple logical mind science should be fairly accurate, not as accurate as mathematics but close.
Yet we see scientists poles apart over some issues with each side discrediting the other in their endeavor to make their studies accepted.
I can think of two chemicals that fall into this complex; fluoride and glyphosate. In both cases the anti-camp is making good progress in showing the dangerous health issues of these chemicals.
Thus when one reads a scientific report you need to look at who benefits from the report? A company that makes a product and will make money from it or a study that is actually to the benefit of mankind and the environment.
In the past numerous studies have been done comparing conventionally grown produce (using all manner of chemicals) to organic grown produce (without chemicals as most gardeners, garden)
The results of these have in the past only shown a slight edge to organic grown and more often than not they compare the two types as not being 'significantly different' (Another smart phase scientists use)
I am pleased to see a recent study has found the following:
Source: Science Daily
In the largest study of its kind, an international team of experts led by Newcastle University, UK, has shown that both organic milk and meat contain around 50% more beneficial omega-3 fatty acids than conventionally produced products.
Analyzing data from around the world, the team reviewed 196 papers on milk and 67 papers on meat and found clear differences between organic and conventional milk and meat, especially in terms of fatty acid composition, and the concentrations of certain essential minerals and antioxidants.
Publishing their findings today in the British Journal of Nutrition, the team say the data show a switch to organic meat and milk would go some way towards increasing our intake of nutritionally important fatty acids.
Chris Seal, Professor of Food and Human Nutrition at Newcastle University explains:
Omega-3s are linked to reductions in cardiovascular disease, improved neurological development and function, and better immune function.
Western European diets are recognised as being too low in these fatty acids and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) recommends we should double our intake.
But getting enough in our diet is difficult. Our study suggests that switching to organic would go some way towards improving intakes of these important nutrients.
My take on this is that the same or similar applies to your naturally home grown produce.
Take the taste tests if it tastes great it is healthy just like the stuff you grow.
If its tasteless or bland like conventionally grown produce then it aint doing a lot for your well being.
By the way Organic Raw milk is best by far rather than Organic processed milk.
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I like to consider gardening as an activity that mankind does to grow plants for either food or pleasure.
It can be on a very small scale such as a few pot plants you tend, too a few thousand acres or more of a crop grown for its food value or for a purpose like trees for wood.
Gardening or if you prefer agriculture, started about twelve thousand years ago and triggered such a change in society and the way in which people lived that its development has been dubbed the “Neolithic Revolution”
Prior to this tribes were hunters and food gatherers, roaming in bands over the land hunting, fishing and gathering from the edible parts of plants sustenance to survive.
When pickings got low just move on to a better hunting ground or to have seasonal camping areas where past experience dictated where to be at different times of the year.
At some time in the distant past it was discovered that some seeds or tubers could be planted and grow and be harvested for food. Areas were cleared often by burning off the vegetation and crops planted in the ashes.
This was a great beginning, slash and burn with the ashes being rich in potash and virgin soil that was rich in goodness.
The following season when crops were planted into the same area they did well but not like the first crop and so it was discovered in time that the same soil would not produce good crops. It was time to move on and start a new planting area by slash & burn.
There were exceptions to this such as the Nile River mouth in Egypt which would flood bringing rich sediment from Africa to restore goodness in the flood planes each year. The bigger the flood the greater the harvest as more land could be cultivated.
Sometime in the distant past, possibly by accident and observation we learnt to re-fertilise the land so good crops could be grown season after season for hundreds even thousands of years, by putting back the goodness we took out.
Also leaving the land fallow for 7 years is the time it took nature to return the goodness to a plot of land.
How did we discover that we needed to feed the soil? Maybe when we domesticated animals and had them confined to a area so their manure and urine would invigorate the soil and plants that grew there subsequently would flourish.
As soon as we found that out we could garden the soil and maintain a healthy soil food web. We did not have to move around, we could settle and build villages, towns and cities. Civilization was underway.
According to records wheat and Barley was first cultivated about 9000 BC.
8000BC saw potatoes in South America, 7500BC goats and sheep in Middle East. 7000BC Rye in Europe and 6000BC chickens in South Asia.
In counties like China, Asia, India etc the people became experts in re-fertilising their lands to such an extent that the land often would become more fertile year after year, richer in humus and nutrients that they could over crop successfully. (Planting a second crop when the first is coming towards maturity)
Here is an example from an extract from a article.: Consider that India had for generations sustained one of the highest densities of population on earth, without any chemical fertilisers, pesticides, exotic dwarf strains of grain or ‘bio-tech’ inputs.
And it did it without degrading the soil. That is according to the evidence provided by a Mr Arun Shrivastava. What is truly impressive, however, is he then goes on to demonstrate that in the 18th and 19th centuries India achieved better productivity levels with organic methods than those of the ‘green revolution’. End.
Which simply means that working with Nature rather than against it using harmful chemical fertilisers and Chemical sprays.
Hundreds of scientific studies now demonstrate that organic farming should play a greater role in feeding our planet.
Thirty years ago, there were only a handful of studies comparing organic and conventional agriculture. In the last 15 years the number of studies has massively increased.
The results of which show that by building the soil rather than depleting it is sustainable and our health is greatly improved as a result.
I am often asked the question from gardeners about their concerns of growing the same crop in the same location year after year because of the possibility of disease build up in the soil.
As I understand it if you are gardening the soil, replenishing the goodness using natural materials then you can successful grow the same or a variety of crops in the same garden indefinitely.
But if you are applying man made fertilisers for the nutrients, watering with chlorinated water and using chemical sprays including herbicides then diseases will build up in the soil causing harm to future crops and low natural fertility.
I have known of in the past, gardeners that have grown their tomato plants in the same garden for 25 years or more. The spot is sunny and sheltered and the plants thrive year after years outside of seasonal weather problems some years.
If gardeners have concerns about possible diseases in a garden soil then we have the new natural way of suppressing pathogens with Wallys Terracin soil drench then three weeks after applying a follow up drench of Mycorrcin is applied.
A spray over moist soil in gardens with Mycorrcin every month to start with for a season will build up the populations of beneficial microbes and fungi in the garden making for healthier plants.
Do not destroy your efforts by applying quantities of man made fertilisers, chemical sprays and chlorinated water.
Conventional Farming/gardening is a term that pro-chemical companies adopted some years ago which is a false flag to make it appear that their destructive methods are normal and acceptable (To make them money is closer to the truth)
Their other spin is 'Best Farming Practice' which is also destroying the fertile soil of the planet. (But its alright cause its the best practice)
Soil scientists tell us that half of the top soil of the planet has been lost over the last 150 years.
We now have only 60 years left of top soil to sustain all the plants/crops and terrestrial life forms depended on it and for 99.7% of the calories humans need. (.3% comes from the Oceans)
If you treat your gardens right your soil could become more valuable than gold by weight.
Upon this handful of soil our survival depends. Husband it and it will grow our food, our fuel and our shelter and surround us with beauty. Abuse it and the soil will collapse and die, taking humanity with it. - From Vedas Sanskrit Scripture 1500 BC
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Weed barriers are a means of preventing weeds from growing in gardens or the roots of certain weeds or plants invading into your property from next door.
The most common barrier is weedmat and it is a woven plastic mat which is spread over the surface of the soil that stops all weeds (with the exception of one or two types of grasses) from emerging in the garden.
This is a very effective barrier that works where there is a reasonable area covered with the mat.
Where the mat is cut to allow preferred plants to grow or around the edges weeds will still appear.
Because the mat is woven it allows moisture and some water carried plant foods to pass through the mat to the soil below. It also allows the soil to breathe, preventing an anaerobic situation occurring.
Senior gardeners will likely remember in the past that black plastic film was laid down in gardens and scoria (volcanic rock, reddish in colour) was laid over the plastic.
Gardens that were treated as such, over time, became anaerobic (lacking in oxygen) and the plants growing there would eventually die. People that lifted the scoria and plastic film would be greeted with a horrible smell.
Gardeners that like the scoria look can safely apply the rocks to cover weedmat.
Weedmat only works in one direction, preventing weeds from growing upwards. Weed seeds that land on the mat or in whatever material that is used to cover the mat, may germinate and their roots will penetrate the mat downwards and thus the weeds can grow.
These weeds are easy to pull out as they cannot establish a secure root system.
The weedmat should be covered with material such as bark or stones so it is not exposed to UV and by covering you should find that the life of the mat is very long. (Likely over 25 years)
You must be careful about what you use to cover the mat if you do not want birds flicking lighter material off the mat. To prevent this bark nuggets (large bark pieces) or even better some suitable stones would be best used.
Gardens such as vegetable and flower beds are not so practical for weedmat and on these I would suggest that a number of sheets of newspaper be laid and soaked with water and then a purchased (weed free) compost be placed as a cover over the paper.
Cardboard can be used instead of newspaper if you have a good source of this material.
Either method will create a nice temporary weed barrier and you can plant your seedlings directly into the compost. Three other advantages of using cardboard or newspaper are; the worms love it, moisture is retained better and you are putting carbon into the soil.
One of the worst problems is when you have an invasive weed such as convolvulus or twitch (Couch) grass coming through from next door into your gardens.
You can repeatedly eradicate your side of the fence of the invading roots only to find more emerging sometime later. Unless the weed is also cleaned up next door, you have many years of weeding till you move house.
The long term solution is to dig a trench along the fence line about 20 to 30 cm deep and line the fence side of the trench with sheets of galvanised iron.
Back fill the trench so that the iron is deep in the ground and protruding a few cm above the soil level (if it is safe to leave it so) don't leave the iron above ground if there is any possibility of feet or hands being cut on the metal.
You could however place a row of old bricks along the side of the protruding iron sheet.
If because of the construction of the fence you cannot get the iron flush with the fence and there is a bit of a gap between fence and iron then the weed is going to appear in this gap. Simply pour salt down the gap whenever you spot the weed appearing.
Talking about salt it is excellent way to control weeds growing between pavers or in cracks in drives or paths. The salt will prevent weeds reappearing for sometime.
Using the above methods for reducing your weed problems will make your gardening more pleasurable.
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I have, like yourself, a number of favourite plants that I enjoy growing and maybe if you do not have these growing already, you may like to give them a shot.
Thyme is a great container plant or hanging basket plant to grow.
I placed on of these into a pot some years back and when it was well established I placed the pot on top of the mix of a large container that I was growing a Persimmon in.
The thyme soon rooted itself through the drainage holes into the larger container’s mix and it grew prolifically. The thing I like about the thyme is that it flowers for a good part of the year with the best displays through spring and autumn.
The plant has a natural cascading habit so it flows all over the place making for an excellent display. Handy too when you require some fresh thyme for the kitchen. Bees love thyme and thyme honey is something to die for.
Petunias have been a favourite of mine for many years and some of the newer types have really spectacular flowers. I grow mine in 15-20cm containers using purchased compost and add in a little extra food such as Bio Boost or Sheep Manure Pellets.
When the plants get a bit scraggly simply trim them back a bit to tidy up and they will produce new growth and a lot more flowers.
When winter starts to set in give them a cut back and spray the remaining foliage with Vaporgard and move the pots to a more protected spot where they are not going to get rained on or frosted.
Every so often in winter, you will need to give them a little drink but you can keep them going for years if you wish. Too much water in winter and you are likely to lose them, losses can occur also if not protected from frost.
Another family of plants you can keep for several years is chilli peppers or capsicum that you grow in pots.
Once again always use compost (potting mix is useless) and keep them protected and dry in the winter.
Feijoa ‘Unique’ is an excellent variety of feijoa to grow either in open ground or for a smaller specimen in a large container. This variety produces large fruit, does not need a pollinator and you are likely to obtain a small crop within one to two seasons of planting.
I have three growing, all in 100 litre containers.
Surplus fruit can be made into relish or chutney and this also applies to your surplus of tomatoes at this time of the year.
Often when one has a well established fruiting tree or bush, you have more fruit than you can easily use. The answer is to make some jam.
Jam is easy to make and tastes far better than the chemically flavored jams that have become common in the supermarket.
Times are a changing and we will need to get back to doing some of the things our parents or grandparents used to do, in our gardening and dealing with surplus at harvest.
It is a great savings, better for your health and something to fall back on for a rainy day.
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Looking after house plants and container plants during the summer can be a daily activity.
This is particularly so when it comes to the potted plant’s water needs.
Outdoors container grown plants, once their roots fill the pot, will likely need watering every day and on some days, twice. Hanging baskets of plants outdoors are heavy users of water as they lose more moisture than containers sitting on the ground.
On the other hand indoor potted plants will likely need watering once or twice a week and in some cases even more frequently.
Outdoor container plants where a potting mix has been used as the growing medium, dry out quicker than ones that you have used compost as the growing medium.
This still applies if wetting agents have been applied to the potting mix.
Potting mix these days is mostly bark fines with slow release fertilisers added along with some lime and maybe other additives. Some potting mixes may still be peat based or have peat moss added.
Potting mixes are ideal for indoor plants but in my opinion a waste of money and time for outdoor use.
The problem occurs when the potting mix drys out it creates a surface tension which does not allow water to penetrate. Thus when you water, the water tends to go to the sides of the pot and then run out the drainage holes, on the way through the plant is only able to gain a little moisture.
The water is not able to penetrate into much of the mix, leaving areas of the mix and roots bone dry.
The result of this is that in next to no time the plant is drooping through lack of moisture and often parts of the plant’s foliage will wither and die.
When a friable purchased compost are used as the growing medium they retain water far better and will accept water much more readily than a pile of bark fines which are called potting mix or shrub & tub.
Even using a good compost mix on a hot day a plant may need two waterings dependent on the size of the plant and the size of the container.
There is a danger of over watering when using compost in a larger container with a young plant that is still establishing. Care must be taken.
When you notice that the water you apply to a container runs out the drainage holes quickly and the plant’s mix soon drys out again, then you can do one of two things to thoroughly moisten all the mix.
The first and the best method is to fill a large tub or bath with water and plunge the containers into the water and watch them bubbly away. The more bubbles the more dry areas.
When it stops bubbling then the mix is wet right the way through, lift and allow excess water to drain out and then place back in the original spot. Next time you come to water the water will stay in the mix.
(Note punnets of seedlings should also be plunged before separating them for planting out)
After a period of time, especially if the mix has dried out too much you will need to plunge again.
Hanging baskets outdoors will fare better with a weekly plunge.
Being summer it is not a bad idea to treat all your indoor plants in the same manner. Do not do it in direct sunlight. Afterwards leave them in a shaded area to drain.
They will likely only need one treatment if you are consistent with supplying their moisture needs.
If you have very large containers that cannot be plunged then fill a bucket with warm water and add a good squirt of dish washing liquid to it.
Agitate the water to make it soapy right through then slowly pour the contents over the top of the mix ensuring that all surface areas are covered.
The soapy water breaks the surface tension and allows water to penetrate.
This same method can be used on gardens and lawns for dry spots. (Bare spots of dried grass on lawns with a ring of healthy grasses around is often ‘Dry Spot’.)
You can also reduce your potted plants water needs by spraying Vaporgard over and under the foliage.
One spray will last for about 3 months on foliage sprayed. It will also help reduce disease and insect damage.
Most disease damage to container plants is caused by over watering. You need to be aware as we head into autumn that the need to water is reduced. Do not carry on watering on the same frequency as you had to do in summer.
Powdery mildew can also be a problem as the weather cools and sprays of baking soda and Raingard will protect foliage from this problem.
Insects can get indoors and attack pot plants. Sometimes insect pests will get indoors when bringing cut flowers inside.
Always check the flowers you bring inside for pests.
The following applies to containers both inside and out.
One of the worst pests would be mealy bugs. These inhabit the root zone and then move up into the foliage.
If you lift your plants out of their containers and notice white cotton wool like wisps on the inside of the container and on the outside of the growing medium then that plant has mealybugs.
Neem Tree Granules can be scattered over the top of the mix to assist in control.
A solution of Neem Tree Oil at 25mils per litre of warm water can be watered over the granules when the medium is moist to strengthen the amount of Neem getting into the roots.
Indoors you may not like the sight or smell of the granules breaking down so you can cover them with additional mix or just water the Neem Oil in, without the granules.
Any of the pests in the foliage and stems should be sprayed with Neem Tree Oil at 15mil per litre of warm water. Do this outside in a shaded area such as in a garage, then leave to dry before returning to their spot.
The same spray treatment can be applied to any other insect pests such as scale, thrips, aphids etc.
If the plant has mites then a spray of Liquid Sulphur will deal to them. Do not use in conjunction with Neem Oil or if Neem Oil is present on the plant.
(Thats Liquid Sulphur NOT Lime Sulphur a totally different spray that burns)
Plants that have filled their containers can either be re-potted into larger pots or alternatively lifted out of the pot and the bottom third of roots cut off.
Place fresh mix back into the base of the pot to fill the third that has been removed and pop the plant back in.
With shrubs and fruiting plants this should be done every two years.
The plant will come away nicely after treatment and make new growth.
You can mix some Rok Solid into the bottom third of new mix to great advantage.
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I have been asked by some readers to talk about what to do to help gardens during drought times with a special request from Twizel.
There are many things that you can do to conserve water in your gardens and use what water you have available wisely.
Your soil type will have a bearing on the water holding capacity of your soil.
Soil that is rich in humus has the ability to hold the equivalent of 80–90% of its weight in moisture, and therefore increases the soil's capacity to withstand drought conditions.
Humus will hold 4 times the moisture when compared to clay.
The long term protection against droughts is to progressively build up the humus content of your garden soils.
How do we do this?
By applying organic material as mulches to your gardens and in some cases by incorporating into the existing soil. In cases of sandy soil or clay soils to begin with green waste free of herbicides, animal manures, paper, untreated sawdust, bark fines can be dug or rotary hoed into the area.
Then a layer of the same applied to the soil surface too about 40mm deep.
What happens is this: When organic matter starts to decompose these molecules are broken down into smaller and smaller molecules by the micro-organisms in the soil (mostly bacteria and fungi).
This is a complex process and we do not need to understand the details of the process. What is important is that most of the usable chemicals in the organic matter are extracted by the micro-organisms and are eventually made available to plants.
At some point, all of the good stuff in the organic matter is used up and there are some molecules remaining which can’t be used by micro-organisms or plants.
This remaining material is called humus. It consists mostly of carbon and so it is still organic, but micro-organisms just cant decompose it any further. Humus is so stable that it can persist in the soil for hundreds of years.
Like a giant sponge it soaks up minerals and water up to about 80-90% its weight.
Soil scientists report that for every 1 percent of organic matter content, the soil can hold 16,500 gallons of plant-available water per acre of soil, down to one foot deep. That is roughly 1.5 quarts of water per cubic foot of soil for each percent of organic matter.
This is why farmers that farm without chemicals (which destroy the soil structure) and use time proven natural farming methods have far less problems during drought times.
Storing rain water in the open (ponds/lake) is very wasteful and so much water is lost to sun and wind.
When that same water is stored in the soil underground and held by humus for future use you have the perfect answer to drought conditions.
A layer of organic material over your humus rich gardens will further ensure less moisture loss to sun and wind.
This is not going to happen overnight and is a long term project but improvement will occur within a year.
There are do's and dont's in ensuring that humus is building up in your soils and as we have explained, it is the micro-organisms consisting of bacteria and fungi that must be present in large populations to make humus.
The dont's are; no chemical sprays (especially Glyphosate or brands such as Roundup) no chemical fertilisers ( a little for special reasons occasionally is ok) no chlorinated tap water.
Put a special carbon bonded filter and housing onto your garden tap to remove the very harmful chlorine if its in your water supply)
The do's are simple, progressively add organic, chemical free material to your gardens as a mulches, compost, newspaper, herbicide free grass clippings, untreated sawdust and bark fines, chook manure and other animal manures, kitchen scraps, blood & bone, Bio Boost, Sheep Manure pellets etc.
When weeding gardens just lay the weeds on the soil surface because they are very valuable in feeding the soil and putting back the nutrients they have taken out..
Most importantly apply a soft garden lime, plus dolomite and gypsum about every 3 months.
Calcium is very important for your soil life populations and they are making your humus.
Apply a combination of Magic Botanic Liquid (MBL) and Mycorrcin as a soil drench and repeat every month to every 3 months. Follow these simple instructions and every year drought problems will become less.
In drought times you dont want to waste what water you have and when the soil becomes too dry the surface tension does not allow the water to penetrate. The water runs off over the surface and is lost.
It takes a lot of wetting with water to get the water into the soil. Before watering break the soil surface tension by either using MBL or dish washing liquid in warm water, lathered up and applied to the area with a watering can.
Leave for a while to penetrate in then apply non-chlorinated water to the area.
This is also a great way to ensure your container plants get all the water you apply instead of most of it running out of the drainage holes.
Another useful methods to get water deeper into the soil for a tree or shrub is to cut the bottom off a plastic 2 litre cordial bottle and bury it deep into the soil near the plant; neck down and cap off. Then simply fill the bottle with water when you water.
After watering or after rain apply a mulch over any bare soil. Water will pass through mulches so no need to pull back to water.
Special warning on citrus trees and other plants that do not handle wet feet in winter, ensure later on when the rains come to pull back any mulch from these plants to prevent root rots.
Plants also transpire moisture through their foliage which means they need more water to replace the moisture losses.
During sunny, hot times and windy times the loss of moisture through the foliage can be great but we can reduce this moisture loss by 30 to 40% by spraying the foliage all over with Vaporgard.
One spray will last for 3 months and allow the plants to retain more moisture and grow better. Applications of potash every month to the soil will also increase the plant's drought resistance.
Grey water generally is very good for your gardens and can not only be beneficial for the moisture but may have nutrients as well. Two things though; Do NOT store grey water for more than 24 hours.
Only use laundry detergents that are very low in sodium (salt).
A quick bit on tomatoes..There are two growth aspects of tomatoes, Determinate which are bush tomatoes only growing about a metre tall and you dont need to remove laterals. (Russian red etc)
Then there are Indeterminate or vine tomatoes which grow very tall and as a supported vine can be 10 metres long.
These require staking and once a certain height is reach as well as removing laterals prick out the growing tip as well.
Fruit forming high up need ample support or the top will break under the weight and wind.
Yes in a glasshouse supported and usually hydroponic grown you can have plants several metres in length producing untold tomatoes over a long period.
The vine is usually bare except for the last metre or so with leaves, flowers and fruits.
The secret is the plant is kept feed which is a mistake many gardeners make they stop feeding the special tomato foods when they start harvesting the first ripe fruit. The plant runs out of tucker and fails.
Apply my Secret Tomato food about every month once you start harvesting to have a longer season.
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This week a few tips and some of what is happening currently that may have an effect on your gardening for better or worse.
Firstly an interesting tip from a lady gardener this week who phoned and told me that her telegraph cucumber plants were only producing female flowers and no male flowers for pollination.
The variety is not self setting so all the embryo cucumbers were just rotting off through the lack of pollination. To overcome the problem she has taken pollen from a male flower of a zucchini plant and pollinated the female cucumber flowers.
I asked what the end result was and whether it worked or not.
Yes it has been successful and she has produced telegraph cucumbers with good flavor and the only variant is that the fruit are possibly larger than normal.
All very interesting and something that maybe useful if you have the same problem.
With pumpkins, zucchini, cucumbers, rock melon etc I prefer to hand pollinate to ensure fruit set.
It is done simply by removing a male flower with ample pollen on the stamen and wiping this over the centre of the female flower. If pollination does not take place the embryo fruit will grow a bit then rot off.
A reader also asked about removing spent flowers from plants my reply was; What we call dead heading means removing the spent flowers the reason for this is to prevent seed setting and it can also encourage further new flowers in some plants.
The wind currently has being knocking things around so make sure you have tender plants such as tomatoes securely staked. I have a potted banana plant that is currently flowering (I am rapt) and I have been informed that the young growing bananas get very heavy as a bunch and can get knocked off the plant in high winds.
Luckily the plant is in a 100 litre container so I was able to move to a more sheltered spot, certainly do not want to lose my first bunch of home grown bananas in Palmerston North.
Talking about tomatoes and the dreaded psyllid as I said last week I have this year the best tomato plants that I have been able to grow for over 5 years and a few gardeners that also are using the cell strengthening products I suggested last year are likewise enjoying great results.
The psyllid nymphs are so small that you need a strong magnifying glass to see them, ideally 10X.
I found on Trade Me a 3pc Jewelers Lens Kit, Loupe Magnifying Glass Set for only $14.24 with magnification of 3X, 5X and 10X.
Price included shipping from UK so a real bargain and very handy for checking foliage of your plants for small insects especially if your eye sight is not as good as an eagles'.
With magnification of 10X the plain looking foliage of plants becomes a new interesting world and in my case has given me a whole new prospective and respect for the plants.
A common problem is that gardeners do not pick up on the first signs of insects establishing on plants and by the time they are discovered you already have large populations doing a lot of harm and much more difficult to control.
If on the other hand you spot a few pests and deal to them immediately you and your plants will be far better off.
Some years ago I suggested that glyphosate was most likely to be the agriculture chemical that did more harm to the soil, animals and humans than any other agriculture chemicals commonly used.
Evidence is proving my thoughts to be correct and now counties are waking up to the health problems the chemical causes.
Monsanto announced Wednesday that sales in the company’s agricultural productivity segment, which includes its probable carcinogen Roundup herbicide, fell 34% to $820 million. Monsanto’s shares fell over 2% as a result.
The Biotech giant also said Wednesday that it now plans to cut a total of 3600 jobs, or about 16% of its global work force, through fiscal 2018, and expects to record $1.1 billion to $1.2 billion in restructuring charges.
In October, Monsanto said that it would slash 2,600 jobs worldwide as part of a global restructuring effort to cut costs and boost savings, including consolidating some business and research centers and getting out of the sugar cane business, Reuters reported.
Monsanto has been struggling for investor confidence following the announcement in March 2015 that the World Health Organisation’s cancer agency had declared the world’s most widely used weedkiller – glyphosate – a “probable human carcinogen”.
To make matters worse for Monsanto On October 16, 2016 (World Food Day), Monsanto will stand trial for "crimes against nature and humanity," in The Hague, Netherlands.
The claimants say the US-based, transnational company is responsible for introducing multiple genetically modified crops and numerous toxic chemicals into our environment – including saccharin, aspartame, polystyrene, DDT, dioxin, Agent Orange, petroleum based fertilizers, recombinant bovine growth hormones (rGBH), Round Up (glyphosate), Lasso (an herbicide used in Europe), Bt toxic plants, and more.
One gardeners asked me recently if there is no more Roundup how will we control the weeds?
I replied by asking what did people do before Roundup was invented?
I also said that I have not used any herbicide chemicals for over 20 years and I have survived along with my gardens and my biggest problem is the masses of earthworms happy living in the gardens and containers.
More good news:
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on Wednesday that a preliminary risk assessment of the pesticide Imidacloprid shows that the chemical poses a threat to some pollinators, specifically honeybees.
Imidacloprid is one of four neonicotinoid pesticides that honey producers and environmentalists have long suspected to be linked to rapidly declining bee populations in North America and beyond, a phenomenon widely known as colony collapse disorder.
The EPA is in the process of reviewing the class of chemicals to determine whether they pose an ecological threat to pollinators, starting with Imidacloprid.
I dont often talk about flower gardens even though I grow flowers for colour, to attract bees and for the pleasure they bring to all that behold them.
I have been meaning to write for a while now on what I term a perpetual flower garden or in other words one that keeps on renewing itself season after season.
I have been experimenting with a street frontage strip about a metre wide in front of my street fence.
I have a few climbing roses along with a few varieties of perennials and annual flowering plants.
I allow the flower plants to seed and reproduce new seedlings which are not weeded out but allowed to mature and flower.
Plants such as straw flowers, Russell Lupins, petunia, pansy, alyssum happily come and go among the perennials, geranium, lilies, daisies and foxgloves.
A perpetual garden is always changing and you can add a few different flowers to it every so often.
The main thing you need to know is what is a weed and what is a self sown flower seedling.
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Welcome back to a new calendar year of gardening. The gardening year itself is actual half way through as it started on the 1st June last year.
Having now past the longest day of the year we slowly head to the shortest day with ample time to plant more vegetables as long as you don't muck around.
Areas with short seasons will not be able to grow new plantings of tender crops such as tomatoes unless you have a glasshouse.
Planting time for leeks and brassicas seedlings for autumn and winter harvest. Protect brassicas with Neem tree Granules in the planting hole and on soil surface and cover with crop cover to keep butterflies off the plants.
Quick growing salad crops can be planted for succession which means a few plants every 2 weeks for a couple of months. This is mainly lettuce, radish and spring onions.
Winter flowering plants will be appearing in your garden shops soon and once they do plant out for those early displays. Check the spring bulbs you lifted last year to ensure they are sound. Throw any soft ones away to prevent rots affecting healthy bulbs. Planting out will start about March if conditions are suitable.
The Spring was not very good for many gardeners including myself, the extremes of temperatures, with cold winds made spring feel more like an early winter and the tender plants sulked.
As the weather settled in December tomatoes, cucumbers, pumpkins, corn and peppers responded and have been growing well since then.
I am very impressed with my tomato plants and new Tamarillos, the best looking plants that I have grown for about 5 years likely because I am using the New Silicon Cell Strengthening products and having some yellow sticky cards means the only psyllids I have seen so far are on the sticky cards.
If the tomatoes etc carry on without psyllid damage into late autumn I can give the thumbs up to this new program.
Before Christmas I had a few gardeners contact me with tomato problems which after seeing pictures or having the condition of the plants described to me, the problems either turned out to be psyllids or herbicide damage from purchased compost.
Roses and strawberries are also responding better with the settled weather now the stress of the weather has been removed.
Clearer skies this season has meant more direct sunlight hours which has made a difference to corn and flowering of pumpkins and cubits, so thank you to those that endeavor to control our weather. I am even getting to see a good display of stars when I take the dogs out for their toilets about 11pm.
It looks like an interesting year ahead of us with what is happening around the world, so its a good time to be prepared for any contingency.
Food security, which means planting vegetable gardens to fall back on and to also improve the nutritional value of your diet.
Many of us older generation are amazed at the masses of people at Supermarkets especially at holiday time when they are going to be closed for a day. You would think that doomsday had been announced and people were stocking up for a month or more.
Food security means to have a good vegetable garden and cupboards stocked with non-perishables so if something happens to go wrong you don't need to panic for a while.
Another very good reason to grow as much of your vegetable needs as possible is for your health.
By growing your food naturally without using chemicals means your crops will be brimming with nutritional values and without toxic chemicals.
Your taste buds will tell you how great your crops are, your body will have the vitamins and minerals it needs to repair the damage conventionally grown and processed food does.
You will have more energy, lose weight and think clearer. A few back up food supplements such as Organic Virgin Coconut oil, MSM and Shark Liver oil Caps certainly help with your health.
When you can, choose organic grown foods as they are free of the hundreds of chemicals used in growing crops and processed foods these days.
Your health and the health of your loved ones is dependent on the life style choices you make and prevention is easier than cure.
Growing your own and making good food choices does not mean you cant indulge in some not so good food items. The more goodness you have allows the body to get rid of the rubbish and harmful substances and keeps you healthy.
Health begins in the soil for all earth bound living things on the planet. The soil is a mass of living microbes and fungi along with many other soil dwellers such as earth worms.
Upon this handful of soil our survival depends. Husband it and it will grow our food, our fuel and our shelter and surround us with beauty. Abuse it and the soil will collapse and die, taking humanity with it. - From Vedas Sanskrit Scripture 1500 BC
There is a bit of wisdom from 3516 years ago and a truth that has been forgotten in the last 60 to 100 years. Your gardens or containers will produce healthy rich produce if you simply husband the soil.
This means NOT destroying the soil life with chemical fertilisers, chemical sprays, weedkillers including glyphosate.
NOT watering your gardens with tap water containing chlorine, instead remove the chlorine with a 10 micron carbon bonded filter and housing.
Gardeners that have taken my advise on this important aspect tell me their gardens and plants are so much better now.
Using animal manures, chicken manure along with Calcium & Health, Rok Solid and Magic Botanic Liquid allows the soil life to grow and restore health to your soil.
Mycorrcin feeds the soil life increasing their populations allowing your plants to feed better and grow stronger.
Remove disease (pathogens) from your soil with the new natural product Terracin.
This year I will introduce you to another two natural products which can make your good gardens even better.
One is a product to introduce into your garden's soil a range of new beneficial microbes and fungi.
The other is for promoting and providing beneficial microbes to populate the foliage of your plants assisting in the prevention of diseases.
It also puts the natural defense mechanisms of plants on full alert.
But and there is a big but, if you persist in living in a chemical garden then these products will not make any difference, just a waste of time and money.
Have a Happy, Healthy New Gardening Year..... Wally Richards
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Pollination can be a problem for gardeners when it does not occur naturally.
Various plants use different modes of pollination from attracting insects such as bees to move the pollen to air movement or vibration.
Often we think of the honey bees as the main pollinators, which for a number of plants and crops they surely are, but then there are bumble bees, native bees, flies, moths, butterflies and other insects which can all assist in the pollination process.
A number of native plants have white flowers to attract the moths at night as New Zealand did not have other pollinators other than our native bees.
The wind, or more to the point, breezes are also responsible for moving the pollen in some plants to complete the fertilisation process.
A good example of this in the vegetable garden is sweet corn, the pollen is formed on the male flowering heads at the top of the plant with the female corn tassels below, given a light breeze and the pollen dust falls to the tassels below or to the corn plant next door.
This is the reason we plant corn in clumps, fairly close to each other to ensure that a good set is achieved and the cobs are full. Each one of those fine tassels that form on the ears of corn are connected individually to a embryo corn seed and each tassel needs to receive pollen to fill the cob completely.
