LIST OF ARTICLES CURRENTLY AVAILABLE: Updated 19/6/2017

DISCLAIMER: Gardening information and articles found in these pages are written by Wally Richards (Gardening Columnist)
They are compiled from his own experiences gardening and information gathered from other gardeners over the years.
The articles may mention uses of gardening products that may or may not be registered for the purposes mentioned.
They are supplied for you to make your own personal judgements on their validity.
Wally Richards
If you have ideas that will also help other gardeners in their endeavors, please relay them to the writer.

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Written by Wally Richards.

JUNE 2017

YOUR FOOD AND YOUR HEALTH GO HAND IN HAND

START OF NEW SEASON

NEW SEASON ROSES NOW IN YOUR GARDEN CENTRE

RUST

MAY 2017

ROSE TIME

THE IMPORTANCE OF SUN LIGHT

CITRUS TREES FOR YOU

STRAWBERRIES

APRIL 2017

NEW- AMMONIUM SULPHAMATE

AUTUMN GARDENING

MINERALS FROM THE OCEAN

MARCH 2017

NEW INFORMATION ON THE HERBICIDE GLYPHOSATE (ROUNDUP ETC)

TREE INFORMATION

PLANTING

YOUR GARDEN AND YOUR HEALTH

FEBRUARY 2017

VAPORGARD

LAWNS

GROW YOUR OWN SEEDS

TOMATOES

JANUARY 2017

GARDEN PEST CONTROL

OVERCOMING GARDENING PROBLEMS

ANOTHER YEAR

DECEMBER 2016

MERRY CHRISTMAS

FEEDING PLANTS

SUNLIGHT

XMAS GARDENING & KUMARAS

NOVEMBER 2016

WATER AND PLANTS

YOUR GARDEN NOVEMBER 2016

CHILDREN GROWING PLANTS

WEATHER PESTS

OCTOBER 2016

BEETLES AND SPRAYING

LABOUR WEEKEND GARDENING

GARDENING TO DO LIST

WHY WE GARDEN

SEPTEMBER 2016

PLANTING SEEDLINGS

BUDDING GARDENERS

SEPTEMBER GARDENING

GUAVA MOTH

GRASS GRUBS AND LAWN PESTS

AUGUST 2016

SEED SECRETS

NEW SEASON POTATOES

TOMATO/POTATO PSYLLID ADVENTURES

TASTE AND HEALTH

JULY 2016

CODLIN MOTH

ROSE PLANTING TIPS

ROOTSTOCK & JULY GARDENING

SEED SOWING TIME

PLANTS IN WINTER

JUNE 2016

PRUNING AND ROSES

A WEEDY PROBLEM

COMING UP ROSES

STRAWBERRIES

MAY 2016

GARLIC TIME

CLUB ROOT

PROBLEMS? SOLUTIONS.

CONTAINER PLANTS

APRIL 2016

LAWN PESTS

CLEVER PLANTS

HARDEN UP FOR WINTER

THE ULTIMATE RAISED GARDEN

APRIL 2016 GARDENING

MARCH 2016

AUTUMN GARDENING

COMFREY

Weed Problems & Oxalis

ON BULBS AND STRAWBERRIES

FEBRUARY 2016

FOOD WASTE

GARDENING IN THE BEGINING TO NOW

WEED CONTROL BARRIERS

GREAT PLANTS TO GROW

POTTED PLANT CARE

Articles for 2015 and 2014

YOUR FOOD AND YOUR HEALTH GO HAND IN HAND

Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food. ­ Hippocrates, father of medicine, 431 B.C.

Now there is nothing simpler than that statement and in regards to health nothing more obvious.
Unfortunately with busy lives we may have allowed that advise to slip our minds.
I have heard that people training to be doctors have only about an hour lecture on nutrition?
Yet it is the fundamental bases of all health of all living things on the planet.
I have from my childhood a very old medical book that was used by my grandparents about a hundred years ago for good health and cures for a wide range of complaints.
Using more often than not plants and herbs out of the garden.
For example boilling up some beans and drinking the water used for a bladder infection which many years ago I did use and it worked within 24 hours where the medicine I was prescribed helped but did not cure.
The book stresses the need for good healthy fruit & vegetables, plenty of exercise, lots of fresh air and sunlight.
Too many people make the mistake of believing whatever is available to eat from the supermarket must be ok for their health but unfortunately has dire long term consequences.
It reminds me of an old computer saying; 'Garbage in, Garbage out'.
I read a recent study that I would like to share with you as it makes a lot of sense.

'You can eat less and exercise more­but you’ll still probably gain more weight (about 10 percent more) than someone your age would have gained 20 – 30 years ago, eating and exercising the same amount.
So says a new study published in the journal Obesity Research & Clinical Practice.
The study found, as reported in The Atlantic, that someone, in 2006, eating the same amount of calories, taking in the same quantities of macro nutrients like protein and fat, and exercising the same amount as a person of the same age did in 1988, would have a BMI (Body Mass Index) that was about 2.3 points higher.
The study’s authors posited three possible explanations for their findings:
1. Today we’re exposed to more chemicals­pesticides, flame retardants, the substances in food packaging­that may be messing with our hormones.
2. We’re taking more drugs, especially antidepressants, many of which are linked to weight gain.
3. Our gut bacteria are changing, possibly because we’re eating more meat­and that meat is now being treated with growth-promoting hormones and antibiotics.
It all makes sense. Except the statement by one of the study’s authors, who told The Atlantic that the body weights of Americans today are influenced by “factors beyond their control.”
Noooooo . . . we can control our own exposure to pesticides, antidepressants, and factory farm meat. By going organic. And staying off drugs.
What’s more, we must continue to fight the corporate control of our food system that’s led to this mess.
And we better hurry up. Because according to another new study, 107 million children and 603 million adults are now obese.'
I have said this many times; you grow a few vegetables naturally in your garden and when you eat them, they are delicious and you do not need much to make you feel full.
The same vegetables purchased from the supermarket are basically tasteless and after eating you will often still feel hungry.
The simple reason with your own home grown vegetables, which do not have a number of chemical poisons in them and are full of nutritional goodness (hence the great taste) means your body recognised the healthy goodness coming in and is satisfied quickly.
On the other hand the produce with lack of goodness means your body is saying “where my goodness, keep going I am not satisfied” It can mean that you eat till you feel bloated and even then you are still not satisfied.
I read somewhere that the current conventional food chain has lost up to 80% of the nutritional values that the food chain had about 60 years ago. That means minerals, vitamins antioxidants etc gone to be replaced by chemicals of many types.
I believe that in NZ we could close down half the hospitals, make about half the doctors redundant, spend less than a quarter of what is currently spent on pharmaceutical medications by doing the following.
Place a hefty tax on all conventionally grown food and processed food and with that income subsidize growers of healthy fruit and vegetables along with farmers who produce healthy meat and dairy products.
(All ready I can hear producers calling for my head and claiming that their stuff is very healthy.)
If that was the case why then are there so many people with health conditions and with increasing numbers every year?
I know that if you grow just a small amount of what you consume and you grow it without chemical props; then you put into the growing medium all the minerals and elements possible and you have that as part of your diet you will be healthier.
Even a little real; goodness will help offset the garbage.
If you also detox regularly to get the garbage out then your energy levels and other health aspects will greatly improve.
One simple one that I have written about in the past in my books is a natural product called MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane) also know as organic sulphur because it is extracted out of plants mainly pine trees.
I have been taking MSM for over 8 years because the body needs a daily amount of sulphur as it does not store sulphur; it uses what is available at that time and discards what it does not need.
MSM detoxes you when first started taking and thereafter gives a mild detox continuously while taking it. Sulphur helps move oxygen through the body to the cells thus enabling them to function better and clean out the rubbish.
It has become so popular that my company imports about half a ton every 6 months.
For gardeners if you use gypsum in your gardens you will increase the amount of sulphur available to plants as gypsum contains sulphur and calcium.
I have found that some gardeners that do grow a lot of their produce and they try taking the MSM they find no additional benefit.
Most other people do enjoy more energy, better sleep, better complexion, less aches and pains, better mobility and in my case soon after starting to take it; a far better memory.
A strange thing happened I could walk into any room and actually know why I was there.
Your health is most important thing in your life and being a gardener you already have a great advantage over non-gardeners. You can grow as much produce as you have room for and then with containers grow some more.
I am fortunate to have 80 and 90 years old gardeners phone me from time to time.
They are fit, healthy and have all their marbles, reason being they have always grown a lot of their own vegetables and fruit.
One 96 year old lady told me that she was now a bit wobbly on her pins and as a result can fall over while gardening. She said she just laughs and gets up and carries on gardening.
I see people half their age that have all sorts of health issues some even look twice their actual age.
Let healthily, nutritious, home grown food be thy medicine.
TO THE LIST OF ARTICLES


START OF NEW SEASON

What do you mean? Start of a new season? We are currently in the middle of a very mild type winter so how come its the beginning of a new season?
The season begins on the 21st of June (well actually the next day the 22nd) as the 21st is the shortest day and the longest night in the Southern Hemisphere.
It is opposite in the Northern Hemisphere where they will celebrate the longest day and shortest night putting them halfway through their growing season.
As from the 22nd the hours and minutes of sunlight will slowly increase with the sun rising a bit earlier and setting a bit later.
It normally takes us a month or two for the increase of daylight hours to register and sometimes not until daylight saving kicks in.
Our plants on the other hand are quick to notice the extra bit of sunlight increasing every day as that means they are gaining more energy (carbohydrates/sugars)
In technical terms we say:

Green plants make food in the form of carbohydrates by combining carbon dioxide and water using energy from sunlight.
Carbohydrates are chemicals containing only the elements carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. The simplest useful form of carbohydrate produced by photosynthesis is glucose sugar.
There is that naughty word that is bringing calamity to the planet; co2, carbon dioxide, the stuff we breathe out and as the old saying goes, 'breathe on a little plant and make it happy'
Now think about this for a moment; plants need co2 + water+sunlight to grow and thrive.
With lots of co2, ample water and heaps of direct sunlight plants prosper out of sight.
Take away or reduce any of those factors and plants do not fair very well.
Nursery owners will release lots of co2 into their glasshouses to give plants a growth boost, they do this after watering on a sunny day and its a real 'Growth Bomb'
So the more co2 that is around is going to be a great advantage for our gardens and plants as long as there is sufficient moisture and plenty of direct sunlight.
In there lays the problem for those that are astute; direct sunlight and the absence thereof.
As we have seen during recent seasons that if it is not a cloudy day more often than not it is a hazy sky day, which greatly reduces the amount of direct sunlight that reaches our plants.
The effects of this vary from plant to plant and one or more of these aspects can be noticed; stunted growth, larger leaves, no flower buds, flower buds that dont open, flowering at wrong times, increased maturity times, increase of disease and insect pest damage.
Following this thought pattern how can co2 be a problem as we have zillions of plants that will take in all the co2 we can throw at them and they will love it, we might be quickly living in a jungle of plants but the co2 levels will be naturally reduced.
Plants die and the carbon from them is sequestrated into the soil building humus and saving the planet from co2 global warming.
So simple and all we have to do is fill our gardens with plants, grasses and weeds to save the world.
Oops there is a problem, the plants need heaps of direct sunlight to save the world and they are not getting it. Oh well back to the drawing board.
A reader sent the following very short YouTube clip which may help put the co2 thing into perspective and very easy to understand: https://www.youtube.com/embed/BC1l4geSTP8

I received an email from the NZ Nursery association this week referring to a notice from our MPI which read: Genetically modified petunias
MPI is taking action after an overseas recall on unauthorised genetically modified (GM) petunias.
Several varieties of GM petunias have been reported in Europe, USA, and Australia, and are being recalled by regulatory authorities in those countries.
The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has identified potentially affected seeds from one importer in New Zealand. In May 2017, we sent the seeds for testing to an MPI-approved laboratory overseas.
Results from the tests came back positive for genetically modified material in the 'African Sunset' variety.
We feel there are sufficient parallels with what's going on elsewhere in the world for us to take pre-emptive action on other varieties which have tested positive overseas and are known to be in New Zealand.
The biosecurity risk from these seeds is negligible and there is no risk to people or the environment.
However, New Zealand has strict controls around genetically modified organisms (new organism).
It is illegal to import, develop, field test, or release a genetically modified organism without approval.
Approval is required from the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act 1996. MPI is an enforcement agency for new organisms.
It is good to see our Govt taking this action but what is the advantage of genetically engineering flower plants such as petunias?
The answer is new flower colours that do not exist in nature for the type of plants. Read more here: http://www.floraldaily.com/article/9993/Europe-Orange-petunia-genetically-modified-for-sure

The shortest day heralds the time to plant your garlic and shallots if you have not done so already.
Recently a reader sent me some giant shallots which are about the size of a medium sized onion.
I was told that each bulb can multiply up to about 18 giant size shallots and need to be planted about 12 cm apart to allow for production.
I am very impressed and was told by the gardener that he was given the starter plants by an old gardener some years ago and now only grows this variety instead of normal onions.
Then by chance when I was in a green grocer shop recently and for sale was some extra large shallots from a NZ supplier, these were not quite as big as the ones I was given but still much larger than the normal shallots.
Have a look at your local green grocer and if you spot some large shallots plant them well apart in very well manured soil.
They are planted half buried. From the resulting crop keep some of the largest bulbs for re-planting and eat the rest.
With any luck you could end up with the giant strain that I now have.
Garlic on the other hand also needs an well manured bed but the cloves are planted deeper so that the clove is down about 2-3 times its length in a friable soil.
Use Rok Solid and BioPhos along with animal or chicken manure in the growing area.
If you cant get animal or chook manure then use plenty of blood & bone and sheep manure pellets.
Bio Boost from Farmlands and some garden shops should also be included for better results.
Last season rust devastated many garlic plots so this year it may pay to do a 2 weekly spray of the foliage and surrounding soil with potassium permanganate (¼ teaspoon to litre of water) with Raingard added.
Alternative spray Liquid Sulphur with Raingard as both are good for preventing and controlling rust.
Alternate the sprays every two weeks is not silly either, also spray your onions and shallots as well.
TO THE LIST OF ARTICLES


NEW SEASON ROSES NOW IN YOUR GARDEN CENTRE

Winter is the time when the new season’s roses hit the garden centres and allows you the opportunity to select your requirements for planting.
The sooner you get down to your favorite garden centre the greater the selection you will be able to choose from.
Once you have chosen the roses by either name, colour or other attributes then you will likely find there are several specimens to choose from.
Look for the ones that have 3 or more strong, healthy canes which will become the foundation of your new rose. If the same plant has extra weaker canes that is no problem as these can be pruned out about a month or so after planting.
Most roses these days are already planted into containers but some may still be bare rooted or in wraps. Some chain stores have cheap roses which are only wrapped and these can dry out in the humidity controlled environment that they are displayed in.
If the roots dry out for only a short period of time the chances of these roses failing is likely.
What happens is there is sufficient sap in the plant to open the buds in the spring but because the roots are dead there is no further energy to continue growth and the growth produced, fizzes and that is it.
It didn't die as it was already dead.
It is important you keep your receipts so you can make a claim back on the retailer who in turn will claim back on the grower.
This also applies to deciduous trees that you buy and plant in winter.
Even if the plants are not bare rooted and are in containers when they were uplifted out from the growing beds they may be left for a time bare rooted and exposed to the sun/air/wind and long enough to harm the roots.
In containers if the medium is allowed to dry out for a prolonged period the same can occur.
Gardeners can be too quick to blame themselves when something fails when it maybe the fault of the what happened before you were involved.
Interestingly I was told by an old nurseryman many years ago if a new rose was to fail in the spring after having sprouted some buds then lift the plant and bury it deep in the earth so that just the tips of the canes are exposed.
Keep the area moist and the rose may start growing again.
What happens is the plant becomes a cutting and if there is sufficient sap left it will generate new roots and then rise up from the dead.
I remember a gardener telling me once, that they had obtained 3 roses cheaply, that had been purchased from a chain store, only one survived and the gardener seemed quite happy about the end result until I pointed out that the combined cost of the 3 roses was about the same price as one strong rose from a garden centre.
Another aspect to consider is that garden centres offer a guarantee with their roses and if one should fail in the spring when they should be sprouting new shoots, then they will replace it.
Roses purchased in containers means that the roots have much less chance of drying out and as long as they are kept moist, very few actually fail.
There is no need to plant your roses out straight away if they are in containers, (just make sure that the mix does not dry out.)
You can either plant your new roses into the garden or into larger containers.
Roses make excellent container plants and for those with full gardens, it’s the ideal way of adding a few more new specimens.
Whether you are planting out or into containers, use a good compost that is definitely not made from green waste.
Roses are very sensitive to herbicides and a herbicide laced compost is more than enough to cause strange distorted new growths and even death.
The compost can be incorporated into the soil in the garden to make a nice spot for the new rose to establish in or as the medium for a container.
I would also suggest to place a table spoon of Rok Solid and a teaspoon of BioPhos in the planting hole under each rose as you plant.
This certainly helps with establishment.
If you are planting Standard roses you will need to provide them support with a good strong stake and as these stakes are needed for the time it takes to establish, it pays to buy a stake that is going to last.
Standard roses make excellent specimens in larger containers where they will give both height and colour to your summer container displays.
Existing roses that you want to move should be done about now. Cut them back to about half the size and spray with potassium permanganate.
Other existing bush and standard roses should also be cut back to about half the length of the canes and sprayed with potassium permanganate (spray also the soil underneath.)
This helps kill disease spores and you should start off the new season with less problems waiting to happen.
DON’T LET THE YELLOWING START.

Cooler conditions makes it more difficult for plants to receive the magnesium and potassium from the soil.
Often there is not sufficient of these compounds available anyway, which makes matters worse and yellowing will start to appear in the foliage.
To overcome this, apply 25 grams of Fruit and Flower Power per square metre to plants that can be affected.
Include citrus, passion fruit, Daphne and flowering plants. Repeat every month the same treatment.
If yellowing has started then double the first application.
It does take several weeks to return the foliage to green so don’t expect an instant result.
TO THE LIST OF ARTICLES


RUST

The recent bad news that Myrtle Rust has arrived in NZ has caused tremendous concern as it could effectively alter the landscape of the country and put some commercial enterprises out of business.
For once the NZ Government is taking action to try to prevent the spread of the disease.
From Doc's web site is the following information:

New Zealand has a number of species in the myrtle family at risk if myrtle rust arrives.
They include iconic natives such as p hutukawa, k nuka, m nuka and r t , as well as commercially-grown species such as eucalyptus, guava and feijoa.
It is likely that myrtle rust will continue to find new susceptible species in New Zealand.
Myrtle rust attacks young, soft, actively growing leaves, shoot tips and young stems. Initial symptoms are powdery, bright yellow or orange-yellow pustules on leaves, tips and stems.
The developing lesions may cause a deformation of the leaves and shoots, and twig die back if the infection is severe. It can also affect flowers and fruit. Infection may result in plant death.
Myrtle rust is notoriously difficult to control. However, it was caught early on Lord Howe Island and may have been controlled there. Unfortunately by the time that the rust pustules are visible on plants, spores are already spreading.
It will be extremely difficult to eradicate in New Zealand.
You can help Keep an eye on the myrtaceous plants in your garden including: p hutukawa, r t , k nuka, m nuka, swamp maire, ramarama, r hutu, eucalyptus, guava, feijoa, pacific r t , bottlebrush, monkey apple, lilly pilly.
The fungus attacks the new growth of leaves and shoots, and in some species also the buds and fruit of these plants.
If you are traveling from Australia to New Zealand, make sure your shoes, clothing and luggage are free of rust spores which may be visible as yellow dust.
What to do if you see myrtle rust Don't touch!
Don't collect samples as this might spread the disease.
If you can, take a photo of the rust and the plant it's on.
Phone MPI's exotic pest and disease hotline 0800 80 99 66.
If you accidentally come in contact with the affected plant or the rust, bag your clothing and wash clothes, bags and shoes/boots when you get home.
(Hmm might see a few partially naked people talking home with a plastic bag of clothes under their arm)
Your reports of suspected cases are vital in helping determine where myrtle rust is in New Zealand, how far it has spread and whether eradication, containment, or even slowing the spread is feasible.
The earlier we find out about any New Zealand infection, the greater our chance of doing something about it.
While MPI and DOC are dealing with the initial outbreak, we need to plan to secure the long term future of some taonga species by seed banking.
You may be able to assist by supporting, collecting or providing information.
If you want to help contact your local DOC office.
End.

I suppose we have been lucky up to date that the disease has not entered NZ earlier.
It could effect manuka honey exports which is looking to be a billion dollar export commodity.
A little tip for those that are not in the know; honeydew Beech Tree honey has better properties than Manuka Honey; 250 grams Manuka honey sells for about $40 where Honeydew Beech Tree Honey is about $8.00 for 250grams.
There are a few suppliers on line in South Island you can purchase from.
If the myrtle rust becomes established then our Feijoas are going to be affected which is unfortunate as it is one fruit that has less problems of pests and diseases compared to all other fruit.
The exception is the guava moth that does attack the fruit in the north and these pests will spread down the country as unlike myrtle rust the Govt has done little or nothing to prevent its spread.
From a quick look at Australian and NZ web sites it would appear that there is little information of worth for control of myrtle rust.
I heard from one source that copper sprays was been recommended but copper oxychloride and copper hydroxide have very little value in the control of other rust diseases so likely a waste of time.
Sulphur has better control or prevention properties for rust diseases and should be used with Raingard to prevent washing off in rain. Our Liquid Copper which is actually Copper sulphate has been shown effective on some rusts.
(Diluted Liquid Copper and Liquid Sulphur then added together with Raingard could be a good control, preventive)
It is when it is raining that the disease strikes susceptible plants so Raingard is important.
Potassium permanganate is also another useful agent for the control of rust and many other leaf diseases. Mix about quarter a teaspoon into a litre of water and add the Raingard.
I have had reports from gardeners that when sulphur has not worked the potassium permanganate has and vice versa. A problem with the myrtle rust on the host plants is that they are often too tall and thus too hard to spray.
Last season garlic got badly attacked by rust causing only small cloves/bulbs to form. A disaster for not only gardeners but also for some commercial growers.
It would pay this season after planting and the cloves have started to sprout to protect them with either two of the mentioned sprays on about a 2 week cycle.
Some super markets and vegetable shops have NZ garlic for sale and maybe imported also but avoid the Chinese garlic for planting.
It is a good time to plant garlic now.
Recently I wrote about cloudy and hazy skies causing lack of sunlight for plants and how they suffered this season just gone.
I feel that there is a pollution in the sky as well as the natural clouds causing the problem.
Clouds are natural but the pollution is not and some say it is been deliberately used to control weather.
Another interesting point also is that a unusually large number of people are suffering with itchy eyes and other eye problems currently.
Its the wrong time of the year for pollen so not likely to be the cause.
Wind also appears to increase the eye problems which would indicate unknown particles been blown into the eyes.
If (?) the atmosphere is been sprayed with substances such as Nanoparticles of aluminium and these are causing eye irritations as well as affecting direct sunlight available to plants we have a double concern.
This week I received an article from the Rhode Island State in New England, America.
Apparently The state legislate in concern for its citizens health, have introduced a bill to regulate Geoengineering in the state.
Now for something that is not supposed to exist this is very interesting and obviously they have done a lot of work on this bill and the problems such activities can or do cause.
Have a look at http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/BillText/BillText17/HouseText17/H6011.pdf

They state: The Rhode Island general assembly finds that geoengineering encompasses many technologies and methods involving hazardous activities that can harm human health and safety, the environment, and the economy of the state of Rhode Island.
One of the aspects they state is: Visibility impairment! What an interesting world we live in with certain powers that be; regard us as Mushrooms. Kept in dark and feed Bull manure.

TO THE LIST OF ARTICLES


ROSE TIME

There is something special about roses that us gardeners like. It could be the shape and form of the flowers; it maybe the exotic perfumes some varieties have; or it could be something in our genes, because roses must be the oldest cultivated ornamental plant in the history of the world.
In Nature things such as leaf diseases (black spot, rust etc) and insect pest attacks on plants is part of life but when it comes to the rose enthusiast these natural occurrences are like the end of the world.
Woe betide a blemish to the foliage or an aphid feeding on the newly forming flower buds in spring.
It is war and every chemical of mass destruction will be mixed and used to control and eradicate.
The goal is the perfect bloom (with a tear drop of dew on a petal) framed by perfect foliage of a dark rich green. Picture perfect and hopefully with a divine scent to boot.
For those that show their roses at their annual local rose show or in the national rose shows the perfect specimen is the ultimate challenge.
I remember in days gone by when chemicals; that have since been banned because of the damage they did to the environment and to our health, such as Shield for Roses. These would be used religiously by gardeners on their beloved roses biweekly.
Alternating with Super Shield and applications of Rose Fertiliser and Nitrophoska Blue.
If the rose sprays did not do what was expected there were other lethal chemicals to use, Captan, Bravo, Orthene, Target and Maldison. (All banned now as far as I am aware)
To say that the health of the roses was compromised would be an understatement and every season instead of the perfect rose the plants would be a very sore sight.
Years ago I recognised the problem that the chemicals were doing to the soil life and the immune systems of the roses and wrote articles on the matter.
I remember a Garden Centre owner in the Taranaki region telling me how she read my articles on roses and followed the advise. Within a couple of seasons she had turned the sickly roses in her home garden into lovely roses.
The local rose society members visited the gardens and were amazed at how healthy her roses were and wanted to know what chemicals she was using to have them looking so great.
Her reply was no chemicals which the members had problems believing because they had been indoctrinated into Shield, Nitrophoska etc as the ultimate tools of rose perfection.
The products made the companies that sold them a lot of money but did nothing for the health of the roses or the health of the users.
Here is a little logic I remember as a boy visiting my uncles farm in Taranaki where my auntie had a few rose bushes between a paddock and the gravel driveway.
Besides the dust on the plants in a dry summer and the occasional cow or possum nibbling the foliage they were very healthy.
They had some horse or cow manure thrown at them from time to time and cut back in the winter along with a bit of a tidy up.
Another aspect was that being in the country the plants were not suffering from chemicals in the water such as Chlorine and fluoride. Just rain water from the sky or the tank.
I remember another rose enthusiast who also told me that his parents were great collectors of roses and had over the years several hundred specimens on their farm property which he was also involved in their care.
He told me how over the years of growing up how wonderful and healthy the plants had been.
As 'new' things were introduced to assist with the rose care, the health of the roses deteriorated so more stronger chemicals were used to no avail.
His parents passed and it was then his sole responsibility to care for the sick inheritance.
No matter what he used, how much he sprayed the roses only got worse and one winter after another poor health season he was seriously considering plowing all the roses into the ground as they were hopelessly sick and some had already died.
He told me he read an article I wrote about rose health and a program to follow and decided to give it a go for one last attempt.
What happened was that season there was a marked improvement in the roses, not up to their former glory but certainly heading in the right direction.
Then in the following season most of the roses turned to their full health state and a phone call to thank me was made. He said that my advise was the best gift to his deceased parents ever.
It is just common sense really, work with Nature not against it.
Chemicals are designed to kill and control; they can kill both the good as well as the bad as well as adverse side effects as we commonly see with our own human pharmaceutical concoctions.
Chlorine in water is bad news for soil life so if you have this poison in your tap water then see about removing it with a 10 micron carbon bonded housing and filter. Email me for more info if interested.
Next stick to natural things to feed your roses (and other plants) this includes all animal manures including sheep manure pellets, blood & bone, compost that is not made from green waste.
(I know people that have lost their roses to compost containing herbicides from green waste)
For extra minerals use Rok Solid twice a year and Ocean Solids once a year.
Apply a little Fruit and Flower Power once a month during flowering season.
Spray your roses 2 weekly with Magic Botanical Liquid (MBL) with Super Neem Tree Oil added (Use just before sunset) Once a month spray them with Perkfection starting in Spring when there is a good show of leaves. Perkfection can be added to every second spray of MBL & Neem oil.
At this time (Autumn) spray the roses and soil underneath with potassium permanganate (quarter a teaspoon per litre of water) Repeat again in mid winter and then spring as soon as first sign of movement. This is to neutralize disease spores.
During season any sign of leaf diseases repeat with Raingard added.
Because of the unnatural weather compounded by lack of direct sunlight I have some roses in full bud and starting to flower now.
Thus I will let them flower and then cut them back later on.
You will likely have a lot of Rose Hips (Seed pods) The best time to harvest rose hips is after the first frost. Frost helps sweeten the flavor.
They should still be firm and have good color. Leave the shriveled or dried hips for the birds.
Waiting until after a frost is also good for the plant, since cutting the hips before frost could encourage the rose to send out new growth which would be killed back at the first frost.
Rich in Vitamin C you can make a tea from the hips and other cooking/medical uses (Check internet)
The seeds inside can be grown and that is a very interesting subject on its own.
Later on you will do the final pruning of the roses and should afterwards spray the plants with Wallys Liquid Copper.
Dont prune in winter when its cold and damp which can allow Silver Leaf disease to enter the roses. Prunings can be made into cuttings and propagated for more rose plants for free.
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THE IMPORTANCE OF SUN LIGHT

Many gardeners through out New Zealand have commented on what a strange season it has been for gardening and plants.
In fact over the last few years it has become more peculiar each season and many plants are a bit like the old expression 'they dont know if they are Arthur or Martha'
Likely that expression along with comments about the weather are not politically correct anymore.
Weather has become very unusual and whether it is a natural cycle that the planet is passing though, for whatever natural reasons such as sun spots, or whether there is direct interference from manipulations is a question that should concern us all.
There is a stream of official information that is being slowly released by Main Stream Media stating that the manipulation of weather is on the agenda and doing nicely thank you.
There are now 'Official names' for these 'new' clouds; the Latin names Homogenitus and Homomutatus
which mean from the Latin are: HOMO - Man / Human.
GENITUS - ADJ begotten; engendered ( meaning caused or produced ).V give birth to| bring forth| bear; beget; be born (PASSIVE).
MUTATUS - 1. modify 2. move, change, shift, alter, exchange, substitute (for)
A fact is that we have been trying to manipulate weather for hundreds of years from primitive forms of Rain Dances to more modern cloud seeding to cause rain or snow.
From Wikipedia we have the following; Various ideas for manipulating hurricanes have been suggested. In 2007, "How to stop a hurricane" explored various ideas such as:

Using lasers to discharge lightning in storms which are likely to become hurricanes
Pouring liquid nitrogen onto the sea to deprive the hurricane of heat energy .
Creating soot to absorb sunlight and change air temperature and create convection currents in the outer wall.
Climatologists have run simulations of hurricane control based on selective heating and cooling (or prevention of evaporation) End
I think there is sufficient official information dating back to the 1940's to say that weather modification is and has been happening for what ever purpose.
Scientists tell us that the one main natural control of weather patterns is clouds.
The next is volcanoes when they erupt and put ash into the sky reducing the sunlight/heat over a effected area.
We all know that in winter time, clouds trap heat from the daytime so we do not have a frost.
Take away the clouds to an open sky and the heat from the day dissipates and moisture at ground level freezes in the low temperatures and we have a frost.
Do you remember a saying from the past called a Black Frost?
That was when on a winters night there was no cloud cover and a frost occurred but in the morning the cloud cover returned and prevented the sun from warming up the earth and thus the frost remained all day long.
This was called a Black Frost.
One of the things I have seen and written about is the lack of direct sunlight on our garden plants because either cloudy skies or hazy skies.
A number of other senior gardeners have also commented to me that the skies are no longer natural as they used to be, not a rich blue as they used to be. Being around for a while we remember how things were in days gone by.
Our eyes are not a good at measuring the amount of light because they automatically adjust to the light levels. On the other hand, plants because they gain their energy from sunlight, are great at measuring light levels.
Insufficient direct sunlight will effect a plants ability to produce flower buds or if buds are formed then possible insufficient light to open to a flower.
When there is not enough light a plant will stretch to try to obtain a greater degree of light.
Leaves are the collectors of sunlight and when the light levels are lower they will make their leaves bigger or produce a lot more leaves.
A bit like adding more solar panels to catch more energy from the sun.
Just this week a gardener emailed me a picture of a trailing geranium that has developed a habit of producing a lot of leaves in a bunch instead of spreading as normal.
Another newer trailing geranium nearby is starting to do the same. I was asked why and the only aspect I could come up with is the lack of direct sunlight over an extended time frame.
I have noticed corn and maze crops in some areas have, instead of growing tall as normal they only reach half or less their true normal height.
This season just gone I had luffa plants and bitter melons growing ok but only producing male flowers for a long time and when the female flowers did eventually arrive there was hardly any males left to pollinate them so a poor crop result.
Plants growing in NZ are used to a pattern of increasing and reducing light hours.
On the shortest day 21st June there is only about 8 hours of sunlight increasing to about 16 hours on the longest day, the 21st December then decreasing to 8 hours again.
Outside of normal cloud formations the plants should be receiving many hours of directs sunlight unless shaded or diffused by other things.
Disruption of direct sunlight for prolonged periods will confuse the plants and things like our fruit trees flowering in autumn instead of spring.
Several reports of this happening this autumn and that means the embryo fruiting buds produced over the summer having opened prematurely which will mean a small crop or no crop of fruit next season.
The question then arises if our food crops are threatened by lack of direct sunlight caused by either natural occurrences or by fiddling with the skies we have a major problem.
If the latter then an article I read recently which stated 'Those that control the food supply control the world' is a frightening thought but certainly not a new one as a certain agriculture company renowned for its herbicide and GMO's wants to control all the seeds in the world and has achieved a reasonable
degree of success. In some places it is now apparently illegal for farmers to keep their own seeds for the following year's crop.
Here is an interesting link: http://chronicle.su/news/snowden-uncovers-shocking-truth-behind-chemtrails/ Talking recently to a farming expert who said this past spring and summer, grasses grew well but had no real goodness in them for the stock. Reason is insufficient direct sunlight to create the sugars (carbohydrates) that make for healthy animals.

