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Gardening Articles for week ending 29th April 2017

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Written by Wally Richards.

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
Available on line at our mail order web site
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?