Those cobs that only have a number of mature seeds with misses means that those misses did not receive pollen from the tassel.
When I grow corn I like to do a bit of hand pollination on a sunny day when the tops are laden with pollen. This is simply done by running your hand up the male flowers and dumping the contents on the female tassels below.
It helps ensure fuller cobs at harvest time. Also 2 weekly sprays of Magic Botanic Liquid makes for better, bigger sets on the cobs.
When nature and elements don't do the pollination for you, then this is where you the gardener, can step in and do the job yourself.
Some plants are what we call self fertile which means that the plant will ensure that it will set seed without the need of another plant of the same species being anywhere near. Many of these are wind pollinated.
The rest of the plants of various types are likely to need another similar plant nearby to ensure a good fruit or seed set. These other plants are often referred to as pollinators and without one you will still get some fruit setting, but no where as good as if you had a pollinator also. Many of these will be pollinated by bees or other insects.
Then again in some plants such as with Kiwi Fruit you have a situation where some plants are male and some are female and then you need at least one male in close proximity to about 1 to 5 females.
Where room is limited we have overcome the problem of having to plant two separate kiwi fruit vines by grafting a male and female onto the same root stock.
Even then there is no guarantee that you are going to achieve a good fruit set as it requires bees to visit both the male and female flowers to move the pollen. Because of the varroa mite, which has destroyed most if not all the feral bee colonies there may not be any honey bees around your gardens any more.
Then it comes down to the bumble bee and native bees along with other insects to do the job.
Chemical Insecticides such as Confidor also has caused all pollinators populations to decline.
Another problem may occur where the possible pollinators are elsewhere in the garden collecting nectar and leaving your tree alone even though its in full flower.
You can help to attract the possible pollinators to your target tree by dissolving raw sugar in hot water and adding more water and then spraying the sweet liquid over your target tree.
Another problem can occur if a plant is in a too shady situation where it does not get sufficient sunlight directly on the plant to initiate flower buds or if the buds form, they buds don't open into flowers.
We often see this on roses in the shade which don't flower well and also on flowering house plants that are too far from natural light to flower properly, such as flowering begonias.
Cold conditions can mean a plant such as a tomato will flower but not produce pollen, thus the flowers fall off after a few days. Cold setting types are best for those colder times.
Also if it gets too hot then tomatoes will not set fruit and that can be seen at times in glasshouses.
Tomatoes are not pollinated by honey bees but the vibration from a bumble bees wings does the trick as they fly near the plant.
A light breeze on a sunny day when the flowers are pollen laden does the job and generally speaking tomato plants outdoors will set fruit well.
In glasshouses and similar sheltered areas the plants may fail to set and this can be overcome on a sunny day by simply tapping the stake or trunk of the plant to cause a vibration.
A very important aspect in the flowering fruiting cycle is to have ample potash available to any flowering/fruiting plant.
A monthly sprinkle of Fruit and Flower Power on the soil in the root zone will greatly assist.
Pumpkins, zucchini and melons have both male and female flowers on the same plant and the pollen needs to be moved from the male to the female. If you have good populations of bumble bees around then they normally do the job for you otherwise you will not have a crop. The female flower is easy to determine as they have the embryo fruit behind the flower, the male does not.
To ensure a good fruit set I like to, on a nice sunny day, pluck a male flower off the vine that has ample pollen and after removing the petals rub some of the pollen onto the centre part of the female flowers.
If the fruit is not pollinated it will still grow for a time but then rot off.
Passion fruit can be another one that a bit of hand pollination will help ensure a good crop.
Too much nitrogen in the form of man made fertilisers or animal manures can cause plants to vegetate which means they produce lots of growth but little or no flowers.
If this is happening then apply Fruit and Flower power to kick in the flowering cycle and stem the rapid growth.
Some plants such as bougainvillea need a bit of stress to give a great show of flowers.
If you feed them well and supply ample water they tend to grow all over the place and not flower.
Instead let them dry out for a time to kick in the flowering cycle and don't feed them much either.
As a gardener you need to remember that most plants only flower to reproduce themselves by seed.
When their lives are threatened then they quickly go into a flowering cycle.
The best example of this is a number of annual weeds that grow lushly in the spring when there is ample rain but as soon as the soil starts to dry they start to flower.
On our vegetables such as cabbages and silverbeet we need to keep the soil moist because if we allow it to dry out too much the plants will bolt or in other words, go to seed prematurely.
One last aspect is potatoes, early types will be mature and ready to harvest when the tops start to flower.
Late types will be ready when they have flowered and the tops start to die back.
Often you may see that fruit not unlike tomatoes form on the potato tops, these are the fruit which are not to be eaten as they are poisonous, these fruit contain potato seeds.
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December is the first month of summer according to the seasonal calendar and we are now starting to see a little settling of the weather.
I am always amazed at how wide the differences are between areas of the country and how what used to be reliable patterns year after year are now very different and harder to predict.
It would appear that new patterns, that have started developing in the last few years, are becoming the new norm and if anything these patterns are intensifying.
I can only talk of the patterns where I am in Palmerston North; that for last few years have been crappy weather for spring and early summer. In the last few seasons we have had a false spring about August then the weather turned to custard till the new year.
This year we never saw the false spring, just un-seasonal weather for spring along with numerous cold snaps. The results of this means the warmth loving plants such as tomatoes, cucumbers and corn have not done well.
My tomatoes and cucumbers even in the glasshouse have only slowly grown and are about 8 weeks behind where they should be.
Numerous gardeners have said the same from other parts of the country and those without glasshouses have fared worse.
Chilly winds and cold night temperatures are of no help to those plants that enjoy nice warm constant temperatures.
Even my strawberries have not done well and have only recently starting to produce some bigger ripe berries.
Hardy plants on the other hand, because of the extending day light hours, weeds, lawns, brassicas and lettuce are growing very well.
Not so good in areas where you have not had reasonable rain fall. These drought prone areas appear to becoming really difficult to garden and farm.
There is a silver lining in so much as many insect pests have not reproduced well and thus they have not become a real problem yet.
Plant diseases that thrive in these weather patterns which place stress on plants result in black spot, rust, mildews and blights causing damage to the foliage of roses and other plants.
You can treat for the diseases but as most are not fatal to established plants it can be better to allow nature to run its cause and when the weather improves, new growths will take over and plants will start to look better again.
Simple sprays of baking soda with Raingard or alternatively sprays of Condys Crystals are inexpensive and will likely give greater improvements plus protection than the expensive chemical concoctions.
The insect problems are starting to happen with a bit of warmer weather and their populations will explode once the weather settles down.
If you can stop the rapid increase in pest populations from happening you will have better plants and gardens later on.
So far the tomato/potato psyllid populations have not started to build up because the temperatures have not being good for their breeding.
They are around and in my glasshouse the sticky yellow whitefly traps are catching several adults each week along with other pest adult insects.
The stick y yellow pads are a great line of defense for glasshouses or out in the garden.
I am also using the silicon cell strengthening program on all the plants in the glasshouse and so far it appears to be working well. The test will come when the weather settles.
A word of caution is with potatoes growing outdoors that have reached maturity and are ready to harvest or will be soon.
I had a gardener last year that left his potatoes in the ground after they had matured with the tops still on. They harvested a couple of plants and the tubers were of a good size and lovely to eat.
The same with the next couple of plants harvested. But when it came to the following ones, including the rest of the crop, the potatoes had the black rings inside them and tasted bad.
Now after finding out that the crop was ready if he had either harvested all the potatoes or alternatively cut the tops off at ground level and covered the stumps with soil then the tubers would be safe from psyllid attack.
Potato crops planted within the last couple of months or so and even if planting now will need to be protected from the psyllids.
Rhododendrons come under attack from thrips about this time of the year causing the silvery leaves which is the scar tissue from the pests feeding.
There is an easy solution by just sprinkling Wallys Neem Tree Granules from the trunk to the drip line. Repeat about 8 weeks later.
Citrus trees should also be treated the same way to prevent insect pests from establishing.
Aphids on roses and other plants can be controlled with a combination spray of Key Pyrethrum and Wallys Neem Tree Oil. Mixed with warm water and sprayed just before dusk to take care of pest insects on the plants.
That includes leaf hoppers, mealy bugs, beetles, caterpillars, psyllids, whitefly etc.
The black pear/cherry slugs will be starting up about now and when you see them on your plum, cherry or pear trees spray the tree with Wallys Liquid Copper.. Like the garden slugs and snails they cant handle being in contact with copper.
A second generation will appear in about February if you dont control the first flush, they will do far more leaf damage.
There are grass grub beetles out in early evening feeding on some of your plants.
If you find holes in the leaves of plants but no culprits to be found then likely its either beetles or birds.
Go out with a torch after sunset and check the plants for beetles.
If you find them then make up the Key Pyrethrum spray and spray them directly as if they were flies using fly spray.
Key Pyrethrum is a more natural quick knock down, used at only one mil per litre of water and has only a one day withholding period on food crops.
Porina caterpillars in the lawn are easily controlled with Wallys Neem tree Oil.
Cut the lawn so the grasses are shorter and then just before sunset spray the grass with the Neem Oil mixed at 15 mls per litre of warm water.
Spray to get the solution to the base of the grass where the caterpillars feed.
Later when they come out to feed they will get a dose of the oil and then starve to death.
Neem Oil is safe for animals, children and bees on the lawn where the chemical poisons are not.
In fact on dogs for fleas simply take the Neem Oil and mix with an equal amount of shampoo and use that on your moggies.
There are many safe alternatives to use in your garden that are not likely to cause you health problems or problems for your children, pets and beneficial insects such as Lady Birds and Bees.
I am available to answer your questions for safer alternatives.......
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There are a few plants that are traditionally associated with Xmas making this an appropriate time to have a wee look at them.
Holly and mistletoe are two greenery plants that were used in days gone by during the festive season.
Holly is still widely used as imitation holly in Xmas wreaths.
In Pagan times the English had the “he holly and the she holly” being the determining factor in who will rule the household in the following year.
The “she holly” have smooth leaves and the “he holly” prickly ones.
A word of caution here if you hang a Xmas imitation holly Wreath on your door you are advertising who will rule the home for the coming year..
Mistletoe also had its beginnings in the past and may still be hung from the ceiling by some people.
When in vogue if you met someone of the opposite sex under the mistletoe you were to kiss.
In the 18th Century, the exchanging of kisses between a man and a woman was adopted as a promise to marry.
At Christmas a young lady standing under a ball of mistletoe cannot refuse to be kissed.
The kiss could mean deep romance, lasting friendship and goodwill. It was believed that if the girl remained unkissed, she cannot expect to marry the following year.
(From Wikipedia) The custom of the Christmas tree developed in early modern Germany (where it is today called Weihnachtsbaum or Christbaum or "Tannenbaum") with predecessors that can be traced to the 16th and possibly 15th century, in which devout Christians brought decorated trees into their homes.
It acquired popularity beyond Germany during the second half of the 19th century, at first among the upper classes.
The tree was traditionally decorated with edibles such as apples, nuts, or other foods. In the 18th century, it began to be illuminated by candles which were ultimately replaced by Christmas lights after the advent of electrification.
Today, there are a wide variety of traditional ornaments, such as garland, tinsel, and candy canes. An angel or star might be placed at the top of the tree to represent the archangel Gabriel or the Star of Bethlehem from the Nativity.
If I remember rightly in America there was a tradition of stringing popcorn to decorate the Xmas tree.
Pine tree branches or tops in NZ are still popular with some households and they certainly bring in a fresh pine fragrance into the home for a time. They also drop their needles after a while and a bit of a job to clean up in the New Year.
Placing the base of the pine into a bucket of wet sand will help the tree to last longer and some say an aspirin added to the water will also help preserve.
Even better is to not only dissolve an aspirin or two in water but also add a tablespoon or two of sugar and a little bleach.
The artificial Xmas Trees suit more people these days and they are easily recycled for use in Xmases to come. Types include artificial pine and yule trees and colours such as greens, white, pink, red, purple, yellow and black.
This year my partner has opt for a black tree with white, red and blue decorations while previous years trees of different colours are in their boxes in storage.
Xmas lilies are one of the two most popular flowering plants for Christmas.
They flower around about the Xmas period and are sought out by many to decorate their indoor vases as well as outdoor settings. Long lasting in a vase especially if you use the aspirin/sugar/bleach in the vase water.
I had a phone call from a retired gentleman this week complaining that his Xmas Lilly plants were not preforming and likely he would have very few flowers or none at all this Xmas.
I asked him if in previous Xmases had he picked the flower stems for indoors and the answer was yes, with nice long stems. That is the problem I told him, by cutting nice long stems leaves very little leaves are left on the plant to gain energy from the sun for the following year's flowering.
Short stems leaving ample leaves behind will ensure reasonable flowering the following year.
I told him about another retired farmer that had a long driveway with Xmas Lillies planted on both sides of the drive.
Each year he would cut the flowers and sell them to the local florist for his Xmas pocket money. At about 50cents a stem and so many lilies flowering he could have a deposit for a BMW.
Unfortunately because too many flower stems had been cut too long over a few Xmas periods he ended up with only sufficient pocket money for a dozen beers.
The answer in his case was to only cut one third of the flowers each year allowing the other two thirds a couple of years to recover.
For those of us that dont want to buy cut Xmas Lily flowers every year instead have a look around your garden centres for some potted Xmas Lilies. These will likely be one bulb in a small container.
Buy three of them and a large container where the 3 plants can be planted while allowing for room to expand. Use a nice purchased compost to pot them up and use some Rok Solid and Sheep Manure pellets under the plants.
Leave outside where they will get a few hours of sun light each day and keep the mix moist. As the buds start to open bring the tub indoors and place on a large saucer or tray for catching excess water.
If possible position in front of a morning or afternoon sun window. The tub can be moved to a centre point for display when guests are due and later put back into the better light.
Once flowering is finished take the tub outside and place in a sheltered shady spot for a few days to harden up. Then into a full sun area till next Xmas. Every Three years re pot and the smaller new bulbs can either also go into pots or your garden.
Ideal food to water in occasionally would be Matrix with MBL added.
Poinsettia with their lovely red bracts are a favorite of many at Xmas time.
(Euphorbia pulcherrima) is a culturally and commercially important plant species of the diverse spurge family that is indigenous to Mexico and Central America.
It is particularly well known for its red and green foliage and is widely used in Christmas floral displays.
The red bracts (leaves) are not the flowers; the flowers are those insignificant berry looking things in the middle of the young red bracts.
Later these flowers will fall off unless fertilised/pollinated leaving the leaves in their red colour for several weeks.
They need a good light situation so make sure they spend most of the time within a metre of a sunny window.
Dont over water as they dont like wet feet. The plants you buy have been treated with a dwarfing compound to make them squat.
Later as this effect wears off they will become much taller and scraggy looking.
I have seen poinsettia planted outdoors in a frost free, sunny, free draining situation where they will grow about as tall as your home and put on an excellent display of red leaves in winter.
To make them flower its light control, 8 hours of good light and 16 hours of darkness for a couple of weeks or until the top leaves start to turn red. In a room without bright lights in winter they will flower without any help from you.
If you want a neat flowering plant to give as a gift buy a Moth Orchid (Phalaenopsis) if looked after correctly they will flower for months even in some cases always having some flowers.
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Garden centres these days have a great range of gift items besides the normal gardening products.
In fact a visit often will not only take care of the gifts for gardeners but also many other interesting items for those people that do not garden.
I always enjoy shopping at the garden shops as it is hassle free, usually ample free parking, and in some cases you can have a look around and then have a cup of coffee in their cafe while thinking about your final choices.
Happy Xmas shopping.
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Sometimes you can tell who is a gardener by the in-ground dirt on their hands and under their finger nails.
Working the soil with your bare hands causes the problem and for those gardeners that prefer to have clean looking hands and nails it means extra work after gardening cleaning up their best gardening tools, their hands.
This applies not only to females but males also who prefer to have clean looking hands.
The solution is to wear gloves which is not really a solution at all as most gardening gloves are made of materials that add bulk to your fingers and loss of sensitivity making your fingers cumbersome.
If handing prunings of thorny plants then the thickest, toughest gloves are the most practical for protection of your hands.
When it comes to handing transplants or weeding in between seedlings you want your hands to be as sensitive to the touch as possible.
For some years I have used latex gloves with all the disadvantages they have. They can tear while putting on if they are too tight or if there is the slightest bit of moisture on your hands.
Even though they come in boxes of 100 gloves from small to extra large they dont necessary fit perfectly, your fingers so you can end up with a bit of a tit at the end of your fingers.
Latex gloves tear easily and you end up with a dirty finger or more which means a clean up job later on. Sweat from your hand gathers inside the glove and over a period of time your skin starts to wrinkle as if you spent too long in the bath.
They are white and outside in the garden it looks like you are ready to preform an enema on your plants, just need the white coat and a stethoscope to complete the picture.
The advantage of the latex gloves is that you lose little feeling in your fingers, you prevent your hands from ingrain dirt and you can handle things you may not like to handle with your bare hands.
Besides they are cheap and once used you just thrown them into the rubbish bin.
Now what say I told you that I have found gloves that have all the advantages of latex gloves with none of the disadvantages?
You would surely be impressed as I was when I tried these gloves for the first time.
The gloves come from Malaysia and are named Black Dragon coming in boxes of 100 gloves by weight.
They are premium, powder free black nitrile gloves, stronger than latex and more resistant to chemicals.
Non-sterile, ambidextrous gloves made from 100% nitrile rubber that is 5 times stronger than latex.
Non-slip textured finger tips for greater grip and beaded cuff for added strength (less likely to tear when donning). The black colour hides dirt and looks cool!
They come in sizes Small, Medium, Large, extra Large and 2x large but made in Malaysia where their hands maybe a little on the smaller size I found that my normal Large size to be a very snug fit.
I used a pair for a few hours gardening, no tearing and no build up of moisture in the gloves which means they dont make your hand sweat as latex gloves do.
When I finished I peeled them off and threw them in the bin. Shortly after this I remembered that I meant to mix up some Neem Oil and Key Pyrethrum to spray under and over my strawberry plants leaves.
Though the sprays are safe to use and spray over your hand when folding back the leaves it nice to have the gloves on.
I pulled the Black Dragons out of the bin turned them from inside out and blew them up to open. I was able to reuse them no problem. If you do likewise the pack of 100 gloves would last you for years.
I see that Trade Me has boxes of the gloves for sale for under $30.00 which means for about .30cents a glove. If you are interested put Gloves Black Dragon into the Trade Me Search engine.
Best gardening gloves I have ever come across. The gloves would make an excellent Xmas gift. Also available by mail order on www.0800466464.co.nz with Wallys other gardening products etc.
A phone call this week was from a gardener with a very excellent solution to keeping birds, cats and insect pests off your vegetable plot.
They had one of those pipe gazebos in storage which they put back together and placed it over their vegetable garden.
It is an A-Frame with pipes that slot into each other or into holders at the corners and roof.
Over this and down the sides they placed crop cover so the whole of the garden within was protected.
The pipes can be pushed into the soil to say a depth of 20cm which would make the structure fairly strong. The crop cover could be laced onto the pipes to hold taunt and in place.
Soil or 100x50 wood to hold the bottoms to the ground allowing one part to be opened for access. Crop cover will only give a 15% shade factor and allow rain to pass through yet sheltered against wind which can still pass though at a reduced rate.
An ideal solution and I noted that Mega Mitre 10 currently have a good size gazebo for under $40.00 and a car port type for under a $100.
Talking about crop cover and protection against birds and insects such as codlin moth and the guava moth.
Wrap the small upright apple trees in crop cover or some of the branches of the larger trees.
A combination of tap and clothes pegs makes a cocoon of protection for the fruit that has set.
I have just done my apple trees for the season after finding it was so effective last season.
Covering fruit against bird and insect damage means no need for spraying. When I was in the Philippines a few years back I was amazed to see mango and papaya fruit in the trees wrapped in newspaper.
Amazing because trees 20-30 feet tall bearing untold fruit all wrapped up safe and sound.
You will see papaya (paw paw if you dont know better) still with the foreign newspaper on for sale in green grocer shops.
Now the weather is starting to settle (with less freezing breaks) insect pests will be breeding.
Check your plants, look under the leaves, if your eyesight is not 100% use a magnifying glass.
When found, spray late in the day just before dusk with Wallys Neem Tree Oil and Key Pyrethrum.
If you get the early insect pests then they will not get to breed and cause more problems.
Those using the Cell Strengthening products against damage from the psyllids on tomatoes etc should apply the sprays every 2 weeks. Use on capsicums, tamarillos, okra, potatoes and chilies also.
Spray your strawberry plants every two weeks with Mycorrcin and apply Wallys Secret Strawberry food every 6 weeks.
Purchase some flowering ornamentals such as roses and colour spots to pot up now for gifts at Xmas time.
Direct sow the seeds of corn, beans, zucchini, pumpkins and cucumbers where you want them to grow.
Direct sown, have better root systems and produce better. Place some Rok Solid where you are going to sow. If sowing different types of corn keep each well separated as cross pollination will change what is harvested.
Worst is pop corn grown near sweet corn.
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Every day my email box has over 100 emails, more than half are spam and unwanted, about quarter are information or from Real News sites and the balance are from readers asking about problems they are have, so for a change, I will share a few with you.
Email reads: Hey Wally, Hope all is well, Just a quick idea for your next article, Butterfly's.
Reason is that this year there will be at least 80,000 less swan plants for sale due to a large commercial grower retiring.
I am apart of the MBNZT (Monarch Butterfly NZ Trust) & just really want to get the word out there about swan plants & not only are the butterflies good for our garden but the are a wonder to see, + the extra factor is the kids love to watch them change, if you can help at all that would be great, Phil
So gardeners you better germinate a few seeds yourselves and grow some swan plants.
Likely other nurseries will pick up the shortfall as the plants are so easy to grow..
Seeds of Asciepias physocarpa (Swan Plant) are available from Egmont Seeds by mail order if you cant find them in your local garden centre..
Germinate in a good compost in a seedling tray and later on prick out into small pots to grow on and plant into the garden or direct sow where you want them to grow.
Space seeds out about 20 to 30 cm apart when direct sowing.
When several caterpillars are feeding on a swan plant they will literally eat themselves out of house and home. Once all the foliage has been stripped the plant will die.
That is a shame as it can be prevented by simply taking a small piece of Crop Cover and placing it over a branch or part of a branch and securing it so that no caterpillars can not eat the leaves inside.
The rest of the plant can get stripped of foliage but because some leaves are protected the plant will recover and produce more foliage.
If those aphid pests attack the plant then best control is to use your fingers to squash them so you dont harm the caterpillars using any type of insect spray.
If you dont like doing that then you can remove the caterpillars and a branch for them to feed on (place in a vase) then with all the caterpillars removed and no eggs on the plant you spray with Key Pyrethrum.
The pyrethrum breaks down quickly in sunlight so next day it will be safe to put your caterpillars back on the plant. Do not use any other sprays especially Confidor as it lasts in the plant for months killing all the caterpillars that hatch out.
There is a predator wasp that also kills the caterpillars and to safe guard the caterpillars you can wrap the plant in Crop Cover held in place at the overlaps with clothes pegs.
The caterpillars will live safely on the plant inside the cover and mature to become monarch butterflies.
Next: Hello Wally,
Passionfruit - not having much luck. We have had a vine planted now for nearly 2 years now, against the tin shed in full sun but it looks sick.
Leaves are yellow and it doesn’t even try and fruit. I have fed it with citrus food, sprayed it with Sequoia to try and get the leaves green again but today I see some of the leaves are falling off.
In desperation we brought another vine last week and planted it in a large tub right next to the old one. Now it is sulking, the top half is just limp. I have done everything I can think of to revive it but to no avail.
What am I doing wrong and what can I do to rectify both of them. I am told they are so difficult to grow. We live in Lower Hutt is that a problem for them? Hoping you can help as I would hate to pull them out. Regards Mavis.
My answer was; It likely depends where in NZ you are and your weather patterns..
I used to be able to grow them easy in Palmerston North 30 odd years ago. Far better summers then and sacks over the plant for protection against frosts in winter.
Now days I have yet to grow one outside without going to a lot of trouble... Best was to grow in a container in a glasshouse then let it wander outside which worked with frost protection in the winter.
They must be very free draining as wet feet in winter kills them. The current weather is not suitable so far... (Sounds like you have watered too much)
A challenge to grow if you dont live in a nice warm part of NZ. They are heavy feeders so when actively growing, lots of chicken manure, Rok Solid, Blood & Bone and Fruit & Flower Power. Keep dry during the cool months and only prune when actively growing.
Due to lack of bees these days because of insecticides such as Confidor, you may need to hand pollinate the flowers.
Then we have: Hi there Wally, Do you have a good all round planting guide for vegetables for the different seasons …using your particular fertilizers and nutrients?
It would be very useful in a future article.
Right now we are all thinking about putting our spring garden seeds in propagating pots or into the garden and know that each vege seed or plant has different requirements.
I would like to use more of your products but am not sure which plants need which product.
The internet takes so much time and your products are not mentioned.
I have just read that Beans don’t require Nitrogen so what do you put in the soil to grow them and what product follows on, when they are growing and established.
Then, tomatoes, potatoes and capsicums, cucumbers and lettuce etc requirements are different again.
To call and get advice on the whole spectrum of summer veges would be difficult. Hope you can put something together using your organic products and send to us all via a article. Wendy
Initially I figured that this is a complex question but then I realised that basically for all crops all you need to do is provide sufficient goodness and minerals which means applying the likes of calcium, animal manures, chicken manure, blood & bone, sheep manure pellets, Rok Solid, Neem Tree Granules and Bio Boost along with purchased compost not made from green waste.
Heavy feeding crops such as leeks, silverbeet and cubits (pumpkins etc) can have extra manure including side dressings of liquid feeds.
Garden Lime for all vegetables except for tomatoes and potatoes where you use dolomite and/or gypsum.
Spraying the crops with Magic Botanic Liquid every 2 weeks certainly makes a difference.
In Nature there is no special feeding of plants most flourish as long as there is not too much competition for light and food resources.
The harm is when soil life called the soil food web is harmed by chemicals including chlorine in tap water.
Just off topic but of concern is a recent study that showed that 85% of cotton sanitary products contained glyphosate according to a study by the Socio-Environmental Interaction Space (EMISA) of the University of La Plata, Argentina. Cotton swabs, wipes, tampons and sanitary pads were also found to contain glyphosate and AMPA.
“85 % of all samples tested positive for glyphosate and 62 % for AMPA, which is the environmental metabolite, but in the case of cotton and sterile cotton gauze the figure was 100%,” Dr. Damian Marino of EMISA explained.
Glyphosate is stated by WHO as being a possible carcinogenic.
Would this account for the dramatic increase in cervix cancer in the last 20 odd years?
The reason for this is that the cotton plants are sprayed with Roundup prior to harvest to make harvesting of the boles easier and in the Roundup Ready Cotton crops they are sprayed with glyphosate to kill competing weeds while plants are growing.
Maybe that is the reason why a number of women have adverse reactions to cotton products. Use over many years could logically lead to health issues.
There are no tests that I am aware of in NZ for glyphosate in cotton sanitary products or for cotton sterile pads used on wounds and its unlikely that under funded Govt departments would even look at the possibility of testing/checking. Maybe my old mum was right, 'Better to be Safe than Sorry'
The worlds 4 biggest producers of cotton are China, India,United States and Pakistan all use Glyphosate extensively and in fact China is the biggest manufacture/exporter of glyphosate and their customers apparently include Monsanto for Roundup formulations.
For further info see
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With the passing of our traditional planting time (Labour Weekend) we are at that point of the season where its about 8 weeks to the longest day.
This means that over the next 16 weeks we are going to have more hours of sunlight than any other similar part of the year.
Think about that for a moment, that is the time frame of nearly 4 months and most vegetables that we grow will mature within that period of time/daylight hours.
So not only is the growing conditions of the weather supposed to be suitable for planting out the more tender plants such as tomatoes and capsicums it is the optimum time for light hours.
As I sit here writing on Saturday, Labour Weekend, I look outside and see its sunny but a chilly wind which is really flapping my NZ flag.
This makes me very grateful to have glasshouses where my tomato plants are warm and secure from the elements. They are sharing this protected environment with cucumbers, capsicums, cayenne peppers, okra, bitter melon and seedlings of pumpkins.
Most of which would either not survive outside of the glasshouse or pack a big sad and not grow.
I pity those gardeners that are facing similar weather conditions, wanting to get their more tender plants going outdoors so they dont miss this optimum time.
Till the weather settles you can use various ways to protect your plants so you can have those early tomatoes to pick along with other vegetables.
For upright growing plants such as a tomato or capsicum place four strong stakes deeply driven into the soil about 30 to 40cm apart at the cardinal points, the first stake should be facing the prevailing wind, the second about 40 cm behind and the other two diagonally opposed to the first two.
Plant your seedling tomato in the centre putting some Neem Tree Granules in the planting hole along with Rok Solid.
If psyllids have been a problem in past seasons water into the root zone Silicon & Boron Soil Drench before sprinkling Wallys Secret Tomato Food with Neem Granules onto the soil.
Take out your plastic wrap and wrap a couple of times around one stake starting about 4 cm above the soil level.
Then run the wrap around the outside of the other 3 stakes and back to the starting stake keeping the bottom of the wrap about 4cm above the soil.
This allows an air passage for the wind to pass through and strengthen the base of the plant against wind damage later on when the shelter is removed.
You run the wrap around two or three times up the stakes to about 40cm in height.
Later as the tomato grows you can add more wrap to a higher level.
If your stakes start to bend inwards simply put a couple of slats of wood across the tops of the stakes and secure with a small nail. That forms a cross above your plant.
Sprays of Silicon Cell Strengthener combined with Silicon Super Spreader every two weeks at the end of the day for strengthening the tomato's cell against psyllids feeding.
For dwarf beans make some hoops out of number 8 wire to place into the soil about 20cm apart down the row. The hoops should be about 20 cm tall in the centre with a similar spread.
Down the furrow where you are going to plant your seeds sprinkle the new product, Calcium & Health along with Rok Solid then plant your bean seeds. Over the hoops place crop cover and secure down on all sides.
Later when weather settles remove and side dress the plants with sheep manure pellets.
For climbing beans plant in the same manner in front of the frame they are going to climb and then out about 20cm drive home some strong stakes every 50cm in a line.
Staple windbreak to the stakes to protect the beans while establishing. Windbreak can be used similarly to help protect other crops.
Hardy plants such as brassicas, silverbeet, lettuce and celery do not require extra protection but will grow faster if it is provided.
Growing your own vegetables naturally without using chemicals is extremely good for your health and the the health of your family. They taste much better than commercially grown produce and are more filling when considering weight problems.
Weight problems sometimes are caused by the body not getting the goodness it requires from the food you are consuming so it calls for more food hoping the next lot will have more goodness and be more satisfying.
To make this point I read this week that in the United States there are more than 34,000 pesticides derived from about 600 basic ingredients that are currently registered for use.
I dont think there are that many in NZ yet but there already are far too many; most if not all are unnecessary.
If Certified Organic Producers can grow their crops without using any of these chemicals then they are proof it can be done. Logic also tells me that for thousands of years people grew crops without harmful chemicals.
Using these chemicals means that the general population illnesses are on the rise, including asthma, autism, learning disabilities, birth defects, reproductive dysfunction, diabetes, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, along with several types of cancer.
Their connection to pesticide exposure becomes more evident with every new study conducted.
We see that in our day to day lives; for instance one person I spoke to this week told me that 3 friends had been diagnosed with cancer in the last few days. I quote the following from a recent study:
Agricultural practices that rely on this type of chemical addiction are stripping the soil of nutrients with remarkable implications.
They are devastating the nutritional value of crops, making dramatic changes at an alarming rate in less than a lifetime, to be specific.
As an example, there has been a 41.1 to 100% decrease in vitamin A in 6 foods: apple, banana, broccoli, onion, potato, and tomato.
Of them, both onion and potato saw a 100% loss of vitamin A in a 48-year span from, 1951-1999.
Its a two sided sword, the chemicals pollute the environment and poison our food while vital minerals are lost.
Is it any wonder that there are more sick people than ever along with health problems starting at much younger ages than we saw 50 years ago.
Gardeners that I talk to every week from all over NZ who are growing as much of their own produce as possible tell me that their gardens are great and that they and their children are of good health seldom seeing a doctor because there is no need.
Remember the first recognized doctor who stated the bases of health saying; Let food be thy Medicine and Medicine be Thy Food. Say no More!
A couple of things; hang those Sticky Yellow White Fly Traps to catch adult pests insects which means those ones dont get to bred.
I like the new blue plastic meat trays from one of the Supermarket chains, ideal for placing under your seedling punnets.
I was awarded with keeping a rare variety of tomato seed viable for just over 25 years by storing them in a glass jar in a fridge for all that time.
A strike rate of about 20% has given me a tomato called Manawatu Special originating from Europe and the First World War by a returning solider.
Excellent tomato; I was given a few seeds many years ago and grew them to produce lots of seeds for more plants to sell back when I had plant shops and nurseries.
I had thought after all those years they would have lost the germ.
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Plants, just like ourselves, have built in protection against diseases though immunity systems.
We build up our immunity naturally over the years by surviving disease attacks and by having a healthy nutritionally rich diet. That is not to say that we are immune to disease attacks but under normal situations we can fend off most health problems if we have very good health.
If we get into stress then our metabolism does not have the same stamina and we catch a cold or worse.