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CITRUS TREES FOR YOU

Citrus trees are very valuable plants for anyone’s garden, not only will they supply you with a bounty of fruit every year; they are also an attractive, highly scented tree.
In fact I cannot think of another fruiting plant that has such a delicious perfume when in flower.
Citrus trees are a long term, fruiting tree that you have to have patience with, for the tree to reach a good size and then you will have ample fruit to harvest every year.
We tend to stress the need for ample food and moisture for citrus trees, but often gardeners will say that they have a citrus tree which they never provide these requirements for at all and the tree looks healthy and green, producing good crops most of the year.
I have seen such trees and can only assume that their roots have tapped into a good supply of food and moisture, under ground and need in the time being, no extra help from the gardener.
Maybe it is as a result of not using any citrus, water soluble fertilisers and that the soil life is therefore in abundance, making all the humus and food the tree needs. Water soluble fertilisers kill the soil life creating the tree’s dependence on these chemical foods for its sustenance.
A tree that becomes dependent will often have problems of disease and pests requiring rescue sprays and protection spray programs. It is a fact, we can cause the problems and then pay for it.
Citrus trees hate wet feet and are a killer in wet times.
I have seen mature trees that have survived years of life succumbing to root rot in a particularly wet winter or if there has been a change of water run-off, due to alterations on a property.
The ideal planting place for a citrus is in very free draining soil where it is very sunny and yet some protection from prevailing winds.
If you have a wet area where you wish to grow a citrus tree then you can do what I have done in the past, plant the tree into plastic rubbish tin that holds about 70 to 100 odd litres.
With a saw drill, drill 50mm holes in the base of the container and on the sides up about 12cm from the base.
The number of holes should be 5 in the base (one in the centre and 4 at the cardinal points nearer to the bottom rim) at the 12cm level drill 4 holes which will be in the middle of where the cardinal point holes are at the base.
You dig a hole in the desired spot, deep enough to bury your plastic rubbish tin half into the soil.
The holes you have cut will allow the roots of the tree to grow out into the surrounding soil in time, yet much of the tree’s roots will be above the ground level, inside the container, and these roots will not get too wet at any time.
I once had 3 citrus growing in an area that got really wet in the winter and they did very well .
A big plus for this system is that if you move house you can lift your citrus trees with relative ease and take them with you. The trees will not get as big as ones planted in open ground, which can also be an advantage for smaller sections.
If you dont have room to dig them into the soil they will sit happily on any surface.
The disadvantage of containers is the trees take a bit longer to produce good size crops.
If using this method fill the container to planting height with a friable compost and top soil mix, (two thirds compost and one third soil mixed well together)
Place sheep manure pellets, blood and bone and a sprinkling of Epsom salts on top of the compost. Place the citrus tree removed from its nursery container on top of this.
If the roots have become a mass, with spiral roots at the base of the nursery container then with a pair of secateurs cut the spirals at the cardinal points about 20mm deep.
This allows new roots to develop quicker. Back fill the sides with the same mix ending up with the base of the trunk about 6cm from the top rim of the container. This makes it easy to water in the summer.
If planting into existing soil dig a deeper and wider hole than needed and use a similar mix of compost and soil to line the hole and back fill.
What food to feed your citrus? I give my established trees a good dose of old chook manure, in the spring and later in summer along with a monthly sprinkle of Fruit and Flower Power.
Drenches of MBL and Mycorrcin to the soil occasionally and spray to the foliage of the same.
An annual sprinkle of Rok Solids and Ocean Solids around the root zone for additional elements completes the program.
You can give them sheep manure pellets and Blood and Bone as an alternative to the chook manure, applied spring and autumn.
Cover the products with a layer of good compost then water in with the MBL and Mycorrcin.
A healthy citrus tree should be free of disease problems but if a disease appears give the tree a couple of sprays of Liquid Copper.
Pests can include scale, aphids, white fly, spider mites, mealy bugs and citrus borer.
All pests are easily controlled with applications of Wallys Neem Tree Granules about twice a year.
Sprinkle some Neem Granules over the root zone are from trunk to drip line.
Another point with Citrus, if there is any chance of your existing trees getting wet feet, then a couple of sprays of Perkfection in the autumn will help prevent losses.
Lime trees are the most difficult to grow in cooler areas so in these areas grow them in a container above the ground so they can be moved to a sheltered frost free area in winter.
Keep the mix on the dry side in winter.
If you purchase citrus that are supposed to be fairly free of pips then do not plant a lemon tree any where near them as the cross pollination will make your pip free fruit full of pips.
The lemon tree should be on the other side of the house down wind (prevailing winds) from your other citrus trees.
Citrus trees are often grafted onto root stock to make them more resistant to diseases.
All citrus will grow on their own roots without grafting as long as they are in free draining areas.
Citrus will grow from cuttings of soft to semi firm wood in summer. Layering is an easier method for propagation if you have an existing tree.
Pips will germinate and produce seedlings which will bear fruit in years to come. I had an uncle (Jack Franks since passed on) who had a wonderful citrus grove that he had raised from pips.
Citrus trees given the right growing conditions are fairly free of problems and the fruit you can grow from them will be very beneficial to your health.
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STRAWBERRIES

May is the traditional month when new seasons strawberry plants become available in garden centres.
The nurseries that grow the plants lift them after the autumn rains have moisten the soil sufficiently, then they are distributed to garden centres.
In seasons when the growing beds remain too dry then the plants are not lifted till later, making for late plantings.
I find that the sooner you can get your new strawberry plants into their new beds the better results you have in the first season. Like all things planted it is root establishment that is so important.
When planting place about a teaspoon of Rok Solid in the planting hole with a pinch of BioPhos for each strawberry plant.
Gardeners with existing beds of strawberries will likely have a number of runners that have rooted in nicely, these can be used for new season plants..
If the existing strawberry bed is not congested with old and new plants and there is ample room still for all the plants to grow and produce, then you can get away with not lifting the runners or only lifting those that are too close to existing plants.
Strawberries are easy to grow and can be grown in open ground or containers.
In open ground the most practical way is to make a bed with wood surrounds 16 to 20 cm tall and have a hinged frame over the bed that has either plastic bird netting or wire netting over the lid.
The whole frame needs to only sit on the soil so it can be moved if required.
If using tanalised timber for the surround then after cutting to size; paint all the wood with a couple of coats of acrylic paint to prevent chemicals leeching into the soil.
Strawberries can be grown in troughs about 16 to 20 cm wide and similar depth then as long as required. I like to hang these off the top rail of a fence.
Special strawberry planters made from clay or plastic are not very good and your results are likely to be poor. (Thats the types where plants are placed in holes around the container as well as on top.)
Polystyrene boxes with holes in the bottom are also ideal containers for good crops if they have a rooting depth of 15cm or more.
The growing medium should be a good compost such as Daltons or Oderings to which you can add untreated sawdust and a little clean top soil or vermicast. (Worm casts from a worm farm)
A mix of about 75% compost, 20% sawdust and 5% vermicast is good value.
Mix the above in a wheelbarrow then place a layer of the mix 5 cm deep in the base of the trough or container. Now sprinkle a layer of chicken manure, some potash, BioPhos, Rok Solid and Ocean Solids. Horse manure is also very good.
If you do not have chicken manure available use sheep manure pellets and blood & bone.
Cover with more compost mix to a depth suitable for planting your new strawberry plants.
A similar process can be applied to a open bed with a frame, though the frame height may need to be taller than previously suggested.
Ensure that the soil at the base of the frame is free of most weeds and then place a layer or two of cardboard over the soil. This will help prevent weeds from coming up in the bed, then fill as suggested.
There are a number of different varieties of strawberry plants available to the home gardener, sometimes the older varieties such as Tioga and Redgaunlet (both are hard to come by nowreplaced with the newer varieties such as Chandler, Pajaro and Seascape.
Different varieties will do better or worse in different climates so choose the ones most suited to your area of the country.
Strawberry types include:

Strawberry Baby Pink ™ Producing stunning beautiful pink flowers followed by small to medium red fruit with sweet traditional flavour. Large bunches of berries ripening over a long period.
Habit - Compact strong growing strawberry. Size - Give these small to medium plants close spacing.
Pollination - Self-fertile. Unknown if short day, neutral or long day type.
Strawberry Camarosa; Large to very large medium dark red fruit. Firm medium red flesh with excellent flavour. Conical shape.
High resistance to wet weather. Habit - Suitable for Northern and Central districts. Vigorous growth habit.Size - Give these vigorous plants wide spacing.
Pollination - Self-fertile. Short day type - flowers are initiated by short day lengths.
Harvest - Fruit ripen 20-35 days from flowering depending on climate, with light crops in early summer, followed by a main crop in December - January. Yield is very good.
Strawberry Chandler; Small to very large medium red fruit. Firm light red flesh with very good flavour. Conical shape. High resistance to wet weather.
Habit - Suitable for Northern and Central districts. Multi-crowned growth habit.
Size - Give these multi crowned plants medium spacing. Pollination - Self-fertile. Short day type - flowers are initiated by short day lengths.
Harvest - Fruit ripen 20-35 days from flowering depending on climate, with light crops in early summer followed by a main crop in December - January. Yield is very good.
Strawberry Sundae ™ Large red fruit with excellent flavour. Firm red flesh in an oval shape.
Habit - Suitable for Northern and Central districts. Vigorous growth habit. Size - Give these vigorous plants wide spacing.Pollination - Self-fertile. Short day type - flowers are initiated by short day lengths.
Harvest - Fruit ripen 20-35 days from flowering depending on climate, with light crops in early summer followed by a main crop in December - January. Yield is average.
Strawberry Supreme ™ Very large bright red fruit. Very firm red flesh with excellent flavour. Conical shape. Good resistance to wet weather. Habit - Suitable for Northern and Central districts.
Moderately strong growth habit. Size - Give these small to medium sized plants close spacing.
Pollination - Self-fertile. Short day type - flowers are initiated by short day lengths.
Harvest - Fruit ripen 20-35 days from flowering depending on climate, with light crops in early summer followed by a main crop in December - January. Yield is very good.
Strawberry Temptation™ Medium bright red shiny fruit with excellent flavour. Pale firm flesh.
Habit - Compact strong growing strawberry. Tough and resilient in relation to pest and diseases.
Size - Give these medium plants close spacing.
Pollination - Self-fertile. Only NZ bred Day Neutral strawberry which means they will set fruit regardless of how long or short the days are making this an ideal fruiter national wide.
Will extend the North Island season. Harvest - Consistent high yields of berries ripening over a long period from October to March.
To enhance your strawberries and increase the crop yields by 200 to 400% drench the bed with Mycorrcin after planting and repeat again in a couple of months time.
Then spray the plants with Mycorrcin every two weeks till end of season.
For bigger berries you may like to try Wallys Secret Strawberry Food.
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NEW- AMMONIUM SULPHAMATE

Over a year ago, a gardener from the UK now living in New Zealand, phoned me asking if I knew where to get ammonium sulphamate from?
I had never heard of it and thought he maybe confusing it with sulphate of ammonia.
He said no and explained in England they had the compound which was used for breaking down woody material such as compost heaps and tree stumps.
I was told it was very effective, speeding up the natural decomposing of material through contact and after doing its job converting to nitrogen so no environmental concerns.
He told me you had to be a bit careful with the crystals as a friend of his split some on the wooden floor of his shed and his floor rotted away.
It is also mixed with water and sprayed over your compost to speed up the breakdown.
He warned me that you had to be careful if you sprayed it over live plants as it could kill them.
I could see that ammonium sulphamate would be of great benefit for gardeners that wanted to speed up the breakdown of old tree stumps and to be able to make compost faster, breaking down those woody clippings etc.
The more of the compound used either dry or mixed with water the quicker the results will be.
From what I gather it can be used from 20 grams per litre of water up to 200 grams to the same one litre.
From my own personal experience it works well at about 40 to 60 grams per litre of water as a spray over compost.
Using it to remove stumps (Wallys Super Stump Rotter 200 grams) you need to break the surface of the stump by scouring or drilling a number of shallow holes.
Apply the product at 60 grams per 10cm of stump, spreading the crystals evenly over the surface and into the holes. You then cover the stump with a sheet of plastic or a plastic bag and secure it to the sides with staples or string to prevent weathering.
If using a clear plastic bag you can check progress every now and then.
It is not going to happen over night by any means and a lot depends on factors such as type of wood, how long its been a dead stump etc.
The normal break down of a stump left to nature is many years, the product called Stump Rotter using potassium nitrate (salte petre) can reduce the time factor by about half as the nitrogen speeds up the breakdown by a slow, non flammable burning effect.
Ammonium sulphamate should be much faster and I would hope to see results in months to a few years.
Reapplying more crystals a few months later would also help improve breakdown time.
The 200 gram jar is sufficient to do one application to a 30cm stump.
The scoop provided is about 40grams level filled.
To use ammonium sulphamate to speed up your compost break down; take one scoop (40 grams) from Wallys Super Compost Accelerator 600 gram jar and add to one litre of water.
It dissolves very quickly into water and should be placed in a plastic trigger sprayer which you mark ammonium sulphamate as you dont want to make a mistake and use it on live plants.
It will store in a diluted form in plastic container/sprayer and can be re-used by shaking.
Keep in safe place out of sunlight and reach of children.
You would not want them getting hold of it and spraying your gardens.
I had a pile of radishes which had spoiled and gone woody so I pulled them out and dropped them on the concrete in a pile. I sprayed them with the product and it has within a relatively short time broken them down into crumbly compost.
I see some interesting uses such as when you have harvested your corn and the old plants are dying off; it can take sometime for them to break down unless you put them through a shredder.
I am going to try it on corn stalks, firstly cutting the trunks off at ground level and then spraying the stumps.
Next laying the plants on the soil in a layer and spraying them also.
Later on when they are breaking down nicely cover with compost and the area is ready to plant up with a new crop.
Another one happening about now is leaf fall so when there is a good cover of leaves on the ground spray them with the product to break them down faster and provide food for the soil and surrounding plants.
As both the products; Wallys Super Stump Rotter and Wallys Super Compost Accelerator are just being released this week you will need to ask for them at your local Mitre 10 or Independent Garden Centre so they can obtain them for you.
The unused product must be stored in jar provide and kept sealed as it will absorb moisture out of the atmosphere.
Safety information on jar as to the requirements of the MSD which is on our web site at www.gardenews.co.nz.
Available on line at our mail order web site www.0800466464.co.nz
This week I received a email from EPA notifying a number of chemical fungus disease controls that are now banned and will no longer be available.
These have to be used by or disposed of by 11th November 2017.
The four items are Yates Bravo, Yates Greenguard, Yates Guardall and Tui Disease Eliminator.
The active ingredient is Chlorothalonil, a fungicide to control fungal foliar diseases in vegetables, fruit, flowers and ornamental plants.
It is used in commercial agriculture and home gardens.
The EPA staff carried out a risk assessment for an application (APP202057), which showed high risks to human health.
I wrote about the dangers of Bravo many years ago from overseas research on the environment and human health.
It is a sad state of affairs that numerous chemicals are being sold and used for years when there are peer reviewed studies that show they are harmful to our health.
I have to wonder why our protection agencies are so slow in catching up to other countries when it comes to harmful substances?
Take DDT for instance from memory we were 16 years behind banning it after most of the rest of the world had prohibited its use.
The result of this is that years later there are still high amounts of DDT in the soil in various areas.
You can elect not to use harmful chemicals but you cant avoid them easily as they are in our conventional food chain and having long term heath issues.
While away visiting several garden shops I found that more people now days are concerned about glyphosate herbicide products and not buying them; so that is a start in the right direction even if its likely in the bread you eat and traces in most conventionally grown produce..
When will we ever learn?
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AUTUMN GARDENING

It is Easter next weekend and the weather has certainly changed; so for the last 3 days I have not watered any of my gardens or container plants including those in my glasshouse.
This is not because we have had lots of rain, its the soil in all situations including the glasshouse are not drying out as it was a month or so ago.
I check all the areas every couple of days and if the surface of the soil (compost) is still dark in colour indicating that there is still a good moisture content.
All the plants are happy with no sign of water stress so the best bet is to leave them till they dry out further. Even in the glasshouse where I have several tomato plants for winter cropping, along with a water melon the same applied.
I learnt a long time ago that over watering at the change of seasons and through the winter is really dangerous to plants in containers in the glasshouse and outdoors.
The much cooler temperatures reduces the evaporation aspect and plants do not need a lot of water, in fact they prefer their roots in a drier, just moist situation.
Sometimes in the past I have made that fatal mistake of watering every day without considering how moist the soil or growing medium already was.
When I have neglected this important aspect I have then lost plants left, right and centre.
Excessive water in the medium means two things, it increases the cold factor; just as we notice that if we have wet hands on a cold day they will be colder than dry hands.
Wet growing medium leads to rotting of the roots and the demise of the plants.
Outdoors in the garden we can not control the amount of rain that falls on our gardens and plants such as citrus can suffer when the soil becomes too wet.
Containers on the other hand, with sensitive plants growing in them, can be moved to more sheltered spots where they do not get rained on.
Any saucers under the containers should be removed and the containers lifted slightly off the ground by placing a couple of slats of wood under them.
This allows an airflow under the pot and keeps the drainage holes free to operate.
Wet weather diseases often take the lives of plants in winter if one is not careful.
You can help prevent the problem by a monthly spray of Perkfection Supa over the foliage.
This fortifies the plants and assists in the prevention of root rots.
In open garden situations prone to water logging, a trench dug around say your citrus trees, just outside of the root zone will assist surplus rain water to drain into the trench where it will evaporate faster with sun and wind.
The more rain in winter the greater the drainage problem becomes to plants, sensitive to wet feet.
Another problem is mulches that were applied over the summer months to retain moisture levels in the soil now become very dangerous around wet sensitive plants. These mulches should be raked back away from the root zone so the soil can breath freely.
Gardeners should be aware of these aspects and take the necessary precautions now.
A little care now will reduce the number of plants you may need to replace in the spring.
Plants also need to be hardened up to face winter better, and the way to do this is to apply potash.
Also lack of magnesium during the cooler months causes yellowing of leaves.
To overcome both these problems a monthly application of Fruit and Flower Power can be applied to the soil as the product contains both potash and magnesium.
Frost protection for tender plants is also a winter problem and a spray over the foliage using Vaporgard will give your tender plants down to minus 3 frost protection for 3 months within 3 days of application.
This works a treat for the occasional frost but if there is a series of frosts, day after day, then additional protection should be applied such as Frost Cloth.
Vaporgard is best sprayed on a nice sunny day in full sun to dry the film quicker.
Pests that have plagued your plants over the previous months will be disappearing now as the cooler weather takes over. Hopefully a good hard winter will kill many.
The more that do not survive winter, the less there will be to start breeding when the spring comes.
You can also assist in reducing their numbers now by a couple of sprays, a couple of weeks apart, using Super Neem Tree Oil and Super Pyrethrum.
Then in the spring as soon as the first pests are noticed repeat the sprays.
Early prevention can make for less problems in the summer months.
For the lawns there are two aspects to consider besides any patching or re-sowing.
Thatch, which is the debris that builds up on the soil surface and causes harm to your lawn should be treated with Thatch Busta to remove.
Porina caterpillars will be active at this time eating at the base of the grasses when they emerge in early evening. To fix them mow the lawn then apply Super Neem Tree Oil as a spray or by using a Lawnboy.
The trick is to get the oil to the base of the grass where they will consume some, never to eat again.
The larva of Grass Grubs or Black Beetles will in some lawns be near the surface eating the roots of your grasses.
The first step is to lift some turf and check for infestation numbers.
If only the odd one or two is found at any test spot then they will not do sufficient damage to warrant treating.
If a good number is found at a test spot, then treatment in that area should be applied.
Areas to check for are where previous damage has been done and also areas that are near night lights and street lights as the beetles were attracted to those spots when on the wing.
There are two treatments that can be used; one a sprinkling of Neem Tree Powder over target areas and lightly watered to settle the powder onto the soil.
The second is a natural one called Wallys 3 in 1 for lawns. Very safe to use and deadly on the grubs and Porina.
If using either of these two then a separate treatment using the Neem Oil would not be needed for Porina.
Mosses will also start to appear in lawns and other areas, Spray them now with Moss and Liverwort Control.
Making winter ready your gardens is an important part of gardening at this time of the year.
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MINERALS FROM THE OCEAN

A reader recently asked me to write an article about the advantages of using pure salt from the ocean in the garden for its mineral and sodium component and also using the same to kill weeds.
Lets firstly look at the weed control aspect of salt; this can be refined salt like table salt that is just about straight sodium chloride having had all the other minerals stripped from it.
Then there is pure ocean salt which has been sun and wind dried from ocean water that ideally has 114 minerals and elements in it.
As a weed control either will work but the better one to use is the unrefined which is sold as Ocean Solids. In 25 kg bags from farm supply places branded Dominion Salt, Agriculture salt, Grade 11.
Salt comes into its own when there are weeds growing in cobbles, paving, paths, tracks, driveways, waste areas and where there are well established trees and shrubs.
For instance if you have a wooded area that has been taken over by wandering jew and you throw a lot of salt at it, the weed will die without any adverse effect on the trees.
To make the job easier with wandering jew would be to cut it down low with a weed eater or slasher and then throw lots of salt at it.
Later if any new growth is seen spot treat with more salt.
On cobbles etc cover weeds with salt and lightly water to start it breaking down and killing the weeds.
Do not use in gardens where preferred annuals and perennials are growing as it is likely to harm them also.
The other use for Ocean Solids (not refined table salt) is to get all the minerals from the ocean into your gardens to improve the health of the plants.
The deep blue water of the ocean is rich in minerals and elements, in fact all the 114 elements known to man.
These elements are also in perfect balance for living organisms, health and well being.
Back in the 60’s/70’s a Dr Maynard Murray did a incredible amount of research into ocean solids and wrote the book 'Sea Energy Agriculture’ Nature’s Ideal Trace Element Blend for Farm, Livestock and Humans.' It is currently published by Acres USA.
Maynard dissected hundreds of ocean creatures and never once found tumors or disorders in their organs.
Doing the same to fish from streams and lakes, many were found to have tumors etc.
In one case he dissected a 100 year old whale and found its organs in pristine condition as good as a newly born whale.
Maynard realised it was the ocean water, rich in minerals that allowed the creatures living in it to be so free of the ills that effected fresh water and land creatures.
We know that at various times, all land masses were for periods of times, under the sea.
When a land mass arises from the sea it is mineral rich and once plant life establishes on the land it too is rich in minerals.
But over time through rain, erosion and leaching a lot of the minerals gained by the land are lost back into the sea.
It is interesting to note that in isolated pockets on the planet, where because of the terrain, that leaching does not take place.
People living in these pockets more often than not live to over a 100 years of age, in excellent health.
The reason, Maynard says, is because of the mineral rich diet they have, which allows the cells of the body to replicate perfectly, slowing right down the aging process and maintaining very healthy organs.
Maynard believed that if you give a plant all the possible minerals and elements it may need to grow as it should, then that plant would not be susceptible to diseases common to it.
Trials proved this point by supplying Ocean Solids to say nectarine trees in a row. Every second tree received the solids, the others being the controls. Then curly leaf disease was sprayed over all the trees.
After three years the controls had all died and the Ocean Solid trees never showed any signs of the disease. A number of similar trials were done on various plants with the same results!
Maynard took this a stage further by growing various crops of grains with Ocean Solids and feeding them to 200 female mice (C3H) that had been bred to always develop breast cancer which in turn causes their death.
200 more of the same C3H mice were fed conventional foods of whom all died within the normal 9 month period that their condition dictated, during which time they produced the normal two or three litters. (all to die later)
The Ocean Solid fed group were sacrificed at 16 months and a definitive examination revealed no cancerous tissue. This group also produced ten litters and no sign of the cancer in the off spring! The Ocean Solids grown foods had removed the cancer.
If we take this to the next stage then people that grow their own vegetables and fruit with Ocean Solids will be able to have in their food chain all the minerals that those vegetables are capable of taking up.
Maynard found that vegetables etc were capable of taking up about 20 to 60 odd elements dependent on the type of plant. On the other hand wheat and barley are capable of taking up all the 114 odd elements if available.
This is why wheat grass juice has become a very important plant in our health/ food chain.
Two aspects of this have become very important in my concerns for plant health and people’s health.
If we use Ocean Solids in our gardens along with other natural plant foods, building up the soil life populations, including the worms, then we will have very healthy plants that will not suffer from diseases unless they become stressed for some reason, or reach the end of their days.
If we grow our own vegetables, fruit and wheat grass with Ocean Solids our health can greatly improve, markedly reducing the possibility of many ills such as cancer.
Think of it, healthy roses, plants and gardens along with better health for you and your family.
Use rates are: New or existing gardens; 35 grams per square metre on gardens, sprinkled on and watered in. Use at the above rate for first year and then at half the rate for years 2 to 5. No further applications then for 5 years.
For trays or container plants use at a tablespoon per 4.5 litres of mix. (Scoop supplied does 18 Litres Mix)
As a spray: One tablespoon to 4.5 Litres of water spray over foliage to run off. The Purpose for the spray, is as a natural insecticide, fungicide and foliage feed. Use only Bi-Monthly and late in day when sun is off the plants.
As plant food: Use at 1 gram per Litre of water. (Also same for adding to Hydroponic solutions)
Bear in mind that the above use rates on to gardens will over time, with other natural products, bring up the health levels of the plants.
Some plants will respond fairly quickly where others may take a season or two to see really good changes. Plants in stress because of lack of moisture etc can still have problems, even with this program.
Good gardening practices are also needed.
If you are a fishing person and go out to the blue waters of the ocean then take a Jerry can with you to fill with ocean water.
Back on land dilute 1 to 10 and spray that over your soil and plants. Repeat about every three months.
If not fishing at sea then use the product Ocean Solids.
Your gardens, Your health.
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NEW INFORMATION ON THE HERBICIDE GLYPHOSATE (ROUNDUP ETC)

This week the Internet has been a buzz with new revelations about glyphosate the active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup.
I have spoken out against this chemical for many years after I found my use of the weed killer on the property caused skin problems on my dogs according to the medical professional that diagnosed the condition.
I also must admit that when I used the weed killer around my nursery, garden centre and home I would always feel a bit out of sorts for a couple of days.
This was likely from breathing in the fumes as I was not wearing a respirator believing at the time the propaganda from Monsanto that it was so safe you could drink it.
(That was found out to be so untrue when a Monsanto spokesman who made the statement was asked to do so on camera and refused saying do you think I am mad)
Over a number of years independent studies have shown all sorts of health issues in regards to glyphosate all of which are disputed by other scientists presumably in the pay of the manufacture.
Main Stream Media, (MSM) science journals, agriculture magazines appear to ignore the studies and will instead promote the safety of glyphosate.
I am of the opinion there are two types of science currently working; one I call true science which the studies are done by independent scientists and universities, peer reviewed and then largely dismissed by MSM
Then there is Paid For Science which will produce the required results that have been brought by the parties/companies who want to make money from their products.
As we now see in the USA how the CIA has controlled media outlets such as the Washington Post, New York Times and CNN to only make available the propaganda that the CIA want us to know about.
The same corrupt system is used by chemical companies and the pharmaceutical industry.
It is the result of honest scientists, whistle blowers, Wikileaks and the alternative media that we get to find out what is really happening.
This time I think Monsanto will have a hard time talking their way out of what has been exposed in very reputable areas including the US Courts.
Here is extracts from one of the many sites with this story:
Last week, we learned that an official at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA In the USA) helped Monsanto block additional review of glyphosate's link to cancer.
News also broke that Monsanto employees helped ghostwrite scientific papers related to the herbicide’s impact on human health.
How do we know this? A federal judge in San Francisco unsealed documents revealing that Jess Rowland ­ the EPA official charged with evaluating the cancer risk of glyphosate exposure ­ was looking out for Monsanto’s interests instead of closely evaluating the herbicide’s health impacts.
From the beginning of the glyphosate review, Monsanto has been interfering with the process to prevent EPA from determining that the chemical is a carcinogen.
Through unsealed records of emails and phone calls, we see that corporate interference around the glyphosate review runs deep.
EPA’s Rowland bragged to a Monsanto executive that he "deserved a medal" if he could kill another agency’s investigation into the chemical ­referring to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), which announced in 2015 that it planned to publish a toxicological profile of glyphosate.
Rowland’s communications with Monsanto staff were familiar and conspiratorial; one Monsanto official cautioned colleagues, “I doubt EPA and Jess can kill this,” and warned them not to “get your hopes up.” Ultimately, ATSDR never published the review.
Additionally, Monsanto’s toxicology manager and his boss were ghostwriters for two reports that Rowland’s committee utilized to reach its initial conclusion in September 2016 that glyphosate wasn't carcinogenic.
The strategy of relying on Monsanto ghostwriters for certain sections was revealed in email documents about containing costs for the research. Monsanto is denying these ghostwriting allegations, and EPA officials have yet to make public comment.
Monsanto is feeling the heat when it comes to their flagship herbicide.
The primary ingredient in RoundUp, glyphosate, is under increasing scrutiny for its links to cancer.
While the EPA review is ongoing, California recently registered the chemical under “Prop 65,” meaning the state considers it a possible carcinogen.
And in 2015, the UN’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) deemed glyphosate “probably carcinogenic to humans” after reviewing independent, peer-reviewed studies.
More than one hundred new cancer lawsuits have been filed against Monsanto over the last week ­not only from farmers and farm workers, but from consumers and home gardeners as well.
From recent court action in California it would appear the glyphosate products could soon be required to be labeled 'probably carcinogenic' in California which should then see similar labeling of the same products here in NZ.
There is sufficient peer reviewed studies to show this is very likely the case which means it would be advisable for retailers in NZ to voluntarily place these warnings on the shelves where the products are sold to prevent litigation against the stores.
The companies that have herbicides with glyphosate in the ingredients would be well advised to put the warnings on the labels to protect themselves against classaction litigation by astute Lawyers.
Like the health issues that have come from lead, mercury, asbestos and tobacco many agriculture workers and home gardeners that have developed cancer and a number of other glyphosate health issues could well sue manufactures and retailers that have not provided adequate warnings.
Recent studies in NZ Universities also highlight more health concerns with glyphosate. I quote:

Recent research has revealed that the herbicide could indeed be a contributing factor to the “superbug” epidemic that is being seen around the world.
Scientists from the University of Canterbury in New Zealand have piloted new research that shows glyphosate is not just an herbicide, but a potential vector for antibiotic-resistant disease.
The study is the first of its kind. Professor Jack Heinemann, from the university, says that while herbicides may be tested for their ability to kill bacteria, they are not tested for what other effects they may have on microbes.
“We found that exposure to some very common herbicides can cause bacteria to change their response to antibiotics.
They often become antibiotic resistant, but we also saw increased susceptibility or no effect.
In most cases, we saw increased resistance even to important clinical antibiotics,” Heinemann commented.
The professor went on to explain that their results were so surprising that they enlisted another researcher from a different institution to conduct the same exact experiments in a different environment and without knowing exactly what she was adding to the bacteria, to help ensure the validity of their findings.
The research conducted at Massey University yielded the same results as that done by the University of Canterbury.
According to the researchers, the effects they uncovered would be relevant to people and animals who are exposed to pesticides used in similar concentrations to that of what was tested.
While the amounts used by the team were of greater concentration than what is currently supposed to be allowed in food ­ as we all know, the amount of glyphosate residue in and on food often surpasses what is deemed “permissible.”
As antibiotic resistance continues to grow, the threat that glyphosate poses simply cannot be ignored.
The effects of herbicides like glyphosate can have on bacteria are very real ­ especially given the chemical’s tendency to be intentionally misused by farmers as a desiccant.
(This is a common practice, to spray crops such as wheat pre-harvest which means bread and other flour products that are not organic grown have good amounts of glyphosate in them.
I wonder if gluten intolerance is more to do with glyphosate sensitivity?)
Does glyphosate alter healthy bacteria in the gut, too?
Pathogenic bacteria are not the only microbes susceptible to the ill effects of glyphosate.
The bacteria that reside in the human gut can also be harmed by the toxic herbicide.
The very same shikamate pathway that glyphosate uses to target weeds and pathogenic bacteria species is the same pathway it would use to destroy the friendly and beneficial bacteria that inhabit the intestinal microbiome.
This, of course, would come with its own host of adverse health effects.
There is no reason to believe that if glyphosate is capable of killing or altering one type of bacteria, that it would not harm other bacteria via the same pathway.
Some research has already alluded to the potential for glyphosate to wreak havoc on the human digestive system.
Given that the microbiome is of great importance to overall human health, findings such as this are not surprising: if glyphosate is killing off intestinal bacteria, it stands to reason that may be the first point of disease.
Furthermore, some research has shown that glyphosate is capable of altering gut bacteria in other animals ­ for example, in 2014 German scientists found that glyphosate negatively affected the gut bacteria of cows.
It seems that the more we learn about glyphosate, the more dangerous it becomes.
for your reference here is the Link to court documents mentioned earlier:
http://www.naturalnews.com/files/JessRowlandMarionCopelyfiling.pdf