It is said the leading cause of heart disease and cancer is stress. I think its the stress that is the straw that breaks the camels back, after unhealthy living and insufficient nutrient rich food.
The same applies to plants, place them into stress and they will more likely catch a disease.
I have written a lot in the past on how to build the health of plants by building the health of the soil; having soil that is rich in humus, minerals, earth worms and soil life. These past articles can be found on our web site at www.gardenews.co.nz
Even when we have the best soil on earth, plants can still catch a cold when they are placed into stress and our current spring weather is very stressful to our plants and to us keen gardeners.
Chilly winds, too wet, too dry, only the occasional nice day does not make for great gardening and our plants don't do so well either.
We can however increase the immune systems of plants by a few monthly sprays of Perkfection Supa for roses and other plants.
The active ingredient of Perkfection is ‘Phosphite ion’ or Phosphonic Acid. (Potassium ions are also present). Perkfection is very safe to handle and spray and when used on food crops there is no withholding period other than your normal washing of produce before eating.
Perkfection is used extensively by commercial growers of produce and fruit as its safe, effective, in prevention and control while not restrictive on exports of produce.
We have suggested Perkfection Supa for Roses and Other Plants as an alternative to more toxic sprays, for the assistance in recovery from/or prevention of, the following problems, Black spot, Downy Mildew, Phytophthora Root rot, botrytis, Canker, heart rot, damping off, crown rot, leaf blight, silver leaf, late blight, collar rot, pink rot, brown rot, Armillaria, and gummy stem rot.
Now that’s a big list of common plant diseases which means that many of your disease related problems can be overcome with applications of this product.
Besides using Perkfection over your roses for the likes of Black spot and Downy mildew you can also use it as a spray over all your fruiting plants and trees including your strawberries.
It can be used also over your potatoes, tomatoes, lettuce, beans, cubits (cucumbers etc) lawns, onions, passion fruit, Cauliflowers, cybidium orchids and ornamental plants and vines.. In fact there is no where you cannot use Perkfection to advantage.
Being ‘Synthetic Organic Phosphates’ what you are doing, is placing this valuable material, onto the foliage of your plants, where it is very readily absorbed and transferred through the whole of the plant.
This fortifies the plant’s cells, increases the plant’s immune system and makes your plants less susceptible to invading pathogens.
There is however a down side, as with any good thing, you can use too much and the recommendation is to use Perkfection at 4 ml per litre of spray once a month for about 6 times in a season.
(Note a season is the normal period of time for that crop or plant. Roses are from Spring till Autumn. Most annuals 5-6 months.)
The reason is that, you can over load your plant with organic phosphates causing a clogging of the cells and halting growth until the system clears.
If a plant has a problem spray the first month with Perkfection at 7 mls per litre.
For plants you wish to fortify use at 4ml per litre for 2 to 3 months.
Prevention is better than cure and by spraying your plants in the spring you give the greatest protection to leaves and fruit, autumn spray will give greatest protection to roots and tubers.
I have suggested that on the 1st of the month to spray your roses and other preferred plants with Perkfection, MBL (Magic Botanic Liquid) and Mycorrcin. Then 14 days later (15th) spray with Mycorrcin and MBL.
What we are doing is boosting the plant's immune system, supplying a large range of minerals and elements, feeding the beneficial microbes to increase their populations which also work to eliminate diseases.
If insects problems occur then include Wallys Neem Tree Oil with Key Pyrethrum added..
All these sprays are compatible.
Here are a few examples of situations where Perkfection Supa has made a big difference;
Buxus, from early damage to nearly dead plants, sprayed monthly the plants recovered their foliage and are now thriving after 6 months.
Silverleaf on roses and fruit trees caught in the earlier stages, remove damaged branches and spray with Perkfection.
Dry Berry on berry fruit including strawberries (other name is downy mildew) a couple of sprays usually does the trick.
Grapes spray once there is a good show of leaves then repeat monthly for about 3 times to assist in prevention of botrytis.
I have a guava tree which after several years of excellent fruiting it suddenly developed a disease that badly effected the fruit.
A few other gardeners also reported the same problem so I contacted the nursery that propagate the trees and asked the head nurseryman about it. He named the disease (which I forget what it was) and told me that they treat the problem with a chemical spray.
Knowing me fairly well he said that he did not know what I could use as I was against harmful chemicals.
So that season when the guava was starting to produce new growths in the spring I sprayed it with Perkfection and again every month of so while the fruit were growing.
The result was a tree full of fruit and no sign of the previous problem.
Wet weather diseases on citrus and plants that do not like wet feet can be helped to recover with the use of Perkfection. It will help stimulate new root development.
It would also be a good idea to clean up the rot in the roots with a soil drench of Terracin followed by a drench of Mycorrcin 3 weeks later.
Terracin is a natural product that suppresses pathogens in the soil allowing the beneficial microbes to increase which means there is a fight for food resources and the now large numbers of beneficial microbes win. Isnt life simple when you work with Nature instead of destroying it with man made chemicals.
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Plants have one objective in life and that is to reproduce.
Reproduction is mostly done by seeding (spore in ferns) but can be also achieved through division, suckering, cloning, producing bulblets or pups.
The desire to reproduce is their strongest attribute which is one that can make gardening very difficult at times. (weeds, suckers, oxalis)
There are two basic forms of plants, one is called annuals because they germinate, grow, flower, seed and then die. The other type are perennials which live for a number of seasons or in the case of some trees thousands of years.
There are inbetweens such as bi-annuals which for our purpose here we will not worry about them.
Perennials are fairly straight forward, they live, they flower, they produce seeds, they may produce off sets, suckers (new plants from their root system) all while they live for more than one season.
They can have their foliage removed and survive to generate more foliage unlike an annual plant which if their foliage is removed the root system dies.
It is the annuals that we are going to talk about because as far as I am aware they only reproduce naturally by seeding.
(They can in some cases be grown from cuttings which in Nature if a bit of their foliage falls onto a suitable bit of dirt they could produce roots and become a clone of their parent plant.)
Annual plants are very aware of the current growing conditions and as far as I can figure they have a reasonable insight on what the conditions are likely to be in days to come.
Seeds will not germinate in Nature till the conditions are right which means temperatures in both soil and air along with adequate moisture.
If the temperatures are right in summer but its too dry to germinate nothing happens till the soil moistens up sufficiently. A day of rain changes the moisture level and the seeds laying dormant germinate (which includes weeds)
Two possible events may occur then; one is that further rain or your watering follows and the plants/weeds grow up tall and strong and when maturity is reached they produce flowers and seeds.
The other possibility is there is no more rain and the soil dries, the plant/weed has only grown a few inches and it will realise that it is becoming too dry and immediately mature, flower and set seed before it dies.
This is where you will see lots of baby weeds in dry areas flowering their hearts out to seed before they wither in the dry conditions.
Their seed falls on to the dry dusty soil to wait for the next moist time to germinate and start the cycle all over again.
From this we learn that annual plants or ones we call weeds when they encounter stress or checks in their growing they will feel that their lives are threatened and go to seed.
We call this 'Bolting' and you will see the term bolt resistant which means the particular species will tolerate a bit of stress before going to seed.
When it comes to non fruiting vegetable plants we want them to reach maturity without going to seed prematurely. So our cabbages, lettuce, silverbeet, celery etc will produce good plants to harvest and eat.
If left after maturity they will eventually go to seed.
What we dont want is the same plants to go to seed before they reach maturity.
Some vegetables are very prone to bolting unless the growing conditions are perfect from the time they germinate to the point of maturity. One such plant is Pak Choy which I have found easily bolts at the merest check of growth.
Thus we have the gardening problem of bolting.
If we are growing our own seedlings for planting out and we nurture the plants from germination to planting out by giving them adequate direct sun light, sufficient moisture for sustained growth (not drowning them) and we prick them out without damaging the roots after 'hardening off' and provide the young plants with good growing conditions we have great success.
If we fall down and the plants get into stress then later on they will likely go to seed.
We call this a 'check' in their growth it could have been caused by becoming too dry, too hot, too cold, too soft and insufficient direct sun light.
When we buy vegetable seedlings we dont know if they have suffered stress or not during their short lives to date.
The nursery that grew them dont usually make mistakes as its their income that suffers if they do so.
Instead they give the plants optimum growing conditions and then harden them off before transporting to a retailer.
Hardening off is very important; when grown in a glasshouse where every thing is controlled the foliage of the seedlings is soft and if shoved straight out into the real world they are likely to die or suffer stress.
To overcome this the seedlings are transferred to special houses where they are protected but gradually exposed to the elements.
Alternative is to spray them with Vaporgard to protect the soft foliage and they can then be hardened up quickly.
When the seedlings reach a retail outlet they are often placed under cover where they can become soft again. Watering is a problem if they dont receive sufficient for their needs.
As the seedlings are bigger now and they have large root zones filling the cell pack or punnet they can dry out very quickly and may require watering more than once in a day.
The chances of being stressed before they are planted out in your garden have increased. If the plants are indoors out of natural light or in bundles they are soft and stressed.
You plant them out and they lay down on the soil like left over road kill and they struggle to stay alive and grow.
Then you wonder a few weeks later why they have gone to seed before they were ready to harvest.
Vegetable plants that produce fruit such as tomatoes and capsicums there are no problems as you want them to seed/fruit and as long as they have not got too old in the pots they will likely be fine.
With flower plants the bigger the better and no worries about whether they have been stressed or not.
When purchasing foliage type vegetables try to buy nice small young plants in cell packs (least root disturbance) so you can take them home and grow them on to plant out later.
A day before planting out spray the seedlings with Vaporgard over and under foliage this acts as a stress guard and reduces transplant shock, protects the plants from the elements and reduces moisture loss through foliage.
Instead of laying down you plants will sit up and start growing much quicker in their new situation.
If you place Crop Cover over them with hoops you will protect the plants from birds, cats, insects and the elements.
They will grow just about twice as fast which means you will be enjoying your own home grown vegetables much sooner.
This allows you to re-plant and have more harvests during the growing season.
TO THE LIST OF ARTICLES
Now that we are halfway through Spring and quickly heading to the first month of Summer (December) there is a fair bit to do in our gardens so lets run a check list in case some things are missed.
It will depend on what you have in your gardens as to whether any or all things aspects concern you.
Roses: generally at this time we have new foliage, buds and some flowering taking place.
If there is any sign of black spot or rust, spray the roses and soil underneath with a solution of potassium permanganate mixed at ¼ a teaspoon to a litre of non chlorinated water and spray. (It may stain walls etc temporarily).
Food for Roses ; ideal is horse manure, blood & bone otherwise sheep manure pellets with the blood & bone. These should be covered with some purchased compost.
Add to this a sprinkling of Rok Solid and once a month a small sprinkling of Fruit & Flower Power.
If you want good roses avoid soil damaging fertilisers such as rose fertiliser and nitrophoska.
Bio Boost is also a good natural slow release one and very well priced.
If you have roses that need recovery from past chemical sprays such as Shield (now banned) the chemicals will have broken down the natural immunity of your roses.
You may like to start a recovery spray program which I wrote about originally just on 10 years ago.
On the first of the month mix the following at their label rates per a litre of water, PerKfection Supa for Roses, Magic Botanic Liquid, Mycorrcin & Wallys Neem Tree Oil.
Spray late in the day just before sunset. Then on the 15th of the month repeat spray all the above except for PerKfection Supa.
Only water with non chlorinated water so you don't harm the beneficial soil life including the gardeners best friend, earthworms.
In some cases the health improvement of your roses will be quickly noticed; although some may have the additional problem of inherently poor breeding and always be a sickly specimen (even if they have brilliant flowers)
Lawns; I have had a number of enquiries about lawn problems starting with moss in lawns.
Dont waste your money on sulphate of iron as it only burns the top of the moss which then it quickly comes back.
Instead, jet spray the moss with Moss & Liverwort Control. It kills the moss completely without damaging the grasses.
If there is a spongy feeling when walking on the lawn that indicates a thatch problem. Simply spray the lawn with Thatch Busta to clean up the thatch. (Do the moss killing first, wait about 2 weeks then the Thatch Busta.)
Bare patches in the lawn indicate the root damage caused by grass grubs in the autumn/winter period and these same grubs are now down deep, pupating to emerge shortly as beetles.
They are too deep to do anything about them at this time so dont waste your money on treating. The horse has gone so no need to close the gate.
Another bare patch problem with holes in the lawn indicate that porina caterpillars are at work eating at the base of the grass in the evening (when they are safe from birds) to return to their tunnels before dawn.
A simple spray over the lawn with Wallys Neem Tree Oil will stop the damage and cause them to starve to death. In areas where porina are a problem treat the lawn this way every 3 months.
When the grass grub beetles emerge they are going to eat the foliage of several plants so after you have noticed holes in the leaves go out after dark with a torch and have a look.
If you have beetles then spray then with a mix of Key Pyrethrum and Wallys Neem Tree Oil.
Also a bright light in a window facing the lawn with a trough two thirds full of water with a film of kerosene floating on the top; placed directly under the window pane, will trap lots of beetles (maybe a few Codlin Moths too)
They fly at the bright light hit the pane and fall into the water where the kerosene stops them from escaping.
Feed the beetles to the chickens next morning or flush down the toilet.
By the way if you do not have two or three chickens and you have room for a small hen house and run it is a great investment.
They will convert kitchen scraps and weeds into the best manure around and as a bonus supply you with a few eggs that you will find really tasty and magic for baking.
Not only that you are a bit more self-sufficient and protesting in a small way against the battery hen practices.
Weeds; they certainly grow at this time of the year and as long as you deal to them before they set seed they are not too much of a problem.
In fact weeds are a excellent asset to your garden soils as they have taken up goodness which can be returned to great advantage.
You could pull the weeds out, shake the soil off them and lay them back down on the soil.
That is good but even better; with a sharp knife slice through the weeds just below soil surface.
This leaves the roots in the soil to rot and provide food for the soil life and it does not disrupt the beneficial fungi in the soil.
The foliage can be laid on the soil surface where it will be quickly devoured by the soil life and worms.
Your soil will build up humus quickly if you spray the dying weeds with Mycorrcin.
Doing these things (sure it takes a bit of time but it is so therapeutic and anti-stressful) will overtime make for dream gardens and plants.
Citrus; its a good time to sprinkle Wallys Neem tree Granules underneath the citrus trees from the trunk to the drip line. This will help prevent insect damage.
If you have chook manure give a good sprinkling of that otherwise any animal manure or sheep manure pellets along with blood & bone. Cover with compost. Sprinkle Fruit and Flower Power once a month.
A spray of Wallys Liquid Copper with Raingard added in the spring and autumn will help with any citrus diseases. If the trees are looking a bit sad add Perkfection Supa to the copper spray.
In cases where wet feet have rotted roots treat the area with Terracin to suppress the pathogens and help save the tree.
Three weeks later spray the soil with Mycorrcin.
Note always use non-chlorinated water which is easily achieved with a special carbon bonded filter on your outside tap.
Codlin Moth; apple trees are starting to flower and if in the past you have had codlin moth problems then likely they will be even worse each year.
From the trunk to the drip line sprinkle Wallys Neem Tree Granules.
After fruit set you can wrap some branches with crop cover, taped at the trunk end and the overlap held with clothes pegs.
The moths cant lay their eggs on branches protected by the crop cover.
It would work also on guava moths.
Alternatively hang a tin of treacle in the tree in a onion bag, monitor every couple of days for moths caught which tells you when they are on the wing.
Spray the apples with Wallys Neem tree Oil and Raingard and repeat about every 10 to 14 days till no more activity in your treacle trap.
Pear Slugs; In warmer areas and later in cooler areas the pear slugs will attack pear and plum trees, they eat small holes in the foliage and look like a black slug.
Simply spray the tree with Wallys Liquid Copper to control.
Remember be nice to your gardens by being natural.
TO THE LIST OF ARTICLES
This season is shaping up to be more like what was the common weather patterns of 20 to 40 years ago.
It maybe a bit different dependent where in New Zealand you are but from what I gather from phone conversations; many areas are similar to what we are experiencing in Palmerston North.
Traditionally in New Zealand Labour Weekend was the time for planting out vegetables and flowers in our gardens.
This was not done just because it was a long weekend, the reason was that by about the end of October it would be relatively safe to plant out the tender plants as the possibility of frost was fairly unlikely.
In Northland and some areas you could advance this by about a month but in some southern areas later in November would be a better time.
In areas such as Palmerston North we would only be planting out hardy plants such as brassicas, silverbeet and lettuce prior to Labour Weekend and even so, likely creating micro-climates for the early plantings.
Potatoes could be planted about this time keeping them covered as the shoots poked through the soil to prevent frost damage. They would be ready to harvest for Xmas day.
A row of peas would also be planted as they are hardy plants, once germinated and be ready to harvest fresh peas on Xmas morning.
New potatoes, fresh peas to have with a real luxury (at that time) roast chicken specially breed and fattened for this important event. (Well that is what it used to be like about 40 odd years ago.)
When Labour Weekend arrived we would be geared up to plant out the seeds of corn, beans, beetroot, radish, carrots, parsnips, pumpkins, squash and melons.
Tomato plants along with cucumber and kumera would have been already germinated or sprouted as with the later and planted out often with shelter to start with.
Keen gardeners would always be trying to beat the elements and have some plantings done before Labour Weekend using various methods to warm the soil and protect young plants.
These methods could be used at this time in some areas where it is a slow start to the season.
Planting out of tender plants such as cucumbers before the soil has warmed up and the chill factors have dissipated means they will just sit, shiver and likely turn up their toes and die.
Those of us that are fortunate these days to have glasshouses can get a really early start to the growing season because of the shelter a glasshouse offers and more warmth to heat the growing medium and air.
You can get an early start as long as your plants are kept a little on the dry side so that the cold temperatures at night wont cause them problems .
Plants grown in containers can do well in the glasshouse and then hardened off or sprayed with Vaporgard before planting outdoors when the weather has settled.
Those without glasshouses can also beat the current conditions with a little ingenuity and the desire to do so.
Heating the soil is important to encourage germination, root development and early growth.
For instance; you want to get a early crop of dwarf beans germinated and growing, you make a trench about 10 cm deep and 10cm wide where you want to grow the beans.
Mow your lawns and collect the clippings which you are going to pack into this trench to fill to about 4cm from the top. Trample the grass clippings down and add more to get about a 6cm layer of clippings.
Over this sprinkle Wallys Calcium & Health or soft garden lime.
A dressing of blood and bone, animal manure or sheep manure pellets, Rok Solid and a sprinkling of BioPhos then cover with a good purchased compost made from animal manures not green waste.
The compost will fill up about 2-3cm then place your bean seeds onto this compost and spray them with Magic Botanical Liquid (MBL) and Mycorrcin combined. These natural elements speeds up germination.
Then cover the seeds with more of the compost. The heat from the grass clippings breaking down will warm the compost above nicely and encourage germination and good root development.
Its only a few days and your new beans are sprouting through the compost to face birds pecking them off, plus cats trying to help you with additional manure, cold winds to damage the tender foliage unless you take the next step.
Make some hoops using number 8 wire sufficiently long enough to go into the soil and be about 20cm high in the centre of the row.
Over the hoops you can either place clear plastic film or crop cover. The far side is held in place by putting soil on the cover the ends and the front held down with lengths of timber.
We now have a mini tunnel house which will protect the young plants from the elements, birds and cats.
They can grow quite happy under their protective cover till they reach the cover and then you can fold the cover back on a nice day to start hardening off.
Replace back late in the afternoon and uncover again next morning if its going to be a nice day. Do this 2 or 3 times and then remove completely, rinse with the hose, dry and store for future use.
Crop cover comes 4 metres wide at about $5.00 a metre length. It prevents most insects, has a 15% shade factor and reusable for many seasons.
For taller growing plants such as brassicas use the crop cover over hoops made from rigid alkathene pipe making the hoops about half a metre tall.
Each seedling can be planted putting the same products into a deeper planting hole (a handful or two of grass clippings) If you have access to chook manure place this instead of the grass clippings especially for lettuce. Your plants under the crop cover will grow twice as fast as any planted without this shelter.
Another alternative is 2 litre clear plastic fruit juice containers with the bottom cut off and the cap removed. One of these is placed over each seedling at planting time and pushed into the soil to make steady. In both these cases you are creating what we call a micro-climate.
You like zucchini? Ok take a 45 litre container and half fill with compost not made from green waste, put some grass clippings plus chook manure, Calcium & Health, Rok Solid, Blood & Bone, Bio Boost, and BioPhos then cover to a couple of cm from the rim.
Place your Zucchini plant in the centre and water in with some MBL & Mycorrcin. Put two hoops of No8 wire at right angles to each other to form a cross about 20cm tall in the centre.
Over these place the crop cover and tuck into the inside edge of the container.
Four short 3mm stake can be pushed down at the cardinal points in between the wires at the sides to hold the cover better in place. Later on remove all when weather settles and your zucchini will be close to flowering.
If you dont have any bumble bees around to pollinate the female flowers you need to do this by hand. Check every day for more female flowers and pollinate.
The plant will grow nicely all season in the container, check every so often for insects under the leaves and if found spray under the leaves with Wallys Neem Tree Oil and Key Pyrethrum.
Early produce always gives great satisfaction and achievement for gardeners.
TO THE LIST OF ARTICLES
Now that the weather is improving gardeners will be starting to plant out potatoes and tomato plants.
In most parts of the country we now have another pest to contend with and that is the psyllid from America, Bactericera cockerelli.
This miniature pest first appeared in NZ in 2006 and has being spreading throughout the country ever since. I first came across the problem about 6 years ago in Palmerston North when a late crop of potatoes produced only a pea sized crop.
At the time I thought I had got my food program wrong as the plants had large amounts of foliage and pea size spuds.
At that time my tomato plants were not really affected through in hindsight the later tomatoes were smaller at maturity than the early ones.
Since then the problems the pest causes to my potatoes and tomatoes has become far worse.
I know that some gardeners have actually given up, thrown in the towel and stopped growing tomatoes and potatoes.
Originally Neem Tree Granules and sprays of Wallys Neem Tree Oil with Key Pyrethrum helped but without continual spraying the battle would be lost eventually.
Some gardeners started spraying Diatomaceous earth combined with Neem Oil to lacerate the nymphs and have the anti-feeding & smothering properties of the Neem Oil.
Another method is using Quarantine cloth over the the plants from the outset.
I used this method on a new raised bed over a crop of late potatoes planted in January two years ago and harvested a good crop of undamaged potatoes in May.
The next time I tried the same on an early crop of potatoes on the same raised garden it was only partially successful as there were adult psyllids that appeared inside the cover that must have been in the soil, pupating, to emerge after the crop was underway.
I have even gone to the trouble to build a quarantine house to grow a tamarillo plant and tomato plants in but once again the pests were either already there or I carried them in and the end results was not good.
My largest glasshouse (ex-conservatory) is more successful with regular spraying but I am sure its more to the very high temperatures the house gets to during the day. (Up to 50 degrees C.)
I have placed quarantine cloth over all vents to prevent invasions. A month or so ago I cleared out all plants and containers from the house and then after a few weeks burnt sulphur inside.
Then from the outside looking through the windows, I saw a few adult psyllids beating up against the glass trying to get out from the sulphur fumes.
To know your enemy allows you to work out possibly controls.
From NZ Bio-Security web site comes the following...
The psyllid has three life stages. The life stages are egg, nymph and adult.
Outdoors in North America there are thought to be 4-7 overlapping generations per year.
In greenhouses development and survival can occur from between 15.5°C and 32.2°C, optimum development occurring at 26.6°C. The development threshold is 7°C. In a greenhouse averaging 18°C psyllids will take 33 days to complete the life cycle.
Psyllid adults can mate more than once. The first mating usually occurs 2-3 days after emergence.
Females lay up to 510 eggs over their lifetime. Eggs are laid over a period of about 21 days. Eggs hatch 3-9 days after laying.
Eggs are oval in shape and yellow to orange in colour. The eggs are attached to the leaf by a stalk.
Eggs can be laid on all parts of the leaf and are very obvious when on the leaf edges.
The nymph goes through five scale-like nymphal stages. The psyllid remains a nymph for between 12-21 days. Over this time they change from light yellow to tan to greenish brown in colour.
The nymph will grow to 2mm in length and feed on the underside of the leaf. Wing buds appear in the third instar and become obvious in the fourth and fifth instars. The wing buds distinguish the psyllid from whitefly nymphs.
Adult psyllids are 3-4mm in length with long clear wings. The adult can resemble miniature cicadas. On emerging the adults are light yellow in colour. After 2-3 days they change to brown or green in colour. After 5 days they become banded grey or black and white in colour.
Psyllids feed like aphids. Psyllids insert stylets into the plant, suck the sap and excrete the excess water and sugar as honey dew or as a solid waste (psyllid sugar). Psyllid sugar is the symptom that you are most likely to see on your plants.
Nymphs and possibly adults inject a toxin into the plants when they feed. The toxin causes discoloration of leaves and the plant to become stunted exhibiting ‘psyllid yellow’ and ‘purple top’. Leaf edges upturn and show yellowing or purpling.
The plants internodes shorten and new growth is retarded.
So you can see from this that 1 female lays 500 eggs which can be 500 adults in about a month and if half them are females you then have 125,000; then about a month later 31,250,000 nymphs feeding on your plants.
When the temperatures are ideal about 26 degrees they multiply out of sight and that is what you are fighting.
This season I and a number of other gardeners all who are annoyed about not being able to grow tomatoes like we use to, are trying a new concept; making the cells of the plant too tough for the nymphs to feed.
The logic of this is simple, if the cell wall of the plant cant be penetrated for the nymphs to feed on when they emerge then they will starve to death within hours of hatching, breaking the cycle. The method is best applied from seed stage but likely young plants will be ok but could already be affected when purchasing.
Here is what I am going to do; Drench the mix where I am germinating the seeds with Wallys Silicon & Boron Soil Drench. Keep mix moist with non-chlorinated water.
After germination give the plant a further drench and the spray the foliage with Wallys Silicon Cell Strengthener combined with Wallys Silicon Super Spreader which assists the strengthener to penetrate the foliage. Repeat spray two weekly.
Prior to transplanting, drench the growing area with the soil drench, then plant. Two weeks later drench again and spray the foliage with the combined cell strengthener spray with the spreader added.
No more drenching unless you transplant again and keep the spray program going every 2 weeks till the plant has about reached its mature size then a back up spray once a month.
The idea is to keep silicon going into the plant as it grows, I don't think it would work so well if you were starting with a mature plant.
The silicon sprays are compatible with any other sprays you may like to use such as Perkfection Supa, Magic Botanic Liquid, Mycorrcin, Neem Oil and Key Pyrethrum. Mix only with non-chlorinated water and avoid chemical sprays which will only weaken the plants.
Placing Neem Granules in the planting hole and on the soil surface will also help.
I am hopeful this season to have lots of tomatoes once again, time will tell.
If the psyllids are removed, the plant may start to grow normally.
TO THE LIST OF ARTICLES
Spring is making its presents known with blossoms breaking out on deciduous trees and spring bulbs making a great show.
Roses are coming out of dormancy producing foliage and buds making for expectations of breath taking displays.
I am enjoying this spring because unlike the last few springs that turned out to be false springs; (they were a month of great weather in August then it turned to custard in September) this spring is not pushing winter out so quickly which slows us down about being too keen too quickly.
Talking to a few other older gardeners we agreed that its more like how it used to be some years ago.
The weather still allows us to get a few of the 'waiting to be done jobs' without creating the desire to rush in where fools tend to tread.
Hardy plants and vegetable seedlings can be planted out now as long as you hardened them off first.
This is when you go to a garden centre buy your hardy plants such as lettuce and brassicas, making sure they are a bit on the smaller side rather than big plants, then putting the punnets into a sunny but sheltered situation such as on a porch, for a few days to grow on and get used to the outside world.
A spray of Vaporgard does wonders for them as it will take the stress off when you transplant them.
The more I use crop cover with my early plantings the more I come to appreciate how great it is.
Crop Cover is 4 metres wide and costs only about $5.00 a metre length, it does not fray and so far I have used the same covers for 3 seasons without any sign of aging.
You need some No8 wire hoops for lower growing vegetables (up to about ½ a metre in centre) and some rigid alkathene pipe to make hoops about a metre tall in the centre.
Plant your seedlings, put the crop cover over the hoops, place soil on one side and hold the ends and other side down with lengths of old wood or similar.
This shelters the plants against wind, creates a micro-climate, keeps most insect pests off the plants as well as birds and cats.
The crop cover has only a 15% shade factor which wont upset the seedlings and cause stretching as long as your plants are in a fairly sunny location.
You can use the same crop cover after your fruit trees have set fruit to cocoon wrap them to prevent insect and bird damage as the fruit matures. Great stuff to make gardening easier.
Many gardeners like myself prefer to grow their plants from seeds because we have full control over their development. It allows us to grow a far bigger selection of types and varieties than what we can find in the garden centres.
I also prefer what we call open pollinated seeds because if you raise say cabbages from open pollinated you will not have every plant maturing ready to pick on the same day.
Commercial hybrid seeds will have this feature which is ok if you are selling a paddock of cabbages but not so good in the home garden unless you are going to freeze or preserve.
The range of seed varieties available by mail order in NZ is very good. Do a search on Google for Egmont seeds and Kings Seeds.
For NZ heritage seeds have a look at Koanga Seeds.
To germinate seeds you will have the best success if you use a heat pad.
Put 'Heat Pad' into Google and you will find suitable ones from about $20 upwards. The same pads can be used for pets and home brewing.
Place your heat pad onto a sheet of polystyrene that is a little bigger than the pad. This directs all the heat upwards where your seedling trays or punnets are going to be sitting.
Dont waste your money on seed raising mixes, they are expensive and you are better of to use a natural compost such as Daltons or Oderings.
Half fill your seedling tray with the compost and then with a garden sieve, sieve more compost over the courser material below. Space your seeds out across the top of the sieved material or if you are using cell packs place two seeds into each cell.
Next mix some Magic Botanic Liquid (MBL) at 20ml per litre into a small trigger sprayer (you can add Mycorrcin if you have it and if germinating tomato seeds add to the MBL a little of Wallys Silicon & Boron Soil Drench this can be used for other seed types also to advantage)
The silicon is to help strengthen the young plant's cells to reduce problems from the dreaded psyllids.
The MBL really makes a difference to the germination time and the silicon helps strengthen the new seedlings cells, the Mycorrcin gets the beneficial microbes multiplying as well as feeding the newly germinated plants.
Now sieve a little more compost over the seeds to cover them and wet this down nicely with the mixed spray.
I like to set up the heat pad on a bench in the kitchen so that every day I will see it and not forget to mist the punnets with non-chlorinated water. Mist twice a day (or more if need be) to keep the mix moist.
As soon as the first seeds germinate and show their embryo leaves you must move the seedling tray into a 'good light from over head' such as a bench in a glasshouse or outside into a wooden box with a sheet of glass over it. (A small old drawer is perfect)
Your seedlings will not stretch and become weak if you do this. Even on a window sill they will stretch to the glass as the light is not from overhead.
More losses and frustration with seed raising is because the young plants are not given natural overhead light. You have been warned!
Outside in the glasshouse they will need to be checked every day and misted or watered by standing the seed tray in a trough of water for a short time to wet the mix from below.
Dont leave the trays sitting in water instead put back onto the bench. The mix of MBL etc that you used can be used for these drenches.
Talking about seeds I was having a conversation with an elderly lady gardener recently when the topic of curly leaf on stone fruit came up.
I was told by her if you grow a nectarine or peach tree from a stone you are very unlikely to have curly leaf disease on those trees!
In her case 100% of no curly leaf on all the many of stone fruit varieties she has grown from stones over the years. That is very very interesting. Yet she admitted that she had purchase two grafted dwarf nectarines and every season they have a bad case of curly leaf.
I said that growing from stones would take a few years to cropping, The answer was no, only a couple of seasons.
My thoughts on this are; grafted trees are done mainly to limit the size of the tree at maturity.
This is likely similar to putting a choke at the graft, only allowing sufficient nutrients and moisture through from the root system to produce a certain size tree at maturity.
This would make the fruiting part of the tree weaker and more prone to diseases such as curly leaf.
Interesting thought. TO THE LIST OF ARTICLES
Written by Wally Richards.
Firstly I must submit a sincere apology to all my readers over the years for encouraging gardeners to cultivate worms for healthy soil and gardens.
Fortunately our beloved Government has shown me the error of my ways through the new Health and Safety Reform Bill where Worm farming is classified as 'high risk'
I had not considered the implications of worm farming before, one doesn't, does one? You just take some things for granted because you have been doing them for years without considering the harmful consequences to yourself, family and visitors.
On the other hand the good news is that when one enters a paddock full of steers or bulls to collect manure for their gardens and compost heap, you don't need to worry anymore about being trampled to death because its now classified as low risk.
Mushroom hunters/food gatherers will be rejoicing as they gather their mushrooms without having to constantly look over their shoulders.
I have needed to put on my thinking cap to understand how these changes have come about and its to do with the type of worms used for worm farming, namely Tiger Worms.
We used to assume that they were only called Tiger Worms because of their stripes, not so, they are far more dangerous than that. Aptly named after their feline counterpart, roaming jungles endangering all that they come in contact with.
If you don't believe me, you only have to see how quickly Tiger worms can clean up a rotting carcass. Which reminds me of the horrible threat that is often used, 'When they bury you, the worms will get you'.
Hence the reason I presume so many people opt for cremation.