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TREE INFORMATION

Trees can be a blessing and a nuisance dependent on where they are and benefits they provide.
Trees are a wonderful source of shade from the summer sun both for us and animals but in winter they are the cause of dampness unless they are deciduous.
When deciduous trees lose their leaves as they go into winter; which for some gardeners that is great because they can make leaf mould for their gardens. For others the fallen leaves are a menace, blocking drains and a chore to rake up.
Some types of trees planted too near to buildings or concrete pathways cause damage over time with their roots as they grow and age.
Never underestimate the power of plant growth whether it is roots or foliage.
Last season a tomato plant growing in one of my glasshouses was able to squeeze a shoot between a pane of glass and the frame poking itself outside of the house.
As this tender shoot grew it placed pressure on the glass until the glass cracked. Remarkable and annoying.
Trees can be annoying also particularly if they were badly positioned when planted, blocking views, damaging paths and a danger in wet times with high winds.
When the soil becomes really wet plants loose their root grip or their root anchors.
This is easy to see as after a good amount of rain weeds are very easy to pull out of the soil.
During times of dry soil they are very hard to pull out and more often will break than let go of the soil.
Trees have the same problem their roots cant grip the wet soil making them more vulnerable to falling over when the wind is strong enough to push them over.
Like weeds in dry soil times very strong winds are not going to rip the trees out, more likely they will break instead.
Deciduous trees when they have lost their leaves in winter are not the wind break they are in summer when they are fully clothed in leaves.
It is prudent to open up trees that could be a danger to allow wind to more easily pass through them.
Hence the first lesson in pruning trees (and other plants) if you cut the end off a branch it will cause dormant buds before the cut to form new branches.
We use this aspect to advantage with new trees in particular ones we call rods. ( A rod is a grafted tree that has little or no side branches when you buy it)
With rods we cut a few cm off the top causing new branches to grow off the rod.
Lower branches we will remove if desired. The new branches that have formed we may also cut the ends off some to make the tree more bushy.
If we want to open up a tree to allow more wind and light to pass through then we do not cut the end off a branch instead we remove the branch completely off the trunk where it originated from.
If you have trees on your section and with the 'interesting' weather patterns we have these days it would be a good idea to make them more wind tolerant.
Some trees have a nasty habit of wanting to become the mother of a forest and they send up what we call 'Suckers' from their root system which can appear all over the place.
Gardeners with a tree that suckers will find saplings coming up in the lawn and gardens often several metres away from the mother.
Most annoying and if you want to keep the parent you cant use a herbicide to kill the suckers as that can and will badly effect the parent and may kill it with continual treatments.
All you can do is keep cutting the suckers off when they appear.
You may at sometime decide to cut the tree out and if you do so by cutting through the trunk with a chainsaw you are likely to create the worst problem ever.
If you wish to remove a tree whether it suckers before hand or not the safe way to do it is to ring bark it.
This means you cut through the bark into the live wood a couple of cm or so right around the girth of the trunk.
What this does is cut the canopy off from the roots so the roots do not get any energy from the sun and the canopy gets no moisture from the roots and both die together.
An elderly lady gardener I spoke to this week thank me for this advise I had given her a couple of years ago.
She had a suckering tree which was throwing up suckers all over the place and had told me that she was going to have the tree removed.
I had told her to ring bark first then when it has died then cut it down.
I was told this week that it worked a treat all the suckers died along with the tree and was removed successfully with no more hassles.
After the tree has died then you can fell it and the best way is to progressively remove branches and then sections of the trunk.
As you are not likely a Timberjack and its might seem nice to call out timber as a massive tree with all its branches crashes down, destroying whatever in its path and maybe yourself as well.
To have a tree removal service come in to remove a tree start thinking about a thousand dollars and then work your way deeper into your wallet.
Work & Safety has added to the cost of ALL work, thousands of dollars much of which in my mind has not necessarily made things safer and in several cases I have heard about actually made some situations more dangerous to follow their requirements.
Mind you we killed common sense a long time ago so we need a nanny to guide us in our stupidity.
One thing I learnt and I presume its correct if you are doing something that is not for reward (payment) then the requirements of Work & Safety provision do not apply.
At the end of the day once the tree is down you have a pile of firewood which is great if you have a wood burner otherwise donate the wood to a charity for a family that can make use of it.
Then there is the stump which you could have as a garden seat, sit a container plant on it, or pay money to have a stump grinder come in and leave you with a pile of wood chips.
Alternatively you can rot the stump out yourself. For many years we have suggested Stump Rotter which is potassium nitrate (saltpetre or as some prefer saltpeter) helps to speed up the break down of the wooden stump over time.
t is not quick and maybe instead of taking say 10 years naturally it may do it in say 5 years. Just recently we have brought in a compound from overseas that will break down stumps much faster according to what I have learnt.
It will be called Super Stump Rotter and once we get labels printed we will write about how to use it.
One other point with grafted trees you may find on examination that new growths are growing out of the root stock.
These if allowed to grow would take over and your scion (the tree above that you want) would die. So every 3 months or so check for these shoots and nip them off.
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PLANTING

Planting your newly acquired plants into a hole in the open ground or a container seems simple enough and fairly straight forward but certain factors may determine long term success or failure.
Recently I had a question put to me in regards to a young healthy leucadendron that was planted in a suitable situation but died about a week or so later.
Seeing the plant was very healthy when purchased you would wonder why it turned up its toes and died so quickly.
One clue to the reason was that the person concerned, soaked the plant in a bucket of water before planting and watered it every couple of days. Likely when it started showing signs of dying it was watered more frequently.
Leucadendrons dont like wet feet and must be planted in a very free draining situation otherwise they can get root rots and die.
This reminded me of a lesson I learnt many years ago when as a nurseryman I obtained several hundred baby shrubs which we call GLO's (definition is Growing on Lines).
These are usually rooted cutting growing plants in small 'grow' tubes and ready to be potted up into larger containers.
I potted them up and gave them a watering which was repeated daily in a tunnel house.
After a while the plants started showing signs of dying with discolored foliage and leaf drop.
I could not work out what was wrong and one day while another nurseryman was visiting I asked him what he thought was the problem.
He examined a couple of the potted plants when tapped the plants out of the containers to examine the roots.
To my surprise the original root ball and mix was bone dry yet the surrounding new mix was very wet.
What had happened in this case was the GOL's were fairly dry when they were potted into a nice damp mix.
This caused a surface tension between the dry mix and the wet which meant when they were watered the dry mix did not accept water and all the water would go to the damp mix making it wetter still.
The poor young plants were not getting much if any water and they were dying as a result.
The remedy was to take each pot and plunge into a tub of water and watch the bubbles come.
Once bubbling had finished then allowed surplus to drain and place back into the tunnel house.
Fortunately a good number survived.
The reverse I believe happen with the Leucadendron, it was soaked in a bucket of water and then planted into a dry soil hole.
Every time it was watered the water would just soak the root ball and not spread into the surrounding dry soil. Therefore the roots being too wet, then rotted.
To over come the problem would have either been not to have soaked the plant before planting or to fill the planting hole with water and allow that to disappear before planting the soaked plant.
A trap for young players and one that does not normally occur except during dry times or wet times when one medium is very different in its moisture level to the other.
Another trap when planting into heavier soils and especially clay soils during times when the soil is wet.
When digging the planting hole, the spade tends to leave the sides and base smooth through the action of digging.
These smooth area can dry and set hard like a clay pot in the ground. You place your shrub into the hole and back fill then what happens when the sides of the hole dries the roots are trapped in the original growing medium.
That is about the same as leaving the new plant in its planter bag or container it came in and planted it all into the soil.
The roots are basically trapped and the plant does not fair well.
The solution is to rough up the sides and base of the hole by running the edge of the spade down the sides of the hole to the base leaving cuts in both sides and base.
When planting a shrub it is a good policy to make the hole twice as big as needed in depth and width.
Take a small amount of the soil removed and mix it with a good purchased compost.
Place this fill into the base of the soil filling to the right level to allow the new plant to be a little under the surrounding soil level.
Then sprinkle Rok Solid, some Blood & Bone and Sheep Manure Pellets in on top of the mix. Next remove plant from container and sit squarely in the hole.
Back fill with compost mix and firm down. Give the planting hole area a good drink.
If the soil was very dry after digging the planting hole then fill the hole with water and allow to soak in before using fill. Also put the plant in its container into a tub of water and wait till it stops bubbling.
If heavy clay soil after roughing up hole sprinkle a good handful of Gypsum which helps open the soil for the roots later on.
If you have a plant such as a citrus that does not like wet feet then plant into a mound so part of the root zone will be above surrounding soil and above the wet area.
[People up north where there has been lots of rain this past while should check their plants such as citrus that do not like sitting in water.
Two things can be done, spray the foliage with Perkfection to assist recovery.
Next go out just beyond the drip line and dig a trench one spade deep in a circle or half circle (as appropriate) This will allow surplus water to drain into the ditch where sunlight and wind will evaporate it quicker.]
Alternatively if a dry area and a plant that likes water, plant deeper than surrounding soil so the top area can collect water. In very dry area time you can have planted a plastic 2 litre cordial bottle with open neck down into soil and bottom cut off.
Later in dry times you can water straight into the bottle bottom.
The best time of the year for planting shrubs and trees is in the autumn through into winter.
Normally there is adequate moisture around without the need to water. Temperatures and sunlight hours are lower and that removes stress off the foliage.
A spray of Vaporgard over and under foliage either prior to or after planting will greatly assist in the establishment.
Planting in autumn gives up to 9 months establishment time before facing the summer heat and likely drier conditions.
This is also the reason that the best lawns are planted in autumn.
Late autumn and winter is also the best time to transplant established plants to another area.
A spray over the foliage with Vaporgard a few days prior to lifting will increase the success rate.
Deciduous plants such as roses best left to relocate in the middle of winter when they are dormant.
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YOUR GARDEN AND YOUR HEALTH

Recently a reader asked me about my views on our food chain and peoples health in NZ.
I thought that some other readers maybe interested in my observations and what I have learnt over many years.
This is not a scientific, peer reviewed study instead it is from experience and common sense.
It is to do with our food chain from the time I was a young boy and what changes I have seen in commercial growing.
Market gardens back then I was young were mostly owned by Chinese and the main nutrients used was blood & bone and garden lime.
The blood & bone back then was a different product than what we call blood & bone these days, it was rich in goodness and highly sort after by commercial Chinese growers.
Most of these Chinese were immigrants to NZ and with them they brought the knowledge of growing vegetables that are high in healthy values as the Chinese had been doing for hundreds of years.
These vegetables tasted great, provided essential minerals and elements and the population overall was far more healthy than we see today. (Remember; Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food)
That is something that many have forgotten.
I believe that it all changed when fertiliser companies started making superphosphate (Reactive rock phosphate broken down with acid) along with ex-war materials such as ammonium sulphate, potassium nitrate etc.
Finding a new use for the two later products; agriculture was the obvious choice. They make plants and grass grow faster and bigger even though the health benefits are reduced.
The superphoshate having acid in it kills the beneficial microbes in the soil, the beneficial fungi and the earth worms along with the soil food web.
This effectively removed the natural soil environment and replaced it will a artificial one which after a few years the soil is inert or as we say dead.
Plants or grasses grown in this environment are not healthy and there is a rule in nature ‘The weak will be removed to feed the strong’ what we call insect pests and plant diseases are actually are Natures Cleaners.
The cleaners seek out the weak plants and convert them back to organic material to the benefit of the strong plants.
Thus when a whole area of grass or vegetables are what I call sick plants, then farmers have to use rescue chemicals to control both pests and diseases.
Some of these poisons are systemic and last for a long time inside the plant.
Others are contact but wash down into the soil where they are taken up by the roots of the plants and trans-locate through to the foliage in some vegetables they are stored in the tubers such as in potatoes and carrots.
If you look at the NZFSA web site they have charts that show common vegetables and fruit with the amount of chemicals in them and the different types. (From the tests they do for safety)
From memory cucumbers can have about 23 different ones, each supposedly within what has been considered safe levels for men.
(It does not take into account fully whether they are safe levels for women, children or babies.)
Even if they were right about safe limits the question arises why do they increase the safe ppm from time to time as more of a chemical is found? (Local market only; export is a different game as other countries can have greater regulations)
Another obvious problem occurs that when you have two or more chemical poisons together what is the combined affect on the health of the consumer.(also known as a synthesis reaction)
This is an area that is avoided by NZFSA.
In general it is an area that the chemical companies don’t want any one to go down either.
We know that when it comes to pharmaceutical medications there is special attention given to allergic reactions and what medicines are known to be safe in conjunction with other medicines.
No research is done when combinations of chemicals go into our food chain, insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, fertilisers as well as chemicals in processed foods.
The best of man made artificial fertilisers have up to 16 minerals and elements in them yet we know that there are at least 114 natural minerals and elements that should be made available to healthy plants so they can choose what elements they need.
(Then what they do not have they try to convert other minerals and elements to obtain what they need in their little chemical factories.)
The elements (114) are found in ocean water and rocks. (Ocean Solids & Rok Solid)
The obvious benefit of this is, the plant can concentrate on growing and not waste energy trying to make the elements it requires.
It also means that when attacked by a pest or disease it can quickly manufacture the defense systems it needs to sustain the attack and also transfer the information of the type of attack to other plants of the same family in the area, likely done through the beneficial fungi in the soil (Their own Undernet)
So if you get the picture the conventional food chain (conventional was a word stolen to try and make the practices of chemical agriculture appear normal) is sadly lacking in real nutritional values (some scientists say it has lost about 80% in the last 60 odd years) and is choker full of numerous poisons
so that the cabbage you buy in the supermarket is a perfect picture to the eye but a slow poison concoction to our bodies.
Now if we reflect back about 60 years ago and compare the health stats of then and up to current you will notice the health issues per 1000 people have greatly increased from very low numbers to extremely high in some health conditions.
Also back 60 years ago it was virtually impossible for a baby to be born with cancer or extremely rare for a child to be suffering the same, now days it not uncommon as a visit to Star Ship will confirm.
The obvious reason by-in large is the food chain..
In my opinion glyphosate is the most insidious poison of them all mainly because it will be in just about every thing you eat not grown organically. (even then there can be traces)
Add that to all the other poisons in your food chain and wonder why your health is not as good as it should be.
Have a wee look at http://foodbabe.com/2016/11/15/monsanto/
It shows the results of a study on common processed foods in USA many of which are also on our Supermarket shelves.
Here is a bit from an article I wrote last year to validate my non-scientific claims:
Recently I wrote an article in regards to the Supermarket promotion of 'Little Gardens' and one of my readers emailed me the following:
Excellent article Wally.

My wife & I also involve our kids in the gardening & they have their own patches to garden. They will eat any vegetable put on their plates & like them raw even better than cooked in most cases!
We started them off helping in the garden as soon as they could walk and they were eating radishes covered in dirt as soon as they had a couple of teeth.
They have excellent health & don't get sick any where near as often as most other children their age.
On the rare occasion that they do get sick, they are over it in a few days while others are sick for weeks (Not boasting, just pointing out the miraculous power of healthy home grown organic veges).
Our 3 children are also growing the NW supermarket little gardens at home & just love anything to do with growing plants (and eating them of course) Thanks for the great article once again. Tony Olsen
As my mum used to say ‘The proof is in the pudding’ Naturally grown vegetables are full of goodness, taste great, very filling when eating and they build strong immune systems.
There is one other solution besides growing as much food of your own as possible and that is doing on going detoxing so that the poisons don’t build up in the cells and fat of your body to cause you health issues.
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VAPORGARD

Many readers will know about Vaporgard and have used it as winter approaches to protect more tender plants against occasional frosts. There is much more to this product than frost protection.
Firstly lets recap on its winter use:
Frosts and winter chills are a problem for many gardeners during winter and the more tender plants need protection or losses can occur.
As we have become more adventurous in our gardens and containers, planting exotic and tropical type plants, protection is needed; otherwise we treat these desired plants as expensive annuals.
Glasshouses offer a degree of frost protection for tender plants but frosts can penetrate the glass doing damage also.
A commercial product called ‘Vaporgard’ has been available to the home gardener for several years now and this product has a multitude of uses including using as a spray-on-frost cloth.
Very simple to use; mix 15 mls per litre of warm water and then spray over plants for a good coverage. Use in full sunlight so that the film will set quicker.
In cold weather place your bottle of Vaporgard into a jug of hot water for about 5 minutes to assist in making the fluid easier to pour. Vaporgard is organic and it provides a long lasting (2-3 months; longer in winter) film over the foliage which can protect down to –3 degrees C.
New growth requires further applications but as there is very little growth through winter, this is not needed till the spring.
Note; for the full protection that Vaporgard can give against frost and chill damage takes about 3 days to come into effect.(see below in regards to UV protection)
Putting on frost cloth and taking it off is a chore and more often or not, one either forgets or you get caught out. Vaporgard overcomes these problems and becomes an all winter, first line of defense against the chills.
In areas where you have harder frosts than –3 you will still need the extra protection such as the traditional frost cloth (Good quality frost cloth protects down to –5), combine the two together and you will have increased protection.
Note, using just Vaporgard and when there are several frosts in a row, damage will result as the plants cells do not have time to heal before being frozen again. The foliage damaged will turn black. Do not remove as it protects good foliage lower down. .
Vaporgard has a multitude of uses, it can be used to great advantage when transplanting seedlings and moving established plants. Vaporgard reduces moisture loss though the foliage and thus reduces transplant stress or shock.
This factor can be used to great advantage in summer on your container plants when they start to suffer through drying out between waterings.
Just spray the plants under and over the foliage and they will require far less watering as it reduces water needs by about 30 to 40%.
In a glasshouse, or on very hot days in summer, plants such as tomatoes and cubits can droop during the day. At that time they have stopped growing. This is because even though the medium is moist the plant cant move enough moisture to the tops of the foliage fast enough.
Just spray with the product to help reduce this problem. With tomatoes if there is not sufficient moisture at pollination time then your fruit will suffer blossom end rot where the base of the fruit goes black as it ripens.
Another interesting aspect is, 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 rays.
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, especially glycol; giving stress protection from moisture loss and extra fuel for better growth and faster maturity.
The film also offers some protection against some fungus diseases. Sprayed on fruit it will give your fruit better colour, reduce splitting problems, increases sugar content and earlier maturity.
The picked fruit will store for longer also. This aspect also applies to vegetables, potatoes and pumpkins, sprayed before or after harvest they will keep longer.
You could also use this for keeping cut flowers longer. A magic product that has uses all year round.
A few don'ts through; never put chemicals in the spray mix if using on food crops as the harmful chemical will still be present when you harvest.
Safe products such as Neem and Perkfection can still be used.
Do not spray blue conifers with Vaporgard as it will turn them green for about a year. Otherwise no other problems just advantages.
Note: when bottle is empty pour some warm water into the bottle to get the last approx 5 ml of the product out. Made up spray should be used within 24 hours as it may not keep.
Store your Vaporgard bottle out of direct sunlight but not in your sprayer's bottle..
When finished spraying immediately flush out sprayer with warm to hot water as Vaporgard can clog the filters and jets. If this happens use Meths or white spirits to clean.
This season many of us suffered losses with our garlic crop though the disease called rust.
Now at this time I noticed that a late planting of garlic leaves and the current crop of sweet corn has also started to show signs of the disease.
Potassium permanganate at the rate of quarter a teaspoon to a litre of water should be use to prevent and control. When I did this recently I also added Vaporgard at 15mls per litre to the mix.
The idea here is to not only arrest the spread of rust but also to put a film over the leaves so the undamaged parts can keep free of the disease and produce more energy from the sun.
What I am doing is compensating for any loss of leaf surface by increasing the ability of good leaf to produce more energy.
Also the film itself makes it impossible for disease to reach the leaf surface.
I have also use Vaporgard on foliage that has been colonized with pest insects such as aphids adding say some Super Pyrethrum to the spray for the quick knock down properties and the film sticks up the pests, smothering them and making a great clean kill.
The insects are more often than not on the underside of the leaves.
Using potassium permanganate with Vaporgard on stone fruit to protect against curly leaf is also a good idea. Initially use the potassium permanganate with Raingard every 7 to 10 days as leaves are growing.
Then when there is a good show of leaves switch one spray to the Vaporgard combination. 10 days later resume with Raingard . The Vaporgard will enable those leaves sprayed to gain more energy even on hazy or cloudy days.
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LAWNS

Great gardens are enhanced by great looking lawns. Poor, scruffy, weedy lawns ruin the appearance of the best of gardens. In fact one can go as far as saying that a great looking lawn will improve the appearance of a mediocre garden.
Likely you have noticed that after mowing your lawns your gardens look much better.
It would then make sense for anyone landscaping a section, to firstly establish great looking lawns before worrying too much about the gardens the lawn will border on.
Autumn is the best time to sow a new lawn as the autumn rains and cooler temperatures make it easier for the grasses to establish.
Spring planted lawns do not have much time to establish before they are hit with the summer conditions and unless regularly watered, they can fail.
Gardeners that plan to sow a new lawn or rip up a tatty lawn for resowing, should start preparations now.
The first thing to do is to determine what the soil is like in the area to be sown. Light, sandy soils need good friable top soil and compost mixed through the soil.
Heavier clay type soils need to be opened up by using ample Gypsum, top soil and sand, incorporated.
Gardeners that are blessed with nice friable soil need only incorporate more compost into it.
The first step would be to kill off whatever is growing in the area to be sown and then rotary hoe to a depth of at least 250mm.
Then place a layer of the materials you are going to add to the area (about 4 to 6 cm thick) and rotary hoe them in.
Now we water the area regularly to germinate the weed seeds that are going to be present.
Once these weeds are up they can then be killed off. A further layer of introduce material may then be applied to the area and rotary hoed in also.
Water and allow the weeds to germinate so you can kill them off while young. We are trying to establish an area of friable soil to a depth of about 250mm that is free draining with ample humus for moisture retention.
If the area is prone to flooding you may wish at this stage to lay some nova-flow pipes for drainage.
It is also at this stage when a pop-up irrigation system can be laid. Complete these tasks and level off the lawn allowing a fall for water run off, this is to prevent ponding later.
Once again water to germinate any other weed seeds. The above will be done over several weeks which should take us into autumn and the time to sow your new lawn.
The quality of lawn seed you buy will determine the end result so no cheap lawn seed.
Super Strike lawn seed is one I can recommend as it comprises of only fine turf grasses and no brown top seed. (Do not sow a mix with brown top in it as the brown top is a grass that gives you thatch problems and looks out of place in a fine rye and fescue mix)
Super Strike has a fine coating on the seed which only adds a gram of weight per kilo of seed. Most other coated seeds can add up to 500 grams of coating per kilo and you lose 500 grams of seed.
We will look at sowing and after care, later on in autumn.
For those gardeners that have a reasonable lawn which is prone to weeds and is not as thick a mat as you would like, then you can use another method for improving your existing lawn.
It is too early to start this, but what you do when the soil becomes moist with autumn rains is to hire a scarifier and run that over your lawn, north/south, east/west.
This rips up the thatch and makes grooves in the moist soil. You then spread a top quality lawn seed and gently water it into the grooves.
This method will greatly improve your lawn, thickening up the grasses, making it difficult for weeds to establish and creating a carpet of green.
You can do the same again the following autumn till you have the lawn you require.
For those gardeners that do have a great lawn there is a reasonable amount of work needed to keep it nice.
Never mow more than one third off the height of the lawn in any one mowing. Also mow so that the height of the grasses are between 25 to 50 mm tall. Mowing lower weakens grasses and allows weed establishment.
Never use Lawn Fertiliser on the lawn It is quick and nasty and only gives the lawn a boost and then nothing. Only use a slow release lawn fertiliser and preferably a natural one such as Bio-Boost.
Ordinary lawn fertilisers damage the soil food web, weaken the grasses and cause thatch problems.
You can apply the following products to advantage, soft garden lime, dolomite, gypsum, diluted liquid animal manures, Magic Botanic Liquid, Perkfection and Ocean Solids as a liquid feed or spray.
Grasses are just another plant like your roses, and for healthy plants you need natural products.
Twice yearly applications of Thatch Busta will not only eat up thatch in your lawn but will also improve the soil food web for healthier grasses.
This can be done now as long as you keep the lawn soil a little moist after application.
If you need to apply a weed killer always add the Thatch Busta to the spray as it will make the spray work better and the weeds will disappear faster. It will also off set the damage the chemical does to the soil life.
If you have ‘dry spot’ which are areas where the grass is browning off, it is because the soil has become too dry and will not accept water. You can remedy this very simply by adding some dish washing liquid to warm water in a watercan and apply this to dry areas.
A couple of gardeners have told me that they have porina caterpillars in their lawns at this time.
This would be right as the young caterpillars would be active now and they eat the grasses at the base, causing gaps and damaging the lawn. A simple spray of Neem Tree Oil over the lawn late in the day after the lawn has recently been mowed will stop the damage.
A further spray of the same about a month later should catch others that have hatched out in the meantime.
Root Nematodes are another pest that attack lawns but being at the root area of the grasses they are hard to detect. When nematodes suck on roots they take energy from the plant and the plant looses its vigor.
After mowing the lawn you can sprinkle Neem tree Powder over the lawn and water in. The powder breaks down, releasing the Neem properties which are taken up by the roots of the grasses and thus stopping the nematodes from ever feeding again.
A few weeks after application you will notice a new luster to the grasses as the leech's have stopped sucking. The same treatment will also take care of any grass grubs feeding on the roots and porina chewing on the grasses.
Another point with lawns are the lawn mowing contractors whom in many cases want to mow their client’s lawns so low that they scalp the lawns. This is really bad as it opens up the lawn to weeds and weakens the grasses.
The result is a lawn full of weeds that quickly becomes unsightly and needs the mower man back to do it again, often.
Another point that some have complained about is that mower contractors do not wash their mowers between lawns and as a result, they can carry new weed seeds to your lawn.
Great looking lawns add a lot of value to your property and are a pride to the owner.
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GROW YOUR OWN SEEDS

Raising plants from seeds is a great sense of achievement for most gardeners and when the seeds are the ones you collected for free it is even better.
All plants that you have growing in your gardens seed at sometime, with some plants that maybe years away but with annual plants it is at maturity each year. Annual plants that are left to seed and die back will have produced fertile seeds if pollination has occurred successfully.
If these seeds are left to fall naturally to the soil then at some ideal time for them, they will germinate and produce seedlings.
Two things prevent this happening the first been; you removing the dying plants before they can distribute seed or in the case of many vegetables you have harvested before the crop goes to seed and removed flowering vegetables before they set seed.
When you have left something to flower and drop fertile seeds; then later on if you don't recognize those seedlings as preferred plants, you may kill them thinking they are weeds.
It is a learning curve to know what is a wanted plant and a unwanted plant but with a little close observation you can score a lot of free plants by allowing mature plants to seed.
When plants produce seed pods that are drying out, then more than likely there are fertilised seeds in the pods which you can harvest for sowing sometime.
This apply to a wide range of plants from roses with rose hips, natives, ornamentals, flowers, vegetables and fruit.
How many of us have eaten a ripe plum off their tree and spat out the stone? Months or maybe even years later up pops a plum seedling which will eventually grow into another plum tree, similar or even different from your named plum tree.
There are a number of fruits that we buy that have seeds, which we can collect at no extra cost.
This includes tomatoes, capsicums, beans, peas, pumpkin, passion fruit, melons, apples, citrus, stone fruit, figs, even strawberries (which are not a fruit as their seeds are on the outside.)
I have at sometime grown all in the list from purchase fruit (Fruit, the definition is one that has seeds inside, which includes beans, capsicum etc)
If you come across a special fruit or one that is more difficult to get the seed of from seed packets then you should certainly save the seed and plant them some time. Whether it is successful or not it really does not matter as its free and a bit of a challenge.
Recently we found two Asian foods one type of snake bean and two types of bitter melon. I collected a few seeds from them and with the snake bean just sat the whole bean on a late afternoon windowsill to dry out and mature the seeds.
They are now all growing happily in one of my glasshouses and later we shall find out if they have come true to form.
Sometime ago I found Dragon Fruit for sale and now have a big specimen which should be approaching flowering time soon and also a number of baby ones.
Collecting some seed from fruit you have grown or purchased is just the matter of removing them from the fruit, laying on a bit of paper towel to allow to dry.
Once they are dry you can either plant them or store them.
The best way to store is to write on the paper towel what they are then place inside a sealed glass jar and then into the fridge where they can wait till you are ready to plant.
Several types of seeds can be stored in the same jar. The fridge storage means they will keep very well for a long period of time. I have tomato seed over 30 years old that will still give me about 20 to 50% strike rate.
The fridge also gives the seeds a false winter so when they come out they will think its spring and germinate better as a result.
Spring is normally the best time to bring out seeds you wish to sprout as the day light hours are extending and many seeds relate to that.
Self sown seeds lay dormant until the conditions are ideal for them to sprout, that means light hours, temperature and moisture levels.
When they germinate they send down (in most cases) a long tap root just as the trunk sprouts upwards.
This long tap root has secondary roots formed off it making the plant sturdy and deep rooting.
This enables the plant to gather food & moisture better than transplants.
Thus where possible you sown your seeds where the plant is going to grow to maturity.
Seeds germinated in cell packs dont have the advantage of deep rooting but they do have the advantage of less root disturbance when transplanting.
Punnet grown seedlings will suffer the most root damage when you separate the seedlings, but another aspect comes into play, the damaged roots will be quicker to produce side roots and also generate a bigger root system.
Normally this time of the year germinating seeds is not a problem as the soil temperatures are supposed to be over 10 degrees. In a glasshouse where the air temperature is warm seeds in containers will germinate better as long as adequate moisture is applied to the medium.
Before you cover your seeds spray them with a solution of Magic Botanic Liquid (MBL) at 20 ml per litre of water. This natural product stimulates the germination to kick in.
A method to germinate in cold soil is to make a trench or a square, (about a metre square) and make either about 10cm deep.
Cut the lawn and then trample the grass clippings into this prepared area.
Trampled till its is about 3cm from the top. Cover with some sieved medium or soil (1cm) sprinkle or place your seeds, spray with MBL and then cover with more fine medium. Leaving about 1 cm below surrounding soil level.
This allows water to settle into the area rather than run off.
When germinating in trays or cell packs use a good compost such as Daltons or Oderings as the base then with a sieve you sieve some of the same mix to make a nice layer of friable smaller particles.
Its onto this your spread your seeds, spray with MBL and cover by sieving more compost.
In the garden sieve the soil for a seed raising bed. Forget the seed raising mixes they are a waste of time as well as being too expensive when compared to the herbicide free two brands I have mentioned.
Keep ing seeds of your favorite vegetables is very important because seed strains disappear overnight as seed companies replace varieties.
Also certain companies want to control all the food seeds in the world and they buy up smaller seed companies then provide only the seeds they have sole rights to.
One of these companies has in certain countries persuaded the Governments to pass laws making the collection of ones own seeds illegal.
This has made life for the native farmers intolerable and to compound matters often the seeds that are then sold to them are not suitable for their growing conditions and result in either poor or no crops.
Cant happen in NZ you say? Us older gardeners know that plenty excellent named varieties of vegetables have disappear and the newer varieties are not half as good.
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TOMATOES

This week lets have a good look at tomatoes and the growing of them.
We are already halfway through a summer that did not happen (Except in Northland and a few other areas) and a number of people have commented on the long time it has taken for their tomatoes to ripen.
The reason is insufficient direct sun light which is really causing lots of problems for gardeners through out most of the country.
Here we are in the beginning of February and not only has there been only a handful of good sunny days, there are also too many days and nights of chilly winds.
The weather is more like being halfway though autumn instead of summer. The plants are more than confused and I noticed the other day a pear tree of mine in flower?
This can happen sometimes when we have an Indian Summer with mild temperatures going into winter with shorter day light hours, which triggers premature flowering.
But first time I have seen this in the middle of summer; the cause lower temperatures and insufficient direct sun light hours..
My observations are that a couple of self sown Russian Red tomatoes one outside in a sheltered raised garden and another in a small glasshouse have done very well.
The glasshouse one produced ripe tomatoes before Xmas and the outside one in early New Year.
If not for these two feral tomato plants I would still be waiting for my own seed raised tomatoes to ripen.
One big plus about this crazy weather is that the dreaded psyllids and whitefly have not been a problem as the temperatures have not been favorable for them to breed.
The sticky whitefly traps I am using in the glasshouses have caught a few adults and that has helped to keep them at bay.
Aphids on the other hand are not affected by the cooler weather and they have had to be sprayed for every couple of weeks. Normally in hot weather they disappear till it cools down a bit.
You may think that growing tomatoes at this time of the year is a waste of time because they are normally fairly cheap to buy. The price at writing is still fairly dear at about $3.00 a kilo which means the commercial growers are also having problems.
From my two Russian Red tomato plants I can pick a couple of kilos every week so that is a nice savings.
To encourage your tomatoes to ripen and grow in these more trying weather times; then on a sunny dry day remove some leaves to open up the fruit to the sunlight (when there is some)
Bottom leaves are good to remove as any insect pests are most likely to be on those leaves. The leaves should be sealed in a plastic bag to rot in the sun and then placed in the compost or on top of the soil in gardens where there are no tomatoes or potatoes.
Laterals are the side shoots of tomatoes that emerge from the area between trunk and leaf.
If you allow these to grow you will end up with a massive plant having to use multiple stakes to support all the stems, foliage & fruit. The fruit will tend to be smaller as a lot of the growth is going into vegetation rather than the fruit.
Removing the laterals will reduce the amount of fruit but these should be bigger as a result.
For those that are growing tomatoes that can weigh one kilo or more with one slice bigger than your bread for a sandwich you not only remove laterals but you also reduce down to one or two fruit on a truss by removing all the smaller ones after the fruit has set.
Use a big cup sized bra, tied to a stake to support the fruit
When removing leaves, laterals, flowers or fruit, this should always be done on a sunny day when the air is dry as moisture from humidity can allow disease to rise up and enter the wound.
That can lead to an area on the trunk where it starts to rot through, causing all the plant above that area to die while any growth below the rot area will thrive.
The plant will. as this is happening, generate aerial roots hoping to reach soil to re-root and save itself.
This is like a triple by-pass.
Because tomato and potato plants can root all the way up the trunk or helm we should plant seedlings deeper and up to the first true leaves. This gives the plant a much larger root system and make the top more productive.
Tomato plants grown on open ground and not staked will tend to lay down from the weight of leaves and fruit where they will create secondary rooting and become a big spreading plant as a result.
Tomatoes are not climbing plants, it is our intervention by staking that keeps the growth upright and the fruit off the soil.
A important factor in growing tomatoes is to keep feeding the plant a top quality tomato food even after you start to pick ripe fruit.
As long as the growing conditions are favorable the plant will keep growing and producing fruit but being a gross feeder you must keep feeding.
My own Wallys Secret Tomato food is preferred by many gardeners who report great results from it each season.
There is not only ample nitrogen for growth but plenty of potash to ensure good fruit with excellent flavor.
Having Neem Tree Powder incorporated with the food gives protection against some insect pests.
Produce, fruit in particular apples along with honey are going to be expensive this year because of the unusual weather conditions so a word of advise for gardeners put in winter crops now and save some money later on.
There are some people who strongly believe that our weather is manipulated by using what has been called Geoengineering. This has been scoffed at by the Govt and many scientists as conspiracy, tin foil hat stuff.
For those readers that maybe interested the information below is from the CIA official web site;
Remarks as Prepared for Delivery by Central Intelligence Agency Director John O. Brennan at the Council on Foreign Relations, Washington, DC 29 June 2016
(A recent Ex-CIA whistle blower has said that for the CIA Director to come out publicly with this statement means that in all likelihood this practice of weather control has been going on for up to 20 years.
From all accounts it would appear that geoengineering has and is in practice in NZ. Maybe that is the cause of our poor summer and strange, unusual weather?)
Directly from CIA web site's last director:
Another example is the array of technologies often referred to collectively as geoengineering that potentially could help reverse the warming effects of global climate change.
One that has gained my personal attention is stratospheric aerosol injection, or SAI, a method of seeding the stratosphere with particles that can help reflect the sun’s heat, in much the same way that volcanic eruptions do.
An SAI program could limit global temperature increases, reducing some risks associated with higher temperatures and providing the world economy additional time to transition from fossil fuels.
The process is also relatively inexpensive the National Research Council estimates that a fully deployed SAI program would cost about $10 billion yearly.
As promising as it may be, moving forward on SAI would raise a number of challenges for our government and for the international community.
On the geopolitical side, the technology’s potential to alter weather patterns and benefit certain regions at the expense of others could trigger sharp opposition by some nations. (My italics)
Others might seize on SAI’s benefits and back away from their commitment to carbon dioxide reductions. And, as with other breakthrough technologies, global norms and standards are lacking to guide the deployment and implementation of SAI.
Posted: Jun 29, 2016 04:43 PM
Last Updated: Jun 29, 2016 04:43 PM
Makes one think that our weather may not be as natural as we would like to believe and those growing crops for their own use or as a business including farmers would likely be very annoyed if the weather was a result of some massive experiment.
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GARDEN PEST CONTROL