Let us consider some NZ history about this dangerous predictor we know as Tiger Worms (please note that other worms living in the soil are always referred to as earth worms no matter what species they are and there are over 4400 known and named earth worms but only one deadly Tiger Worm)
Originally the easiest place to find these dangerous worms was on farms under cow pads. (That is the lump of manure from cattle's toilets)
These days you are unlikely to find Tiger Worms under cow pads because in their wisdom non organic farmers have killed off the Tiger worms through the use of superphosphate, herbicides and chemical drenches.
(For city folk; the drenches are for killing worms and parasites)
This obviously has made going onto a paddock a lot safer as there are no longer any Tiger worms to be fearful of.
I presume that the steers and the bulls used to be very agitated because of the danger that Tiger Worms represented to them.
That would explain why they would chase you when you went into their paddock.
They were obviously trying to warn you of the danger and shoo you away for your own safety.
If you happened to be a slow runner and got trampled to death it was only because of their desire to save you from a fate worse than death.
I also assume that the Government in their wisdom have noted this and that cattle now are no longer agitated (being locked in a paddock with Tiger Worms) and its now of low risk to spend time with them in their paddock.
(Like the story of Ferdinand the bull, mild as a lamb till he got a bee sting in his rump steak)
For us with worm farms we likely will need to keep records of activities associated with the handling and farming of these dangerous critters.
To protect visitors and children a suitable child proof fence may need to be installed around the worm bins similar to that required around swimming pools.
I am sure the ministry will soon supply gardeners with a set of guide lines for their own safety while doing gardening activities in areas where Tiger worms have been known to be lurking.
If you think this is a joke, think about the regulators that have egg on their face, which reminds me that poultry farming is also very hazardous; especially for the chickens.
And Now for some real danger (Monty Python lead in line) Moss and Liverwort on paths when wet can result in slipping and breaking of bones especially for us senior and should be most respected persons.
Moss in lawns looks unsightly and interferes with the grass growing.
Lichen on trees causes damage to the bark over time.
Liverwort in gardens and on containers can spread and hamper plant growth.
Liverwort of roofs, glasshouses, public paths and fences can be unsightly, damaging and dangerous.
These problems can be easily be fixed with a product called Wallys Moss & Liverwort Control which is mixed at either 50ml per litre of water for moss and liverwort or at 25ml per litre for lichen.
The product cannot be watered on, it must be jetted on with a pump up sprayer having adjusted the nozzle to make a jet. This forces the product into your target moss etc making for a good control.
If applied otherwise by a watering can or lawnboy, the results will be very poor and you have wasted your time and money.
Applied correctly it works a treat, will not harm other plants or lawn and very cost effective if compared to other products that do similar controls.
If using over other plants besides the moss etc it is recommended that you lightly water the foliage of the plants 30 minuets after using the Moss & Liverwort Control.
It takes only that short period of time to get into your liverwort, moss etc and start working.
It takes about 2 weeks or so to see the moss etc turning colour and dying completely.
My own experience has being no re-infection for quite sometime though you may need to do some back up spot spraying for bits you missed initially.
The algae that forms in water containers such as bird baths can be easily cleaned up with just a couple of drops of the product into the water.
Put the drops in then with the hose add some more water which will cause the water to foam activating the kill factors.
Do not use in fish ponds that have fish in them as the product depletes the oxygen in the water as it works which would cause the fish to die.
Remove the fish or supply them with a source of oxygen before treating.
The best way is to remove the fish; treat the pond and then place a air stone in the pond on a air pump to get oxygen back into the water.
Then place one fish into the pond to test if all is ok after an hour or so before returning the rest of the fish.
To keep the pond clean of algae put a wad of straw into a plastic bag with a stone for weight.
Punch lots of little holes into the bag after sealing and toss into the pond. Replace every 6 months.
On large ponds more than one bag maybe needed.
On farm size ponds just throw in a bale or two of straw..
Now to get my protective gear on so I can put the food scraps into my two worm farms.
TO THE LIST OF ARTICLES
When it comes to plant growth many gardeners only think on terms of temperatures rather than daylight hours.
Temperatures do have a bearing on growth as warm soil along with mid range temperatures between 20 to 30 degrees certainly assists in growth but the amount of sunlight a plant receives makes the real difference.
It does not have to be sun light, it can be artificial light that will keep plants growing.
When I was a nurseryman it was common practice to increase the amount of light hours some plants received in the early or late part of the season by having lights in our glasshouses..
For instance in winter we would have a timer to turn on the lights at 6 am for about 2-3 hours and then to turn them on again at 4 pm to run till 9 pm. This along with the natural light during the day increased the light hours from about 8 hours to 15 hours.
The additional 6 hours of light would cause flower buds to form and set plants into flower much earlier than otherwise. So we could (for instance) sell hanging baskets in flower early in spring.
Its the increasing daylight hours at this time that is initiating dormant deciduous roses and trees to open their buds for flowers and leaves.
I was talking to a keen gardener from Twizel this week. (The local paper publishes my weekly gardening articles.) He asked if the articles could be adjusted to the different areas in NZ because of the difference in season times when comparing say Auckland with Invercargill.
Sometimes the articles would not be applicable to Twizel gardeners till a month or two later.
The gardener said the season is much shorter for them when compared to say Auckland.
I suggested that the season was not as short as he thought when you looked at the amount day light hours gardeners have in the southern areas for growing time.
Let me explain; on the 1st of January the sunrises in Auckland at 06.05 and sets at 20.43.
On the same day the sunrises in Invercargill at 05.51 and sets at 21.31 that means they have an extra hour and 2 minutes of sunlight.
In winter on 20th June it not so good for the southern gardeners as in Auckland the sun rises at 07.33 and sets at 17.11.
In Invercargill rises at 08.20 and sets at 16.59 a loss of 1 hour and 9 minuets of sunlight.
This does not matter too much as along with the cold of winter not too much is going to be growing anyway. The extra hour in the middle of summer is vital as it is the growing time.
If you lived in say Alaska where there is 6 months of darkness and 6 months of sunlight you could with 24/7 sunlight grow a plant to maturity in 3 months which would take us 6 months.
All garden writers and gardening books have great difficulties in allowing for the differences in growing from one location to another.
It also comes down to a vast difference in growing within a few metres because of what is called Micro-climates. A gardener with a micro-climate maybe a month ahead of another gardener down the street that does not have a micro-climate.
There is a nursery on the outskirts of Palmerston North with a growing on. holding area for young plants, is in the bottom of a deep old gravel pit.
I asked why one time and was told the stone sides of the pit kept a higher temperature than surrounding area making for better growth plus wind free.
For readers in the South its not all bad, your cold winters are the envy of northern gardeners for reducing bug and disease problems and your added sunlight hour in summer makes for more growth.
In one of the emails I received this week was the following statement:
'I think the fundamental shift in thinking that we have to make is that farming is about harvesting light.
Through the process of photosynthesis we’re going to change light energy into biochemical energy, and that biochemical energy becomes our plants, our animals, the carbon compounds that are made by that process.
We are fundamentally light farmers and when we make that realization, the sky’s the limit.'
A recent study in regards to pesticides and male fertility was recently released which should be of great concern to those using chemical pesticides.
The following is some snippets from the information I received.
Male fertility is declining, and for years researchers have been trying to figure out why.
The numbers may seem shocking, but between 60-80 million couples around the world are having a difficult time conceiving, and there is a likely culprit, especially considering evidence arising from the latest study published at Science Direct.
Titled, “Potential pathways of pesticide action on erectile function – A contributory factor in male infertility,” the study shows that along with heavy metals, radioactivity, and poisonous fumes of organic chemicals, pesticides are largely contributing to erectile dysfunction and the downfall of male fertility.
It is estimated in some studies that as much as 52% of men over 40 are suffering from erectile dysfunction.
How is this possible when in times past such a phenomenon was rare?
The numbers of birth defects we are observing as a planet are also on the rise.
Is this any surprise, though, when Syngenta covers up how their pesticide, Atrazine, was causing frogs to change genders and have serious fertility issues?
Or when Monsanto lies about the true effects of their herbicide, glyphosate, on fertility?
In the Journal of Reproductive Toxicology, titled “Glyphosate impairs male offspring reproductive development by disrupting gonadotropin expression:”
Pesticides are responsible for decreasing testosterone concentration either by inhibiting release of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) or luteinizing hormone (LH) Pesticides are also responsible for “apoptosis of leydig cells and hence decreasing overall concentration testosterone.”
What’s more, pesticides cause increase secretion of hypothalamic corticotrophin-releasing hormone which stimulates the release of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and cortisol. High cortisol level inhibit gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH).
The result? LH and testosterone decrease.
They effect leydig cells which are responsible for creating testosterone and without proper functioning, low sperm count.
Glyphosate alone decreases testosterone levels by as much as 37%!
Pesticides mess with neurotransmitters that are responsible for creating an erection.
It almost reads as if pesticides were specifically designed to cause infertility.
There was much more to the article but the above I think is sufficient for you to get the picture.
Next time you go outside with your chemical sprays and weed killers think again as it maybe affecting other aspects of your life.
The problem is even worse as these chemicals are in the food we eat if not grown certified Organic or grown by yourself chemical free.
TO THE LIST OF ARTICLES
Calcium (garden lime) is a very basic mineral that is often overlooked by gardeners.
Kiwi gardeners in the past would dig over their vegetable garden at the beginning of winter after the last crops had been harvested. The soil would be turned to the depth of one and a half to two spade depths, bringing the subsoil to the surface and then left in unbroken as mounds for frosts to work on.
Over these clods of soil a good coating of garden lime would be applied making it look like it had snowed after application.
The idea was to bring up from the subsoil minerals to the surface. Weeds would be buried underneath to compost down and the soil would be exposed to the elements as the lime would be washed in.
In spring these clods would break up with a light touch of the hoe turning the garden into a lovely fine tilth of healthy soil. Potatoes, brassicas and other vegetables would be planted to not only feed the family as they were harvested but also to store and preserve surpluses for the coming winter.
Life was hard but very rewarding; it was a different world.
The principals of liming our vegetable gardens has not changed even if this practice is too often neglected these days.
I was talking to a keen gardener on the phone this week who explained to me that he was gardening naturally (without the use of chemicals) and he had felt that the results were not as good as he would have liked.
So last season he gave the garden a good dose of gypsum (calcium & sulphur) and the improvement of the crops was really noticeable. Even his dad (an old, very experienced gardener) remarked that he had finally got things right.
Getting things right can be as simple as giving your gardens a good dose of a fast acting lime.
I say fast acting because not all limes are equal in the time frame that they can be of benefit to the soil.
Some garden limes come from lime stone that can take up to 10 years to become soluble and useful in the soil.
That is like putting your money in the bank and having to wait 10 years to get any interest.
On the other hand soft limes start working for you immediately on application.
Lime sweetens the soil as we say which means it lifts the pH to be more alkaline.
NZ soils over time become more and more acidic because of our rain fall, these days likely even quicker because of pollution.
All our beneficial friends in the soil require calcium to thrive, as one source explained it; calcium is like the coal that feeds the furnace, calcium feeds the soil life making for great gardening.
Acidic soil becomes anaerobic and breeds the microbes you do not want, called pathogens or diseases.
The soil has the same principals as our own bodies, if we become acidic inside we can become sick and diseases such as cancers can thrive. If we keep our internal body alkaline then we will be much better off.
Soil pathogens can be suppressed by using Terracin followed by applications of Mycorrcin (article two weeks ago).
There maybe minerals in the soil that plants need but cant take up because of the lack of calcium.
In plants calcium is part of cell walls and membranes; it controls movement in and out of cells, reacts with waste products and neutralizes toxic materials.
Calcium activates many enzyme systems, it improves microbial activity and it enhances uptake of other nutrients. It is essential for cell division as well as increasing cell density, and improves texture (crunch) of crops.
Calcium is critical for balancing excess nitrogen as well as disease suppression. Having the correct amount of calcium in the soil will require less nitrogen. The calcium will loosen the soil and make more nitrogen available.
Lack of sufficient calcium will result in the following plant disorders; Necrosis at the tips and margins of young leaves, bulb and fruit abnormalities, (such as blossom end rot in tomatoes), deformation of affected leaves, highly branched, short, brown root systems, severe, stunted growth, and general chlorosis.
It must be remembered that these problems are caused by an inadequate supply of calcium to the affected tissues. These deficiencies can even occur when the soil appears to have an adequate presence of calcium.
A new gardening product is now available called Calcium And Health which comprises of a fast acting calcium along with important elements for your health and the health of your plants.
Calcium & Health contains fast attacking lime, magnesium, selenium, boron, sulphur, potash and phosphate in a balanced ratio for your gardens.
Using this new product on your food crops is going to help ensure you obtain these essential elements in your diet.
A number of gardeners are concerned about their bodies not obtaining elements such as selenium from the vegetables and fruit they grow.
By applying Calcium & Health to your gardens will help increase the goodness and nutritional values of your home grown diet.
Used at 60 grams per square M (scoop provided is 60 grams) or as I like to do is place a small amount into the planting hole of seedlings.
Avoid using the 60 grams around acid loving plants as it does increase the pH but about 20 grams will be of benefit without interfering with the pH to affect the plants.
I also recommend you using gypsum and dolomite in your gardens as well; these later two can be used around acid loving plants as they are pH neutral.
The important aspect to remember is that calcium is vitally important to the health of your plants and soil.
Every plant needs calcium to grow. Once fixed, calcium is not mobile in the plant.
It is an important constituent of cell walls and can only be supplied in the xylem sap.
Therefore, if the plant runs out of a supply of calcium, it cannot re-mobilize calcium from older tissues.
If transpiration is reduced for any reason, the calcium supply to growing tissues will rapidly become inadequate.
Without adequate amounts of calcium, plants experience a variety of problems as our gardening friend found out at the beginning of this article.
TO THE LIST OF ARTICLES
There are disease and pest problems that gardeners have to combat each season to ensure that their plants and gardens are productive and looking their best.
The first course of action is to promote healthy soil, teeming with soil life and earthworms; then endeavor to maintain this most desirable situation.
Weather patterns, temperature fluctuations, light levels, droughts and floods all put stress onto our plants making them vulnerable to diseases and pest problems.
Organic gardening people claim that they have less disease and pest problems because their plants grow naturally and are more resistant.
I go along with that because in Nature diseases and pests are primarily there to take out the weak plants making way for the strong healthy ones.
When plants are affected by disease or pests gardeners will try to solve the problems with either natural or chemical remedies. This has been the norm, using prevention or control products that help solve the problems.
How about a different approach? This is by strengthening the plant's cells so that it makes it difficult for diseases to establish and for insect pests to feed?
That is a very interesting alternative to what we have been used to doing in the past.
Recently I have had contact with representatives of an overseas company that has a vast range of natural solutions to agriculture problems.
One of my concerns that we talked about was in regards to the psyllid that attacks tomatoes, potatoes, tamarillos and similar plants.
The psyllids came from Australia where they are not a great problem as in NZ because of the temperatures in Australia. In NZ our milder summer temperatures are ideal for psyllids to bred and that they do in their thousands.
The nymphs on plants are not visible to your naked eye without a magnifying glass of at least x10. Then you may get a real shock at how many are on your tomato plant etc.
What happens is we plant out our tomato plants and they appear to grow nicely, as they gain height and set fruit we start to notice the lower leaves yellowing and falling off.
This progresses up the trunk and then fuzzy molds appear on the trunk and the plant goes into a decline and eventually dies.
I understand that the psyllid has a weak feeding mouth therefore they have difficulties to feed if the plant has tough outer cell walls which they cannot penetrate. All we need to do then is make the cells of our susceptible plants Armour like, making it difficult for them to feed.
To do this we drench the soil with a product rich in silicon and spray the foliage with a combination of two silicon rich products.
The idea is to get silica up through the root system into the plant where it will trans locate to the foliage while we also put silica into the foliage. A two way treatment of silicon.
How it is done: Prior to planting we drench the soil with Wallys Silicon plus Boron Soil Drench used at 10ml per litre of non-chlorinated water to cover one SqM.
Then about 1-2 weeks after planting when say a tomato is starting to show new growth a further drench is applied to the root zone.
The product comes in a 500ml bottle that does 50 SqM
Then we start a foliage spray program using Wally Silicon Cell Strengthener Spray at 5ml per litre of non-chlorinated water (250ml bottle makes 50 litres ) mixed with Wallys Silicon Super Spreader used at just 1mil per 5 litres of non chlorinated water. It comes a 100ml bottle that makes 500 litres of spray, using the 1ml Transfer Pipet supplied to measure.
The pipet is granulated in 0.25 mil steps so just over 0.25of a mil into one litre or 0.5 into 2.5litres of nonchlorinated water.
While our tomato plant is growing upwards a spray of the combined products 2 weekly dropping off to once a month at full height. (Similar for potatoes etc)
Use all the spray mixed up and any left over can be used on preferred plants such as roses etc.
Overseas trials using this cell strengthening program has show positive results in plant protection.
I have been told that in NZ over half of the commercial Tamarillo growers have lost their crops to the psyllid. I know I can no longer grow one successfully.
Up north there is a Tamarillo grower whos plants are without any noticeable damage from psyllids yet another grower not too far away has lost all his plants to the pest.
The reason is the that the unaffected plants are growing in silicon rich soil and they have grown up with the protection of tough cells that the pests cant piece to feed.
This may allow us gardeners to once again grow plants such as tomatoes, potatoes and tamarillos through the summer months successfully.
It may also assist in preventing other problems such as white fly, blights and some other diseases, time will tell as gardeners let me know their results next year.
Another use for this silicon program could be curly leaf on stone fruit trees, I say this because many years ago we had a product that was a sprayable diatomaceous earth (rich in silicon) which a few gardeners used on their stone fruit trees in spring and reported that they had little or no curly leaf.
At the time I could not understand why but now I can understand how it would have helped strengthen the leaf cells and resist the disease.
So the same program of a drench now followed by a second one when leaves start to move (which means the sap is rising). Then spray the leaves later on when flowering is finished.
I am going to grow a couple of Tamarillos from seed using the silicon products this season and see how they go. A third plant will also be grown without the silicon treatment to use as a control.
This plant should eventually die while the other two thrive.
You can also test out these silicon products on other plants you may have problems with such as Buxus plantings. I will be interested to hear how you have got on.
The program provides a number of other benefits as well the armour-like protective layer in the outer cell wall.
Silicon promotes more efficient photosynthesis, increasing sugar and mineral levels (brix) particularly in orchard and vine crops.
Minimises the effects of manganese, aluminium and sodium toxicities.
Improves plant growth, lifting yields and quality.
Improves pollination and increases pollen fertility.
Strengthening cells with silicon is certainly a very different and interesting way of overcoming some gardening problems.
TO THE LIST OF ARTICLES
Soils contain diverse communities of microscopic organisms some of which (pathogens) are capable of damaging plants.
Pathogens may grow in the soil feeding on the rotting roots of a host plant say for instance a tomato plant. These pathogens will be fairly specific in regards to their preferred host plant.
Thus if you plant a new tomato plant in the area where previously one died there is a reasonable chance that the pathogens present in the soil will attack and damage the new tomato plant.
If we were to plant say a lettuce instead then it is fairly unlikely that the lettuce would be affected by those pathogens that like tomatoes and members of that family of plants.
These specialised interactions between soil organisms and plants can kill seedlings and even adult trees. Some organisms target young plants but others only appear as problems in later stages of the plants life.
Then there are pathogens that are able to cause disease problems in many different plant species.
The soil organisms that have the potential to be plant pathogens include fungi, bacteria, viruses, nematodes and protozoa.
Some pathogens that attack leaves, stems of plants survive in the soil at various stages of their life cycles. Therefore, a soil phase of a plant pathogen may be important, even if the organism does not infect roots.
In spite of the potential for severe damage to be inflicted on plants by soil pathogens, most plants do not display serious symptoms of disease.
Disease usually occurs when conditions are particularly unfavorable, or when a soil pathogen is accidentally introduced into an area where a highly susceptible plant species is growing.
Because of the intensive chemical induced production of agriculture, horticulture or forestry this increases the opportunities for diseases to develop compared with the undisturbed natural ecosystems. Also by planting of similar plant species together in monoculture increases the probability of a disease outbreak. (A glasshouse full of tomatoes for instance)
In contrast, the damage caused by the fungus Phytophthora cinnamomi to many different plant species, in diverse natural ecosystems, demonstrates the damage that can be caused by a pathogen that infects the roots of many unrelated plants.
The control of pathogens and prevention of plant disease is a natural soil biological process.
Indeed, in most situations, plant disease is not strongly evident even when potentially pathogenic fungi are present in a soil.
In Nature soil pathogens are normally held at bay due to the beneficial microbes.
Where on the other hand chemical agriculture practices creates soil conditions and a high density of susceptible roots that encourages the multiplication of pathogens.
Once potentially damaging organisms become present in high numbers in a soil, they may be difficult to eradicate. Management practices are required that create conditions in the soil that are not favorable to pathogens so that their growth is limited and therefore, disease it restricted.
Owners of glasshouses become concerned about the build up of disease in their glasshouse soils when tomatoes and similar crops are planted year after year.
In the past there was chemicals such as Basamid that we could use to sterilise the soil. That product has been banned. Besides Basamid was non-selective and it destroyed the good with the bad and having no beneficial microbes to control the pathogens one could find disease problems quickly building up in the soil.
Another common problem is a row of shrubs or trees are planted as a hedge or screen, they grow nicely and then one day a plant in the row becomes sick looking and dies, followed by the plant next to it and so on. You may put in plant replacements but they also die. You have soil pathogens that will kill the whole row in time and be impossible to plant that species there again.
Now we have a natural answer for the home gardener called Terracin.
Terracin uses a combination of a Bacillius amyloliquefaciens BS-1b a beneficial soil microbe and the enzymes, bacteriocins, secondary metabolites and signal molecules from the fermentation of Enteroccocus faecium to suppress a broad range of fungal pathogens.
Terracin works fast. Firstly the B amyloliquefaciens directly attack the pathogens by excreting strong antimicrobial substances that inhibit the pathogens growth.
The enzymes and bacteriocins from the fermentation extract weaken the pathogen by break down its outer cell walls.
The signal molecules and secondary metabolites then activate the beneficial soil microbes that produce antimicrobial substances which act to further suppress the pathogens.
As the populations of beneficial microbes rise they suppress pathogens by simply out competing them for food. (That was simple wasn't it?)
Once the pathogens have been suppressed it is important to re-establish a healthy population of beneficial microbes so 3 weeks after using Terracin you drench the area with Mycorrcin.
It is also important not to water the area with Chlorinated water (Put a 10 micron Carbon Bonded filter on your tap) as chlorine just kills the microbes and you waste your time and money.
To use Terracin either mix 20ml into 1 litre of non-chlorinated water and spray over 10SqM.
Alternative is mix 2ml of Terracin into 1 litre of non-chlorinated water and water over 1 SqM of soil.
As we stated earlier there maybe pathogens in your soil because of past management (chemicals, herbicides and manmade fertilisers) and even if your vegetables or roses appear to be growing happily a application of Terracin followed up by the Mycorrcin could improve your plants noticeably.
If no difference afterwards you will be comfortable in the knowledge that your gardening methods are working with Nature not against it.
The applications of Terracin can be over or around existing plants with benefits to them.
It always amazes me that after removing the access to harmful chemicals such as Basamid that our ecological scientists can come up with a perfect solution working in accord with Nature.
TO THE LIST OF ARTICLES
A reader asked me recently if I could write an article on Frosts asking what good or what harm they do; so lets have a wee look at old Jack Frost.
By the way Jack Frost is the personification of frost, ice, snow, sleet, and freezing cold weather, a variant of Old Man Winter, held responsible for frosty weather, likely derived from Saxon times.
In days past, when quarter acres ruled and people grew most of their vegetables; then in autumn or early winter all bare gardens would be dug over to the depth of one to one & a half shade depths, leaving the exposed clods to the elements and even more so for the frosts.
Garden Lime would be sprinkled over the exposed soil and left.
The combination of the lime and frosts would alter the structure of the heavy soil which in spring would easily break down into a nice fine tilth to plant in.
In the process soil pests such as grass grub larva would be exposed for hungry winter birds to feed on and pathogens would be killed with the hard frosts.
When digging the traditional vegetable garden or turning over an existing one a trench a couple of spade depths would be left around the perimeter.
This greatly assisted drainage of the vegetable patch as water would drain into the ditch to be evaporated by sun and wind.
Because animal manures, chicken manure and compost was incorporated into the vegetable gardens, worm populations were high along with all the beneficial microbes and fungi.
Vegetables then were very healthy and no sprays were used or needed.
I have often ask at the gardening talks I give if people can remember their parents or grandparent gardeners using sprays or not. Often the people look a bit stunned as the penny drops and they reply no they didn't.
Then they realise that they in comparison do a lot of spraying.
The dug gardens are not so common now days instead opting for no-dig gardens or even better raised gardens.
When we have good hard frosts the diseases and pest insects that are harboring over, waiting for better conditions, they can be seriously knocked back because of the frosts.
The harder and colder the conditions will mean less problems in the spring/summer period.
The down side to frosts is the damage that can occur to tender plants and for areas that are not used to frosts such as Tauranga and Auckland it has come as a surprise to them this winter to have a few frosts.
Cities are less prone to frosts these days than say 50 years ago.
The reason would be more pollution plus more heat from houses, street lights and vehicles.
In Palmerston North we have very mild frosts in winter and some years none at all because of the above factors.
Outside of the city, not too far down the road, we can see heavy frosts when the conditions are suitable.
Frosts need still air and a cloudless sky to happen. You will not get a frost settling when its windy, raining or overcast. Which can catch some gardeners out as it can be raining when you go to bed and during the night it clears and a frost settles.
A good reason to have your tender plants protected with Vaporgard so you don't get caught out.
The old digging over of the vegetable garden leaving the sods exposed to frosts certainly reduced greatly pathogens in the soil making for far less diseases in the summer.
With no-dig gardens, raised gardens and soil growing in glasshouses means this event does not happen and fungal pathogens can become a problem.
Soon to be released is a new natural product which is a soil biocide when used as a drench will break down the outer cell walls of pathogens and activate beneficial soil microbes that produce antimicrobial substances which further suppress the pathogens.
Then as the populations of beneficial microbes rise they suppress pathogens by simply out competing them for their food.
A very simple, effective method, working with Nature instead of what some used to do, using chemicals (now banned) that would kill the beneficial's as well as the pathogens.
One important aspect of course is not using chlorinated water on gardens as it kills the beneficial microbes often leaving the pathogens as the soil becomes anaerobic.
Not good. I will write more about this biocide product soon so for those that need to get rid of diseases out of the gardens and glasshouses can do so before the spring.
On the subject of climate change and the Co2 aspect I received this week an email which will likely be of interest to readers and should be of interest to farmers, agriculturists and the government (if they would listen to common sense)
Here it is: As experts at the Potsdam Institute for Climate the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis have pointed out, we will need “breakthroughs in so-called ‘carbon negative’ technologies.” And one of those “breakthroughs” is right under our feet:
Call it the photosynthesis option: because plants inhale carbon dioxide and store it in their roots, stems, and leaves, one can remove carbon from the atmosphere by growing trees, planting cover crops, burying charred plant materials underground, and other kindred methods.
In effect, carbon negative technologies can turn back the clock on global warming, making the aforementioned descent from the 2 C degrees overshoot to the 1.5 C goal later in this century theoretically possible.
How do we exercise the “photosynthesis option?” By replacing the current chemical-intensive industrial agriculture system with an organic, regenerative alternative.
In other words, every choice you make when it comes to the food on your plate, could help avert a climate disaster. End
See all things can be fairly simple when you take money and greed out of the equation.
If we buy organic, grow naturally without soil disturbance we can, with the help of plants, sequest billions of tons of carbon into the soil where it does good.
I have seen reports that what they call conventional agriculture practices (Chemicals, tillage, ploughing, digging not to mention burn off of bush and clearing of rain forests) has released much more C02 than all the burning of fossil fuels over the years.
If our chemical-intensive food chain was replaced with a natural, regenerative alternative, peoples health would greatly improve, great savings on our health bill.
Also as its been proved, healthy food makes happy people and children, better learning, better society and the only negative aspect would be the bottom lines of numerous companies.
TO THE LIST OF ARTICLES
There are a number of things that are vital to a healthy plant besides sunlight, food and water and a healthy ‘Soil Food Web’. That is those micro-organisms and beneficial fungi which not only live in the soil but also ‘in’ and ‘surrounding’ a plant.
Earthworms are also vital to healthy soil and plants; if there are no earthworms or few in number, you have a problem and you cannot hope to have a really healthy garden (soil) till you have good worm populations.
I talk about this and the following in relation to food crops but the same principals apply to having great roses also.
Plant Diseases are natural and are the garbage removers in nature, assisting in the quicker decomposing of plant material that has done its time, converting it back to organic food for other plants to live on.
In nature we talk about the ‘survival of the fittest’. Plants that become weakened for some reason are very susceptible to diseases.
Pests also tend to hone-in on weaker plants rather than on the strong healthy ones. Gardens of my childhood, 50 odd years ago, were brimming with life, plants & roses were very, very healthy, no chemical sprays were used (there was no need for them)
It was impossible to put a spade into the garden without cutting a few worms in half.
The soil we had in those days was feed compost made from chook manure (everyone had a few chooks), and organic wastes. Other animal manures would be sort after along with sea weed.
All of these feed the soil life and worms, so plants in gardens, radiated health.
Vegetables and fruit grown were also brimming with health and contributed to a much healthier society than we see today. So what went wrong? We introduced chemically made fertilisers into the gardens and these fertilisers, knocked back the soil life including the worms.
Plants lost their healthy glow and diseases began to appear. So problems evolved, which made the chemical companies smile as they created new chemical sprays to solve the problems.
Fungicides may control some diseases but they also kill the beneficial fungi that the plants need for good health! New chemical poisons where found for killing the insects which were attacking our unhealthy plants.
These poisons were also killing the soil life and after a time the sprays (DDT, Arsenic of Lead etc) were found to be very dangerous to ourselves as well.
So they were banned. To be replaced by what was considered safer poisons, many of which have also been banned.
Most of the now fewer chemicals available to the home gardener currently, are likely to be banned also in time to come, as they also prove too dangerous to the environment and our health.(many have been already banned in some countries)
Herbicides also knock back soil life and can have long term residues. Weed killers containing Glyphosate is the most used chemical in agriculture with millions of tons of it going into the planet, worldwide each year.
Besides the damage it does to the soil over the long term it has been certified as a probable carcinogenic by the World Health Organisation.
Well that is the back ground to what has happened to our gardens and why our roses and other plants are not healthy as they should be.
What can you do to grow healthy roses and other plants? Firstly stop using chemical fertilisers and sprays. Purchase instead organic compost and mulches from your garden centre.
Look for the ones that contain animal manures and not made from green wastes as roses die if given compost made from herbicide effected composts.
.Sheep manure pellets was shown by consumer to the best all round garden fertiliser in trials they did a several years ago.
Other products that are beneficial to the soil include, blood and bone, sea weeds, Gypsum, Garden Lime, dolomite and any animal manures.
These will help feed the soil life and restore things as nature intended.
You can also fed the soil life with products such as Magic Botanic Liquid & Mycorrcin which assists in repairing the damage done by chemicals.
I was told by a gardener that had sprayed one group of roses with these two products for a season.
In autumn the roses thus treated were in flower, new buds coming, no sign of diseases and looking very healthy. Another group of roses not so treated were finished for the season, covered in black spot and rust and not looking happy.
The gardener also told me the treated ones all had produced scents that he had not noticed before as they were not scented type roses.
We need to build up the health of the soil and as this can take a season or two, during this time we need to protect our plants from diseases and pests without using chemical solutions that are going to affect the soil life. Pests can be controlled with Neem Tree Oil.
Neem Oil also tends to reduce the problem of black spot. Diseases such as rust, black spot, powdery mildew and botrytis are controlled by Sulphur sprays, not copper.
Copper is best for blights, downy mildew and bacterial diseases along with fruit tree’s diseases. Thus a film of Sulphur over the foliage will give good external protection. Used every 14 days with Raingard added. (The alternative is sprays of potassium permanganate or Condys Crystals)
For internal protection you can boost the plant’s immune system with Perkfection Supa. Used once a month only. If your garden lacks a good number of worms, then you need to get worms going again and the best way to do this is buy in bags of worms.
Put some into a good worm farm and seed the rest into the garden. You do this by making a hole and placing shredded wet newspaper and kitchen scrapes into the hole. Place a handful of worms into the hole then cover with wet paper and compost.
Do this in each major garden such as rose bed and vegetable gardens. To keep the worms happy and multiplying, mulch gardens a couple of times a year with wet newspapers covered with animal based compost or mulch.
It is also important for both worms and soil life not to water your gardens with chlorinated tap water. Put a filter (10 micron carbon bonded) to remove the chemical from the water.
Roses also need a certain amount of magnesium, potassium and trace elements. These are easiest to supply as Rok Solid plus Fruit and Flower Power. The small amounts required of these will not affect the soil life and be of benefit to your roses.
The reward would be perfect shaped roses, lush green foliage a mild to heady perfume.
A good healthy program would be a two weekly spray of Mycorrcin, MBL & Wallys Neem Tree Oil.
Every second spray or once a month add Perkfection Supa to the above at the lessor spray rate on the label.
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I remember as a kid growing up on a quarter acre section in Elizabeth Street Palmerston North right next to the Standard Brewery.
We had two big vegetable gardens, a hen house with a run, a number of fruit trees and berry bushes, in all sufficient to provide some food for every meal.
We were poor and had borders in the spare bedrooms and my mother would go out and do cleaning jobs to make ends met. My grandfather died when I was 9 months old (I remember the morning he passed)
His wife, my grandmother, passed when I was 5 years old. I have an excellent memory of that house and those times and the stories that were told on an evening, often about times gone by.
My mum and grandparents lived through two world wars and the great depression of the 30's when my grandparents and their 13 sons and daughters had to walk off their farm and start again.
Food security was the number one priority in their lives and for very good reason, they needed to be as self sufficient as possible and have as much food available to last as long as need be.
That was 65 years ago and things have certainly changed, there is not the large sections like there used to be with chickens and ample vegetables growing all year round.
When times get tough, more people start to garden, to try and save some money but too many people depend on the Supermarket for their day to day needs.
When the Supermarkets are not going to be open for a day because of statuary holidays and they cant trade, causes an incredible number of people to stock up just before. You would think that the end of the world had been announced.
Which means in my mind there are a lot of people out there that are very vulnerable in regards to food security.
If in the event of a natural disaster most people would only have sufficient supplies for a couple of days or so. Disasters can happen at any time without warning and because they dont happen much in NZ many people dont worry about the possibility.
There are other types of disasters such as a great depression which you can see possibly coming if you look for the signs.
Currently there are ample signs of world wide problems which could result in you and your family not having or being able to obtain food for your table.
Unfortunately the news media in NZ only skirt around or not even mention what is really happening around the world so many people live in a false state of bliss.
Not all I have found. Through numerous conversations with gardeners from all over NZ every week, many of these people are switched on and do have grave fears of what may lay around the corner.
They have done as much as they can to offset the problem of food on the table.
Vegetable gardens in the ground or even better on raise gardens and containers, stocks of non-perishable food such as caned food, preserves, flour, rice and pasta.
Remember, gardening is seasonal, spring and summer are the main growing and cropping times, where less vegetables can be grown through the winter.
Your food security needs to have ample stored food to last in between seasons.
Water is also another important aspect as families in California are quickly finding out, you need to have a good supply of water on hand for yourself and for your gardens and a means of collecting and storing rain water.
If you have pets you need also to have ample non-perishable food & water for them also.
I have known in the past, older Chinese people using all the soil area around their houses to grow food. Likely they had known hardship in their past and they did their best to have food security.
In an email recently from a farmer friend there was a lot of information about lawns and why they are a waste of time and money. An extract from the article said;
'The real kicker is that the area we give over to lawns is often the best area we could have used to grow food. When we talk about lawns, we're usually talking about the sunniest and flattest spots on the property. And it's wasted. Turf grass doesn't feed anyone - not a soul.
It doesn't feed the birds. It doesn't feed the bees or the butterflies. And it certainly doesn't feed your family. So, the question has to be asked... why are we still doing this? I can't even imagine a good answer to that question.'
I beg to differ in regards to the 'you cant eat grass' because you can as some desperate people have found out in dire times. A few cabbages or lettuce taste a lot better.
In times of need or to be prepared for possible problems, turning part of your back lawn into garden makes a lot of sense to me.
By using my idea of raised gardens made out of roofing iron sitting on their long sides held together with painted 100 x 100 fence posts; about a metre wide and as long as you like.
These can sit on the lawn with the long side facing in a northerly direction with several sheets of cardboard at the bottom laid on top of the old grass.
The bottom half is filled with organic waste like lawn clippings, prunings, old compost or potting mix, fallen leaves, untreated sawdust, etc. Over this you can once again put a cover of cardboard and then chook manure or any other animal manure and finished off with purchased compost (because its weed free).
There should be a gap of 20cm or more from the top of the fill to the top rim of the iron.
The sun on the northern side of the raised garden heats the growing medium, the gap between the top of the garden and the growing medium creates a micro-climate.
Wind passes over the garden and plants grow about 3 times faster and better than if they were planted out in the open. Having the wooden posts (painted to seal in the chemicals) means you can stretch either bird netting or crop cover over the garden to prevent bird and cat damage. (A protruding nail in each post) If you want to use crop cover in the summer to prevent insects getting to the plants then place some hoops in the garden and use the crop cover over them.
Ideal for all types of low growing vegetables. Tall growing such as corn and tomatoes you can start them off under crop cover and then later on just remove the cover so they can grow to full height.
Vegetables that can take a lot of room such as zucchini should be planted in 20 plus litre containers.
Pumpkins and squash can be grown at one end of a raised garden and then trailed out from the garden.
Dwarf beans will do well in a raised garden where climbing beans are best against a sunny fence.
One very important thing to remember make sure any raised garden is more than one metre away from the drip line of any tree, shrub or vine.
The further away the better; the reason is that the tree will find that there is a wonderful source of food in the raised garden and send millions of fibrous feeder roots into the garden and ruining it.
Otherwise raised gardens are a tremendous investment against any future shocks.
If you cant build a raise garden because there is no room then garden in containers and stock up with non perishable foods.
Beside the more produce you can grow naturally the healthier your family will be.
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Those of us that have had a lot rain in recent times may have problems in their gardens with wet soil and root damage.
Many plants do not like what we call wet feet; this is caused by excess water around the root zone.
On the other hand plants we call Bog Plants love sitting in water and will suffer if it becomes too dry.
Most semi-tropic plants hate wet feet which makes it colder for them in winter and more often than not they will die.
A lot of plants other than bog plants (which have adjusted to wet feet) need a reasonable amount of oxygen in their root zone and when saturated with water the oxygen goes and rots set in.
Citrus trees hate wet feet and will suffer and even die during wet times if their root systems are sitting in water for too long.
I was sent a photo this week of several citrus tree leaves that were curling back on themselves asking what is the problem?
Talking to the gardener I was told that they had a number of citrus trees in a grove planted on flat land, sunny situation with shelter from wind.
An ideal situation. Only one tree was badly effected with the curling leaves and leaf drop. That tree was at one end of the grove. Citrus trees close by, nearest to the affected tree were starting to show signs of the same problem where trees further away were apparently good as gold.
I knew the answer to the problem as soon as I saw the picture of the leaves but instead of telling the gardener straight off, I like to build a picture in my mind's eye as to what the total situation is and then offer solutions.
My next question was about drainage of the area which I was told was fairly good but they had recently a lot of rain.
Next question, was there any mulches under the trees?
Unfortunately the answer was yes.
Mulches are a great way to retain moisture levels in the soil during dry times but this becomes a big disadvantage during wet times.
The soil cant breathe, moisture is trapped, roots rot.
I remember a few years ago one gardener contacted me in winter to ask about her very expensive ornamentals that she had planted on a slope on their property.
The problem was that the gardener had placed old carpets down as a mulch to conserve moisture in the summer on the slope. Winter comes, rain falls, ground gets soaked, water cant evaporate because of carpet, roots rot, expensive ornamentals dead.
At the previous property where I lived in winter the back yard would be under water in some areas for weeks. Heavy clay soil and no drainage. It was so bad when I first moved in that a number of native plants would died in winter.
To solve the problem the first thing I did was plant a twisted willow in the far corner to soak up water.
A few cabbage trees later on and then as they matured other hardy plants were able to survive.
I also laid a length of Nova pipe which drained into a sump hole, a submersible pump was put in to suck up water and send it down into the storm water.
Even with all this there would be days or even weeks where surface water would pond a few inches deep.
In the middle of this ponding area I grew citrus trees in containers partly buried in the ground.
Large holes were drilled into the sides and base so the roots could penetrate out into the surrounding soil but most of the roots were in compost above the water level.
Result was excellent citrus trees that were happy in the middle of a lake of water.
If you have citrus or other plants where the leaves are curling and dropping then likely they are in water soaked soil and the roots are rotting.
It could be that the trees have been there for years and no problems in the past but things can change.
More rainfall than normal soaking the soil for longer periods of time does not help.
Maybe a water course has changed because something in the area has changed such as a concrete path has been put in or maybe a neighbour has constructed a garage, it does not take much to change a water course and make an area wetter than in the past.
With climate changes areas prone to heavier rain falls will need to look at long term solutions such as under ground drainage systems and soak holes.
Talking about climate change I read an interesting article about the hundreds of undersea volcanoes that are known of and that about a third of these are currently active, releasing enormous amounts of Co2, heating the oceans and melting polar ice thus greatly affecting climate.
Apparently shifts of gulf streams in the oceans can greatly influence global weather patterns causing problems such as years of drought in California.
An interesting question arises as to what is a 20 million dollar house worth when you cant flush the toilets or get water out of the taps? A new phase is called Drought Refugees.
If your citrus (or other plants) are suffering from wet feet, firstly ensure that any mulch is removed.
Next; just outside of the drip line dig a trench about one and a half spade depth and remove the soil from the area. It is an old method that causes the water from the saturated soil to move into the trench where it will evaporate quicker through sun and wind.
Next spray the foliage with Perkfection Supa at the full strength rate and a month later at the lessor rate for another 3-4 months. This product will help the tree to overcome the root rot problems if it has not gone beyond the point of no return.
For those poor people that have had their properties flooded you will likely have a lot of river silt in and around your gardens. River silt will enhance your soil as it is rich in minerals etc. A good example of this is the annual flooding of the Nile and the crops they obtain afterwards.
One gardener asked about problems of sewage and vegetables and what they should do as someone said they should be pulled out. I dont see why as sewage is great manure and I know of ample people in the past that clean out their septic tanks onto their gardens to get great crops.
The only caution is to wash produce well after harvesting and to also wear latex gloves when working in the gardens and to wash well afterwards.
In India I have heard when there are floods and health risks, people cover their legs with Neem Oil before wading in contaminated water. Apparently that keeps them safe from infection.
Anyway; keep dry and warm, spring is on the way.
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All too often I am asked questions about problems that have already occurred and its to late to prevent them. Its like the old saying, closing the gate after the horse has gone.
Unless you are onto it, you will miss the vital times when your efforts will be worthwhile and make a difference for that season.
We are now into July; the middle of winter and if patterns follow the past few seasons we are likely to see some good weather in August which will mean, (with the extending day light hours) things will start moving.
The following are situations for gardeners that have these problems from the past. Here is what I believe to be the best ways to handle them.
If you read my article last week about making the soil healthy then apply that also to the following problems because healthy soil will make for healthy plants given time and in most cases.
Plants trees etc that do not become healthy and have a weak constitution, likely through breeding, should after a few seasons of effort be disposed of and replaced with another specimen that can be healthy.
Curly leaf is a disease on stone fruit trees which mainly effects nectarines and peaches.
The spores from the previous season are sitting waiting for the leaves to form and the right conditions to infect. The worse the damage was last spring will lead to even more damage this spring unless you intervene. If the damage is severe enough, not only will you not have any crop but you can also lose the tree.
The trees and the ground under them should be sprayed with Lime Sulphur now.
Leave for about two weeks and spray again with potassium permanganate at ¾ a teaspoon into a litre of water with 3 tablespoons of Ocean Solids, dissolved and then added to a further 10 litres of water.
Spray the whole tree and drench the soil underneath from trunk to beyond the drip line.
What we are trying to do here is kill as many spores of the disease as possible that are on the tree and in the soil under the tree.
Some years ago I suggested scattering Ocean Solids under the trees before they start to move in the spring, the information on this came from Sea90 for those familiar with that method.
I have heard some positive feed back from gardeners that have done this and they also said that if any damage starts to appear on the foliage they spread some more Ocean Solids.
Likely the sodium chloride neutralizes the spores as well as increasing the mineral uptake of the tree.
The traditional method of control is to spray the tree, once the leaves start to appear, this is done every 7 to 10 days with Wallys Liquid Copper and Raingard.
The idea here is to keep a film of copper over the leaves as they are growing to kill the spores when they land on the leaves. This spray program is repeated for about 2 months. The Raingard is very important because without it the copper would wash off in rain and that is when the disease spores strike.
I have also suggested the use of Vaporgard to be sprayed over and under the foliage once a good amount of leaves have appeared without damage. The film is also a barrier to the spores and will assist the tree to produce more energy from sunlight helping to retain a good crop of fruit.
Talking about fruit and food I noted this week in America that a lot of people have become very concerned about what is in their food chain.
This includes Artificial colors and flavors. Pesticides. Preservatives. High-fructose corn syrup. Growth hormones. Antibiotics. Gluten. Genetically modified organisms.
Their concerns have meant that they are much more careful about the food and drinks they buy and where they buy it from.
An analysis by Moskow found that the top 25 U.S. food and beverage companies have lost an equivalent of $18 billion in market share since 2009.
Major packaged-food companies lost $4 billion in market share alone last year, as shoppers swerved to fresh and organic alternatives. That is voting with your feet and wallets.
Growing your own fruit and vegetables naturally is the answer to better health.
Codlin moth another annoying pest that spoils apples, walnuts and sometimes pears.
At this time the codlin are in cocoons, pupating waiting for the right time to emerge to mate, lay their eggs and damage your apples.
Where they are hiding is in nooks and crannies on the tree, but mainly in the soil under the tree.
What you could do at this time if you had a few chickens is netting off the area under the tree, rake the soil and put your hens in there to gobble up any cocoons they scratch out.
Failing that you could try drenching the area with Wallys 3 in 1 for lawns. The eucalyptus and tea tree oils in the product takes out soil insects and hopefully the cocoons as well.
Next at end of July sprinkle Wally Neem Tree Granules under the tree from trunk to drip line.
What I think this does is create a smell from the granules breaking down that prevents the moths when they emerge to detect the apple tree above them.
They sit there waiting for the tree to come along and hopefully will be eaten by birds.
The pests are not going to emerge till the apples have set on the tree after flowering and the weather conditions are congenial.
Once the flowering has finished you can put a can with treacle in an onion bag and hang it in the tree.
This will attract the male moths, by monitoring the trap you will know when they are on the wing.
Then you can start spraying with Wallys Neem Tree Oil and Raingard every 10 to 14 days.
You dont need to spray the tree just the apples so they have a coating of oil on them when the grubs take their first bite. Once activity stops in your trap you can stop spraying.
Another alternative I discovered last season was to use crop cover wrapped around the fruiting branches and pegged with clothes pegs.
It can be taped on at the beginning of a branch, one layer only which allows sufficient light to leaves and fruit and I found not only did it keep birds from pecking the fruit it also prevented any codlin moth damage.
Psyllids on potatoes, tomatoes, tamarillos and some other plants.
A real problem pest which ideally with potatoes you plant the seed potatoes as soon as possible, protect them from frost by mounding up over foliage then once this has become impractical then use crop cover over hoops to give frost protection.
Harvest the crop about Labour Weekend or as soon as mature.
In early and out as soon as mature is easy solution. If you want a late planting use the special Quarantine cloth over the crop to prevent the psyllids getting in.
Tomatoes and other plants are a problem and sprays of Neem Tree Oil and diatomaceous earth can certainly help but there is another possibility that I am currently working on with an overseas company that has a big range of natural products.
The idea is; to strengthen the plant's cells so that the weak piercing-sucking mouth parts of the psyllids have difficulties piercing the strong cells of the plant and therefore cant feed and die.
This currently is work in progress, as they say and will let you know further as planting time approaches.
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We have reached that time of the year when the new gardening year begins.
As from the 22nd the daylight hours will start to slowly extend and it does not take long for plants to respond and start a new year of the four seasons.
If your living time clock is like mine, it will be no time at all before we are talking about the longest day of the year along with Xmas and hopefully some sort of summer.
Now is a good time to reflect on the past 12 months and dependent where you are in NZ, would have determined how the seasons were for you and your garden.
Likely like myself you would have had successes and instances which were not so successful. (Gardeners never have failures just challenges)
We can learn by our challenges and work out ways to improve or circumvent them and in the worst case scenario grow a different species. (because you didn't really like the one that wouldn't preform anyway)
We are always learning and the more experiences that we have makes us not only wiser but also bestows us with greater feelings of accomplishment. Ready to start a new gardening year?
Birds, our feathered friends of which I have a lot around because I have chickens that get feed morning and night, bringing dozens of sparrows to the chicken run around their feed time in the afternoon.
So I sprinkle a good amount of wheat by the run for the sparrows so they will survive another night.
In the mornings on the other side of the property a third of a loaf of bread is put out for the breakfast of the sparrows, black birds and starlings. They are always patiently waiting on the fences and surrounding trees and buildings for these events.
I live in the vain hope that my efforts will be rewarded by them eating all the insect pests that attack my plants. More often than not I find that they prefer to dig up my raised gardens for the multitude of worms I have. When planting young seedlings they rip them out as obviously they become an obstetrical in the birds hunt for protein.
Gardens often ask me the question about holes in their silverbeet, brassicas and lettuce plants.
They have sprayed and put poison baits down for slugs and snails to no avail.
The reason is that the birds are eating the foliage because they are hungry.
Flowers also are eaten and especially blue ones of your polyanthus..
The proof of this was brought home to me recently where I have a crop of brassicas planted a few months back and protected with crop cover against caterpillars (white butterfly) and woolly aphids.
Last week I thought the plants were not only safe now but could do with a bit more light to reach maturity, so removed the crop cover. At that time the leaves were perfect not a hole in them.
Since then holes have appeared as the birds are able to get to and eat the foliage.
That crop cover is a great asset to your garden, it keeps most insects off the plants along with birds and cats.
Last spring after my two upright apple trees set their crop of apples I wrapped the crop cover around them taping it at the bottom around the trunk and used clothes pegs to secure the overlap and top.
As it gives a 15% shade factor it did not effect unduly the amount of sunlight to the foliage. The apples grew well, no codlin moth damage (had been in previous) and when the apples matured the bids missed out. I did similar with my other fruit trees as the fruit was reaching maturity and had no bird damage.
I find bird netting catches, hard to put over a tree and they still can do damage; but no way with crop cover. My trees are easy to do as they are in 100 litre containers but the same principle could be used on a few of the lower branches of large trees. Wrapping a few branches with the fruit inside a white cocoon made from crop cover.
Its 4 metres wide and sells for about $5 a metre length. Good for years of use.
Garlic and shallots should be going into your gardens now if you haven't already done so.
If you dont have room (they are a 6 month crop) then plant them in purchased compost in a polystyrene box that is at least 180mm deep with drainage. I gave full instructions in a recent article which is at www.gardenews.co.nz if you dont currently have a copy.
New season potatoes; dependent where you are in NZ and if you have access to seed potatoes, any time now and during the next month or so is a very good time to plant them deep and keep covering the leaves as they break through to protect.
Later crop cover over some hoops will protect the plants from any late frosts. Get in early and your crop will not suffer psyllid damage. Crop should be harvested as soon as mature (dont leave tops on for the pests to attack) Harvest should be before Labor Weekend.
That then frees up all that area for your summer crops.
Another thing that I have noted is my 3 Feijoa trees in containers are not producing as well as in previous seasons and there is two reasons for this; one is they likely need a root prune plus a good reduction in the number of fruiting branches.
Feijoas grown in open ground cant have a root pruning and in fact they do not need it but they have to be very well fed and watered to produce those really big fruit.
Even the open grown ones will become too bushy with lots of fruiting branches and thus smaller fruit.
Open up by cutting a number of branches back to the trunk so that the remaining branches will fruit better.
If you have any fruit trees, roses or perennial plants in containers now is the perfect time to lift them out of their containers and see whats happening down below.
You may find a mass of roots at the base circling around the bottom of the container. These need to be cut off with a saw removing about the bottom third of the roots. You may also find root mealy bug down there which is also sapping goodness out of your plant.
Place a good purchased compost in the base of the pot to the right height after cleaning any mealy bug white bits from inside the pot.
Then place Rok Solid, Wallys Neem Tree Granules, Blood & Bone, Sheep Pellets onto the compost and just cover with a little more compost before returning the plant to its home. Sprinkle more Neem Granules, Rok Solid and Sheep manure pellets onto the top of the mix.
Your plants should preform much better in the spring. There are lots of leaves around at this time for you to collect and run over with a rotary mower to break up and catch, so you can bag them into black plastic rubbish bags. As you bag them spray with either Mycorrcin or Thatch Busta and sprinkle some garden lime also.
Stuff the bags full and tie off the top. Then with a nail or small screw driver punch lots of small holes all over the bag and place in a sunny spot out of sight.
Every month or two turn over to expose the other side to sun light. After about six months or so you should have some lovely smelling leave mould for your gardens and containers.
Plant new season strawberries now so they can establish for best results later on.
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Before we get onto this weeks subject; a question that was asked this week from a gardener who has coal ash from a fire place and wanted to know if they could be use on the garden.
Apparently a little used sparingly can be an advantage but not a lot as there are properties in a ash that could cause toxicity in larger amounts.
Also some could be applied in thin layers to your compost if you so desired.
Wood ash from burning non-tantalised wood is great for the garden and in particular for flowering and fruiting plants. Spread it around it is a nice mild source of potash (Hence the name)
You should not be burning tanalised wood in your wood burner as the gasses that will seep out into the room are not good for your health and likewise the chemicals still present in the ash are not good for your gardens.
Now that winter is starting to make its presents known it is important to protect frost tender and cold tender plants and the easy way to achieve this is a spray of Vaporgard, Spray On Frost Protection.
The film gives down to minus 3 degrees frost protection within 3 days of application for about 3 months.
If there is just an occasional frost every few days this is likely to be the only frost protection you need.
If however there are several frosts in a row, night after night then extra protection will be required from the second night on till there is a break in the frosts.
Your sprayed plants will gain more energy from the sun light which is also a great advantage this time of the year when day light hours are much sorter.
A lady gardener from the Deep South email me recently about her two container planted lemon trees which she has brought indoors because of frosts down to minus 6.
Her question was also what to feed the plants with?
I pointed out that being indoors the plants will suffer from lower light when compared to being outdoors or in a frost free sheltered situation, ideal is a glasshouse or conservatory.
Indoors right in front of a northern facing window would be best and once a week rotate the plant 180 degrees to get even light and prevent stretching.
This light thing indoors is very important this time of the year for your indoor plants.
Another aspect is the watering of the plants, all container plants should be kept a little on the dry side and only given smaller drinks to prevent stress from dry growing medium.
Saucers underneath plants are great to prevent getting surplus water all over the place but an hour or so after watering any water in a saucer should be removed to prevent wet feet.
Container plants outside where they are rained on should NOT have a saucer under them this time of the year and have the container raised slightly off the ground to allow water to drain away quickly.
Losses will occur if your plants are wet in the root zone during winter.
If you have plants which require free draining situations you can spray their foliage with Perkfection Supa to help prevent wet weather diseases.
In door plants need only a fraction of their water requirements in winter when compared to summer.
The reasons are low to nil growth because of lessor light levels with shorter daylight hours.
Which brings us back to light and the amount of light plants receive when they are grown indoors.
For instance my excellent light meter tells me that at my south-west facing window at 1pm right against the window pane I have 550 FC (Foot Candles) Where my plants are on a shelf 50cm away from the window pane its down to 325 FC; One meter away 250FC and at 3 meters 160 FC if I take a measurement at the far side of the room we see its only 50FC.
That is where only the lowest light loving plants will survive in winter if they are kept fairly dry in their mix. A spray of water over the foliage is beneficial at times and ensure that the foliage is dust free as that further reduces the light level available.
A window facing the north will have a much better FC reading at the window pane but once again the FC drops dramatically once you are about a metre or more away from the pane.
Our eyes automatically adjust to light intensity so we do not notice the light levels till they become very low or very high, plants on the other hand do notice.
A general rule of thumb is the plants with the largest leaf surface will do ok in lower light levels where plants such a maidenhair ferns, with very small leaf surfaces, need a much higher light level to grow well. We can think of ferns in a shady area outside, but outside there is much more light than indoors with light entering only though a window. Not overhead.
In summer time you have long hours of light and that makes a difference to plants that need a good level of light even if they are not near a window. In winter these plants will look poorly as a result of low light levels and instead of moving the plant closer to the window the tendency is to water the plant which maybe the last straw and the plant dies.
Flowering plants need ample light to form flower buds and open the bud into flowers.
A cyclamen within a metre of a good light window will flower well but if taken across the room you will see both flowers and leaves stretching to the light source. Over water when they are like that and goodbye cyclamen.
A timely reminder to be very careful watering container plants keeping them a bit on the dry side and where possible move them closer to a good light source.
In mansions in Victoria times and the likes of Downton Abbey where lushes ferns, palms and other indoor plants appeared to flourish in rooms that were of low light often with drapes closed to protect furnishings and paintings from UV.
So how come the plants always looked good?
Very simply; they had two of everyone with large conservatories where each week the servants would take the plants out of the house and into the conservatory then pick up its twin to replace inside the house. The plants would not suffer in the week and would be refreshed when in the conservatory.
The answer to the food question back near the beginning I just sprinkle a little Rok Solid over the mix and dilute either some Matrix or Mycorrcin to give some mild food.
You dont really want to encourage growth in winter.
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So far this winter it has been much milder than what we would normally expect, which is nice on one hand but not so good in regards to garden pests and diseases.
If the weather remains similar through till after July it can mean a lot more problems in the spring unless we take some preventive actions now.
Lets start off with those of us that are fortunate to have a glasshouse and what we can do to control pests and diseases in the house while it is empty of plants.
A number of gardeners like to sterilise the soil if they use soil in their glasshouse rather than a concrete floor with containers for growing.
Potassium permanganate can be used to kill fungus diseases in the soil and sprayed around the glasshouse for the same reason.
What you do is mix ¾ a teaspoon of potassium permanganate with 3 tablespoons of salt (Ocean Solids)
into a litre of hot water to dissolve and then add that to a further 9 litres of water.
Using a watering can, liberally water into the soil which should be moist prior to using but not wet.
The 10 litres can be applied over 5 to 10 sqM of soil dependent about how concerned you are on diseases. The heavier the dose the greater the result (within reason)
Leave for about a week then lightly water the soil to water in deeper, a few days later give another watering, leave for a week then give the soil a good drench.
The 10 litres made up can be also placed into a back pack sprayer and with the nozzle turn to make a jet spray all the crevices between panes of glass and elsewhere that disease spores maybe lurking.
If you have moss, liverwort or molds inside or outside of the glasshouse then firstly spray them with Wallys Moss & Liverwort Control. When they have died back blast them off with a jet of water. When its dried out spray the potassium permanganate mix then you can treat the soil as mentioned above..
If you have containers that you use for growing in the glasshouse these should be emptied into the compost bin or onto gardens and the containers sterilised with the potassium permanganate.
After these treatments for diseases then its time to treat for insect pests. Sprinkle Wallys Neem Tree Granules over the soil at 100 grams per SqM and lightly water.
Next obtain some Sulphur (yellow stuff called sublime Sulphur or flowers of Sulphur)
This is an old trick I just learnt recently from a gardener; you burn the sulhpur in the glasshouse with all the vents and door closed. The amount you burn would depend on the size of the house and in larger glasshouses maybe more than one burning at the same time.
To burn I found the easy way was to place a bout a 100 grams of sulhpur onto a steel hearth shovel and light it with a flame weed burner that I have and once burning nicely get out of the house as it can be suffocating. Alternative would be to have hot burning coals that you sprinkle the Sulphur onto.
I remember as a child that when there was diseases such as flu around we would burn a small amount of Sulphur sprinkled on hot coals carried on the hearth shovel through the house to kill the air borne diseases.
Maybe worth remembering if there is a plaque happening.
Dont burn the Sulphur in the glasshouse if there is plants growing as it will kill some plants, I tried it and some plants survived where others died. It certainly killed a lot of whitefly and psyllid as they could be seen beating against the panes of glass trying to get out.
Be very careful and maybe if you are not sure light the Sulphur outside of the glasshouse and once burning place into the centre of the house and get out quickly.
In the garden any sign of yellowing leaves you should start sprinkling Fruit and Flower Power in the root zone to supply the magnesium needed and the potash to harden up the plants. Repeat monthly.
More frost tender plants should be sprayed with Vaporgard to give them frost protection down to minus 3 for 3 months from one application.
I have successfully kept Impatiens and petunias growing through the winter for about 3 years which saves money in not having to replace each year. The plants should also be in a semi-protected situation to help ensure they can survive. If it looks like two or more frosts in a row then frost cloth or additional protection will be needed.
Vaporgard works well for the occasional frost a few days apart.
I have also kept tomatoes, potatoes, tree tomatoes, banana plants and palms happy and growing with its protection during milder winters.
Roses are always a bit of a problem when the winter is mild as they stay in foliage and can still produce a few flowers off and on.
The milder the climate the less chance of them having a much needed winter rest.
If they do not have a dormant period in winter they will not preform as well next season.
A good hard frost will do the trick but you can also force them to rest.
For Bush or Standard roses about now or in early June cut the canes back to half their length, remove any spindly wood and dead wood. Pick up the the rubbish and send to the tip or bury in a garden.
I dont advise putting into the compost as they take sometime to break down and the thorns are not nice.
If you have a chipper then after chipping they can go into the compost.
Next spray the remaining canes with Lime Sulphur to burn off any foliage and kill diseases and pests that are remaining.
Leave for about a month and then spray the canes with potassium permanganate at the rate of ¼ to ½ a teaspoon per litre of water. The soil surrounding the roses should be sprayed also.
Note both Lime Sulphur and Potassium permanganate can stain so if against the house or a wall it would pay to place a sheet behind to prevent staining.
The stains will weather off but may last for sometime.
The roses will then have a rest and be ready for pruning at end of July.
With climbing roses either cut off or tie back branches that are in the way; cut out any diseased or old dead canes and then you can treat with the above sprays if you wish.
Keep the weeds down in your gardens by weeding regularly so they dont seed and make for a bigger problem.
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I have always enjoyed growing different plants that are not commonly available. This is one of the aspects that makes gardening more enjoyable and exciting when you have successes.
Three vegetables that I currently grow and are writing about are not rare but also not common for many gardeners.
The first of these is called Chayote or more commonly known as Choko.
Originating from Mexico where the vines grow prolifically they have little financial value there likely because they are so prolific.
Specialist fruit and vegetable shops or flea markets are likely to have chokos for sale at this time of the year for about a dollar each.
Most people likely do not know the fruit and by pass them where people from Asia are likely to be the main buyers.
Choko are a member of the gourd family; Cucurbitaceae, along with melons, cucumbers and squash.
In Asia they are commonly diced up and used in stir fries and soups.
The fruit does not need to be peeled to be cooked or fried in slices. Most people regard it as having a very mild flavor by itself.
It is commonly served raw with seasonings (e.g. salt, butter and pepper) or in a dish with other salad vegetables and/or flavorings. It can also be boiled, stuffed, mashed, baked, fried, or pickled in escabeche sauce.
Both fruit and seed are rich in amino acids and vitamin C.
The fresh green fruit are firm and without brown spots or signs of sprouting. Smaller ones are more tender. I actually I like the fruit raw eaten like an apple they are crisp and refreshing.
The tuberous part of the root is starchy and eaten like a yam (can be fried).
The leaves and fruit have diuretic, cardiovascular and anti-inflammatory properties, and a tea made from the leaves has been used in the treatment of arteriosclerosis, hypertension, and to dissolve kidney stones. So a very versatile, interesting plant.
They are easy to grow and the older fruit will start shooting from the base then all you need to do is place the fruit sideways, half buried in compost with the shoot upwards.
Start off in a container where it will root up and then protect in a glasshouse or similar (even a window sill) till spring when it can be planted out.
It must be planted in a free draining situation, sunny and a degree of protection from frosts.
Spray the vine with Vaporgard for frost protection in winter and cover with frost cloth when there is two or more frosts in a row.
It is a sprawling vine so planted by a fence or shed where netting is placed, allows the vine to climb.
The first season from experience I found no fruit but a lot of growth and some winter damage.
The next season I once again thought all it wanted to do was grow but as the day light hours shortened small flowers and fruit started forming. The fruit grow rapidly and within a week or so a baby fruit becomes bigger than your fist.
For the health and mineral benefits we have; Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 80 kJ (19 kcal): Carbohydrates 4.51 g : Sugars 1.66 g : Dietary fiber 1.7 g : Fat 0.13 g : Protein 0.82 g.
Vitamins are Thiamine (B1) (2%) 0.025 mg: Riboflavin (B2) (2%) 0.029 mg: Niacin (B3) (3%) 0.47 mg: Pantothenic acid (B5)(5%) 0.249 mg: Vitamin B6 (6%) 0.076 mg: Folate (B9) (23%) 93 g.
That is an impressive range of B vitamins making 43% of total them there is Vitamin C (9%) 7.7 mg: Vitamin E (1%) 0.12 mg: Vitamin K (4%) 4.1 g
The Trace metals are Calcium (2%) 17 mg: Iron (3%) 0.34 mg: Magnesium (3%) 12 mg: Phosphorus (3%)18 mg: Potassium (3%) 125 mg: Zinc (8%) 0.74 mg
Health wise how good is that? So easy to grow and eat raw to obtain full benefits of the vitamins and minerals.
Next we have a less common one called Jerusalem Artichokes which is a root vegetable from the Helianthus tuberosus family, also called sunroot, sunchoke, earth apple or topinambour, it is a species of sunflower native to eastern North America.
Grown from tubers it can be successfully grown any where that has reasonable drainage and sun light.
Grown in a container, waste area, vegetable garden or flower garden it will thrive.
In a container it grows about a metre or so tall in open ground from a couple of metres to 3 or 4 metres tall dependent on soil and growing conditions. In autumn it produces smaller sunflower blooms and dies back about this time of the year when you can start harvesting the tubers.
The nobly tubers contains about 10% protein, no oil, and a surprising lack of starch. However, it is rich in the carbohydrate inulin (76%), which is a polymer of the monosaccharide fructose.
Tubers stored for any length of time will convert their inulin into its component fructose.
Jerusalem artichokes have an underlying sweet taste because of the fructose, which is about one and a half times sweeter than sucrose.