Gardening can be fraught with problems and it can even be worse for the novice gardener.
Insect pests that feed on our plants can ruin our crops and dehydrate foliage sometimes leading to the demise of the plants.
In Nature if we venture out to where everything is growing naturally away from any influence of mankind we generally find that pest insects are not a great problem. (forget about plagues of locusts)
There are three logical reasons for this; firstly Nature is random so you dont find hundreds of say cabbages growing in a area. Instead you find lots of different plants competing for space in an area with maybe one or two cabbages in amongst the other flora.
Thus white butterflies have to find their host cabbage plants amongst many different non-host plants.
Compare that to a field of cabbages or even a row of the same in your garden. The white butterflies think they have found heaven with so many lovely host plants to lay their eggs on.
In Nature when aphids find a suitable host plant like a wild rose plant they set up shop and start multiplying. This causes a ladybird or two to hone in on this wonderful source of protein.
The Ladybirds having their fill daily; breed and produce more baby ladybirds to join in the feast. The aphids are knocked out and then the ladybirds have to find a new feeding ground or starve to death. Nature always finds a Balance.
Another important aspect; when there is a large group of plants of the same type such as in a forest of Elm Trees, then an event can occur which has been observed by scientists, if trees are attacked by a insect pest on the fringe of the forest.
The early attacked trees send out a message through the under ground by way of the Mycorrhizal fungi to warn trees further into the forest what is happening.
This wakes up the natural defense systems of the trees which then start producing chemicals to either make them unpalatable, or poisonous, or to disguise themselves so the insects dont think they are a host plant.
This can happen because they grow in a natural setting and not having to tolerate unnatural conditions curtsy of mankind.
Another important aspect which can now only be found in a few places (so I have heard) such as Stewart Island, where the bird song in the morning is just about deafening.
I know from a relative' s old diary in my possession that in Pohangina Valley (North east of Palmerston North) about a 100 years ago the bird song in the morning was very deafening.
If you have thousands of birds all craving for some protein then a lot of insect pests are going to suffer. Where did these birds go? Likely advances into their world by mankind and introduced preditors.
The mankind solutions to controlling insect pests in what is call 'conventional' farming/agriculture has (and is) to use poisons.
In the past we have seen poisons come and go, DDT, Arsenic of Lead, Orthene (Shield) Diazinon, Basamid, etc these are broad spectrum poisons that not only kill the target insects but will poison beneficial insects as well.
The ones mention above, have since been banned because of their danger to our health as well as the environment.
Which brings up an interesting point; poisons deemed safe all eventually get banned because they are not safe. What can poison one species has an extremely likelihood of poisoning other species including us.
This must be considered the same for any current poisons in use now later on will be banned.
If we look at the current range of insecticides many of them are also poisons such as Imidacloprid (Confidor) based on nicotine and very harmful to bees even weeks after being used on plants.
Already either banned or restricted use in some countries where bee populations are recovering as a result.
The question then arises what can be used to control insect pests that are not poisons?
Harmless compounds that break down or lacerate the soft bodies of insects such as Diatomaceous Earth which can be sprayed over aphids, it lacerates the insect's soft bodies causing infection to set in and kill them.
The difficulty is keeping DE suspended in your sprayer.
Also for aphids there is fatty acids such as the old yellow sunlight soap bars which you lather up in warm water and spray over them. The acids in the soap break down the soft bodies and they die.
You may remember people emptying the old copper boiler, after washing clothes, over their roses when the water cooled.
Insect pests find their host plants by either smell or the light waves radiating off the plants so if we disguise these two aspects the pests will fly on by.
Growing smelly plants as marigolds around the plant you wish to protect can confuse some insects such as whitefly. Neem Oil and Neem Granules have a strong smell and they can also help with that aspect.
Neem Oil sprayed over the foliage of plants alters the light waves radiating off the plant which can also assist. Some strong smelling fish based liquid plant foods will also preform both the smell and light aspects.
People that grow plants naturally (Organic) tell us that their plants do not have as many problems because they are hardier than conventionally grown plants with chemicals.
This is another fact of Nature also that in Nature it is normally the weak plants that are attacked by pests and diseases as these things are Nature's Cleaners.
Commercially, conventionally grown crops are under constant attack be pests and diseases as they are chemically grown making them weak and have to be sprayed with toxic poisons frequently.
The recent development of using silica to strengthen the cells of tomatoes etc against the psyllids making it too tough for the nymphs to feed works a treat.
Neem Oil which is natural and is not a poison controls insect pests by switching off their ability to feed so they starve to death or it prevents their ability to instar, which means they cannot go to the next stage in their life cycle.
This makes it very safe for us to use and also it does not harm beneficial insects as they do not feed on plants.
Another natural control is pyrethrum which comes from the pyrethrum daisy, the essence is a nerving that affects the nervous system of insects and fish and kills them.
Not a poison and so not a health concern to us. Pyrethrum is quickly broken down by sunlight and often is gone within 2 hours of exposure to sun.
A New brand is now available called Wallys Super Pyrethrum which is so concentrated that it is used at only 1 mil per 2 litres of water thus the 100ml bottle makes up 200 litres of normal use spray.
I say normal garden use because you can also mix at 2.5 mils to a litre for spraying under eaves for spiders or indoors for flies, fleas etc. That is called Commercial Strength.
If you use normal strength with Neem Tree Oil on your plants then you have a quick knock down with a control for about a week from the oil.
The disadvantage of the pyrethrum is it will also kill beneficial insects that are hit or come in contact with it while still active.
This makes it another good reason to use only just before dark so bees are back home in their hives and by the time they get out in the morning the sun will have neutralised the pyrethrum.
Those wanting to protect fruit from Guava moth grubs could also spray fruit with it and Neem Oil before sunset and likely kill the moths when they lay their eggs with the Neem Oil taking out the grubs later when they hatch out.
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OVERCOMING GARDENING PROBLEMS

As gardeners we face numerous difficulties in raising plants and maintaining gardens in the manner we would like.
Weather has a big bearing on how well our gardens preform; temperatures, droughts, sunshine hours are factors to plant performance.
Having a glasshouse, conservatory or tunnel house allows us to grow more tender plants easier and also allows for a longer growing season.
If we bring in electricity to the glasshouse we can increase the daylight hours with artificial lighting and we can provide temperature controls such as fans to cool or heat pads for warming containers.
Also with electricity we can run a hydroponic system with a pump and a immersion heater.
An electrician can run power to a suitably located glasshouse or you could invest in solar power panels providing either 12volt DC or 24 volts DC.
If your pump, fans immersion heater etc work on direct current voltage (DC) then when the sun comes up power will be going directly to your appliances.
They will operate during the day and stop when the sun goes down.
If you obtain an Inverter you then can convert the DC voltage to 230v AC which gives you a better range of products to use.
For most power using appliances in a glasshouse such as pump for hydroponic and fans for cooling in summer the need for electricity is just during daylight hours so a simple system will work well for you even on cloudy days if you have good quality solar panels.
To be able to extend the hours of light using artificial lighting you need to be able to store power into special batteries than can be used after the sun goes down.
That is whats called an Off The Grid Solar Power System.
I have purchased such a system directly from China and I am very impressed with the amount of power collected even on a cloudy, dull day.
The system is designed to do 1KW with four storage cells at 55AH each.
The 4 panels are 200watts each and they are so efficient I have now ordered another 4 batteries to increase my storage of power.
One of the advantages of a system such as this is not only free power to run a few appliances in my glasshouses but also a power source for emergencies if the occasion arises.
If you have a power outage for a few hours or more then deep freeze contents are likely spoilt.
Areas that are prone to drought situations need to be able to store rain water so that they can keep their gardens alive.
Gardeners up in Northland and down in Canterbury are facing this problem currently and the gardens have to be shut down unless it rains sufficiently to keep them going.
There are many ways you can store water for your gardens and even for your own needs in times of emergency or droughts.
For instance I see on Trade Me: A Quality 500L Rainwater Tank Barrel Water Collection 2105102 for $79.50 plus shipping. On line from The Warehouse a year ago I purchased a much bigger canvas type water tank for a very reasonable price.
Tanks like this can be placed by a shed and the spouting diverted into the tank to collect rainwater.
The tank should be raised off the ground so that water can be collected out of the tap at the bottom.
A set of concrete blocks standing on their ends with a sheet of plywood on top of them makes a cheap suitable stand.
If you have a need to use the collected rainwater for drinking then you can always boil it to kill any bacteria or alternatively you can use Potassium permanganate crystals to purify water.
Put a couple of crystals in a litre of water and let it sit for about half an hour. Once the colour of the water turns bright pink, it is good to drink. If it is a light pink, add another crystal.
Potassium permanganate is very handy stuff to have on hand and it is also very good for control or to prevent fungus diseases on plants.
Another way to store a large amount of water is in a swimming pool or one of those collapsible type Para pools. Observing what the local Council Safety concerns are and by having a cover over it so the evaporation is reduced you have a great supply of water for time of need.
A gardening problem that happens to some during the summer when insect pests are multiplying rapidly can be like one that a lady had who phoned me during the week.
The problem was that a excellent passion fruit vine growing on a fence was infected with leaf hoppers which were feeding on the plant causing some leaf drop and dehydrating the fruit.
Sprays of our Super Neem tree Oil with Pyrethrum were used prior to sunset which reduced the problem for a few days after which the pests were back with vengeance.
Repeat sprays of the same were only a temporary fix and on further investigation the lady noticed that next door there is a wisteria vine that was covered in leaf hoppers.
These were continually arriving from the wisteria to infest her passion fruit vine.
Not a hopeless case as I suggested that she obtain what I call crop cover and is sold by Garden Centres as bug mesh. Staple it to the top of the fence allowing it to drape down covering the vine completely then secured to the ground with lengths of wood and rocks or similar.
It could mean a bit of a frame made to suspend the mesh over the vine.
Now a good spray at sunset with the recommended safe sprays and with the mesh in place no further invasion from the leaf hoppers next door.
One problem arises out of this and that is the pollination of any new flowers which means every few days lifting the mesh back and hand pollination.
The crop cover is great in the vegetable garden or for raised gardens when large hoops are made of rigid alkathene pipe, placed over the area after planting seeds or seedlings to prevent not only most insects from establishing on your plants but also to stop birds and cats also.
I have to do this when I am planting up my raised gardens because there are so many earth worms in my gardens, the birds know this and just rip the gardens apart destroying seedlings in the process.
A further advantage of the mesh is it protects the establishing plants from wind and creates a micro-climate which means your plants grow quicker.
In flower gardens you can use Wallys Cat Repellent which deters most cats and likely applied fresh it will put off some birds as well.
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ANOTHER YEAR

A big hello to you all and welcome back to another year of gardening articles.
I had a great break from doing the weekly article over the festive season and enjoyed talking to lots of gardeners and helping to sorting out their gardening problems.
One of the difficulties living in one part of New Zealand is knowing what the conditions have been like in other areas.
I often ask callers what is the weather like where they are and also how the season has been.
New Zealand has quite a mix of weather and sometimes the general idea that North is sub tropical and south is sub arctic is far from the actual conditions.
It would appear that in most areas (except maybe the far north and some of east coast areas) spring and summer are words only.
This would have to be one of the worst years I have experienced for gardening warmth loving plants (cucumbers, capsicum etc) Even tomato plants which are much tougher have been struggling a bit outdoors.
Cold tolerant types such as Russian Red have done better even if it is taking longer for the fruit to ripen.
The problem is two fold, uneven temperatures going on a nice sunny day from mid to late 20's then dropping to under 10 the next day with chilly winds from the south.
Also the cloud cover which reduces the amount of direct sun light onto the plants and effects their growth potential.
Often when its not a cloudy day, when instead of a clear blue sky, we have wish washy hazy days which just does not help.
Last week we had to fly to Auckland on an over night trip and on the way back the pilot said it was excellent smooth flying conditions all the way to the Manawatu and then it would be bumpy which it was.
Being just a few clouds and having a window seat I was enjoying seeing the contour of the land bellow, buildings, towns, roads, vehicles, back roads, streams and rivers along the way.
In the distance there was Mount Taranaki (whom I know as Mt Egmont) poking out of the distant murky blue.
In fact outside of straight down and for a few kilometers out it appeared fairly clear viewing but the further away it became murky and it would not be more than about an eighth of the distance to the horizon before the blur started occurring.
We were at 18,000 feet (I think from memory)
Now I cant remember whether this has been the same for many years ago or not.
I have a feeling that in the past you had a fairly clear view at 18,000 feet to the horizon when it would tend to be a clear blue sight. Maybe someone can put me right.
My point is that if this is pollution of some kind it will be reducing the amount of direct sunlight reaching our plants and that has consequences.
We are in the middle of summer and one would be forgiven to think that we are well into autumn already and I note that some of the plants I grow are thinking it is autumn.
Plants that I am growing in my glasshouses are certainly doing much better than warmth loving plants outside.
If the weather patterns in your area are not as good for gardening as they were some years back then likely you need to invest in a glasshouse or similar.
One advantage of this non-summer is that warmth loving insect pests have not being able to breed.
White butterfly and psyllids are two that I have not seen much of along with whitefly. Likely leaf hoppers and vegetable bugs are also not the problem they normally are.
Aphids dont mind the temperatures so much and they are still around in numbers when during the hot conditions they often disappear.
Fluctuating temperatures and moist conditions see and increase in leaf diseases such as rust, mildew and black spot.
Many of us have had the worst crop of garlic ever due to the plants being attacked by rust back in September/October. This reduced the leaf surface areas for gaining energy from the sun to fill out the bulbs.
I had a big crop in and many of the plants only produced bulbs the size of a reasonable clove.
They can still be used and my Filipino partner told me that these small bulbs of garlic are sort after back in the Philippines so that cheered me up a little.
I have planted some purchased NZ Garlic cloves in November and again in December and plan to plant some more this month.
Two reasons for this; is I am curious as to see what they will do in the off season and to increase the amount of garlic we will have for use.
Next winter I might plant a couple of deep trays of garlic and grow them in one of the glasshouses to avoid the rust problem. Also in the spring a spray of potassium permanganate with Raingard every 2 to 4 weeks would also be worth while.
This time of the year with your tomato plants you can sprout some laterals from off your current plants to have an extended season. The lateral should be allowed to grow about 6cm long and then just pinch it off the parent plant.
Remove any larger leaves off the cutting reducing the total leaf area to a bit below half.
Some like to do this by cutting each leaf in half. Pop the cutting into a small pot with compost as the growing medium.
Keep moist in a bright light sheltered spot while they root up. (In your glasshouse just under a shelf is ideal.)
Once established simply pot up into a bigger pot and when it has filled that one go to about a 25 to 40 litre pot. You can move them around later on to suit conditions.
Feeding your tomato plants and other plants that are struggling will help get them moving despite the weather. My Secret tomato food with or without the Neem Powder is good for all your heat loving plants.
I have found that the straight food used on cacti, succulents and palms during the summer months really gets them growing. Apply about every 4 weeks.
If you have access to Chicken manure put some under your citrus trees at this time along with Neem Tree Granules and Fruit & Flower Power.
Yates Dynamic Lifter has chicken manure in it (I am told) then the Neem Granules cleans up any pest insects in the tree and the Fruit & Flower Power makes the fruit more juicy.
Winter vegetables such as brassicas and leeks should be started to be planted now.
Summer pruning of fruit trees such as apples is done now. This means the nipping off of the new growth that is happening just beyond the fruit.
Flowering plants such as roses should be dead headed (Removing the remains of the spent flowers) this can encourage more flowers or if you cut them further back a new lot of growth will occur which will result in more flowers.
While in Auckland this week I spotted a passion fruit vine growing on a north facing fence that was covered in fruit some as large as a cricket ball. I was very envious.
Happy gardening in the meantime and likely more challenges to face.
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MERRY CHRISTMAS

Here we are again with the last article for 2016 and just before Christmas; also the longest daylight day of the year on the 21st.
This means we are in the very middle of the gardening year and from here on hopefully we have a couple of months of real summer. Something we have not seen too much of so far in many parts of the country including Palmerston North.
The down side of areas that have had lots of rain and colder temperatures is the fungus diseases that have affected some plants and ruined the leaves of garlic, covering them with rust.
Garlic that normally would be due to be lifted and dried about now (should if damaged by rust) be left in a bit longer to see if the bulb size increases making for bigger cloves.
You can feel with you finger down into the soil to see how big the bulbs are without disturbing the plant.
If they are of a good size lift a few and make a judgment on whether to leave a bit longer hoping for a better return.
A few gardeners like myself are growing some cloves at this time of the year to see what comes of them. I see no problem to grow from cloves and mine have already thrown up some nice shoots.
The idea is to have some back up supply of home grown garlic in case our current crop is not so good.
Another interesting thing is that besides growing garlic from cloves you can also do from upper bublets which can form on the flower head if you allow a plant or two to go to seed and flower.
If you are lucky a flower head may set seeds which look like onion seeds but a bit smaller.
Then if you have further luck the seeds maybe viable and you will have a new strain of garlic which is always very exciting for gardeners.
Because of the poor season for garlic and the devastating rust disease there is a reasonable chance that a few plants left in will flower and produce some seeds.
I would be interested to hear of any results.
The weather this spring was been not good for gardening but has kept a number of insect pests numbers down.
Once the weather settles and stays in a more constant temperature area then the pests will come out in force.
Any sign of them, spray as soon as possible Super Neem Tree Oil with Key Pyrethrum added.
Only spray just before sunset.
Spread either Neem Tree Granules or Neem Tree Powder on the soil under plants to give them extra protection.
With any luck the season will extend so any planting now and over the holiday period should do very well.
A elderly gardener called this week to show me a corn plant that was about 40cm tall and already going to seed (producing the male flowers without any sign of cobs forming)
The reason for this was the weather with not sufficient sunlight hours, too many cloudy skies and hazy ones when not cloudy and temperature fluctuations putting the plants into stress. .
I would like to know what is causing the misty haze as it has changed our bright blue skies to milky blue and at night it is only the brightest stars that are seen, even on a clear night.
Where has the mass of our galaxy stars gone (Milky way)?
These conditions do not bode well for growing plants as they need good hours of direct sunlight for their energy to grow and produce food or flowers.
Gardening is always a challenge and no matter how experienced you are you will win some but also have your losses and failures.
You can reduce weather problems by having a glasshouse or tunnel house which allows you a greater range of gardening activities, extended seasons and a better situation to propagate seeds or cuttings.
A few months ago I decided to purchase from China a small four solar panel, off the grid system to run a few electric appliances and a hydroponic system inside one of my glasshouses.
I figured that I can run a fan in summer to aid in temperature control and assist in pollination.
For hydroponics I can run a pump to circulate the water and in cold times an immersion heater to warm the solution and even a bit of lighting to extend the hours of light.
It will produce a kilowatt of power, has batteries for storage and all free power to use.
I will likely write about it from time to time to keep those that are interested informed.
It has been over 25 years since I played with hydroponic systems and at one time leased a commercial plastic filmed house set up originally to hydroponically grow long stem roses then changed to tomatoes.
I used the house to grow house plants using the hydroponic equipment for irrigating the containers in a sort of flood and drain manner.
I am keen this time around to build a couple of systems one for strawberries and another to grow a few tomato plants.
I remember many years ago while up north, visiting a hydroponic tomato grower who had tomato plants that had grown up to the glasshouse roof and then along wires for several metres. They were just thick bare trunks for several metres with the last metre or so with leaves and fruit trusses.
Likely the plants were two or more years old.
Which reminds me to suggest for you to grow a couple of capsicums and chili peppers in 20 litre containers, you can get them established now and fruit this season then with protection of a glasshouse or similar they will keep nicely through the winter and then produce again next season.
You will need to apply more food such as sheep manure pellets, Bio Boost and also during the productive season my Secret Tomato food.
A few gardeners that grow cacti have been using the straight tomato food on their plants during summer and with excellent growth results. I have also used it on my Dragon Fruit Cacti and it produces great new growth.
Some have also feed their palms during summer and are also pleased with the new fronds as a result.
Now the weather is settling keep spraying two weekly your strawberries with Mycorrcin and you will keep them producing depended on varieties you have grown.
Well I will sign off for the year and start the column again in mid January.
If you have any questions over the holidays just phone or email (with your phone number) and I will be happy to assist.
Have a Happy Christmas, do some gardening and lets see what the New Year brings.
Wally Richards
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FEEDING PLANTS

In the last two weeks we have looked at the topics of Watering Plants, Sunshine and plants and so now we come to what to feed plants.
Whatever we place in our gardens or containers to feed plants we are also feeding the soil and the Soil Food Web.
This then makes it very important that we do not feed anything that will do damage to the soil life.
Also nothing that the soil cant assimilate and maintain a natural balance of healthy microbes, beneficial fungi, earthworms and other soil life.
Let me show you two examples of this that I have observed in the past.
A few years back in the TV gardening program (Maggie Barry's) the Prof would be out in his vegetable gardening throwing handfuls of the chemical fertiliser nitrophoska blue around like there was no tomorrow.
A number of people got sucked in to this display of stupidity and repeated the same in their gardens.
It was not long before the phone calls started coming in asking me what was wrong in their gardens as nothing will grow anymore.
They explained about their use of the product; in the beginning things did grow bigger, faster and they were happy with the results, so like the Prof, they threw more on.
Then the tide started turning plants did not respond as they had and growth slowed so they applied more.
Then growth came to a halt and in the meantime the microbes and soil life had been severely damaged and no long had the numbers to convert the chemicals to nutrients that the plants could uptake.
Once it was ascertained what they had been doing for the last couple of seasons or more then it was easy to know the problem.
Everything by and large was locked up in the soil and the plants were getting no nutrients even though there was untold chemical fertiliser on and in the soil.
To reverse this problem so plants could grow again, drenches of Magic Botanic Liquid (MBL) with Mycorrcin added applied to the soil.
Then feeding the soil with natural organic matter to build up the soil food web again along with good amounts of fast acting garden lime.
Within the same season plants responded and started growing again but because of their check in growth in many cases would go straight to seed.
The other example is the promoted science of using Superphoshate and urea on pasture land to grow grass for cattle.
Turn back the clock 60 odd years ago when I was a boy on my uncles farm in Taranaki.
When a cow pooped on the soil it would bake the top in the sunlight and if you turned the cow pad over you would find lots of tiger worms breaking down the manure and with the soil microbes help it was excellent food for the grass which grew strong and healthy.
Lime would be spread over the paddocks to ensure a healthy sweet soil.
The creek that flowed through the property (In the middle of dairy farms) was crystal clear, alive with eels and mountain trout.
One time I saw a bloated dead cow in the stream and was told if you went down stream about 10 metres the water would be once again safe to drink as the creek would be self cleaning.
It is a very different story we hear about these days.
A few people that know more about soil health than yours truly have told me that unfortunately like conventional market gardeners they are locked into using more and more chemical fertilisers to produce any growth in grass and vegetable plants.
The resulting grass is weak and sickly, the animals have no choice but to eat it and their health is also adversely affected.
The poor farmer is paying out more and getting less back in and likely if it was not the high value of the land (if realised) they would be in dire straights.
Now lets bring those examples to our home garden and not make the mistake of killing the soil food web instead lets enhance it with natural products.
Animal manures especially chicken manure are excellent food for both plants and soil couple up with fast acting garden lime it does not take long before the soil is teeming with soil life.
For the additional minerals and elements apply Ocean Solids and Rok Solid and now your plants have a choice of up to 114 minerals and elements to choose from.
The range of natural products is extensive and includes, animal offal, blood & bone, paper, sawdust, compost (not made from green waste) , leaf mould, kitchen scraps, coffee grounds, liquid manures and compost teas plus many other things.
To speed up the populations of soil life a drench of Magic Botanic Liquid (MBL) with Mycorrcin added every month or two.
The important thing is not to undo the goodness you are creating by using chemical fertilisers
(A little to boost growth occasionally is not going to do sufficient damage to the overall soil life)
More harmful is chlorinated tap water, all chemical herbicides including glyphosate and chemical rescue sprays.
When you have healthy soil as it is meant to be in Nature, then your garden plants are much more healthy and are less prone to diseases and pest attacks.
Vegetables then will have excellent flavour and be of great benefit to your health.
There are ample gardening methods and natural sprays that can be used to prevent or control any problems that may arise. If you dont know what to do in a situation then just ask.
Now here is an interesting thing I heard about from a gardener in Blenheim area whom gardens naturally. (Without chemicals not as it suggests without clothes)
Soon after the big earthquake all the non fruiting vegetables went to seed prematurely the reason is they were place into stress by the earth shaking. I wonder if chemically grown vegetables also did the same?
The gardener also said that the peas which she would eat a few as she was watering became very bitter after the shaking and became inedible.
The reason is the peas being naturally grown had the ability to start producing chemicals to protect themselves against danger from attack.
Likely the peas are not used to threats of earth moving so best to be unpalatable.
Amazing world Nature is, that is when we enhance it rather than trying to control it.
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SUNLIGHT

Sometimes we can tend to forget how important the sun is for the well being of the planet and all life forces therein.
The cloudy and hazy days of this spring has brought home once again the problem our plants have when there is not clear blue skies and many sunny hours.
Plants require sunlight to enable their photosynthesis to work.
From Wikipedia: Photosynthesis is a process used by plants and other organisms to convert light energy into chemical energy that can later be released to fuel the organisms' activities energy transformation.
This chemical energy is stored in carbohydrate molecules, such as sugars, which are synthesized from carbon dioxide and water – hence the name photosynthesis, from the Greek, ph s "light", and, synthesis, "putting together".
In most cases, oxygen is also released as a waste product. Most plants algae, and cyanobateria perform photosynthesis; such organisms are called photoautotrophs.
Photosynthesis is largely responsible for producing and maintaining the oxygen content of the Earth's atmosphere, and supplies all of the organic compounds and most of the energy necessary for life on Earth.
A bit similar to plants our bodies also convert sunlight and in our case to Vitamin D which scientists have found to be very important to our health and well being.
Among other health issues rickets is a symptom of insufficient Vitamin D. (Rickets is the softening and weakening of bones in children, usually because of an extreme and prolonged vitamin D deficiency. ...
A deficiency of vitamin D makes it difficult to maintain proper calcium and phosphorus levels in bones, which can cause rickets.)
I see last year it was reported 58 children with rickets and a third of them in Auckland/Northland area which means too many children are not getting sufficient direct sunlight.
When plants do not get sufficient sunlight they also get weak and are more likely to be attacked by diseases and pest insects.
In Nature plant diseases and insects which feed on plants; are Natures's cleaners getting rid of the weak, converting them back to organic matter to feed the strong.
Lack of sufficient sunlight causes stretching of plants as they try to reach for light.
Seeds germinated on a window sill will stretch to the window pane for more light making them weak which leads to the disease we call dampening off.
Another example you will have seen is a cyclamen placed on a coffee table in the middle of the lounge that quickly loses its compact form as the flowers and the leaves stretch towards the nearest window.
This weakens the plant and being in a likely warm room to boot, will bring about rots on the weakened parts through watering.
Outside we see examples of reduced sunlight as gardens mature. A rose is planted in a nice sunny area where a couple of metres away a ornamental tree is growing.
As the tree gets bigger and spreads out the amount of direct sunlight to the rose is reduced season after season.
Initially the rose preformed well with lots of flowers. Over time with more shading the number of flowers reduce and in the last stages any buds produced fail to flower and then in the end we have a non-flowering rose.
In gardens as else where in Nature plants are always competing for light, nutrients and moisture.
When plants are very close to each other they will race upwards to dominate the amount of sunlight available, becoming stronger than their neighbors who eventually give up the fight and wilt.
In the bush or in a tree stand (forest) we find under plants that live in the lessor light and thrive as they have evolved to do so. Not always but often these plants will have larger leaves which gives them a bigger area to collect what light is available.
You will also notice that often their leaves are a much darker, richer green as they go full out with their chloroform converting low light to energy.
This is also something to be aware of as smaller leaf plants require more light than large leave plants and if either are in the wrong light situation they will not prosper.
Large leaf vegetables such as lettuce, brassicas, cucumbers will do better in either morning or later afternoon sun rather than all day sun in the summer.
The reverse applies in winter as the full sun situations will be better for them as the day light hours are shorter and the sun strength is weaker.
Heartening lettuce grown in full all day summer sun will suffer from 'Heart rot' a disease that turns the inside of the lettuce to black rot while the outside looks ok.
Grown in a more shade situation you will find that they will not have the problem in summer.
When there is not sufficient sunlight plants do not prosper, they can stretch, produce bigger leaves than normal, have difficulty flowering or even not producing buds. Fruit do not ripen as well and sugar content is lower.
Cloudy or hazy skies day after day are not good for our plants or our own health so hopefully this summer we will see lots of lovely blue skies and all will be well.
The spring which looked to be an improvement on previous springs once again turned out to be a fizzier and causing our need to have a better environment to grown those more tender plants; such as cucumbers, passion fruit and capsicums is important.
Glasshouses or plastic tunnel houses make a great difference to your growing season and recently I was offered another one from a gardener that had no further use for it. An older model from Redpath Pacific needing only a clean up and a new plastic film cover.
Likely there are many unused glasshouses around that people would be happy to see removed; I know so because all 4 of mine came that way for free.
If you are on Neighbourly on Social Media pop the question out there, you never know your luck.
If you happen to have one that you no longer use then pass it onto a keen gardener.
Tomatoes: remove laterals of all types unless it is a dwarf variety. Spray the silicon cell strengthening products two weekly to prevent psyllid damage.
Sprinkle Neem tree Granules under citrus trees to control pest insects.
Spray Mycorrcin over your strawberries every two weeks.
Keep planting summer vegetables and flowers for continuous supplies and displays.
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XMAS GARDENING & KUMARAS

Time is passing and soon we will have the longest day as well as Christmas day.
There are lots of people out doing their Xmas gift shopping with lots of traffic in town and around the Malls.
Garden Centres are an excellent place to shop for gifts which are always appreciated by fellow gardeners; and even those people that are not so keen on getting down and dirty on their property.
Garden Centres these days have greatly diversified from just plants and fertilisers to all manner of products suitable for gifts.
The great advantage also is the quite, pleasant atmosphere of a Garden Centre which is much preferable to the hustle and bustle of shopping crowds elsewhere.
Also more often than not, you do not have a long wait in a queue which is a great advantage when you are busy.
You will find that there are plenty of nice flowering plants that can be re-pot into a nice looking container for either indoors or outdoors. Plenty of roses in flower at the moment which are ideal as gifts.
I spotted some miniature roses in flower at one place recently and on close examination there were three plants in the pot which made it a excellent buy for about $15.00
If you are going to pot up a feature plant for outdoors also buy some alyssum or lobelia in flower to plant around the rim of the feature plant.
Use compost for your potting up because it is far superior to potting mixes or shrub/tub type mixes.
Compost is more natural and already has microbial activity which is great for the plants when compared to inert potting mixes. Make sure that the compost you buy has not been made from green waste as it could contain herbicides which are weed/plant killers that is not what you want in a gift.
Compost is much better for the plants, it does not dry out like the potting mixes do and when it does it will accept water more readily. Far better on your wallet also.
Gift cards are available from most garden shops and a $5.00 or $10 one in a Xmas card is a nice gesture without costing you an arm and a leg.
I remember asking one elderly gardener a few years ago what would she like for Xmas?
Without hesitation she said for someone to bring her a few bags of compost and put them in the shed.
Think about that for a moment; here we have an elderly gardener whose happiness is her gardens, she has to rely on others for transport and has difficulty carrying bags of compost which she loves to use when planting out or side dressing her plants.
In the shed she can open a bag, put some into a bucket and go off happy as Larry (or Lorie)
I learnt a long time ago its the thought that goes into the gift that is more important than the gift.
The thought-less gifts often end up on Trade Me the next day.
Gardening books also make a nice gift to a fellow gardener and I have a few in print currently.
Wallys Down to Earth Garden Guide, Wallys Green Tips for Gardeners, Wallys Glasshouse Gardening for New Zealand and Wallys Gardening & Health.
Every copy is autographed and when ordered directly I can place a personal message also. see http://www.0800466464.co.nz/16-our-books
Kumara: From Wikipedia we find; The sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) is a dicotyledonous plant that belongs to the morning glory family Convolvulaceae.
Its large, starchy, sweet-tasting, tuberous roots are a root vegetable. In some parts of the English-speaking world, sweet potatoes are locally known by other names, including "yam" and kumara.
The young leaves and shoots are sometimes eaten as greens. The sweet potato is only distantly related to the potato (Solanum tuberosum) and does not belong to the nightshade family Solanaceae.
The edible tuberous root is long and tapered, with a smooth skin whose color ranges between yellow, orange, red, brown, purple, and beige.
Its flesh ranges from beige through white, red, pink, violet, yellow, orange, and purple. Sweet potato varieties with white or pale yellow flesh are less sweet and moist than those with red, pink or orange flesh.
This week a gardener called asking about growing Kumara so for those that would like to grow a few this summer here is the way it is done traditionally.
You may find some kumara plants in a garden shop but more likely you will need to strike some shoots yourself.
This is done by placing a kumara tuber in a tray of compost and covering with further compost. Place in a warm situation such as a glasshouse and keep the compost moist (not wet).
The 'eyes' on the tuber will sprout just like they do on a seed potato.
You allow these sprouts to grow to about 12 to 15cm tall and then you lift the tuber carefully out of the compost.
You will see that the shoots are not only coming off the tuber but will have formed some roots themselves.
With a sharp knife you par (cut) the shoot off the parent tuber taking just a little bit of the tuber.
Repeat with all the other shoots.
Red kumara from the green grocer should strike shoots without too much difficulty but the orange and white tubers may not.
I think they may treat those tubers with a chemical to stop them sprouting or the spray the crop before harvest with glyphosate weed killer which will stop the tuber sprouting.
(The same thing is done to those lovely carnations you see in florists, when the stems are cut they are placed in a bucket with a solution of glyphosate which prevents you striking the stems to grow those flowers)
The bed you are going to plant your kumara shoots in should be dug out to the depth of about 20 to 25cm removing all the soil.
Then the base of this bed is trampled to create a hard pan base which makes it difficult for the kumara root to penetrate.
Thus when the root grows downwards it hits the hard pan stops and then fills out creating the tuber. If this does not happen the root carries on growing down and does not fill out.
You then harvest roots not tubers.
Weedmat could be laid at the bottom if you have soft soil. Next fill the bed with a mix of compost, soil, manure, and sprinkled with Rok Solid plus BioPhos. Kumara want a friable rich soil.
Next take your kumara shoot and lay it on the bed with its root end facing North.
About 2.5cm from the root end place your finger and gently press down so the stem and root end enters the soil in the shape of a fish hook. Repeat with the rest of the shoots planting about 12cm apart.
Keep the bed moist but not wet and the plant will send out runners. Every so often lift the runners off the ground to break any secondary rooting. (These would likely try to also form tubers but in doing so reduce the size of the tubers in your primary roots.)
Harvest is at the end of the season when the tops die back.
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WATER AND PLANTS