Jerusalem artichokes have also been promoted as a healthy choice for type 2 diabetics, because fructose is better tolerated by people who are type 2 diabetic.
It has also been reported as a folk remedy for diabetes.
Temperature variances have been shown to affect the amount of inulin the Jerusalem
artichoke can produce. When not in tropical regions, it has been shown to make less inulin than when it is in a warmer region. You can find recipes for the tubers on the Internet, steamed or baked and excellent for soups. They have a nutty, earthly taste a bit like Gin sing.
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz) is Energy 304 kJ (73 kcal): Carbohydrates 17.44 g: Sugars 9.6 g: Dietary fiber 1.6 g : Fat 0.01 g: Protein 2 g.
Vitamins; Thiamine (B1) (17%) 0.2 mg: Riboflavin (B2) (5%) 0.06 mg: Niacin (B3) (9%) 1.3 mg: Pantothenic acid (B5) (8%) 0.397 mg: Vitamin B6 (6%) 0.077 mg: Folate (B9) (3%) 13 g: Vitamin C (5%) 4 mg: Trace metals Calcium (1%)14 mg: Iron (26%) 3.4 mg: Magnesium (5%)17 mg Phosphorus (11%) 78 mg: Potassium (9%) 429 mg
Last and the most uncommon of all is yacon (Smallanthus sonchifolius, syn.: Polymnia edulis, P. sonchifolia) a species of perennial daisy traditionally grown in the northern and central Andes from Colombia to northern Argentina for its crisp, sweet-tasting, tuberous roots.
The peeled roots are lovely to eat raw, sweet to the taste without the side effects of sugar..
The tubers contain fructooligosaccharide, an indigestible polysaccharide made up of fructose.
Fructooligosaccharides taste sweet, but pass through the human digestive tract unmetabolised, hence have very little caloric value.
Moreover, fructooligosaccharides have a prebiotic effect, meaning they are used by beneficial bacteria that enhance colon health and aid digestion.
Easy to grow, plants grow about 1.5 metres tall large leaves with a texture like Borage harvest, roots in autumn.
If you can obtain a starter tuber of yacon its well worth growing.
Also if you know someone that is taking lots of medications then this following U-Tube clip could be of interest https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dozpAshvtsA
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Garlic is an easy and valuable crop to grow if you do a bit of preparation before sowing.
Firstly let us look at some of the virtues of this well known vegetable from the onion family.
Garlic has a variety of Sulphur compounds which gives it the distinctive pungent odor.
People that eat great amounts of garlic will perspire that odor which maybe ok and not noticed if you live in Rotorua. I am lead to believe that it tends to put off blood sucking insects such as mosquitoes and a traditional protection from Vampires.
Garlic compound Allicin is known to have great anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-oxidant properties. That is why garlic is best had when it’s finely chopped, minced or pureed and let sit for some time. Garlic is also a reliable source of selenium.
Allicin, along with other compounds like ajoene, alliin, etc. also have a healing effect on your circulatory, digestive and immunological systems and help in lowering blood pressure, detoxification, healing, etc. Helps to keep bacterial and viral infections at bay. (Like Colds & flu)
The chemical ajoene found in garlic may help treat fungal skin infections like ringworm and athlete’s foot.
If you have a skin infection, you could apply the juice of some crushed garlic cloves onto the area once or twice a day.
Ajoene has natural anti-clotting properties which is great for those with heart conditions or prone to strokes it is a natural blood thinner.
Down side; it increases the risk of bleeding after surgery.
To help stay healthy have one crushed garlic clove everyday on an empty stomach.
Allicin in garlic blocks the activity of angiotensin (a protein that is responsible for increase in blood pressure) and helps in reducing blood pressure.
With age, your arteries tend to lose their ability to stretch and garlic can help maintain their elasticity.
It also helps protect the heart from the damaging effects of free oxygen radicals.
The sulphur-containing compounds of garlic also prevent our blood vessels from becoming blocked and slows the development of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).
The allicin present in garlic helps moderately lower our blood triglycerides and total cholesterol. This compound also helps reduce arterial plaque formation.
So for those with heart conditions or want to prevent heart disease a clove a day on an empty stomach makes sense.
If you cant eat a clove straight then after chopping and standing for a while add some honey and take on an empty stomach which is likely first thing in the morning.
Wait for about half an hour before having anything else other than filtered water.
Raw garlic juice may be used to immediately stop the itching due to rashes and bug bites.
Garlic increases insulin release and regulates blood sugar levels in your body, especially if you are a diabetic.
Garlic’s anti-cancer properties are due to the allyl sulphides it contains.
According to studies, diallyl sulphide found in garlic inhibits the transformation of PhIP (a type of compound that has been associated with increased incidence of breast cancer) into carcinogens.
Garlic helps with iron deficiency and anaemia.
According to recent research, garlic may help to regulate the formation of fat cells in our body by converting pre-adipocytes to fat cells (adipocytes) by preventing the conversion.
The above gives you many good reasons to grow your own garlic which allows you to avoid the use of chemicals in your crop.
From May to July is the best time to plant your garlic cloves which soon root up and produce their first green stalks.
Garlic grows slowly though the winter months and when the daylight hours lengthen, nearing the longest day, the bulbs will form.
The ideal place to plant is in a sunny sheltered spot. Garlic loves frosts so no covers are required.
In open ground fork the soil to make it friable and then sprinkle blood & bone, Rok Solid, dolomite lime and BioPhos over the area and lightly fork in.
Plant the cloves about 10cm apart, with the pointy end upwards, pushed down into the soil until its buried.
Then cover with a good purchased compost so the cloves are buried by about 2.5cm or 1 inch. The reason to use the compost is for the extra food and to suppress any weed seedlings.
A mulch of mowed leaves is ideal to place over the bed before the foliage emerges to the depth of 5cm to 10cm.
This is also a great use of the leaf fall at this time, run over the leaves with a rotary mower collecting the chopped up leaves in a catcher. And spread over the bed of garlic.
Alternative is grass clippings or pea straw.
Keep the area between the plants free of weeds.
If you do not have room in gardens to grow garlic then you can grow some cloves in larger containers. Use a good purchased compost such as Daltons or Oderings as the filler to about half the depth of the container and then proceed as in open ground with applying the goodies etc.
Normally the tops will be fairly free of problems but if soil insects have been a problem in the past add Neem Tree Granules to the soil and sprinkle some onto the compost before the mulch.
If rust attacks the foliage spray with Condys Crystals at the rate of quarter a teaspoon per litre of water.
Black aphids can be controlled with Wallys Neem Tree Oil and Key Pyrethrum combined.
The best time to harvest is when the tops just start to yellow, often about mid January. Harvesting earlier may mean the bulbs are not as big as they could be.
Harvesting later than this may mean bulbs splitting or decaying.
With aid of a hand fork lift the mature bulbs and clean the soil off the roots.
Place the plants in a dry place such as under a car port to dry for a few days. The dying leaves will add more goodness to the cloves.
After drying hang in a dry place out of sun light or remove dry leaves and place bulbs apart in a box in a dry place.
The bulbs tissue once they are dry become very absorbent and can absorb moisture from damp air making them mouldy.
That is the reason I dont like hanging the bulbs unless it is in a very dry place.
Your garden centre should have garlic cloves now if you have not saved sufficient from last years crop to plant.
A word of warning dont buy and plant the Chinese garlic as readers have told me its a waste of time. (Likely its been irradiated to stop it growing and it is not as good as NZ breed garlic)
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Last weeks article was about weeds which prompted a reader to send me an email with a very novel and practical idea.
The email reads; HI Wally
As usual a great article but I have some alternative thoughts on weeds, or nature's most unloved plants.
It is true there was a time when we didn't have roundup (and I can't wait till it is banned) but during that same time we should also let nature do it's thing and let weeds grow in areas where people stupidly waste money spraying.
For example along the bottom of hedges or along the edges of paths and road frontages.
We have this obsession with control and tidiness. I want to start helping people understand that weeds have a role in covering the earth when we disturb it and why can't we let weeds grow and be the feature plants?
Where a weed wants to grow is where the soil needs them and aren't we feeding the soil after all?
They attract so many insects and bees and are much prettier to look at along road sides than dead brown strips along drains or edges.
In France they don't spray or control 'weeds' they allow the grass and plants to grow along the sides of roads or other places like meridian strips.
It would save so much money not to spray or even mow, it would give beneficial insects a better chance, bringing nature more into balance and be so much more low maintenance.
You have influence and knowledge but I think it is time we cut the perfect looking garden ties with England where those controlled ideas of gardening originally came from.
I just had to write and share my thoughts and thanks for listening. Julia
I have known Julia for many years and she has excellent ideas, using the plants we often refer to as weeds, which can be easily used for food and health.
Julia has an excellent book on what weeds can be used and the benefits derived.
Have a look at her web site at www.juliasedibleweeds.com for more information including workshops that she does.
The idea of allowing weeds to grow in places to encourage insects, bees and birds is so logical when so much of our environment is threatened by misuse and chemicals.
If I recall correctly the English hedge rows was an area where farmers and owners let Nature do its thing making it a haven a haven for wildlife including our friendly snail eating hedgehogs.
A few years back there was a movement for people to plant wildflowers along their road frontages and other areas.
I turned an area of lawn into a wildflower area and the bees loved it. The flowers were mostly annuals and when they died down the area would be a bit messy until the dropped seeds took over with a fresh display.
I have done similar along the road frontage of my warehouse where annuals and perennials flower and die back as the seasons pass. Low maintenance, looking great for good period then a bit scruffy for a while.
Cottage gardens are another form of gardening where by and large you just allow Nature and the plants to do their own thing.
Road frontages or grass verges are an area where this idea could be constructively employed.
These areas are owned by councils but it falls on the owner of the land behind the frontage to mow the grass and weeds that grow there.
I notice that some owners have placed raised gardens on their strips and growing vegetables in them which is also a good idea.
If we were to plant fruiting trees that had non-invasive root systems along our road frontages they would also be very practical supplying free fruit for all those that would benefit.
The rest of the verge could be left to a selection of edible weeds.
Under trees in parks and reserves where councils spend your rate money spraying herbicides to make the soil bare is not only a waste of money, harmful to children that play there, not environmentally friendly and over time causes the trees to yellow and eventually die due to the buildup of chemicals in the soil.
That reminds me of the mother walking through the park with a toddler running and a baby in the pram, when they came across a council worker covered from head to toe in his protective clothing, mask and breathing apparatus.
The mother asks is it ok to walk through?
The council worker replies its quiet safe? Yeah Right.
A problem that I see is that verges are a combination of grass, grass weeds and a few weeds and if allowed to do their own thing by not mowing them down, it would not be such a good mix of plants.
Maybe Julia can help in this respect for instance on her web site she names a lot of edible weeds such as Alpine Strawberry, Indian Strawberry, Amaranth, Green or Purple, Catsear, Chicory, Chickweed, Cleavers, Clover, Red and White, Creeping Mallow, Bitter Cress, Dandelion, Dock and Dove’s Foot Geranium.
You likely have some already established and with a bit of searching you can find many others.
What we need is a seed supplier of mixed edible weed seed packets.
In the herb selection of your garden shop you are also likely to find a few also and if there are packets of wildflower seeds these can be sown to.
Herbs and weeds are very self sowing and once you obtain a few specimens they will perpetuate without any input from yourself.
Insects will have a home, birds will have protein, bees and bumble bees will love the flowers such as borage and catnip.
Make up a sign or signs saying ENVIRONMENTAL SANCTUARY so you wont be criticised or feel embarrassed with your fledgling area.
It would likely be a talking point and once neighbors and others see the value of creating a Natures haven they may do the same.
What a wonderful place that would be. Besides who really likes mowing the councils bit of grass?
Health wise you can have great advantages as Julia's site will show you.
Dandelion for instance, the leaves contain high amounts of Vitamins A, B and C, potassium, calcium, iron, phosphorous, and other minerals.
They also contain protein 19-32% in 100g which is an impressive amount just from green leaves.
Dandelion leaves are bitter which stimulates the release of saliva and improves digestion.
They are also a tonic, help lower cholesterol levels, increase blood and lymph circulation and are blood purifiers.
The leaves and flowers can be used in smoothies, salads, pestos and stir-fries.
The flower-heads can be used to make wine the roots to make coffee.
This could really upset the pharmaceutical companies if you grew weeds and became healthy.
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The article for Week ending 4th of April about the World Health Organisation classifying Glyphosate as a probable carcinogenic raised a number of questions from gardeners one of which is 'How will I control weeds without having glyphosate'?
Now I maybe old but I do remember a time of gardening before the chemical was ever invented (which was back in the 80's).
I also told one reader that I stopped using glyphosate over 20 years ago when I found that it started to make me feel nausea after spraying and I also found it was the cause of skin problems on my dogs according to a specialist.
I do concede that Roundup and other glyphosate weed killer brands can make the control of some weeds much simpler and in certain situations I even suggest it as a effective control.
The concern that I have is the unknown amount of the chemical in our food chain and what harm it is doing to ourselves and children.
For the home gardener to be using a little around the section to control a few difficult weeds is not a real problem but for a commercial grower of produce to spray the crops we are going to buy and eat is a real concern.
See my article at http://www.gardenews.co.nz/list.htm#GARDENING%20CHEMICALS%20RAISING%20HEALTH%20CONCERNS
Carrots, potatoes, peas, wheat, barley crops sprayed with glyphosate to desiccant; which means to dry out their crops so they could harvest them faster or preventing them from going to seed as in the case of carrots while waiting for the market to improve..
Root vegetables such as carrots, onions and potatoes are where the plants store their goodness along with any chemicals they absorb while growing. Without tests to determine the amount of glyphosate in these stable stable crops we maybe at risk according to WHO .
So what do you do to keep weeds in your gardens under control?
Firstly if you do not mind using chemicals there are any number of weed killers available other than glyphosate but in choosing to use them it is better to keep them away from your food growing areas.
On the more natural side of things there is the good old fashioned method of weeding by hand, used successfully for thousands of years with no known ill effects on soil or your health.
In fact outside of weeding during the hot sunny times of the day without adequate protection or better choosing a cooler time of the day it is a very relaxing task.
I actually liken it to a form of meditation where you focus on the weeds and leave the preferred plants and seedlings to grow.
Weeds can be pulled out easily when the soil is wet or even better use a sharp knife slicing through the growing stem under the soil surface leaving the root system to rot away and feed the soil.
The sliced tops minus their roots can be laid on bare soil to also rot and feed the soil.
In fact using this method your weeds become a valuable asset as a green crop does.
The key to make this easiest, is to weed regularly when the weeds are still seedlings.
For larger weeds a weed eater with a Pivotrim Pro attachment does a good job and less risk of damaging tree trunks.
Waste areas, cracks in concrete and in between cobbles just pour salt onto the weeds and repeat when they reappear.
Edges around lawns can be treated with the same or old sump oil is an alternative.
Spraying weeds on a sunny day when the soil is dry with vinegar or cheap cooking oil dehydrates the weeds.
Ammonia sulphate, Urea and potassium Nitrate can be used to sprinkle over weeds when dry and then they will burn out the weed and crown. It is an old method for weeds in lawns.
Lawn sand used to be used for weed control in lawns before the chemicals were made.
If I remember rightly one part sulphate of ammonia to about 5 parts sand, broadcast over a lawn with particular attention to where the weeds are. This would burn the weeds and the grasses but the grasses would recover where the weeds would not; hopefully.
Steam and flames are two more methods that can be employed to control weeds and there are appliances available to those that like to use these methods.
The steam is a better option than the fire method being safer around buildings and dry times.
Try this recipe; Trim the weeds with a sharp pair of garden shears. This helps open the plant to receive the natural weed killer.
Mix 4 litres of white vinegar with 1 cup salt and 5 mils of Raingard. The white vinegar lowers the weed’s pH, the salt dries out the plant, and the Raingard helps the solution stick to the plant.
Pour the solution into a sprayer, and spray it over the weed’s stalk and leaves. Apply it liberally.
(Best done on a sunny day when soil is dry)
Reapply the solution after 24 hours until the weed is completely dead.
Do not allow spray to drift onto preferred plants as they will suffer.
Some weeds have a preferred pH level to grow successfully and if we alter the pH we weaken or kill the weed. For instance if you have gorse growing then dump a good amount of garden lime in to the root zone and the gorse will die.
A garden hoe or a Dutch Hoe can be used to cut or slice weeds in garden plots and are quick and easy tools to use.
Thus as we did before the 80's we can do in the future when glyphosate has been banned in our country and else where as is happening in other countries.
I note a lab in America has started testing water, urine and babies milk for glyphosate and are looking to establish the same protocols in other existing labs though out the world.
Investigating reporters in America have taken up the baton about glyphosate and found that according to evidence unearthed from the archives of the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) in the United States, it has been established that Monsanto was fully aware of the potential of glyphosate to cause cancer in mammals as long ago as 1981.
It would be a great start if NZ Food Safety started testing our food for traces of glyphosate it would likely help to improve our health and reduce the health bill. Maybe someone should ask them?
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Each week I have to think about what to write for the coming week and sometimes it is you, my readers, that give me an answer and this week is no exception as two readers phoned with lawn problems that could be fixed with one solution.
To start with it is now autumn and we have had rain so the soil is nice and moist; still a bit on the warm side except for those colder areas.
It is the perfect time to sow lawn seed and I recommend 'Super Strike' as it makes a nice lawn that is fast germinating.
If you are sowing a new lawn then you should have prepared the area and killed off all the weed seeds that had germinated (or do this before sowing your lawn seed)
If you are over-sowing a lawn you are better off to hire a scarifier to rip out the thatch and leave the groves for your new seeds to fall into.
Sowing new seeds every autumn helps thicken up the grasses and keeps weeds from germinating.
A lawn like that is not cut low but at a height of about 25 to 50 mm dependent on your preference.
About 30mm is what I like to see.
If you are not going to sow fresh seed you should treat the lawn for thatch problems which means spaying or using a lawnboy to deliver a product called Thatch Busta.
This natural product eats up an inch of thatch in a month during reasonable conditions.
It also saves ripping your lawn apart using a scarifier or scarfing rake (which is hard work)
Grass Grubs are near the surface at this time of the year and eating the roots of your grasses.
These grasses so damaged will likely lift up easily as they have hardly any roots left or the grasses will die in the spring when they try to grow making bare patches.
Yates used to have diazinon as a lawn pest control but that chemical has been banned in NZ so no longer available. As in early articles it was also not suitable on some soil types.
Yates does have a attach onto the hose lawn spray which is using Confidor the chemical that is now known to kill honey bees, bumble bees and native pollinators.
It has a very long term residue in the plants and soil so if used then later on (weeks and maybe months later) when daisies, buttercups, clover or other lawn weeds flower, the bees get a dose and goodbye bees.
There was a product from Australia called Professor's Mac 3 in 1 for lawns.
It has a very safe insecticide which is Eucalyptus oil at 10g/L and Tea Tree oil at 2.5g/L along with a natural lawn food and wetting agent.
I especially recommended it for people with pets and gardeners that prefer to use natural things in respect of the environment.
Unfortunately the company that produced it sold to another company in Australia and I was unable to import it in its pre-packed container.
Instead I have brought in a few drums of the product to decant into 1 litre containers and renamed it to Wallys 3 in 1 for Lawns. It will treat 50 sqM of lawn safely
Garden Enterprises also has a chemical one for those that dont have pets and have large lawns; called Wallys Lawn Pest Control. The 500 gram pack of granules will do 250sqM.
Applied at 2 grams per square metre through a Scotts Spreader and then watered to activate.
Being a chemical all safety precautions should be used especially wearing gumboots.
This product is also excellent to kill wasp and ant nests in the ground, sprinkle liberally and lightly water. Effective kill period is about 6 weeks.
For either product see http://www.0800466464.co.nz/13-pest-control?p=2
If porina caterpillars are a problem eating at the base of the grasses at night, then the simple and very effective way to control is to mow the lawn to about 25mm, then late in the day spray the lawn with Neem Tree Oil at 15mls per litre.
That night when they take a bite they will stop eating and die of starvation. On small lawns drenches of Neem Tree Oil at 25mls per litre is another safe way to control grubs near the surface. The soil should be a little moist before applying with a lawnboy or similar.
Neem Tree Granules (Powder form) can also be used very safely, sprinkle over a freshly mowed lawn that has moist soil and lightly water to move the powder off foliage onto the soil surface.
Ideally use a roller over the lawn to press the powder into the soil.
Now one of our readers asked about the grass verge in front of their property.
The problem is paspalum that horrible grass weed that makes any lawn look a mess.
There is no spray that will kill it (there was and it is now banned) so you are left with three possibilities.
Wiping the foliage with a mix of glyphosate and Raingard without touching your grasses.
Sprinkling urea or sulphate of ammonia onto the clump so the nitrogen will burn it out.
Finally one gardener told me years ago about taking a screw driver with a bottle of diesel and plunging the diesel soaked blade into the heart of the clump.
All these methods are sort term as there will be seeds in the soil or blown in from surrounding areas.
I have thought of a long term solution that would still look ok and no more mowing of what belongs to your council. Kill off the area with a herbicide or with lots of salt. (If there are no trees growing)
Once dead you remove the top couple of inches of stubble and soil and send to the tip.
If there are plants growing on the verge cover the area with weed mat. If not cover with black builders plastic.
Then over this place artificial grass and peg down with no 8 wire having bent one end over to make like a hook. These days there are several grades of artificial grass and the more expensive ones are hard to tell from the real thing from a bit of a distance.
Those gardeners that have slopping lawns that are hard to mow or have to use a weed eater to mow could use the same process of either weed mat with ground covers or with artificial grass.
For people that need to get a lawn mowing person in to mow their lawns using artificial grass could be a big savings over the long term. You do the sums and if you have your lawn mowed between once a week to once a fortnight you are talking a few hundred dollars a year, plenty of money to make the change.
No mowing, no weeding, no feeding, no mud, no cracked or brown lawns in droughts, no lawn pests to control, no watering to keep green. You have saved hundreds of dollars.
There are companies that will do the job for you in some areas.
Do a search on Google putting into Google, Artificial Grass.
Then you cam sell your motor mower as well.
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I receive lots of phone calls and emails from gardeners asking for help with their gardening endeavors.
About 10% of these will be a very familiar problem which is; 'plants do not grow'.
A few questions often reveals the reasons; such as the over use of man made fertilisers such as general garden fertiliser or even worse nitrophoska blue.
Often these fertilisers are used to excess (or for too many years) and not only do they damage the soil life but they can also 'lock up' in the soil, stunting growth.
The pH of the soil is changed because of the acidic nature of manmade fertilisers.
A little sprinkling of manmade fertilisers, used occasionally to give plants a boost along, is fine as long as the acid aspect is neutralised with a good application of soft garden lime.
Small applications are not going to make fertiliser companies rich compared to handfuls on a regular frequency.
What I am told often by gardeners is; I plant seedlings they slowly grow and seem to sit still for a long time then either mature or go to seed.
I usually ask the gardener when was the last time you limed (Calcium) the soil.
More often than not it is sometime ago or not for a very long time.
A lot of New Zealand soils are a little acidic and become more so over time with our rainfall.
I read one time that calcium is the fuel that feeds the micro life in the soil and without it (soil food web) your plants do not do so well.
Most vegetable plants love a sweet soil which is the term used for an alkaline reading on a pH metre.
The exception to this is potatoes and tomatoes. The vegetables that really love lime are brassicas, peas and beans.
The old gardening way was to apply garden lime to the garden once a year in the middle of winter.
There are two sources of lime one from lime stone and the other from crushed shells.
Lime stone lime is gritty and slow to breakdown and thus plants may wait some years before they obtain the benefits. Where soft lime breaks down quickly.
Soft lime can be tested by wetting your forefinger and thumb and placing a little of the lime in between.
If it feels soft and makes a slurry then its good value. Lime stone lime is likely to feel course like sand unless it has been powdered down very finely.
After an application of lime the plants start to respond and grow better.
When minerals become locked up because of the over use of fertilisers I also suggest drenches of Magic Botanic Liquid. (MBL)
This excellent product is good for unlocking and along with a dose of calcium, plants respond very quickly and really grow.
Sometimes I have gardeners call me back to say that within a week of doing the above the plants have show new amazing growth.
There are areas in your garden where you do not want to apply garden lime at all or only a little.
In the annual/perennial flower garden a little occasionally is good.
For acid loving plants use gypsum or dolomite or even better a combination of both.
These contain not only calcium but also Sulphur (gypsum) and magnesium (dolomite)
Which means they can also be used to advantage where you use garden lime on flower beds and vegetable gardens.
Rather than a dose once a year in winter you are far better of to give a sprinkling every 3 months.
The beginning of each season is a good time as it is easier to remember.
So at the beginning of spring and again at the beginning of summer, autumn and winter.
If you have not been in the practice of doing this you will likely notice an improvement in your gardens because you are nurturing the essential soil life. (Do not use chlorinated water on your gardens either, filter it out with a 10 micron carbon bonded filter)
Here is another interesting mineral that can be deficient in gardens and when applied they come to life and take off.
That is phosphate and the product that makes the difference is called BioPhos which is reactive rock phosphate broken down naturally using microbes rather than acid.
That is how rock phosphate is converted to superphoshate. Acid is applied to reactive rock phosphate.
Superphoshate damages the soil life and causes inert soil through continued use and likely is the reason why many gardeners will not use it.
Conventional agriculture and farming using super and nitrates kill off the soil life in their paddocks.
There by the first essential part of the food chain is destroyed, effecting the healthiness of plants/grass, animals and ourselves. This is so simply logical, that you wonder why it is allowed to continue?
Mind you it does not make any money for fertiliser, chemical and pharmaceutical companies so we must respect their bottom lines even if we and our environment are not healthy.
Even worse; in the process of converting rock phosphate to superphoshate a pollutant is produced on the 'scrubbers' called, fluoride acid (hydrofluorosilicic acid); a classified hazardous waste, but it is barreled up and sold, unrefined, to communities across America and the world including New Zealand.
Communities add hydrofluorosilicic acid to their water supplies as the primary fluoride chemical for water fluoridation.
This has to be one of the biggest scams in recent history, a waste product that would cost millions to clean up and disposed of, is sold at a profit on the pretense it will substantially help fight tooth decay?
BioPhos not only provides plants with the phosphate they require it also introduces beneficial microbes into your soil. BioPhos does the following for plants;
Photosynthesis and storage of sunlight energy
Formulation of simple sugars
Use of sugars and starches for growth
Transfer of energy during plant chemical reactions
Maintenance and transfer of plant’s genetic code
Development of new plant cells
Germination, size, number and viability of seed
That is why some gardeners really notice a big difference when they apply the natural product to their gardens and plants.
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Now that day light savings has finished we realise that winter is coming and in a number of areas light frosts have already occurred.
From my own experience in Palmerston North and talking to gardeners in other areas including Invercargill, the winters now days are very mild to what we experienced when we were young.
Heavy frosty mornings with frost lasting well into midday but nice sunny blue skies except when we had what we called a black frost.
That was when the frost did not disappear because the day would have heavy clouds, which did not allow the sun to warm the ground. Not nice.
These days in Palmerston North at least we do not have too many frosts in winter and usually the ones we have are light and soon disappear. Outside of the city you do not have to go far to find a good frosting when the conditions are right.
What has changed besides 'climate change' is the warmth that a city generates from houses, vehicles and street lighting. Pollution in the air also acts the same as cloud cover trapping heat and preventing frosts to settle. We are more likely to see fogs than frosts.
This bodes well for the more tender plants which would be damaged or killed by a good frost.
It does not help with control of pest insects and plant diseases which a good heavy frost will knock them for a six.
For us gardeners we still need to give more tender plants some protection and later in winter use methods to reduce disease and insect pests.
Now is the time to take action to help your plants survive the winter chills.
Apply Fruit & Flower Power to the root zone of plants that could be damaged, your preferred plants and any tender plants. The potash and magnesium in this product hardens up the foliage, strengthens the root system and helps to maintain nice green foliage.
Apply this month and again monthly for the next two months on evergreen plants but only once on deciduous plants and trees.
Wet weather diseases are caused by lots of rain and insufficient drainage.
The root systems need oxygen and if there is too much water then there is insufficient oxygen, the roots can hold their breath (so to speak) for a while but then they will start rotting.
You will see leaves turning yellow, curling and dropping followed by the plant's death.
You can assist the plants to withstand wet weather diseases by spraying them with Perkfection Supa once a month for the next 3 months on evergreens such as citrus. One spray on your roses and deciduous trees at this time.
If you can; ensure that the drainage around plants that hate wet feet is improved where possible.
One easy way on established plants such as citrus or around the edge of vegetable gardens is to dig a trench one or two spades deep. On citrus and similar just out beyond the drip line.
Excess water will drain into the trench where wind and sun will evaporate it away quicker.
This is only needed where you know that ponding takes place during rainy times, good free draining areas are not so prone to the problems.
For our final protection of tender plants we can use the 'spray on frost protection' called Vaporgard.
Mixed at 15mls per litre in warm water and sprayed over the foliage of tender plants it will give them down to minus 3 degrees frost protection for 3 months within 3 days of application.
This works very well on the first frost but if there are several frosts in a row, night after night then additional protection such as frost cloth will be needed.
The reason for this is the damage to the cells does not have a chance to repair before they are frozen again.
Tender plants that are in containers can be moved to places where they are protected such as under the eaves or under evergreen trees. I now can keep impatiens and petunias in containers going year after year by using all the above suggestions and having them in sheltered areas.
Plants such as capsicums and peppers growing in open ground can be sprayed with Vaporgard under and over foliage and a couple of days later carefully lifted and placed into containers.
Then moved to a glasshouse or protected area like a porch where they will continue to produce for you slowly over winter as long as you keep them a little on the dry side.
Now that the soil is cooler and rains have starting to moisten the gardens; means you can plant your spring bulbs in sunny areas. Container grown bulbs are likely planted already.
Let your strawberries run and root in for a fresh lot of plants later in May.
The latest news is very interesting as chemical company giants, Monsanto and Bayer are taking a hammering as reports about the harm some of their main products are doing to our health and the environment.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recently placed glyphosate on level 4 meaning its a very probable cause of cancer. (Level 5 means it does definitely cause cancer.)
Monsanto's cause was not helped by the video of pro-GMO Patrick Moore claiming Monsanto’s glyphosate is “safe to drink,” then walking out of an interview when asked to prove it, has been making the cyber-rounds. But perhaps no one has framed it better than Jeffrey Jaxen, a writer for Before It’s News.
Jaxen calls the Moore interview a “Big Tobacco Moment,” comparing it to the publicly televised statement in 1994, by William Campbell, then-CEO of tobacco giant Phillip Morris, who told Congress, “I believe nicotine is not addictive.”
Jaxen wrote: “When paradigms shift, tyrants fall, or corporations lose their market it is often not from some spectacular event, but by a single, humanizing display.”
If you have not seen it goto https://www.organicconsumers.org/news/gmos-big-tobacco-moment-shocks-public-awake
Bayer is loosing its battle; saying their toxic neonicotinoids such as Confidor are safe. Study after study show neonicotinoids are a key culprit in bee declines and are harming other organisms, from earthworms to birds.
Bayer filed a lawsuit against Friends of the Earth Germany in an effort to shut down their campaign to save the bees. Thanks to the work of concerned people across Europe, Bayer lost and Friends of the Earth Germany won.
This demonstrates the importance and power of organizing and when the truth is revealed, people can push back against corporate power, and win.
On the home front it was reported that Lloyds of London are not covering events of smart meter fires or health risks associated with wireless devices.
Likely soon most insurance companies will follow suit as they normally do when Lloyds makes exclusions..
Are Smart Metres causing fires? According to TV3 news yes; with in the last five months there have been 67 call outs in Canterbury to malfunctions involving power boxes, and 422 throughout the country.
Your power company installs a smart metre and then when there is a power surge it can blow up appliances and possibly set your home on fire, which has happened in NZ and overseas.
Then you could find your Insurance company has wavered damage cause by Smart Metres.
Not only that but health problems cause by High Intensity Radio Frequencies are not going to be covered either.
People and children sensitive to this radiation can have problems of head aches, nose bleeds, emotional problems and sleeplessness. Makes for more interesting times.
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The news this week coming from the World Health Organisation (WHO) stated that glyphosate the active ingredient in Roundup (and found in other weed killers), 'probably' causes cancer.
There has been mounting evidence of this from various science reports and findings over the last few years.
All of which Monsanto denies as they did in the past with Agent Orange as being safe.
The health problems came to light in Vietnam when Agent Orange (and similar) herbicides were used to defoliate jungles causing servicemen and local populations major health issues..
On the 21st March 2015 (The Guardian article said) – Roundup, the world’s most widely used weedkiller, “probably” causes cancer, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) – WHO’s cancer agency – said that glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide made by agriculture company Monsanto, was “classified as probably carcinogenic to humans”.
It also said there was “limited evidence” that glyphosate was carcinogenic in humans for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Monsanto, the world’s largest seed company, said scientific data did not support the conclusions and called on WHO to hold an urgent meeting to explain the findings.
“We don’t know how IARC could reach a conclusion that is such a dramatic departure from the conclusion reached by all regulatory agencies around the globe,” said Philip Miller, Monsanto’s vice-president of global regulatory affairs.
Concerns about glyphosate on food have been widely debated in the US recently, and contributed to the passage in Vermont last year of the country’s first mandatory labeling law for genetically modified food.
The US government considers the herbicide to be safe. In 2013, (Based on information supplied by Monsanto's scientists) Monsanto requested and received approval from the US Environmental Protection Agency for increased tolerance levels for glyphosate.