Watering gardens and plants is a skill which good gardeners achieve after a few years of experience.
It is not connecting a hose/sprinkler system to a tap and turning on, though that will work to a point, it can also cause a number of problems.
For instance if you have fertilised your gardens with either man made fertiliser or natural types and you turn on the sprinklers and run the irrigation for a period of time you are going to wash away much of the money and time you spent feeding the gardens.
If instead you went around your gardens with a hand held watering wand and applied sufficient water to moisten the soil nicely then you would have enhanced the food you provided and wasted none.
The first aspect of watering is what is in the water that you are going to use?
If your tap water contains chlorine from the local water treatment plant then you are putting into your garden a chemical that will kill the beneficial bacteria in the soil and devastate the earthworms.
If this water is sprayed over the foliage of your plants it will kill the microbes living on the foliage which help to protect the plant from foliage diseases.
Chlorinated water will also cause streaks when you wash your car or windows.
No matter how diligently you garden and how many good things you do, you will never achieve great gardens with chlorinated water, instead you will spend much of summer fighting problems.
The simple solution is to place a 10 micron carbon bonded filter inside its housing and connect your outside tap to this and your hose on the other side. This will remove the chlorine in 16,000 litres of sediment free water..
If your water comes from a bore, stream, or tank then you have no problem with chlorine.
Another point also is if you have a spa pool or swimming pool which you dose with chlorine make sure if you empty the pool that the chlorine has been dissipated by running the system for a few days before emptying into a garden area.
A gardener asked me recently when should you water or not water as they had read an article that said you should not water in sunlight. The person that wrote the article likely has never seen a sun shower.
There is a aspect that if you sprinkle water over the foliage of plants in full sun the water droplets can magnify the sun’s rays and burn that bit of leaf.
But on the other hand if the soil in your gardens or the mix in your containers becomes so dry on a sunny day that the plants go into water stress then that will cause a lot more damage than a few burnt leaves.
As a generalisation if you do water your gardens and containers on a sunny day you are watering the soil not the plants.
Once again done with a hand held wand or by a drip irrigation system including the good old soak hoses.
One of the good methods for watering vegetable gardens in days gone by was to grow all the vegetables in rows and have furrows between the rows.
These furrows are flooded with water when the garden needs a drink which means the water goes directly to the root system of the plants and the foliage canopy above the furrows tends to reduce the moisture losses from evaporation below.
Manures and other goodies can be sprinkled along the furrows to great advantage.
When is the best time to water? First thing in the morning before the sun gets up or late in the day when the sun gets off the plants?
If you have ample time to water in the morning then that is the best time to do so.
If on the other hand you are busy in the morning getting off to work etc then the logical time is late in the day.
The disadvantage of that is that there will be moisture around after it starts to cool down at night which can cause mildews.
This is especially so if your plantings are close together and if the plants are susceptible to moisture related diseases. (peas, pumpkins, pansies)
I water late in the day as it suits my work patterns and as I water with a hand held wand it means that I only give the soil/plants sufficient moisture to get them through the next day till the following evening.
On very sunny hot days I will check my container plants at about 1 to 2 pm and if they are showing signs of water stress then I give the mixes a watering.
If the day has been overcast and still then only a light watering that evening.
If the day has been overcast and windy, then a moderate watering that evening.
If temperatures have dropped noticeably then likely no watering but plants in containers and/or in the glasshouse may need a small drink still..
As temperatures lower going into autumn or during cold spells then your watering must reduce or stop.
On hot sunny days a very good soaking of the containers is needed.
Hanging baskets should be plunged into a tub of water once a week and watered normally for the rest of the week.
While standing there using a hose watering wand each day gives you a good time to check all the plants for any problems.
You can spot aphids, leaf hoppers, scale, mealy bugs, white fly, psyllids, vegetable bugs etc as you go around the plants. You can even deal to a few weeds as you go.
While the growing medium below is been watered you can squash a number of pest insects with your fingers.
Another method which is very effective on established plants and shrubs/trees is to switch from the wand to a fitting that will provide a jet of water and then blast the insect pests off the leaves.
This repeated for a few nights will often mean there is no need to spray.
If the soil of your gardens or mix of your container plants becomes too dry then surface tension will repel water and your water runs off instead of soaking in as you want it to.
This is easy to correct by squirting some dish washing liquid into a watering can of warm water. Lather up with your hands and then apply over the dry areas. This breaks the surface tension and allows your water to penetrate. Good for dry spots in lawns also.
During dry times I recommend running a soak hose under fruit trees for a hour or so to give the area a good watering.
This is important for a good crop and needs to be done only once or twice a week dependent on how dry it gets.
Mulches placed over the wet soil will reduce the moisture lost.
One thing I have noticed over the last few years is that even after weeks of rain that the soil dries out very quickly within a couple of days of no rain.
Obviously the water tables of past years are no longer there and I can only put this down to too much under ground water been drawn off in commercial irrigation systems.
Which is a worrying thought that we are going to have bigger water shortages in the future.
The lower water tables means more commercial irrigation which means further reduction in underground water supplies.
Gardeners will need to look at water storage and greater conservation of water for their gardens and the sooner the better.
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YOUR GARDEN NOVEMBER 2016

For much of the country it has been a wet spring.
There are some good aspects of this as there is ample natural water with atmospheric nitrogen added to stimulate the soil food web, produce good growth and better quality fruit.
Physical watering, using chlorinated tap water, is not used so there is less harm to the soil life.
Plants really respond and in most cases all are very healthy.
Have a look for yourself, the gardens are looking great as a result of the rainfall.
There is however a down side with temperature fluctuations and damp conditions leaf diseases can run rampart.
As I wrote about recently, garlic crops are being attacked by rust which will affect our harvest.
To reduce damage spray every 1 to 2 weeks with potassium permanganate (¼ teaspoon to litre of water with Raingard added) The time of the curly leaf on stone fruit will also continue affecting more leaves as they develop so use the same spray on them weekly.
Any other signs of leaf diseases the same very effective spray can be used.
Potatoes that are called ' Early' mature in about 90 days from planting and if you planted them about August/September period they could be mature and ready to harvest now.
When early potatoes flower then they are considered ready.
If you lift one plant to see what the results are underneath you may find that they have a good set of nice size potatoes ready to harvest.
If this is the case you can do one of two things; lift the whole crop and store in a cool shed.
This will make that area available for other vegetables to grow.
Then apply chicken manure, blood & bone, lime, BioBoost, sheep manure pellets, Rok Solid to the area (Or any of these that you may have available) and lightly rake in ready for sowing or planting.
If you prefer to leave the spuds in the soil then cut off all the tops at ground level and cover the stubble with soil. The tops should be stuffed into a black plastic rubbish bag and sealed.
The reason for removing the tops is to prevent the potato psyllid from damaging the potatoes when they feed on the tops.
There maybe psyllids on the foliage so rather than leaving them to multiple and attack your tomatoes etc the stuffing in a bag gets rid of them.
If you lift a plant and find that the crop is not ready to harvest yet then you could apply Neem Tree Powder to the soil as a side dressing and spray the foliage with Super Neem Oil all over.
Check the crop again two weeks later and if now a better size either lift or remove tops.
If you only find pea size potatoes underneath that are already sending up shoots then the psyllids have got to the plants before the potatoes could grow.
If when you cut open a potato and you find the black rings inside then the psyllids got to them after they had reached a good size.
It will be about now that the psyllid populations will start to explode and that is when the real damage happens.
Quarantine cloth over the plants to keep the psyllids off will certainly help.
Last week I had a gardener send me a picture of beans, lettuce and brassicas growing in a garden which was not doing well.
The garden had a frame over it and quarantine cloth over the frame to keep all insects out.
I would have recommended crop cover instead (also called bug mesh) which has a 15% shade factor and will keep out all insects other than psyllids.
The Quarantine cloth has a 25% shade factor which should not be too much of a problem if its in an all day sunny situation and its not too cloudy most of the time.
Problem is that some areas have a lot of unusual hazy days like pollution and this really cuts down the amount of sunlight the plants see.
Add to this a shade factor of 25% you likely have a most unsuitable shade of over 50% which prevented the lettuces from heartening, the brassicas created extra large leaves and the climbing beans weak looking growth.
I almost thought the problem was herbicide damage from introduced sheep manure.
Later on if conditions of too much shading from the haze there would be a good possibility the beans would not flower and then there would be no beans.
Hazy skies causing reduced direct sun light can affect many plants in your garden from lack of buds, buds not opening into flowers, fruit not ripening, low sugar content of fruit, stunted growth and extra large leaves on some plants. Not good.
Crop cover is an idea way of protecting your lower growing vegetable crops from a whole range of pests including cats, birds, butterflies aphids etc. Not much good on slugs and soil insects already in the area.
Obtain some rigid alkathene 13mm black plastic piping to make hoops so the cloth can be raised over the crop.
This has another advantage as it protects the plants from the weather while rain or water can still penetrate.
You may notice some yellowing of leaves due to the wet conditions because the roots are being affected with excess water. Sprays once a month with Perkfection will help the plants recover better.
My cucumbers and rock melon along with other cold sensitive plants are growing well in the glasshouses in their containers.
If I were to put them outside they would sulk as it is still not higher warm temperatures yet.
You also need to be very careful with your watering not to over water small plants in bigger containers.
Tomato plants with flowers on may need a little assistance to pollinate the flowers so the fruit set.
Some gardeners think its bees that do this but it is not.
Outdoors on a sunny day with a little bit of breeze will be sufficient to move the pollen.
Inside a glasshouse where there is little if any breeze you need to go in about midday on a nice sunny day and tap the plant to make it vibrate. That sets the flowers.
In commercial glasshouses they may put a nest of bumble bees in to pollinate the tomatoes.
This is done just by the vibrations from their wings as they fly by a plant.
If you happen to have a tuning fork hit the twines on a hard surface to operate then hold the fork near the flowers, that will do the trick also.
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CHILDREN GROWING PLANTS

We need to encourage our children and grandchildren to appreciate Nature by including them in some gardening activities.
I believe that young children have a natural infinity with plants and insects when they are allowed to explore our gardens.
Children learn many things by mimicking their parents and are often keen at a young age to assist in various gardening activities.
I remember as a toddler spending many hours in the garden collecting caterpillars off the cabbages and feeding them to our chooks.
I also can still remember how good it felt to be part of Nature back then and the same feeling pertains today when I work or wander around gardens.
Plants that move have a fascination for children and a great one for this is Mimosa pudica, the Sensitive Plant, which folds up its leaves when touched.
They are easy to germinate from seed, grown as a pot plant for a windowsill.
Nice pink flowers also. As the plant matures it has thorns on the branches which incidentally are another attraction for children. (Mail order Kings Seeds)
Cacti with their prickles often appeal to young boys and I had a small collection when I was young and still keep a few.
Two awesome plants for children to grow are giant sunflowers and pumpkins.
Giant Sunflowers; these extra tall sunflowers will grow up to 5 metres tall.(17 odd feet) Grown in full sun in soil that has excellent drainage and lots of manure.
The giant pumpkins can be monsters which in some cases will weigh over 1000 pounds at maturity. (Half a ton)
If I was going to grow either of these giants, here is what I would do: Pick an all-day-sunny area, then dig a hole about a spade depth and width, chop up the bottom of the hole, so the soil is loose, then fill the hole with chook manure to about two thirds full.
(Other manure could be used if chook manure is not obtainable, but chook is best)
Fill the rest of the hole with a good compost and soil mix, 50/50 making a small mound about 12cm tall above the filled in hole.
Place one seed in the middle of the mound and wet it down with Magic Botanic Liquid (MBL), (20 ml of MBL to 1 litre of water.)
Water the mount to keep moist with plain water and then every 2 weeks with the MBL.
Overseas the biggest record vegetables have been achieved with products very similar or the same as MBL. Spraying the foliage of your Giants every 2 weeks with MBL (10 ml to a litre) will also assist in a bigger healthier plant.
After your plants are established and growing well, give them a drink using Cucumber Booster, once a week. This is a high nitrogen product that is a combination of sulphate of ammonia and potassium nitrate, which you dissolve in water.
Cucumber Booster is excellent for any plants that enjoys a boost of nitrogen after establishment. It is used for growing cucumbers, pumpkins, zucchini and gourds.
The MBL and Cucumber Booster can be combined for watering into the soil near the base of the plant.
Because of the weather patterns we are experiencing, after you plant your seed, cut off the base of a 2 to3 litre plastic fruit juice bottle and place this over the mound, with the cap removed.
This will give your seed and seedling its own little glasshouse. This is removed once the seedling starts to fill the bottle and needs more room.
With the Giant Sunflower a tall strong stake should be put in the ground at seed planting time on the edge of the mound.
This will be needed later to give extra support to the plant.
Another interesting thing to do is once the sunflower gets up about a metre tall, plant 3 or 4 climbing bean seeds at the base of the plant.
These will grow up the sunflower and also provide extra nitrogen for the sunflower.
It is a lot of fun plus a great way to get the children away from the TV and video games, showing them there is more to life than a screen.
Some garden centres run competitions for the tallest sunflower and the biggest pumpkin with various prizes for the winners.
Aphids are likely to be found on your roses at this time and they can easily be controlled with a safe spray of Key Pyrethrum and Super Neem Tree Oil combined. Spray very late in the day just before dusk to obtain the best results.
Stone fruit trees that had the curly leaf disease will now be producing new leaves free of the problem. The damaged leaves will fall off over time.
You can if you like, spray the newer leaves a couple of times with potassium permanganate and Raingard just to be sure, but if the disease has finished for the season the sprays will not make much difference.
A spray of Vaporgard without the potassium permanganate would be more effective in allowing the tree’s remaining leaves to gain more energy from the sun, which is needed to produce a good crop.
Codlin Moths will start to be on the wing about now so obtain a pheromone trap from your garden centre so you can monitor the best time to spray.
A number of gardeners have found that a spray of Super Neem Tree Oil and Raingard over the young apples, applied about 5-7 days after an influx of moths into the traps, has resulted in only a very small scar on the mature apple, where the grub took its first and only bite.
Repeat spray 7 days later and then wait for another influx of moths before repeating.
Add Raingard or MBL to the spray to assist and extend the control period.
Tomatoes should be doing well if in a sunny, sheltered spot. Only remove laterals on a sunny day when it is not humid or moist.
Spray the wound immediately with Liquid Copper to prevent disease entering the wound resulting in the possible loss of the plant.
Ensure that the tomato plants are well supported on stakes during windy times. If you are concerned about blights spray the plants with Perkfection as a preventative, once a month. The same applies for your potatoes.
For general health of any plants, especially roses and food crops, a two weekly spray of MBL and Mycorrcin works wonders. Spray both the soil and the foliage.
Avoiding the use of chemical sprays and fertilisers is a must for healthy gardens and plants.
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WEATHER PESTS

The change of seasons from winter to summer and from summer to winter brings us weather conditions that are partly winter and partly summer, these are often times of ample moisture with temperature fluctuations varying from low single digits to double digits well into the 20's
Its during these roller coaster times that several pests and diseases thrive causing us gardeners problems.
Moist conditions brings out the Gastropoda or gastropods, more commonly known as snails and slugs, which are a large taxonomic class within the phylum Mollusca.
Active during wet weather times these pests can do a lot of damage to young plants and they tend to live within the foliage of vegetables that are ready for harvest.
I am often asked for a non poisonous way of dealing to the critters that will not affect pets and wildlife.
Commercially there is an iron based product that is called Quash. It is in pellet form and can be safely sprinkled around your seedlings and other plants you want to protect from slugs and snails.
The pellets contain a lure and when eaten by the pests they die as they cannot handle iron.
You could make up a similar bait by using bran (the carrier) yeast (the lure) and iron sulphate or iron chelate. (the Control) Inexpensive and a great safe control.
The old dish of beer sunk in the ground attracts slugs and snails because of the yeast aspect and presumably they party down and drown.
Besides iron being deadly to them copper is also another compound they cannot handle and will kill them if they come into contact with it.
To use this with freshly planted seedlings simply sprinkle a little untreated sawdust around the seedling and and spray Wallys Liquid Copper with Raingard added to the sawdust and seedlings.
The slugs and snails will not go over the copper so your plants can grow safely.
The copper spray can be used wherever you find slugs and snails by directly spraying them.
Another one you can use is laying slats of ply down on the soil which slugs will hide under during the day. You make up a spray of 1 part bleach and one part water in a trigger sprayer.
Each day fold back the ply to expose the slugs which you spray with your mix. Lay the ply traps back down to collect more slugs over night.
As long as there is ample moisture around then they will be active and hiding under your ply traps.
This can also be used to control populations of wood lice or slaters.
Last week when I was watering the containers I noticed that my two crops of garlic had rust on the foliage.
Since then I have had several gardeners from all over NZ contact me about the same problem on their garlic.
The rust means that the garlic foliage will not be able to obtain the same amount of energy from the sun as they would if not affected by rust.
Sometimes the rust can cover so much of the foliage that the forming bulbs in the soil get nothing to enable them to enlarge.
My first line of attack was to mix a quarter of a teaspoon of potassium permanganate into a litre of water with 1 mil of Raingard added then spray all the garlic foliage.
The damage already done will remain and if successful new foliage produced will be free of the rust.
Repeat spray of the same about a week later to protect the new growths.
The alternative to potassium permanganate is Liquid Sulphur. Copper sprays are not effective.
The more damage that has occurred will affect the size of your bulbs at harvest time.
You could help offset this by spraying the foliage with Perkfection and Vaporgard after having used the above sprays a couple of times.
The Perkfection builds up the immune system of the plants and the Vaporgard provides a sun screen against UV which allows the plants to photosynthesis better and gain more energy from the sun.
The Vaporgard film means that the leaves are also more protected against further rust attacks.
The rust problem on garlic is most annoying as home grown garlic is a prize crop for health and culinary use.
Talking about sunscreens I have just finished reading Ian Wisharts book on Vitamin D which I would highly recommend for gardeners to read if they have not done so already.
Natural progressive tanning (which we were taught when I was young) without burning builds up your tan giving you mega doses of Vitamin D naturally as our bodies are designed to receive.
From the hundreds of peer reviewed studies done; this will mean you are much healthier and better equipped to remain healthy.
Gardening is an activity which places us in the sun and as long as you are sensible about exposure times your health will certainly benefit.
UVB as I understand it gives us our tan and protection, sunscreens remove the ability to build this protection against UVA.
UVA is not stopped by sunscreens (or glass) and that is where the danger of skin cancer lays. Natural tanning gives us the protection and Vitamin D we need.
As the weather warms and sunlight hours increase the need for water increases to ensure moist soil and growing mediums.
Fortunately in many areas it has being a wet spring with ample rain falls on regular bases.
That is good as the health of the soil is maintained with large populations of beneficial microbes, fungi and earth worms.
You can see it in your gardens; they are beaming with healthy growth and continue to do so as long as the skies open up and rain falls regularly.
The time will come when you have to get the hose out and start watering.
If you are unfortunate to have chlorine in your tap water you will find that after using this chemical treated water (which is used to kill bacteria in the water) it will also harm the soil life in your gardens.
I used to find this season after season once I started watering with chemical treated tap water the health of my plants and gardens diminished.
It would revive if a day or two of rain happened but deteriorate quickly with applications of tap water.
By removing the chlorine with a carbon bonded filter does make and maintain the health of your plants and gardens.
The poor gardeners in Havelock North will certainly be in shock as to what is happening to their gardens this coming summer having chlorine added to the previously natural non-chlorinated tap water.
Here is a bit of info I saw on the web:
In the 1970s scientists discovered that when chlorine is added to water, it forms Trihalomethanes (THMs), one of which is chloroform. THMs increase the production of free radicals in the body and are highly carcinogenic (cancer causing).
Chlorine and THMS have been linked to various types of cancer, kidney and liver damage, immune system dysfunction, disorders of the nervous system, hardening of the arteries, and birth defects.
A pause for thought?
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BEETLES AND SPRAYING

This week I have had two readers asking about damage that happening to a hibiscus and a citrus tree. In both cases the leaves were being eaten but when examined there are no culprits found.
In most cases when you can not find a caterpillar or any other leaf eating pest then it is likely to be either beetles or birds but in these two damaged plants it would be beetles as birds don not like the taste of hibiscus or citrus foliage.
Now that the weather is settling and temperatures rising we will see a lot of damage caused by either grass grub beetles or black beetles as they hatch out and start a new life cycle.
These beetles come out at dusk to feed, mate and lay eggs during their 6 odd weeks as an adult.
Gardeners living near paddocks or playing fields may be shocked as the sun goes down and swarms of hundreds of beetles fly into their gardens to do a lot of damage to several plants include the fore mentioned plus roses and beans.
If you have plants with holes in them and no sign of the culprits then go out just after dark with a torch and check the plants.
If there are beetles feeding then mix up Wallys Super Neem Tree Oil at 5 ml per litre of water and add to that 1 mil of Key Pyrethrum and 1 mil of Raingard.
Spray the beetles directly that are on the foliage; the pyrethrum is a quick knock down affecting the nervous system of the pests causing a quick death.
The Super Neem Oil has the anti feeding properties which will stop the pests feeding so that damage is reduced and they will die of starvation after a few days.
The pyrethrum is deactivated by a couple of hours of sunlight the following day, the Super Neem Oil will last on the foliage for 7 to 10 days with increased protection from the Raingard.
If you are unfortunate to have vast numbers of beetles then it would be best to repeat every night for a while. If only a smaller number is seen than keep and eye on damage each day and repeat at night when you feel it would help control new hatching's.
At the beginning of the season all the insect pests will start to emerge from their winter dormancy and begin to build up their populations.
With some this can be a very quick process starting with a few and within a month having increased by 200 to 500% ( 10 x300=3000x 300=900,000) that is a two to three months period and disaster for the pest's host plants.
Knock out those early starters and your insect pest problems will be minimal in the January, February period unless they are invading from untreated gardens nearby or next door.
One of the first lines of defense is to use several Sticky White Fly Traps which can be hung off stakes outdoors or from the roof in glasshouses.
Ideally the trap should be just above the growing plants and raised as the plants get taller. The traps are 250mm x 100mm with a special sticky substance that stays sticky all season catching whitefly adults, psyllids, aphid adults plus other insects.
It is amazing how many insects are caught so quickly.
The next line of defense is Wallys Neem Tree Granules or Powder which is applied to the soil or growing medium in the root zone.
The granules which are called Neem Cake in India are the residue of the Neem Tree seeds which were cold pressed once to remove Neem Oil. This leaves a very dark granule with a very Neem smell.
If the Neem Granules are a light golden colour it means that they have had several extractions of the dark oil causing the much lighter colour.
It is the very dark granules/powder you want as they still have lots of oil still.
When applied to the soil surface and with rain or watering the oil leeches out into the soil and is taken up by the plant's roots.
Any insect pest feeding on the roots gets a dose of Neem and stops eating for ever. This is great way to control soil insects such as root mealy bugs, nematodes, grass grubs etc.
The plant takes the Neem oil up into itself and then discovers it is not something it needs so starts converting it to carbohydrates.
If the plant is quick to do this then there is very little effect on any insects feeding on the foliage. (Examples I have found is cucumbers and beans)
If the plant is slow then the Neem gets through to all the foliage on the plant and any insect feeding on the plant will get a dose and stop eating forever.
(Examples that work is tomatoes, potatoes, brassicas, citrus and rhododendrons)
The great aspect of this is removing the need to spray while at the same time not harming beneficial insects such as ladybirds and bees.
Another aspect of the Neem Granules is the smell which is fairly strong and can confuse some insect pests as they can not smell their host plants.
For those plants that need further protection to control pest insects then the New Wallys Super Neem Tree Oil is the answer.
Used only late in the day when the sun is low on the horizon (to prevent burning) and when most insect pests have settled for the night or beginning to emerge if they are nocturnal.
The beauty of Neem oil as opposed to all the chemical sprays it is very safe to use.
For instance an article I wrote in 2009 taking the wording directly off the NZ Food Safety Web site then stated:
Dietary Risk Assessment : Neem has been determined to be of very low toxicity.
Extracts of Neem have been used historically in parts of Asia for skin and dental treatments for what has claimed to be over 2000 years. Parts of the Neem tree are consumed in certain Indian and Southeast Asian dishes.
Neem is used in human medicine for skin and acne treatment and for the control of scabies and head lice. The active component azadirachtin has also been demonstrated to be of very low toxicity.
Neem and azadirachtin do not represent a dietary intake risk from consumption of residues on treated food commodities.
Toxicological / Public Health Assessment : It has been determined that the use of Neem as an insecticide for use on all food producing plant species is very unlikely to pose any health risks from consumption of the harvested commodity. End.
This means you do not have to worry about skin contact when spraying as you certainly do with chemical sprays.
It also means that beneficial insects including bees and bumble bees are not harmed by Neem; unlike the dangerous chemicals which can still harm bees months after they have been used.
Spraying under the foliage of plant's leaves is very important as most insect pests are under the foliage protected from predators and weather.
Using a pump-up sprayer with a wand allows you to easily spray under the foliage of taller plants and on low plants you can fold back the foliage with one hand to spray under the leaves.
After you have finished spraying with Neem Oil always tip out any spray not used onto the soil in the root zone and rinse the sprayer out with clean water. Use warm water to mix Neem Oil and in cooler weather place container in a jug of hot water to allow it to pour as it goes solid in the cold.
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LABOUR WEEKEND GARDENING

On the 28th October 1890 New Zealand had the first Labour Weekend with a Holiday on the Monday.
This was to celebrate the 8 hour working day. New Zealanders back then were keen gardeners through necessity as having a good supply of produce on your quarter acre meant the difference between going hungry or not during lean times.
Gardeners are often excellent weather watchers and some still keep weekly records of planting times, harvest times and weather conditions.
A few years of these records gives a good indication of what to plant when; to be successful.
Bear in mind back then weather patterns were much more constant as human activities such as pollution, destruction of vegetation of rain forests and other factors which have lead to the unusual and unpredictable weather patterns we see today.
Thus Labour Weekend was the ideal early time to plant out the more tender plants such as tomatoes in most areas of the country. In higher elevations and in some southern areas about a month later was deemed better.
Logic says this must be a good time as it is in the middle of spring and about half way to the longest day.
Plant growth is determined by firstly the hours of light in a 24 hour period, the soil and air temperature plus the amount of moisture in the soil.
The other factors include nutrients for the plants development, the right pH of the soil to allow nutrient up take, even temperatures, even moisture, even space to grow, sunny or shaded, dependent on the plant’s preferences and a wide selection of minerals and elements to complete a plant's desired needs.
In some years, Labour Weekend is the perfect time for many crops including those that desire a fairly warm growth period, in other years Labour Weekend can be too early or a bit late which all relates to the weather patterns we now see each year.
When the weather warms and stays constant, tomatoes for instance will grow well but if there is a cold snap then they will sit and sulk till conditions improve.
If late frosts, hail and chilling winds happen, then losses may occur.
More tender plants such as egg plants, cucumbers, pumpkins, watermelons etc will certainly not do well and often we talk about plantings of these heat loving types a few weeks after Labour Weekend.
Hardy plants such as the brassicas, lettuce, silverbeet and spinach can be planted early and unless they have a major check in their growth they will mature nicely in their own time.
If they have too much of a check in growth then they are very likely to bolt which means, (go to seed)
This often happens when these vegetables are planted too late in the season for winter produce.
If planted late which means April, May or June; they are growing during the shortening daylight hours cycle and into the cold conditions of winter.
What happens is they grow a bit, slow right down during the winter months and when spring comes around they start to grow again and then bolt.
The winter check has caused this to happen, the plant's life has been threatened and all it wants to do is reproduce itself through seeds.
If the same plants were planted in January, February or even early March, they would come close to maturity as winter slows them down and then sit in the garden over the winter months for you to harvest as required.
A number of gardeners have complained to me over the last month or so, about their vegetables going to seed before they matured. In each case they planted the vegetables too late, which is the reason the crop failed.
All of these gardeners complained that they purchased the plants from a garden shop so they should have been ok and why were they on sale if it was too late?
Can we blame the garden shops and the nurseries that produced these seedlings?
I don't think so, but maybe a notice of caution should be displayed with the seedlings so that newer gardeners that do not understand the season times are warned.
Some gardeners may have glasshouses or micro-climate areas where these late plantings will do ok and produce mature crops.
It also depends on where you live in New Zealand as to what you plant and when you plant it.
Even the most experienced gardener can be caught out when unseasonal weather patterns occur like we have been experiencing in the early days of this October.
Any plants that are grown for their fruiting aspects will be ok as long as they are not badly damaged by frosts or cold conditions because the bolting aspect does not apply to them.
Foliage and root crops can be effected.
It is very disappointing when we see a young crop go to seed instead of producing mature vegetables.
This is the main reason why it is wise to only plant a small number of plants early and another small number a few weeks later, then again a few weeks later, during the early part of the new season.
If the first or second crop should fail then likely the third crop will be ok and you have not lost all.
If all crops are successful then you have a bonus of mature vegetables to harvest over a good period of time.
In the meantime we can germinate some seeds and protect these seedlings to plant out when conditions improve and stay improved.
If you like growing Kumara pop down to your local green grocer shop and pick out a few kumara tubers, look for the ones that are showing signs of shooting. (Note Kumara is the correct spelling; Kumera incorrect spelling)
Take a polystyrene box or similar that is about 12cm deep or deeper, make a few holes in the base for drainage and then fill the box half full with a good compost.
Press the tubers into the compost to about half their depth with any eyes facing upwards, then cover with sand or similar.
Place in a sunny warm, sheltered position if you do not have a glasshouse and keep the sand just moist.
The tubers should each produce a number of shoots which you allow to grow till they are about 12cm tall or more. Once you have a good number of tall strong shoots you can carefully lift the tuber and with a sharp knife remove each one, taking a little bit of the tuber and all the roots that the shoot has attached. These then are ready for planting out.
To grow kumara succesfully you need a depth of about 20cm of soft, friable soil that is moderately rich in food.
This good layer should be sitting on a very hard pan surface because the kumara will send down roots through the good growing medium and when they strike the hard pan they are halted and thus the new tuber is formed from these roots.
If there is not a hard pan to obstruct the roots they will keep going deeper and never fill out and you end up with a lot of thick roots and no kumara to harvest.
The top layer where the tubers form can be made up of compost, sand, and soil with sheep manure pellets, blood & bone and some BioPhos added. A liquid food can also be applied during their long growing season.
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GARDENING TO DO LIST

With Labour Weekend quickly approaching and sunlight hours increasing there are a number of areas that we should be looking at in preparation for summer.
Garlic: it is a good time to sprinkle a little Bio Boost as a side dressing to increase the food content these growing cloves require.
Watered down liquid chicken manure (1:10) can also be applied if you have a source of this great manure.
Sprays of Magic Botanic Liquid (MBL) will also help produce a bigger crop of cloves. Any sign of rust; spray foliage with potassium permanganate at ¼ teaspoon per litre of water with 1 mil Raingard added.
If black aphids attack the plants spray with Wallys Super Neem Oil at 5 mil per litre with 1 mil of Raingard added per litre.
Strawberries: plants are moving nicely now with good shows of flowers and berries starting to form.
Side dress plants with Wallys Secret Strawberry Food every 6 -8 weeks and spray the plants with Mycorrcin at 5 mil per litre of non-chlorinated water every two weeks.
Aphids may attack the plants about now and if so use the Super Neem Oil and Raingard mentioned previously. Using the strawberry food above will take care of root nematodes and mealy bugs especially if growing in containers.
Spring flowering Bulbs: dependent on type and where you are these will either still be flowering or they will be finishing.
It is most important that you leave the foliage on till it starts to die off in a couple of months time. The foliage is gaining energy from the sun to build up the bulbs strength to make a good flowering next spring and to produce bublets which are going to be your free future plants.
Xmas Lillies : these along with other lillium types should also be in foliage now and in a few cases actually starting to produce flower buds. A side dressing of the liquid chicken manure would go down well or/and some Bio Boost on the soil.
Hazy skies: A gardener from Levin told me last week that he was seeing his tomato plants which are planted outside in a good all day sun situation, stretching as if they are looking for light.
This is caused by unusual (unnatural?) hazy skies which are blocking sunlight and making for very warm temperatures. (Heat trapped; like in winter when cloudy then less chance of frosts as heat is trapped by clouds)
I experienced this a couple of seasons ago in Palmerston North where the shade effect of the unnatural haze caused stretching of plants, effected flower bud production and flower buds opening.
Leaves of some plants tended to be much larger than normal trying to catch more sunlight.
Corn plants were very stunted across the district. Skies at night were too hazy to see any but the brightest stars.
It would be interesting to know what is causing this unnatural condition and if it occurs in your area ask about it through Neighbourly or by letters to your local newspaper editor as it is a concern especially to us gardeners.
Direct sunlight on bare skin is our richest source of Vitamin D. About 15 minuets a day or as often as possible, reduces the possibility of a number of health issues which include cancer, dementia, Alzheimers, autism, heart disease the list goes on.
Hazy skies preventing direct sunlight is not healthy for our plants or ourselves.
Roses : should be moving nicely now and several readers have phoned or emailed me to ask what to do at this time.
Sprinkle some Wallys Neem Tree Granules in the root zone of the roses along with some Rok Solid, sheep manure pellets, blood & bone and Fruit and Flower Power then lightly cover with purchased compost.
Spray the roses with MBL and Perkfection (if you have Mycorrcin add that also) Once a month.
If you have had significant problems in the past with your roses because of rose sprays such as Shield, rose fertilisers including nitrophoska and chlorinated tap water then do the MBL spray without the Perfection two weeks later.
If there are aphids on the roses then spray with Super Neem Oil late in the day. (It is compatible with the above sprays)
If diseases such as black spot or rust appear spray with the potassium permanganate and Raingard to control.
Follow the above and you should within a season or two have lovely roses again.
Stone Fruit Trees : For curly leaf on peaches and nectarines use the potassium permanganate and Raingard spray every 7 to 10 days while the leaves are growing. After about 6-8 weeks the problem period should be over for the season.
On plum trees the leaves curling is likely insect pests so spray them with Super Neem Oil late in the day.
Apple Trees: Sprinkle Neem Tree Granules under the tree from trunk to drip line.
After flowering place a pheromone trap in tree (or use a can with treacle) monitor the trap and when male moths are caught start spraying the apples with Super Neem Oil and Raingard (late in day) repeat about every 10 to 14 days till no more males have been caught and at least 2 weeks has past.
Moss in lawns: The most effective control is to use Wallys Moss & Liverwort control. Mix at 50 mils per litre of water, turn the spray nozzle to make a jet and then jet it into the moss. Use for liverwort at the same strength.
Moss or slime on paths, steps and lichen on plants use at 25mils per litre. More effective and less expensive than most other similar products.
Slugs & Snails: If these are a problem simply spray the plants and soil near plant with Wallys Liquid Copper with Raingard. Slugs & Snails cant handle copper and it is much safer for pets and hedgehogs than the poison baits.
Quash from Tui is also safe to use and effective as a bait.
Other pests in gardens: Cats love freshly prepared gardens and to deter them use Wallys Cat Repellent.
Alternative for Vegetable garden seedlings use the Crop cover (Also called Bug Mesh) over hoops to keep birds, cats and insect pests off your plantings.
It also make a micro climate and the plants establish quicker.
Germinating Seeds: Either spray seeds with MBL before sowing or after sowing and before covering; it will speed up germination time.
Gardeners are likely to be more healthy because they get out in the sun and gain their body's requirements of Vitamin D.
I have just started reading Wishart's book on Vitamin D and it would appear that not only having ample Vitamin D in your body to prevent cancers it also helps prevent Alzheimers, heart disease, influenza, depression and other health issues.
Its free and available as long as the sun is shining. Remember the old saying, Winter Blues, which is due to not much sun in winter.
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WHY WE GARDEN

There are very few people that do not garden in some manner, whether it is just mowing the lawn and killing a few weeds when needed to keep the place tidy.
Some people landscape their property with shrubs and plants to have low maintenance gardens of weedmat and bark/pebbles with either areas of lawn or cobbles in between.
This enhances the appeal of the property which can make a good impression to visitors and increase the market value when looking to sell.
Spring often brings people out into their outdoors to do a tidy up after winter and this can encourage them to plant a few shrubs, flowers and even some vegetables.
If the new season is a good one and the plantings in the spring are successful then these people will continue doing a bit more gardening and plant some more in the autumn.
Then we have the thousands of people that really enjoy gardening and are out doing a few things most days, all year round, weather permitting.
There are many reasons why we garden, we enjoy being one with Nature, getting our hands into the soil and watching our efforts product lovely flowers and healthy vegetables.
The joy to see a batch of seeds breaking through the mix as they germinate.
Successfully growing a plant that you were told would be difficult where you live in New Zealand.
To produce spectacular floral displays and provide high nutritional produce for the table are a few of the great accomplishments gardeners have .
Pottering around in our gardens (note: not working in our gardens) because pottering is a pleasure, we are breathing fresh air, exercising, gaining stress relief along with a healthy dose of Vitamin D when we do not use sunscreen and are careful about exposure times.
Us older people remember how we learnt to start the season off with small exposure times and build up as we tanned up.
Using Virgin Coconut Oil before gardening then after we have finished, having had a shower and then again the same oil for its marvelous moisturising properties and skin protection.
Gardening is great for our health and when we grow our own fruit and vegetables using soil enriching natural products then we have the benefit of great tasting produce that is brimming with healthy goodness.
Recently I wrote an article in regards to the Supermarket promotion of 'Little Gardens' and one of my readers emailed me the following:
Excellent article Wally.

My wife & I also involve our kids in the gardening & they have their own patches to garden. They will eat any vegetable put on their plates & like them raw even better than cooked in most cases!
We started them off helping in the garden as soon as they could walk and they were eating radishes covered in dirt as soon as they had a couple of teeth.
They have excellent health & don't get sick any where near as often as most other children their age.
On the rare occasion that they do get sick, they are over it in a few days while others are sick for weeks (Not boasting, just pointing out the miraculous power of healthy home grown organic veges).
Our 3 children are also growing the NW supermarket little gardens at home & just love anything to do with growing plants (and eating them of course) Thanks for the great article once again. Tony Olsen
Thanks Tony, your observations confirm my own and the power of gardening in regards to our health and the health of our loved ones.
Kids that grow up doing gardening with their parents will learn about Nature, take pleasure in growing vegetables and flowers and gain a appetite for the things they grow that are full of goodness, flavor and very tasty.
This brings up an interesting thought about children that do not like eating the conventionally grown produce which lacks in both flavour and goodness and may contain many chemicals that are used while the crops are growing.
There are natural products that can increase the goodness and health of your plants and gardens and one of these is Magic Botanic Liquid (MBL)
I have heard some great comments about MBL over the years one of which was that after regular two weekly spraying of their roses , roses that had no noticeable perfume previously now have beautiful scents plus the foliage being free of common diseases.
MBL ( Known also as Humate and Fulvic acid ) is a growth booster for plants, it makes for much bigger root systems, stronger and healthier plants.
Benefits include; Aids and speeds up germination of seeds.
Helps to release locked up fertilisers from past applications especially phosphates.
Helps increase availability of chemical fertilisers and organic foods for plants.
Helps reduce many common plant disease problems.
Cleans up many toxic compounds, chemicals and oil spills in soil.
Helps to establish plants in areas where they cant or struggle to establish.
Stimulates growth of soil micro organisms. Increases root respiration and formation.
Increases availability of micro nutrients. Can increase permeability of plant membranes, which will enhance nutrient uptake.
Increases vitamin content of plants. Improves seed germination. Accelerates root development. Stimulates plant enzymes.
Contains a number of trace elements such as Si, Mg, S, Mn and more.
Increases ability for photosynthesis. Contains silica which strengthens cell walls, helps block disease and regulates cell temperature which increases drought and frost tolerance.
Increase pH buffering properties of soil. Retains and releases water soluble fertilisers for plants when needed.
Increases soil aeration. Improves soil structure. Makes soil more friable.
Has a capacity to detoxify chemical residues and heavy metals.
A powerful, natural chelating agent. Improves taste and shelf-life.
Fulvic acid can promote prolonged production, as it tends to delay the aging process.
Fulvic acid increases the metabolism of proteins.
Used at the rates of 20ml per litre as a soil drench as required and 10ml per litre as a foliage spray once or twice a month.
A must for roses, tomatoes and all vegetable and fruit crops.
Green keepers are using it for better turf so onto the lawn for better healthier lawns.
If you have brown patches on the lawn where dogs have urinated use MBL to help restore or re-establish grass.
Use on your flowering annuals for bigger displays and you will need less plants to fill beds. (with balanced NPK or organic mulches etc) Great stuff...
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PLANTING SEEDLINGS

Gardeners have a choice to either grow their vegetable and flower plants from seed or purchase seedlings.
Growing from seed is the most cost effective but there are a few snags in doing so for the beginner.
Buying seedlings already to plant is a quicker solution; it will cost you more per plant and will not guarantee that you do not have problems.
Gardeners that allow one or two of their annual vegetables or flowers to go to seed will not only have free seeds to plant next season and will have seeds from plants that have started to adjust to the growing conditions of your gardens and locality.
This is an interesting fact; GMO seeds which appeared to preform well in lab like conditions failed horribly when grown in India, when compared to seeds that had been grown over hundreds of years locally.
I have recently had a few phone calls and emails from gardeners complaining that their efforts in germinating seeds are not producing strong healthy plants.
In all these cases the reason was light and the lack of it.
When a seed germinates it sends up a pair of embryo leaves on a stalk while underneath the tap root races downwards forming rootlets as it goes.
Many gardeners including myself like to germinate seeds indoors on a heat pad; in a hot water cupboard or on a window sill. When the seed sprouts and the first foliage emerges, the leaves will detect any light source and grow towards that source.
On a window sill the light is coming through the window; I call this sideways light, it is not directly overhead.
Thus during the day the seedling will stretch to the glass of the window making for a weak plant, which is likely to die.
At night time the seedling would normally stop growing as there is no light but being indoors you may have the lights on so now the plant detects light coming from a light bulb and starts growing in that direction.
The poor seedling it is totally confused; not very good sideways light for many hours of the day then a weaker light from the opposite direction for a few hours at night.
Now if you stop to think about a seed germinating outside in the garden; we have the sun rising in the morning with a great strong light so the seedling opens its leaves to catch as much of this light as possible.
As the sun moves across the sky the leaves follow (not the stalk which is now going to grow straight up) When the sun goes down and it is dark the plant stops growing till the sun rises and the process repeats. Artificial light at night or good moon light will allow the plant to grow a bit more during the night.
If in a hot water cupboard and if totally dark the seeds will germinate, throw up the embryo leaves and then they will turn yellow due to lack of light. If there is the faintest bit of light from a gap in the door then they will quickly stretch to that light and fail.
The secret when germinating indoors is as soon as you have a show of sprouts move the seed tray out into a glasshouse or similar.
If you do not have a glasshouse; take an old drawer or similar and place a sheet of glass over it with your seedling tray inside getting good overhead light.
When done correctly with good overhead light the stalk of the plant will slowly grow upwards producing more leaves on its travel making for a strong seedling ready to harden off before planting out.
Which brings us to the next stage of growing vegetable seedlings and to a slightly lessor extent flower seedlings. Hardening off.
When I owned a nursery many years ago we would germinate trays of seedlings in the glasshouse which at the 'pricking out' size they would be transplanted into punnets, cell packs or in my time into flats which were wooden trays holding 80 seedlings.
These would be put back into the glasshouse to grow on to the size where they would be suitable to sell.
They would be moved out of the glasshouse into a shade house to start the hardening off process.
After a few days when the seedlings were hardened up sufficiently they would then go into the open to finish the hardening off process before being put out for sale.
In the garden centre, in seedling display areas the plants are placed once again in a sheltered situation for sale and thus they start to soften. The longer they stay in shelter the softer they become which means when you move them out into the open they can be set back or damaged.
In punnets or cell packs when you buy you can harden the plants off by putting them out in a semi sheltered spot for a day or two then in the open for another couple of days before transplanting.
If plants are in bundles this makes it difficult to harden them up and likely more prone to failure.
With flowers its is not a great problem because any stress will only make them flower quicker but with vegetable seedlings you do not want them to suffer stress because it can make them go to seed or as we call it 'Bolt'
The rule is; if plants are stressed or their lives are threatened then all they want to do is produce seeds by flowering so they can produce offspring. With flowering plants not a problem but with your vegetable such as silverbeet, brassicas etc it is a major problem.
Flowering and fruiting plants such as tomatoes and cucumbers are not a problem other than the plant flowering prematurely means it has not had a good establishment time so the crop will not be as good as it should.
Watering of seedlings in punnets or cell packs that you have grown or purchased; they should be allowed to dry a little between waterings but not allowed to dry too much to cause stress.
You can harden up seedlings quickly by spraying their foliage all over, in full sun, with Vaporgard a day before transplanting.
Those seedlings will not suffer the same shock with transplanting and tend to sit up like little soldiers and not lay down which will likely happen otherwise. The seedlings grow to maturity better than plants not so treated.
Before taking your seedlings out of the punnets or cell packs plunge them into a bucket of non-chlorinated water and watch them bubble.
When they finish bubbling lift them out and then you can tap them out of their cells or out of a punnet and separate then by hand as you would do a sheet of postage stamps.
If there are more than one plant growing together then in the water you can carefully separate them and plant individually.
To further give your seedlings a better start, place in the planting hole some Rok Solid, Neem Powder, sheep manure pellets and/or blood & bone. If you have Gypsum a little of that also.
A light watering with non-chlorinated water to settle in and any transplanting should be done late afternoon, not in the heat of the full sun.
Keep the seedlings growing medium or soil adequately watered by hand watering every day when there is no rain.
Several months ago I wrote about Dragon fruit which are the seed pots of a cacti flower. I saw Dragon Fruit recently for sale in a green grocer (in case you would like to grow your own).
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BUDDING GARDENERS

I remember as a toddler helping my mother in the gardens at our home, and I had my own small wheelbarrow with spade which I would wheel around the property picking up weeds and putting them into the compost bins or feeding to the chickens.
I also had an old tennis racket which I would use to swat white butterflies so they could not lay their eggs on the cabbages.
Every few days it would be my job to examine all the cabbage plants for caterpillars, pluck them off and put into an old tin before feeding them to the chickens.
I also had my own little patch in the vegetable garden to grow a few vegetables of my own.
A great fuss would be made when, whatever I had grown, was harvested and cooked for tea that night.
Apparently my own vegetables tasted better than what ever mum had grown (not that I noticed any difference as they all tasted good) but as a toddler that likely gave me the encouragement to spend the rest of my life growing plants.
Back then when I was a kid everyone had good sized vegetable gardens along with fruit trees and fruiting bushes as it was sensible to assist surviving and to be as self-sufficient as possible.
Every thing was grown naturally as nobody had the money to buy any fancy fertilisers or sprays.
They were not needed anyway because having chickens you already had the best manure available. Throw in some blood & bone along with garden lime and plants were rich in goodness and people back then were very healthy when compared to these days.
We didn't have chemicals such as chlorine and fluorite in the tap water to do damage to the soil life. Our immune systems were strong because our bodies got the goodness they needed from the home grown produce we grew. The world has certainly changed.
It is heartening to hear that once again people are wakening up and starting to get back into good old fashioned gardening.
There has been too long a period where children from a very young age have not had the opportunity to play at gardening because their parents have not bothered to garden of any consequence.
Primary Schools have endeavored to pick up the batten and have vegetable gardens for their young students to work in and learn a bit about plants.
Companies in the Gardening Industry have tried to encourage young people to garden with growing big pumpkins or tallest growing Sunflowers competitions.
I am sure these things have helped and a few more young people have grown up taking an interest in growing plants. Unfortunately all these efforts has not seen a significant increase in gardening rather a gradual decline as old gardeners have past on to the after life.
It is truly sad to see their properties with magnificent gardens being sold off to non gardeners who will bulldoze the gardens out of existence to put down into either lawn or bark gardens of low maintenance.
Valuable old species of bulbs and plants that a gardener would die for are lost forever.
Recently when at a Supermarket checkout I was given a bag with a booklet and a nicely presented peat pot along with my groceries.
The peat pot contained a expandable peat disk, a seed tissue with half a dozen seeds and a cute label saying 'Little Garden' Basil.
The packaging provides the information on 'Getting your Little Garden started' and 'How to keep your Little Garden healthy. There is even information on a special web site to replant your Little Garden peat pot into a larger container or into a vegetable garden.
The booklet said it was free for Little Gardeners, entitled NW Little Garden, Growers Edition and a place to put your name.
There are 24 different plants available in the Little Gardens collection which I think will make this a real winner as children love to collect things.
It will likely be a winner also for those adults that do not normally garden where they can follow the same instructions and learn how to propagate plants then grow on to maturity.
The booklet is very informative giving average sprouting time of the seeds, when to transplant with growing instructs as needed and harvest times. Tips and facts for each vegetable and herb imparts further knowledge to the novice gardener.
Their web site has lots of additional information and competitions at www.LittleGarden.co.nz
When you shop at the Supermarket chain and for every $40 spent, you will receive another Little Garden seed pack which you can either grow or swap with others to enable you to get the complete set of 24 vegetables and herbs.
I was fortunate to obtain a Basil Little Garden first off which I am looking forward to germinating and grow on for use.
The Little Garden promotion started on 12th September and goes till 23rd of October (Labor Weekend) which is the ideal time to get growing as it will give children the greatest possibility of success.
Hopefully this promotion will bring into fruition a new wave of budding gardeners making for a better understanding of Nature, the environment and personal health.
As parents, grandparents or teachers please take this great opportunity to assist the young and not so young in obtaining the most desirable skill; Gardening.
Remember daylight saving time is quickly approaching as it starts on Sunday 25th September.
This will give you more time in the evening to tend to your gardens before dusk.
I am hopeful that it is going to be a great season for gardening this year as the signs are looking very favorable currently.
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SEPTEMBER GARDENING

There are plenty of chores to attend to at this time of the year as the day light hours increase and plants emerging from their winter rest.
Hardy plants will be showing very good growth now including the plants you do not want commonly referred to as weeds.
Unwanted plants are very valuable if you make use of them and treat them as a fodder crop.
Smaller unwanted plants should be cut off just below soil level with a sharp knife or sharp Dutch Hoe.
This removes the root system from the foliage leaving the roots to rot off in the soil providing a rich source of food for the soil life.
The foliage falls onto the bare soil where it is quickly broken down by the soil life providing them with more substance to nurture your preferred plants.
Taller weeds can be cut down with a weed eater using the Pivotrim Pro attachment which are available from Mitre10 Mega stores.
Actually this week I had a email from a reader which stated the following: I purchased a Pivotrim and fitted it. One thing I found was four lines was too much for my weed eater but found that it could handle two quite easily.
Recently while I was browsing in Mitre 10 I came across a line formed in a twist rather like the barley sugar sticks of old. The packet content consisted of 20 lengths namely commercial trimmer line .
This line is named Lawn Keeper and is available in 3 dia's the one I chose is a 2-4 mm which fitted easily.
The configuration is superior to the smooth single strand one's available; with the twisted form, helps the gripping action and cuts cleaner.
This information I felt is worth passing on , for every means of assisting with this weekly chore speeds up the process. Good information thank you John.
After cutting down the weeds with the above you can leave the stubble unless you want to clear the ground which means cutting off the weeds below soil level with a sharp carving knife.
Real tough root systems I have used a box cutter on which makes the job a breeze as long as you are careful not to cut yourself.
These methods of weeding enhances your soil or growing medium where chemical herbicides greatly harm the soil life and your plants suffer.
If you have waste areas or cobbles/cracks where weeds flourish then sprinkle salt over the area and lightly water. The weeds are killed and stay weed free for a time.
Sprays of vinegar or cooking oils can be used also on sunny days when the soil is drier.
With cooking oil you need to add an equal amount of dishwashing liquid to the oil before adding water so the oil will mix with water.
Spring temperatures and moisture brings out diseases to attack your plants so sprays of potassium permanganate (Condys Crystals at a quarter teaspoon to a litre of water) with Raingard added sprayed onto the soil and plants controls a wide range of diseases and fungi nicely.
Note it will stain things like your house & fences if you are not careful, but will wash off over time.
An interesting bit of information you can purify drinking water of harmful bacteria by placing 3 or 4 grains into a litre of water, agitate to make water a light pink and leave for 24 hours before drinking.
Using this method means a large quantity of water can be treated saving the need to boil.
Spray the above potassium permanganate for protection of curly leaf on stone fruit about every week till disease time is past.
Spray also your roses and other deciduous trees and plants to protect the new spring growth from diseases.
Sprinkle Wallys Neem Tree Granules under your apple trees, roses and citrus trees to reduce pest insect problems.
Use the Cell Strengthening products we wrote about a few weeks ago to strengthen your tomato plants, potatoes and tamarillo so the dreaded psyllid nymphs cant feed and ruin your crops.
(If you missed it then past articles are available at www.gardenews.co.nz )
If you have concerns about build up of diseases in your soil where you grow tomatoes year after year such as it your glasshouse then treat the soil with Terracin and 3 weeks later with Mycorrcin.
Ensure you store the unused bottle contents in a cool situation out of sunlight as it has live beneficial bacteria which would die if exposed to too much heat such as in a hot shed.
If you do not have any plants in your glasshouse so far, then you can burn sulphur powder inside the house to fumigate it of insect pests that maybe hiding away.
Wet times allows slimes to grow on paths which can be dangerous to walk on causing one to slip and fall. Spray with Moss & Liverwort Control to kill the slime.
Also ideal to use for moss in lawns and liverwort growing all over the place. To obtain best results adjust the nozzle of the sprayer so it is a bit of a jet which forces the product into the target area. Does not harm plants if they are sprayed at the same time.
Start spraying strawberry plants 2 weekly with Mycorrcin which will increase your harvests by 200 to 4000 %. Fruit earlier, more fruit, larger berries and a longer cropping season.
Dont forget to also use Wallys Secret Strawberry Food.
When planting seedlings place a little Rok Solid into the planting along with a little Neem Powder to give your seedlings a good start and some protection from pests.
I favor crop cover (also so sold as Bug Mesh), which is 4 metres wide. By using wire or piping to form hoops place the cover over the hoops to give protection to the young plants or seeds from waether, pests, cats and birds.
Great stuff and reusable season after season.
If you want great gardens this season then use only natural products that will not harm the soil life and earth worms.
This includes putting a 10 micron carbon bonded filter/housing onto your water tap if you have chlorine in your water supply.
I have received many reports from gardeners about how their gardens have greatly improved in health after removing the chlorine from the water they use on the gardens.
It is just common sense, a chemical poison that is added to water to kill microbes is going to do the same to the beneficial microbes in your soil and effect the valuable earth worms.
I even wonder what harm it does to our gut bacteria when people drink chlorinated tap water.
If anyone has any data on this I would be interested.
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GUAVA MOTH

The Guava Moth first appeared in northland in 1997 but MAF did not get involved till 1999.
By 2002 Northland orchards were found to have some degree of infestation and since then commercial growers and home gardeners in other parts of the North Island and possibly some areas of the South Island could have small, but growing populations of the pest.
When MAF looked at Australia where the moth came from, it was reported back as not being a problem in commercial orchards only as a back yard, home garden pest.
The same was also said of the potato/tomato psyllid, which we have since learnt that they are a major problem both commercially and for us gardeners.
The guava moth has been further distributed by travelers, buying fruit in the northern areas and taking produce home.
When the contaminated fruit is cut open the caterpillars are found and the damaged fruit is thrown into the rubbish or into the compost allowing the grubs to reach their last instar and pupate.
The moths then emerge and seek a fruit or nut tree nearby to lay their eggs.
Because the guava moth has numerous host plants including citrus, loquat, plums, peaches, pears, apples, macadamia, feijoa and guava they are likely to find a host fruit at any time of the year.
I have done several searches on the Internet and there is not much in the way of real information on the life cycle of the pest.
For instance I cant find how long from the moth laying its eggs does it take for the grubs to hatch given favorable conditions?
It would appear with temperatures of about 21 degrees the pupating period is about 14 days.
It would also appear that the moths prefer to return to the same host plant they descended from to pupate if the plant is still bearing fruit.
As most host fruit have a period of a few months from pollination to harvest it is very likely that two or more generations will effect the same fruit tree.
In home orchards that have a range of fruit trees it is obvious that there will be one or more host trees in fruit for most if not all the year.
This would then allow for a population explosions to occur over a couple of seasons and without any prevention controls you would be lucky to find any fruit that is not damaged.
Recent conversations with some northern gardeners are now finding entire crops damaged.
My Internet research indicates that the grubs pupate in the top layer of soil/debris under the trees they have been feeding.
Placing a few free ranging chickens into the area of your fruit trees would clean up all the pupating moths no problem. (Once again another very good reason to have a few chickens of your own)
A couple of months ago I extended the area that my 7 chickens could venture into. It was a really weedy rough area that I had cultivated at one time but had got away one me as I do not use any herbicides.
The chicken have cleaned up the area better than I could ever hope to do, leaving beautifully tilled soil that is well manured. It would be great to grow vegetables in except the chickens put up signs now; 'Leave our area alone'.
I also know that some garden centres have recommended placing Neem Tree granules under the trees to confuse the moths when they emerge from their cocoons.
I have had some good reports from gardeners doing this under their apple trees to assist in the control of codlin moths; so on the same theory it could work on guava moths.
I did notice one site mentioned about planting aromatic herbs/plants under the trees to confuse the moths. Another was using a olive oil with garlic spray over their trees on a very regular program to also confuse the moths which indicates they find their host plants by smell.
Talking to a few people and garden centre staff I was lead to believe that the moth lays its eggs in the flower of the fruit tree and later on these grubs hatch out to infest the embryo fruit.
To my mind that does not make sense, Nature is not dumb, the moths are not going to lay eggs anywhere there is not an already a food source for their babies. Also not all flowers will set fruit for various reasons so the grubs would be left high and dry to die.
Logically (like the Codlin moth) they will only lay their eggs when the fruit has formed after pollination.
It is also likely the smell of the fruit that will attract the moth at night to the spot to lay their eggs which from scientific observations maybe two or more eggs per fruit dependent on variety.
For instance it was observed that on guava 1 to 2 eggs laid per fruit, 3 to 5 eggs on loquats, 1 or 2 eggs per orange and up to 10 eggs on macadamia nuts.
Though I cant find the information it would be about 10 to 14 days for the grubs to hatch out and then eat their way into the fruit.
Being a caterpillar at this stage they are effected by Wallys Super Neem Tree Oil mixed with Raingard and as previously mentioned in the article on Codling Moth all you need to do is ensure there is a coating of the oil spray on the fruit. This means when the grub takes its first bite it will stop eating and die within hours. Effectively stopping the further increase in the populations.
A repeat spray of the fruit (no need to spray the tree) every 14 days till harvest will be needed the first season to begin eliminating the moths from your gardens.
Other alternatives are wrapping a branch in Crop Cover after flowering is finished. This would stop the moths from laying eggs on the fruit on that branch.
Setting up inexpensive solar lights to attract the moths at night and placing plastic wrap over the light part that you have applied a cooking oil to or a light coat of petroleum jelly or similar.
The moths are attracted to the light and get stuck so next day toy can destroy them and reload the trap.
Wallys Yellow Sticky White fly traps could also be used hanging with the solar light on a pole at about the height of the lowest fruiting branch of the tree.
A combination of all these methods should help ensure that you have your fruit again and outside of re-infestation from neighboring properties your trees would stay clean of problems.
Remember also that lights on your property at night (including street lights) will attract moths and other nocturnal pests to cause problems.
If you do not have a guava moth problem yet enjoy your fruit without these hassles while you can.
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GRASS GRUBS AND LAWN PESTS

In the spring when the daylight hours start to increase, plants wake up from their winter dormancy and start to grow, this is when a problem can happen in parts of a lawn.
The problem actually happened leading up to winter when grass grubs were getting their fill of the grass's roots before pupating.
These white grubs had been eating the roots of the grass to a point when there was not much roots left.
You find this out at the end of winter or early spring when the grass tries to grow as there is insufficient roots to sustain the grass growth and the grass dies.
Sometimes you find out the problem when you mow the lawn and a strip or patch of grass lifts off the soil because there is not sufficient roots left to anchor it into the soil.
The problem was the grass grubs back then; but some people think they need to treat the lawn now which is not so as the horse has gone so too late to close the gate. Damage done, grubs gone.
The time to treat the lawn for grass grubs is in the autumn when the rain has moisten up the soil and the grubs are feeding near the surface so they are easy to get to and kill.
I always suggest prior to any treatment you cut a square with your spade in the lawn, lift the turf and see if there are any grass grubs in that square and how many.
If there are 2 or3 grubs it is hardly worthwhile treating as they will not do too much damage where on the other hand if there are a number of the grubs then its worthwhile treating.
It also pays to lift some turf in different areas as you may have a big infestation in one part of the lawn and hardy any in other parts which means why waste your money treating the whole lawn.
The likely parts that will have the worst number of grubs is where there is night lights or street lights nearby as the beetles are attracted to the lights at night then lay their eggs nearby.
Also areas where there is a history of a problem will also be a good place to check as the beetles will return to where they emerged from if not attracted away at night by lights.
What treatment to use? You want to use a treatment which is going to be safe for children and pets to still use the lawn without harming them. Also you do not want to use a treatment that will harm bees or bumble bees weeks or months later if there are any weeds or clovers in the lawn that are going to flower later.
Chemicals in the family of Neonicotinoids are extremely harmful to honey bees and bumble bees these include chemicals from the family such as imidacloprid (Found in the brand name Confidor also)
Neem Tree Powder can be used safely to control grass grubs and also root nematodes in the lawn.
Many gardeners will not be aware of nematodes in their lawns as they do not appear to make any difference to the look of the lawn until they are eliminated.
Once eliminated the lawn shows an increase in its healthy look which means there had been nematodes feeding on the roots of the grasses.
If you are a gardener that wants a really great lawn then apply Wallys Neem Tree powder (Available in 3kg bags) to an area of lawn after the grass has been cut; lightly water to settle the powder to the soil which should be moist from either rain or prior watering.
If you have a lawn roller roll the area to press the powder into the soil.
Then after a few weeks if you see that the area treated looks much better than the rest of the lawn you will know you have nematodes, so then can treat the rest of the lawn.
Another product is 3 in 1 for lawns which is a combination of eucalyptus and tea tree oils along with a natural food and a wetting agent.
The 1 litre concentrate is watered down at 1: 25 and applied to 50 sqM of lawn which is then further watered to take it deeper into the soil.
Very safe to use and it takes out all the lawn pests when used as to the instructions.
Best applied after mowing the lawn and because its washed into the soil and is not systemic it will do its job without harm to pollinating bees etc.
In a few weeks or over the next few months your gardens are going to be invaded by grass grub beetles that are going to mate, feed on a number of your plants and then lay eggs deep in the soil of the lawn to hatch out later as grubs and start the cycle all over again.
If you can kill lots of the beetles you will greatly reduce the damage to your gardens and lawns over the next 12 months.
As soon as you start to notice holes in foliage of plants such as roses, citrus etc and no noticeable culprits around then 9 times out of 10 it will be beetles feeding in the evening.
If you take a torch out in the early evening you will likely see the critters having a munch up.
Make up a spray of Wallys Super Neem Tree Oil at 5 ml per litre of water, add one mil of Key Pyrethrum and 1 mil of Raingard to each litre and go out and spray the beetles that are feeding.
Repeat every night that you are able to when its not raining.
The pyrethrum will knock them down quickly and the Neem Oil will stop them feeding.
Another way to control is a light trap where you place a trough such as used for wall papering, directly under a window pane, fill to third full with water then a little kerosine to float on the water.
Inside the window you place a very bight light and turn on as dusk happens. You will hear the beetles hitting the window trying to get to the light they will fall into the trough where they cant get out because of the kerosine.
Next day you either feed the beetles to the chooks or you flush them down the toilet.
Each evening you only need the light on for about 2-3 hours then its all over till the following night.
Porina caterpillars are another lawn pest that feeds at the base of the grass causing bare patches. They will also chew through the trunk of young seedlings in the garden.
The very simple, safe way to control them in the lawn is to mow the grass first then later in the day make up Wallys Super Neem tree Oil at 5 mls per litre adding one mil of Raingard then spray the lawn or use a Lawnboy.
You are looking to get the spray to the base of the grass where they will feed.
That night when they emerge out of their tunnels to eat they will get a dose of the Neem and stop eating and starve to death over a week or so.
In areas where the porina is bad a treatment about every 3 months is worthwhile.
Nothing like a nice lawn to complement your gardens.
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SEED SECRETS

With the weather starting to settle we are begining to get the spring feeling and for gardeners that means a start to gardening and growing for the new season.
Most plants come from seeds which makes them the most economical way to obtain the plants we would like to grow. Garden Centres have a good range of the most popular seeds types for your convenience.
For a great variety there are mail order seed companies in NZ such as Egmont and Kings Seeds both of which are on the Internet.
Specialty seeds are available though the likes of Koanga and specialist clubs (cacti, lillium etc)
The best seeds are the ones that come out of your own gardens by allowing some vegetables or flowers to set seed. With vegetables you allow one of the best looking plants to flower and produce seeds; these then can then be harvested and stored in a marked plastic bag inside a jar in the fridge.
They will keep well using this method of storage and when you take them out of the fridge to germinate they think they have come out of a long winter and germinate much quicker as a result.
If you leave your vegetable (say lettuce or brassica) to not only seed but to drop their seeds naturally onto the soil then you will have hundreds of self sown seedlings. They compete with each other for light and nutrients and some will get an advantage and grow bigger and quicker than their neighbors.
With lettuce and Pak Choy (for example) you can progressively harvest the larger plants carefully not to disturb the smaller ones. Thus in about a square metre you will have a big ongoing supply of greens.
This is ideal in open ground or in a raised bed.
What I do is after the parent plant has set seed and died down sprinkle animal manure and Rok Solid over the area with some fresh compost and then let nature do its thing.
With other brassicas you can lift some seedlings and plant out with the correct spacing. Free plants.
Seeds of tomato, cucumber, capsicum, chilli, pumpkin, melons are also free if you pick them out of the produce you have grown or purchased, dry them on a paper towel and then store them in a sealed glass jar in the fridge for later growing.
Keeping your own seed is very important as great older varieties of some plants disappear off the market to be replaced by newer varieties which often are not as good as the old types.
Also certain companies want you to have access only to their seeds and they get rid of other varieties so your choice is limited.
In some countries it is/has become illegal to keep your own seeds which is really hurting the indigenous farmers.
If each year you grow a variety of a vegetable, then allow one good one to seed, collect the seed, plant that the following season, repeat each season with fresh seed from the last season you will have developed a strain of seed that is perfect for your growing conditions, what I would call Naturalised.
The seeds will be what is termed 'open pollinated' which means they pollinated naturally without hybridization. (Man intervention)
Modern hybrid seeds are produced to achieve the following goals; fast uniform germination (all germinating at the same time) uniform maturity (all the crop matures at same time) Quick to mature ( need to make money as quickly as possible) uniform appearance (so they are all look the same on the supermarket shelves)
Chemical tolerant (So they can be force feed with man made fertilisers)
In the process of hybridizing the seeds for the above grower requirements flavour is lost and this is compounded by the fast growing conventional chemical environment.
Lack of flavor equals lack of goodness or nutritional values we need for our good health.
Open pollinate seeds on the other hand are erratic in germination and maturity which is better to have the crop maturing over a period of weeks rather all on the same day.
Slower growing which gives the plants time to take up the natural minerals and elements that you provide for them.
They will taste really great and improve your health no end as they are brimming with goodness.
In Nature seeds that have fallen or been carried in some bird poo will germinate when the conditions are right for them to do so.
When they germinate they will throw down their tap root which will go very deep if it does not met any obstruction. This makes for a great strong root system that will service the needs of the foliage above.
Thus self sown seeds or seeds that we sow in the place, where they will grow to maturity will always be better than seedlings we transplant.
There are certain larger seeds along with seeds of root crops (Carrots & Parsnips) these two must always be grown from seed where they will mature as they do not transplant successfully.
Beans and peas should be grown from seed for best results not from transplants.
Gardeners that see these for sale in punnets shake their heads and wonder why anyone would buy them.
Likewise pumpkin, melons and cucumbers are big enough seeds to handle easy and should be sown where they will grow.
There is a trick you can use to assist better germination which is either spraying or soaking the seeds in a solution of Magic Botanic Liquid (MBL). The product certainly helps germination.
Carrot fly is a problem with carrots and parsnips so when you make your furrow sprinkle Wallys Neem Tree Powder along the furrow, spread the seeds along and then spray them with MBL before covering.
Later when the plants are up a couple of inches side dress the row with Neem Powder.
Neem Powder can be used when planting seeds or seedlings to give protection from nematodes and other soil insect pests.
If the soil temperature n your garden is under 10 degrees then germination will be more erratic or not at all.
To overcome this make a trench about 80mm deep and 60mm wide, mow your lawn and put the clippings of grasses into the bottom of this trench making a compacted layer about 50mm deep. Over this put 10mm of top soil or compost, sprinkle Neem Powder, Rok Solid, garden lime, BioPhos and sheep manure pellets.
Cover with a little more compost and then space out your peas/beans (sweet peas also) along the row and either spray with MBL if not pre-soaked over night in the same.
Cover with more compost and lightly water down with Non-chlorinated water.
The heat from the decomposing grass clippings will warm the soil, aid germination plus provide food you the soil life and plants.
The same can be used for early crop of kumera, potatoes, in the mounds for pumpkin and melons.
If you are germinating your seeds in trays or punnets then buy a heat pad so you have good under heat.
Place the heat pad onto a polystyrene sheet so all the heat is directed upwards.
Mist the seeds with MBL before covering and use purchased compost to fill the trays, sieving some to cover the top of the compost for the seeds to sit on and to cover them after spraying.
I personally find that natural compost purchased is a far better seed raising medium than the so called seed raising mixes. Mist the mix regularly like two or three times a day. As soon as the first germination appears, move the tray to the glasshouse or into a drawer outside with glass over so they have natural overhead light.
If not they will stretch and likely fail. Keep moist but not wet with non-chlorinated water by misting.
When plants are ready to transplant spray with Vaporgard a couple of days before lifting then transplant.
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NEW SEASON POTATOES