Monsanto will fight this tooth and nail because of the many millions of dollars the company makes every year from selling this herbicide.
In March, 2015, 17 experts from 11 countries met at the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC; Lyon, France) to assess the carcinogenicity of the organophosphate pesticides tetrachlorvinphos, parathion, malathion, diazinon, and glyphosate (table).
These assessments will be published as volume 112 of the IARC Monographs.1
In NZ already we see that some of the above chemicals have already been removed or restricted by EPA and ERMA. Which is very good but there appears to be no controls or restrictions on glyphosate.
We do not even test for the chemical in our food chain and I am sure that if we did the results would be alarming.
Glyphosate does not disappear when it hits the soil (Which was another lie Monsanto told when Roundup was first introduced) Instead it has a soil life of months or years dependent apon what research you read or on what soil type.
One thing would appear certain is that if land is cleared using glyphosate at the recommended rates and a food crop is planted then that produce will have glyphosate traces in the foliage and even larger concentrations in root crops.
Farming practices that Monsanto recommends make matters even worse; this includes killing pasture grass with glyphosate and immediately putting stock into graze. (Likely spraying while stock is there)
In dairy this means that glyphosate would be in milk, cheese and all by products.
Does Fontera test for glyphosate? I dont think so but it is an interesting question. It could likely mean that traces of glyphosate would be in baby formula?
Then its also in your meat from farm produced stock. The health of the stock is very likely affected also.
As I wrote back in February, Monsanto also encourage farmers to use Roundup as a desiccant, to dry out all of their crops so they could harvest them faster.
So Roundup is now routinely sprayed directly on a host of non-GMO crops, including wheat, barley, oats, canola, flax, peas, lentils, soybeans, dry beans, carrots, parsnips, onions, potatoes and sugar cane.
To sum up there is very likely a lot of glyphosate in your food chain coming in small amounts from all those foods we normally eat and no one tests for the chemical!
A few parts per million in your potatoes, onions, meat, breakfast cereals, milk, cooking oils, bread, carrots, sugar etc.
Add it up for one day's meals and maybe thats a lot of parts per million?
We do not know because glyphosate is assumed safe according to our Govt departments who presumably only relate to what Monsanto says to the FDA. The fox is guarding the chickens.
Here are some facts:
Glyphosate is a broad-spectrum herbicide, currently with the highest production volumes of all herbicides.
It is used in more than 750 different products for agriculture, forestry, urban, and home applications.
Its use has increased sharply with the development of genetically modified glyphosate-resistant crop varieties.
Glyphosate has been detected in air during spraying, in water, and in food.
There was limited evidence in humans for the carcinogenicity of glyphosate.
Case-control studies of occupational exposure in the USA, 14 Canada,6 and Sweden 7 reported increased risks for non-Hodgkin lymphoma that persisted after adjustment for other pesticides.
The AHS cohort did not show a significantly increased risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
In male CD-1 mice, glyphosate induced a positive trend in the incidence of a rare tumor, renal tubule carcinoma.
A second study reported a positive trend for haemangiosarcoma in male mice.
Glyphosate increased pancreatic islet-cell adenoma in male rats in two studies.
A glyphosate formulation promoted skin tumors in an initiation-promotion study in mice.
Glyphosate has been detected in the blood and urine of agricultural workers, indicating absorption.
Soil microbes degrade glyphosate to aminomethylphosphoric acid (AMPA).
Blood AMPA detection after poisonings suggests intestinal microbial metabolism in humans.
Glyphosate and glyphosate formulations induced DNA and chromosomal damage in mammals, and in human and animal cells in vitro.
One study reported increases in blood markers of chromosomal damage (micronuclei) in residents of several communities after spraying of glyphosate formulations.
Bacterial mutagenesis tests were negative.
Glyphosate, glyphosate formulations, and AMPA induced oxidative stress in rodents and in vitro.
The Working Group classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans”
One of my pet thoughts is the great number of people that have allergies these days compared to say 50 years ago before glyphosate.
The chemical in the food chain could well be the cause of a number of these health conditions.
Here is an interesting thought, where trade agreements that allow companies to sue countries if legislation used to protect the populations reduces the profits the company had being making!
Why not have the reverse where a company that supplies a product/chemical that is found to be harmful later on, then that company is totally liable for all the costs involved to that country.
That might have a few chemical companies and pharmaceutical companies change their ways.
Latest news; glyphosate also causes antibiotic resistance in harmful bacteria like Escherichia coli and Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium.
My personal opinion, its the worst gardening chemical currently for gardeners health.
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In India there is a native tree botanically known as, Azadirachta indica, also known as Neem. It is a tree from the mahogany family Meliaceae.
Neem is one of two species in the genus Azadirachta, and is native to India and the Indian subcontinent including Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
Neem is a fast-growing tree that can reach a height of 15–20 metres (49–66 ft), and sometime to 35–40 metres (115–131 ft). Evergreen, but in severe drought it may shed most or nearly all of its leaves.
Products made from Neem trees have been used in India for over two millennia for their medicinal properties and many other uses. Neem products are believed by Sidha and Ayurvedic practitioners to be anthelmintic, antifungal, antidiabetic, antibacterial, antiviral, contraceptive and sedative.
Neem Tree oil is cold pressed from the kernels of the Neem Tree and 80% of India's supply of Neem oil is now used by Neem oil soap manufacturers. Although much of it goes to small scale specialty soaps, , large scale producers also use it, mainly because it is cheap.
Additionally it is antibacterial and antifungal, soothing and moisturising. Neem Soap can be made with up to 40% Neem oil. Well known brands include Nimglo (available in NZ) which can help with a number of skin conditions.
Once the kernels have been cold pressed, what is left is Neem Cake which is very dark with a distinct Neem Smell.
Some manufactures repeatedly cold press the cake to extract more oil then end result is a light brown coloured Neem Cake which has very little of the Neem benefits and insecticide properties left.
The dark Neem Tree Granules are best by far for using for control of pests and soil conditioning.
In India the Neem Cake is used as a Fertiliser and Soil Conditioner as well as assisting in the control of nematodes and other pests.
Neem Cake has an adequate quantity of NPK in organic form to aid plant growth.
Being a totally botanical product it contains 100% natural NPK content and other essential micro nutrients as it is natural the percentages of the components vary so we have;
N(Nitrogen 2.0% to 5.0%), P(Phosphorus 0.5% to 1.0%), K(Potassium 1.0% to 2.0%), Ca(Calcium 0.5% to 3.0%), Mg(Magnesium 0.3% to 1.0%), S(Sulphur 0.2% to 3.0%), Zn(Zinc 15 ppm to 60 ppm), Cu(Copper 4 ppm to 20 ppm), Fe (Iron 500 ppm to 1200 ppm), Mn (Manganese 20 ppm to 60 ppm).
Neem Tree Granules are rich in both Sulphur compounds and bitter limonoids.
According to research calculations, Neem cake tends to make soil more fertile due to an ingredient that blocks soil bacteria from converting nitrogenous compounds into nitrogen gas.
It is a nitrification inhibitor and prolongs the availability of nitrogen to both short duration and long duration crops. This means improved growth when used at planting time.
Neem seed cake also reduce alkalinity in soil, as it produces organic acids on decomposition.
Being totally natural, it is compatible with soil microbes, improves and rhizosphere microflora and hence ensures fertility of the soil. It does not harm earthworms, in fact they thrive in it.
Neem Tree Granules improves the organic matter content of the soil, helping improve soil texture, water holding capacity, and soil aeration for better root development.
The Neem Tree Granules contains salannin, nimbin, azadirachtin and azadiradione as the major components. Of these, azadirachtin and meliantriol are used as antifeedants while salannin is used as an antifeedant for the housefly in India.
These are the properties that assist in the control of soil insect pests such as nematodes and grass grubs through the anti-feeding properties.
Success in their control will be determined by the amount of oil in the Neem Granules and the way to determine this is by the colour of them. Dark is very good where light brown/tan has less properties.
A interesting aspect with using Neem Tree Granules is their ability to control pest insects in the canopy of some plants.
I believe what transpires is this; you place Neem Tree Granules in the planting hole and on the soil surface when planting seeds or seedlings. (For existing plants you apply them to the root zone of the target plants. )
The Neem Tree Granules break down releasing all the properties previously mention and these are taken up by the roots of the plants.
This means nematodes and other insects attacking the roots will get a dose and stop eating to die of starvation. The properties trans locate up into the foliage of the plant which may effect insect pests feeding on the plant.
The properties are not needed by the plant so it starts converting them to carbohydrates (sugars).
If the plant is very efficient in this then likely there will little or no control on insects pest on the foliage feeding. On the other hand if the plant is lax in this, then there are excellent results in control.
The smell of the granules breaking down on the soil may also work to discourage some insect pests or confuse them as to whether the plant is a host or not.
Plants that they do not work on in regards to control on foliage include beans and cucumbers.
Plants that do have a good degree of control include brassicas, tomatoes, potatoes, citrus, roses and cabbage trees. Landscapers have told me that they have used Neem Tree Granules on many different types of plants in hedge, shelter and general plantings with very good results.
Its a matter of finding out for yourself as to what works in your garden and not.
One reader told me during the week that they were having good results from sprinkling Neem Tree Granules around their plants and seedling even to keeping cats off the gardens.
That is the first time that I have heard of this and likely the smell from the dark Neem Granules breaking down puts the cats off. I would like to hear if others have the same result but I doubt that it would work on all cats.
As you can see there are many benefits for your gardens using this natural product, soil conditioning, building up humus, feeding plants and protecting their roots and maybe their foliage as well.
Keeping cats and maybe vermin away from your plants as an extra benefit.
Look for the product at your garden centre or Mitre 10 called Neem Tree Granules.
Also available in sizes from 750grams to 20Kg bags (some on special from our mail order web site at www.0800466464.co.nz
Also we have fresh stocks of MSM and a new product, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) powder at 500 grams for $25.00
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Citrus is the most popular fruit tree family that gardeners grow in NZ.
In days goneby, on our quarter acre bit of heaven, there would just about always be a lemon tree which was a must for winter colds and sore throats. Likely a grapefruit tree also for breakfast fruit and to make marmalade. For some gardeners the range would extend into oranges and tangelos/mandarins.
In recent times people have started growing their own Lime trees in containers or in warmer areas in the open ground.
As a youngster I would visit my uncle Jack; a second World War returned service man who had been a Desert Rat fighting Rommell. My uncle had an excellent citrus grove of mature trees and likely every variety available in those times. The remarkable thing about his grove was that every tree he had grown from pips.
Most citrus trees once established will bear a main crop each year but have cycles of lessor crops as well, which means that you could have fruit to pick all year round.
One thing that annoys me is the waste from mature trees in gardens, producing so much fruit that the owners cant use and even with giving away to friends, fruit falls and rots while we pay so many dollars a kilo at a green grocers.
I had another example of this recently; a reader from the South Island had been to a Wedding in Tauranga and on the way back in their camper van they stopped off to met me.
They asked if we liked avocados which the answer was yes. They had a box full on board of nice big fruit and gave us a bag full. They told me that there is so many avocado trees growing in peoples gardens that fruit fell to the ground and were run over or mowed.
Here we are paying a few dollars for 3 much smaller avocados which likely are rejects because of their size.
Anyway back to our citrus trees. Feeding citrus, dont waste your money on citrus tree fertiliser or as often called fruit tree fertiliser, it does more harm than good and is only a fast food anyway.
Instead go back to the old sustainable way of feeding your citrus with a good dose of blood & bone in the spring and again in autumn.
If you have chook manure spread that also from trunk to drip line, if no chook manure either use sheep manure pellets or Yates Dynamic Lifter.
The blood & bone etc should be covered with a good compost that has NOT been made from green waste. (Ask, if the bag doesn't say and if in doubt leave)
Every month from bud/flower time till harvest sprinkle a little Fruit & Flower Power under the tree.
This is magnesium and potash in balance and very important to obtain nice green foliage and juicy fruit with good flavour. If you have a citrus that has dry fruit then you must apply Fruit & Flower Power regularly to put it right.
A question often asked is it correct to remove the flowers on a new citrus tree?
The reason for this is to encourage general growth rather than a few fruit early in the tree's life so larger crops will be available quicker.
Most citrus trees are grafted onto root stock to help overcome wet feet problems and give fruit quicker as the grafted material is mature wood..
The exception to this is Meyer Lemons which are often cutting grown and hence cheaper to buy than grafted.
If you have a grafted tree you can distinctly see the graft just a few inches above the soil line.
The root stock used to be from a unproductive but hardy type called Bitter Orange and as far as I am aware it is still used. It has very thorny branches and small bitter fruit. Sometimes a new growth will develop on the root stock and when this happens it must be cut off.
These growths will grow straight up very quickly and in some cases when left on the graft will be choked off and die losing you your tree.
There is only one sensible way to prune a citrus tree and that is by total removal of branches off the trunk to open up the tree. Cutting the ends off branches allows for new branches to develop on the branch making for a denser tree more prone to disease and pests.
If you have a tree that you have to cut the end off a branch rather than the whole branch then later when the side branches develop you can cut them off at source. That will keep it under control.
If you have a tree that is spindly and would benefit from more branches then simply nip a couple of centimeters off the end of the few branches to encourage more branching.
Citrus trees can be plagued by several pests the worst of these being whitefly.
Other pests include mites, trips, mealy bugs, scale and guava moth grubs.
The very simple way to control all these pests is to sprinkle Neem Tree Granules under the tree from trunk to drip line. I have received this tip from several gardeners who have reported that it takes about 6 weeks or so to rid the tree of pests. So simple and no harm to bees and beneficial insects such as the bright green ladybird that loves to hunt in citrus.
Dependent what the problem pests are and possible re-infestation, likely a 6 monthly application of Neem Tree Granules along with your feed program would be ideal. Additional application if required to clean the tree. This will also take care of borer.
Black sooty mould on your citrus tree indicates an insect problem and to clean off the black stuff spray the tree with Karbyon, leave for 2 days then hose off. Thick layers may require additional treatment.
If you dont remove the mould the tree loses potential energy from the sun as the covered leaves cannot photosynthesize.
There are a few diseases that can effect citrus and in the main these can be prevented or controlled with Liquid Copper and Raingard sprays. It is good gardening practice to spray Liquid Copper and Raingard twice a year as a preventive, doing it in spring and autumn.
Wet feet is the biggest killer of citrus trees and they must always be planted in very free draining soil or higher than the soil level by planting on a mound. The upper root system will then be out of ponding water.
Going into winter you can fortify your citrus trees against wet feet by spraying with Perkfection Supa.
Right now is an excellent time to feed, treat for insect pests and spray your citrus trees.
If you want to plant a new citrus tree, buy now but hold off planting till we get a bit more of the autumn rains.
Ever wondered that when you prepare a bed and plant up seedlings which establish good, but when the bed dries down the seedlings wilt but small young weeds are fine?
Thats because seed grown get deep roots quickly and dont wilt when the top soil dries.
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Every now and then I get excited about a product that will make a big difference to my gardening efforts and this week I am very happy to announce that I have found one.
Firstly let us start back many years ago when I owned gardening shops and we sold lots of a product called Alaska.
Gardeners including myself would dilute this fish emulsion product in water to feed the soil and plants or spray the foliage to deter pest insects while foliage feeding.
From memory the product was brought into NZ from North America by Watkins and we would sell untold bottles because of the improvements it made to plants and gardens.
Later on Yates brought out Watkins and when they condensed down the product lists, removing the 'me too' products, Alaska disappeared.
Alaska Fish Emulsion was made by a firm called Zapata Haynie in North America from fish wastes that originally came from Alaska. Though their product is no longer available in New Zealand to my knowledge they are still selling it in America. According to the Internet their Alaska now is deodorized which is a pity because the smell was one of the benefits of the product.
The new product I recently discovered is made and distributed in NZ by Independent Fisheries Ltd (Christchurch) it is produced from the waste of sustainably harvested fish caught in our clean southern waters.
The company has improved the fish emulsifying process by using an ancient Persian organic farming fertiliser recipe.
The product is called Ocean Grow; it promotes soil microbial life and also the ability to provide nutrients available for both plant root and foliar absorption.
Earthworms also love it which is another way to encourage them into your gardens.
You will remember from my earlier articles about the importance of feeding the soil life to have healthy plants and great gardens.
To manufacture raw fish waste is used, this contains enzymes from the fish gut which digest the fish protein into amino acids suitable for digestion by bacteria (this is usually done inside the fish gut).
Acid is added during the process, the effect being two-fold.
Firstly, as with any fish product with a high bacterial loading, which will tend to ferment, the acid controls fermentation and secondly, the acid breaks down bone and protein from the raw fish and releases water, (hence the term acid hydrolysis and hydrolysate).
Process digestion allows breakdown to a very small particle size, with the exception of a few overs, all of the hydrolysate passes through a 65 micron sieve. The overs are disregarded from this process.
The particle size is important if you are spraying the product as you do not want to spend all day unblocking jets.
It also means the product when it settles will remix quickly with only a small shake of the container.
Ocean Grow is made using a unique process that retains the fish nutrients present in the whole fish (including the head, spine and bones thereby retaining all the great Omega’s) thus making them readily absorbable by roots and foliage.
Fresh raw fish is minced with liquid fish extract and inoculated with a proprietary blend of cultures, vitamins and natural enzymes from the fish gut which digests the fish, breaking it into tiny amino acids. No heat or added water is used in this process which means all the minerals, trace elements, vitamins and hormones remain active.
Ocean Grow can be used as a pest deterent.
Insect pests find their host plants through either smell or radiation reflected from the plant.
If a smelly product which also has the ability to distort the light radiating off the plant, then pests will hopefully ignore the plant and fly on to elsewhere.
I have seen over the years some interesting trials using this aspect and the old Alaska product did greatly help to reduce insects finding garden plants.
Ocean Grow should provide this same prevention aspect and you could add our Neem Tree Oil to the spray to further enhance the two actions, repel and control..
Another aspect comes from the scientific explanation that insects such as aphids, butterfly’s, the diamond back moth etc. have a tubular mouthpart (the proboscis - a bit like a hypodermic needle) which they use for sucking, it is hollow to allow plant juices sucked from the phloem (tissue carrying the organic nutrients) to pass through to the insects digestive system. Oils on plant foliage can block the proboscis and thus act as a deterrent for insects feeding on foliage with an oil coating.
It is thought that this is why fish fertiliser solutions with oil content such as Ocean Grow act as a deterrent to sucking insects such as aphids and butterfly’s.
Like our pure Neem Tree Oil, Ocean grow can prevent damage from rabbits and possiums.
Possums and Rabbits are said to dislike the smell of fish fertiliser or Neem Tree Oil.
The taste of both oils are not nice which also repels them. They can even be sprayed onto fence posts and tree trunks to deter them. It is thought that if you regularly spray your roses with a fish based liquid fertiliser it keeps the possums away because they hate the smell. At the same time you are feeding your roses.
If you Add Raingard to to spray it will prevent the oils from washing off for up to 14 days giving you longer protection. Some birds may also be deterred from eating ripening fruit.
History shows us that cultures like the North America Natives would place a fish in a hole, cover with soil and then place a corn seed into the soil.
The seed would germinate and send roots down into the now decaying fish to produce a strong healthy plant with an excellent harvest at maturity.
We cant stick a fish in the planting hole or under a plant so easy these days but we can gain the same befefits for our vegetables, roses and other garden plants by using Ocean Grow.The product comes in two sizes 500 ml which makes up to 100 litres and 1 litre to make up to 200 litres.
Worth its weight in gold to us gardeners.
According to the manufacture, Ocean Grow is available at garden centres such as Oderings, Kings Plant Barn, GIN (Ican) group of nurseries, California and Nichols.
If your local garden centre or Mitre 10 does not have it ask them to stock it.
I give the product 5 stars.
We have Ocean Grow on mail order at http://www.0800466464.co.nz/15-plant-nutrition?p=3
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March is the first month of Autumn but according to my plants, autumn conditions started in early February which does not bode well to what the next few months will bring us.
It is an interesting situation this gardening season having a very poor spring then through summer till January. After which summer hit for about a month with some very warm/hot conditions but lacking in strong direct sunlight as a result of many hazy days (likely trapping heat) Then in February it was like a fight between the heat tempered by some fairly chilly winds.
I had a call this week from a reader who has been studying sun spots and the effects they have on global weather.
An interesting discussion which would appear that low or no sun spot activity means cold temperatures and a possible mini ice age. Lots of solar activity tends to create the reverse.
The current solar cycle (number 24) ends in 2020 when a the new cycle number 25 begins.
It would appear that we may have peaked with sunspot activity about now and predictions are that there will be less activity heading to no activity around about 2020 which would indicate some chilly times ahead.
The whole thing can be very confusing as to what is natural and what maybe influenced by mankind. In my book I think I would rather prefer natural no matter what that means to the possible effects mankind has on the climate or this Geo-engineering thing.
We have had a couple of milder winters but poorer summers its as if the seasons are becoming less distinct; while people in our senior years can relate to hard frosts in winter, for instance, coming out of school at lunchtime to see frost still thick on the ground especially in shaded areas. Yet on the other hand we had lovely long hot summers. (I am referring to Palmerston North area, and realise its not the same everywhere in NZ)
Plants tell us what we cant see or realise. For instance about 40 years ago I could grow passion fruit vines in the open, in good draining soil and have ample fruit in summer. In winter I would throw sacks over the vines to protect them from frosts. In more recent years I really struggle to grow a passion fruit vine outside without the help of a glasshouse or shelter. I put this down to milder springs and summers.
My phone conversation has lead me to think maybe we could be heading for some cold times.
No matter what the weather makers throw at us one thing is for certain the day light hours are decreasing and that is one factor that plants really relate to.
March is normally the last month to plant up vegetables for harvest later in winter.
Taking advantage of the light hours and warmth still available you can get good growth towards maturity as the light/growing times diminish.
It really is getting a bit late in many areas to start vegetables off by seed so buying seedlings is the best option.
Vegetable seedlings of foliage plants (brassicas, lettuce etc) need to be young plants in their punnets, not large plants which likely have been stressed already. Stressed plants dont mature, they go to seed.
Often when you plant out seedlings from punnets they collapse initially then slowly pick themselves up and start growing.
You can reduce this stress situation by spraying the seedlings with Vaporgard which reduces loss of moisture from foliage and helps balance out the potential root damage.
Prepare your soil or raised garden/container with a good amount of food such as chicken manure, any animal manures, blood & bone, sheep manure pellets and garden lime.
Good food will stimulate good growth and that is what we want, to take advantage of autumn conditions.
In the planting holes for the seedlings place a little of each of the following, Rok Solid, BioPhos and Neem Granules.
If planting out brassicas check the seedlings before planting and rub off any yellow eggs on the leaves as these are caterpillar eggs.
To keep white butterflies and moths from laying more eggs use the crop cover mesh over hoops so they cant reach the plants.
This will also stop birds and cats from doing damage.
Keep the soil moist by light watering till autumn rains take over. We are now seeing dew in the mornings so that means there is less watering to do overall.
Strawberry plants are running now and that means you have free new plants to use or give away later on.
There is nothing to do other than direct them to areas of clear soil so they can root up.
The time to lift and re-organise your strawberries is about May.
If you are wanting to grow tomatoes through the winter in a glasshouse now is the time to take cuttings of existing plants. The laterals on the plants are ideal for this.
Russian Red and other cool temperature varieties are best as they will produce pollen in the lower temperatures of winter.
Capsicums and hot pepper plants in containers can be moved into your glasshouse or similar to protect them through the winter and continue harvesting them.
Open ground grown plants maybe lifted carefully after spraying with Vaporgard to pot up and keep growing.
Talking about Vaporgard you could start thinking about frost protection of tender plants and spray them soon.
A sprinkling of Fruit and Flower Power around them will also assist in toughening up the plants for winter.
If you want a nice show of winter flowering plants now is the time to get them in.
Unlike vegetable seedlings you can now go for the over grown ones in punnets or colour spots as that is what you want, for them to flower.
Some sheep manure pellets and blood & bone are ideal under the plants along with a little Rok Solid.
Spring bulb time is now with new seasons stocks in the garden centres.
If you are in drought situations or with water restrictions delay planting out till the autumn rains come.
Otherwise the sooner in after the soil temperatures have drop to 10 degrees or lower.
If growing in containers place the pots in a more shaded area getting only early of late sun so the bulbs will not cook.
Later as winter comes on they can then be relocated into full sun areas for flowering in spring.
Place some Rok Solid under each bulb at planting time as you get better flowers.
That was a tip from a daffodil hobbyist than grows competition daffodils.
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My articles for many years have had a thread running through them; Namely, Gardening is Healthy.
Gardening is getting close to nature, it has a calming effect, relieves stress and you are rewarded by your efforts. Gardening is good exercise for both body and mind.
Gardening gets you outside into the fresh air and through the sunlight gives your body the Vitamin D it needs to be healthy. (As long as you dont cover up all the time with sunscreens)
Garden practices, being natural without the use of man made chemicals, creates healthy soil and healthy plants, which when applied to your vegetables and fruit, makes your immune system strong and your body healthy as you consume them as part of your food chain.
If more people gardened, the health of our citizens would greatly improve and waiting lists for hospital treatments would shrink. (Like they were 50 odd years ago)
There is a problem when this happens because food producers and pharmaceutical companies would not make so much money out of us and they would either have to find new jobs or fight against us making our selves healthy.
This week I received an news item from America which is amazing to say the least. It reads:
'As the people continue to walk away from the broken medical and agricultural/food systems, like any abusive relationship, the abuser will do anything to maintain their waning control.
Organic and non-GMO food markets have exploded in the last five years so much so that any corporation wishing to not follow the trend risks financial hardship or ruin.
In addition, pharmaceutical companies are feeling the strain as less people want their toxic medications and crippling side effects. In an attempt to curb this mass rush for the exits, psychiatry has green lighted a public relations push to spread awareness about their new buzzword “orthorexia nervosa”.
CNN, Fast Company, Popular Science, and other top outlets have all began to trumpet the talking points on cue recently.
“Orthorexia nervosa is a label designated to those who are concerned about eating healthy. Characterized by disordered eating fueled by a desire for "clean" or "healthy" foods, those diagnosed with the condition are overly pre-occupied with the nutritional makeup of what they eat.
In short, if you turn your back on low quality, corporate food containing known cancer causing toxic additives, and a rich history of dishonesty rooted in a continuous “profits over people” modus operandi…then you have a mental illness.
The cherry on top is that if you have the pseudo-science labeled disorder of orthorexia nervosa, you will be prescribed known toxic, pharmaceutical drugs from some of the same conglomerate corporations that you are trying to avoid by eating healthy in the first place.
Orthorexia has not yet found its way into the latest edition of the psychiatric bible, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), yet is commonly being lumped in with other eating disorders.
Stepping back and looking at the ones pushing this label on us shows highly questionable motives. Psychiatry as a whole is deeply in bed with a pharmaceutical industry that makes the drugs to “treat” every one of these “disorders”.
It is often these companies that are wielding influence behind the scenes to invent more mental health categories with their toxic products as the answer.
This latest media push to popularize orthorexia as a mental disorder with a goal to marginalize or derail the food revolution appears to have been dead on arrival.' End.
Orthorexia comes from Greek orthos, “correct or right”, plus orexis, “appetite”.
Would you believe that? People that have the common sense to grow and eat healthy food because it keeps/makes them healthy, active and mentally astute are labeled as having an eating disorder because pharmaceutical and agriculture companies are loosing market share. Tough.
The Food Act which currently is being fast tracked through Government is placing more controls and regulations on food, reducing your rights and looking after the corporations under the pretext of food safety!
I had the privilege this week to be visited by a retired 86 year old agricultural worker who has been collecting data on his vegetable garden performance and the many commercial agriculture operations in his area of Rata and his expertise.
Commercial growers are suffering with reduced returns because they are not getting the volume of produce they normally obtain.
I was shown a pile of newspaper clippings most of which were from farming publications and light readings taken by this gentleman which confirm the amount of direct sunlight needed for successful vegetables and fruit growing is being reduced.
The reason he told me is what he called strange Vapor Trails that progressively turn the clear blue sky to a hazy blue, deflecting sunlight while trapping heat.
I was shown a series of photos that he had taken over a day showing exactly how this transpires.
Here is a man that has spent his life growing commercial crops, according to him just about bathing in chemicals in the process because protection was not even thought of years ago.
But he is healthy, alert and doing well because he grows all his own vegetables and fruit naturally for his own home consumption. Because of this he has likely avoided the damage the chemicals should have done to his health.
Reminds me of a Chinese family of Market Gardeners that had acres of vegetables growing yet well protected by their home was a nice size vegetable garden.
When asked why have a private garden when you can walk out into the fields and pick vegetables to eat. He looked at me for a few moments, likely summing me up, then he said “no too dangerous for family”
One bit of good news this week in the DomPost said that a report by the local government and environmental select committee was tabled in Parliament in response to a petition of nearly 6600 people in 2008.
The report says that the EPA should reassess neonicotinoids (the insecticide such as Confidor).
The EU has placed controls on its use in member countries (And being sued by Bayer for doing so; how can a company be allowed to sue the EU or a country? Sounds like TTP stuff.)
Honey bees and Bumble bees are badly effected by this chemical family as we showed in last weeks article. Hopefully they will be sensible and either ban or strictly control these dangerous insecticides, especially in regards to the home garden market.
On the brighter note now is the time to plant your winter vegetables out but if buying seedlings of vegetable plants look for the smaller ones in punnets.
I was in one of the chain store garden departments this week and saw vegetable seedlings that had been knocked down in price but if planted they would be useless as they would just go to seed. They were over grown in their punnets and stressed.
Good garden shops would have composted them.
Small is good in vegetable seedling and you can grow them on at home till ready to plant out. Use hoops and crop cover over brassicas seedlings to keep birds and white butterflies off. Happy Healthy Gardening for Autumn.
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Recently I have bemoaned the weather conditions of the current gardening season and how unusual weather patterns with lack of strong direct sunlight as a result of hazy skies.
One Dunedin reader emailed me to say rubbish its been the best gardening season ever and some crops have done far better than normal!
Looks like gardeners will need to uproot and move to Southland where the air is fresh and clear, where vegetables, potatoes, roses, cherries and tulips grow the best by far.
I was in Wellington this week and visited a friend who is a retired plantsman. They live on Oriental parade up the side of a cliff overlooking the harbor with a million dollar view.
The cliff, many years ago was terraced out to accommodate all the houses and part of this terracing allowed my friend to have a couple of nice size vegetable gardens and a small glasshouse.
I looked at the sky and saw a lovely deep blue, I looked at his tomatoes and sweet corn all growing well and normal. No stretching, no stunted growth as I have in my gardens and similarly reported by many gardeners from other parts of the country.
Ample direct full sunlight and his only problem is keeping the soil moist. So all I can do is ask how come the skies are not hazy over Wellington as they are in many other parts of NZ? Has the Govt past some legislation to prevent haze over the Capital? Certainly a mystery!
This week a groundsman from a school in the north island phoned to tell me about the success he has had with their roses. Because of the poor spring early summer his roses (like mine) took a hammering and the stress caused leaf diseases such as black spot along with poor flowering.
So a few weeks back he gave all the roses a dose of Ocean Solids and Rok Solid, watered them in and according to him it was only a week or so and out came new healthy growths.
Now the roses are looking a treat going into autumn. Feedback like this is really good value.
Many gardeners are complaining about the lack of honey bees and bumble bees in their gardens.
The logic cause is some insecticides sold and used without consideration to our pollinators which are being killed as a result.
The honey bee was firstly hit by the varroa mite taking out likely all the feral honey bees in the country, then along comes Confidor to further destroy the bees.
Bumblebees are not affected by the varroa mites but their numbers have dramatically decreased in my garden and accordingly reported in many other peoples gardens.
This week I had confirmation on what I had suspected the reasons for their low numbers, I quote;
'The scientists fed bumblebees neonicotinoid at levels commonly occurring in agricultural concerns and then measured how it accumulated in their brains. They found that the insecticide impaired brain cell function in the bees, causing them difficulty with such tasks as realizing that flower scents imply food and being able to find their way back home after foraging.
Such problems impacted whole colonies, the team found.
By providing nests with the same amount of neonicotinoid in sugar water in a cup, the researchers determined that bumblebee colonies that had been exposed to the insecticide fared poorly in the number of bees in their nests as well as in the size and condition of the nests themselves.
"Our research demonstrates beyond doubt that the level of neonicotinoids generally accepted as the average level present in the wild causes brain dysfunction and colonies to perform poorly when consumed by bumblebees," said Dr. Chris Connolly, of the Dundee School of Medicine, in a statement.
Overall, the team documented that low levels of neonicotinoids caused a 55 percent drop in live bees; a 71 percent reduction in healthy brood cells; and a 57 percent drop in the total mass of a nest.
"This is not proof that neonicotinoids are solely responsible for the decline in insect pollinators," said Connolly, "but a clear linear relationship is now established.
We can now be confident that at these levels, neonicotinoids disrupt brain function, bee learning and the ability to forage for food and so limit colony growth”'
It is about time the EPA, ERMA, MAF banned the sale of neonicotinoid insecticides in New Zealand including the ones for the Home Garden Market, Yates Confidor, Yates Lawn Pest Control.
If we lose our bumble bees in our gardens the world becomes a sorrier place and our food crops that require pollinators suffer badly.
It would be good to see garden shops in NZ make a stand as has happened in the UK and in America by refusing to stock these insecticides, they are not needed as there are many safer alternatives.