About a month ago I wrote about spud time as it is a good time to buy the new seasons seed potatoes and start sprouting them for planting out.
The time for planting out is mostly governed by frosts and the damage they can do to a early crop.
Now days we face an even bigger danger and that is the potato psyllid, which is causing total loss of crops in many areas.
One key factor of prevention is a very early crop of fairly quick manuring potatoes which will suffer only minor damage in most gardens. Later in the season when the pest numbers increase, there is a noticeable increase in damage and crop failure..
Potato crops planted say in November or December will need a lot of protection to produce good spuds for storage.
In the worst affected areas of New Zealand plantings in October will also need ample protection.
MAF New Zealand has a web page on their web site and forwarded the same information to garden centres through out NZ.
Here is part of that information:
What does the tomato/potato psyllid look like?
The adult tomato/potato psyllid is about the size of an adult aphid but looks like a tiny cicada under magnification.
The female lays yellow eggs that are attached by stalks to plant leaves, usually to the leaf edges.
Psyllid nymphs hatch from these eggs and after five moults (instars)become adults.
The nymphs are flat scale-like insects which are mostly inactive but move when disturbed.
Nymphs and adults feed by sucking plant juices, which is how they are thought to spread a substance called Liberibacter. (The toxin that does the damage)
Nymphs and adults secrete plant sap as white granules called ‘psyllid sugars’ which can be seen on the leaves.
In humid conditions and where there are large numbers of psyllids, black sooty mould fungi can grow on the sugars. Dense sooty mould on leaves may reduce photosynthesis, but this is rarely a problem on outdoor plants as the psyllid sugars are usually removed by wind and rain.
How will the tomato/potato psyllid/Liberibacter affect my plants?
On tomato the symptoms of psyllid yellows are the yellowing and stunting of the growing tip and a cupping or curling of the leaves.
Many flowers may fall off the trusses of infected plants and fruit may be small and mis-shaped.
On potato, psyllid yellows disease causes a stunting and yellowing of the growing tip, and the edges of the curled leaves often have a pink blush.
The stem may have swollen nodes and show a browning of the vascular tissue.
After a while, infected potatoes develop a scorched appearance and plants collapse prematurely. Potato plants that are infected at an early stage develop numerous small tubers.
The tomato/potato psyllid breeds mainly on plants in the Solanaceae (potato and tomato family), but can also attack some species of Convolvulaceae (kumara and bindweed family).
Other host plants of the tomato/potato psyllid include Apple of Peru, capsicum, chilli, egg plant, kumara, poroporo, tamarillo, pepino and thornapple.
Why is the tomato/potato psyllid a problem? Tomato/potato psyllid adults and nymphs cause damage to host plants through feeding on leaves and by transmitting a bacterial pathogen, Liberibacter, that lives in plants. The bacterium is believed to cause diseases such as ‘psyllid yellows’ in tomatoes and potatoes, and ‘zebra chip’ symptoms in potato tubers.
These diseases can drastically reduce the quality and yield of your crop. End
So the problem is greater than just protecting your tomatoes and potatoes as you are likely to have other plants and weeds growing that will also host the pests which means they can re-infest your crops which will require continued protection.
A number of gardeners will likely have convolvulus growing on their land or nearby and this common weed is also a host.
For potatoes as mentioned an early crop can in some area be grown and harvested before the psyllid's population get growing for the season.
Crops already in and well on the way will likely be ready to harvest about Labour Weekend.
One gardener found last year that the crop was very good when they lifted a few mature plants.
Unfortunately they left the rest of the crop in the ground with the tops on and found when they harvested again that the potatoes had the dark rings inside and as a result tasted horrible and had to be thrown out. A good warning for others if you leave the mature potatoes in the ground cut the tops off and cover the stubble.
Last week we wrote about the Silicon Cell Strengthening kit which you can use to make it difficult for the psyllids to feed and thus safely reduce damage. (Copy is on the www.gardenews.co.nz site)
With later plantings of potatoes besides using Wallys Neem Tree Granules and Super Neem Tree Oil there is quarantine cloth that can be put over hoops above the foliage to prevent the psyllids from getting on the potato crop.
The winged adult psyllid has been reported to be able to fly for 1524 miles so re-infestation from other gardens nearby will be a ongoing problem.
The female laying 510 eggs in a 21 day period is another reason for good controls.
The yellow sticky cards available to home gardeners should be employed near the tops of growing plants and in doorways and ventilation entrances of glasshouses.
The cards catch adults flying into a crop and that also helps to keep population levels low.
It has been found with tomatoes that if an effected plant is cleared of he pest then new fruits will be normal. This is a little late for potatoes that have formed when plant is infected.
The psyllid is a very big problem for the home gardener.
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TOMATO/POTATO PSYLLID ADVENTURES

It would be about 6-7 years ago that I had my first known encounter with this most troublesome pest.
I had planted a late crop of potatoes in a raised garden in March and when I lifted them about 3 months later all I found was marble size potatoes that were sprouting shoots.
I had never heard of the psyllid and assumed that maybe too much nitrogen caused the big tops and a miniature useless crop.
The following season I began to notice the bottom leaves of the tomato plants which grew alright and then became distorted and twisted like they had plant arthritis. A virus I assumed.
I also noted that some bottom leaves would dehydrate and die off.
The plants produced tomatoes that ripened ok but as the season progressed the fruit became noticeably smaller.
The plants were not in a heathy looking state but struggled on as plants are apt to do, even when there are problems. Life force is very strong.
The following season the tomato plants once again did not do so well but having a good number of plants there was sufficient tomatoes for our use.
Because whitefly was the a problem each season Neem Powder and Neem Oil with Key Pyrethrum was used.
The Neem Powder at planting time, Wallys Secret Tomato Food with Neem Powder on a regular 4-6 week application and the sprays every few weeks to keep the whitefly under control.
In hindsight likely this is what kept the psyllid number down and kept the tomato plants alive.
It was about then we moved to a new location and as I had many plants in containers and in raised gardens; these made the journey to the new residence along with my two small glasshouses.
In moving (which was in the spring) I brought the psyllids with the plants or in the mixes.
The new home was a warehouse, two storeys tall, most of the outside in concrete plus a big concrete block wall separating the property from the warehouse next door. This made for a nice micro-climate which is ideal for the psyllids to breed.
Given good conditions one female psyllid can lay 500 eggs which will become adults themselves within 33 days 1 becomes 500, thirty odd days later 500 can be quarter a million and a month later you could have 125 million nymphs feeding on your tomatoes, potatoes, tamarillos, peppers, okra etc.
Without the aid of a 10x magnifying glass you would not even see them.
It was not long after moving and finding that I had brought the pests to the new premises that I became aware that initially, the natural products such as Neem, Pyrethrum and diatomaceous earth can work well in the early years and even fairly well in the early part of the season but as populations expand rapidly the pests win and you lose the battle.
As far as I understand it, chemical sprays which initially may assist in control will fail due to chemicals being poisons and the pest build resistance to the poisons.
As psyllid numbers rapidly increase you not only lose but you have caused harm to the environment, the beneficial insects and your own health due to not only spraying but also by putting chemical poisons into your food.
I belong to a group of gardeners that do not like to lose, we dont give up easily but season after season of losing tomato plants and tamarillos to the psyllids and trying a number of controls including building a Quarantine house in conjunction with my larger glasshouse plus quarantine cloth over all vents.
This helped a bit but was not the answer as I was carrying the pests into these areas without realising it.
A few years ago I had imported from a company in Australia a liquid that contained diatomaceous earth and boron, thinking that it maybe a go as the diatomaceous earth had helped in northland, lacerating the nymphs bodies causing infection and their deaths.
While talking to their scientists in NZ about the psyllid problem I was told about strengthening the plant' s cells by applications of silicon.
This sounded a good control as the psyllid nymphs have weak feeding mouths and if they can not piece the outer skin of the tomato plant to feed after they hatch out, they will die of starvation very quickly.
Thinking outside of the square: instead of protecting your tomatoes by trying to control the pests with sprays etc, instead build the resistance of the plant so the pests cant feed. A no brainer once you think about it.
Not only that, my friends had the products to make it work.
Based on logic I suggested other gardeners last season to try using these product also and from the ones that have contacted me back they have had great results and like myself had tomatoes to give away again.
Last winter while my main glasshouse was empty of plants I burnt sulphur powder in the house to fumigate it. Once it started burning and I was safely outside I could see both whitefly and adult psyllids banging against the glass trying to escape the deadly sulphur fumes.
When the new season started I hung the big sticky whitefly cards by the vents and door as well as in the areas above the new seasons tomato plants. These cards did catch a good number of both adult pests.
I used the Silicon & Boron Soil drench on the seeds I sowed and on a couple of purchased tomato seedling and a young tamarillo plant. This was again used two weeks later after the seeds had germinated and transplanted. The idea here is to initially get silicon into the growing medium to be take up by the plants roots.
At the two week growing stage the Silicon Cell Strengthening spray with the Silicon Super Spreader was mixed together and thoroughly sprayed all over the plants. This was repeated every two weeks till the plants reached their mature heights.
This regular spraying keeps a stream of silicon inserted into the plants because of the Silicon Super Spreader (which penetrates the foliage getting the silicon into the plant's cells.)
End result, I gave ripe tomatoes away as we once again had more than we could use, I have near ripe fruit on two tamarillos and I am very happy.
During the growing season I purchased a set of magnifying glasses, 5x 10x and 15x and examined the leaves of the plants looking for nymphs but could never find any.
I also noted that tomatoes and one tamarillo not in the glasshouse which also had received the same silicon treatments did very well also without signs of psyllid damage.
I will be using the same again this season and the bottles of product that are left are sufficient for another season or two making them very cost effective.
Plus the joy of being able to grow tomatoes again.
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TASTE AND HEALTH

Sometimes I wonder what I am going to write about each week and then out of the blue up comes a prompter and we are away again for another week.
This week the prompts came from both emails and social media and they could be summed up in one word; Health.
One was in regards to the Natural Health and Supplementary Products Bill whereby a lot of natural things such as plants and herbs which are used to keep us healthy would be made difficult to get and in some cases banned from sale.
Even the right to be able to inform people of the health benefits of natural products could be made illegal.
It all sounds stupid and according to a health source of mine the very controversial bill has been shelved to a future date for review. Just need confirmation of this.
There is also talk which obviously has a foundation of truth somewhere; that the keeping of your own seeds to grow each season, and even giving away surplus vegetables out of your garden would possibly become illegal.
I have seen oversea certain interests that are buying up heritage seed companies and destroying their seed banks; it is a really happening, so monopolies have total control over the distribution of their seeds.
(Gardeners start keeping your own seeds each season already too many past excellent vegetable varieties have disappeared)
I love this quote from Thomas Jefferson ' If people let government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny.'
The other little gem was an article that stated; ' Being on a benefit is now considered by the powers that be, addictive and bad for one's health.' (Codswallop)
Anyway lets not be political when we are on about gardening and its my own belief that Gardening is Very Healthy for us (in more ways than one).
Growing your own vegetables and fruit naturally, without any chemicals, greatly increases the nutrition values of the food which is reflected in the taste.
On a number of occasions I have been told by gardeners that when they have friends over for a meal which includes produce out of their own gardens; the visitors are amazed about how scrumptious the meal is and initially they think its is the cook and ask for the recipes or what is done in the cooking to make the vegetables taste so good.
Then they learn it is the home grown produce, where the taste and goodness lay.
I have this theory about weight issues: home grown produce not only tastes really great but it is also very filling. The reason I believe is because your body is getting the minerals, vitamins and nutrition that it needs and it is satisfied. (Body to Mouth; 'you can stop now I feel good')
When we buy conventionally grown produce it is fairly tasteless in comparison and it does not provide our bodies needs so we tend to still feel hungry and eat more than what we should.
Thats why people tend to smother the bland food with all sorts of condiments to make the food taste better. Often these condiments contain lots of sugar and chemicals when they are man made.
Great Taste equals Great Nutrition which equals Great Health. So simple and maybe that is the problem it is too simple.
To grow vegetables and fruit that are brimming with health benefits you have to start with the soil or the medium that you are going to grow in.
We talk about a soil food web which comprises of microbes, fungi, earth worms and numerous soil dwellers. Its these living things that help to enrich the soil, covert organic matter into food for plants, carry minerals, elements and moisture to the feeding roots of plants, all in all making for very healthy plants.
This vital complex can be easily upset and even destroyed by the use of harmful substances which include man made fertilisers, herbicides, insecticides, fungicides and chlorinated water.
You will never have great looking roses or very healthy, tasty produce if you apply any of the fore mentioned to the soil or plants.
Instead we are going to feed the soil will natural things such as animal manures, compost (not made from green waste) blood & bone, sheep manure pellets, garden lime, dolomite, gypsum, liquid manures including sea weed types, worm pee, Neem Tree Granules or Powder, mulches of organic materials etc.
For minerals and elements we will use Rok Solid and Ocean Solids.
To enhance the soil life we will keep the soil moist with non-chlorinated water along with applications of Mycorrcin and Magic Botanic Liquid.
Within a season you will quickly notice the change to the health of your plants, less diseases and pest problems and if and when a problem develops there is a whole range of natural things you can use starting with Baking Soda, Condys Crystals, Super Neem Tree Oil, Key pyrethrum to name a few.
Weeds also become valuable either to be used as mulches on the soil surface or into your compost.
It is the time of the year when you can plant out hardy vegetables that do not mind late winter conditions. Plant a few early seed potatoes now and you will be harvesting them about Labour Weekend which will then allow the same ground to be used for summer crops.
It will also mean that if your garden has problems with the Potato Psyllid pest you will get your spuds in and out before their populations start to build.
Its a new season and plenty to do and think Health its so simple.
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CODLIN MOTH

Codlin moth in early spring/summer emerge from their cocoons which are more often in the soil underneath their host trees.
They will not emerge until there are already apples on the tree and the weather conditions are favorable.(Temperatures of 15 degrees plus) The females after mating lay their eggs individually on leaves near a young apple.
They can lay up to 300 eggs while active.
The eggs hatch in 10 to 14 days and the grub heads to the apple and eats its way in.
While going through all its 5 instars the grub damages the inside of the apple to emerge at maturity and drop to the ground or find a crevice in the trunk to pupate and winter over.
I have in the past suggested a few control methods so that you can harvest some apples without damage.
Codlin Moth also like pears and walnuts to feed on during their larvae stages.
During the week a reader phoned me asking about codlin moth controls and later she sent me an email with notes from our conversation. She also said that if I wanted to I could publish her notes so here we go:
Message: Any comments... my summary of my conversation..
Codlin moth control from Wally Richards.
In July put Neem tree Granules around the base of the tree on the lawn and garden to the same radius as the drip line spread at 50 to 100 grams per sqM.
The idea here is to create a odor barrier that will disguise the tree above so that when the moths emerge they cannot smell the tree above and cause them confusion.
Hopefully while waiting for the tree to come along birds will find them and eat them.
There is also the possibility that the placement of Neem Granules under the tree will deter or control insect pests in the canopy.
In spring (start late August) put pheromone traps in the tree. A cheap alternative is to use treacle in a lid inside an existing “house” .
Renew the treacle as need be to keep sticky.
When male moths are observed in the traps it means they are on the wing so then spray the apples with a mixture of Wallys Super Neem Tree oil and Raingard.
Don’t spray the whole tree just the fruit. –Why not spray leaves if that is where the eggs are laid and the grubs hatch and crawl from… can you not catch them before they get to the fruit?
(My Answer) 'No because Neem is an anti feedent so they need to eat something (the apple) to get some Neem in them so they stop eating and die of starvation.'
Continue to spray the fruit every 10 -14 days until the male moths no longer appear in the trap.
( They are attracted by the smell of the treacle as it mimics the female pheromone – the more males you catch the less fertile eggs but it is impossible to catch enough males to make a difference to the infestation with just traps).
( Book says spray from petal fall two weekly until end of January or till no more activity in trap.)
Additional things to do.
In November put corrugated cardboard around the tree to catch any grubs crawling down.
In December January and February renew this cardboard and burn each time.
Suggested size? and as tight to the tree at the top as possible I assume – I layer or wrap around twice?.
My answer: 'This was a old method of reducing the moths for the following season, one wrap around the tree and the grubs crawl into a corrugation to pupate.
Biggest problem it is now very difficult to find suitable cardboard with decent corrugations.'
In spring put sticky paper around the tree to catch any moths crawling up the trunk..
In early spring remove flaky bark at the base of the tree to reduce overwintering sites and expose overwintering larvae to birds.
This could be done again during winter (July) to help the birds find the cocoons.
Life cycle of the codlin moth and where to intervene; In winter April to September
The codlin moths over winters as a cocoon in either the soil (below ground level .. how deep? – not too deep I guess as chickens can get them)around the tree OR in crevices in the bark of the tree.
In spring and summer when the weather is right.( October to March)
Adult hatching begins when temperatures are about 15 degrees and adults emerge
The moth hatches from the cocoon, makes it way out of the soil and out of the crevices in the tree and goes searching for a place to lay the eggs. (Female and male must mate first for eggs to be fertile.) The eggs are laid on leaves near the fruit.
If the codlin moth is successful in boring a small hole into the apple they will eat their way to the centre and, live there growing bigger and depositing their waste and then when big enough, eat their way out.
They then either crawl down the trunk or drop to soil by a silky thread where they pupate in the soil. Alternatively they may get distracted on the way to the soil and simply pupate in the tree bark.
Disruption cannot occur once they are in the apple. Too late then. The aim is to stop them getting into the apple.
Chooks around the tree will eat the cocoons in winter ( June to September) and maybe even in late summer eat the when they enter the soil before they pupate?)? – the caterpillar is inside the cocoon until early spring when a pupa is formed inside the cocoon …
Marigolds and smelly herbs around trees confuse the moths when trying to find the scent of the apple tree and makes it difficult for the female to lay the eggs in the right place.. ie on leaves near the fruit.
Nice to have a reader write most of my column this week.
Main point is get started with Wallys Neem Tree Granules and follow through with the rest as the season progresses. .
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ROSE PLANTING TIPS

Roses can be lost when their roots are not kept moist during and after transplanting.
If you buy roses that are not bagged up or in containers, (Called bare rooted and often purchased out of displays with roots in wet sawdust) then you should submerge their roots into a bucket of water as soon as you get them home.
Leave them in the bucket for a day and then plant. If you cannot plant them at that time, then heel them into a patch of garden where the soil is moist to wet.
If the roses are in a bag or container ensure that the mix is kept nice and moist till you lift them out of the container and plant them. It is fatal if the roots of roses dry out for any length of time.
I had a phone call from a gardener during the week asking about spray because he purchased four new roses recently and after planting they started to leaf up and then one fizzed and died.
He was worried that the other three might die also.
I told him the one that died was already dead when he purchased it.
There was sufficient sap in the plant to produce some growth but as the roots were dead the growth could not be sustained.
Likely not the fault of the garden shop as long as they had kept the roots moist.
Most likely when the grower lifted the roses out of the field they were growing in and the roots were allowed to dry out and thus good bye rose.
If this happens to you with new roses or fruit trees take them back to the shop for a replacement. The shop will be compensated by the grower so no loss to all concerned.
When things go wrong too many gardeners that are not in the Know blame themselves for the losses when it maybe not their fault at all.
I have heard that sometimes the rose can survive if soaked for a day in a tub of water then buried deep with just the tips of the canes showing above ground. I dont know if it works but an old nurseryman told me years ago.
If you buy a deciduous tree and it flowers and maybe comes into leaf then dies that often means it was also dead when you purchased as the roots had been allowed to dry out after lifting.
Here is an interesting thing; if you have a fruit or ornamental deciduous tree that is currently dormant and you are opening it up by removing some branches.
Take the removed branches and stick them in the ground and later on they will flower as there is sufficient sap to open the dormant buds.
Even better put into a bucket of water to make it happen.
Anyway back to planting roses..(Or fruit trees and berry fruit)
When you dig a hole to plant a rose, before planting, fill the hole with water and leave till most of this water drains away.
(If the water table is high and there is already water at the bottom of the hole then don't add more) Sub soil maybe dry even if the top soil is moist and we need to ensure that the soil in the area of the roots is nice and wet.
Likewise for the first year of the rose’s life, in its new location, the rose must have adequate moisture in the root zone.
You may like to cut the bottom off a plastic cordial bottle and plant it so the neck of the bottle is in the root zone.
This allows you to water the roots when the top soil is very dry.
Otherwise a new rose will need about a bucket of water a day during drought times or when the soil moisture level becomes low.
What to put in the planting hole of your new plants?
My choice is the following, sheep manure pellets and or Bio Boost, a good sprinkling of Rok Solid, a little BioPhos and some Wallys Neem tree Powder. That is ample food, minerals and protection from soil insects.
New roses have not been pruned, they have been cut back to make transporting easier.
Normally about 4-6 weeks after planting a new rose you would do the final pruning.
The first problem the roses will face in the new season is attacks of aphids on the new shoots and buds. At the first sign spray with Wallys Super Neem Tree Oil with Key Pyrethrum added and repeat when new aphids come along.
A few gardeners have told the writer that they place Wallys Neem Tree Granules in the root zone of their roses and found that by refreshing the granules about every 6 weeks that they did not have much of an aphid problem each spring.
You may like to try this yourself and if it works for you it will reduce or eliminate the need of a spray program.
Another tip is when you plant your new roses/fruit trees spray with Potassium permanganate at quarter a teaspoon per litre of water with 1 mil of Raingard added to each litre.
The whole plant and the surrounding soil should be sprayed. Potassium permanganate being an oxidizing agent kills diseases very efficiently and can be used at any time during the season.
I now prefer this now rather than using Lime Sulphur for disease control.
At the first sign of black spot, rust or other leaf diseases later on spray with the same.
A monthly prevention spray program would also be a good idea for the roses health.
The same should also be used on existing roses and fruit trees.
Especially so on stone fruit to control curly leaf.
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ROOTSTOCK & JULY GARDENING

We are back from our visit to the winter-less-north where in both Kaitaia and Keri Keri we were greeted on two separate morning by good frosts.
The locals said it was most unusual and likely lots of sub-tropical plants will have been damaged.
The motel we stayed at in Keri Keri has two excellent poinsettia specimens about 3 metres tall and a similar spread; covered in red flowering bracts with the small Euphorbia flowers, which both honey bees and monarch butterflies were sucking up the nectar of.
We visited a reader that lives at Whangarei Heads where she and her friend have been planting many natives over the large property.
A grafted weeping ornamental (maple I think) caught my attention as being deciduous it had lost its leaves but an out of place, upwards growing branch had green leaves on it.
On a closer inspection I saw that this branch was coming off the root stock and not part of the grafted maple branches.
I told the owner to cut it hard back to where it was coming from off the root stock, below the scion.
Likely the failure to do so would mean that the unwanted root stock growth would take over and the maple could eventually die.
This is an easy mistake to make when growing grafted plants, the root stocks are often vigorous (one of the reasons for having them) and they can sprout and grow branches which deprives the scion (the foliage above the graft) sustenance and it fades and dies.
You should check all your grafted plants which will be most fruit trees including citrus and high health roses for unwanted growths below the scion.
The root stock is part of a plant, usually an underground part, from which different above-ground growth can be produced.
A root stock has an established, healthy root system, onto which a cutting or a bud from another plant is grafted.
The plant part grafted onto the root stock is usually called the scion. The scion is the plant that has the properties that the propagator desires above ground, including the photosynthetic activity and the fruit or decorative properties.
The root stock is selected for its interaction with the soil, providing the roots and the stem to support the new plant, obtaining the necessary soil water and minerals, and resisting the relevant pests and diseases.
After a few weeks the tissues of the two parts will have grown together, eventually forming a single plant. After some years it may be difficult to detect the site of the graft although the plant always contains the components of two genetically different plants.
A variety of root stocks may be used for a single species or cultivar of scion because different root stocks impart different properties, such as vigor, fruit size and precocity.
Root stocks also may be selected for traits such as resistance to drought, root pests, and diseases.
The root stock may be a different species from the scion, but as a rule it should be closely related, For example, many commercial pears are grown on quince root stock.
Serial grafting of several scions may also be used to produce a tree that bears several different fruit cultivars, with the same root stock taking up and distributes water and minerals to the whole system.
Those with more than three varieties are known as family trees.
I remember in Hastings many years ago an orchard used to feature an apple tree that had over 40 varieties of apples growing on the one root stock.
Trees that normally sucker (suckering is producing new shoots from base and along the root system) are grafted to non-suckering root stock so you do not end up with little trees popping up all over your lawn and gardens.
If you have this problem then any chemical herbicide treatment can harm the parent tree.
The safest way is to cut these suckers off as close to where they come from the base or the extended root system.
To reduce re-shooting from the root system expose the base of the sucker, cut off and then with a weed flame thrower burn that area, not sure how well it works but worth a shot.
Removing the offending tree or plant that is causing the suckering may only make the condition far worse if you cut the tree down
All the outgoing roots will then sucker and you have a potential forest.
If you have a tree to remove whether its one that can sucker or not the best way to do this is to ring bark the tree so both the top and the root system dies together.
Ring barking is cutting a ring around the truck a couple of inches deep and about the same width through the bark and sap line to kill the tree.
Once it is dead then you can proceed to remove the tree.
With the up to now, milder winter (that is unless you go to north land) you should be making an early start tidying up gardens and glasshouses for spring gardening.
If your glasshouse is clear of plants then burn some sulphur powder in the house to kill all the pests that are waiting for warmer days.
If you grow in the soil of your glasshouse then treat the soil with Terracin Soil Pathogen Suppressor and 3 weeks later with Mycorrcin.
If you like to grow your own potatoes now is the time to get organised.
The psyllid is a problem for potatoes and tomatoes etc; so with potatoes you can plant a very early crop before the pests start for the season.
Make a deep trench and under each sprouted seed potato place a small handful of sheep pellets, a table spoon of gypsum, a teaspoon of BioPhos and a sprinkling of Neem Tree Powder, a little soil to cover the ingredients and then your seed potato with shoots pointing upwards.
Cover with soil so shoots are just covered by about 10mm soil.
Check every day and when the shoots poke through cover with another 10mm soil. This protects the shoots from any frosts.
Keep doing this till trench is full then start mounding up.
If you have done it right then potatoes should form all the way up making for a big crop.
Once mounded up and if it looks like a late frost you will need to either throw sacks over the tops or frost cloth or spray with Vaporgard.
Early potatoes planted now will be ready before Labor Weekend and should be free of psyllid damage.
Either harvest all the crop then or cut tops off any not harvested so the pests cant damage the crop.
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SEED SOWING TIME

July is the month to begin sowing seeds in trays or punnets to grow on for planting out later on.
Start with the more hardy types this month and then the more tender ones later in August.
Sowing your own seeds for plants makes economical sense. The cost of transport and fertilisers that nurseries now have to pay to grow and get their products to garden centres will mean that these costs will be passed onto you, when you buy seedlings in punnets this coming spring.
It is simple logic; if you have to pay several dollars for half a dozen lettuces in a punnet and it costs you less than that for a packet of lettuce seeds, which should give you over a hundred lettuce plants, which is better value?
All you need to do is learn how to germinate seeds successfully and grow them onto the stage where you can plant them out into your gardens. Which is very easy once you get the knack.
Once you have mastered the art of germination and growing seedlings on, you will have more plants that you could ever hope to use, year after year.
You can even go a stage further and allow one of each of a crop to mature and go to seed and harvest your own seed at no cost for future plantings.
If you do this year after year you will develop a strain of plants that are perfectly suited to your growing conditions. All you have to do is let the best looking plant of a crop go to seed.
Never let an inferior looking plant go to seed for this purpose as you will be collecting inferior seed.
For the most success in germinating and growing on, you should consider buying a heat pad and making a cold frame. Heat pads for seed germination should be available from most good garden centres.
A cold frame can be made out of plastic or glass and the most simple one would be an old drawer that is about 15cm deep or deeper and one or more sheets of glass to cover the drawer area.
This should be located outside in a sunny area (for winter) sitting on some bricks or similar so it is not in contact with wet ground. In summer you would move it to a partly shaded area where it does not get all day sun and cause the seedlings to dry out and burn.
Using a heat pad to warm the seedling trays into which you have sown your seeds means that you will germinate much quicker and get a better strike of more seeds than you would without one.
Punnets that you have purchased in the past are ideal for doing small batches of seeds having one punnet for each type of plant you wish to grow. A plastic label with the type of seed named along with the date you sowed the seeds should be placed at one end of the punnet.
The best medium for placing in the punnet is a good friable potting mix or compost.
Seed raising mixes are more expensive and generally speaking are not as good as a potting mix for best results. I actually use Daltons Compost for seed raising by passing it through a sieve to obtain the finer particles.
Fill the punnet to two thirds full with the mix and then using a sieve such as you have in the kitchen, sieve some more of the mix over what has been placed in the punnet.
This places a nice fine layer of mix for you to sprinkle the seeds on.
The amount of seeds you sow should be a bit more than the number of plants you require and the seeds should be spaced nicely apart as best able.
Next make up a solution of Magic Botanic Liquid (MBL) in non chlorinated water at 20 mls per litre into a trigger type sprayer and mist the exposed seeds to make the whole area nice and moist.
Then lightly sieve a little more mix over the seeds to partly cover and mist again. Most seeds like a little light to germinate so they do not need to be completely covered. The MBL assists greatly in rapid germination and gives the seedlings a great start.
Last season I had one gardener tell me that by using MBL on the pumpkin seeds he was germinating, it took just over a week for the plants to be ready for planting out, normally it would be 2-3 weeks.
Now that the seeds are sown, place the punnet onto your heat pad and mist twice a day with the MBL solution, which can have more non chlorinated water added to it to make it about 5mls per litre ratio.
It is very important that the mix and seeds are kept moist and you must remember to mist regularly when using a heat pad.
Where the pad and punnets are placed is not important but should be somewhere that you are going to be a few times a day such as in the kitchen. (so you don't forget to mist regularly)
Once you see a strike, with a number of the seedlings pushing up, with their first embryo leaves, you need to move the punnet to your cold frame because the germinated seedlings need overhead natural light.
This is the time that some gardeners make the mistake of not placing the freshly germinated seedlings into proper light.
When the natural light is coming sideways such as through a window then the baby seedlings will stretch and grow towards the light. The stems stretch making them weak and prone to the disease which we call dampening off.
Once out into the cold frame or on a bench in a glasshouse the watering requirements will lessen greatly and likely a daily misting will be all that is required as there is now no under heat to dry the growing medium.
The seedlings will soon develop what we call the first true set of leaves and in doing so will begin to gather greater amounts of energy from the sun.
Seedlings are grown on till they reach a suitable size to handle and transplant (Pricking out) into either small individual pots or into a larger seedling tray, nicely spaced apart individually to grow on.
In most cases about 6 seedlings to a punnet or even better one per cell in a cell tray.
Before you prick out, spray the young plants with Vaporgard and leave them for a day.
Then you plunge the punnet into a bucket of non chlorinated water till it stops bubbling.
With the mix being really saturated means it is easier to prick out each plant with minimal root damage.
To make this task easier take an old teaspoon and with a hammer flatten out the spoon part and then grind the spoon so the it has a blunt point. This can be used like a little spade to aid the separation of the seedlings.
Grow your seedlings in their new containers till they are of a suitable size to plant out.
When they are about ready to plant out spray them once again with Vaporgard which reduces transplant shock and then wait a day or two before planting into the garden.
Placing 2 litre plastic bottles, with their bottoms cut off and cap removed, over the seedlings will give them a great start. This can achieve 2 to 3 times the growth compared to a seedling without the protection.
Now what to do with the seeds not sown or ones collected?
Fold seed packets, to seal and with collected seeds place in small plastic bags with a label saying what they are. These are then placed in a sealed glass jar and stored in the fridge.
The cold temperatures give a false winter and will aid greatly, when you come to germinate the next batch. Some seeds keep better than others so you can expect that most seeds will be good for at least a year and in some cases over 20 years.
There are good seed stand ranges available from garden centres and greater selections from Mail Order Seed suppliers.
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PLANTS IN WINTER

Winter might be a bit of a hard time for us with the wet and cold but at least we can get warm & dry by putting on dry clothing or lighting a fire.
If you were a plant stuck in a pot or in a garden there is nothing you could do to combat the wet and cold.
This is silly you may say, as plants are plants and whatever Nature throws at them is a problem of Nature not yours.
Wrong, the plants you place in your garden or pots are your problem as those plants did not have any choice in the matter.
Too often we place a plant where we would like it to grow, whether it is a suitable place for that particular plant or not.
If the conditions are not ideal for the plant (soil/drainage/sun/shade etc) the plant will not thrive, be poorly and maybe even die. We are then likely to say that we don't have green fingers and that is the problem.
The problem is our lack of understanding the needs of each type of plant and then providing for those needs to the best of our ability.
I will give you two classic examples of right plant: wrong place;
Citrus trees resent wet feet which means that they must be grown in an area that is free draining and sunny.
Many areas in NZ have heavy clay soils with a bit of top soil on top of the clay. Clay holds water in wet times and goes like concrete in dry times.
Place a citrus tree into that situation and you would be lucky if it does well.
Alternatively if you created a good sized raised bed in the same area and planted the same tree in the bed it would thrive, or if you planted the same tree into a 100 litre container with a good mix of compost and top soil and then buried the container half into that spot it would also thrive.
This means in some cases you can grow something successfully, in the spot you want to grow it, if you create a better environment for it.
Another example is the very popular winter flowering plant, cyclamen, which are available from garden centres at this time. I remember some years back an elderly lady sending me a photograph of a Cyclamen plant she had purchased that had over 50 flowers on it.
She had placed the cyclamen on a coffee table in the middle of her lounge and even though it did have a mass of flowers it was a pitiful sight.
Being some distance from the window in a room that would go from very warm to very cold quickly (dependent on the heating being on or off) the poor plant was stretching for needed light and suffering badly from rapid temperature fluctuations.
Added to this was likely over watering. I believe her pride and joy would have passed into Cyclamen heaven shortly after the photo was taken.
Pop down to your garden centre and have a look at the cyclamen that have freshly arrived from a nursery. They look beautiful, lots of flowers and many buds, standing proud and very tempting to purchase.
If you do buy one and take it home make sure you give it the right treatment so it will look just as good over the weeks ahead.
Cyclamen love the cold and require ample bright light. They hate it too warm and detest wet feet.
Indoors they need to ideally sit on a windowsill getting as much light as possible and every few days they should be turned around 180 degrees so that the side facing away from the window gets its share of good light for a while.
If you don't do this then it will become unbalanced as the side away from the window struggles to get to the light.
Wait till the foliage or flowers droop a bit through lack of moisture then give it a reasonable drink of cold water or even better plunge it into a bucket of water, wait till it stops bubbling and then place it outside on a full light porch for a couple of days before returning it to the windowsill.
A bit of a liquid plant food in the water would also be an advantage to the bulb.
When you draw the blinds at night in your then heated room the cyclamen will be in the cool area between the window and the blind and not suffer from too much heat.
If you have visitors coming by all means bring the cyclamen down and put it on the coffee table so it can be admired but after they go put it back on the windowsill or onto the porch outdoors.
I remember reading years ago about the Victorian homes which would have excellent displays of ferns, palms and many other plants living in rooms with curtains that would be drawn most of the time.
These plants received very little natural light but to the visitor they appear to be thriving.
The reason for this was that every few days the servants would take all the plants out into the conservatory and bring in identical plants, fresh from the conservatory, to spend their few days before being swapped around again.
Indoors house plants need to be near to windows and even more so in the winter when day light hours are short.
Over watering of indoor plants in winter is fatal as wet mix makes for much colder roots when the heating goes off and this spell root rots.
Ideally one should wait till the mix is just about bone dry and the plant’s leaves start to droop then give a small drink to just moisten up the mix a little.
In winter pot plants do not need much water. Another problem arises that in heated rooms the air becomes dry and thus moisture is sucked out of the plant’s foliage (and your skin also)
This drying can cause the tips of leaves to dry and go brown and sometimes extends over the whole leaf.
To overcome this problem you need to get moisture into the air for the sake of the plants and your own skin.
A shallow dish of water above or near the heat source was what I used to recommend but a better way is to string a line of nylon cord about 30mm below the ceiling between two walls, at one end of the room.
Throw your damp washing over the line to dry. Costs nothing extra for dry washing and your plants enjoy the moisture, in fact since doing this in my lounge, I need only actually water the plants about once a month.
Plants growing outdoors can be assisted in winter by supplying them with a little of Wally Fruit and Flower Power every month. It contains potassium and magnesium which keeps the foliage from yellowing in winter and hardens up the growth making them more cold resistant.
Wet feet damage a lot of plants and if you make a trench around existing gardens, about a spade deep, then surplus water runs into the trench where it will more quickly evaporate with wind and sun helping drain the bed.
This can also be done just out from citrus tree’s drip line to assist them also.
Also a monthly spray of Perkfection Supa helps prevent plants succumbing to wet root diseases as it builds up their immune systems.
I am sometimes asked why a plant or citrus tree has lost its leaves during a wet period where the same plant has been in that spot for several years. This can happen due to concrete paths been laid or construction happening where the natural water course for surplus water has changed.
A concrete driveway for instance will collect a lot of rain water which cant soak in, so the water runs off into surrounding areas.
Another example can be a evergreen tree as it gets bigger the foliage deflects a lot of rain into the drip line (thats why its called a drip line) and creates a water course further and further out, over time, while the soil under the tree is much drier.
This new course of water maybe then running through where the old citrus tree is growing and the extra water becomes a problem for it.
It is all fairly logical; for instance the neighbors might put in a BBQ area near the dividing fence and the following wet period your citrus tree suffers.
Frost tender plants should be protected with the spray on frost protection Vaporgard, or covered with frost cloth. Look after your plants now and you should still have them with you later in the year.
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PRUNING AND ROSES

Pruning can be a stressful time for some gardeners, they hear its time to prune and then they start to wonder what does it actually entail and how should I go about it?
'Maybe I shouldn't do it at all because if I cut something off that is wrong I cant easily stick it back on.'
There are (as far as I am aware) 3 reasons for pruning:
Making a plant do what you want it to do, not what it naturally wants to do. This includes 'Pleasing to the eye of the beholder' and espaliering.
To gain more or better results at harvest time or flowering time. Bigger crop or larger fruit, similarly bigger blooms or more blooms.
Finally; Pruning to save the life of plants which includes root pruning of perennial container plants (also Bonsai) and pruning to prevent over crowding.
There is one basic rule that applies to many plants which is; if you cut a bit off a branch it will encourage dormant buds to sprout making more branches on what is left of the branch we cut.
This can be used to advantage when starting off a young plant to encourage more branches.
Some new fruit trees are sold as what we call 'Rods' these are grafted onto root stock and are straight up for a metre plus with little or no side branches.
When we plant a rod we cut a few inches off the top to encourage the dormant side buds to grow into new branches.
If we have a dense plant such as a citrus tree with lots of branches making it difficult for air to pass through, which leads to diseases and pest problems.
This is often caused by gardeners that have trimmed the tree rather than removing branches, causing the excessive branching.
To remedy this you examine the tree's branches coming off the trunk and mark a few at different levels for removal. You are wanting to open up the tree without loosing its shape.
Remove one branch at a time cutting off just by where the branch begins off the trunk.
Smaller diameter branches can be cut off with a pair of Loppers, larger diameter branches with a pruning saw. It is important to note that when sawing off a larger branch the weight of the branch will cause splitting of the branch as you are nearing the end of the cutting.
To prevent this damage you do an undercut first; a centimeter or two under the branch directly below where your full cut from above will be done. Alternative to this is a two person job where one person takes the weight of the branch (supports) while the other person does the sawing.
Branches cut from the trunk will leave exposed wood that is an invitation to rots , diseases and pests so seal the cuts with acrylic paint that you have mixed with a few scoops of Wallys Sulphur Powder.
Paint this on as soon as possible. The best time to remove branches of citrus trees is in between crops which is not possible with well established trees that are over cropping.
The worst time to remove branches is in summer when the citrus tree borer is on the wing and the best seasonal time is winter like now.
For roses and most other fruit trees that are pruned in winter normally you have the danger of silver-leaf disease entering the cuts and establishing causing the death of the plant in the longer term.
Never prune on a cool/cold damp day in winter instead select a more sunny, dry time to be safer.
Also spray cuts with Wallys Liquid Copper and Raingard as soon as possible after cutting.
Roses at this time maybe still in leaf and flowering dependent on where in NZ they are and how protected they maybe.
Climbing roses can be pruned to keep tidy but if you want them to spread along a fence then you need to tie some branches back to the fence like in espaliering to form the framework of the climber.
Some suggest that every few years a new framework be established from new canes and the old then removed. I dont know any advantage of this unless the old wood has become diseased.
Remember in Nature the only pruning is done by wind and animals browsing.
Modern bush roses come into two categories, Hybrid Tea and Floribunda. (Floribunda means many flowered in Latin but you knew that) Thus the pruning of each type can be different.
Some plants such as bush roses, fuchsia and hydrangeas need to be cut them back down lower in winter otherwise they would make new growth on the tall old wood and get taller and taller.
The suggested pruning of a Hybrid Tea is cut too one or more outward facing buds on good canes.
This should ideally form a champagne glass like form. On Floribunda you are cutting down to a few buds facing inwards and outwards to form a vase like display of blooms.
In the past I have suggested that about this time of the year you cut the canes of your bush and standard roses to half their size, remove spindly and dead wood then spray what is left including the soil underneath with Lime Sulphur.
This is to burn off any remaining leaves and kill disease spores as well as any insect pests. A good clean up process then later on about end of July do you final prune.
Since then I have come to favour potassium permanganate as a treatment for all leaf diseases such as black spot and rust. Its those diseases that are much harder to prevent and control when compared to insect pests which are easy to control with Wallys Super Neem Oil and Granules.
You may like to try it this season; because you can spray at anytime with potassium permanganate (mix about a quarter teaspoon into a litre of water) Cut back the canes spray with the potassium permanganate, later prune and spray the same again.
When foliage starts appearing spray with potassium permanganate but now to make it stay on the new foliage add some Raingard.
Use the same process on your fruit trees especially stone fruit for curly leaf.
A gardener contacted me after an article I wrote using potassium permanganate and Raingard for curly leaf.
I was told that he had purchased two dwarf nectarines and the first spring in the ground had the biggest crop of curly leaf ever.
So next winter and spring he sprayed from bud movement about every 10 days, potassium permanganate with Raingard and had no curly leaf problems as a result.
Pruning fruit trees? There are ample diagrams and descriptions on the Internet you can view for all types. My objectives for winter pruning these days is a general tidy up, removing dead wood, reducing number of branches so that remaining ones will hopefully produce bigger better fruit.
Sprays of potassium permanganate will certainly not go amiss.
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A WEEDY PROBLEM There are two types of plants in our gardens and lawns, the ones we want and the ones we do not want.
Usually the ones we do not want we call weeds and as the saying goes; 'one man's rubbish is another man's treasure' which can also apply to weeds.
I say this because I have a friend who specializes in many plants most would call weeds. See http://www.juliasedibleweeds.com/
not only does Julia cultivate numerous weeds she teaches people to do the same and how to turn these plants into smoothies for great health benefits.
I have an old book called A Modern Herbal By Mrs M. Grieve first published in 1931 my edition was from a reprint paperback in 1977 costing me $10.99 (very expensive back then) but well worth it having 912 pages.
It is now out of print but copies are available through Amazon from 32 USD to 300 USD.
Of the over 800 plants in the book a large percentage we would likely call weeds.
In days before I was born the term Herb was used for most plants other than trees and shrubs.
This book gives the history of the plants and the medical properties along with most other information known at that time.
In respect to health the book gives what the part of the plant is used and how it can be utilized.
Valuable information that has been lost over the years and only found in old writings and with a few elders.
One bit that I found while writing this article was Rose-Petal Sandwiches:
Put a layer of rose petals in the bottom of a covered dish, then put in 4oz of fresh butter wrapped in wax paper, cover with a layer of rose petals, seal and put in a cool place overnight (fridge) The more fragrant the roses the finer the flavour imparted.
Then next day cut thin slices of bread, spread the now perfumed butter over then place several petals from fresh red roses between the slices, allowing the edges to show.
Violets or clover blossoms maybe used instead of roses.
Health benefits for red roses; (considered more astringent than others) it strengtheneth the heart, the stomach, the liver and the retentive facility; is good against all kinds of fluxes, prevents vomiting, stops tickling coughs and is of service in constipation.
Interesting stuff.
My preferred classification of a weed is a plant growing where you do not want it to grow.
If it is a beneficial plant such as Comfrey or mint; rather than have it as a nuisance in a garden, plant in a good size container so they cannot spread all over the place.
Before weed killers called herbicides were invented we used a number of methods to control 'weeds'
and it maybe on the cards that we will have to revert back to some of these old ways in the not too distant future.
The reason for this is that the number one weed killer glyphosate which you can find in the majority of weed killers for the home gardener from the original Roundup and also the active ingredient in so many other brand names.
Monsanto is quickly loosing the battle to keep its number one product in the world market.
The following is a piece of news I received this week:
The fate of Monsanto's flagship herbicide in the European Union (EU) remains unclear.
Earlier this week, the standing Committee on Plants, Animals Food and Feed declined to extend authorization for glyphosate sales in the region.
The sales license is set to expire at the end of this month.
Concerns about potential impacts of the widely used herbicide on human health are the main driver of the controversy.
In April 2015, the World Health Organization's cancer experts found that glyphosate was "probably carcinogenic to humans."
The European Food Safety Agency later found that glyphosate was not "likely" to increase cancer risk, although questions have been raised about the methodology used by the agency to reach this conclusion.
Other impacts of the herbicide on both human and environmental health continue to emerge, and many public interest groups are pressing  for Monsanto's Roundup and related glyphosate products to be pulled off the shelf.
After failing to gain approval earlier in the spring for a 15-year renewal for glyphosate use, the European Commission proposed a temporary 12-18 month extension of authorization, keeping the products on the market while health authorities re-examine evidence of health and environmental harms. The proposal also included new restrictions on glyphosate use in public parks, playgrounds and gardens.
Their proposal failed to gain the support needed to pass. Representatives from several countries — including Germany, France and Italy — abstained from the vote, which means the required representation from 65 percent of EU's population was not met.
The issue is expected to go to an appeals committee the week of June 20. If no agreement is reached in these discussions, the sales license will expire on June 30 — and Monsanto's product will be withdrawn from the European market over the next six months.
In my personal opinion it is not before time as the damage glyphosate does to the soil and the environment besides our food chain and health has become immense since its discovery in the 80's.
Glyphosate is used on Roundup Ready GE crops such as soya and maize and these glyphosate saturated oils and sweeteners come into NZ in food stuffs imported to our Supermarkets.
Another momentous event comes into effect at the end of this month when On July 1, Vermont becomes the first state in USA to require all food that contains genetically modified ingredients be labeled as such.
(The state attorney general’s office intends to go after “willful violations” by manufacturers, not necessarily products that were produced before July 1 that may not be labeled.)
Monsanto has spent millions on trying to prevent Vermont and other states from having GMO labels which means at long last people will have the right to know what is in their food.
Thus readers we are now seeing the possible removal of glyphosate weed killers from our garden shops just as they have already been removed in France.
How will you cope? Well there are lots of safer ways to kill weeds many of which you have in your kitchen such as vinegar and cooking oil sprayed over weeds on a sunny day when the soil is dry. Salt for areas such as cobbles and driveways or waste areas where you do not want weeds to grow.
Weed eaters with a pro-privot attachment, Dutch hoe and a sharp carving knife are all handy weed controllers.
Then there is the good old down on hands and knees weeding which allows you to contemplate Nature and relive stress. Reputed to be very good for your heart and health.
Tip for the Week: If you have a wood burner or fire place then when you do your pruning, tie the cuttings into bundles and store till dry, they make good free kindling.
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COMING UP ROSES

Over many years I have written numerous columns on how to have great healthy roses that you can be proud of.
About 10 years ago I received an email from a gentleman who's family are exceptional rose collectors.
The email told me the story about how his parents collect over the years several hundred roses on their rural property and he in turn took over the care of this collection when the parents could not do any more than admire.
During the parents time they adopted the newer products to care for the needs and protection of their beloved roses. Rose fertiliser replaced the natural manures that had originally been used and later on nitrophoska blue as well.
He explained that the health of the roses deteriorated so new sprays such as Shield were found to combat the diseases and pests problems.
This certainly helped for a few seasons but the problems of disease and pests became worse each season even though 2 weekly sprays of Shield, then later on Super Shield which was alternated and applied along with other chemical sprays.
I was told things would start to improve and then get worse than before.
The parents past on and he fought for a few years in their memory but decided if the roses did not improve the following season he would run the tractor through the beds and get rid of the collection.
It so happened that he was visiting relatives in another part of the country when he spied an article in the local paper that I had written on the care of roses.
He said that the article was read with great interest and it reflected the original way that his parents had treated the roses before they were lured away into using chemical foods and sprays.
The article showed him that what they had done with the chemical did not solve any problems but instead weakened the immune system of the roses making them more susceptible to disease and pests.
(Remember in Nature diseases and pests are Natures way of removing weak plants to make way for the strong ones.) Chemicals which may work and make things better for a season or two then have the adverse effect of making it a lot worse.
Next I received a big thank you in the email because the gentleman followed my suggestions and after a couple of seasons of natural health giving products the roses in most cases had returned to their former glory.
A few still had problems because they were weaker bred plants anyway; ones which you either persevere with for their flowers or perfume, or you discarded.
The email closed with a further thanks to my suggestions and that now his parents would be proud instead of turning in their graves.
This is so simple and is logical; Nature has been working on the planet for millions of years; it has grown as a result of natural processes and when mankind in our stupidly think that we can introduce unnatural chemicals that disturb the natural order of things and improve on Nature we are fools to the 99th degree.
Man made chemicals are not good for Nature and our gardens let alone doing any good to our own health. Poisons are put into our water, food and air and like plants we suffer from these unnatural elements.
So now you will likely be intrigued about what my suggestions are if you have not come across them before.
Firstly use only natural products that will enhance the soil food web and not destroy it: such as, animal manures including sheep manure pellets, blood & bone, Bio Boost, Dolomite, Wallys Neem Tree Granules and compost NOT made from Green Wastes.
(Roses are very susceptible to herbicides and green waste composts can have various herbicides used for weed control in lawns as well as general weed killers that contain glyphosate)
If your roses show signs of distorted unusual or feather looking new growths that is herbicide damage.
Now you have the base food you add to this every 6 months Rok Solid and even a little Ocean Solids for their rich mineral content. During the flowering season, once a month apply a little Fruit and Flower Power.
Starting in spring with the first sign of new growths spray 2 weekly a combined mix of Wallys Neem Tree Super Oil @ 5ml per litre, Magic Botanic Liquid (MBL)@ 10ml per litre, Mycorrcin @ 5ml per litre.
Every second spray or once a month use Perkfection Supa for Roses @ 4 ml per litre added to the above. Spraying of these products should only be done just before sunset.
If all is going well and your roses are looking great then after a few months you can change to once a month.
If an outbreak of disease starts then spray potassium permanganate @ a quarter a teaspoon per litre adding one mil of Raingard.
This will help arrest disease spores and now during winter a couple of sprays of this while the roses are dormant can be good value include the soil in the root zone of the roses also.
All the things and products mentioned are beneficial to the beneficial soil life including our helpers the earth worms.
The last thing you want to do is damage the soil life so no use of chemical fertilisers such as rose fertiliser or nitrophoska (which started causing the problems in the first place)
No herbicides including glyphosate to be used any where near the roses or any compost that may contain herbicides from green wastes. No Chlorinated water from your tap as this really knocks back the soil food web and leads to leaf diseases and then more pest problems.
It also creates the soil conditions that pathogens love.
It is simply a matter of putting a 'Filter Housing' with a 10 micron carbon bonded Filter in your water supply at the tap. The plants will love it along with the soil life including the earth worms.
The water is also great to collect in glass containers and use for drinking and cooking with.
Save you a fortune in the long term in regards to buying bottle water.
Generally speaking the water supplied to towns and cities is very good except for the chemicals they dose it with, chloride and fluoride both of which are poisons and do nothing for the health of you or your pets.
The filter mentioned does not remove the fluoride you have to go to special filters for that which reduce the flow rate too low for practical garden use..
If you require further information email or phone me.
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STRAWBERRIES

May is the usual time of the year for commercial strawberry propagators to lift the new season plants and make them available for you to buy from your local garden shops.
In days gone by this was a big event and the first garden shop to have new season strawberry plants advertised would be swamped with customers.
I know because back over 20 odd years ago when I had a garden shop along with a friend that commercially produced strawberry plants for sale was a great commercial advantage.
Most garden shops did not have access directly to a grower and they had to wait for a middleman business, to supply their strawberry plants in bundles for sale.
This would mean that I had an advantage of about two weeks earlier having plants for sale.
We sold the plants loose from sawdust trays which people could pick the plants out for themselves.
For instance in an advert in The tribune, Palmerston North on May the 20th 1990 we had 10 strawberry plants for $2.70 or 25 plants for $6.50.
Now days you will have a hard time to find strawberry plants loose for sale instead they will be in pots or packs and often more available later in the year in flower and fruit.
This makes the plants more expensive to purchase and they will not preform as well as strawberry plants which are planted about now in your own garden or containers.
I grow my strawberries in troughs on a fence where they are at a nice height to care for and pick.
The ideal place for a fence type trough is on the top rail of an iron fence, facing south east, getting morning sun and heat from the iron fence in the afternoon.
The strawberries tend to hang out over the edge of the trough making it more difficult for birds to eat unless they have the ability to be humming birds.
Some no8 wire hoops and bird netting keeps the birds away if they are a problem.
This year I am dreading having to sort out my strawberries in their troughs because the plants threw so many runners earlier this year. If I had a hundred plants to start with I certainly must have about 5 times that amount now or more.
The reason for this I believe is a result of the horrible weather in spring and into December last year, the plants had a hard time making them feel that their lives was threatened hence their desire to reproduce greatly by lots of runners.
Many other gardeners have reported the same.
It will be a matter of lifting up the plants, separating them looking for the best ones to plant once the troughs have had new compost.
If you would like to follow my pattern which can apply to open ground as well as container planted it is:

After lifting all plants and sorting what you wish to plant back (ensure the roots are kept moist and not allowed to dry out) prepare the area by applying fresh purchased compost over which a light sprinkling of BioPhos, a good sprinkling of Rok Solid along with Neem Tree Powder, BioBoost or sheep manure pellets.
If you have chook manure and untreated sawdust this can also be applied over the compost.
Then cover this with a good thick layer of purchased compost which we will be re-planting the strawberry plants into.
Make holes, plant your strawberry plants and if you like to use a mulch the best I think is untreated sawdust to cover the compost and for the berries to sit on later on.
I do not like using straw or pea straw as they can get mouldy as they break down which could make the berries rot.
After planting spray the foliage of the plants with Mycorrcin mixed at 5 mls per litre using non-chlorinated water. Repeat monthly till the plants start to show new season growth then spray the same every two weeks. This will increase your crop by 200 to 400%..
Also every 6-8 weeks, after the new season growth starts, sprinkle as a side dressing some of Wallys Secret Strawberry Food which will assist in giving you bigger, juicier berries.
Last year I sampled some of the commercial grown berries on sale in the Supermarkets.
Big, beautiful looking berries but tasteless. Where my own were so sweet and delicious.
It really makes a difference in regards to the taste when you have your own home grown produce.
Not only that; your health benefits as great taste relates to high nutritional values.
I saw a quote this week that sums it up; The more we pour the big machines, the fuel, the pesticides . . . the fertilizer and chemicals into farming, the more we knock out the mechanism that made it all work in the first place.­David R Brower
Fortunately more people are waking up to the unhealthy conventional food chain that is not only killing the fertility of the soil but is the root cause of many of the health issues we see today.
There is a big growing market for food that is free of man made chemicals, instead full of nutrition and great taste.
It can be more expensive to either buy certified organic or grow it yourself but that is a little expense when compared to been unhealthy and the related costs occurred.
I watched a video clip during the week which showed back in the 50's to 70's that scientists and big business told us things like lead, asbestos, DDT, mercury, etc were safe and it took many other scientists a long time later to convince us that they were not.
Even recently several common gardening chemicals that were available such as diazinon (Soil Insect Killer) Shield, Maneb, Bravo, carbaryl, captan etc all gone from the garden shops even through some are still available commercially. Why?
Simple because they are considered detrimental to our health yet we were lead to believe they were the bees knees to use.
Which does not give any confidence in the new or current chemical poisons sold as insecticides, fungicides and herbicides as to their safety. Likely if the pattern holds true they also will soon disappear from the shelves also.
A new study, published in the Journal of Occupational Environmental Medicine, found that glyphosate herbicide and two fungicides – mancozeb or maneb – were increasing the incidence of cutaneous melanoma during occupational sun exposure.
So using the common weed killer glyphosate will increase your risk of skin cancer and as we are in NZ with the highest skin cancer rates in the world it might mean the old ways of controlling weeds are much safer than spraying glyphosate.
About a year ago a California University asked through a health type web site to submit urine samples testing for glyphosate. The results:

A staggering 93 percent of Americans tested positive for glyphosate, according to the test results, announced yesterday (May 25, 2016).
What makes that figure even more alarming is that many of the people who sent in urine samples for testing probably eat more organic than non-organic food.
Which suggests that either organic food has been contaminated and/or people are being exposed to glyphosate via unknown sources.
Worse yet? Children had the highest levels.
Of course NZ has no such tests and even NZFSA does not consider glyphosate in our food chain as unsafe to health.
This like other harmful poisons will likely change sometime in the future not before leaving a trail of human suffering.
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GARLIC TIME

Garlic cloves are traditionally planted on the shortest day of the year (which is getting close being the 20th June) to be harvested on the longest day 21st December.
Any time from mid-May to mid-July is good for planting your garlic cloves..
There are ample good reasons to grow garlic; from its health benefits to the aromatic flavoring and taste that the gloves give to your meals. You could not have garlic bread without garlic!
Last season I found another good reason for growing your own garlic and that was the costly price of NZ grown garlic. Small pitiful bulbs in one shop I saw selling for nearly $3.00 a bulb of cloves.
A lot of commercial growers in NZ stopped growing garlic because of the cheap imported garlic most of which was from China. Cheap and nasty to those that know their garlic.
The NZ growers of high quality garlic could not compete with the imports so they dropped out as happens in many businesses trying to compete unfairly against cheap imports.
So much for supposed free trade that ruins businesses, because the world is not equal!
Garlic is an easy crop to grow but what you harvest 6 months later will depend greatly on what you do at planting time and during the growing season.
The best place to plant is in a sunny sheltered spot which is ideal. Garlic loves frosts so no protection is needed.
Soil preparation: Garlic prefers a friable soil that its roots can penetrate and the bulbs can swell easily.
I loosen up the top soil with a rake or hoe to make a fine tilth. Then sprinkle BioPhos, gypsum and Rok Solid over the area and rake it in.
> Next I make a small planting hole (using a dibbler) about 25mm deep and pour about a teaspoon of BioBoost down the hole. Cover with a little soil and then sit a clove of garlic on the soil with its point looking at the sky.
Then I cover the cloves carefully with purchased compost such as Daltons or Oderings so that the cloves are covered and buried about 25mm under the compost.
I then sprinkle some Rok Solid and BioBoost over the compost.
(Note BioBoost is available from some garden centres or from Farmlands and PGG Wrightson stores.
It is a natural slow release food that can be used anywhere to advantage and very reasonably priced.
About 5 months ago a gardener phoned to thank me for the BioBoost tip with garlic. He told me that he used the information and grew the biggest bulbs ever with each bulb having large delicious cloves.
Plant with about 10cm between seeds and 15cm between rows.
After planting and before any weeds spring up, put a good layer of mulch on.
Garlic loves mulch and mowed leaves are ideal.
There are ample leaves around at this time of the year and these can be run over with a rotary mower and the resultant shredded leaves layered over the compost.
Alternative would be either pea straw, weed free grass clippings or more good compost.
Make a mulch layer about 5 to 10cm thick.
Keep the area between the garlic bulbs free of weeds.
Traditionally harvesting is on the longest day of the year ( 21st December).
It is better to wait harvesting till after the leaves start to go yellow, but while there are at least six green leaves on the plant, which often happens around mid-January.
Harvesting earlier might mean the bulbs aren't as big as they could be.
Harvesting later might mean the bulbs split, or in extreme cases start to deteriorate.
To harvest, use a garden fork or something similar to loosen the soil, and just pull up the plant up gently by its base.
After lifting leave the leaves on, because during the drying process the goodness from the leaves goes in to the bulb, increasing its size and making it even more yummy and nutritious.
Clean off the dirt from the bulb and dry it for a few days lying on a dry surface in a dry area such as a carport, then store it by hanging in a dry place out of the sunlight.
Tying clumps of five or ten together by the leaves and hanging under a carport or shed roof works well. When dry, the plant tissue is very absorbent and will even absorb moisture from damp air and turn mouldy.
Once nice and dry I prefer to store the bulbs indoors in a cardboard box in a dry room or shed where condensation is not a problem.
If you would like to find out the history of garlic there is an excellent web site at:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3249897/

Black aphids are about the only pest to have a go at your garlic as these aphids prefer onions, shallots, garlic and lettuces. As soon as noticed spray with Wallys Neem Tree Oil or even better use the new Wallys Super Neem Tree Oil.
It has just about 3 times more of the active ingredient to stop them feeding and resulting in death through starvation.
In the last couple of weeks I have written about the new natural way to control diseases in the soil such as in glasshouses and other areas.
This is using the new product called Terracin.
A point I forgot to mention was the storage of the Terracin that you have not used.
As there is a live microbe (BS1B) in the product we normally give it a 2 year expiry.
If stored in a cool place the life is longer than this.
If in a hot shed during summer it will deteriorate much quicker and be good for less than a year.
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CLUB ROOT

A reader this week asked me about club root disease and if I would write an article on the subject:

Club root is a disease that effects cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, radishes, turnips, stocks, wallflowers and other plants belonging to the family Brassicaceae (Cruciferae).
It is caused by Plasmodiophora brassicae, in the group of diseases called Phytomyxea.
The common name, Club Root, is as a result of the damage the disease does to the roots of its host plants, massively deforming them into club like lumps.
From T. A. Zitter, Dept, of Plant Pathology, Cornell University:

'When soil conditions dictate, the resting spores of the pathogen germinate to produce zoospores, which are able to "swim" by means of flagella to infect susceptible plant root hairs.
The germination of resting spores requires moist, acid soil and can occur over a wide temperature range of 12° to27° C.
Disease development is favored by high soil moisture and soil temperatures between 18°-25° C.
Although club root has been found in soils exhibiting a wide pH range from 4.5-8.1, the disease is primarily associated with acid soils.
Within the infected plant roots, the organism develops rapidly, causing an increase in the number and size of cells, which results in "clubbing."
During the development of the organism in the plant, new zoospores are produced; these are capable of infecting the same plant or adjacent plants and, thus, repeating the cycle.
Eventually, resting spores are formed within the diseased plant tissue, and these are released into the soil when the plant roots disintegrate.'
Club root is a soil borne disease and can rest for between 7 to 21 years in the soil without any host plants, which makes it a real problem if you are unfortunate to have it in your gardens.
I remember when I was young a friend's father had a market garden in Awapuni, Palmerston North along with several other market gardeners in that area. South of Palmerston North it was rich river loam from the Manawatu river and ideal for vegetable growing.
That was until club root got into the area making it impossible to grow brassicas hence the market gardens disappeared giving way to housing.
The land is still heavy in club root disease as wild turnips can be found in their stunted growth keeping the disease operational.
If you do not have club root and enjoy growing cabbages etc then you need to take precautions to prevent the soil from becoming infected.
As club root is a soil borne disease, be careful about introducing soil from other areas which means new top soil, soil on tools or boots, plants from other places grown in soil including bundles of plant seedlings that are soil grown.
For gardeners that have the disease there are several things you can do to live with it and still grow cabbages etc.
What happens is when brassicas seedlings are planted and grow to a certain stage their growth slows down, leaves turn yellow and droop, then before long growth stops completely.
The roots have become so infected that no moisture or food is available to the foliage and the plant dies.
The only known way to kill it in infected soil is by steam and as this is unlikely an option for most people we can rule it out.
There is no chemical treatment that I am aware of that will eradicate the disease.
The disease prefers acid soil so by liming the soil heavily with soft garden lime gives it a hard time and makes the swimming to the roots more difficult.
In the past I have recommended using potassium permanganate (Condys crystals) as a soil drench to sterilize the soil in the planting area.
This meant dissolving three quarters of a teaspoon of Condys crystals into a litre of water along with 3 table spoons of salt.
Once dissolved add to another 9 litres of water and apply one litre to each planting hole prior to planting. This appeares to sterilize the soil giving the seedling a good chance to establish, grow and hopefully reach maturity before the disease chokes off growth.
Planting quick maturing crops or planting crops after treating the soil in the early autumn can also work as the disease prefers a warm environment not the cold soils of winter.
The problem with using Condys crystals is that it also destroy beneficial microbes and fungi.
Last week we talked about the new product Terracin which suppresses soil pathogens and helps increase beneficial soil life.
This could be a very good answer for those that have club root.
About a month before planting your brassicas drench the soil in the proposed planting area with Terracin as to the label instructions.
Ensure that the soil area treated extends a metre or more beyond where you will later plant your seedlings.
A good liming of the area would be advisable and keep the soil moist but do not use chlorinated water to do so. (It kills beneficial microbes)
Three weeks later apply Mycorrcin (or Thatch Busta) to increase the beneficial microbe populations.
About a week later plant your seedlings.
The goal will be to surround the roots of the plants with beneficial microbes and fungi so that the club root spores can not get on board and little or no damage will occur.
A couple of gardeners have told me that it has made a difference for them and they can once again enjoy their home grown cabbages.
I would be interested to hear from other gardener's about their results also.
Planting any brassicas now other than the fast maturing Bok Choy is not practical till after the shortest day with August being the preferred time for most areas.
Cut out this information for later use and remember to lime, use only natural foods, no chlorinated water or other chemicals.
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PROBLEMS? SOLUTIONS.

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.
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CONTAINER PLANTS

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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LAWN PESTS

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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CLEVER PLANTS

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.
Clever Plants.
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HARDEN UP FOR WINTER

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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THE ULTIMATE RAISED GARDEN

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.

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APRIL 2016 GARDENING

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.
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AUTUMN GARDENING

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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COMFREY

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!
End

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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WEED PROBLEMS & Oxalis

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
http://www.massey.ac.nz/massey/learning/colleges/college-of-sciences/clinics-and-services/weeds-database/weeds-database_home.cfm
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.
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ON BULBS AND STRAWBERRIES

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.)
Hello Wally

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

Hi 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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FOOD WASTE

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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GARDENING IN THE BEGINING TO NOW

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 CONTROL BARRIERS

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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GREAT PLANTS TO GROW

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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POTTED PLANT CARE

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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