There is one aspect about the weather not being more normal is that insect pest populations dont multiply as quickly as they would do under normal summer conditions. On the other hand disease problems become more troublesome.
February is usually the worst month for many insect pests, hot and dry with ample host plants growing in home gardens and commercial operations.
When you find an insect pest such as caterpillars, whitefly, leaf hoppers, vegetable bugs etc on your plants and you spray with an insecticide of your choice, dont just treat the plants you have seen the insects on. Check all plants and weeds in the area for the same pest and where found spray also.
If you dont you will find that there will be a re-infestation happening very quickly.
Sometimes you just have to spray regularly because over the fence there are thousands of the pests on plants. (Which your neighbors are not trying to control)
As the winter comes on then populations will naturally drop but then many of your crops will also be finished and only the winter vegetables to care for.
If an insect pest cant get to its host plant you have saved your self a lot of problems trying to control.
The new insect mesh called Crop Cover (by me) that is 4 metres wide and costs about $5.00 a metre length is ideal to put over your crop or even over branches of a fruiting tree to keep both insects and birds off the crop.
Once the flowering is done and hopefully a few bumblebees are available to pollinate then use the crop cover. It will not harm bumblebees. It would keep codlin moth, guava moth and other pests off the crop thus protected.
Alternatives which can be used include the following safe ones, Neem Tree Granules, Neem Tree Oil, Key Pyrethrum, diatomaceous earth and Liquid Sulphur (for spider mites only).
None of these would harm bumblebees unless they were sprayed directly especially with pyrethrum.
All spraying should be done just prior to dusk when the bees have gone home for the night.
Pyrethrum has a very short life of about 2 hours in UV light so less possible harm to beneficial insects next day. Neem Oil on the other hand does not kill any insect instead it (generally) prevents insects from eating once they have consumed a little of the oil. As beneficial insects don't eat our plants they are not affected.
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The Chinese have a saying; 'Have an Interesting Life' which on the surface sounds like a nice thing to say to someone but the real meaning is for the person to have many trials and tribulations which makes for an interesting life even if it is a hard one.
This current gardening year is certainly a very interesting one and looking at the recent night time temperatures we could already be into autumn like conditions.
This makes for the shortest summer ever and very bad for us gardeners.
My phone and email has had a constant stream of gardening problems much of which I would put down to insufficient DIRECT sunlight.
Cubits such as pumpkins having lots of male flowers and very few females and even hand pollinated fruit not growing then falling off.
No flowers on some other plants, or petals that form but fail to open, one lady complained that she has a rose that has opened but not fully as normal.
Seedlings bolting and going to seed prematurely adds to current problems.
With the rapid change to lower temperatures two problems arise, firstly its very easy to over water and kill plants that cant stand wet feet, sprays of Perkfection will help control those wet weather type diseases.
Powdery Mildew will abound on cubits, pansies and other plants which will make the problem of light and getting energy from the sun far greater and shortening the life of the plants concerned.
Two remedies, place a tablespoon of baking soda into a litre of warm water to dissolve and then add one mil of Raingard, spray the susceptible plants under and over the foliage.
Baking Soda will prevent or control powdery mildew, repeat 2 weekly.
The alternative is Liquid Sulphur with Raingard.
Rust will also like these conditions so spray the plants when rust appears with potassium permanganate, quarter a teaspoon to a litre of water, spray as needed.
Blight on tomatoes is another disease that like the current conditions and a spray of Liquid Copper with Raingard all over the plants every 14 days will help prevent and control. You can add the Perkfection once a month to give further protection and help keep the plants producing longer.
Dont stop feeding your tomatoes either as ample good tomato food with plenty of potash will extend the fruiting season.
This current gardening year has been the worse one I have experienced in over 60 years of gardening which I suppose makes it the most interesting. Even my sweet corn is really struggling at this time when in January/February it should be thriving.
I pity commercial growers who must be struggling with the unusual conditions.
I know many of you have suffered drought conditions but here in Palmerston North we have had no water restrictions so water is not a problem and recently we have had good prolonged rainfall as well.
The main problem has been lack of natural direct sunlight, instead getting hazy skies which, no way in all my life time, can be said to be normal or natural!
Weeds are always a problem for gardeners that cant get on top of them and I only suggest herbicides when there is no easy alternative to the problem but to keep them away from food crop areas.
Instead I prefer to recommend more natural alternatives which can still cause some harm to soil life but not as dangerous to your health as the chemical ones.
For instance common salt or agriculture grade 11 salt is ideal for controlling weeds where you dont want plants to grow other than well established trees or shrubs. On pathways, drives, cobbles and waste areas, throw on the salt, lightly water and kill the weeds.
Where you have weeds in gardens that can be selectively sprayed use vinegar or cooking oil on a hot sunny day but take care not to spray preferred plants.
A weed eater is also a good way to keep weeds under control.
Glyphosate is the most extensively used weed killer on the planet with millions of tons used annually. It is available in several brand names other than the original Roundup.
Monsanto invented the herbicide glyphosate and brought it to market under the trade name Roundup in 1974. But it wasn’t until the late 1990s that the use of Roundup surged, because of genetically engineered seeds to grow food crops that could tolerate high doses of Roundup.
With the introduction of these new GE seeds, farmers could now easily control weeds on their corn, soy, cotton, canola, sugar beets and alfalfa crops--crops that thrived while the weeds around them were wiped out by Roundup.
Eager to sell more of its flagship herbicide, Monsanto also encouraged farmers to use Roundup as a desiccant, to dry out all of their crops so they could harvest them faster. So Roundup is now routinely sprayed directly on a host of non-GMO crops, including wheat, barley, oats, canola, flax, peas, lentils, soybeans, dry beans, carrots, parsnips, onions, potatoes and sugar cane.
I was made aware of the this recently from a retired carrot grower who said it is common practice when a crop is ready to harvest to spray with glyphosate which kills the top, prevents the crop from going to seed before its harvested. Root crops store food/chemicals in their roots which is what you and I are eating.
NZFSA does not test produce for glyphosate yet overseas where labs do test for the chemical it is found in high concentrations. Monsanto recently appealed to the FDA to increase the allowable level of glyphosate in produce.
Monsanto has falsified data on Roundup’s safety, and marketed it to parks departments and consumers as “environmentally friendly” and “biodegradable," to encourage its use it on roadsides, playgrounds, golf courses, schoolyards, lawns and home gardens. A French court ruled those marketing claims amounted to false advertising.
In the nearly 20 years of intensifying exposure, scientists have been documenting the health consequences of Roundup and glyphosate in our food, in the water we drink, in the air we breathe and where our children play.
They've found that people who are sick have higher levels of glyphosate in their bodies than healthy people.
Here is a short list of what health problems glyphosate can cause; Alzheimer’s disease:
Anencephaly (birth defect): Autism: Birth defects: Depression: (Glyphosate disrupts chemical processes that impact the production of serotonin, an important neurotransmitter that regulates mood, appetite and sleep. Serotonin impairment has been linked to depression.) Diabetes: Heart disease: Obesity: Reproductive problems: Respiratory illnesses. Reference and to see more goto;
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Summer time normally means hot sunny days, cloudless blue skies and if you are lucky a good patch of rain every so often.
This year what we are getting is certainly a lot of hot days, not much in the blue sky department, instead cloudy to hazy blue skies and a sad lack of rain for many parts of the country.
Every now and then we get some chilly winds to add to the mixed pot of weather in my part of New Zealand.
I have also noticed some of my deciduous fruit trees already changing colour in their leaves as if its autumn already. Maybe the hazy and cloudy skies reducing the direct sunlight is bringing about the conditions of autumn out of season?
I have a conservatory that is used as a glasshouse and over it I have Quarantine cloth to prevent psyllids getting into the tomatoes. Last year I also grew snake beans in this house and harvested a good crop.
This year the beans have grown well but not produced flowers or beans.
I can see where the flower should develop but does not because the light is not strong enough to make it happen. No flowers no fruit. The quarantine cloth gives 25% shade factor and last summer it was still plenty of light level to produce flowers. This year not so, why? I can only assume its the blasted haze instead of clear blue skies. (Some say it causes a 20% reduction of sunlight. This means at 45% shade not flowers)
Also here we are in February, normally the best summer month of the year and what is happening with my pumpkins? Lots of male flowers and hardly a female flower. This is normal at the beginning of the season when the pumpkins run they produce male flowers and hardly any females.
As the light hours increase along with the strength of sunlight the reverse applies lots of females and not many males. They are all growing out of raised gardens as described last week and they have ample water so once again its lack of strong direct sunlight.
I dont know about what its like in your gardens and as far as I can tell the commercial growers are also having a hard time. Just look at the price of tomatoes over $3.00 a kg when at this time of the year they should be about a $1.00 a kg. It means that the home gardeners whose plants should be producing lots of tomatoes right now, they are not getting what was normal.
Price of produce is likely to be high in the coming months so it would pay to start planting up seedlings for autumn/winter. Having a good vegetable garden is like having savings for a rainy day. You never know when you might need your home grown food in the event of emergencies or for plain savings and better health.
Drought times, what can you do?
Firstly when soil dries out it creates a surface tension that water cannot easily penetrate.
This is easy to see in lawns which are watered every now and then during a drought.
Patches dry out and the grasses brown off because the water does not enter the soil in that spot instead it either sits there to evaporate or it runs off to where it will sink in.
The commonly seen result is a dead patch with nice green grass around the edges, we call it dry spot.
Some gardeners think its insect pests causing the problem and generally waste their money treating for them. Birds maybe digging holes to get dormant porina but other grubs are likely to be deep and out of reach of birds or poisons.
Dry patch can be in gardens also causing water stress in plants, dropping leaves and fruit.
Sometimes you may have one side of a bush die while the other side remains fairly healthy.
Two possible reasons, one side is drier than the other so that side dies off; or its the side with the prevailing wind which saps the moisture out of the leaves on that side.
For soil areas that do not accept water fill your watering can with warm water and a good squirt of dish washing liquid. Lather up with your hand and apply the soapy water to the dry area. It breaks surface tension and allows water to enter. Can be used on container plants and hanging baskets as well.
Now when you water it will go down into the root zone where its needed.
After giving a good watering conserve the moisture by placing a mulch over the bare soil. Sawdust, grass clippings, mulching cloth (which I see is available from some garden shops.)
During a hot day you may see larger plants such as tomatoes or pumpkins wilting even though the soil in the root zone is nice and moist.
The reason for this is the plant cant move water to the outer leafs fast enough to reduce the transpiration loss from the foliage. Later in the day towards dusk the leaves return to normal.
To overcome this and for any preferred plants you wish to protect against drought, spray the foliage under and over with Vaporgard. It will reduce the moisture loss by about 30%.
Excellent also on container plants that dry out faster than open ground.
The black patch under tomatoes is caused by insufficient moisture at fruit set time to move the calcium.
If you are wanting to plant out seedlings of vegetables only buy seedlings on the smaller size as larger ones could also have become stressed if they had dried out in punnets. This could mean that they go to seed after you plant them which is a waste of time and money.
With flowers its ok for the bigger plants as you want them to flower.
Grow the vegetables seedlings on to a bigger size keeping mix moist and spray them all over with Vaporgard which will reduce any stress when transplanted. Soak the container well before disturbing then plant out. Brassicas should have Neem granules in the planting hole and on the soil surface and for further protection crop cover over hoops to prevent white butterflies landing and laying eggs.
Further drought proof your existing plants by giving them a good sprinkling of Fruit & Flower Power as the potash in the product hardens up growth giving protection against droughts.
A spray over your preferred plants, vegetables and fruit trees of Magic Botanic Liquid every couple of weeks will certainly help their health and stamina. If you have spray the plants with Vaporgard then add Raingard to the MBL so the two films emerge allowing the plant to absorb the MBL.
I would like to thank Mike Campbell of Lower Hutt for taking the interest in reading my articles and writing into the Editor of the Tribune. Its good to see a member of the NWO is on the ball. Mike didnt like my comments about aluminium found in hail and rainwater and used the standard reply that 30 to 40% of arable land on the earth is less fertile because of it.
Mike states 'super-secret plans to kill us all from Geo-engineering and fluoride' ? I have re-read my past articles and no where can I find where I wrote that? Maybe Mike knows something most people are not aware of, maybe you should come clean and share, Mike?
Aluminum (Al) is a very abundant element making up on average 7% of the weight of the earth crust as alumino-silicate minerals
What we do not need is aluminium raining down out of the sky and hazy skies (how ever they got to be that way..) that interfere with crops in the home garden or commercially grown.
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This week we are going to talk about making and growing vegetables in a raise garden that I designed some years ago. But before that how about a couple of tips.
A number of people have contacted me recently in regards to zucchini and pumpkins rotting while still small. The reason is; the female fruits did not get pollinated therefore they will rot off even though they grow a bit. Sometimes they go yellow and stay like that for sometime before rotting.
The reason they are not pollinated is lack of bumblebees, the lack of bees is because they have died as a result of chemical sprays, neonicotinoids (a class of pesticides directly linked to the mass die-off of honeybees, bumblebees and native bees) Sold into the home garden market as Confidor.
A lot of gardeners including myself are very annoyed that these neonicotinoids are so ready available and the harm they cause to our bees.
You need to hand pollinate; so each morning look at your pumpkin/zucchini plants for female flowers, these have the embryo fruit behind the petals and the centre of the flower looks a bit like a small brain called a stigma. This is connected to the ovary.
If there are females then find a male flower which has a stamen in the centre of the flower covered in pollen.
Carefully remove the flower and then take the petals off exposing the stamen. Next wipe that across the centre of the female flower (Stigma) Job is done, fruit sets.
Here is an interesting one if you burn yourself cover the burn as soon as possible with common flour.
Flour has a heat absorbent property and also has a strong antioxidant property, thus it helps in burn patients if applied within 15 minutes.
I am told it is very soothing and can prevent scaring, leave on for 10 minutes.
Many pest insects are rapidly breeding with the hot dry conditions.
Leaf hoppers, whitefly, scale, mites, mealy bugs etc. Where you have a number of pests spray late in the day with Neem Tree oil and Key Pyrethrum combined and place Neem Tree granules in the root zone area of the affected plants.
Even if there is no major out break a preventive spray once a week will help greatly to maintain control.
Now about Raised Gardens; some years ago I built a raised garden using sheets of galvanised roofing iron with 100 x 100 posts. The sheets I used were 1.8 metres long. The standard width of these are 85cm. To build you need 3 of the 1.8 sheets of roofing iron; one of which you cut in half for the two ends. Two 100 x 100 fence posts 1.8m these are cut in half. Plus a packet of roofing screws.
Once the posts are cut into half you paint them all over with acrylic paint, allow to dry and then apply a second coat. The wood will have being tanalised and the paint helps seal the chemicals in.
The posts are only a few centimeters longer than the width of the roofing iron.
Lay a 1.8 sheet of iron onto one of the posts so that the iron's end is at the edge of the post covering the post.
The bottom of the iron should also line up with the bottom of the post. Now in place; drill holes through the iron and then screw your roofing screws though the iron into the post.
Now line up another post at the other end of the iron sheet and repeat. Move this to the place where you are going to have your raised garden. Repeat with the other sheet of 1.8 iron and the remaining 2 painted posts.
Once in place have someone hold the first sheet and posts upright so you can drill and screw one of half sheets to the post.
The 1.8 sheet and the 90cm will be butted to each other on the post at right angles. Then the other 1.8 and post to complete one end.
The final half sheet is screwed onto the other end. Making a oblong raised garden 1.8 metres long by 90 cm wide with posts a little higher than the iron.
The posts are not dug in and the whole structure can be easily unscrewed and removed.
Where to place your raised garden? It can be on any surface, lawn, existing vegetable garden or concrete. The main aspect on placement is to try and get one long side facing due north where it will get full sun. One important aspect is the raised garden should be at least 2 metres away from the drip line of any trees or shrubs.
Much further if possible because the roots of the plants will find their way to your raised garden and then create a mass of fibrous feeder roots, which will fill the whole of the garden over a couple of years.
If through lack of space you have to place it near a tree/shrub then pour a concrete base to sit your raised garden on.
Filling your raised garden starts off by placing all your organic waste into it such as lawn clippings, hedge trimmings, branches and pruning bits along with any spent potting mix or compost from old containers. Other materials such as leaves, sawdust, food scraps etc can be used.
Next if you have your own home made compost place that across the previous.
Now compress what you have done by standing on it and tramping down. The height when completed should be about up to half the height of the raised garden. (40 to 45 cm)
Next place a few layers of cardboard over the material.
Over this place a few bags of purchased compost that should take the height of the fill to about 50cm.
Then we place animal manures such as chicken manure over the compost. If using other than chicken manure they may contain weed seeds so then place a few layers of newspaper over the manure layer.
For the minerals sprinkle Rok Solid and Ocean Solids. Also dolomite and gypsum and if you are not going to grow either potatoes or tomatoes give a good dusting of garden lime.
Sheep manure pellets, Neem tree granules, vermicasts, BioPhos, OrganiBor (For Boron) before covering with about another 10cm of purchased compost. The total fill height will now be about 60cm.
This allows for a wind break and a man made micro-climate.
You can now plant seeds or seedlings directly into this top layer.
The first time I made this type of raised garden I planted some seedlings of silverbeet and some dwarf bean seeds (in January) it was only about 3 weeks later I was harvesting big silverbeet leaves and another couple of weeks later beans.
The sun from the north heats the iron which warms the growing medium and the air gap inside the raised garden.
Wind passes over so seedlings are not buffered around.
To prevent birds or cats getting into the garden you can lay either netting or plastic bird netting over the top with a nail into each post to keep tight.
If you want to extend your raised garden simply obtain two more sheets of iron and 2 more posts (1 cut in half) remove one end off and screw the two new sheets to the existing post and move the end sheet and two new posts at the new end.
A brace should then be placed across the two middle posts.
You can work around the raised garden from all sides, its age-proofed so there is no bending. When a crop is harvested simply add more goodies and compost and plant up again.
Enjoy your own home grown, healthy produce.
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Its been a busy time with lots of interesting emails and phone calls from readers that have noticed unusual things in their gardens and skies. (let me know if you come across anything)
For now let us continue with the theme of growing some healthy food in containers.
Last week we talked about growing wheat grass with all the known minerals and elements so that maximum goodness for your health can be obtained by juicing the young grass or making green smoothies.
All fruit and vegetables have different benefits so if we grow a range of edible produce naturally (without man made fertilisers and chemicals) incorporated into the growing medium, all the known minerals and elements, we will have some very tasty produce which will help you and your family maintain very good health.
When growing in containers you have to consider root room so the depth of the container should be about 15 to 20 cm deep or more.
Any large plastic pots will do as well as using 20 litre plastic Jerry cans with the top cut off.
My favorite is polystyrene boxes which are used in the fish industry for transporting fish.
Once used they cannot be used again for that purpose so are either sold cheaply or given away by wholesale fish suppliers or supermarkets.
These boxes come with lids and can vary in size but there are two more common sizes that have good depth and ideal for planting a few plants in each one.
For instance you can have half a dozen lettuce or silver beet, 2 or 3 brassicas, a dozen dwarf bean plants, about 18 onions, 20 or more carrots, a pile of spring onions. Also about 8 strawberry plants.
For plants like Zucchini I prefer to use a 20 litre container which is also ideal for pumpkins, dwarf tomatoes, cucumbers, egg plant, capsicum and peppers.
The first thing to do with the polystyrene box is to drill a few drainage holes in the bottom.
For the growing medium use purchased compost that is not from re-cycled green waste (you do not want herbicide residuals in your food) Use either Daltons or Oderings compost as both are good value.
(There are likely others but I am not familiar with their brands and there are ones that can be a waste of money and be expensive as well)
Fill the box or your container two thirds full with the compost and then you can add the additional foods and minerals.
If you have chook manure then place a layer of that across the compost, an alternative would be Sheep Manure Pellets or Yates Dynamic Lifter Plant food, add a sprinkling of blood & bone..
For minerals you add Rok Solid and Ocean Solids, a little BioPhos, Garden Lime, gypsum and dolomite. If you have a worm farm add some vermicasts and worms.
Then cover these with more compost up to about 15mm from rim.
This allows an area for watering.
You can now plant your seedlings or seeds.
Place the tray in a sunny situation and water (ideally with non chlorinated water)
If you do not have a filter on your hose tap to remove chlorine then fill a watering can with water and stand for 24 hours in a sunny position to aid in the removal of chlorine.
It is now a matter of keeping the medium moist while the plants are growing and about every two weeks spraying the foliage with Magic Botanic Liquid.
For those that have more room you can grow any fruit trees in containers ranging from about 50 litres to 100 litres. This means using plastic rubbish bins or plastic 200 litre drums cut in half.
Once again the same process for filling the container after drainage holes have been drilled.
Citrus are ideal for this; from limes to oranges you choose your favorites.
I have about a dozen different citrus growing in containers very nicely.
Feijoa self fertile types such as Unique are good value, in fact any fruit tree will do well enough as long as you root prune every 3 years.
Next week we will look at Raised Gardens.
Earth Soil Year is attracting attention and I received the following form the Internet this week.
'Generating three centimeters of top soil takes 1,000 years, and if current rates of degradation continue all of the world's top soil could be gone within 60 years, a senior UN official said on Friday.
About a third of the world's soil has already been degraded, Maria-Helena Semedo of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) told a forum marking World Soil Day.
The causes of soil destruction include chemical-heavy farming techniques, deforestation which increases erosion, and global warming. The earth under our feet is too often ignored by policymakers, experts said.
"Soils are the basis of life," said Semedo, FAO's deputy director general of natural resources. "Ninety five percent of our food comes from the soil."
Unless new approaches are adopted, the global amount of arable and productive land per person in 2050 will be only a quarter of the level in 1960, the FAO reported, due to growing populations and soil degradation.
Soils play a key role in absorbing carbon and filtering water, the FAO reported. Soil destruction creates a vicious cycle, in which less carbon is stored, the world gets hotter, and the land is further degraded.'
I wonder at the mentality of those people that tote 'Best Practice' as the excuse for farming and horticulture.
I remember some years ago a 'Soil Scientist' visited a friend of mine's Certified Organic Farm.
He was shown around fields of lush grass and saw healthy stock that never had a visit from a Vet unless they broke a leg.
After the 'Soil Scientist' found that no superphoshate or other chemicals were used on the farm his opinion was that within a couple of years there would be no more farm-able land as all nutrients (in his narrow view) would be used up. His reasoning was that left over fertilisers pre-organic was all that was left and would quickly run out.
Well here we are over 5 years later, has the farm become a desert waste as our 'Soil Scientist' predicted?
No in fact it is doing even better than ever much to the dismay of 'Best Practice, Soil Scientists' and their heavily funded fertiliser companies.
I believe that there are some good scientists that can see beyond the hype of the fertiliser companies just as there is some good Doctors that can see beyond that of pharmaceutical companies.
Here is a non gardening thought for the week, A sales person is employed by a pharmaceutical company given a few weeks sales training and then will go out and tell a fully qualified Doctor who has had many years of experience how to look after his patents? That came from a retired Doctor.
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Last week I suggested that anyone can grow some food crops for their health without having to be a active gardener, in fact anyone can grow a range of vegetables as long as they spend a little time in their care.
To start off with; I firmly believe there is a extremely important link between your gardening and your health.
The reasons for this are very obvious if you do a little research into what our current food chain contains and does not contain.
Conventionally grown food which uses chemical Fertilisers grows plants that sadly lack needed nutritional values; according to scientists only 20% of goodness when compared to the same crops 60 odd years ago.
This means we have lost 80% of the vital minerals, elements etc that our bodies need to maintain good health.
Because the conventional chemical crops are grown UN-naturally, they are weak causing the plants to attract diseases and insect pests. (The cleaners of Nature)
To keep the produce looking good for sale a number of chemical sprays are used which include fungicides and insecticides, these sprays are poisons in most instances (that is why they have with holding periods) When the plants are harvested they may contain residues of up to 30 different chemicals with a likely average of 10 to 15 chemicals that your body does not need.
When you buy your vegetables at the local supermarket you are purchasing something that is low in goodness and containing a cocktail of chemicals. Not only that they lack flavour to boot when compared to your own naturally home grown vegetables.
Buying organically grown produce is better than conventionally grown but in my opinion you can grow better yourself and save yourself money in your food bills and health bills.
Many years ago I heard about wheat grass juice and at that time I thought it was some new health fad and dismissed it for that reason.
It was a few years later that while I was researching minerals and elements I learnt that wheat and barley were two plants that will take up every mineral and element (114) if made available to them in the growing medium. (Tomato plants uses 56 elements out of the 114)
The logic of this would be that if you place all the 114 minerals and elements into the growing medium of either wheat or barley, then the foliage would contain those elements and then when consumed your body would receive all their benefits.
I realised that growing wheat grass with mineral rich products namely Ocean Solids (all the minerals from the blue waters of the ocean) Rok Solid (minerals from ground up rocks) and Magic Botanic Liquid (MBL, minerals from prehistoric times) could make a difference to my health.
I was in my 50's at that time, I was feeling my age plus a heavy smoker as I had been since an early age. Even though I tended to look after my heath to a point it was more to balance out what I was doing that was departmental.
I purchased a manual juicer as I knew that the common juicers would reduce the goodness of the wheat grass by 40% and a expensive Oscar type juicer was beyond my means.
I could have grown the wheat in a raised garden or normal garden but I wanted better control over it so I obtained a few polystyrene boxes from a local wholesale fish supplier to grow in.
The trays have a good depth of about 18cm and this is important for good root development as you are sowing the wheat seed very thickly.
A few holes in the bottom of the tray for drainage and filled two thirds full with Daltons or Oderings Compost. (No possible green waste herbicides which are just more poisons)
Then a sprinkling of Ocean solids and Rok solid over the compost followed by another 20-30mm of compost. Next the organic wheat grass seeds sprinkled so they are about touching each other but not so thick that they are sitting on top of each other.
Then a good spray drench of MBL at 20ml at per litre to soak the seeds and compost.
Next the seeds are covered either with more compost or sand then lightly watered with non chlorinated water.
A sheet of glass over the tray will keep birds and mice from eating the seeds as well as keeping moisture in. (Leave the glass with a little gap to allow excess moisture to get out)
Place the tray in a good light situation but not in direct sunlight unless its winter time.
Lift glass off daily and give the contents a good watering with non-chlorinated water.
It is a bit hard having good drainage, to over water but be sensible.
If your watering is not sufficient you will find that the seeds around the edges of the tray will germinate in a good number but less in centre of the tray.
When the early grass reaches the glass, remove it and then place some curtain netting over the tray to keep birds off. This is the right time to start off a second tray also.
You can water once a week with MBL added otherwise just non chlorinated water daily.
Once a good show of grass remove the curtain cover and allow the grass to have either morning sun or late afternoon sun in summer or full sun in winter.
When the grass gets up to about 12 to 16 cm tall you can start harvesting. With sharp scissors cut the grass just above the growing medium, the amount you cut will depend on how many people you are going to juice for. One person about a couple of handfuls. Squeeze the juice out through your manual juicer to obtain about 30mils. Drink straight away on an empty stomach, best time is first thing in the morning.
If you have serious health issues or on chemo then 3 or more shots a day leaving 20 minuets before having food or other drinks but if taking MSM then that can be taken at the same time.
The green juice should be very sweet which indicates its high in goodness. Wheat grass that you sometimes can buy the is bitter and not mineral rich. Dried wheat grass which is sometimes sold is also a poor substitute for the real thing.
The alternative to juicing is to use a very high speed blender (40,000 rpm) along with other green plant material to make a green smoothie. The wheat grass can be cut fresh and added to salads also.
I read about a mother and daughter in second World War that hid out and at night would venture out to eat ordinary grass, they survived for months on the grass.
Once I started having my wheat grass shot every morning my health took a good change for the better, I felt a new man even though I was still smoking. It was some years later that I finally kicked the habit and now have been smoke free for about 4-5 years.
I have over the years promoted a number of people to grow and juice wheat grass and the reports back from them with health improvements are very notable.
Even very fit people have far greater stamina.
Some kidney dialyses people have increased the period of time between treatments.
Some have reported new vigor in their lives in and out of bed.
The key is regular (daily) shots of juice to reclaim your bodies health by providing the minerals and elements it needs to be healthy.
Growing mineral rich wheat grass could be the most important gardening you do health wise.
Let Food be thy Medicine and Medicine be thy Food.
Products mentioned including wheat grass juicing kits are at www.0800466464.co.nz
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Welcome back to another year of gardening.
It is not the beginning of a new gardening year in fact we are now just over halfway through the current gardening year.
The gardening year ended at the winter solstice 21st June 2014 with the new gardening year started on 22nd June 2014 (the day after the shortest day)
Sunlight is one of the most important aspects of plant growth, the more day light hours the more growth.
The more hours of direct sunlight the better the growth. Cloud, and haze reduces the amount of direct sunlight that our plants receive and slows their growth. Too shaded from direct sunlight causes plants to stretch towards the light source which can lead to weakness and diseases.
Our spring and beginning of summer was a disaster weather wise, too little direct sunlight and a wide range of temperature variations.
It is the first time ever that it took me three attempts to establish cucumbers in a glasshouse.
Many gardeners complained of seeds not germinating and very poor growth from heat loving plants.
Take corn for instance it needs about 960 hours of direct sunlight which equates to about 8 hours a day for 120 days. It also needs higher temperatures with an average daily temperature of 23 degrees or higher.
Looking at the maize crops planted in the Manawatu many have only grown between half a metre to a metre at this time. (1st January) when they should have been up to 1.6 to 1.8metres tall.
The reason is two fold, during spring the temperatures were too low with cold winds and murky, cloudy skies.
The weather controllers did a poor job for crops and gardening.
The previous season my sweetcorn suffered the same only growing about a metre tall before maturing making for a poor harvest.
This year I did not even think about planting corn till just after Christmas day so that the crop should do very well with a late harvest.
Strawberries have not fared as well as they should have but now the weather has settled and temperatures are higher they are responding and producing better.
You may not be aware that on December 20, 2013, the 68th UN General Assembly recognized December 5th, 2014 as World Soil Day and 2015 as the International Year of Soils. The official recognition of these events will emphasize the importance of soils beyond the soil science community.
This is a very important because the arable soils of the planet are quickly disappearing as a result of the stupid science of chemical fertilisers, chemical recovery sprays and herbicides especially glyphosate. (Roundup etc)
These methods referred to as 'conventional' have killed the soil food web and turned fertile soils into inert material that is prone to erosion through water and dust when dry and the wind blows.
This inert 'soil' will only produce crops or grass when feed massive amounts of fertilisers a bit like hydroponics without water. The produce and grass grown in this manner lack nutritional value and provide little or no health benefits to the animals and humans that feed on them.
I received a snippet from the Internet which I would like to share with you; I do not know how accurate it is but I think its close to the truth.
Entitled 'The Risk of Being Diagnosed with Cancer'
in 1900 it was 1 in 30 by 1980 it was up to 1 in 5. In 1990 you had 1 in 4 chances and five years later in 1995 chances up to 1 in 3.
In 2000 they say the chances are 1 in 2 or in other words a 50% chance of being diagnosed with cancer in your life time.
It was then stated 'We are doing something fundamentally wrong! Lets start with your plate'
I would add to that your food garden and your soil.
(Latest news is 'Cancer is just bad luck'; rubbish! If that was the case then bad luck has increased over the years. Ridiculous; a supposed scientific analysis such as this just keeps the money takers getting your dollars by keeping you in the dark and hiding the real causes.)
Let food be thy Medicine and Medicine be thy Food.
Just by the way, I have been asked to pose for a calendar (in my garden, I am not a Fireman!) and the inscription for that month is the quote, Let Food be try Medicine.
If you treat your soil right by using natural things such as; garden lime, animal manures especially chicken manure, sheep pellets, gypsum, Rok Solid, compost (not made from green waste) dolomite, BioPhos, OrganiBor, Fruit and Flower Power, Neem Granules, Mycorrcin, MBL etc you will build up the humus in the soil along with the soil life and the earth worm populations and the crops you grow will be brimming with healthy nutritional value.
Supplements such as Wheat Grass Juice, Virgin Coconut Oil, MSM, turmeric, cayenne pepper sprinkled on your food or placed into gelatine capsules are all natural, and greatly beneficial to your well being.
I have recently turned 69 and I dont think I have ever been as healthy (since I was very much younger) as I am now. ( I am totally medication free, sorry pharmaceutical companies)
I have talked to other gardeners of a similar age and many much older who have made a conscious effort to protect their well being; they grow whatever they are able to grow in the naturally way and their health benefits from their efforts.
What has changed since 1900 when you had a 1 in 30 chance of getting the Big C?
Lots of things have changed, a number of which do not make for good health but in my view number one is the loss over the years of real nutritional food, in fact if we are to believe scientists who report a whopping great big 80% loss.
Realise that the food you buy in the supermarket has only about 20% of goodness that your body needs to be healthy. Plus it will contain a whole range of chemicals that you do not need. If processed overseas there is a good chance it will possibly contain GMO's.
When we add to the conventional food chain all the hundreds (I am not joking) of different chemicals used in growing and processing food we have food that is certainly not improving health statics but making some companies a lot of money.
Its a New Year and a great time to take more attention to your health, the health of your children and your grand children. Get some real goodness into your body and beat the system that appears to be wanting you sick and dead before your natural time.
Your life, your dollar, your health, your garden.
I do not want anyone to say they cannot grow a bit of good food as I can easily show you how, even if you live in a 40 storey apartment with only a small balcony.
Watch this weekly column and I will over the next few weeks give you the benefit of 69 years of growing healthy stuff.
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